Every career — especially show business — has its share of missteps. We remember actors and actresses for their best films, but most of their careers are also beset with lousy movies, some of them so bad we have to wonder what possessed them to agree to the project in the first place. While we can’t know what the actors were thinking when they signed on, we can laugh and enjoy some of the more memorable missteps in film history. These are 10 of the worst movies that feature some of Hollywood’s best actors, stars who probably should’ve known better.
1. Collateral Beauty
Starting in the recent past, Collateral Beauty was another in the long line of misguided Will Smith vehicles, but this time the former Fresh Prince dragged quite a few A-listers down into the sentimental muck with him. Generally reliable talent like Edward Norton, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, and Kate Winslet are also stuck suffering through a treacly, badly constructed, and oddly-mean-spirited plot. The story is as much about underhanded business tactics as it is about coming to terms with loss by speaking with the supposed physical manifestations of time, love, and death. Yeah, it’s weird.
2. Movie 43
How did so many good actors agree to be in a comedy that is so bad? Maybe it was the presence of several oft-hilarious people behind the camera. They certainly weren’t convinced by the script, which is nothing more than a collection of “comedic” sketches that are always gross and never funny. If you’ve always wanted to see Hugh Jackman with a scrotum for a chin, or actors like Dennis Quaid, Chris Pratt, Naomi Watts, Richard Gere, Uma Thurman, Emma Stone, and Kate Winslet (again!) in any number of similarly highbrow sketches, this is the movie for you.
3. Battlefield Earth
John Travolta squawks his way through his most over-the-top performance to date as Terl, the dreadlocked alien villain of Battlefield Earth, the film adaptation of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s longest sci-fi novel. There’s just about nothing redeemable in this nauseating, nonsensical wannabe epic, but at least Travolta’s involvement is unsurprising given his ties to Scientology — the same cannot be said for his costar, Forest Whitaker.
4. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation
This sorta-sequel was nothing more than a half-assed attempt to milk a horror franchise for all it was worth. This film is so bad it wasn’t released for three years after its completion — at which point its once-unknown stars, Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger had earned names for themselves by appearing in far better movies. This film, on the other hand, is just a lousy stain on the franchise and on the actors’ respective careers.
Tiptoes is an Oscar bait film so bizarre in its tone, execution, and concept, it seems to be from another dimension. But alas, it has actors from this one, including Matthew McConaughey (again!), Kate Beckinsale, and Gary Oldman in his most unconvincing role ever, as a little person. The film tries to take a sobering look at the prejudices against little people but falters hopelessly. The only part of it that works at all, is actor Peter Dinklage having a ball playing a stuffy French playboy.
6. Jaws: The Revenge
Another horror franchise entry so bad it almost sullies the memory of the original, Jaws: The Revenge is a movie so dumb it has the shark follow Brody’s widow across the ocean, apparently in search of revenge. These things matter a lot to great white sharks. Michael Caine stars, and he’s actually offered insight into why he agreed to the movie, saying, “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.”
7. Batman & Robin
George Clooney wasn’t the esteemed Hollywood fixture he is today when he donned the black cape to play the caped crusader in 1997’s Batman & Robin, but rather a TV hunk trying to make his mark in film. The movie, which also stars Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, is little more than an ugly, pun-infested toy commercial with nothing of redeeming value except unintentional hilarity. It’s a miracle Clooney’s career became what it is after this big-budget monstrosity.
8. Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2
Remember Deliverance? That was a great movie, but never mind, now it’s 2004 and Jon Voight is starring in a movie called Superbabies, acting against a bunch of toddlers who talk with the assistance of some awkward CGI effects. Many great actors of yesteryear have sunk to disappointing depths in their later years, but none worse than this.
No less than Sir Ben Kingsley appears in this truly unfortunate video game adaptation about vampires, directed by the notoriously awful director, Uwe Boll. Kingsley does little more than deliver awkward speeches like a second-rate Palpatine — it’s a long way to fall for an actor who once won an Academy Award for portraying Gandhi.
10. Boat Trip
Here’s one that might actually have derailed its star’s entire career path. Cuba Gooding Jr. followed an Oscar-winning turn in the beloved Jerry Maguire with Boat Trip, a film about two straight guys looking for love who accidentally end up on — wait for it — a GAY cruise! Hilarious, right? Actually no — this misguided sex romp wasn’t funny upon its release in 2002, and it’s only gotten worse with time.
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