A Capsule Guide To Zooey
Deschanel’s Greatest Hits

By A.D. Amorosi


[Editor’s Note: Don’t
miss the companion to this piece, “He Said She Said,” viewable elsewhere at


While M. Ward
was, in 1999, singing and strumming his way through his first solo effort Duet for Guitars2 even as he was
loosening the apron strings on his band Rodriguez, a young Zooey Deschanel was
acting in what would be her first motion picture Mumford after having made her first television appearance on Kirstie
Alley’s Veronica’s Closet. Ward went
on to work with Bright Eyes, Jim White and Cat Power; Deschanel went on to work
with Brat Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Mark Wahlberg. You’re getting the
picture, right? Here’s some of Zooey’s greatest hits


1) Mumford (1999)

Big Chill auteur Lawrence Kasdan directs Zooey in her
ensemble-comedy debut about a psychologist (Loren Dean) who may-or-may-not be
one. Laughs ensue (barely) when the ladies (dry ice goth Deschanel, Hope Davis,
Alfre Woodard) like the doctor. And maybe the men (Jason Lee, Martin Short, Ted
Danson) too. Almost funny and formidable.


2) Almost Famous (2000)
Cameron Crowe’s movie about his start in the rock writing biz features Zooey
not as part of dippy groupie Kate Hudson’s girl-gaggle but rather the smart ass
sister of Crowe-kinda actor Patrick Fugit. Not only is Zooey sharper than the
rest of the gals (save Frances McDormand) here, Jason Lee’s also in this flick as
part of the band Stillwater.


3) The Good Girl (2002)
Another droll wise-ass role finds Zooey deadpanning through Mike White’s
script, kvetching to discount store hell co-worker Jennifer Aniston while a
Holden Caulfield-wannabe Jake Gyllenhaal looks on lovingly. Rocker alert: X’s
John Doe and Walk Hard star John C.
Reilly co-star.


4) Elf and Winter Passing (2003, 2005)

Both of these
show that Deschanel didn’t have to sound flatlined to hold her own. Though the
former is the more charming better-known of Zooey’s wry comic pairings with
Will Ferrell, the latter is handily edgier as if stars Deschanel as an actress
who has to convince her lone-wolf novelist pop Ed Harris (with Ferrell as his roommate)
to give up a box of letters.


5) The Assassination of Jesse James by the
Coward Robert Ford

A nicely subdued
minor role in the sepia-toned murder ballad-like flick stands out as starkly as
the bleak scenery. Anyone waiting for the ascending star of Zooey throughout
2008’s summer-blockbuster appearances with Jim Carrey (Yes Men) and Marky Mark (The
) can start here.

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