Jack Nicholson, Man Trouble (1992)
You’d think anything with Jack Nicholson is automatic box office gold, but you’d be wrong. This black rom-com was slow, unfunny and unclear; managing to be sexist, racist, classist and anti-dog. Anti-dog?
It’s a hard thing to watch and even worse because you KNOW the film shouldn’t have been made. Skip this film for the classic Chinatown or As Good As it Gets and forget that Man Trouble exists.
Julia Roberts, Conspiracy Theory (1997)
Everything Julia touches should churn cash, but that’s not always the case as this film showed. The movie was bad before Hollywood turned on Mel Gibson. Inconsistent was the number one critique of the film, and the only redeeming quality of this movie was Patrick Stewart as the baddie.
The Conspiracy Theory soundtrack is good though. Revisit Julia’s earliest work in Mystic Pizza where her innocence to both film and Hollywood is apparent.
Cary Grant, Ladies Should Listen (1934)
Cary Grant started somewhere, and his early films often were stinkers, along with some of the later 60's ones too. During this time, Grant was under contract and fulfilling his duties in order to try to woo larger studios.
Ladies Should Listen would never have been made today, or even in the 1970s. If you’re looking for quintessential Cary Grant, look no further than this author’s top ten favorite The Philadelphia Story or dive into any of Grant’s performances with director Alfred Hitchcock.
Tom Hanks, The Ladykiller (2004)
The Coen Brothers rarely swing and miss, but this one did. It’s a remake of a 1955 classic but lacks the charm and wit of the original. The jokes fell flat and audiences found it terribly dark along with Tom’s mangaling southern dialect.
Opt for Tom Hank’s classics like Splash and Big from his early career. Don’t overlook the quiet film The Terminal, where Hanks gives life to a man who loses his country while midair. It’s nothing award winning, but it's genuine.
Elizabeth Taylor, The V.I.P.S. (1963)
Bless the Burtons, Elizabeth and her Richard. The V.I.P.S. was 2 hours of uninspired dialogue set on an airplane with plenty of personal troubles. It’s way worse than current air travel even thought about being and only the co-stars gave inspiring performances while Liz and Dick phoned it in.
To watch their passionate love affair begin, settle down with Cleopatra or better yet, stream Butterfield 8 where she co-starred with former husband Eddie Fisher.
Ben Stiller, The Watch (2012)
A sci-fi with adolescent/gross-out humor bent, it's sad to see headliners like Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill struggle so mightily to be funny. These guys are the kings of comedy and with a writer like Seth Rogen, it should have been box office fireworks
Originally a ‘neighborhood watch’ film, the Trayvon Martin shooting forced directors to play up the alien aspect. You didn’t know whether to root for them or feel bad that their agents lined this up for them. Cue up Zoolander for the best Ben Stiller you can find.
Nicole Kidman, Practical Magic (1998)
Co-starring Sandra Bullock, this movie was about witches and considered fairly accurate by Wiccans alike. The challenge with Practical Magic was that audiences couldn’t tell if it was a comedy, a drama, or a true to life story.
The ending was superficial and audiences wanted more from these blockbuster artists. If you haven’t seen it, To Die For is Kidman’s best work, for which she should have nabbed the Oscar.
Bradley Cooper, Aloha (2015)
Featuring a man who hits bottom in an all-star ensemble, Aloha is supposed to be a love letter to Hawaii. There’s no plot, no character development or even Hawaiian actors.
The film was considered whitewashing because the female lead was Hawaiian descent but Emma Stone was cast. If you’re looking for some great Bradley Cooper, dial up the series Alias featuring Jennifer Garner. You won’t be disappointed.
Daniel Day Lewis, Nine (2009)
If you have never heard of this film, it's okay. No one else saw it either. Loosely based on the life of Federico Fellini, the story features an overwrought director struggling with all of the women in his life.
Lewis and leading ladies Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Fergie, Sophia Loren, Nicole Kidman and Kate Hudson struggle to bring anything close to a Fellini film to fruition. Instead, hop on back to In the Name of the Father, which was an Oscar worthy/ignored moment.
Morgan Freeman, “Dreamcatcher” (2003)
This Stephen King adaptation is filled with A-listers, only the B-Movie remains. You expect weird, scary or even the unbelievable with King, and Morgan Freeman can’t save it as the lead. The movie falls apart after the first third of the movie--as the ‘dreams’ are poorly executed to the point of embarrassment.
Don’t fall for Dreamcatcher--it's a nightmare. Instead, watch his adorable turn as Hoke Colburn against Jessica Tancy in Driving Miss Daisy or see why he earned his first Oscar nomination in Street Smart.
Anne Hathaway, One Day (2011)
One Day is filmed beautifully about two childhood sweethearts who meet up every July 15. As a rom-com, it falters because it tries to make the sad moments not so sad and Hathaway’s accents were subpar.
While everyone loves her work in The Devil Wears Prada, her turn as Fantine in Les Miserables brought her life full circle as it was the first play she watched at the age of six when her mother was Fantine, which cemented her love of acting.
Matt Damon, Suburbicon (2017)
This had Oscar-level talent but was tone deaf and unfunny. Directed by pal George Clooney and co-written by the Coen Brothers, Suburbicon had people scratching their heads. This $25mm film has netted $12mm after 4 long years.
While you know Matt as the invincible Jason Bourne or as clever Linus Caldwell from the Ocean’s trilogy, you’d have a best look of him in his adaptation of John Grisham’s The Rainmaker or in the incredible remake of The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Ryan Gosling, Stay (2005)
Stay is a movie with a suicide theme running amok--it is so dark you need a flashlight to see through. Audiences were yawning after 20 minutes and had to face another hour plus to stay awake.
The movie was called an abomination to Gosling fans and no one understood the plot. Gosling is best known for his turns in The Notebook and La La Land but it's worth a trip up memory lane to catch him in Half Nelson, where he drew comparisons to Marlon Brando.
Amy Adams, Leap Year (2010)
Following an old Irish adage that women proposing to men on February 29th must accept the proposal--what could be wrong with that scenario? The movie’s take of Ireland as a backwards country with little culture riled audiences and rom-com enthusiasts alike and critics agreed that Amy Adams couldn’t help save this movie.
Her roles in Ella Enchanted, Man of Steel, and American Hustle won the audience's hearts and pocketbooks, and she fiercely held her own against Clint Eastwood in Trouble with the Curve.
Tom Cruise, Rock of Ages (2012)
As much as you want to love this movie that is loosely based on lyrics from "Don’t Stop Believin", Rock of Ages with its ensemble cast and 80’s song remakes just doesn't work.
However, only the die-hard 80s fanatics can appreciate the movie; the performances are tired and the predictability spoils the fun music. The only redeeming quality was Cruise’s live performances of "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and "Dead or Alive". His performance is 1996’s Magnolia as a motivational speaker was sublime.
Scarlett Johannsson, The Perfect Score (2004)
ScarJo may be Black Widow, but this early film was a bust. The plot line centered around the decision to break into the Princeton testing center to steal the SAT. The challenge is that this movie has already been perfected in the form of The Breakfast Club--stereotyping high school students and their actions.
Her work in Lost in Translation opposite Bill Murray was incredible as was her performance in Girl with a Pearl Earring, where her nearly silent performance was award nominated.
Johnny Depp, Mortdecai (2015)
There are a few things that Johnny Depp can’t do. He struggles with straight comedy, often recycling jokes and introducing slapstick which didn’t work. While I appreciate the lengths Depp goes into character for Mortedecai, the character himself is just a bore.
Opt for Chocolat, released in 2000, where he steals Juliette Binoche’s heart, or fast forward to 2004 and cue up Neverland where he plays J.M. Barrie.
Denzel Washington, Heart Condition (1990)
Denzel Washington is a national treasure, and this film was a waste of talent. The premise: a racist cop gets a heart transplant from a black lawyer, who is then haunted by the ghost of the lawyer.
This disappointing mix of comedy and thriller that tried to make light of death, racism and a heart attack just didn't work. Skip this little wonder and opt instead for his wicked turn as Alonzo Harris in Training Day or as Tom Hank’s lawyer in Philadelphia.
Christopher Walken, Gigli (2003)
Heavy sigh. Gigli was widely panned for BenLo, but it also included the remarkable Christopher Walken, who can usually salvage anything. And when Christopher Walken, who is cast as a police detective, can’t redeem your movie, it’s a lost cause.
Walken’s best roles are usually as a supporting actor, like in Catch Me if You Can, an eccentric film director in America’s Sweethearts, or in the 2004 remake of The Stepford Wives.
Drew Barrymore, Duplex (2003)
Drew may hail from acting royalty, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t make a stinker once in the while. In Duplex, co-starring Ben Stiller, the movie has a pretty good vibe going for it except the film was about killing someone for their apartment.
Audiences found it boring--you didn’t want to root for the couple or the old lady. Take a pass on this and watch Boys on the Side about a pregnant girl escaping her abusive boyfriend or stream The Wedding Singer and laugh at Barrymore and co-star Adam Sandler.
Leonardo Dicaprio, The Beach (2000)
Leo has made the rounds on the hollywood circuit--and The Beach is as bad as ever. I’ve seen this movie more times than necessary, and I always regret it. You want to root for Richard, but you have a hard time feeling sorry for such a miserable, entitled, shallow human being.
Leo is at his best in period pieces like The Wolf of Wall Street and The Aviator, where his character methodology takes over to create some of the best scenes ever in movie history.
George Clooney, The American (2010)
The dashing Mr. Clooney even swings and misses once in a while, and he whiffed on The American. Unable to rely on his rugged good looks, incredible comedic timing, and impish grin, the dullness of the landscape along with the glacial pace was unable to provide any traction for Clooney.
While many will cite his turn as Danny Ocean as a game changer or credit the Coen Brothers for his comedic timing, flip the channel back to ER, where he was nominated for 5 consecutive years as Dr. Doug Ross.
Sandra Bullock, Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)
Ahhh, the curse of the sequel! While no one can deny the blood pounding thriller that Speed was, Speed 2 was deemed ‘Snooze Control’. Jason Patric is no substitute for Keanu. Audiences quickly turned on the heroine and the lack of plot shark-jumping action.
Bullock rocks comedic roles that she has a knack for playing, including While You Were Sleeping and The Proposal. However, don’t overlook her thriller The Net, which seems hopelessly outdated but was cutting edge in 1995.
Jennifer Aniston, Love Happens (2009)
Here's another film you’ve likely never heard of--and for good reason. There’s a beautiful cast, and you thought you were seeing a romantic comedy. Instead, audiences were treated to a drama about bereavement and death.
There’s a lot of psycho-babble dialogue that dilutes the scenes and makes it hard for the viewer to know exactly what they’re watching. Aniston is delightful when she’s in funny movies like Horrible Bosses or as the iconic Rachel Green on Friends.
Brad Pitt, Cool World (1992)
In this straight-up rip-off of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Pitt is on the losing end of a cartoon battle. Many considered it unfinished, and the story, acting, and animation were poorly done. Reviewers dinged it as one of the most incompetent films ever, as well as being too serious to be fun.
Thankfully, Pitt’s career wasn’t riding on Cool World, and he seems to have done alright. His turn as David Mills in Seven opposite Morgan freeman was an incredible thriller and reintroduced audiences to the concept of the seven deadly sins. Brad started in the late '80s with untitled roles in No Way Out and Less than Zero.
Meryl Streep, Heartburn (1986)
Nora Ephron rarely wrote anything bad, and this movie was based on her own marriage to Carl Bernstein. Yet the premise of this movie never clicked. Jack Nicholson and Meryl are amazing actors, ut the story was just so-so, and audiences didn’t connect with characters and the whiplash of their relationship.
Meryl’s best known for her gut-wrenching performances in Sophie’s Choice and Kramer vs Kramer, but she lets her little comedic light shine in Mamma Mia.
Will Smith, After Earth (2013)
The Fresh Prince himself had a few missteps, and After Earth is one of them. You really want to like this movie--father and son starring and M. Night Shyamalan producing. The fact is that it was awful, right from the premise, and nothing, not even the star-power of Will Smith, could save it.
Audiences walked out and Smith took a break from acting altogether. Six Degrees of Separation in 1993 is worth a serious look as the film shows a young socialite couple being skillfully conned through a dinner by Will Smith’s smooth talking character, Paul.
James Stewart, Thunder Bay (1953)
Yes, even the venerable James Stewart makes a bad movie now and again. In this tale of shrimpers versus offshore drilling, everyone is a victim. As a Stewart western, set in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, moviegoers struggled to connect with any plot or energy whatsoever.
While everyone connects Stewart to the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life, it was not a big success when released. He was much better in The Philadelphia Story and all of the Hitchcock thrillers.
Al Pacino, 88 Minutes (2007)
It’s hard to see Al Pacino fail, but this gravelly voiced actor can’t save this 108 minute movie based on 88 minutes to live. With multiple background characters introduced that go nowhere and a lackluster script, this movie is widely panned as the worst of Pacino’s career.
While synonymously attached to Hollywood as Michael Corleone, Pacino did some of his best work in Glengarry Glen Ross and Heat.
Katharine Hepburn, The Trojan Women (1971)
Hollywood screen queen Katharine Hepburn brought memorable characters to life in Bringing Up Baby and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. But In The Trojan Women, an adaptation of a play by Euripides, was doomed from the start. Instead of understanding the play’s trajectory, audiences were left with 3 women standing on a beach waving torches and yelling.
One of the pictures that Hepburn was most proud of was her role as Jo March in the 1933 adaptation of Little Women, something she would refer to all her life. But without her turn as Tracy Lord in both the stage and screen productions of The Philadelphia Story, Hepburn’s career may have been for naught.