Sometimes an actor just needs to eat. Not every role can be Oscar bait and not every performance can be “bold,” “defining,” or even “passable.” We understand that at MovieZeal, we really do. However, sometimes it would have just been better to starve, as these misguided choices so painfully illustrate. Undoubtedly we’ve missed a few choice ones, so be sure to sound off in the comments.
10. Ben Kingsley in The Love Guru
1982: Ben Kingsley wins an Oscar for his portrayal of The Mahatma in Richard Attenborough’sGandhi. Flash-forward 26 years to The Love Guru to witness Kingsley play a dirty-minded sex guru giving advice to a digitally young Mike Myers. Perhaps even more disturbing than merely seeing him on the screen is witnessing how much he actually gets into the part. You’d actually think Sir. Kingsley enjoys making a mockery of the culture he venerated in his Oscar winning role with infantile sex gags and fart noises. Ahh, but the Americans will laugh; perhaps that’s all that matters.
9. Robin Williams in August Rush
Robin Williams can be a legitimate actor when he puts his mind to it (see One Hour Photo for example), which makes his sell-out roles all the worse in comparison. And nothing stinks more than his turn as a washed-up music guru in August Rush. As if the soul patch didn’t scream “pervert” loud enough, the screenwriters have intentionally made many of Williams’ lines into a double entendres. Perhaps we’ve been watching Arrested Development too much, but just take a look at the first half this clip. Uh-huh … sure — I’ll definitely trust this guy with my kids.
8. Sean Connery in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
You’re one of the most loved actors in the world, having portrayed perennial favorite James Bond in no less than eight films, and your career has grown into nothing short of a legacy, blossoming into an autumnal glory that’s enjoyed by only a handful of elites. The only question is: How to go out with a bang? For Sean Connery, the answer was desecrating the great literary works of the English language. And so was born The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which featured various characters from classic English literature fighting crime, fighting amongst themselves, and generally acting really stupid. The film, not surprisingly, was a flop, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief when Connery retired, thus sparing us from the sequel that the ending so strongly implied. (Note:LXG is, however, arguably worth a rental. Just turn your brain off first.)
7. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Batman & Robin
My problem is that I like Arnold Shwerzenager. I guess he’s kind of turned into a cardboard cutout of himself, but I like a lot of his films. I mean, they can’t all be gems, but I am quite partial to the Arnold Shwazernator that Saved John Conner and Would Always Be Back, the Arnold Sxchenimazser who Totally Recalled and gave Micheal Ironside a hard day, the Arnold Zhcewerfinster who was The Last Action Hero, even the Arnold Czejertalker who had a Short Twin and a Baby. I like that nonsense. I really do. But I’m torn, friends, because there’s just no excusing a Blue Man Who Really Likes The Cold, And Also Uma Thurman. Mr. Freeze gets no love from me. Nevermind how regretable the REST of the film was, the very thought of Arnold being a genius scientist gives me a headache. I’m sorry you made this film, Arnold, I really am, but you’ve got my hands tied here.
This clip speaks for itself. Can you believe this guy actually governs an entire state?
6. Halle Berry in Catwoman
If you’re going to make a fool of yourself on an international scale, you might as well accept a Razzy for it. At least, that’s what Halle Barry thought about Catwoman. She stood proud to represent a film she believed in! Sure it was full of terrible writing, hokey characters, and perhaps the most ridiculous outfit ever to be shown in public, but it can’t be all bad, right? I’m sure there must be some justification for it. Like, I guess some people got paid for their work? I don’t know, seems like a bad idea to me.
This, my friends, is class.
5. Vanilla Ice in Cool as Ice
The truth is that Robert van “illa Ice” Winkle’s career was headed straight for the toilet, anyway—but this film didn’t exactly help matters. It turns out that if you want to manufacture street cred, the best way to do it isn’t to star in a nostalgic, PG-rated melodrama where you play the leader of a motorcycle gang. The tagline for the film read“When a girl has a heart of stone, there’s only one way to melt it. Just add Ice.” Seriously, you can’t make that stuff up even if you tried. The results for the Ice-man are the stuff of legend, including a stint on The Surreal Life (perhaps the least notable reality series ever made) and a perennial position as a wrestler in JCW, the Insane Clown Posse’s very own professional wrestling league (nope, not making that one up either).
This could be the most amazing clip of all time, I kid you not.
4. Roberto Benigni in Pinocchio
Roberto Benigni, the Italian answer to Robin Williams, charmed his way into our cineplexes with Life is Beautiful and into our hearts with his exuberant processional and acceptance speech at the Oscars. The obvious follow-up was to direct a beloved children’s classic, but rather than cast a child in the titular role of the wooden-boy-who-could, Benigni decided to get a little frisky with the material and cast himself as Pinocchio. Ah, nothing screams “family friendly” like a 50 year old man prancing around in pink pajamas with a long wooden nose. Or does that scream “sex offender on the loose, grab your kids and run”? I dunno, sometimes I get confused.
3. John Travolta in Battlefield Earth
There was a time when Tom Cruise wasn’t the posterboy for Scientology insanity. I know, hard to believe, right? But way back when in the ancient days of 2000, John Travolta decided to bring his passion project, a sci-fi epic from the pen of his Glorious Leader L. Ron Hubbard (the book is actually quite good – I’ve read it twice), to the screen, and to cast himself as the evil alien-thingy-person Terl. In recognition of his efforts, American audiences fled from the film like the bubonic plague, and Travolta was bestowed with a Golden Raspberry Award for “Worst Screen Couple”, which he won along with “anyone sharing the screen with him.” But really, is a film that brought us this magical line of dialogue all that bad? “Crap-lousy ceiling! I thought I told to get some man-animals in here and fix it.” You tell those man-animals, John. You tell them.
2. Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest
One of the most epic miscalculations in the annals of cinema, Faye Dunaway’s portrayal of Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest is either the most horrific example of overacting ever or courageously brilliant. Audiences went with the former, and begin flocking to the picture armed with AJAX and wire hangers to “interact” with it ala The Rocky Horror Picture Show.Paramount capitalized on this and punched up the marketing with a cult-classic-in-the-making angle, slapping the tagline “Meet the biggest MOTHER of them all!” on movie posters and ads. And remember, whenever you’re feeling blue, whenever life has got you down, just tell yourself “NO MORE WIRE HANGERS!” and everything will be better.
1. Cuba Gooding, Jr. in Boat Trip
The son of a pop star, Cuba Gooding, Jr. had to claw his way up from the bottom, and eventually landed an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in Jerry Maguire. After that, he apparently ran out of ideas. Boat Trip, a “comedy” where he and Horatio Sanz find themselves on a cruise for gay men—somehow forcing them to pose as gay themselves—was apparently designed to offend absolutely everyone, from conservative evangelicals to the gay community. It now carries the dubious distinction of being the worst film an Oscar winner has ever starred in (and yes, you can quote us on that). Now he can only find work supporting that other has-been, Eddie Murphy (in Norbit)—or simply replacing him (in Daddy Day Camp). Also, be sure to check your local DVD store for his inspired performance in The Land Before Time XIII (seriously).
Why Cuba, why?