Of course, we all know Jenna Fischer as Pam Beesley from the American version of The Office. Even with this being her most popular and celebrated role, there are still many who love to hate the character of Pam which I’ll never understand. Pam is much more than just the straight man to Jim Halpert’s pranks, the PB in PB&J, and the “am” in Jam. Ok, I’m done. Jenna is a great actor with depth whom I’m dying to see in more films. Let me take you on a journey to demonstrate why she deserves more roles, and why you should be watching her movies that have already been made.
My awareness of Jenna was really piqued while I was watching Splitting Up Together, and after I finally watched The Giant Mechanical Man. Of course, at the time I had already seen Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and all of The Office. The thing with The Office is that it’s so good, and all of the cast and characters are absolute perfection. While watching, I just get wrapped up in that world, and all I want is more of it, so the thought of Jenna being a real person who acts in other things isn’t forefront on my mind. Her films weren’t all over the place like John Krasinki’s and Steve Carell’s were.
Splitting Up Together really clued me in on Jenna’s abilities. It was such a sweet show and totally disarming. I had low expectations when it premiered, but it far exceeded them, and I found myself looking forward to it every week. Jenna was great in it, of course. Her character, Lena, is similar to Pam in that she can be confident and strong when necessary, but she often forgets her own strengths. She has a sadness about her that she keeps guarded even from Martin, her ex-husband played by Oliver Hudson. Lena wants love and to be loved, and she wants happiness for her kids. Oh, and the way she is able to break your heart in this show – it’s truly something else. Jenna plays these roles so incredibly well. It’s really a shame the show was cancelled; there was more of Lena and Martin’s story to be told.
I was late to The Giant Mechanical Man, but oh, how it is now my favorite Jenna Fischer film. It was written and directed by Lee Kirk who is Jenna’s husband. Fast fact, this film is where they met and fell in love. Jenna stars alongside Chris Messina in the film. Both of their characters, Janice and Tim, are in a kind of limbo in regards to life stages and careers. They are both quiet dreamers, so naturally, they bounce around from job to job unsure of what to do because nothing really matches up with the visions they have of themselves in their minds. Jenna is vulnerable and is once again playing a character who lives out a kind of quiet desperation and who is uncertain of herself and her own abilities at times. She injects awkward humor masterfully during scenes with the strange character that Topher Grace plays and in the quiet moments with Chris when they’re just feeling each other out. I found myself feeling all of her sad longing and frustration throughout the film. I wish she would get more films like this one. It is a really nice and refreshing indie.
If you’re looking for laughs and discomfort look no further than LolliLove. This film is a dark comedy mockumentary that was actually written and directed by Jenna Fischer. She’s multitalented! She stars in it with her ex-husband, James Gunn. They play really twisted, narcissistic, and dark versions of themselves. I will admit I felt really uncomfortable during a lot of it because of Jenna and James’s dynamic in the film. James is an asshole most of the time while Jenna is passive aggressive and a bit out of touch with the cause she thinks she’s helping. If you are a fan of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm type of humor, you’ll probably like this one a lot more than most people. It’s also low budget. I would love to see Jenna write and direct more. I hope that can become a reality at some point.
Speaking of flawed characters, in A Little Help Jenna plays another broken character in a dark comedic role. Even with the frustration I felt with the character at times, I found myself feeling sorry for her and wishing the best for her life because of how well Jenna is able to show all of the character’s facets and humanity. She again plays a mom which is soon to be a regular thing it seems, but with her you can see all of the cracks – her immaturity and also her desperation to make both her life easier and her son’s. Yes, you’ll feel uncomfortable during this one as well, but it’s worth it. I promise. It really is a good film that deserves way higher of a rating than 5.7 on IMDb.
Honestly, what can be said about Walk Hard that hasn’t already been said? Jenna plays a character that’s similar to the fake version of herself that she played in LolliLove. She seems self-absorbed yet a bit of a dunce all at the same time. She really shows off her comedic chops and great comedic timing in this one. Jenna seems to be a master at playing characters that have a dark edge to them. I love it. There are a lot of parts in this movie that had me laughing, and I still sing “Let’s Duet” to myself often. That was easily the best part of the movie.
It seems like Jenna Fischer is now type cast mostly as a mom who is barely developed as a character (see The 15:17 To Paris and Brad’s Status), but she can do so much more than that! She deserves meatier roles and to star in more films. She has proven time and time again that she can easily carry these films herself. There are also plenty more movies not listed here to prove how well rounded she is as an actor. If you have yet to watch any of the projects listed here, please do yourself a favor and go watch them. Share them with others too. You won’t be disappointed. Even I have a few to catch up on, and if anyone finds a way to watch the film Kiss Me, I’d love to know, so I can watch it because I need more Jenna Fischer in my life.
When I’m not busy daydreaming or having an existential crisis, I can usually be found watching a movie or TV, listening to music or a podcast, or with my nose in a book.