6 Reasons Jennifer Coolidge Is Great

Coolidge is a scene-stealer (like she always is) in Austenland, which just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. That is reason enough to pay tribute to her.

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Jennifer Coolidge in October.

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Jennifer Coolidge as a rich, flirty, good-hearted lunatic who has never read Jane Austen in Austenland.

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PARK CITY, UTAH—I saw the movie Austenland Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival, and I found it to be charming and funny — it’s about a Mr. Darcy-obsessed nerd (Keri Russell) who decides to change her life by going on a Jane Austen Experience vacation. The supporting cast was strong; Bret McKenzie, JJ Feild, James Callis, and Jennifer Coolidge brought characters that could have been flat and ridiculous to life.

I have plenty of thoughts about the movie as a whole, but as I watched, I kept returning to two big ones: WHY IS JENNIFER COOLIDGE SO FUNNY? And: WHY HAS SHE NEVER BEEN A COMEDY LEAD? Obviously, she works all the time, and does great. But still. Why is there NOT MORE COOLIDGE?

Here are some of her most notable moments.

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4. 1) “Seinfeld” (1993)

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Coolidge’s first credit in IMDb is Seinfeld. Did you know that? I did not. In the fifth season episode “The Masseuse,” she played Jerry’s massage-therapist girlfriend who won’t give him a massage. (N.B. In the clip above, Jerry tries to trick her into giving him a massage, and when she won’t, there’s a whole “no means no”/”I don’t submit to forcible massage” shtick. Rape jokes from the 90s! I thought they were a more recent phenomenon. Yikes.)

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6. 2) “American Pie” (1999)

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While I certainly don’t begrudge Coolidge (or anyone) mainstream success, the “Stifler’s Mom” character — a bodacious Mrs. Robinson-type — is the kind of attention-getting standout in a big hit movie that can typecast an actor forever. Which it sort of has; even her Austenland role is oversexed. But this movie made Coolidge recognizable, and that’s a good thing.

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8. 3) “Best in Show” (2000)

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God, this movie is so funny. “We both love soup.” There should be a Christopher Guest movie released every three months.

Here’s another clip from Best in Show; I would like to see a sequel based on Coolidge and Jane Lynch’s Sapphic characters.

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11. 4) “Legally Blonde” (2001)

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A classic Legally Blonde scene, the Bend and Snap; Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods teaches Coolidge’s character, Paulette, the shy manicurist, how to get a man’s attention.

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13. 5) “A Mighty Wind” (2003)

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She doesn’t have a line in this 25-second scene, but I just laughed out loud re-watching it anyway.

Her accent, as an Eastern European publicist, is just amazing:

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16. 6) “2 Broke Girls” (now)

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She uses the same accent on 2 Broke Girls as the lead characters’ Polish neighbor. I don’t watch this show regularly because it often drives me crazy — but they had the good taste to cast her.

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