The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story is a limited series that takes you inside the O.J. Simpson trial with a riveting look at the legal teams battling to convict or acquit the football legend of double homicide. Based on the book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin, it explores the chaotic behind-the-scenes dealings and maneuvering on both sides of the court, and how a combination of prosecution overconfidence, defense shrewdness, and the LAPD's history with the city's African-American community gave a jury what it needed: reasonable doubt.Written by
When I read the critic's reviews of this fascinating portrayal of the trial of OJ Simpson, the most common complaint was John Travolta's performance. So I was expecting to find it a bad, cheesy performance and everyone else to be great.
Instead, I thought Travolta did an excellent job as a supercilious attorney who finds himself increasingly outside his own case. True, Travolta has had so much plastic surgery that he looks like he was sewn together by a dollmaker, but his performance is, while not as notable as the really terrific performances by Nathan Lane and, more surprisingly, David Schwimmer, it's a solid performance.
The truly awful performance is by Cuba Gooding as O.J.
When I watched the movie, I thought Gooding seemed wrong based on my vague memories of O.J. I'm not a sports fan, I didn't follow the trial, which at the time I thought of as just another lurid celebrity crime, and I'd only seen Simpson in a small part in a movie years ago. I thought Gooding's whiny, unpleasant, crybaby performance seemed untrue to that memory, but I couldn't be sure.
Then I watched the terrific documentary series. O.J., Made in America, and I realized that Gooding was really horrible. He lacked O.J.'s famous charm, and instead came across as ineffectual where the documentary portrays O.J. as a strong force in his own defense.
If you've never seen Simpson at all, perhaps the performance would seem fine, but it's an absolutely wretched performance from the point of view of verisimilitude. It's easily the biggest flaw in an otherwise gripping portrayal.
Why the critics didn't notice that I can't say.
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