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DID YOU READ

8 Examples of Great Actors in Terrible Movies

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By Jeff Finkle

Who knows why great actors agree to appear in awful movies? It could be because they put blind faith in a director, or they don’t bother to read the script until they show up on set. Or, more likely the answer is that divorces are expensive or they lost a few million to Adam Sandler in poker. In honor of this week’s Comedy Bang! Bang! guest Michael Sheen, here’s a look at what happens when bad movies happen to great actors.

1. Laurence Olivier, The Jazz Singer (1980)

What do you do after spending your life becoming the greatest interpreter of Shakespeare the stage has ever known and earning a name that becomes synonymous with the craft of acting? You take on the only acting challenge you have left, playing the strict Cantor father to Neil Diamond’s rebellious singer son. As in the original 1927 classic “talkie,” Diamond’s aspiring songwriter does unfortunately wear blackface in order to perform on stage. In this ill-conceived 1980 remake, Diamond forsakes his hard-ass father and his religion so he can go to L.A., shack up with a shiksa and fulfill his destiny by singing “Love on The Rocks.” After playing a Nazi dentist who tortures Dustin Hoffman in The Marathon Man, perhaps Olivier thought he owed it to the Jewish people to play Neil Diamond’s Papa.


2. Michael Caine, Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

There’s no debating that Michael Caine is one of the all-time greatest actors. It’s also not debatable that Jaws: The Revenge is one of the worst movies ever made. Apparently killer sharks are a lot like Michael Caine’s career — they never, ever stop. Not unlike like Phil Collins, Michael Caine was seemingly everywhere in the ’80s, and regrettably for him, he chose to be upstaged by an animatronic shark. By the fourth installment of Jaws, this shark was more laughable than frightening. When later asked if he had actually scene the movie, Caine would famously remark, “I have never seen it [the film], but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific!”


3. Michael Sheen, The Twilight Saga (2009-2012)

Michael Sheen has built an excellent career, as an actor in both England and America, and you can’t totally blame him for wanting to be a part of a mammoth blockbuster like Twilight. Anyone watching these movies without Twi-hard goggles would surely root for Aro to kill Edward for being such a whiny, boring vampire. (Sheen was once a Lycan in the Underworld films and Lycans hate mopey vampires.) Michael Sheen brought some campy energy and a great cackle of a laugh to this lifeless teen romance disguised as a vampire fantasy film.

 


4. Bill Nighy, I, Frankenstein (2014)

I, Frankenstein tried to reinvent the monster movie by turning Frankenstein into a bad ass super hero, but in the words of the late, great Phil Hartman, “FIRE BAD!,” and so was I, Frankenstein. British actor Bill Nighy did get to play a demon prince/billionaire in this story, but even his gravitas couldn’t save this critically panned film. Apparently, the world isn’t ready for a Frankenstein with great abs. One can only imagine Bill Nighy talking to his agent as his character from Love, Actually and saying “What have you gotten me into?” before taking a drink and peeing on his copy of the script.

5. Robert De Niro, The Bagman (2014)

There are bad movies and then there is the rare bad movie that is so bad that you wonder how it ever became a concept, much less made. The Bagman is such a movie. The Bagman is so bad, both Siskel and Ebert are surely rolling over to write reviews from the grave. This is the low budget film that should have been a no-budget film. John Cusack is in almost every minute of the film and plays a mob bagman waiting at a seedy motel for a delivery from De Niro’s character. Let’s just say, the mystery isn’t what’s in the bag, it’s who talked both Cusack and De Niro into appearing in this wanna-be Pulp Fiction neo-noir mess.


6. Al Pacino, Jack and Jill (2011)

It takes a special kind of film to win in every category at the Golden Raspberries, and Adam Sandler’s attempt to “Out-Sandler” himself reaches its peak with Jack and Jill. In terms of Sandler movies, Jack and Jill makes Little Nicky look like Billy Madison. Adam Sandler and Adam Sandler star in this heartwarming tale of a man and his “identical” twin sister reunited for Thanksgiving. You have to hand it to Sandler; he somehow convinced Al Pacino to perform a hip hop ode to the Dunkin Donuts Dunkaccino.


7. Ben Kingsley, The Love Guru (2008)

It’s an understatement to say that legendary actor Ben Kingsley has great range, and you would think that casting the actor who formerly played Gandhi as Mike Myers’ Indian mentor, Guru Tugginmypudha, would be comedy gold. But, alas that is not the case with The Love Guru. Myers’ Guru Pitka is like a character that was written out of Austin Powers: Goldmember at the last minute for being too culturally insensitive.


8. Forrest Whitaker, Battlefield Earth (2000)

It’s tough to find anything more unintentionally funny than seeing John Travolta and Forrest Whitaker, looking like a bizarre cross between Star Trek‘s Worf and the Cowardly Lion, in Battlefield Earth. John Travolta waited years to make Battlefield Earth, based on the L. Ron Hubbard novel, and he spent millions of his own money to get it made. He’s lucky he wasn’t forced to pay back every person who actually paid to see this historically bad movie in the theater. It’s a testament to Forrest Whitaker’s impressive body of work as an actor that Battlefield Earth was just a blip in his career and it’s a testament to Travolta’s agent that he was able to ever get paid to act again. Fun fact: This movie held the record for most Razzie wins, until Sandler’s Jack and Jill knocked them off their pedestal.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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