For years moviegoers, critics, theorists, philosophers, and the occasional cat have pondered and debated one of life's great unanswered questions: is Mark Wahlberg a unexpectedly brilliant actor who occasionally ends up in bad movies (Max Payne, The Truth About Charlie, Shooter) or a terrible actor who inexplicably has the good fortune to find himself in great films (The Departed, Boogie Nights, Three Kings)?
The 41-year-old star can be an easy punching bag (metaphorically, as actually trying to punch him would end so poorly for you) thanks to his Marky Mark days, the fact that Entourage is based on his life, and his dopey Bah-stin tough guy demeanor (Andy Samberg's "Say hi to your mother for me" did for Wahlberg what Tina Fey did for Sarah Palin...no favors) but here's the thing about Wahlberg: when you're not laughing at him, you're laughing with him. See: The Other Guys, Ted, Date Night, and his latest movie, Michael Bay's juiced-up action comedy Pain & Gain, which plays up the whole meat head act.
The guy actually has good comedic presence and timing and is legitimately funny. Only, sometimes he's really not supposed to be. For every time he's effective in a drama (his brilliant, foul-mouthed, and intentionally funny turn as a cop in The Departed rightfully earned him in Oscar nomination) there's those movie moments when he's so stunningly bad or just blank that you wonder if all those "Good Vibrations" rattled something loose upstairs.
In honor of Pain & Gain, which actually plays up Wahlberg's strengths (his comedy muscles and his actual muscles), here are times when the actor made us crack up when we weren't supposed to.
The Happening just so happens to be the most unintentionally hilarious movie of the past decade. In fact, it's nearly impossible to narrow down which scene had us catching our breath from laughing so hard about a movie about killer wind. Singing The Doobie Brothers' "Old Black Water" to a perfect stranger as a way to prove you're not crazy? Running yourself over with a lawn mower? Comedy gold, all of it. But nothing tops when Wahlberg's character Elliot unconvincingly tries to assure the crazy old bat he and his family are staying with that they're not trying to kill her in her sleep? Was this actually meant to be taken seriously? What? No!
You know what? I can't pick just one moment from The Happening, that's impossible, especially considering there's also a scene in which Wahlberg literally TRIES TO REASON WITH a plastic tree. Say hi to your mother for me, plant.
It takes some real nerve to kick someone out of the band that they started (you hear that, Timothy Olyphant?!) but the way that Wahlberg's Chris shouts it out in a moment of utter betrayal in Rock Star will make you scream and shout...with laughter. There's plenty of unintentional humor to go around in this 2001 flick (the bad hair, the bad clothes, the bad music, the bad melodrama) but seriously try to keep it together at the :45 mark.
Wait, were we supposed to be freaked out by Wahlberg as stalker beau David in this scene from Fear when he pounds on his chest like King Kong? Because the carving 'Nicole 4-eva' on his chest was much, much worse if we're talking in terms of chest-related scares. This, on the other hand, was just damn funny. Here's the very NSFW moment:
Who's supposed to laugh during the harrowing family drama The Fighter? NAHT YOU.
Bonus unintentionally hilarious (hilariously sexy, that is!) Wahlberg moment:
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Steven Soderbergh's crime-drama "The Limey" and Alexander Payne's high school satire "Election" led the pack of (relatively) low-budget, high-expectation projects as nominations were announced Wednesday for the 15th Annual Independent Spirit Awards, honoring, yes, indie film.
"The Limey" and "Election" received a field-best five nominations each. Hollywood blockbusters such as "Toy Story 2" and "The Green Mile" received zippo. (They're not indies.)
With the studio heavyweights excluded, a variety of films that failed to garner tremendous box office during the 1999 film season found redemption as the Spirit nominations were handed down. David Lynch's "The Straight Story", a simple yet powerful film about an aging man's trek across country on his lawn mower, earned four nominations. Kimberly Peirce's controversial "Boys Don't Cry" also received four nods -- including ones for best lead actress (Hilary Swank) and best supporting female (Chloe Sevigny).
The five films slated to do battle in the main best-picture event are: Payne's "Election," Soderbergh's "The Limey," Lynch's "The Straight Story," Allison Anders and Kurt Voss' "Sugar Town", and Robert Altman's "Cookie's Fortune".
Awards will be handed out in Santa Monica on March 25 -- the day before the Oscars. The Spirits are sponsored by the Independent Feature Project/West.
The following is the complete list of nominations for the 15th annual IFP/West Independent Spirit Awards:
BEST FEATURE "Election" "The Straight Story" "The Limey" "Cookie's Fortune" "Sugar Town"
BEST FEMALE LEAD Diane Lane, "Walk on the Moon" Janet McTeer, "Tumbleweeds" Hilary Swank, "Boys Don't Cry" Susan Traylor, "Valerie Flake" Reese Witherspoon, "Election"
BEST MALE LEAD John Cusack, "Being John Malkovich" Richard Farnsworth, "The Straight Story" Terence Stamp, "The Limey" David Strathairn, "Limbo" Noble Willingham, "The Corndog Man"
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE Barbara Barrie, "Judy Berlin" Vanessa Martinez, "Limbo" Sarah Polley, "Go" Chloe Sevigny, "Boys Don't Cry" Jean Smart, "Guinevere"
BEST SUPPORTING MALE Charles S. Dutton, "Cookie's Fortune" Luis Guzman, "The Limey" Terrence Howard, "The Best Man" Clark Gregg, "The Adventures of Sebastian Cole" Steve Zahn, "Happy, Texas"
BEST DIRECTOR Alexander Payne, "Election" Harmony Korine, "julien donkey-boy" Steven Soderbergh, "The Limey" David Lynch, "The Straight Story" Doug Liman, "Go"
BEST SCREENPLAY Kevin Smith, "Dogma" Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, "Election" Audrey Wells, "Guinevere" Lem Dobbs, "The Limey" James Merendino, "SLC Punk!"
BEST FIRST FEATURE ($500,000-plus budget) "Being John Malkovich" "Three Seasons" "Boys Don't Cry" "Twin Falls Idaho" "Xiu Xiu the Sent Down Girl"
BEST FIRST FEATURE (less than $500,000 budget) "The Blair Witch Project" "La Ciudad" "Compensation" "Judy Berlin" "Treasure Island"
BEST DEBUT PERFORMANCE Kimberly J. Brown, "Tumbleweeds" Jessica Campbell, "Election" Jade Gordon, "Sugar Town" Toby Smith, "Drylongso" Chris Stafford, "Edge of Seventeen"
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY Tod Williams, "The Adventures of Sebastian Cole" Charlie Kaufman, "Being John Malkovich" Kimberly Peirce and Andy Bienen, "Boys Don't Cry" Anne Rapp, "Cookie's Fortune" John Roach and Mary Sweeney, "The Straight Story"
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHER M. David Mullen, "Twin Falls Idaho" Lisa Rinzler, "Three Seasons" Anthony Dod Mantle, "julien donkey-boy" Jeffrey Seckendorf, "Judy Berlin" Harlan Bosmajian, "La Ciudad"
BEST FOREIGN FILM "All About My Mother" (Spain) "Run Lola Run" (Germany) "My Son the Fanatic" (England) "Topsy-Turvy" (England) "Rosetta" (Belgium-France)
DLJ DIRECT TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD (for documentaries) Owsley Brown, "Night Waltz: The Music of Paul Bowles" Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgan, "On the Ropes" Michael Camerini and Shari Robertson, "Well Founded Fear" Rory Kennedy, "American Hollow"
MOVADO SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD (for new directors) Dan Clark, "The Item" Julian Goldberger, "Trans" Lisanne Skyler, "Getting to Know You" Cauleen Smith, "Drylongso"
MOTOROLA PRODUCERS AWARD Pam Koffler, "I'm Losing You" and "Office Killer" Eva Kolodner, "Boys Don't Cry" and "Hide and Seek" Paul Mezey, "La Ciudad" Christine Walker, "Backroads" and "Homo Heights"