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Cameron Diaz Makes The Leap

Cameron Diaz: It's been a long road, and now it runs through mom roles. Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images hide caption

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Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Cameron Diaz first showed up in the movies in 1994, in The Mask, with Jim Carrey. At the time, her reviews came in somewhere around "surprisingly good, for a model."

She went on to appear in a series of hits — My Best Friend's Wedding, There's Something About Mary, Charlie's Angels, and Shrek, to name four — as well as the usual allotment of bombs. Most recently, she had another hit last summer with What Happens In Vegas.

But this weekend, she shows up in My Sister's Keeper, a tear-jerking drama about a child with cancer (one that's so enamored of its cancer-centered imagery that its trailer alone features more lingering shots of bald heads than you will find in publicity packages for the NBA). Diaz has tried her share of Real Acting; she was in Gangs Of New York and Vanilla Sky, and very early on, she was in the very small independent film The Last Supper.

But, as is being exhaustively noted, this is her Mom Leap.

What the Leap does and doesn't mean, after the jump...

The Mom Leap isn't new. Michelle Pfeiffer did it, too. Pfeiffer became famous in things like Grease 2 and Tequila Sunrise, but in 1996, she showed up in To Gillian On Her 37th Birthday and One Fine Day, and since then, she's done lots of mom work, in The Deep End Of The Ocean, The Story Of Us, and even Hairspray.

The Leap doesn't at all limit you to moms, as evidenced by the fact that Pfeiffer still shows up in stuff like this week's Cheri, a Stephen Frears drama in which she plays a courtesan. But an actress who can make the Mom Leap opens herself up to a longer career and a richer variety of roles than one who sticks with Ashton Kutcher comedies.

Whether Diaz's generally sunny persona is going to translate into weepy family dramas will depend, in part, on the projects she picks. She's gone a long way on underwear dances and a goofy, often very appealing eagerness to be the butt of whatever joke is most likely to get a laugh.

Do you think you can buy her in a melodrama?