In theory, it should be impossible to make a bad movie. In theory, however, communism also works, but ask millions of Chinese people, Russians, Cambodians, Vietnamese, and so on, their experience with that ideology/system, you get the picture, just because something works on paper, doesn’t make it a good idea. Sorry for getting political (not that any of the above should be news to you at this point), but the point rings true in the world of film, just because a concept looks good in theory, that doesn’t mean it won’t turn into an unwatchable metaphorical compost heap come the release date.
It takes a ton of money to make a decent film. Special effects cost a ton, on top of the cast and crew, and of course a brilliant story and talented writing don’t come cheap. At the end of the day, if things aren’t meant to be, no amount of money will make a movie watchable if it is missing something essential. The cast is one of those variables that is difficult to nail down for a film, but a great cast can serve two purposes: getting people into the theater to watch, and of course delivering great performances.
In some cases however, you can sink as much cash as you want into a great cast but still come up with a pathetic flick. Bad writing, a story that doesn’t need to be told, or poor chemistry between said great actors (it happens, as you’ll see) can all doom a film. Here are fifteen of the worst films ever made that had incredible casts.
So chances are we’ve just made a few film fans very happy, and a lot more furious right off the bat. To fans this film is a troubling and thoughtful flick that explores modern racism in the setting of Los Angeles. With a decent basic topic and a cast of gifted performers including Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, Sandra Bullock, Brendan Fraser, rapper Ludacris, Ryan Phillippe and Michael Pena, this film could have been one of the greatest ever. It won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2005 for goodness sake. How is it bad? Watch it again.
The themes of racism and prejudice allow for great film-making creativity, and subtlety and nuance are among the best friends of anyone trying to go about producing a movie on this topic. Unfortunately, Crash approaches and explores these sensitive and interesting themes with the tact of a blinded rhinoceros that has been fed ten pounds of cocaine. The characters are monumentally one-dimensional and the plot is thoroughly packed with relentless tired stereotypes and terrible, predictable dialogue.
14. Ocean’s Twelve
We should point out that there are some positives for this movie. The visuals are great and the music was well done. Unfortunately, the plot was like Swiss cheese (even for a heist-themed flick), the humor was relatively non-existent and poorly executed, and certain scenes were poorly shot; with several far too long, and others too short, leaving audiences confused and angry, not to mention the “twist” ending. We don’t want to give too much away, for anyone who hasn’t seen this.
With George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bernie Mac, Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle and Julia Roberts, there was more than enough star power on board, but they didn’t make it work. Our recommendation is that if you’re looking to watch the trilogy, watch the first one, then get half drunk and watch this one, and continue drinking. Watch Ocean’s Thirteen (a threequel that almost makes up for the second film) with a hearty breakfast in the morning.
13. Mars Attacks
1996’s Mars Attacks! was based on a trading card game with a dedicated following. The story wasn’t bad and as far as the limited genre of “science-fiction/comedy” goes, this movie could have been a lot of fun. The cast looked great too, combining a great deal of very funny people and very respectable actors. Jack Nicholson played two roles in the flick, and was joined by Glenn Close, Martin Short, Pierce Brosnan, Michael J. Fox, Sarah Jessica Parker and Annette Bening.
The biggest problem with this movie is that while watching it, there is the feeling that the creative minds thought it would be a great success based on the power of the names involved alone. Much of the technical work was done by Industrial Light and Magic (a company started by George Lucas), Tim Burton directed, and it came with a cast we already discussed, everything was in place, but the humor was lacking to the point where this movie fell well short of its potential.
12. Valentine’s Day
While most of the films on this list were relatively unsuccessful or downright box office disasters, Valentine’s Day did well financially despite being a dreadful movie. There are good romantic comedies out there, but this is about as far as one can get from that. On a budget of just over $52,000,000 the film made about $215,000,000, so no complaints there.
This is one of two Garry Marshall films on this list, and while he is remembered fondly for his career, he made some real high profile stinkers around the end of his life. With a cast that included huge names such as Patrick Dempsey, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Kathy Bates, Topher Grace, Mario Lopez, Emma and Julia Roberts, Queen Latifah, Ashton Kutcher and Bradley Cooper, this movie, set as a series of short and somewhat interconnected stories looked promising, with its seldom-used multi-narrative method.
The problem was, they tried to do too much with just over two hours and nothing that other chick flicks had not done before. It was cliche, unentertaining, and tedious. The television show Family Guy did an episode in 2013 called Valentine’s Day in Quahog with a similar theme and managed to cram more charm, humor, and romance into twenty-one minutes than this travesty could into just over two hours.
11. Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace
While most of these movies have ensemble casts, it would be hard to call The Phantom Menace that. However, four major cast members are outstanding performers. Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Samuel L. Jackson, Ian McDiarmid and Natalie Portman all acted well, but the extent to which this film was nearly rendered unwatchable by a few ludicrous characters and plot points nullified their work.
Neeson’s Qui Gon Jinn, McGregor playing legendary Jedi Obi Wan Kenobi, Jackson as Mace Windu, and Natalie Portman as Padme/Queen Amidala were all good characters and well played roles, but the rest of the movie was terrible. While not as well known by many in North America, Ian McDiarmid was Palpatine, and played the role brilliantly throughout the three prequels, but the stories, the poorly executed comic relief and slow plot progression made these rough to witness as well.
10. All the King’s Men
When making a movie based on a novel, one of the perks is that the subject matter is already tested and true. If a book is good enough to make into a movie, chances are it already has a following and some renown. All the King’s Men was based on a book of the same name by Robert Penn Warren, that won the Pulitzer Prize back in 1947. The original film version was made back in 1949 and won several Academy Awards, but the 2006 remake was nothing special.
The story is about fictional politician Willie Stark (who is loosely based on former Louisiana Governor Huey Long), and his rise to power. Sean Penn played Stark, while his co-stars included Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, James Gandolfini and Anthony Hopkins. The film had a great cast and a great story but none of the actors delivered a good enough performance to impress audiences and unfortunately, the story was poorly told, with unnecessary dialogue and often confusing plot progression.
9. New Year’s Eve
This is our second Garry Marshal rom-com on the list and much like Valentine’s Day, it is an anthology flick with a solid cast of likable names and attractive faces but an atrocious story. To call the screenplay boring would be a compliment; this film was the kind of thing that can put an insomnia sufferer into a coma. Robert De Niro, Ashton Kutcher, Josh Duhamel, Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Lea Michele, Hilary Swank and Sofia Vergara are the big name stars and while none of them were terrible in terms of their performances, the poor quality of every other aspect of this pathetic series of stories with virtually no laughs.
Director Oliver Stone‘s career has included some incredible flicks including Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July and for football fans, Any Given Sunday. Every few years he comes back with another biographical. Some of the best include Nixon and JFK, while W wasn’t quite as impressive, but told an interesting story well.
Alexander, as you might have guessed (you sharp devil), was the biographical flick that told the story of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian conqueror who took over much of the inhabited world over 2,000 years ago. Unfortunately, the film is the worst of Stone’s career. He cast Colin Farrell as Alexander (not a bad actor by any stretch) alongside Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Jared Leto, Rosario Dawson, Anthony Hopkins and Christopher Plummer in supporting roles. The cast was good, the story was good, but the movie took significant liberties with the story (read that as “was hilariously historically inaccurate”), and told the story in a way that sent would-be viewers out of theaters early.
7. The Bonfire of the Vanities
This movie is another that is based on a book. The novel The Bonfire of the Vanities was released in 1987 after being featured over the course of twenty-seven editions of Rolling Stone in 1984. The movie and book both deal with the story of a New York investment banker in the 1980s. The main characters are played by Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Melanie Griffith and Kim Cattrall. Given that the story was based on a popular and well written novel, and that Brian De Palma was directing (you probably know him from Scarface, The Untouchables or possibly Mission: Impossible), this should have been an easy hit.
The problem was, the movie was, by and large, a comedy-drama, while the book was a troubling, dark piece of literature with the occasional laugh. The cast couldn’t save this one, the movie was too far removed from the book and even aside from that, while the cast of main character actors was impressive, most critics have agreed that most of these were miscast.
6. Mixed Nuts
The greatest Christmas movie ever made was Die Hard. Anyone who disagrees might be an informant for the North Koreans. Bruce Willis tearing through Nakatomi Plaza, writing “Now I have a machine gun, Ho Ho, Ho” on a dead terrorist, and tossing the head scumbag out a window never fails to get me in the holiday spirit. But some people don’t want to see blood, gore and gunfire before Santa shows up, and opt for comedies. How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a classic (the cartoon, not the Jim Carrey remake), and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a gem. There are more, but those are two of the best, without a shadow of a doubt.
But one movie that is about as far from being a Christmas comedy classic is Mixed Nuts. Sweet Jesus, this movie is all kinds of terrible. Movie-goers and critics alike have cited poor dialogue, unsatisfying jokes and gags, poor chemistry between actors and a feeling that everything but the cast went wrong with this wasted hour and a half.
If anyone had said back in the early 90s that a cast that included Steve Martin, Adam Sandler, Gary Shandling, Anthony LaPaglia, Rita Wilson and Juliette Lewis would be a total trainwreck, they would have been laughed at, unlike Mixed Nuts.
5. Batman and Robin
This is widely considered the movie that didn’t quite kill the Batman movie franchise, but temporarily put it in a coma. Of course, Joel Schumacher directing George Clooney, Alicia Silverstone, Uma Thurman, Chris O’Donnell and Arnold Schwarzenegger sounds like a winning combination. Unfortunately, it proved not to be, as the cast largely failed to play their characters convincingly and the content of the movie was far removed from a story that can do its hero justice.
Robin was played poorly by O’Donnell, and basically offered unfunny complaining throughout the film. George Clooney failed to deliver the right ambiance as Batman and while Arnie will never be the greatest actor on Earth, he draws a crowd, but in this case he failed to make Mr. Freeze scary by even a significant stretch of the imagination.
4. Year One
This “comedy” set in biblical times, and featuring many characters from the Bible, had plenty of material with which to work. It’s the Bible for God’s sake, possibly the most well-known story out there. The film also boasted an awesome cast including David Cross, Hank Azaria, Paul Rudd, the gorgeous Olivia Wilde, Bill Hader, along with Michael Cera and Jack Black as the main protagonists. Being directed by Harold Ramis should have been enough to make this a laugh-riot.
It’s simple why this movie ended up being a failure, it had talent everywhere and a funny premise, but opted for humor that would have pleased a group of twelve-year-old boys. This was the last movie Ramis made before his death in 2014, and while he is remembered fondly for Ghostbusters, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Caddyshack and many more timeless comedies, this was a bad note to go out on.
3. Jack and Jill
I’ll throw down a disclaimer on this one, most of the best entertainers who were featured in this film were cameo appearances. The main cast included Adam Sandler, who was the funniest man in the business throughout the 80s and 90s, Katie Holmes, Al Pacino and fellow Saturday Night Live icon Tim Meadows. The cast also included cameos from Christie Brinkley, Drew Carrey, Dana Carvey, David Spade, Johnny Depp, Norm MacDonald and athletes Caitlyn Jenner (back when she was Bruce), Shaquille O’Neal and Lamar Odom. With all this star power, the movie had to be good, right? RIGHT?!
No, it was terrible. Adam Sandler plays both the male protagonist and his ridiculous and irritating twin sister. The story goes as follows: the main character’s loud and oafish sister shows up for Thanksgiving. At that point, hilarity was supposed to ensue, but this was a terrible movie. The jokes were predictable, the acting (with Pacino as an exception, because he’s a pro and a legend) was poor and the story was difficult to even pretend to care about.
2. Pearl Harbor
As historical films go, this one is among the worst. The only way in which this film actually told the story was that yes, the events happened. Pearl Harbor was attacked and in response, the Doolittle Raid, which had little impact on the war other than a moral boost for the U.S., did indeed take place. The rest of the movie was a love story with sporadic explosions and a very weak plot, with poor performances from some very decent actors.
The cast was a split between good looking, young performers: Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, Josh Hartnett, and Cuba Gooding Jr. along with veteran names like Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Colm Feore, and Alec Baldwin. The biggest criticism of this flick is that it almost seemed like the creators were more focused on telling the story of a love triangle than making an epic war film and telling the tale of one of the nastiest days in American history.
1. Movie 43
The worst movie ever made that had a cast of known actors, let alone a cast of almost exclusively good actors, Movie 43 took a great deal of time and headaches to make, and perhaps that should have been a hint to all those involved. An anthology flick, the premise of the film is a screenplay pitch in which Dennis Quaid‘s character Charlie, is trying to get his comedy screenplay picked up by a major producer.
The fourteen sketches in the movie include many funny and talented people, including Emma Stone, Liev Schreiber, Gerard Butler, Anna Faris, Naomi Watts, Uma Thurman, Hugh Jackman and Josh Duhamel, among many others. Despite the skill these people brought to the table, the film wasn’t funny at all. They tried hard, but at the end of the day, filth and poorly designed slapstick gags delivered more disappointment than humor in this nightmare of a flick.
Many critics have called this the worst movie they have ever seen. We agree that it is most definitely up there. The humor was often vulgar but without the giddy fun of disgusting, low-brow humor. Furthermore, none of the many stories were actually interesting in and of themselves. This is a movie that should have died in production but was forced to life like some misbegotten Frankenstein made up of decent performers forced to play roles they had no business playing.