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Old 05-07-2020, 05:21 PM
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Great Movies Marred By One Bad Performance


The idea for this thread came to me at 4am the other morning. The epidemic and distancing meant that I had been home and not working for a few weeks. Ive been waking up around 3ish. Looking for a movie to watch I came across The Rivers Edge on an HBO channel. I had seen it years ago and really liked it. I loved the acting and especially Crispin Glover. Boy, was I wrong. He criminally overacts, his accent is bizarre and his performance doesnt fit in with the ensemble of really brilliant performances. Daniel Roebuck...amazing and scary as hell. Ione Skye sexy and innocent and conflicted. Even Keanu Reeves gives a deep and masterful performance. But Glover is just terrible. I know that this is likely a minority opinion but if you have a chance to watch or re-watch this brilliant film Id like to know what others think about this film. Or any other that fit the thread title.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfTVu66jGes
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Old 05-07-2020, 05:31 PM
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A lot of people say that Francis Ford Coppola ruined The Godfather, Part III by casting his daughter Sofia as Michael Corleone's daughter.

Personally, I think there is a lot more wrong with the film than just her performance, but she gets blamed for it.
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Old 05-07-2020, 05:37 PM
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Any Keanu Reeves scene from the movie "Much Ado About Nothing." I like Keanu Reeves but he had no business in that movie. Thankfully he only has a few short scenes but even so...ouch.
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Old 05-07-2020, 05:53 PM
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Val Kilmer in 'Double Identity'. Paunchy, jowly, and clearly past his prime.
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Old 05-07-2020, 05:56 PM
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Paunchy, jowly, and clearly past his prime.
Sounds like me after eight weeks of lockdown.
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Old 05-07-2020, 06:29 PM
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Maybe bad animation counts as a performance, but in one of the best Simpsons episodes ever "Homer Vs The 18th Amendment" the scene where Rex Banner breaks up Moe's Speakeasy you see a drunk Chief Wiggum dancing on the floor which is hilarious but the floozy he's dancing with is animated so horrendously it completely takes me out of the episode despite only being a 5 second season. I watch that episode with friends all the time and when that bad animation comes up everyone immediately notices and points it out breaking the humor of the scene.
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Old 05-07-2020, 06:36 PM
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I always loved the musical Chicago and was excited when it got the big screen treatment. Everyone in it was great except for Richard Gere in the role originated by Jerry Orbach. Wow did he suck! He's a fine actor in a dramatic role, but he couldn't pull off a song-and-dance con-man to save his life.
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Old 05-07-2020, 06:44 PM
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Well, not a great movie, but one I like.

Big Jake. John Wayne film that has Robert Mitchum's son, Christopher Mitchum.

Christopher Mitchum makes bad actors look good.
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Old 05-07-2020, 06:53 PM
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Blazing Saddles. Whenever Mel Brooks is on camera his mugging vaudeville schtick stops the story's momentum cold.
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Old 05-07-2020, 06:58 PM
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Any Keanu Reeves scene from the movie "Much Ado About Nothing." I like Keanu Reeves but he had no business in that movie. Thankfully he only has a few short scenes but even so...ouch.
The first movie I thought of was also Much Ado About Nothing, but I was thinking Michael Keaton as Constable Dogberry rather than Reeves as Don John.

Reeves stunk, but Keaton completely ruined his shot at one of my personal favorite minor comic Billy S characters. And he COULD have been so good.
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Old 05-07-2020, 07:12 PM
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Any Keanu Reeves scene from the movie "Much Ado About Nothing." I like Keanu Reeves but he had no business in that movie. Thankfully he only has a few short scenes but even so...ouch.
I did NOT used to like Keanu Reeves. I saw Bram Stoker's Dracula in the theater, and his painful attempts at a British accent did not go over well.

His early career is littered with incidents where he basically played the same character he played in Bill and Ted, either cranked up, or muted down (like in Parenthood, a movie he did not ruin, but also did not impress me in; he was up in there with way better actors, but had little to do).

Only in recent years has he grown and matured as an actor to the point where I could believe him as John Wick, among other things. But I still wince at his scenes in Dracula.
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Old 05-07-2020, 07:14 PM
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Any Keanu Reeves scene from the movie "Much Ado About Nothing." I like Keanu Reeves but he had no business in that movie. Thankfully he only has a few short scenes but even so...ouch.
I love that movie. You're right, Keanu's performance is the worst thing about it. Hell, it's gotta rank among the worst ever. And, I like Keanu.
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Old 05-07-2020, 07:27 PM
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The idea for this thread came to me at 4am the other morning. The epidemic and distancing meant that I had been home and not working for a few weeks. Ive been waking up around 3ish. Looking for a movie to watch I came across The Rivers Edge on an HBO channel. I had seen it years ago and really liked it. I loved the acting and especially Crispin Glover. Boy, was I wrong. He criminally overacts, his accent is bizarre and his performance doesnt fit in with the ensemble of really brilliant performances. Daniel Roebuck...amazing and scary as hell. Ione Skye sexy and innocent and conflicted. Even Keanu Reeves gives a deep and masterful performance. But Glover is just terrible. I know that this is likely a minority opinion but if you have a chance to watch or re-watch this brilliant film Id like to know what others think about this film. Or any other that fit the thread title.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfTVu66jGes
Wow. Thanks for the link. It was fun in a horrible kind of way.
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Old 05-07-2020, 07:44 PM
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Val Kilmer in 'Double Identity'. Paunchy, jowly, and clearly past his prime.
That was especially apparent in the beach volleyball scene.
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Old 05-07-2020, 07:52 PM
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Some not-so-great movies marred by one bad performance that come to mind:

Camille (1936)
Robert Taylor (sucks in most of his movies, imo)

A Royal Scandal (1945)
William Eythe and itís especially conspicuous given the inordinately talented actors around him.

Bengazi (1955)
Richard Carlson and his awful ďScotsĒ accent.

Confidential Report, a.k.a. Mr. Arkadin (1955)
Robert Arden. not sure he was ever given another leading role; I sure hope not.

Breakfast at Tiffanyís (1961)
Mickey Rooney, offensively miscast.

Lilith (1964)
Warren Beatty, unemotive in reaction to Jean Seberg's institutionalized vixen. He is even worse in Shampoo (1975), a superficial performance playing a superficial character; and he is godawful in Bugsy (1991) where he actually tries to act.

The Greatest (1977)
Muhammad Ali

Salomeís Last Dance (1988)
Nikolas Grace (as Oscar the Wilde)

Hellboy (2019)
David Harbour in the title role; why didnít they just get The Undertaker?


Most films starring Woody Allen (and not retroactively, he has always been irritating as an actor).
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Old 05-07-2020, 08:34 PM
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Not a movie but a TV miniseries. 1983's The Winds of War. It was a sprawling, 12-hour story with a budget of #5 million, starring Robert Mitchum and filled with a cast of veteran character actors and rising newcomers. The pivotal role of Mitchum's daughter was played by Ali McGraw. She was stunningly bad, with a chirpy demeanor and tone-deaf line readings that seemed to be lifted from a rom-com.

She was replaced in the sequel by miniseries veteran and reformed Bond Girl Jane Seymour, who understood there was a war going on around her character.
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Old 05-07-2020, 09:01 PM
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I did NOT used to like Keanu Reeves.

<snip>

Only in recent years has he grown and matured as an actor to the point where I could believe him as John Wick, among other things. But I still wince at his scenes in Dracula.
Honestly, he is not a very good actor.

But, he found his niche and he is great at those (think "John Wick"). Also, turns out he is just a super nice, stand-up guy as a person in real life. I am hard pressed to think of another actor with a reputation as just a super solid, nice guy to everyone and anyone he meets. There's gotta be some points for that.

I just pray he never tries to do Shakespeare ever again.
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Old 05-07-2020, 09:07 PM
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The first movie I thought of was also Much Ado About Nothing, but I was thinking Michael Keaton as Constable Dogberry rather than Reeves as Don John.

Reeves stunk, but Keaton completely ruined his shot at one of my personal favorite minor comic Billy S characters. And he COULD have been so good.
I can see this and I mostly agree but since Don John was a more important character than Keaton's offensive Dogberry I mostly forgot about Keaton in the movie.

Thankfully neither got a lot of screen time.
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Old 05-08-2020, 06:55 AM
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MGM's 1962 remake of "Mutiny on the Bounty." Trevor Howard a great Captain Bligh. Richard Harris a great Richard Harris. Technicolor. Ultra Panavision 70. A Bounty replica costing $750,000. On-location shooting in beautiful Tahiti. Respected Director Lewis Milestone. What could go wrong?

Brando.

The memory of Clark Gable was hard to live up to, but Brando's hammy, foppish performance as Mr. Christian, combined with his off-screen tinkering with the script, his arrogance and utter refusal to take direction, turned what could have been an epic the likes of "Lawrence of Arabia" into a shambles. I don't know who else could have played that role at the time, but even Jerry Lewis would have been better.
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Old 05-08-2020, 07:13 AM
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Kevin Kline in A Prairie Home Companion. I know Guy Noir is supposed to be a little bit over-the-top, but it's like he's in a very different movie than everybody else. And this, in a movie featuring Lindsey Lohan in mid breakdown!
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Old 05-08-2020, 07:17 AM
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Kevin Kline in A Prairie Home Companion. I know Guy Noir is supposed to be a little bit over-the-top, but it's like he's in a very different movie than everybody else. And this, in a movie featuring Lindsey Lohan in mid breakdown!
I felt his over the top performance in Sophies Choice wasnt appropriate for the seriousness of the material. And, like Horatio Hellpop said, it was like he was in a very different film than Meryl Streep.

Last edited by madsircool; 05-08-2020 at 07:17 AM.
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Old 05-08-2020, 07:33 AM
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Gerard Butler in Phantom of the Opera. I love the film overall. It's gorgeously put together with wonderful music and a top-notch cast. But every time Butler sings it brings the film to a screeching halt. I suppose he can sorta sing, in a community-theater way, but he's outclassed by light years by the rest of the cast. Michael Crawford he ain't.

At least Butler can sorta sing. That's more than you can say for Russell Crowe in Les Miserables. He definitely is a helluvan actor, but as a singer, he's a helluvan actor. I felt sorry for him.

And, continuing down the list of non-singers in singing roles, Man of La Mancha gave us Peter O'Toole and Sophia Loren as the totally miscast leads. Great actors. Non-singers. Howard Kiel and Joan Diener, for the original NY cast were still available. So were lots of other, more recognizable leads.
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Old 05-08-2020, 08:23 AM
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Keanu Reeves has an expressive face. He would have been good in the silent movie era. But whenever he opens his mouth, the southern California beach bum voice comes out.


Raymond Massey is a good actor. He made a valiant attempt to play the villain in Arsenic and Old Lace.
But the part was written for Boris Karloff.
Massey does not look enough like Karloff to make the "you look like Boris Karloff" jokes funny.
Massey is not famous enough to make a "you look like Raymond Massey" joke funny.

Any film starring Stewart Granger. He would have been fine in supporting roles, but I don't think he was ever charismatic enough for a lead role.
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Old 05-08-2020, 08:40 AM
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Not a great movie, but Mamma Mia would have been significantly more enjoyable without having to bear witness to Pierce Brosnan's woeful attempt at singing.
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Old 05-08-2020, 09:21 AM
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The idea for this thread came to me at 4am the other morning. The epidemic and distancing meant that I had been home and not working for a few weeks. Ive been waking up around 3ish. Looking for a movie to watch I came across The Rivers Edge on an HBO channel. I had seen it years ago and really liked it. I loved the acting and especially Crispin Glover. Boy, was I wrong. He criminally overacts, his accent is bizarre and his performance doesnt fit in with the ensemble of really brilliant performances. Daniel Roebuck...amazing and scary as hell. Ione Skye sexy and innocent and conflicted. Even Keanu Reeves gives a deep and masterful performance. But Glover is just terrible. I know that this is likely a minority opinion but if you have a chance to watch or re-watch this brilliant film Id like to know what others think about this film. Or any other that fit the thread title.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfTVu66jGes
Interesting-- that was Crispin Glover's debut, wasn't it? Probably the first thing I saw him in and I remember thinking he did a great job with that role at the time. Now I do want to watch that movie again. Currently watching season 2 of "American Gods" and I think Crispin's killin' it as Mr. World.
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Old 05-08-2020, 09:27 AM
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Not a great movie, but Mamma Mia would have been significantly more enjoyable without having to bear witness to Pierce Brosnan's woeful attempt at singing.
Pierce Brosnan still has Gerard Butler and Russell Crowe beat hollow
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Old 05-08-2020, 09:39 AM
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Interesting-- that was Crispin Glover's debut, wasn't it? Probably the first thing I saw him in and I remember thinking he did a great job with that role at the time. Now I do want to watch that movie again. Currently watching season 2 of "American Gods" and I think Crispin's killin' it as Mr. World.
I felt the same way watching it years ago as I noted in the OP. The movie is brilliant and the movie is very dark. Watching it now Glovers' performance, to me, comes off as phony, cartoonish and scenery eating. The other actors (all brilliant to a fault) play the material intensely but straight.
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Old 05-08-2020, 09:53 AM
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MGM's 1962 remake of "Mutiny on the Bounty." Trevor Howard a great Captain Bligh. Richard Harris a great Richard Harris. Technicolor. Ultra Panavision 70. A Bounty replica costing $750,000. On-location shooting in beautiful Tahiti. Respected Director Lewis Milestone. What could go wrong?

Brando.

The memory of Clark Gable was hard to live up to, but Brando's hammy, foppish performance as Mr. Christian, combined with his off-screen tinkering with the script, his arrogance and utter refusal to take direction, turned what could have been an epic the likes of "Lawrence of Arabia" into a shambles. I don't know who else could have played that role at the time, but even Jerry Lewis would have been better.
I agree. Brando's atrocious accent and his nasal vocal tone were so grating, I winced every time he spoke.
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Old 05-08-2020, 10:00 AM
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Couldnt talk about Crispen Glover without linking to his infamous Letterman appearances. I think hes trolling but who knows?

His 1st appearance

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCaxKq5KFQM

His 2nd appearance

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ws0Xjr58ImY
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Old 05-08-2020, 10:03 AM
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I felt the same way watching it years ago as I noted in the OP. The movie is brilliant and the movie is very dark. Watching it now Glovers' performance, to me, comes off as phony, cartoonish and scenery eating. The other actors (all brilliant to a fault) play the material intensely but straight.
Yeah, that's why I want to watch it again- to see if my opinion of his performance has evolved as yours did. I'm almost the same age as Crispin (and almost exactly the same age as Keanu-- he's 3 days older than me). So I matured with those guys. From my admittedly hazy memory of watching it 30+ years ago (CHRIST) I seem to recall his character was supposed to be eccentric, unbalanced or downright mentally ill, so his scenery-chewing or cartoonish behavior was fitting to the role.
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Old 05-08-2020, 10:07 AM
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Yeah, that's why I want to watch it again- to see if my opinion of his performance has evolved as yours did. I'm almost the same age as Crispin (and almost exactly the same age as Keanu-- he's 3 days older than me). So I matured with those guys. From my admittedly hazy memory of watching it 30+ years ago (CHRIST) I seem to recall his character was supposed to be eccentric, unbalanced or downright mentally ill, so his scenery-chewing or cartoonish behavior was fitting to the role.
Thats an interesting point and I totally get it. Had he done a 'straight' accent, however.....

Last edited by madsircool; 05-08-2020 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 05-08-2020, 10:21 AM
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Quintin Tarantino as Jimmy in Pulp Fiction .
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Old 05-08-2020, 10:33 AM
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Kyle T. Heffner as the train dispatcher in Runaway Train. His acting is just amateurish.
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Old 05-08-2020, 10:38 AM
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Guys and Dolls, 1955.

“Brando sings! Sinatra acts!”
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Old 05-08-2020, 10:45 AM
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Not a movie but a TV miniseries. 1983's The Winds of War. It was a sprawling, 12-hour story with a budget of #5 million, starring Robert Mitchum and filled with a cast of veteran character actors and rising newcomers. The pivotal role of Mitchum's daughter was played by Ali McGraw. She was stunningly bad, with a chirpy demeanor and tone-deaf line readings that seemed to be lifted from a rom-com.

She was replaced in the sequel by miniseries veteran and reformed Bond Girl Jane Seymour, who understood there was a war going on around her character.
I agree with this eleventy thousand percent. Ali McGraw immediately comes to mind any time the words 'worst performance' are uttered. I really rooted for the Nazis in every scene she was in.

Nitpick: McGraw was Mitchum's daughter-in-law
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Old 05-08-2020, 12:18 PM
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Quintin Tarantino as Jimmy in Pulp Fiction .
Or in Reservoir Dogs or anything else. Like Mel Brooks, he should stick to directing.
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Old 05-08-2020, 12:28 PM
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I always loved the musical Chicago and was excited when it got the big screen treatment. Everyone in it was great except for Richard Gere in the role originated by Jerry Orbach. Wow did he suck! He's a fine actor in a dramatic role, but he couldn't pull off a song-and-dance con-man to save his life.
Well, Gere won a Golden Globe for Best Actor (in a Comedy/Musical) for that performance so you may be in the minority. I thought that for a non-musical actor he did quite well.
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Old 05-08-2020, 12:41 PM
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Honestly, he is not a very good actor.

But, he found his niche and he is great at those (think "John Wick"). Also, turns out he is just a super nice, stand-up guy as a person in real life. I am hard pressed to think of another actor with a reputation as just a super solid, nice guy to everyone and anyone he meets. There's gotta be some points for that.

I just pray he never tries to do Shakespeare ever again.
I was going to say exactly this. Reeves is very good in action films, and always has been - from Point Break a few years after Bill & Ted, to Speed, to the Matrix films, to John Wick. Those films also tend to require limited range in its lead actors. Though Reeves doesn't look like your regular action star, so I'm sure that's why he was cast in those other roles.
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Old 05-08-2020, 01:57 PM
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At least Butler can sorta sing. That's more than you can say for Russell Crowe in Les Miserables. He definitely is a helluvan actor, but as a singer, he's a helluvan actor. I felt sorry for him.
I think Crowe can do just fine on rock songs that donít require a big range. Javert part has the most difficult songs in the play. Itís easy for veteran stage singers to lose the melody in some parts. It takes someone like Phillip Quast to do the part justice. Itís the one part they really needed to pick a singer over an actor.

Not that I thought most of the rest was any good. Too many times the cast chose overacting over singing the part. The music in a musical is too important to take a backseat. Hugh Jackman can sing and he wound up whispering half his lines.
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Old 05-08-2020, 02:10 PM
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When talking about Les Miz Sacha Baron Cohenís awful Innkeeper should be mentioned. At least Crowe acts well as Javert despite his vocal shortcomings. The Innkeeper is a much needed comic break in the story as well as being an evil villain. Cohen is flat and humorless.
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Old 05-08-2020, 03:49 PM
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Saratoga Trunk (1945) – English actress Flora Robson is in blackface as a mulatto servant, making all of her scenes conspicuously awkward, to say the least.

Scanners (1981) – Any film that opens with a bald guy’s head exploding certainly has a claim on greatness, imo, but it is squandered because leading man Stephen Lack severely lacks charisma and talent as an actor.

The Keep (1983) – Great set-up before Ian McKellen shows up, overacts like a high school amateur and taints every scene in which he appears.

Death and the Compass (1992) – Peter Boyle is miscast and bad in this otherwise interesting low-budget adaptation of a Borges story directed by Alex Cox.
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Old 05-08-2020, 03:54 PM
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Quintin Tarantino as Jimmy in Pulp Fiction .
Yes, this. He was completely miscast as someone who wasn't in the life, but was adjacent to it. It should have been a tougher less whiny guy, and a better actor.
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Old 05-08-2020, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Dropo View Post
Some not-so-great movies marred by one bad performance that come to mind:


Lilith (1964)
Warren Beatty, unemotive in reaction to Jean Seberg's institutionalized vixen. He is even worse in Shampoo (1975), a superficial performance playing a superficial character; and he is godawful in Bugsy (1991) where he actually tries to act.




Most films starring Woody Allen (and not retroactively, he has always been irritating as an actor).
Beatty is fantastic in Heaven Can Wait. In both the roles he plays. And he's certainly acting in both.


And Tarantino is fine in several roles. In a world of super-models...its nice to every once in a while see a weird schlub.

Last edited by Dale Sams; 05-08-2020 at 04:03 PM.
  #44  
Old 05-08-2020, 04:25 PM
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(snip)...Breakfast at Tiffanyís (1961)
Mickey Rooney, offensively miscast...(snip)
I saw this thread earlier and was going to mention this because it's a commonly cited example in threads like these. On further thought though, I suspect Rooney delivered exactly the performance he was hired and made up to give. I think the blame has to go to the director. Sure, the role was and is offensive and Rooney played that stereotype for all it was worth. And it is a huge blemish on an otherwise interesting movie. It was the directors choice to have the portrayal in the film and I assume saw the finished film after editing and chose to keep it in the film for release so I blame the director.
  #45  
Old 05-08-2020, 07:01 PM
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I agree with this eleventy thousand percent. Ali McGraw immediately comes to mind any time the words 'worst performance' are uttered. I really rooted for the Nazis in every scene she was in.
There is no truth to the rumor that she starred in the stage production of The Diary of Anne Frank, and in the scene where the Nazis were searching the house, the audience yelled, "She's under the bed!"
  #46  
Old 05-08-2020, 08:30 PM
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It's Russell Crowe in Les Miserables, for sure. I mean, I don't know if there is a TVtrope for this already, but it could be named after him in that movie.

Listen to this song all the way through.

They released that. Into theaters. Without re-doing it or using any autotune at all to adjust it.
  #47  
Old 05-08-2020, 08:30 PM
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Simon Langton should have told Alison Steadman, who played Mrs. Bennett in the 1995 Pride & Prejudice, to tone it down a bit; although the character is meant to be foolish and grating, I don't think she should be quite that grating.

And Jennifer Coolidge's mugging in Lost in Austen is very distracting.
  #48  
Old 05-08-2020, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post
Or in Reservoir Dogs or anything else. Like Mel Brooks, he should stick to directing.
In Reservoir Dogs, his role is so minimal and unimportant that he doesn't really get the chance to ruin his scenes. The opening scene he does fine in.
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  #49  
Old 05-09-2020, 01:06 AM
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Blazing Saddles. Whenever Mel Brooks is on camera his mugging vaudeville schtick stops the story's momentum cold.
Could not agree more. He is the reason for the '30 second skip' button on the remote.

I guess we don't need to mention Jar....

eh, nevermind.
  #50  
Old 05-09-2020, 11:52 AM
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And, continuing down the list of non-singers in singing roles, Man of La Mancha gave us Peter O'Toole and Sophia Loren as the totally miscast leads. Great actors. Non-singers. Howard Kiel and Joan Diener, for the original NY cast were still available. So were lots of other, more recognizable leads.
Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter in Sweeney Todd. Neither has a strong enough singing voice for a lead in a musical. I much prefer the George Hearn/Angela Lansbury version I also have on DVD.
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