At one time or another we’ve all paid our $12 to sit in a theater only to run screaming for the exit thirty minutes later. Sometimes you sit down to a movie and it’s nothing like what you went into the theater expecting. Unfortunately, going to the movies isn’t one of those things where you can get a refund if the product wasn’t up to your expectations. Some people have tried to sue the studios for bad movies and obviously the suits were thrown out of court.
As viewers, we may not be able to get our money back for a movie on the basis that it’s bad, but we actually get the better end of the deal; the actors and actresses in these bombs will never be able to wipe these films off their resumes. At one time an actor or actress might get teased for one of these disasters by a talk-show host twenty years into their career, but now thanks to the internet, nobody will ever forget. Ever. Even if they burn the negatives, someone has probably uploaded the offending film to the internet at some point. There may even be entire websites dedicated to trashing the film. In some cases, aspiring filmmakers have even made documentaries dedicated to bad movies.
In the end, it’s okay if a celebrity does a bad movie. A script isn’t always reflective of the final product and most viewers understand that a working celebrity has to start somewhere. There is no way a pop-star making their acting debut has enough knowledge of cinema going into a film to know the warning signs of a bad movie. Even established actors and actresses had to pay the bills at the start of their careers.
Let’s take a look at some of these notoriously bad films that finagled a big name for their cast; and here’s to hoping those stars can look back on some of these and have a little laugh.
10. Kelly Clarkson – From Justin to Kelly (2003) – 2.1 IMDb Score
This one wasn’t an oversight on Kelly Clarkson’s behalf. When Clarkson won the very first American Idol competition, she and runner-up Justin Guarini became contractually obligated to do the film when they signed on for their record deals.
Clarkson said, “I knew when I read the script it was going to be real, real bad, but when I won, I signed that piece of paper, and I could not get out of it.”
A small price to pay for Clarkson. The cheesy spring-break movie hasn’t seemed to follow her around and goes mostly forgotten.
9. Alan Cumming – Son of the Mask (2005) – 2.1 IMDb Score
Cumming makes no apologies for this sequel that seemingly has nothing to do with the first installment. In fact, Cumming just enjoys doing children’s movies. In interviews Cumming has claimed to get a kick out of kids asking him questions about the movies he was in, especially when he did Spy Kids.
The biggest reason Cumming likes doing characters in children’s movies, even though he typically wouldn’t watch them, is because characters on children’s movies are “…usually slightly heightened and bigger. So they’re more like theater and I quite enjoy that.”
8. Ben Affleck, Al Pacino, and Jennifer Lopez – Gigli (2003) – 2.3 IMDb Score
These are just a few of the big names featured in what some called “the worst movie in our young century”. Justin Bartha of The Hangover series and Christopher Walken also starred in this bomb. Affleck has even gone on record and cited the film as one of the reasons that 2003 was the worst year of his life.
Last year, The Daily Beast did a look back on the film for its 10th anniversary. Not a single person involved with the film would agree to do an interview for it.
For some, it seems some things are better left forgotten.
7. Jon Voight – Bratz (2007) – 2.6 IMDb Score
Sometimes you base a movie or a television show on a toy line and you get a franchise like Transformers. Other times you get Bratz. Bratz was a movie based on an incredibly trashy line of toy dolls of the same name. Who would have ever thought Jon Voight, who had done films like Deliverance and Midnight Cowboy, would agree to do films like Bratz and Baby Geniuses 2: Superbabies?
At the time the dolls were rather popular so there is a good chance it was the money. If you check them out on Toys R’ Us now, the dolls and accessories have had their prices nearly slashed in half.
6. Alyson Hannigan – Date Movie (2006) – 2.7 IMDb Score
After the highly successful Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series was canceled, Alyson Hannigan may have not thought lightning would strike twice and did this parody film from the infamously bad Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg.
In all fairness, Alyson couldn’t have known she’d be a part of another hugely popular television series after doing just the one season of How I Met Your Mother at the time. She was probably just making sure she kept working.
5. Michael Clarke Duncan – The Underground Comedy Movie (1999) – 2.5 IMDb Score
Vince Offer, the man best known for shucking products like Shamwow and Slap Chop on television, made a series of incredibly bad comedy movies. They aren’t movies so much as a series of sketches, and somehow he gets some big names to appear in them. His first of the series, The Underground Comedy Movie, featured Michael Clarke Duncan at the beginning of his career.
Clarke’s break-out role was as John Coffey in The Green Mile alongside Tom Hanks. The Green Mile was released the same year as The Underground Comedy Movie. At the time, Duncan was just another working actor.
4. Jennifer Aniston – Leprechaun (1993) – 4.6 IMDb Score
We can’t hold Aniston entirely accountable for this. It was her first credited role in a major movie and pre-dates her rocket to stardom when she first appeared in Friends. She might be “America’s Sweetheart” now but she had to work hard to get there.
Future copies of Leprechaun would capitalize on her later fame by making her name stand out on future box-cover art.
3. Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger – Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994) – 3.0 IMDb Score
This movie was so bad that it was shelved for a few years before it was finally released as a direct-to-video feature. By the time it was on the shelves, Zellweger and McConaughey had already built up quite the names for themselves. When they had agreed to do this film, they were just working actors.
There were even rumors at one time that Zellweger and McConaughey were actually trying to take legal action to keep the film from being released. Both claim that these rumors are not true.
2. Adrianne Palicki – Popstar (2005) – 2.4 IMDb Score
Before the G.I. Joe film franchise and a steady stream of popular television shows, Adrianne Palicki was just another working actress. In the first couple years of her career it was small roles in television shows and this film that tried desperately to keep Aaron Carter relevant after the “Boy Band Bubble” burst. It has the distinction of being one of the 100 worst rated movies on IMDb. In the film’s defense, it was essentially the plot of Hannah Montana before there was a Hannah Montana.
1. John Travolta and Forest Whitaker – Battlefield Earth (2000) – 2.4 IMDb Score
Battlefield Earth was supposed to be a huge sci-fi blockbuster. It was to be the biggest sci-fi epic since Star Wars. That didn’t happen. Things went south and it ended up one of the biggest box office flops of all time.
The film was based off a book by L. Ron Hubbard so we know why Travolta was there. Hubbard founded the Church of Scientology, of which Travolta is a high-profile member, so Travolta quite literally thinks Hubbard is a prophet.
Whitaker couldn’t have really seen it coming either. What actor in 2000 would have turned down starring in a big-budget blockbuster alongside John Travolta?