Actors receive plenty of criticism for their blockbuster flops. But they receive even more negative attention for terrible films that they not only starred in, but also directed. From spoofs that took a wrong turn to comedies that drew yawns instead of laughs, here are 10 of the worst films directed by their stars.
What do these movies all have in common? They received painfully low Metascore ratings, which are compiled by curating critics’ reviews, and alarmingly low percentages on the Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer. Simply put, critics were far from impressed with these 10 films.
1. Miss March (2009)
With a shockingly low Metascore of 7, Miss March is a comedy that isn’t comedic at all. The film was written, directed, and acted in by Trevor Moore and Zach Cregger, who played Tucker Cleigh and Eugene Bell, respectively.
The film tells the story of a young man who wakes up from a four-year coma to find his high school sweetheart has become a centerfold in Playboy. He decides to take a cross-country road trip with his best friend, so he can crash a party at Playboy’s headquarters and win back his girl.
Described as vulgar, disgusting, unfocused, and just plain terrible, Moore and Cregger received plenty of attention from film critics. However, none of it was positive. A New York Post review states, “My blood runs cold at the memory of Miss March, a 90-minute rip-off of the J. Geils Band song Centerfold whose multi-hyphenate creators prove themselves actor-director-writer-failures.”
2. Pinocchio (2002)
Roberto Benigni majorly missed the mark with Pinocchio. Receiving a Metascore of 11, no one was impressed by this film, in which Benigni played Pinocchio, a wooden puppet whose curiosity leads him on a series of wild adventures. This poorly made adaptation of the fairy tale actually received a 0% on the Tomatometer.
According to Rotten Tomato critic reviews, many dubbed the film as creepy and humorless, and it was even labeled as a “horrifically scary tale” on a Zap2it review. The takeaway here? If you’re in the mood to watch a movie about a wooden puppet-turned-boy, it may be best to stick with the Disney version.
3. Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)
Mel Brooks received an 11% on the Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer for Dracula: Dead and Loving It, a film he both directed and acted in. Brooks played Dr. Abraham Van Helsing in the spoof of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Critics were not impressed. A Chicago Reader review stated:
Either this is the lamest Mel Brooks comedy ever or it’s too close to other contenders to make much difference. A major liability is straight-hunk-turned-aging-lampoon-hero Leslie Nielsen as the count, if only because double Bruce Barbour seems to get almost as much screen time as Nielsen himself, which leads to a lot of choppy continuity. The set decoration has a certain charm, and so does Brooks’s uninhibited silliness, but, you should excuse the expression, most of the gags are strictly from hunger.
4. Freddy Got Fingered (2001)
According to Metacritic reviews, the movie was painfully long for the critics who had to watch and review it. The now-deceased Roger Ebert, a critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote, “This movie doesn’t scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels.”
5. Harlem Nights (1989)
Eddie Murphy did nothing but disappoint with Harlem Nights, a major flop that received a Metascore of 16. The movie centers on Sugar Ray (Richard Pryor), the owner of an illegal casino who deals with mean gangsters and corrupt policemen on a daily basis. Murphy, who directed and acted in this blockbuster flop, plays Quick. Critics agreed on one thing: Murphy’s movie was terrible and not a quick watch. According to the Washington Post:
Unfortunately, entertainer-for-life Murphy, directing for the first time, seems to have spent his energies on topping the bill rather than on the bill itself. In this limping vanity production, he works up the meanness to shoot off a woman’s toes (Della Reese’s) but not the comic spirit to stop it hurting; and with narcissistic aplomb, reduces Foxx to doddering blindness, actress-vocalist Reese to scatological cussing, Hall to an unfunny crying cameo and Pryor, his former idol (and apparently the only comedian in this movie), to double-takes and Murphy-admiring smiles.
6. I Hate Valentine’s Day (2009)
Poor Nia Vardalos. Her directorial debut was anything but a success. I Hate Valentine’s Day received a Metascore of 17 and only grossed $11,004 when it was in theaters. Vardalos plays Genevieve Gernier, a flower shop owner with a personal dating rule: only go out with a man five times in order to avoid relationships. But then Greg Gatlin comes along, and Gernier finds herself wanting to change her own rules.
This film received an “F” from the A.V. Club, which attributed the low grade to Vardalos’ character. While Gernier was supposed to appear be a true romantic with emotional issues caused by her father leaving, she actually comes off as an immature narcissist who thinks like someone in junior high. Unfortunately, the viewer only feels frustration toward Gernier.
7. Life Stinks (1991)
Directed and starred in by Mel Brooks, Life Stinks was given a 20% on the Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer. Brooks played Goddard Bolt, a cold-hearted billionaire who wants to rid Los Angeles of a poor section of town, replacing it with a high-tech commercial center. While Bolt owns part of the land, he has to purchase the other half from Vance Craswell (Jeffrey Tambor), who has no intention of selling it to Bolt. A deal is struck between the two: Craswell bets Bolt that he can’t survive a month on the streets as a homeless man. If Bolt survives, he gets the property, and if he doesn’t, Craswell gets it.
According to a Variety review, “Some effective bug-eyed, free-wheeling comedy is scattered throughout, much of it descending to the Three Stooges level of sophistication. But distressingly little is done with the vast possibilities offered by the setting and the characters populating it.”
8. Haunted Honeymoon (1986)
With a 25% rating on the Tomatometer, Haunted Honeymoon was certainly not a Hollywood hit. Gene Wilder wrote, directed, and starred in the film, where he plays Larry Abbot, a man who takes his fiancée home to the castle where he grew up with his strange and quirky family. In addition to his creepy relatives, Abbot and his fiancée Vickie Pearle (Gilda Radner) are bombarded with spooky encounters, creating a weekend that’s anything but quiet and relaxing.
A New York Times review of the film suggests the combination of humor and horror don’t work well together in Haunted Honeymoon. “Humor and horror make an uneasy combination. The audience that has been set up to laugh may find it difficult to give out with a heartfelt scream. If the spooky old castle with curtains blowing and candles sputtering and strange types prowling the corridors and sneaking through hidden doors is plainly laid on in the interests of farce, then what’s there to scream about?”
9. The Broken Tower (2011)
The biopic tells the story of poet Hart Crane while actor James Franco directs and stars as him. Chances are Franco was hoping to get some awards for the film given the subject matter. However, many viewers didn’t enjoy it. It wasn’t rated on Metacritic but has a 20% rating on the Tomatometer.
Critics pointed out how hard Franco tries in the film, but doesn’t succeed. “You should be prepared for some high-minded pretension, lots of self-consciously arty shots, and long stretches of apparently profound nothingness,” wrote Elizabeth Weitzman of New York Daily News.
10. A Madea Christmas (2013)
Many critics aren’t fans of Tyler Perry’s movies, but they are pretty successful with his fan base so he has continued creating films. Tyler Perry wrote, directed, and starred in A Madea Christmas. In the film, Madea helps her friend bring her family together for the holiday. The movie has a rating of 18% on the Tomatometer, and 28 on Metacritic.
Additional reporting by Nicole Weaver.
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