The Bodyguard: Bland, Baby
There’s a reason why Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston made such a popular movie, but I just can’t seem to figure out why.
My mom has been in love with Kevin Costner for as long as I can remember. She has jokingly referred to him as “Kevy Baby” on occasion, and is a fan of most of his work. When The Bodyguard came out in 1992, you better believe she took me to the theater to go see her man crush. For me, I was more fascinated by the fact that Whitney Houston, the famous singer with an amazing voice, was playing the female lead. It also didn’t hurt that her character’s name was Rachel. It seemed so interesting to me that a famous singer would land this role, her first ever, and I think her fans were curious to see if she had the acting chops to pull it off.
I’ll admit that The Bodyguard is not the best piece of cinema, but it’s entertaining. Houston plays Rachel Marron, a world famous singer that is being stalked by a psychopath. Costner, as Frank Farmer, is brought in as her new bodyguard because he had previous experience guarding political figures. The two bump heads because he takes his role seriously and implements strict protocols for her to follow, and she is a celebrity that no one tells what to do. It turns out that the stalker was hired by her sister because she was jealous of her.
The intention was to only scare Rachel, but the stalker becomes obsessed as he leaves threatening notes, disturbing objects, and even shows up at various places to try and kill her. Obviously, in the end, Frank is able to stop the stalker before he murders Rachel. In between all this chaos, Frank and Rachel have a romantic entanglement, and audiences were also given an amazing version of “I Will Always Love You”, sung by Houston, as well as a stellar soundtrack to go along with the movie.
The thing with Costner is he always brings a dryness to the characters he plays; he just seems so stiff in almost every role I’ve seen him in, and his portrayal of Frank is devoid of any moisture. This is not to say that Costner is a bad actor, he just gives off a vibe that lacks personality and vitality. I guess having that quality as an actor was fitting for this role because Frank has to be very businesslike about his security detail, as well as quell any romantic or emotional feelings he might have for Rachel, so he can stay focused on protecting her. In a way, Costner was ideal for this role because of his ability to play the overly straight man.
As for Houston, she did okay for her first on-screen role. Obviously, she wasn’t the best actress in the world. I believe that because the role of Rachel was similar to her own real-life experience it was probably easy for her to slip into character. It wasn’t too far of a stretch.
Houston as Rachel is good at giving the cold shoulder to Frank, turning on her personality for the cameras, and being terrified by her stalker, but some of her line deliveries were lacking the finesse a seasoned actress might have. For a moment, it looked like Houston was going to have a decent acting career, but addiction took hold of her and dashed any prospects of her branching out into a lucrative acting career.
Despite my own personal gripes, the film did well in the theaters. There was a strange chemistry between Costner and Houston, which worked for their characters’ roles as they tried to navigate their confusing relationship; they were kind of an odd couple, to say the least. I think that the combination of personal popularity between Houston and Costner amongst their fan bases, along with the aforementioned curiosity to see Houston act, contributed to the film’s place in the box office.
My mom, along with tons of other fans, lifted this movie up to be financially successful, but was it really all that?