Horrible Hollywood: The Bad Movie Debate (Finally) Returns, Part 2

(Part 2 of 2)

Note: this was originally intended to be just one post, but it got so ridiculously long that I decided to split it into two for ease of reading (and for the sake of my own sanity!). You can find Part 1 here.

Do you have a ‘guilty pleasure’ – a bad movie that you secretly (or not so secretly!) love?

I was amazed at how many of you admitted to having a guilty thing for cheesy rom-coms and/or bad action movies! I guess, for a lot of people, these kinds of movie represent an opportunity to turn your brain off for a while and just be entertained without having to think about it.

Naturally, it is a good thing when a movie makes you think or provokes debate (I remember coming out of the cinema having an argument with a friend about the ending of Se7en which lasted all the way home), but sometimes you just can’t face stretching your brain, and that’s when your guilty pleasure comes into play…

My personal guilty pleasure is the truly dreadful Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves. It’s badly written, badly acted, so historically inaccurate that it makes me cringe, responsible for that god-awful number-one-for sixteen-weeks Bryan Adams song, and additionally features some of the worst British accents in a Hollywood movie since Dick Van Dyke’s ‘Australian Cockney’ turn in Mary Poppins.

In short, it’s complete and utter absolute rubbish. But it’s also highly watchable absolute rubbish – mainly because of the presence of Alan Rickman’s spectacularly hammy, scene-stealing Sheriff of Nottingham; one of the greatest Hollywood pantomime villains of all time. And if you can’t enjoy this gleefully over the top performance simply for what it is, then you probably deserve Christmas being cancelled…

What’s the worst, most ‘phoned in’ and/or overplayed performance you’ve ever seen in a movie?

Kevin Spacey’s take on Lex Luthor in Superman Returns managed to quite seriously wind several of you up, with one reader witheringly describing it as “oh-so-lazy”, and another furiously railing against Spacey for ruining “ an already shaky film with a performance that just showed no respect for the material, the genre or the audience”.

Sean Connery appears to be a serial offender when it comes to this sort of thing (also see ‘Worst accents’ below), but his forgettably bad performance in The Rock particularly annoyed some commenters, with one describing the ex-James Bond as “the most over-rated actor in Hollywood history” – seems not everyone can forgive Connery’s sins simply because he was an iconic Bond!

Are there any actors or actresses who are particularly guilty of the above?

Nicolas Cage seems to have really upset you lot in this respect! It is true that his acting style does seem to function on only one level: that of ‘terminally bored’ – although some of you think (and I’m inclined to agree) that this approach does actually work in some of his more seriously trashy movies, such as Con Air (“Put the bunny back in the box…”). As one reader puts it: “the sheer air of boredom that he projects as he goes through the film is fantastic”.

Several people also mentioned Johnny Depp’s recent spate of face-chewingly overacted performances, and, much as I’m a fan, I reluctantly have to concur with the reader who described many of Depp’s roles, particularly for the once brilliant Tim Burton, as involving this usually talented actor “grimacing like a maniacal monkey most of the time”.

Then there’s the truly dire Adam Sandler, who is roundly (and rightly) criticised for “doing the same film over and over” and, of course, there’s John Travolta, who is described as “bordering on self parody in every role” he’s done since his Tarantino-inspired comeback in the mid 1990s.

Finally, Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves also come in for some vitriolic criticism from one seriously irate reader, who begs Hollywood to never “EVER give them parts… where they have to put on an accent or portray emotions with any complexity” (see below for more on Keanu’s appalling record with accents!).

Worst accents?

I’ve already mentioned Kevin Costner et al’s dire attempts (or their not even bothering) at an English accent in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, and, of course, Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins (which is probably the worst movie accent in the whole of Hollywood history), but you suggested some even more ear-splitting examples of actors who just can’t seem to get it right.

Unsurprisingly, the name of Sean Connery comes up again and again when it comes to terrible accents – mainly because he only ever plays Sean Connery in every film he’s in. Why bother with a voice coach when you can just be a Scottish Richard the Lionheart, or an equally unconvincing Scottish Russian submarine commander?

And on the subject of Russian accents – which, quite frankly, sound hopelessly hammy in Hollywood movies, even when they’re done by your actual Russians – one of my readers tells me (to my absolute horror) that even Steven Seagal, of all people, has attempted one of these in yet another one of his instantly forgettable, straight-to-video actioners. Oh dear

Then, of course, there’s the outrageously dreadful English accent sported by Keanu Reeves in Francis Ford Coppola’s laughable film adaptation (and I use that word in its loosest sense!) of Bram Stoker’s classic vampire novel Dracula, which was, unsurprisingly, mentioned by almost all of you. His performance and accent in that one was so bad that, personally, I kept expecting him to go into full-on Bill & Ted mode for most of it: “Woah, vampires! Most excellent!”

Worst scripts, direction etc?

The god-awful scripts for Titanic and Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves have already been mentioned as taking trashy to a whole new level, but there are also a number of scriptwriters whose work gets right up your noses, including Akiva Goldsman (“a plain and simple Hollywood hack”) and M. Night Shyamalan (whose film-making ‘talents’ in general irritate several of you).

As far as worst direction is concerned, a post on the subject of bad films would not be complete without a mention of the notoriously rubbish Michael Bay, the director/producer whose background in music video and advertising (argh!) has resulted in some truly awful movies – including Pearl Harbor (guaranteed to piss historians off), Armageddon (completely and utterly overblown, and not in a good way) and the Transformers franchise (so bad it makes the 1980s cartoon series seem sophisticated).

And, almost inevitably, George Lucas also gets another (dishonourable) mention for The Phantom Menace, which was unquestionably a good idea gone hopelessly, helplessly wrong on so many levels. Admittedly, it was always going to be difficult to ever match up to the huge success of the much-loved and still exhilarating original Star Wars trilogy, but, as one reader quite rightly points out, in the end The Phantom Menacewould have been judged harshly even without the expectation”.

Having judged Hollywood harshly and found it quite seriously wanting, there’s really only one thing left to say…

That’s All, Folks!

A big (belated) thanks to: Grant (who suggested it in the first place and then nagged at me until I got it written!), Lol, Martin, Signe, Lizz, David, and everybody else who contributed to these posts in one form or another!



  1. Pingback: Horrible Hollywood: The Bad Movie Debate (Finally) Returns, Part 1 « Another Kind Of Mind

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