;Mandy Moore is one of the most mediocre entertainers working today. Contrary to the American ideal of striving for perfection, this is not necessarily bad.

;;Being mediocre is underrated. On one end of the spectrum, there's being one of the worst entertainers working today. On the other end of the spectrum, being one of the best. But being one of the best is dangerous. There's only one place to go and that's down — just ask Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci or Britney Spears. These days, Stone, Pesci and Spears probably wish they had been a bit more mediocre. If they had been, like Moore, who stars in Because I Said So this week, their personalities would've never outgrown their talent and their talent would have never become a thing to ridicule. Mandy Moore's talent will never be ridiculed, because she's never been noted for her talent in the first place.


;Consider these facts.


;Moore, who began her career as a pop singer out of Orlando, has never had a No. 1 album or even a No. 1 single. In fact, she's never cracked the top 10 of any chart over at Billboard, and her "greatest hits" album, The Best of Mandy Moore, couldn't even squeeze its way into the top 100 back in 2004. This last nonaccomplishment was probably due to the fact that Epic advertised it as a greatest hits package when this only makes sense within the context of Moore's own career; when her previous three albums are considered, yeah, these are "the best," but they aren't great by anyone else's standards. "Great" should never be used to describe Mandy Moore, unless you're her boyfriend.

;;Moore's movie career, despite the hype and her odd status as a critical darling, isn't going much better than her recording career. Her only movie to break $100 million is The Princess Diaries — and that was Anne Hathaway's movie. Her only other movie to break $15 million was the touching but melodramatic A Walk to Remember ($41 million). Her last movie, starring Hugh Grant and directed by the guy behind About a Boy and American Pie, didn't even break $10 million.


;And somehow, Mandy Moore keeps getting work.


;There's a reason for this.


;She is entirely adequate and does the job required of her, but nothing more. She is charming, she has great pouty lips and she gives great fuck-me eyes (even back when she was a teenager, creepily enough), but she is not brilliant. She will never be called "the next" anything. She will never be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. She might be nominated for Best Supporting Actress, though. Mediocre actresses get nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and that's what Mandy Moore is. She shows up, does her job and goes home without flashing her cooter on the Sunset Strip, without starring in abysmally bad formulaic comedies or remakes and without dating anyone other than those at the very top of their game (including Zach Braff, Andy Roddick and Vincent Chase, but not Wilmer Valderrama, who we will pretend she did not, in fact, date).


;As a musical artist, her albums always involve growth and experimentation, but they don't try to change the way music is made. Coverage is her best, just a collection of satisfying covers of songs by artists who are the best at what they do. Her songs also make great additions to pop-centric soundtracks; hire Moore for your movie and she'll record you a song out of gratitude. It'll be mediocre, though.

;;As an actress, her choices in roles are almost always smart, but never too flashy (except Chasing Liberty); they're always interesting, without putting the burden of success squarely on her shoulders (except Chasing Liberty). She focuses instead on small projects that don't try to make $100 million, like The Princess Diaries did. She makes quirky movies like How to Deal, Romance and Cigarettes and the devilishly fun Saved! She picks talented people to work with, like Diane Keaton in Because I Said So. Keaton will be blamed if the movie bombs, not Moore.

;;Even as a celebrity, her foray into tabloid hype goes beyond mediocre and into the mundane. In the ramp-up of press for this week's opening of Because I Said So, it was revealed that Moore once suffered from — wait for it — depression. When her flacks came to her and said they needed a dirty little secret to stir up the gossip rags, Moore dutifully gave them one … only not too dirty, and certainly no competition for whatever garbage Possum Queen Britney is currently digging through.


;In other words, Mandy Moore doesn't ever try to be the best, but she always manages to be just good enough. It always makes sense for the powers that be to give her work, but she never does so well that she might screw up and lose those opportunities. She is utterly mediocre, and that's why she'll still be entertaining you in 20 years.


More by Cole Haddon


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