Dear Jason,

Greetings from the humid Land of 10,000 Lakes. You should remember Minnesota, Mr. Lee, because it was in this state where you filmed your smashing breakout performance as the comic freak Brodie Bruce in Kevin Smith's Mallrats. I grew up in the Twin Cities area and the Eden Prarie Center is probably a half-hour drive from my hometown. I'd never been to that mall before... but I just had to go there a few times after seeing Mallrats. I frickin' love that movie. I really don't know why it flopped so horrendously, critically and commercially, although I'm glad it's now seen as a cult classic of sorts. Of course, even the people that hated the movie will certainly agree that (at least) one universal good came out of that movie: the launching of your acting career. While no one will certainly regret that, it looks like I certainly might regret some of your latest cinematic career choices.

I was going to give you a mulligan for the voice work on Underdog. I think it looks simply horrible, but no one's perfect. This past weekend changed things, though. I just couldn't believe what I saw when that Alvin and the Chipmunks trailer aired before The Simpsons Movie last Friday. I first was in shock because they are actually making a new modernized bastardization of a childhood favorite... and then the shock was two-fold when I saw you playing Dave Seville: Chipmunk Wrangler. As the young kids say these days: WTF?

Look, man, you seem like a pretty friggin cool guy. You came from the obscure world of professional skateboarding in the early 90s, way before the X-Games and video games put names like Tony Hawk and Bob Burnquist on the map. Spike Jonze puts you in a Sonic Youth music video doing skate tricks, you got a tiny role in Mi Vida Loca and then you audition for a Kevin Smith movie and get the role and bam. Welcome to Hollywood. Even after that smashing debut lead performance, you keep it simple and kick the background, taking a backseat to Affleck in Chasing Amy and start a streak of superb smaller performances in everything from Kissing A Fool to Big Trouble. It's really an impressive run and, even though your top-liners after that (Stealing Harvard, A Guy Thing) didn't pan out, you've constantly and consistently proven that you have the chops for a longstanding career in the biz.

So, I guess I'm wondering WHY? Why would you voice Underdog and play Dave in a dastardly remake of Alvin and the Chipmunks? I'm hoping, really just hoping that they threw a truckload of money in front of you and you just couldn't turn it down. Even still, I don't think I could buy that, because I'd guess you pull in pretty good dough with that hot new TV show of yours, My Name is Earl. I haven't caught much of it, but I've liked what I've seen so far. You have one of the hottest shows on TV and an impressive resume in film... and you do Underdog and Alvin and the Chipmunks. It doesn't even stop there. The next role I see you listed for on IMDB is for a movie called The Other Side, where you go all Eddie Murphy/Tyler Perry on us, playing SIX different characters! WTF???

Jason, you are far too talented to be doing crap like this. I know you can't just wait around for Kevin Smith or Cameron Crowe to offer you roles, but that doesn't mean you have to take crappy roles like these. No, these roles won't do irrevocable harm to your career, or anything like that... but it looks like a pattern might be forming of picking stuff you really just shouldn't be in. They don't seem like you, man. They don't seem like roles a guy who had the balls to name his son Pilot Inspektor Lee four years ago would take. I miss that Jason Lee, the old Jason Lee. I miss the cursing and the quirky characters and the kind of odd kinetic energy you bring to a movie. I know you have the talent. Now show me and everyone else you have the balls.


Brian Gallagher: Jason Lee Inspektor/Fan