Check, Please! AKA When Good Actors Happen To Bad Movies

Associate Editor; Dallas, Texas (@HatefulJosh)
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Check, Please!  AKA When Good Actors Happen To Bad Movies
As a film fan, there is very little more depressing than watching an actor in a film or a role that is beneath them. Over the years, as I explore more and more of the catalogs of my favorite performers, I keep running into films which have no business being on their resumes. I watch these train-wrecks and think to myself, "There is no way that you read the script for this and thought it was a good idea." I understand that actors have to live, too, but sometimes it does make you wonder if these guys value their legacies at all.

Or course, I'm not talking about the early stinkers that every actor has to do. Everyone must pay their dues, that is understandable. What I'm talking about is the well-respected thespian, the award-winner, the actor's actor doing a role that he has no business doing. Degrading himself for the sake of a paycheck. Seriously guys, you couldn't have been hurting this bad. So here, in no particular order, are my roles that should never have happened to good actors, let along great ones:

jaws-michael-caine-l.jpgMichael Caine - Jaws: The Revenge
Okay, first warning sign: This is part four of the Jaws series. Part four of any non-literary film series is doomed to be terrible. You just can't get around this, it is as much a part of life as gravity and the rotation of the Earth itself. Following the regrettable Jaws: 3-D debacle, Joseph Sargent decided it would be a great idea to bring some of the characters back, played by different actors, so see if he could somehow make Jaws worse. After thirty-eight days of what I'm sure was a lot of heavy drinking, they managed to come out with this garbage. The only big name actor in this film was one of my personal favorites, Sir Michael Caine. At first glance, there is no reason for Sir Michael to have been within 100 miles of this garbage, however, when asked about the film, he famously said: "I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific." I can at least respect the honesty.

tiptoes01.jpgGary Oldman - Tiptoes
A couple of years ago, the trailer for the dwarf family drama, Tiptoes, went viral. The film revolves around Matthew McConaughey and his struggle to tell his fiance, Kate Beckinsale, that he comes from a family of dwarves.  Yeah, that's pretty much the plot. Now, there are several real actors in this one; McConaughey, Beckinsale, Peter Dinklage, and Patricia Arquette put in their time, but the one that has me baffled is Gary Oldman. Gary "Bram Stocker's Dracula" Oldman, Gary "Sid & Nancy" Oldman, Gary "Immortal Beloved" Oldman, Gary "The Fifth FUCKING Element" Oldman. I get all dizzy at the thought of Gary Oldman walking around on his knees playing a fucking DWARF completely straight in this garbage. Now, granted, Gary has been known to show up for a paycheck in his life. Just look at Planet 51 and The Unborn, but this is some serious shit. Ugh.

trog-pepsi.jpgJoan Crawford - Trog
These days, most people who know of Joan Crawford know of her from Mommie, Dearest, the biopic exploring her relationship with her adopted daughter Christine. In that film she's shown to be a horrible, awful hag, with OCD and major control issues surrounding every facet of her life. What a lot of younger people aren't aware of is that there was a time where she was one of the most glamorous, talented, and desirable women in Hollywood. Joan Crawford even has a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Mildred Pierce. As Crawford crept up in years and her looks started to fail her, she became desperate to continue working, and became a regular on gimmick-meister William Castle's features, before finally sliding all the way to rock bottom with Trog. Trog told the story of the discovery of a caveman (get it? troglodyte = Trog) who goes on a rampage and must ultimately be destroyed. It is frequently mentioned in lists of the worst films ever made, and there is good reason for that. This marked Joan's final big screen appearance, and although she should've stopped years before, it is a good thing this ended her career, because I'd hate to see what trash she would've found herself in after Trog.

bloodrayne-poster.jpgBen Kingsley - Take Your Pick...
Ben Kingsley is an odd bird. An Oscar winner for his performance in Gandhi, Ben Kingsley seems to have absolutely no interest in maintaining any kind of dignity. He still gets decent film roles, he is, after all, a great actor; however, I get the feeling that he has never said no to a script in his life. In the last six years alone, Sir Ben Kingsley can be found in Uwe Boll's Bloodrayne, Micheal Myers' The Love Guru, Bollywood flop Teen Patti, Disney's video-game adaptation Prince of Persia, and one of the worst reviewed movies of the new century, A Sound of Thunder. In fact, he hasn't made a really great film since he was roped into Bloodrayne, he has made a couple of good ones, but nothing on the order of Sexy Beast. My point is that I get the feeling that if I called Ben Kingsley's agent and told him that my son needed a clown to make balloon animals at his birthday party, I think I'd have Gandhi ringing my doorbell within hours.

fighter-284x400.jpgRaul Julia - Street Fighter
This one just makes me sad. Raul Julia was a Tony Award winning Broadway star, as well as a Golden Globe winning film actor. His performance beside William Hurt in Kiss of the Spider Woman is one of the all-time great film acting performances. His Broadway portrayals of in Shakespearean works earned him awards and respect from his fans, critics, and peers alike. Hell, even in the two Addams Family films he was completely engaging, and his performance alongside Angelica Huston took what had the potential to be really awful comic adaptations and made them enjoyable and funny films. Then there's this. A film that is not only a video game adaptation, but also Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle, not exactly material that should appeal to the great actor that Raul Julia was. Julia reportedly took the part to get closer to his children, who were huge fans of the video game. Okay, so this would have been a blip on his resume, an unfortunate blip, but something he could have bounced back from. Oh, except for one thing. He died. Raul Julia's final gift to the world was fucking Street Fighter. Goddamn it.
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RoachgoddFebruary 1, 2011 11:19 AM

Jeremy Irons - Dungeons & Dragons

When asked why, he said he wanted to buy a castle. He did.

TealordFebruary 1, 2011 4:49 PM

On Deadly Ground with micheal caine again.

Sean Connery was in some really rubbish in the 80s.

Forrest Whitaker and William Forsyth are both great actors who'll star in pretty much any old rubbish.

J HurtadoFebruary 1, 2011 9:10 PM

Good choices, all!

Ard VijnFebruary 1, 2011 10:22 PM

Sir Laurence Olivier probably taught Michael Caine a thing or two on this front. Allegedly when Caine asked Olivier why he was in such terrible films, the grand old actor answered: "for the money, dear boy, for the money!"

coldesserFebruary 2, 2011 5:32 PM

Nicolas Cage in, well, 50% of anything he has ever done.

FleetwoodFebruary 4, 2011 6:49 AM

Everything Martin Landau did between 1978 and 1987, stuff like "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island".

KrackerFebruary 5, 2011 12:28 AM

Nicolas Cage? The guy that stays the same person in every movie? The guy that's going to have to subject us to 'National Treasure 3: The Search for Curly's Gold' because of his out-of-control spending addiction? He's such a bad actor he couldn't even alter his signature monotone voice when he did Astro Boy. I'd like to know one bad movie that was actually way beneath him among all the many carpet rides he's gotten over the years.

J HurtadoFebruary 5, 2011 6:35 PM

How about Buster Keaton in Beach Blanket Bingo, which I just watched with my son. What was that all about?

andrewzFebruary 5, 2011 7:15 PM

Ahhh. Michael "I'll make any move for $99.95" Caine. It really is sad seeing him and Peter O'Toole making so many bad movies, especially in the '70s and '80s.

coldesserFebruary 6, 2011 3:50 PM

Leaving Las Vegas
Raising Arizona
Matchstick Men
Wild at Heart
The Weather Man
The Bad Lieutenant
Bringing Out the Dead

Great movies with great performances by Nic Cage.

franktheheadMarch 21, 2011 1:38 PM

don't forget Rumble Fish!

franktheheadMarch 21, 2011 1:39 PM

Adrian Brody in Splice. How i shudder

franktheheadMarch 21, 2011 1:39 PM

oh and Caine in Miss Congeniality