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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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Stan Diego Comic-Con

Stan Against Evil returns November 1st.

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Photo Credit: Erin Resnick, GIFs via Giphy

Another Comic-Con International is in the can, and multiple nerdgasms were had by all – not least of which were about the Stan Against Evil roundtable discussion. Dana, Janet and John dropped a whole lotta information on what’s to come in Season 2 and what it’s like to get covered in buckets of demon goo. Here are the highlights.

Premiere Date!

Season 2 hits the air November 1 and picks up right where things left off. Consider this your chance to seamlessly continue your Halloween binge.

Character Deets!

Most people know that Evie was written especially for Janet, but did you know that Stan is based on Dana Gould’s dad? It’s true. But that’s where the homage ends, because McGinley was taken off the leash to really build a unique character.

Happy Accidents!

Improv is apparently everything, because according to Gould the funniest material happens on the fly. We bet the writers are totally cool with it.

Exposed Roots!

If Stan fans are also into Twin Peaks and Doctor Who, that’s no accident. Both of those cult classic genre benders were front of mind when Stan was being developed.

Trailer Treasure!

Yep. A new trailer dropped. Feast your eyes.

Catch up on Stan Against Evil’s first season on the IFC app before it returns November 1st on IFC.

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Grow TFU

Adulting Like You Mean It

Commuters makes its debut on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Jared Warner, Nick Ciavarella, and Tim Dean were once a part of Murderfist, a group of comedy writers, actors, producers, parents, and reluctant adults. Together with InstaMiniSeries’s Nikki Borges, they’re making their IFC Comedy Crib debut with the refreshingly-honest and joyfully-hilarious Commuters. The webseries follows thirtysomethings Harris and Olivia as they brave the waters of true adulthood, and it’s right on point.

Jared, Nick, Nikki and Tim were kind enough to answer a few questions about Commuters for us. Here’s a snippet of that conversation…

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IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Nick: Two 30-somethings leave the Brooklyn life behind, and move to the New Jersey suburbs in a forced attempt to “grow up.” But they soon find out they’ve got a long way to go to get to where they want to be.

IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jared: It’s a show about how f*cking stupid people who think they are smart can be.

IFC: What’s your origin story? When did you all meet and how long have you been working together?

Jared: Nick, Tim, and I were all in the sketch group Murderfist since, what, like 2004? God. Anyway, Tim and Nick left the group to pursue other frivolous things, like children and careers, but we all enjoyed writing together and kept at it. We were always more interested in storytelling than sketch comedy lends itself to, which led to our webseries Jared Posts A Personal. That was a show about being in your 20s and embracing the chaos of being young in the city. Commuters is the counterpoint, i guess. Our director Adam worked at Borders (~THE PAST!!~) with Tim, came out to a Murderfist show once, and we’ve kept him imprisoned ever since.

IFC: What was the genesis of Commuters?

Tim: Jared had an idea for a series about the more realistic, less romantic aspects of being in a serious relationship.  I moved out of the city to the suburbs and Nick got engaged out in LA.   We sort of combined all of those facets and Commuters was the end result.

IFC: How would Harris describe Olivia?

Jared: Olivia is the smartest, coolest, hottest person in the world, and Harris can’t believe he gets to be with her, even though she does overreact to everything and has no chill. Like seriously, ease up. It doesn’t always have to be ‘a thing.’

IFC: How would Olivia describe Harris?

Nikki:  Harris is smart, confident with a dry sense of humor but he’s also kind of a major chicken shit…. Kind of like if Han Solo and Barney Rubble had a baby.

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

Nikki:  I think this is the most accurate portrayal of what a modern relationship looks like. Expectations for what your life is ‘supposed to look like’ are confusing and often a let down but when you’re married to your best friend, it’s going to be ok because you will always find a way to make each other laugh.

IFC: Is the exciting life of NYC twentysomethings a sweet dream from which we all must awake, or is it a nightmare that we don’t realize is happening until it’s over?

Tim: Now that i’ve spent time living in the suburbs, helping to raise a two year old, y’all city folk have no fucking clue how great you’ve got it.

Nikki: I think of it similar to how I think about college. There’s a time and age for it to be glorious but no one wants to hang out with that 7th year senior. Luckily, NYC is so multifaceted that you can still have an exciting life here but it doesn’t have to be just what the twentysomethings are doing (thank god).

Jared: New York City is a garbage fire.

See the whole season of Commuters right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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C'mon Fellas

A Man Mansplains To Men

Why Baroness von Sketch Show is a must-see.

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Mansplaining is when a man takes it upon himself to explain something to a woman that she already knows. It happens a lot, but it’s not going to happen here. Ladies, go ahead and skip to the end of this post to watch a free episode of IFC’s latest addition, Baroness von Sketch Show.

However, if you’re a man, you might actually benefit from a good mansplanation. So take a knee, lean in, and absorb the following wisdom.

No Dicks

Baroness von Sketch Show is made entirely by women, therefore this show isn’t focused on men. Can you believe it? I know what you’re thinking: how will we know when to laugh if the jokes aren’t viewed through the dusty lens of the patriarchy? Where are the thinly veiled penis jokes? Am I a bad person? In order: you will, nowhere, and yes.

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Huge Balls

Did you know that there’s more to life than poop jokes, sex jokes, body part jokes? I mean, those things are all really good things, natch, and totally edgy. But Baroness von Sketch Show does something even edgier. It holds up a brutal funhouse mirror to our everyday life. This is a bulls**t world we made, fellas.

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Oh Canada

After you watch the Canadian powerhouses of Baroness von Sketch Show and think to yourself “Dear god, this is so real” and “I’ve gotta talk about this,” do yourself a favor and think a-boot your options: Refrain from sharing your sage wisdom with any woman anywhere (believe us, she gets it). Instead, tell a fellow bro and get the mansplaining out of your system while also spreading the word about a great show.

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Dudes, that’s the deal.
Women, start reading again here:


Check out the preview episode of Baroness von Sketch Show and watch the series premiere August 2 on IFC.

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