The McConaissance was a strange and glorious thing, wasn’t it? If you had even thought the words “Academy Award winner, Matthew McConaughey” back in 2010, it would have sounded like one of the most ridiculously idiotic pieces of fantasy you could put together. Then again, back in 2010, the words, “Donald Trump, President of the United States of America,” would have sounded equally preposterous. But look at us now. It seems like the world has changed substantially in the last six years.
Now, to be fair to Hollywood’s favorite bongo-playing nudist, it wasn’t as though every single one of his movies prior to 2011 was terrible. In fact, there are actually quite a few incredibly good movies on his filmography from early on. A Time to Kill, Lone Star, Contact, and Frailty are all standouts. But the fact of the matter is that law dramas, freaky science fiction films, and serial killer thrillers were not at all what McConaughey was known for. No, Matthew McConaughey was the handsome guy oozing southern charm that seemed to be the lead in every single damn romantic comedy that you saw on date night for the better part of a decade.
But then something switched. He went from someone so notorious for being in crappy movies that Family Guy did a whole bit on what a terrible actor he is and yet somehow still getting work, to the star in a string of critical darlings like Killer Joe, Mud, Dallas Buyers Club, and Interstellar, not to mention his work in the first season of HBO’s True Detective. But, as is always the case, the past cannot be erased. So here is a list of fifteen movies that Matthew McConaughey almost definitely regrets.
15. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
Let’s just get this one out of the way right off the top. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is probably the worst of Matthew McConaughey’s run of craptastic rom-coms. Co-starring Jennifer Garner and Michael Douglas, this pile of garbage seems to have been the proverbial straw on the camel’s back that was McConaughey’s dying career. Released in 2009, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past marked his last attempt at the genre before a two-year hiatus from the silver screen, after which he returned with The Lincoln Lawyer, Bernie, and Killer Joe in 2011. And if you have ever suffered through this cinematic suckfest, you can understand why. The plot of a serializing womanizer who is haunted by the ghosts of his ex-girlfriends at his brother’s wedding, like some sort of awful rom-com version of A Christmas Carol, must have felt like absolute rock bottom to McConaughey. Fortunately, he rebounded, and rebounded so very well.
14. Scorpion Spring
At the height of the McConassaince, around the same time he was picking up an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey, on a number of occasions, told an entertaining little story about one of his worst experiences as an actor. According to him, not long after the success of Dazed and Confused, he was cast in a small part in another film. Being a relatively inexperienced, but very eager, young actor, he neglected to learn his lines, instead opting to just understand the character well enough to roll with whatever he was asked to film. However, when he showed up on set to film, he learned that he had several pages of dialogue to learn… in Spanish. Needless to say, that did not go over well. Now, McConaughey has never specified which movie this happened on, but it’s easy enough to assume that it was Scorpion Spring, which is the only subpar, Spanish-language crime thriller that early on his resume.
13. Larger Than Life
You know it’s a bad movie when not even Bill Murray can save it. Seriously, the biggest achievement this “comedy” managed was just how freaking awful it was. Rotten Tomatoes might not be the best way to judge a movie, but if you can only muster up 11% on it, you know you’ve got a crap movie on your hands. That’s right. Eleven measly percent. But what was anyone really expecting from a road trip movie starring Saturday Night Live alumni and an elephant. The silver lining for Matthew McConaughey is that his role in the movie is relatively small. He plays a paranoid, violent, psychotic truck driver with the classy name of Tip Tucker, who is tricked into giving Murray and his elephant companion a ride. While the role is definitely a departure from his usual fare as a grinning, drawling love interest, his performance in Larger Than Life probably isn’t one he is excited to think back on.
12. How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days
How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days is the classic example of a mid-career Matthew McConaughey rom-com that every unfortunate guy with a girlfriend found himself watching at least once. The predictable story, clichéd plot, boring characters, and unremarkable direction make it the epitome of Hollywood fluff— a genre that McConaughey was more or less the poster boy of for quite a few years. The paper-thin plot probably wasn’t helped by the fact that the script was based on a short cartoon book of the same name. Now, it’s not the worst movie of all time (we will get to that later on in this list); Matthew and his co-star, Kate Hudson, are both charming and easy enough to watch. It’s cute, I guess. But if you are looking for something deep or meaningful or something beyond the cinematic equivalent of cotton candy, you will need to look elsewhere.
This particular entry from Matthew McConaughey’s IMDB page doesn’t exactly fit in with his standard romantic comedy junk. Not because it isn’t romantic comedy junk, but because it isn’t standard. It is awkward and weird and stars Gary Oldman as a dwarf. We are not even kidding about that. McConaughey stars as the only average-sized person in a family of dwarfs and Gary Oldman plays his brother. The funny part is that Oldman actually received rave reviews for his touching performance as a little person. The general consensus was, “Gary Oldman is great. The rest of this movie is god-awful sewage.” Some behind the scenes rumors imply that there may have been a better movie in there somewhere, but the director was fired before post-production took place, and the final cut of the film butchered the director’s original vision. Or maybe it was just a bad movie. Minus Gary Oldman, of course.
Let us be clear: EDtv is not a bad movie, per se. That is not why it claimed a spot on this list. It did have two pretty overwhelming problems though. Released in 1999, the film follows McConaughey as an average man named Ed, whose life is turned into a 24-hour reality TV show and shenanigans ensue. If you noticed that it sounds painfully similar to plot of The Truman Show, starring Jim Carrey, which was released one year earlier and was enormously successful both in ticket sales and with critics, then you have discovered problem number one. Problem number two was that it bombed. Hard. While receiving mixed reviews, EDtv was a box office disaster, recouping only a small fraction of its budget. And sure, box office numbers aren’t something that actors should base their successes on, but a flop as massive as this one is the kind that tends to mar an actor’s career until he or she manages to reverse their fortunes.
9. Free State of Jones
This is the only entry on this list that was released after McConaughey’s renaissance. After his continued success in films like Interstellar and The Wolf of Wall Street, McConaughey raised audience’s eyebrows by announcing his upcoming civil war epic. “Could this be the road to another Oscar?” we all thought. After all, the Academy loves historical films with all those fancy costumes and sentimental patriotism, and with the roll this man had been on lately, it seemed like a winning formula: McConaughey + Civil War = A Modern Masterpiece.
Except that it was kind of terrible. What could have been a rousing epic about slavery, racism, true love, and sacrifice, became a bit of dud. It was… boring, to be frank. And to make matters worse, the narrative was interspersed with a storyline from 85 years later about the main character’s great-great-great grandson, which was just strange and confusing. Let’s hope that Free State of Jones doesn’t signal the end of McConaughey’s resurgence. Just a minor blip. Please.
8. Failure to Launch
Another one of his by-the-numbers romantic comedies, this one featuring Sarah Jessica Parker and an extended nude scene by Terry Bradshaw. If only that were a joke. But it’s not. Naked Terry Bradshaw strolling around in front of the camera for far too long is legitimately one of the highlights of this movie. That, and an anti-social Zooey Deschanel who spends most of her screen time fighting a bird. Which is actually pretty hilarious and probably the only real reason to watch this drivel.
The “plot” of Failure to Launch revolves around 35-year-old Tripp (McConaughey) who still lives with his parents (Bradshaw and Kathy Bates). They hire a woman (Parker), who specializes in getting grown men to move out of their parents’ homes by faking a romantic relationship with them. You can probably guess what happens after that: she falls in love with him for real, he discovers who she really is and breaks up with her, they reconcile, they live happily ever after. Just like every other rom-com that has ever been made.
7. Surfer, Dude
Remember a few items back when we mentioned that the worst movie ever was going to show up later on this list? Well, ladies and gentlemen, we have arrived. Meet Surfer, Dude one of the few movies to ever have the prestige of a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That means that not a single film critic liked this piece of unholy feces. Maybe a movie about a weed-smoking surfer who suffers an existential crisis is not designed for those pretentious, uppity film critics. Or maybe, just maybe, this movie sucks like an overpowered, overpriced Dyson vacuum.
One of the stranger tidbits about this abomination to cinemas is that it happens to feature Woody Harrelson, who also starred in EDtv as McConaughey’s brother. After two misfires like that, you would think that McConaughey and Harrelson might avoid working together ever again. Fortunately for TV audiences everywhere, the pair did reunite and blessed us all in the first season of True Detective.
6. My Boyfriend’s Back
Just to be clear, My Boyfriend’s Back means “my boyfriend is back” as in back from the dead, and not “the back belonging to my boyfriend” as in, yikes, that is a lot of back acne.
This superbly horrendous teen comedy, released in 1993 by Disney, focuses on a typically nerdy high school boy named Johnny Dingle (yes… Dingle) who tries to win the affection of the classic hot girl, Missy, and ends up getting himself killed. Presumably because he’s a complete idiot. But hold up, there’s a plot twist: Dingleberry doesn’t stay dead, but rises from the grave in order to finish winning the heart of the girl he is infatuated with. But hold up, there’s another plot twist: he also returns to the land of living with an insatiable appetite for human flesh. Doesn’t that just sound so… terrible?
Fortunately for McConaughey this was early enough in his career that he was relegated to the very minor part of Guy #2, which is a pretty small stain on his resume compared to being cast as a character named Johnny Dingle.
5. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation
Another stinker from early on in his career. Matthew probably wishes he was only Guy #2 in this misguided attempt at revitalising the original 1970s classic horror. Instead, our handsome Texan stars as Vilmer Slaughter, one of the members of a cannibalistic, backwoods family, and the primary antagonist to Jenny, played by a pre-Jerry Maguire Renee Zellweger. Let us reiterate the fact that the family’s name is Slaughter. As in, the method of turning cattle into hamburgers. As in, killing and murder. As in, this movie lacks anything one might consider subtlety. Not only is it fairly stupid, but the production value is low, and none of the actors are worth watching because even future stars like Zellweger and McConaughey can’t turn in passable performances in a movie this irredeemably bad. And to top it all off like the crap cherry on a suck sundae, the ending, which involves using a plane to slice off the top of McConaughey’s head and some random dude trying to write the whole plot off as a spiritual experience, makes absolutely no sense.
To be fair, this is not the worst movie on this list (that honor will always belong to Surfer, Dude), but it did receive some of the harshest reviews out of the bunch, mostly because of the genre it placed itself in. McConaughey stars as Dirk Pitt, a rugged adventurer who takes his wacky sidekick, played by Steve Zahn, on a wild ride in the titular Sahara desert in search of rare gold coins, all the while getting tangled up with an exotic beauty, played by Penelope Cruz.
Kind of sounds like a wannabe Indiana Jones, doesn’t it? It really does. And that was its biggest flaw, because you are never going to top Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg teaming up to melt Nazi faces. Oh, and when the budget was released to the public a few years after the movie premiered, there were some suspicious details about bribes to the Moroccan government that may have crossed some legal and ethical boundaries. That’s probably something McConaughey isn’t too eager to remember.
3. Fool’s Gold
Eye candy. That is all this movie is and all it ever could hope to be. The basic premise is, “Let’s put two good looking movie stars in bathing suits, fake some sexual tension, and point the camera in their general direction.” It is Hollywood laziness at its finest.
In theory, there was supposed to be some sort of half-assed hype about this movie reuniting Matthew McConaughey with his How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days co-star, Kate Hudson, but considering the fact that How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days feels more like a cardboard cut-out posing as a movie than an actual movie, there really was not all that much to get hyped about. And that’s probably a good thing since Fool’s Gold turned out to be a genuine dud. The most impressive thing about the whole thing is the near perfect tans on the two leads.
2. Glory Daze
Another early 90s stinker. This one, however, is primarily mired by Ben Affleck‘s facial hair, which might be the absolute worst attempt at a goatee that has ever been printed on celluloid. Our best guess is that it is supposed to enhance the angry college guy vibe that his character has, but really it looks more like the poorly groomed, pubescent chinscape of a moody teenager who spends the vast majority of his time in the basement pretending that he’s not looking at porn.
Okay, actually Ben Affleck’s moustache mistake is not the only terrible thing about Glory Daze. Pretty much every part of Glory Daze is terrible. Even the title. Any movie that relies on a crappy pun in its title in order garner interest is only setting itself up for disappointment and failure. Again, lucky for McConaughey, his role is barely more than a cameo, playing a rental truck salesman.
1. The Wedding Planner
You were waiting for this one to show up, weren’t you? You just knew we couldn’t list Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Fool’s Gold, How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and Failure to Launch, without mentioning McConaughey’s turn as Jennifer Lopez‘s love interest. You weren’t wrong.
This is the DVD that brides-to-be get from their future mothers-in-law a couple months before the big day. Isn’t that cute? Because it’s about a wedding planner and you are planning a wedding right now! (Just ignore the part where the bride and groom-to-be in the movie break up and the groom runs off with Jennifer Lopez.) Kind of like how exasperated mothers get Failure to Launch for their twenty-something year-old sons who still live in the basement as a not-so-subtle hint to move the hell out of her house.
Other than its value to future bridezillas courtesy of the woman who gave birth to her soon-to-be husband and won’t ever let her forget that fact, The Wedding Planner has no other redeeming qualities, and is better off forgotten.