By Michelle Lanz
There are a billion theories floating around about why Jennifer Aniston -- big-time movie star and tabloid appointed A-list celebrity -- bombed at the box office last weekend with her latest film "The Switch." Like so many of her former suitors, have we as a collective movie-going nation fallen out of love with Jen? Is it because she used an insensitive word in a recent interview? Perhaps she has simply worn out her welcome as the perpetually single "Friend."
RELATED VIDEO: See Jen Aniston and Jason Bateman Talk 'The Switch'
For ESPN's Bill Simmons, Aniston's continued existence in Hollywood, despite rarely delivering the box office bucks, has to do with the creation and success of what has become the Brangelina empire. "She became America's adorable little victim for seven years until Bullock finally pushed her aside," he says. "Maybe it was the worst thing that ever happened to her personally, but professionally? Godsend." Simmons has a point. Despite "The Switch" opening at No. 8, Aniston still has multiple projects in development, including something called "The Divorce Party." So she's good at playing the jilted girl-next-door, but how much longer can that last?
A film critic argues in the New York Post that Aniston can only play the same role for so long, and that her continued box office failure is in correlation with her age. The critic (who wants to stay anonymous probably to not risk being banned by her publicist!) is quoted as saying: "Aniston just can't play the good friend anymore. She's aged out, no matter the yoga and the highlights. She just can't do America's sweetheart next door. She needs a big wake-up call." Ouch.
Then there are those on the extreme end who seem to have made it their mission of the week to ensure that Jennifer Aniston's career and "The Switch" go the way of the buffalo. Conservative talk show blabbermouth Bill O'Reilly espoused on air that Aniston and her beliefs in single motherhood are straight up "destructive" to our society. Though we agree with Salon that everything that spews out of O'Reilly's mouth comes covered in a layer of crazy, you can't deny that the guy has a rabid following. Many of his rabid followers probably go to the movies, and they also probably let some talking head on TV dictate their weekend cinema-viewing plans.
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So, what we can learn from Aniston's continual slide at the box office? Probably that we're all really sick of the sympathy game. It's been seven years since the Brangelina debacle, and this wave she's been riding is beginning to ebb into oblivion. Jen has established herself as the childless, perpetually single middle-aged woman we all feel sorry for, thus ensuring that her face will turn up on magazine covers and that she'll stay bankable enough until the next rom-com comes calling. But, think back to Jennifer Aniston, circa 2000, as Rachel Green on "Friends" and Ron Livingston's spunky love interest in "Office Space." She was likable and wasn't yet marked with the stigma of being the woman Brad Pitt left for Angelina Jolie. (And I was actually interested to see what she'd do next.)
Here's a tip, Jen: Stop playing the same, worn-out, sad sack character. America is totally bored with that act. Be a stripper, a prostitute, or better yet, a mentally challenged person. You might even get nominated for an Oscar instead of playing the mortified presenter.