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Five Bad Films: Living Screen Icons

Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 4:59 PM Central
Last updated Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 8:34 AM Central

by John Couture

Our first article was such a huge success, that it only makes sense like any good Hollywood studio that we crank out the sequels. In this installment we turn the camera on to those who are used to the bright lights and attention, the screen icons.

For our purposes, we define screen icon as an actor that literally owns the box office. They are the top 1% of the 1% and everyone knows their name to borrow from a popular TV series from the '80s. For those of you who are shouting "sexist," don't worry, the Leading Ladies will get their own treatment in due time.

For those of you who may have forgotten the main thrust of this series of articles, the idea is that no matter how much you love someone or something, there is an established hierarchy. There is always a top and the corresponding bottom to any list. If you look hard enough, you will find the coal among the diamonds in anyone's film resumé.

This series is just a way to highlight those films that just didn't cut the mustard as it were. Every actor needs to take a paycheck movie every now and then and here are a few.

Tom Hanks

Larry Crowne - There was a time (in the mid '90s) when Hanks was the undisputed king of Hollywood. Sure, back-to-back Best Actor Oscars will tend to have that effect, but the reality is that Tom was is a versatile actor that can act equally well in comedies and dramas.

Sadly that time is long gone and Tom's career is in drastic need of a blood infusion and maybe Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is that, but Larry Crowne is just unwatchable. It's really sad because of the talent involved in that movie, but sometimes the whole really is less than the sum of its parts.

At 55, Hanks is entering the twilight of his career where playing the leading becomes difficult, but not impossible. It's also a perfect time for another re-invention. Personally, I would love to see him get back to comedy like those films on which he cut his teeth way back when.

Harrison Ford

Firewall - Sure, I could have gone for the easy dig and say Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but I'm better than that. Sure, that was the very definition of a paycheck film, but I give him a bit of slide on it, but there's no excuse for Firewall.

I think the major downfall of this film was the major plot holes that riddled the story much like pot holes on a highway in the height of winter. Beyond that, Ford seemed to just be going through the motions cognizant that he wasn't in a great film.

Finally, Paul Bettany just didn't make for a very convincing bad guy and putting him up against Ford was akin to lining up the local pee wee football team against the Green Bay Packers. Oh wait, maybe that metaphor doesn't work well. Too soon?

The funny thing is that many years later they proved in Taken that the general storyline could work with the right elements. So, perhaps Firewall was simply ahead of its time.


Clint Eastwood

Pink Cadillac - We all know that Clint likes his cars, but the later Gran Torino was an emotional tour de force as they say. Pink Cadillac was just a tour of emotional people looking for a paycheck.

I don't know whoever thought it was a good idea to pair Eastwood with Bernadette Peters, but I'm pretty sure that Warner Bros. quickly showed them the exit. The '80s were a tough time for Clint as he bounced between Dirty Harry type movies that did well and other fare that, let's just didn't do as well as he would have hoped.

This one was the bottom of the barrel though as the two leads had absolutely no chemistry and Eastwood just looked lost out there at times. I hate to say it, but the highlight may have been the bit part by Jim Carrey as a lounge singer.

Morgan Freeman

The Big Bounce - It's funny, but on Sunday's montage of Morgan Freeman's films I didn't recall seeing a single clip from The Big Bounce. That's probably a good thing.

Morgan Freeman has had a long and lustrous, but I'm sure this is one film that he would rather forget. Given his prominence on the artwork, I think it's safe to assume that he was rewarded handsomely for his "work" on this "movie."

The funny thing is that this movie was based on an Elmore Leonard novel and I think the studio was just hoping that some of his magic would rub off on this movie. Sadly though, it became just another in a long list of crime/comedy movies that weren't funny or weren't complex enough to hold an audience.

The sad thing is that this film had some great talent in it. And I'm not just talking about Sara Foster's "assets." Speaking of, how sad is it that we have a star profile for Sara Foster?

But, I digress. Morgan Freeman has a large film catalog and sure there are some other low points in it, but for the most part he can look back on his career and be impressed by it. I know that I am.

Sean Connery

The Avengers - This one was actually pretty easy to come with as well. The Avengers sort of stands out on Sean Connery's resumé like a sore thumb. And really are you that surprised?

Actually, this movie could be the first one in the "Bad Film Hall of Fame" as it might tend to reappear under several other actors and actresses in future pieces in this series. It really is a testament to just how bad this movie is that with all of this talent and a relatively interesting story, they made this stinker.

This should be exhibit one in the trial against studios turning bad TV properties into feature-length movies. Some stories are best suited for the little screen or vice versa.

The only thing surprising about The Avengers is that it only won a single Razzie Award (Worst Remake or Sequel) and even that was a shared honor with Godzilla and Psycho. I guess you can say that 1998 wasn't a very good year for sequels or remakes.