Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
There are some actors that we love to hear sing. In fact, we've compiled a list of a few performers' voices that we can't get enough of. Then there are others that really just shouldn't be given the opportunity to sing on screen. Some of them are truly terrible and some others are just misguided, but here's our look at the worst singing performances in movies.
Pierce Brosnan, Mamma Mia!
There's a reason that they used to dub actors' singing voices in musicals (Hello, Marnie Nixon!), and Brosnan is the poster child for revisiting the practice. He looks terrific in the Mediterranean locales and linen suits of Mamma Mia!, but his singing is bad enough that it almost deserves its own separate category.
Russell Crowe, Les Miserables
It's hard to know exactly what the producers were thinking when they cast Crowe in Les Miz, beyond just that he sort of looks right for the role of Inspector Javert. He certainly doesn’t sound right. Most of the rest of the cast can legitimately sing, so tossing the Gladiator star into the mix was all the more jarring.
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
There are actually worse vocal performances in Tim Burton's film about the "Demon Barber of Fleet Street"… Alan Rickman and Helena Bonham Carter to name two. The issue with Depp's singing is that he can't seem to figure out what to do with his accent. Sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not, and sometimes it morphs into a little bit of Keith Richards/Jack Sparrow.
Alec Baldwin, Rock of Ages, or...
...Tom Cruise, Rock of Ages
We tried to pick which was worse… Baldwin singing "I Can't Fight This Feeling" with Russell Brand or Cruise singing "I Want to Know What Love Is" with Malin Akerman. There was no consensus since they're both about as bad as anything you'll ever see in a movie musical. Feel free to watch them and see if you can decide... if you can make it all the way through either one.
Drew Barrymore, Music and Lyrics
We love Barrymore, really we do. She's adorable and sweet and we like having her around. It's just that her voice is a little too thin for her to be singing on camera. We thought so in Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You and we thought the same thing in her rom-com with Hugh Grant.
Michael Caine, The Muppet Christmas Carol
Okay, so it's a Muppets movie, we get it. Kermit and Miss Piggy aren't the best singers either. But both Tina Fey and Amy Adams have proven that just because you're surrounded by felt doesn't mean that you have to sing poorly. In the grand tradition of British stage actors, Caine just kind of talks his way through his singing parts. Not all traditions are good.
Cameron Diaz, My Best Friend's Wedding
Yes, the script called for her to be intentionally bad… and, by that standard, this is a dynamite performance. You know that you're in a rom-com when the crowd at a karaoke place starts going nuts for someone butchering a Dusty Springfield song.
Edward Norton, Everyone Says I Love You
This is kind of a shame, because it's clear that Norton really enjoys singing. He tosses himself into the musical performance with gusto, treating it like it's the prison cell scene from Primal Fear… which is what makes him such a good actor. It just doesn't make him a good singer. Based on Keeping the Faith and his Motorola commercial, however, it does seem like he'd be more fun at a karaoke bar than Diaz.
Adam Sandler, The Wedding Singer
Here's the mistake that a lot of people make… just because Sandler sings a lot doesn't mean that he's a good singer. We admire the fact that he likes to do it and we laughed at "The Turkey Song" and "The Hanukkah Song" on Saturday Night Live, same as everyone else… but there are limits to how much of Sandler's man-child voice that we can take. He is, however, welcome to continue serenading Barrymore once every 10 years as he did recently on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Sometimes even bad singing is sweet.
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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The trailers for Hope Springs might lead you to believe it's a romantic comedy about a couple trying to jumpstart their sexless marriage but it causes more empathetic cringing than chuckles. Audiences will be drawn to Hope Springs by its stars Meryl Streep Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell and Streep's track record of pleasing summer movies like Julie & Julia and Mamma Mia! that offer a respite from the blockbusters flooding theaters. Despite what its marketing might have you believe Hope Springs isn't a rom-com. The film is a disarming mixture of deeply intimate confessions by a married couple in the sanctuary of a therapist's office awkwardly honest attempts by that couple to physically reconnect and incredibly sappy scenes underscored by intrusive music. Boldly addressing female desire especially in older women it's hard not to give the movie extra credit for what writer Vanessa Taylor's script is trying to convey and its rarity in mainstream film. The ebb and flow of intimacy and desire in a long-term relationship is what drives Hope Springs and while there are plenty contrived moments and unresolved issues it is frankly surprising and surprisingly frank. It's a summer release from a major studio with high caliber stars aimed squarely at the generally underserved 50+ audience addressing the even more taboo topic of that audience's sex life.
Streep plays Kay a suburban wife who's deeply unsatisfied emotionally and sexually by her marriage to Arnold. Arnold who is played by Tommy Lee Jones as his craggiest sleeps in a separate bedroom now that their kids have left the nest; he's like a stone cold robot emotionally and physically and Kay tiptoes around trying to make him happy even as he ignores her every gesture. One of the most striking scenes in the movie is at the very beginning when Kay primps and fusses over her modest sleepwear in the hopes of seducing her husband. Streep makes it obvious that this isn't an easy thing for Kay; it takes all her guts to try and wordlessly suggest sex to her husband and when she's shot down it hurts to watch. This isn't a one time disconnect between their libidos; this is an ongoing problem that leaves Kay feeling insecure and undesirable.
After a foray into the self-help section of her bookstore Kay finds a therapist who holds week-long intensive couples' therapy sessions in Good Hope Springs ME and in a seemingly unprecedented moment of decisiveness she books a trip for the couple. Arnold of course is having none of it but he eventually comes along for the ride. That doesn't mean he's up for answering any of Dr. Feld's questions though. To be fair Dr. Feld (Carell) is asking the couple deeply intimate questions so if Arnold is comfortable foisting his amorous wife off with the excuse he had pork for lunch it's not so far-fetched to believe he'd be angry when Feld asks him about his fantasy life or masturbation habits.
Although Arnold gets a pass on some of his issues Kay is forthright about why and how she's dissatisfied. When Dr. Feld asks her if she masturbates she says she doesn't because it makes her too sad. Kay offers similar revelations; she's willing to bare it all to revive her marriage while Arnold thinks the fact that they're married at all means they must be happy. Carell's Dr. Feld is soothing and kind (even a bit bland) but it's always a pleasure to see him play it straight.
It's subversive for a mega-watt star to play a character that talks about how sexually unsatisfied she is and how unsexy she feels with the man she loves most in the world. The added taboo of Kay and Arnold's age adds that much more to the conversation. Kay and Arnold's attempts at intimacy are emotionally raw and hard to watch. Even when things get funny they're mostly awkward funny not ha-ha funny.
The rest of the movie is a little uneven wrapped up tightly and happily by the end. Their time spent soul-searching alone is a little cheesy especially when Kay ends up in a local bar where she gets a little dizzy on white wine while dishing about her problems to the bartender (Elisabeth Shue). Somewhere along the line what probably started out as a character study ended up as a wobbly drama that pushes some boundaries but eventually lets everyone off the emotional hook in favor of a smoothed-over happy ending. Still its disarming moments and performances almost balance it out. Although its target audience might be dismayed to find it's not as light-hearted as it would seem Hope Springs offers up the opportunity for discussion about sexuality and aging at a time when books and films like 50 Shades of Grey and Magic Mike are perking up similar conversations. In the end that's a good thing.
In the spirit of the Fourth of July, Hollywood.com has put together a list of fifty movies with the word "America" in the title. Movies that have truly exemplified what our country is about. Movies that have made us appreciate our history and freedom. Movies about love, passion, overcoming obstacles... and a talking can of vegetable soup
AIR AMERICA Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jr. debate the morality of flying drugs to Laos during the Vietnam War
AMERICA, AMERICA A Greek kid loses a lot of money and wants to come to the U.S.
AMERICA’S SWEETHEARTS Julia Roberts and John Cusack like each other
THE AMERICAN George Clooney is involved with assassinry
AN AMERICAN AFFAIR A young kid works in the Kennedy era for a woman who has great semblance to Marilyn Monroe
AMERICAN ANTHEM Some girl convinces a retired gymnast to do gymnastics again
AMERICAN BEAUTY Kevin Spacey wants to sleep with a teenager; his neighbor films litter
THE AMERICAN CAN Will Smith’s upcoming film on Hurricane Katrina
AN AMERICAN CAROL Michael Moore and Charles Dickens are treated with contempt
AMERICAN COWSLIP They actually misspelled “loser” in the trailer for this movie
AN AMERICAN CRIME Catherine Keener holds Juno hostage for some reason
AN AMERICAN DREAM Police and gangsters pursue a murderous talk show host
AMERICAN DREAMER A writer goes to Paris and becomes delusional
AMERICAN DREAMZ A misguided melding of terrorism and televised singing competitions
AMERICAN FLYERS Kevin Costner and his crazy brother ride bikes in the mountains
AMERICAN FUSION A Chinese immigrant with a crazy family falls for a Mexican doctor
AMERICAN GANGSTER Denzel Washington gets rich doing bad things
AMERICAN GIGOLO Richard Gere paves the way for Rob Schneider’s career
AMERICAN GRAFFITI The 60s were better than other times
AMERICAN HISTORY X Edward Norton is a pretty big racist for a while
AMERICAN IDIOT They’re making the Green Day album into a movie now
AMERICAN OUTLAWS Colin Farrell is a very modernized Jesse James
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS Gene Kelly is involved in a love triangle, for a change
AMERICAN PIE A bunch of kids try to lose their virginities
AMERICAN PIE 2 Those same kids get a house on Lake Michigan
AMERICAN PIE 3 / AMERICAN WEDDING The main kid gets married to the girl who started as a one-off joke
AMERICAN PIE 4 / AMERICAN REUNION One of the kids is probably going to get caught in a compromising position
THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT President Michael Douglas loves Lobbyist Annette Bening
AMERICAN PSYCHO Christian Bale wears suits, likes Huey Lewis, and kills people
AMERICAN SPLENDOR Paul Giamatti as Harvey Pekar in the cartoonist’s biopic… which also stars Harvey Pekar
AMERICAN STRAYS Ten nut jobs drive through the Midwest; there’s a lot of killing
AN AMERICAN SUMMER Modern reimagining of Tom Sawyer, sort of
AMERICAN TABOO A photographer prefers to take pictures than to talk to people
AN AMERICAN TAIL Fievel makes us all believe in hope
AMERICAN VIOLET A black single mom is racially-profiled for dealing drugs in Texas
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON There’s an American werewolf in London
BIRDS OF AMERICA Matthew Perry’s siblings are out of their minds
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER Skinny Brooklynite will become the ultimate soldier and save the world
COMING TO AMERICA Eddie Murphy in whiteface tells a joke about spoons
IN AMERICA Family of Irish immigrants adjust to American life
KIDS IN AMERICA Claire Dumphy is an unreasonable high school principal who incurs the wrath of her students
KIT KITTREDGE: AN AMERICAN GIRL Abigail Breslin proves that all kids are smarter than all adults
KNUTE ROCKNE, ALL AMERICAN Ronald Reagan makes the most parodied movie speech ever
THE LAST AMERICAN HERO Jeff Bridges drives past and makes his own liquor
THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN A group of friends fight, do drugs, have sex, and maybe learn a little something
ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA Robert DeNiro plays against type as a conflicted gangster
TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE Puppets fight al Qaeda, Kim Jong Il, and Matt Damon
THE QUIET AMERICAN Michael Caine is a reporter in the adaptation of a book I was supposed to read in college
THE UGLY AMERICAN Marlon Brando goes to Southeast Asia and takes offense to Communism
WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER Christopher Meloni fondles is sweaters
Let's hear it for the old guy who in this movie comes off sexier than his buff young accomplice (Dermot Mulroney). OK the old guy happens to be the gracefully aging icon Paul Newman -- as a feisty heistmeister who dodges a long prison sentence and then teams up with his equally conniving rest-home nurse (Linda Fiorentino) on a bank job gone wrong. "Where the Money Is" is breezy suspenseful and as much a love story as anything else -- if you call mentoring a new life in crime a kind of love. The mission-improbable caper is no more or less entertaining than a "Rockford Files" rerun but the film's swerving joyride takes its real thrills from the great escape that Fiorentino's Bonnie Parker makes from a dead-end life in the married lane.
Newman still hasn't lost it and as Henry Manning he doesn't miss any nuances in the edgy balance between streetwise wariness and amiable rapport with his sultry new colleague. The steam-powered Fiorentino has forged her career by making danger look casual and this is her most alluring work since "The Last Seduction" added another zero to her salary. Her chemistry with Newman a flirty twist on the idea of honor among thieves is really what makes this movie worth seeing. Mulroney is serviceable as the dim but lovable hubby a supporting role that's more foil than fully etched character.
We can all thank director Marek Kanievska for deciding not to have the May-December duo end up in the sack and leaving them simply professional cohorts. The director's admirable sense of comic timing works all the better by not letting the laughs get in the way of his leads' exploration of their characters -- although there's no denying the limits of this frothy genre. Perhaps Kanievska's greatest feat here is allowing Newman to retain his dignity in close-up.