Everybody loves a triple-threat: the actor who can also sing and dance. It really is a special gift of a person who can do all three, and do it well. Heck, sometimes we get so excited at the possibility of a triple-threat that we'll even let the lesser ones, well, slip through. And sometimes, the means-well-but-shouldn't take it upon themselves to attempt triple-threat status. And even though we may love these actors so, it doesn't forgive them of the fact that their attempts to achieve greatness were, well, a bit flawed.
But there's something to be sad and something to be learned from these performances: what not to do when your director asks for a jazzy dance number, an introspective singing scene on a beach, or even—gulp, we hope not—the use of song and blackface come into play. Sometimes even in comedy, the musical addition (or the person performing it) can miss the mark. So you do your best, because you're an entertainer, verdamnit! It's what entertainers do: anything to please the movie-going masses!
We know it's hard to do—act, sing, dance, all while trying to bring your best moments to screen? That's got to be a challenge unbelievable in scale. When everybody's watching like that, it's easy to think a tiny misstep may go unnoticed. But when they don't? Well, then it can sometimes blow up in people's faces. And, hey! We've all had moments like that in life, right? It's part of being human, the imperfections! Some just have skills that others don't, and that's fine. So let's sit back and have a quick laugh at some of the most absurd, ridiculous, or just flat-out terrible musical moments in movies. It's a group effort, after all!
Russell Crowe in Les Miserables
Oh Russell. You meant so well, didn't you? When you decided to sing in this very affected manner? We know you have a band (previously called 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, now called Russell Crowe & The Ordinary Fear of God) and all that, but rock music has a bit more leeway than your run of the mill, iconic musical number. But when you put on that accent and attempted to sing. Well, my poor, dear fellow: it didn't work. Not for a second. It felt put-upon and maybe a little (we hate to say it) community theater-esque. Better luck next time, Mr. Crowe?
Bing Crosby in Holiday Inn
Bing Crosby can sing, y'all! Let's just get that out of the way first and foremost. He can sing, he's fabulous—every time he opened that mouth of his, greatness would come out. We're not arguing about that fact. It's just that, well, looking back at it now: a song about Abraham Lincoln, done at a party, in...blackface? Yeah, call us old-fashioned (or decidedly not), but that just doesn't really fly well with us, even if it was made in a time where that sort of thing was acceptable. Now poor Bing looks like a right old fool along with everyone else in the clip. Yikes!
Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia!
Oh, Mr. Bond. For someone as cool, calm, and collected as you, it seems hardly fair to scrutinize you after wanting to let loose a little bit. But! This is the Internet, so judge we shall. And the verdict? Not good, Mr. Bond. Not good at all. It's hard going up against a flawless powerhouse of entertainment queendom like Meryl Streep, but something tells us a different song may have served you better. Or no song at all. Can we have an actor in a musical movie not sing? That's like asking the sun not to shine! And so shine on, he tries, Mr. Brosnan does. This might've been a mission too extreme for even the almighty MI6.
Next: Hearts Pop! and Stallone is Drinkinstein
Hugh Grant in Music & Lyrics
The 80s were a time. Man, were they ever a time. Even if you can't remember them personally, you certainly remember their impact: synths and sugar-sweet pop music dressed in outlandish, bold clothing. Enter: Hugh Grant (and...is that? Yep! It is! Jason Street (Scott Porter) from Friday Night Lights got in on the action, too!). A heartthrob in his own right, perhaps singing wasn't the best choice. Especially singing cheesy lyrics about your heart exploding. Watch out or it'll be Pop! goes your career, mate.
Sylvester Stallone in Rhinestone
This epic moment in Stallone's career starts out with our rhinestoned-out cowboy singing "Budweiser you created a monster / and they called him Drinkinstein." Not even the fairest maiden of them all could, Dolly Parton could save this wreck. Watch if you want to see Sylvester Stallone in a way that will change your opinions about him forever. Better luck next time, Sly. Stick to the action films in the meantime.
Everyone in From Justin to Kelly
OK, finding videos for this movie was a surprisingly difficult challenge, perhaps because FOX realized how embarrassing the whole charade was, or the actors involved are just mortified enough by the generic terribleness of it all that they have scoured the Internet, ensuring clips never make it into the world wide web. Either way, it's hard to pick just one terrible moment—though any time Katherine Bailess was singing would probably be a top contender. In its place, enjoy this scene that was actually cut from the film, making it the best of the worst? Singing-wise? Not bad, Mr. Guarini. But everything else? Inexcusable.
Next: mo Spider-Man can't stop, Bono is a walrus
Bono in Across the Universe
Sure, Bono, you may be a veritable musical monument, but it's everything else about this performance is just painful. From the Fu Manchu mustache, to the don't-quit-your-day-job bad American accent to the attempt at creating additional significance in a song better left to the Beatles? Bono done bad, you guys. He's just being Bono. And all the psychedelic color explosions? Come on, now. Too much in an otherwise lovely film. But seriously? Mangle a Beatles song and some may call for your head on a platter, Bono. His life surrounded by rabid Beatles fans ater this film is probably punishment enough.
John Travolta in Staying Alive
Seems like both John Travolta and our old buddy Sylvester Stallone are responsible for this next mess. Stallone directed Travolta in the almost universally-panned Saturday Night Fever sequel, Staying Alive, and from it came the epitome of everything awful about the 80s, and also misunderstanding what art really means. Enter: the finale dance sequels in the Broadway musical featured in the show. Yes, it's mostly dancing, but the whole disaster is such an attack on the senses, I think it's killed my sense of smell, and misplaced everyone involved's integrity. Yikes.
Tobey Macguire in Spider-Man 3
What happens when you make Spider-Man seem more than a little bit angsty and emo and put in him a jazz dance routine? Sam Raimi's abominable and infamous scene from the third film: dancing Tobey Macguire with a floppy haircut and guyliner. Look at him! Double-time! Piano-playing and dancing antics involving chairs! It's a literal embarrassment (emphasis on the 'embarrassment') of riches in horribleness. Even the shouts of "yeah, sexy!" from the crowd seemed forced and painful. Make it stop, Spidey! Make.it.stop.
What do you think of the moments we chose? Think of any others? Sound off in the comments!
[Photo Credit: Warner Brothers]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
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The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
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