13 bad movies with great casts
george clooney monuments men

Just because you’ve got a gaggle of A-listers doesn’t mean you’ve avoided a flop. Pippa Day looks at some terrible movies with terrific casts.

george clooney monuments men
[George Clooney in The Monuments Men]

Tricking audiences into seeing bad movies by including famous names on the posters is not cool Hollywood.

When a star signs on to do a mediocre movie, it’s usually forgivable. When multiple talented actors appear in a film, we expect that it’ll be watchable. Sadly, in part due to industry favours and poor scripts, this isn’t always the case, and actors cannot carry whole movies on their own (though they’re great for promotion).

This list proves not only that very talented and attractive people can make big career faux pas, but also that success at the box office doesn’t mean that a film is good (see item 1). Take a look at this list of films, take note of the actors starring in them, and go watch their other (far superior) movies.

1. The Monuments Men (2014)

Cast: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban.

Why it’s bad: As well as the talented cast (who’ve won six Oscars between them) The Monuments Men was directed by Clooney, so he probably found it quite easy to sign up his friends for parts. The World War II film follows a lowly group of aging art experts who must find and protect paintings and statues from the Nazis. Unfortunately, the tone is all over the place. Clooney can’t decide whether he’d like to tug at your heartstrings, remind you of your patriotism, or let you leave the cinema and enroll in an art history class. In one scene, the jokey tone is interrupted with the discovery of a barrel full of holocaust victim’s gold teeth.

2. All the King’s Men (2006)

Cast: Sean Penn, Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, James Gandolfini and Patricia Clarkson.

Why it’s bad: Penn spends the whole film begging for an Oscar as the plot of this political drama tediously shuffles along for over two hours. All the King’s Men was directed by Steven Zaillian, the guy who did the screenplay for Schindler’s List, so we know he can tell a story if he wants to. But the source novel was previously adapted into a film which won the Best Picture Oscar in 1950. If it ain’t broke, don’t film it.

3. The Counselor (2013)

Cast: Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem.

Why it’s bad: Cormac McCarthy is a great novelist but his attempt at a screenplay isn’t so hot, despite the cast being so attractive it’s distracting. The film oozes with moral messages about good, evil, bad decisions and grief, when everyone knows not to get involved with big-time drug dealers. Michael Fassbender takes the central role as a Counselor who’s made a stupid mistake, and Cameron Diaz sprawls around dressed as a cheetah. Director Ridley Scott is following this one up with Exodus: Gods and Kings – which could well end up on a revised version of this list.

4. Movie 43 (2013)

Cast: Emma Stone, Richard Gere, Halle Berry, Gerard Butler, Uma Thurman, Kate Bosworth, Chloë Grace Moretz, Kristen Bell, Justin Long, Dennis Quaid, Stephen Merchant, Hugh Jackman, Chris Pratt, Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Jason Sudeikis, Elizabeth Banks, Terrence Howard, Anna Faris and Seth MacFarlane. Phew.

Why it’s bad: Voted one of the worst films of all time on multiple lists, Movie 43 is so bad-taste it’ll make you retch. Comprised of sixteen skits tackling subjects including neck-testicles, coprophilia and graphic Tampax adverts, after watching this all you’ll be left with is an overwhelming sense of pity for the cast. If you absolutely must watch a film on this list, choose any other one but this.

5. Valentine’s Day (2010)

Cast: Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Patrick Dempsey, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, Shirley MacLaine, Emma Roberts, Julia Roberts and Taylor Swift.

Why it’s bad: The first rom-com on the list, this celebration of the most sickly sweet holiday tries desperately (and fails) to recreate the charm of Love Actually. The tagline alone should keep you well away: “a day in the life of love.” Yuck. The ‘movie-star a minute’ rom-com did cash in at the box office however, resulting in item 6…

6. New Year’s Eve (2011)

Cast: Hilary Swank, Halle Berry, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Zac Efron, Ashton Kutcher, Sarah Jessica Parker, Katherine Heigl and Lea Michele.

Why it’s bad: Since Valentine’s Day was such a huge financial success, Gary Marshall decided to release a similar film for another mediocre holiday. Maybe he’ll do Pancake Day next.

7. The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)

Cast: Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith and Morgan Freeman.

Why it’s bad: Great cast, great director (Brian De Palma), yet a great big flop. This adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s bestselling novel is an awkward mess of a comedy, despite the talent on board. Set in New York City, Bonfire of the Vanities follows a conceited Wall Street investor (Tom Hanks) and an alcoholic journalist (Bruce Willis) who investigates a hit-and-run.

8. America’s Sweethearts (2001)

Cast: Julia Roberts, Billy Crystal, Catherine Zeta-Jones, John Cusack, Hank Azaria, Stanley Tucci, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin.

Why it’s bad: Julia Roberts’ character is called ‘Kiki’, and the film just isn’t funny. America’s Sweethearts  is a fake Hollywood flick about a fake celebrity couple we wouldn’t care about even if they existed. John Cusack and Catherine Zeta-Jones play the trouble-in-paradise pair and Julia Roberts waltzes in as an assistant who first tries to keep them together, but ultimately tears them further apart.

9. My Boyfriend’s Back (1993)

Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox. Almost Renée Zellweger.

Why it’s bad: Perhaps the now-famous stars can be forgiven for appearing in this ’90s zom-com, since they didn’t star in the central roles. The film follows a teen brought back from the dead to win the heart of his high-school crush. Renée Zellweger’s only scene in the movie was cut. Probably for the best.

10. Alexander (2004)

Cast: Angelina Jolie, Colin Farrell, Val Kilmer, Anthony Hopkins, Jared Leto, Rosario Dawson, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Christopher Plummer.

Why it’s bad: Two and a half hours of your life spent watching Colin Farrell in a bleach-blonde wig, shouting orders at soldiers in an Irish accent and acting coy around Jared Leto. It’s a good job that ‘the great’ wasn’t added to the title to deliberately mislead people: this bored the socks off audiences and critics alike. Anthony Hopkins – this is the second time you’ve appeared on this list. We’re watching you.

11. Psycho (1998)

Cast: Vince Vaughn, Julianne Moore, Viggo Mortensen and William H. Macy.

Why it’s bad: Gus Van Sant decided that a shot-by-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s horror-thriller, one of the greatest films of all time, was a good idea. Why?

12. The Avengers (1998)

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman, Sean Connery, Jim Broadbent and Eddie Izzard.

Why it’s bad: Not to be mistaken for Marvel’s successful superhero film, The Avengers follows two British agents protecting the world against a bizarre scientist (Connery) who wants to control the world’s weather. Armed with an absolutely mad plot, and adapted from the TV series of the same name, the film scores a measly 5% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

13. Death to Smoochy (2002)

Cast: Robin Williams, Danny DeVito, Catherine Keener and Edward Norton.

Why it’s bad: The name alone should be a huge warning to stay away, but if that doesn’t do it surely Edward Norton dressed as a horned Barney should. A black-comedy that falls flat as a dead purple rhino, Death to Smoochy explores the dark underworld of children’s television. The film was directed by DeVito, which may explain (but not excuse) the fine cast.

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