Kevin Kline on video -- A run down of releases that contain his most memorable performances

Back in the ’80s, when he was treading the New York boards as Hamlet and wowing the critics in Sophie’s Choice, Kevin Kline was considered the shining hope of serious American acting: a young John Barrymore. These days his career looks more like old John Barrymore’s, and self-parody has rarely been as glorious. Despite some somber roles in films such as Cry Freedom, The Big Chill, and Violets Are Blue, Kline has never really taken off as a dramatic lead. Instead, he has become one of the most consistently funny men in movies. Soapdish is the latest stage in his mutation from tragic hero to expert farceur. The others:

Silverado (1985)
He was still playing it straight as the central hero of Lawrence Kasdan’s epic neo-Western, but wicked glints of irony poked through. B+

A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
As Otto, dementedly playful assassin and world’s most confident moron, Kline shocked Hollywood into giving him an Oscar. A

The January Man (1989)
One of the most engaging of bad movies, mostly because Kline, playing a New York City supercop, leaves the terrible script in the dust. D+

I Love You To Death (1990)
How silly is this actor willing to look? How about a philandering pizza-parlor owner with a Chico Marx accent? C+