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Almost no actor makes it through their career without a huge flop on the resume-- it comes with the territory of being a working actor, especially when you're just starting out and frankly need the cash. But there's a difference between the flops an actor makes early in their career, or even the flops that happen once they're well-established, and the flops that seem to happen just as their careers are picking up steam. Just when audiences are starting to get to know and like an actor, or when Oscar buzz or "A-list star" titles start floating around, out comes some awful disaster that's so bad, everyone chooses to simply forget about it and move on.
We first put this list together when Joseph Gordon-Levitt, fresh off The Dark Knight Rises and on his way toward Looper, released the deeply silly Premium Rush. But with Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake out there wincing from the failure of Runner Runner, it seemed like as good a time as any to remind the world that bad movies really can happen to anyone-- even Batman and Jay-Z's best friend. In honor of Runner Runner and every other dumb movie made by people who ought to know better, we're looking back at some other recent actors who were on an unbeatable hot streak-- until a certain movie came along to wreck it. And because we like these actors so much and are a forgiving populace, we'd forgotten all about these disasters… until now.
Join us as we exhume the corpses of some old flops-- and some truly awful poster art-- and let us know the others we might have forgotten in the comments.
Channing Tatum in White House Down
The first time we put together this list we were picking on Tatum for reuniting with his A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints and leading the genuinely abysmal Son of No One. But this summer he added a new black mark to his resume, starring opposite Jamie Foxx in the Roland Emmerich effort White House Down, which flopped hard despite a massive marketing campaign. As you might remember there are some major fans of the movie here at Cinema Blend, but even we have to acknowledge when something we love deserves flop status no matter how hard we love it.
Bradley Cooper in The Words
Without holding the Hangover sequels against him-- contracts are a bitch, we get it-- Bradley Cooper has been on an incredible streak lately, leading surprise hits (Limitless), working with daring directors (The Place Beyond the Pines) and doing both with Silver Linings Playbook, which earned him his first Oscar nomination earlier this year. The hype around Silver Linings only made it easier to forget about The Words, a murky and dull drama in which Cooper plays a celebrated author who stole his entire novel from another man (Jeremy Irons) who comes to confront him. Even though it put Cooper opposite his real-life girlfriend at the time, Zoe Saldana, The Words is exactly as interesting as you'd think it would be to watch someone write a book. Lucky for Cooper, an Oscar nomination months after a mess like The Words allows you to move on quickly.
Bryan Cranston in Total Recall
Since becoming a pop culture phenomenon in his own right as Walter White on Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston has stuck mostly to supporting roles on screen, apparently unwilling to dig deep into a new character with Heisenberg still living in his brain (we can't blame him, really). And while many of his choices, like Argo and Drive and Contagion, have been good, a few others are more mysterious, and none as embarrassing as the totally unnecessary Total Recall remake. Casting Cranston as a villain in a sci-fi movie? Great idea! Casting Cranston in a movie as dull and chaotic and wasteful of his talents as Total Recall? Shameful. Cranston had no trouble shrugging it off, though, with the final season of Breaking Bad airing immediately after this disaster hit theaters. And now that the series is over, he'll have no trouble finding better, bigger roles to wipe this one from our consciousness entirely.
Michael Fassbender in Jonah Hex
After Hunger announced the arrival of a bonafide star in Michael Fassbender, it took a minute to realize he was the same man who stole the show in Zack Snyder’s 300. Fish Tank proved he was the real deal, and Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds stormed cinemas not long after. And then it was released. The good news is Hex was so bad, with an ensemble so large, that everybody just moved on, especially once Josh Brolin himself admitted the film was a huge waste of time and talent. Fassbender didn’t lose a single step and, to be honest, was even enjoyable in the terrible comic book adaptation.
Sandra Bullock in All About Steve
Bullock holds a very special record thanks to this complete nightmare of a movie-- she's the only actress to win an Oscar and a Razzie in the same year, and to actually show up to accept both honors. All About Steve is almost indescribably bad, a would-be comic romp that has Bullock playing a complete crazy person and Bradley Cooper looking overwhelmed as the object of her "affection." It could have been bad enough to ruin Bullock's career, but she had the good sense to pair it with The Blind Side later that year and the rom-com hit The Proposal earlier that summer, allowing most of us to forget it ever happened.
Christian Bale in Terminator: Salvation
Let’s be honest, Terminator: Salvation is a film we’d all just as soon forget. It says a lot when people would rather see the fourth installment stricken from the record instead of the former black sheep, Rise of the Machines. When Bale stepped into the role of John Connor he had just come off three greats with Christopher Nolan (two Batmans and his best, The Prestige) as well as interesting side projects like a Terrence Malick, a Werner Herzog and a Todd Haynes. Luckily everyone was eager to forget McG’s Terminator and The Fighter more than cemented the misstep in the past.
Ryan Gosling in All Good Things
Being devastatingly handsome, Ryan Gosling often takes on very risky roles to ensure filmmakers see him as more than just a pretty face. Some have paid off big, winning him critical praise (Drive), and Oscar acclaim (Half Nelson). But playing a thinly veiled version of accused wife-murderer Robert Durst in the flaccid crime-drama All Good Things was a wrong-headed wager. The tale of love gone sour and a dashing beau turned cruel killer played out less like gripping drama and more like a typical Lifetime Channel cautionary tale. But the only lesson to be learned here is: even Gosling makes mistakes.
Emma Stone in The Rocker
After breaking through with her sassy supporting role in Superbad, Emma Stone soon made the leap to leading lady in Zombieland then headliner with Easy A. Along the way to fronting the Oscar-winning drama and massive summer blockbuster that soon followed, there were a few bumps, but none so flat and flawed as the painfully unfunny Rainn Wilson vehicle The Rocker. Playing like School of Rock for the teen set, it was just plain creepy as Wilson's failed rock god Fish flounders at a second chance at fame by joining his nephew's high school band. Not even Stone can save this dud.
Tom Hanks in Larry Crowne
By the time Larry Crowne came along Hanks was pretty removed from his incredible hot streak of the 90s, but he was still about as reliable as a star can be, making hits out of everything from The Da Vinci Code franchise to The Polar Express. Larry Crowne, on the other hand, was an amiable comedy released in the summer that almost nobody bothered to see, despite the fact that it starred Hanks and Julia Roberts-- and Hanks had no one to blame but himself since he directed the damn thing. His follow-up films Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Cloud Atlas made even less money domestically, but one was a Best Picture nominee while the other was a fiercely beloved cult hit. And now that he's back in fine, Oscar-worthy form in Captain Phillips, Hanks definitely deserves to let us all forget Larry Crowne ever happened.
Anne Hathaway in Passengers
Full disclosure: we haven't actually seen this very, very underseen flop, but we did read The AV Club's marvelous "I Watched This On Purpose" piece about it, and we're confident they might be the only people who have seen it. And the clips they include seem reason enough to kindly forget this one on behalf of Hathaway, who starred in Rachel Getting Married just before Passengers got a very, very limited release, and was just about to get an Oscar nomination for it. Counting her for this supernatural thriller with a ludicrous twist ending in the midst of all that just seems cruel.
Amy Adams in Leap Year
It's hard for any young actress to avoid the rom-com trap, but Amy Adams managed to hit that pothole at a particularly bad time, a few months after the release of the surprise hit Julie & Julia, and a little less than a year before The Fighter, which earned her a third Oscar nomination. Leap Year isn't an abominably bad rom-com, just a totally forgettable one that has Adams playing the kind of flighty, bossy heroine who makes people hate the entire genre. She's moved on to better things, which makes it all that much easier to forget this ever happened.
Daniel Day-Lewis in Nine
The terrific Tumblr This Had Oscar Buzz specializes in movies like this one, which seemed to have everything going for it on paper until, well, we actually saw the movie. The fact that Daniel Day-Lewis was actually in Nine while it was happening means he probably should have warned us it was never going to happen, but who can blame him for being optimistic-- coming off a win for There Will Be Blood, and a reputation for choosing his projects extremely carefully, he probably also thought it would be a slam dunk. It's not Day-Lewis's fault Nine is a mess, but it sure is embarrassing for all of us to remember he was in the center of it.
Tom Hardy in This Means War
2012 will probably be remembered as the year that Tom Hardy truly arrived, playing the terrifying Bane in The Dark Knight Rises and the roughhousing Forrest in Lawless, all after popping up in the dynamite ensemble of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Luckily all that quality means we can totally forget This Means War, Hardy's other 2012 movie that pitted him against Chris Pine as rival spies after the same girl, in a McG movie that both audiences and critics hated alike. Tom Hardy may yet have an action comedy that works for him-- he got all the good lines in Inception, after all-- and when that comes, we can properly pretend This Means War never happened.