Sheen can give good performances on silver screen, too

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Let’s go back to a happier, simpler time, back when Charlie Sheen was known primarily as an actor, and not a multimedia motormouth who’s coined such instant catchphrases as “winning” and “tiger blood,” and behaved so erratically that he lost his high-paying TV gig.

For a while there — mostly in the ’80s — Sheen made movies, like his father, Martin Sheen, and his brother, Emilio Estevez. Sure, he appeared in his share of idiotic comedies and action flicks, but he also delivered some strong roles and worked with some daring directors. So let’s take a look at Sheen’s five best performances — outside of his Twitter account or webcast “Sheen’s Korner,” that is:

• “Platoon” (1986): Sheen is at the center of Oliver Stone’s Vietnam War epic — he’s standing in for Stone, really — as a young man conflicted about war and his place in the world, while simultaneously being torn between two powerful superiors. The film is immediate, intense and visceral, the winner of four Academy Awards including best picture and best director. It’s a spectacle of chaos, but Sheen — whose character, Chris, has dropped out of college to volunteer for the war because he feels it’s his patriotic duty — infuses it with introspection and humanity. This, and the next film on the list, would make Sheen a superstar in the mid-1980s.

• “Wall Street” (1987): Sheen reunites with Stone for a movie that could not be more reflective of its place and time. He stars as Bud Fox, an ambitious, young stockbroker who’s willing to do whatever he must to get to the top. Again, he’s torn between two influential men: Michael Douglas in his Oscar-winning role as the greedy Gordon Gekko and Martin Sheen who’s also playing his on-screen father, a union leader who taught Bud to respect his blue-collar upbringing. Bud is intoxicated by his lavish new lifestyle but — on screen, at least — eventually develops a conscience. Sheen reprised the role in a cameo last year in Stone’s sequel, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” It ... was a bit awkward.

• “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986): He only had a brief part — not nearly the screen time of star Matthew Broderick or even Alan Ruck as Ferris’ best friend, Cameron. But he’s a pivotal force in helping Jennifer Grey, as Ferris’ frustrated sister, loosen up and let go of her jealousy. Sitting in a police station with messy hair and dark circles under his eyes, he’s a dangerous delinquent but also kind of sexy. Appropriately, the first word he utters to her is, “Drugs?” But by the end, he’s got Grey making out with him, then giggling hysterically as she dances out the door. It’s art foreshadowing life, reflecting Sheen’s ability to be both subversive and irresistible.

• “Eight Men Out” (1988): John Sayles’ film about how the 1919 Chicago White Sox threw the World Series is probably the best movie ever made about baseball. It’s intelligent, detailed and earnest, but it may not be for everyone, since it is literally so inside-baseball. Still, it placed Sheen among a tremendous ensemble cast, featuring John Cusack, David Strathairn and John Mahoney. He played center fielder Oscar “Hap” Felsch, who initially was reluctant to go along with the scheme but soon gave in, made some conspicuously sloppy plays and took the money.

• “Major League” (1989): It seems only fitting in retrospect that “Wild Thing” was the song that played when Sheen’s character came out of the bullpen — and that he has difficulty with control. As Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn, Sheen did his own pitching and supposedly hit 83 mph on the radar gun. As he’d declare these days in one of his many exclamatory tweets, “Fastball!” The story of a Cleveland Indians team that plays better to avoid having the owner move them to Miami is still amusing today, featuring Tom Berenger, Wesley Snipes and Corbin Bernsen. Sheen has talked of wanting to make another “Major League” movie; given his unparalleled propensity for staying in the spotlight, anything seems possible.

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Think of any other examples? Share them with AP Movie Critic Christy Lemire through Twitter: http://twitter.com/christylemire.

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