Wooderson's come a long way from cruising underaged 'tang at Texas drive-ins.
The Dinner: Large (6 lb.) combo pizza, Pabst, and antipasto salad at the


Matthew McConaughey Plays Matthew McConaughey in The Lincoln Lawyer, Treats Cast to Northlake Pizza

Wooderson's come a long way from cruising underaged 'tang at Texas drive-ins.
The Dinner: Large (6 lb.) combo pizza, Pabst, and antipasto salad at the Northlake Tavern, 660 N.E. Northlake Way, WALLINGFORD.

The Movie: The Lincoln Lawyer at Thornton Place, 301 N.E. 103rd St., NORTHGATE.

The Screenplate: The story of how Matthew McConoughey was cast as Wooderson in Dazed & Confused is part of Hollywood lore. Long story short, he got the casting director so hammered in the bar of the Austin hotel the crew was staying in that they both got cut off and kicked out. Then McConaughey supposedly sweet-talked both of their ways back into the bar for more boozy bro-down time. The casting director was so impressed by McConaughey's wiles that he gave him a small but unforgettable role in Richard Linklater's classic Texan coming-of-age-in-the-'70s story, propelling McConaughey to the top of Hollywood's A list and into the arms of seemingly every hot, available actress on the planet.

The amazing thing is, along the way, McConaughey never actually bothered to learn how to act. He's just kept on playing Matthew McConaughey in movie after movie. In fact, the most he's diverted from playing himself was as Wooderson in D&C--and that was still only a chromosome removed from the smooth-talkin', wave-ridin' cocksman who, after a decade-plus of tearing through tons of top-shelf 'tang, finally got trapped by the host of Shear Genius.

Is not knowing how to act as problematic for McConaughey as it's been for Chris (Scent of a Woman) O'Donnell? No! Why? McConaughey's script selection is impeccable. With every script he asks a simple question: "Is the character almost exactly like I am in real life?" If the answer is "yes," he takes the role. If it's "no," he politely passes. Sheer genius!

The Lincoln Lawyer finds McConaughey effectively reprising his breakout role as a hard-drinking lawyer in A Time to Kill. Only this time he's not saddled with a sense of justice, wife (Ashley Judd), and kid, which allows him to represent coke-pushing bikers and murderers, fuck his ex-wife (Marisa Tomei), and neglect their kid. He also lives in L.A. instead of Mississippi. Only somehow, as with every McConaughey film, the movie feels like it's set in the South even if it isn't. For example, the outer-space scenes in Contact felt suspiciously like Galveston.

Based on a book by Michael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyer is a run-of-the-mill legal thriller, with some seriously horrible dialogue and some seriously awesome plot twists. But it works really well for two reasons: (1) Dude, McConaughey! You're chilllin' with Wooderson--herb, cold ones, 17-year-old redheads--for two hours! It's a total blast! (2) McConaughey evidently managed to visit various Los Angeles hotel bars and get Tomei, William H. Macy, John Leguizamo, Michael Pena, Bryan Cranston, Ryan Phillippe, Trace Adkins, Mos Def's stunt double (Laurence Mason), and the great Shea Whigham hammered, kicked out of the bar, and then readmitted--because they all show up in Wooderson-sized roles in this particular MConaughey vehicle. It's the best supporting cast that this type of film has ever seen.

Or maybe he just took them all to the Northlake Tavern for all-you-can-consume pizza and Pabst. McConaughey would totally do that, and it would totally work, because both McConaughey and Northlake are so good in their narrow niches, so comfortable in their own skin/crust, that they could charm the habit off a nun. Alright, alright, alright!

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