It is easy to understand why movie studios keep making bad movies. They will do it as long as there is something in it for them. Corporations are in the business of making money, it is their nature. What is more disappointing is the way in which so many big name Hollywood actors continue to participate in their continual cash grab. One or two missteps is understandable, but for some Hollywood stars making bad movies has become a habit. They are more interested in using their celebrity to lighten your wallet and enrich themselves in the short term, than in taking the long term risk required to develop a reputation for making something good. We are pretty sure that, whether or not they once did, these celebrities no longer care about movies. Tell us what you think.
Ashton Kutcher has been in fourteen movies and never received a positive Rotten Tomatoes score. Not once. Ashton Kutcher has never been in anything good. Even if critics were wrong about two or three of them (and I'd say they were very wrong about The Butterfly Effect) that's still an impressive feat of awful. Something like that doesn't happen by accident, especially this far into Kutcher's filmography. These days, for unfathomable reasons, he's a big star. That means he doesn't have to do Killers, he chooses to do Killers.
Fourteen movies in to what passes for his acting career it's clear that not only does Ashton Kutcher suck, he's doing it on purpose. Ashton Kutcher is on a one man crusade to destroy the movie business by churning out one What Happens in Vegas after another. His career is a littered trail of recycled plot devices, horrible acting choices, and excessive mugging for the camera. When he's not busy banging the supernaturally de-aging Demi Moore or tweeting, he's content to cash paychecks for doing whatever shit lands in front him and happens to pay something. Or maybe he's really just this stupid. Whether through deliberately heinous choices or wholesale incompetence, it seems clear that Ashton Kutcher doesn't care about movies, all he cares about his stealing money from your wallet.
Little girls dream of growing up to be Julia Roberts. They dream of Liz Taylor being fawned over by Richard Burton, of Rita Hayworth and her movie star hair, of Audrey Hepburn and her graceful cigarette holder. They dream of being leading ladies, starring opposite handsome A-list men in the biggest, most widely-seen summer blockbusters Hollywood has to offer. Kate Hudson was undoubtedly one of those starry-eyed girls. Growing up the daughter of Goldie Hawn, she must have always seen herself as a future starlet, which is why her Oscar-nominated performance in Almost Famous seemed a wonderful hint of things to come. In his review, Roger Ebert famously spent an entire paragraph gushing about how brilliant she was in the Humble Pie scene. And then it all imploded.
After The Four Feathers and How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, one of which tried, one of which was vaguely watchable, Kate Hudson opened a horrifying bag of mediocre, community college garbage culminating in the putrescent-ly abysmal quadrilateral Bride Wars, My Best Friend's Girl, Fool's Gold and that one about Dupree. In the ten years since Penny Lane, she's gone from a rising star to the embodiment of lowest common denominator bullshit. Sure, Julia Roberts did the whole My Best Friend's Wedding thing now and again, but that was between the Erin Brokovich's. But alas, 2010 brings the release of the upcoming Killer Inside Me, her first real effort in eight years. It may well usher in her first positive reviews in a decade, then again, it may be the start of a long, painful trek into 3A.M. IFC re-runs. But hey, at least most of those try harder than Raising Helen.
Katherine Heigl became a star after landing a perfectly written role as part of one of the best ensemble casts ever assembled in Knocked Up. It made her a movie star. She responded by biting the hand that fed her, trashing the movie that made her a viable lead, and then promptly leaped into making a series of unforgivably horrible romantic comedies on some sort of mad, lunatic quest to become the new Kate Hudson. But at least Kate Hudson doesn't hate Almost Famous.
Katherine Heigl has only ever been in one good film, yet it's the only one she doesn't like. That says all you need to know about her career, her choices, her risk-free performances. She only has one character, and it's the same uptight, buzzkill she played in Knocked Up. Apatow managed to make that work for his film, but now we've been forced to watch that character go to weddings, ruin Gerard Butler's promising career as a radio shock jock, and play spy with Ashton Kutcher. She only has one character and she seems content to milk that bitch for all she's worth. Judging from Killers' box office totals, it's not worth much. By trashing Knocked Up Heigl made it clear that she's not interested in making good movies. She's only interested in playing a horrible, fucked out cliché until there's no money left in doing it; and that's The Ugly Truth.
For awhile, Jason Lee's career seemed promising. Then he stopped doing low-budget Kevin Smith movies and decided to grab a couple of paychecks. He never stopped grabbing them. When spouting Smith's genius dialogue or wearing a mustache and rocking out for Cameron Crowe in Almost Famous, Lee seemed like a talented up and comer, but when he finally dove into big time Hollywood films he did so without a filter. Lee seemed to take anything and everything that went across his desk. His fans tried to stay with him, give him the benefit of the doubt, but it really all fell apart with Alvin and the Chipmunks. There's just no way to defend a movie about singing rodents.
I'm not sure what happened to the fast-talking flim-flam man we used to see in cool, edgy indie movies in which heteros date lesbians or angels shoot up the Catholic Church, but I miss him. These days the real Jason Lee can only be found on television, playing up southern clichés in whatever network show needs someone with an accent. On film, he's a lame cartoon who seems as though he's only in it for the money. You can only try to convince yourself Stealing Harvard is funny for so long, before you come to the awful truth: The Jason Lee we knew, the Jason Lee who seemed to care, is long gone.
Jennifer Lopez has always been more of a marketing gimmick than an artist. She started her career as a Fly Girl on In Living Color and in her heart maybe that's still all she really is. Jennifer Lopez cares about dancing, maybe she even cares about music, I don't know (though her albums suggest otherwise). But no one who willingly stars in The Back-Up Plan cares about movies. Or children. Or expectant fathers who may be permanently scarred by the experience.
Jennifer Lopez made a couple of good movies once. Then she realized she could make more money by being in The Wedding Planner and making that same movie over and over and over again, cynically profiting off the emotions of easily swayed, romance-starved, female audiences. On the rare occasion since that she's done anything else, it's usually as a favor to someone she's dating. Gigli, terrible though it is, was at least a diversion from the standard J.Lo formula. But I have to think she only did Gigli because she was dating Ben Affleck, not because she genuinely believed in the project. Jennifer Lopez has been content for years now to be nothing beyond a lowest common denominator rom-com factory. She's been at it so long, that even her pliable, tractable, rom-com audience is getting tired of it. You can only Monster-in-Law people for so long.
Chris Rock is Michael Jordan. He's Katie Couric, Jesse 'The Body' Ventura, Joaquin Phoenix and about a thousand other virtuosos who sadly found out unparalleled talent in one field doesn't automatically translate to success in another. You see, Chris Rock is one of the greatest stand-up comedians ever. With all apologies to Bruce, Prior and Carlin, I would even listen to arguments on why he's the single greatest comedian of all-time. Rocking the mic like a vandal, he's pompous and deadly, coarse, yet ultimately smooth, like sandpaper polished with honey. But none of his astounding vocal talents work on the Big Screen.
In fact, just as MJ's superior height to quickness ratio expanded his strike zone, all the things which make Rock such a brilliant comedian doom him to an endless stream of B-movies. The charisma, the swagger, the knack to always appear confident and in control, these traits come across as awkward and needy when a one man show expands to interact with real actors. You can't talk at the camera; you can't win it over with rants or make it think with biting social commentary. You can only let it watch, hope it all works out in the end. He knows it. We know it. But he keeps making movies anyway. I get it. Tinsel Town has more flair than The Apollo, but even Bo Jackson knows, in the end, it's better to be Michael Jordan.
I get the feeling there are people pitching movie ideas for cartoons, but somewhere in the creative (term used loosely) process the whole thing gets mangled and the idea turns from cartoon into live action movie. All of a sudden the studio needs someone to star in something utterly ridiculous. Who do you think the first guy they call is? Brendan Fraser of course.
No guy has played more idiotic, awful, doofus, unintentionally silly rolls than Mr. Dudley Do-Right. Consider his turns in George of the Jungle, Bedazzled, Monkeybone, anything Mummy-related, and of course the recent animal-centric disaster Furry Vengeance (not a porno). The best part about the last one is that a whole new generation of kids gets to associate Fraser with stinking up the big screen. Even when he's is tried to get serious of late (Extraordinary Measures), it's been awful.
Sure, every couple of years the guy pulls out a Journey to the Center of the Earth or accidentally shows up in something other people made watchable (Crash). But the bottom line is: this guy hates movies and the stupider the concept, the more people can picture him in the role.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
It all went to hell the minute he stopped calling himself "The Rock". The most frustrating thing about Dwayne Johnson's filmography is that he could have become an icon. It was all right there in front of him. After doing The Rundown it seemed clear that The Rock was well on his way to becoming the new Arnold Schwarzenegger. The opportunity was there. So what did he do? Someone told him he was funny. Worse, apparently Dwayne decided he was Sponge Bob funny and abandoned action movies in favor of doing an unending string of kids movies, where he chased paycheck after paycheck, after paycheck and lost any of the badass credibility he'd built up after years flexing muscles.
The thing is that even now, he could easily turn it around, if he wanted to. The Rock's legitimately talented as both a comedic performer and action star. All he has to do is stop doing kids movies and take any one of the numerous, far more respectable opportunities he's almost certainly offered on a regular basis. Instead he chooses to put on cheap, pipe-cleaner wings and do The Tooth Fairy. He gleefully shits all over Witch Mountain. Maybe it's time we all gave up on his potential and decided to Get Smart. He has.
McConaughey came close to redeeming himself with his role as an overly concerned agent in Tropic Thunder, but let's face it, anyone could have hit that role out of the park. If you take that out of the equation it's been more than eight years since McConaughey has done anything worth seeing and even that was basically a bit part in the underseen horror movie Frailty.
These days McConaughey has willingly become a parody of himself. He's the hillbilly Hollywood calls when they need a borderline retard to take his shirt off. He does bad romantic comedies with actresses who have also become parodies of themselves. He does sappy, shitty movies with McG. Nobody's going to take him seriously because he doesn't seem to take himself, or the crap he does seriously. Maybe he's the consumate professional on set, who knows, but any time you see a Matthew McConaughey disaster it's impossible not to think that between takes he retired to his trailer, stripped of his pants, and dragged out those infamous bongos.
Back in the '80s, Eddie Murphy was the definition of star. His stand-up act was truly hysterical (Eddie Murphy Raw is still considered one of the greatest recorded performances of all time), he was a standout on Saturday Night Live, and he continually put out some of the greatest comedies of the decade, from Trading Places to Beverley Hills Cop, 48 Hrs. to Coming To America. Then he decided to flush it all down a toilet.
Unlike Sandra Bullock, who received an Oscar despite appearing in one of the year's worst films, Murphy is one of the few actors who has seen his lack of interest in quality come back to bite him in the ass. The general consensus is that his performance in Norbit turned off the Academy to such an extreme degree that they refused to award his work in Dreamgirls. And, really, can you blame them? Norbit was just one example from the last 20 years of Murphy not giving a shit what he puts his name to. Daddy Day Care, The Haunted Mansion, Meet Dave, I Spy, Showtime... the list is endless. There is no doubt that Murphy has the skills to make another great film, talent like that just doesn't disappear. Yet he'd rather make The Adventures of Pluto Nash.
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