Warner Bros via Everett Collection
Going back to the earliest days of both movies and television, producers have been enamored with putting sports celebrities on screen. They're some of the most recognizable people in the country and bring along a built-in audience of fans from their athletic exploits.
Of course, there is one issue that's a little hard to get around… most of the athletes that have been tapped to appear in movies can't act. We're taking a look at the most awesomely bad performances by athletes in movies… from ones that are just laughably amateurish to the truly unwatchable; the work by this group would make Lee Strasberg cry.
Shaquille O'Neal, Kazaam
In interviews, O'Neal can be utterly charming and he frequently looks like he's having a good time. Absolutely none of that translates to the big screen, however. The 7-foot-1 basketball player is a genie who emerges from a boombox and tries to help a kid (Francis Capra) who's got father issues. You'd think that a movie with a genie would be at least fun, but it has way too many dark moments and O'Neal's mugging doesn't help any. The movie was so bad that director Paul Michael Glaser hasn't got behind the camera since.
Charles Barkley, Space Jam
It's easy to point out that Michael Jordan is bad in the 1996 mix of animation and live action since he was the star of the show (along with Bugs Bunny, of course), but really, what did we expect? Jordan acted about as well as he ever did in his commercials and the rest of the NBA players, from Larry Bird to Patrick Ewing are equally awful. Barkley, however, as we've now learned from his work as a studio host for TNT has enough personality that he could’ve done better than the stiff performance that he gave.
Dan Marino, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
It's always amazing when athletes can't even play themselves convincingly. In Jim Carrey's breakout hit, Marino — along with a dolphin — is the subject of a kidnapping scheme. Marino's a good looking guy, but that's about the best thing that we can say about his abilities as an actor. When you're outdone by a sea mammal, things are pretty bad. Of course, as much as we don't like his acting, we still like him better than the movie's Mrs. Finkle, the character who famously said, "Dan Marino should die of gonorrhea and rot in hell."
O.J. Simpson, Capricorn One
Back before the Juice had his troubles with the law, he had quite the acting career. Most people remember his turn as Leslie Nielsen's partner in the Naked Gun series, but at one point, Simpson was legitimately trying to act. That's what puts his turn in Capricorn on the list. Playing a duped astronaut, along with James Brolin and Sam Waterston, who is unwittingly part of a fake mission to Mars, Simpson is all caged fury at the outrage of it all. At least the movie has some pretty rad late '70s hairdos going for it.
Wilt Chamberlain, Conan the Destroyer
At least there was logic to Chamberlain's casting in the rushed sequel to Conan the Barbarian… if you're looking for someone even more physically imposing than Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wilt certainly fits the bill. The towering Chamberlain plays a guard named Bombaata who is supposed to help Conan on a quest before killing him. Let's just say that doesn't work out too well for The Stilt. Considering his claims of prodigious sexual conquests, we're sure that Chamberlain had fun shooting the movie… and, really, he doesn’t look any more ridiculous than Grace Jones.
Dennis Rodman, Double Team
How many people can say that they were in a movie with Jean-Claude Van Damme and they were the worst actor on set? Rodman, at the height of his fame for his outrageous behavior, made the Muscles from Brussels look like Robert De Niro in comparison. The plot of the movie runs along the lines of most other JCVD flicks, with Rodman playing an arms dealer. The Worm is tasked with saying such classic lines as, "You look like trouble. I like trouble." There are a lot of explosions and Van Damme does his requisite butt-kicking, even taking on a tiger, but Rodman spends the movie seemingly smirking at the thought that someone's paying him to do… well, whatever it was he was doing.
Mike Tyson, The Hangover
Yes, The Hangover is a very funny movie and, yes, the scenes with Tyson are hysterical. Those two facts do not make Iron Mike a good actor. The former heavyweight champion just plays a slightly less scary version of himself and you get the impression that the mixture of awe and fear on Bradley Cooper's face wasn't a stretch with the real Tyson standing in front of him. As comical as it was to watch — due largely to Tyson's public persona — his reaction at the video of Zack Galifianakis peeing in his pool is on the level of a third grade school play. Just, um, maybe don't tell him we said so.
Howie Long, Firestorm
The longtime Los Angeles Raiders defensive lineman did a credible job as one of John Travolta's henchmen in the John Woo actioner Broken Arrow. That's where Long's acting career should've ended. Instead, he signed on to play the lead in a movie about the leader of a team of wild firefighters who has to rescue people trapped in a fire started by an escaped killer played by William Forsythe. The fact that someone actually bought that pitch is irrelevant and it's hard to fault Long for taking the payday, but the preposterousness of the plot is matched only by the football star's terrible line delivery. The best part of the movie is that it's mercifully short, clocking in at just 89 minutes.
Terry Bradshaw, Failure to Launch
Let's forget for a second the stretch of casting Bradshaw and Kathy Bates as Matthew McConaughey's parents. Let's even put aside the fact that the movie's awfulness has more to do with the nonexistent chemistry between McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker than anything the four-time Super Bowl winner did. The question that truly needs to be addressed is who the heck thought the idea of having Bradshaw naked in the movie was a good idea? God love him for being down for it, but the image of the former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback's naked rear-end is one of those things that you can't unsee. Bradshaw got his start in acting doing cameos in his buddy Burt Reynolds' films and luckily, he doesn't go too far out of his way to get parts. Why people feel the need to occasionally give him one is a whole other question.
TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
An hour and change into Pompeii, there's a volcano. You'd think there might have been a volcano throughout — you'd think that the folks inhabiting the ill-fated Italian village would have been dealing with the infamous volcano for the full 110 minutes. After all, volcano movies have worked before. Volcano, for instance. And the other one. But for some reason, Pompeii feels the need to stuff its first three quarters with coliseum battles, Ancient Rome politics, unlikely friendships, and a love story. But we don’t care. We can't care. None of it warrants our care. Where the hell is the volcano, already?
To answer that: it's off to the side — rumbling. Smoking. Occasionally spiking the neighboring community with geological fissures or architectural misgivings. Pretty much executing every trick picked up in Ominous Foreshadowing 101, but never joining the story. Not until Paul W.S. Anderson shouts, "Last call," hitting us with a final 20-odd minutes of unmitigated disaster (in a good way). If you've managed to maintain a waking pulse throughout the lecture in sawdust that is Pompeii's story, then you might actually have a good time with the closing sequence. It has everything you’d expect — everything you had been expecting! — and delivers it with gusto. Torpedoes of smoke running hordes of idiot villagers out of their homes and toward whatever safety the notion of forward has to offer. Long undeveloped characters rising to the occasion to rescue hapless princesses who thought it might be a good idea to set their vacation homes at the foot of a lava-spewing mountain. The whole ordeal is actually a lot of laughs. But it amounts to a dessert just barely worth the tasteless dinner we had to force down to get there.
TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
To get through the bulk of Pompeii, we recommend focusing all your attentions away from the effectively bland slave/gladiator/hero Kit Harington — sorry, Jon Snow (he's actually called a bastard at one point) — and onto his partner in crime: a scowling Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje — sorry, Mr. Eko (he and Snow actually trade valedictions by saying "I'll see you at another time, brother" at one point) — who warms up to his fellow prize fighter during their shared time in the klink, and delivers his moronic material with a sprinkle of flair. Keeping the working man down is Kiefer Sutherland — sorry, Jack Bauer — as an ostentatious Roman senator, doling out vainglory in Basil Fawlty-sized portions. When he's not spitting scowls at peasants, ol' JB is undermining the efforts of an earnest local governor Jared Harris — sorry, Lane Pryce (he actually calls someone a mad man at one point) — and his wife Carrie-Anne Moss — sorry, Katherine O'Connell from Vegas (joking! Trinity) — and finagling the douchiest marriage proposal ever toward their daughter Emily Browning — sorry, but I have no idea what she's from.
But questionable television references and some enjoyably daft performances by Eko and Jack can't really make up for the heft of mindless dullness that Pompeii passes off as its narrative... until the big showstopper.
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In truth, the last sequence is a gem. It's fun, inviting, and energizing, and might even call into question the possibility that Pompeii is all about how futile life, love, friendship, politics, and pride are when even the most egregiously complicated of plots can be taken out in the end by a sudden volcanic eruption. But you have to wade through that egregious complication to get there, and you shouldn't expect to have too much of a good time doing so.
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Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.
After garnering widespread praise (and an Oscar nomination for screenwriting) for his 2000 directorial debut You Can Count on Me Kenneth Lonergan was in-demand. In September 2005 the writer/director began production on a follow-up feature: Margaret which touted Anna Paquin Matt Damon Mark Ruffalo Matthew Broderick Allison Janney as well as legendary filmmakers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) as producers. The movie wrapped production in a few months time. The buzz was already growing.
Now six years later the movie is finally hitting theaters. So…what took so long?
The journey to this point hasn't been an easy one and it shows. If a film's shot footage is a block of granite and the editing process is the careful carving that turns it into a statuesque work of art Margaret feels like it was attacked by a blind man with a jackhammer. The film is a cinematic disaster a mishmash of shallow characters overwrought politics and sporadic tones. The story follows Lisa Coen (Paquin) a New York teenager who finds herself drowning in chaos after distracting a bus driver (Ruffalo) causing him to hit and kill a pedestrian (Janney). Initially Lisa tells the police it was all an accident but as time passes regret takes hold and the girl embarks on a mission to take down the man she now regards as a culprit. That's just the tip of the iceberg–along the way Lisa deals with everyday teen stuff: falling for her geometry teacher (Damon) combating her anxiety-ridden actress mother losing her virginity dabbling in drugs debating 9/11 and the Iraq War cultivating a relationship with her father in LA and more. There are about eight seasons of television stuffed into Margaret but even a two and a half hour run time can't make it all click.
For more on Margaret check out Indie Seen: Margaret the Long Lost Anna Paquin/Matt Damon Movie
Top Story: Kidman Wins an Apology
British newspaper the Daily Mail paid substantial damages as well as issued a public apology Thursday to actress Nicole Kidman for suggesting she had an adulterous affair with her Cold Mountain co-star Jude Law, Reuters reports. Kidman filed the lawsuit after the paper published the article in March, while she and Law, who is married to British actress Sadie Frost, both strongly denied the report. Daily Mail later conceded it was untrue, but the actress's defense lawyers said her reputation has suffered as a result. "The publication of this article has caused grave damage to the claimant's personal and professional reputation and she has suffered considerable embarrassment and distress," Reuters reports Kidman's defense lawyer told the High Court in London. The judge ruled in her favor and ordered the Daily Mail to pay damages and legal costs. The size of the payout was not disclosed.
Baryshnikov Joins Sex Cast
Dance legend Mikhail Baryshnikov has signed to play Sarah Jessica Parker's love interest in the last eight episodes of HBO's Sex and the City, according to The Associated Press. Baryshnikov will play the popular international artist Alexander Petrovsky, who meets Parker's alter ego Carrie Bradshaw at an art gallery and eventually falls in love with her. The final eight episodes of the series will air beginning in January.
Bob Hope Buried in Quiet Ceremony
Bob Hope, who died Sunday at the age of 100, was buried Wednesday in a temporary grave while his close friends and family paid tribute. Hope's longtime spokesman Ward Grant told Reuters the entertainer was buried at the San Fernando Mission cemetery in suburban Los Angeles after a Mass in the chapel of St. Charles Borromeo Church and explained that a grotto would be built next to the cemetery to serve as Hope's final resting place.
Brady to Write Memoir
Improv pro and Emmy-winning talk show host Wayne Brady is writing his memoirs entitled Making It Up As I Go Along, which deals with the comedian's experiences with family, career, death, personal struggles and celebrity, AP reports. The book is due out in May 2004.
Stones Headlined "SARSstock"
Rolling Stones, AC/DC and a dozen other acts performed a concert in Toronto Wednesday to help the city regain some of the tourism lost when the SARS virus (severe acute respiratory syndrome) racked the city several months ago. "I don't think people realize, certainly internationally ... what the health care workers in this city have been through. It's just an incredible sacrifice," Geddy Lee, frontman of Canadian band Rush, told Reuters. A chunk of the proceeds from ticket and merchandise sales will go to relief funds for hospitality and health workers.
Recording Industry Legend Sam Phillips Dies
Rock 'n' roll pioneer Sam Phillips, best known for founding Sun Records, the company that discovered Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and B.B. King, died on Wednesday in Memphis, Tenn., at age 80. Reuters reports Phillips died at St. Francis Hospital in Memphis, the Mississippi Delta town where his influential studio still stands as a tourist attraction, according to Rachel Zurka, a spokeswoman for the Memorial Park Funeral Home. No further details on cause of death were immediately available.
Role Call: Macy Talks on Cellular, Sarandon, Tomei Eyes Alfie Remake
William H. Macy is in talks to next star opposite Kim Basinger in the upcoming New Line Cinema thriller Cellular. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Macy would play a cop in the film, which revolves around a kidnapped woman who places a random phone call and reaches a young man she must persuade to help her…Susan Sarandon and Marisa Tomei are in negotiations to star opposite with Jude Law in a remake of the 1966 classic Alfie. The original starred Michael Caine as a womanizing Brit who begins to question the emptiness of his life and the consequences of his actions amid the sexual revolution of the 1960s.
Former Beatle Paul McCartney confessed last week that his late wife Linda helped him quit a yearlong cocaine addiction. McCartney told Q music magazine, "I was lucky to have Linda because there were certain things I was going off on and she could pull me back, like drinking and drugging and getting crazy." Linda McCartney died in 1998 after a three-year battle with cancer.
British army major Charles Ingram, who is under investigation for allegedly cheating when he won $1.4 million on the British version of the TV game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, was arrested Thursday with his wife, Diana, and college lecturer Tecwen Whittock, Variety reports. While the three were questioned over an allegation of conspiracy to defraud, none has been charged. Ingram insists he is innocent and is threatening to sue for the money.
Tjuan Hinojosa, the drummer and founding member of the band Tejano, and his 28-year old son Michael were killed in a traffic accident on Friday, The Associated Press reports. The two were driving in dense fog toward Corpus Christi on a rural road in Neuces County when their car was hit by another vehicle. Hinojosa, 51, died at the scene and his son died at the hospital three hours later. Officials are expected to cite the driver of the other vehicle for failure to stop at a stop sign.
Disney and 20th Century Fox will provide first-run films to U.S. troops on the front lines in Afghanistan, Variety reports. Fox staged the international premiere of Behind Enemy Lines on a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea over Thanksgiving, and Disney plans to ship some of its classic and first-run films to U.S. military installations overseas.
Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has become the top-selling video and DVD animated title of all time overseas, Variety reports. Snow White has sold 26 million copies since its release in 1994, surpassing The Lion King, which has sold 24 million units since 1995. The animated classic was released in foreign markets in October.
George Lucas' 1977 sci-fi action thriller Star Wars was voted the greatest movie of all time by viewers of Britain's Channel 4, Reuters reports. Scorned by film critics for ignoring the true cinematic classics, the poll attracted more than 20,000 votes from viewers. Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw found the results depressing. "When people are asked for their favorite film, they tend to go for something they view as a classic, and it's disturbing that people now think Star Wars is a classic."
Elton John will top the bill at Monday night's Royal Variety Performance in London, Reuters reports. Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip will attend the performance, which will be televised Wednesday at 8 p.m. on ITV. Other performers include Jennifer Lopez, Craig David and Cher.
Leslie Nielsen has landed a $250,000 deal to do commercials for the Ohio Lottery, AP reports. Lottery officials hope Nielsen will boost lottery profits, which subsidize state schools. It is the first time Ohio has used a celebrity to peddle its gambling games.
British tabloid The Sun launched "Mick Aid" on Friday to help Mick Jagger's new solo album Goddess in the Doorway, Reuters reports. Columnist Dominic Mohan said he started the tongue-in-cheek campaign "to help rescue the legend." The Sun bought 100 copies of the album, which has sold only 2,324 copies so far, to give away to its readers.