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Top 10 Most Entertaining Bad Movie Performances

11 January 2017 | Features, Other Lists | by Chris van Dijk

I think most of us can agree that the world isn’t fair. Some people get what they deserve, others don’t. Not everything works out; some things just fall apart. The world has produced more hopeless dreamers than victorious ones. The arc of the universe does not bend toward justice; things just happen, sometimes for the benefit of mankind, sometimes for the benefit of the few (or in many cases, for no one).

Sometimes you find what you are looking for, and other times you’re lost. If you want to see how fair this world is, take a stroll down the boulevard of broken dreams called Hollywood. There, the streets are paved with nightmarish losers. All of them think they are living their rags to riches story, that they just have to get past the third act and once that happens, it’s all smooth sailing from here…

But none of them will, because life isn’t like the movies at all. Movies give you permission to dream a little, but eventually you have to get up from your chair and return to reality. If you don’t, the world will crush you. If you aren’t rich, you are not allowed to escape reality. You just can’t afford it.

So actors ‘have it’ but are rejected at every turn. Some of them don’t have it but get lucky; the right time, the right place, that’s all it takes, but nobody can tell you where that is.

Just take a look at this list. While some of them are respectable actors who do deserve the recognition they’ve inevitably received, others were not; in fact, they were the exact opposite. But they will receive far more fame and recognition (if maybe not for the right reasons) than those struggling actors out there who had far more natural talent.

And so it goes. Always remember that somewhere out there, there’s another Daniel Day-Lewis struggling as a waiter, trying to make it in a world that doesn’t want him. At the same time, there’s another Tommy Wiseau (“you are tearing me apart Lisa!’’) is on his way to infinite fame.

Some of the names on this list are quite well known. One could blame their piss-poor performance on bad direction, a bad script, or just not giving a damn. Whatever the reason, there’s nothing sweeter than watching a beautiful trainwreck.

Some performances are merely misguided. Others are deliberately hammy and deserve the loving reception – Divine, for instance. Some are so painfully cringeworthy that watching them becomes an almost religious experience. It’s like attaining nirvana, where everything suddenly just seems to make much more sense, and you know that nothing will ever be the same again…

But regardless how awesomely terrible they are, they shall be remembered above all the aspiring Marlon Brandos weeping on their way back to their shit-heel town. Sorry guys, the big town just wasn’t classy enough for the likes of you.

 

10. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Jingle All the Way

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Jingle All the Way

Classic Line: ‘’Put that cookie down!’’

If you watched the last trailer of “The New Celebrity Apprentice”, you will see Arnold Schwarzenegger looking back at his long successful career from professional bodybuilder, to movie star, to becoming the Governator (yes that word is overused, but it’s too damn perfect) of California.

In this trailer, Schwarzenegger proclaims that it wasn’t ‘luck’ that made him the muscular superstar, it was all part of his ‘plan’. It’s a trailer that would make any libertarian soil his pants. Even so, it’s hard to deny that Schwarzenegger’s story isn’t the ideal rags to riches story, complete with the whole ‘having a love child with your maid’ subplot.

It’s hard to not love the muscular goofball. Much has been said about his acting, and even though he has put out genuinely great performances in his career, it’s his persona (and yes, his accent) that has always stood in the way. He could not portray a character; he was always our Arnold and we loved him for it. So he will never be a character actor, who cares? Who wants another Steve Buscemi when you can watch a YouTube compilations of all of Arnold’s puns?

His worst performance, however, has to be “Jingle All the Way”. As a child, this movie was “Citizen Kane”. It’s Arnold vs. Sinbad in a Christmas comedy! There was no way this could suck!

But it certainly did suck, and it has only sucked even more over time, thanks to the presence of that demon spawn known as Jake Lloyd. Lloyd’s acting is even worse in this one than it was in “The Phantom Menace” – goddamn midichlorians! Every time the little brat says a line you want to send an angry letter to George Lucas.

Despite Schwarzenegger in this film being possibly the biggest miscast actor in Hollywood history, he still comes out unscathed. Yes, his acting is embarrassing, but if it wasn’t for his presence, this movie would have been unbearable. So much of the film’s torrid dialogue becomes hilarious thanks to Schwarzenegger’s inane delivery.

It’s a painful movie made bearable by a beautifully miscast Arnold Schwarzenegger. Surely his presence will make “The Celebrity Apprentice”, at the very least, somewhat watchable.

 

9. Nicolas Cage in The Wicker Man

cage wicker man

Classic Line: “How’d it get burned! How’d it get burned!’’

Back in the day, Nicolas Cage made delightful little romps with the likes of Cher and Shirley MacLaine. Sadly, when people mention Cage’s name nowadays, they won’t remember him from those movies; just like when people mention Bill Cosby, they won’t think about sweaters and pudding anymore. Instead, when people talk about Cage, they might think about that movie where he smokes crack with Xzibit or his unforgettable part in “Left Behind” (certainly the highlight of his career).

Nowadays, Cage’s career is stuck between ‘respected actor’ and ‘complete and utter joke.’ He veers between appearing in an Oliver Stone movie to whatever the hell “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” is supposed to be. Every now and then, Cage comes back to show us what he’s capable of (such as in the deeply underrated “Joe”), but then he’s back in some B-tosh again, reminding us that he’s still has a massive tax debt to pay off.

People go to see his movies nowadays not to see an Oscar-worthy performance, but rather to see his particular zany brand of over-acting, and it was probably “The Wicker Man” that cemented his position as the definitive Lord of Overacting. The film became infamous for Cage’s performance, which is actually the only redeeming value of his highly unnecessary remake of the 1970’s classic.

Who doesn’t remember the classic scene where he steals a woman’s bike by pointing a gun at her? Or the scene where he punched a woman in a bear outfit? Or the scene where he asks the most important question of all “How’d it get burned?” And what about… “OH, NO! NOT THE BEES! NOT THE BEES! AAAAAHHHHH! OH, THEY’RE IN MY EYES! MY EYES! AAAAHHHHH! AAAAAGGHHH!”

 

8. Keanu Reeves in Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Classic Line: “Excellent!”

I think we can all agree that Keanu Reeves is an adorable specimen. The stories surrounding his life have none of the diva quirks of his Hollywood peers; he didn’t screw his babysitter, he didn’t file for bankruptcy, and best of all, no Scientology.

The unforgettable clip of him giving up his seat for a woman on the metro, his reported care and affection for others, and the fact that he gave loads of money to charity from his massive income from the “Matrix” trilogies – he’s like the perfect guy your daughter brings home to your father. Yes, you don’t want to like him because he’s screwing your daughter, but he’s so darn adorable, how on earth can you not?

As an actor, Reeves is not a bad actor, but he he’s one of those that desperately needs a good director. The right director can turn his stoic expressions into something more meaningful. If not, he’s like a child in a nativity play; the fact that he remembered his lines should be good enough.

But no director, not even the one who directed Marlon Brando in both “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now”, could turn Reeves in a proper English gent. You can’t blame Reeves for the performance either; I mean, what was he supposed to do, say no to Francis Ford Coppola?

Reeves does his best to try an English accent, but you are just waiting for him to burst out and go “Excellent!” and have him play air guitar. It’s hard to say whether his performance makes the film any worse. On one hand, yes, his casting is laughable next to the likes of Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins, but on the other hand, it makes the film so much more entertaining.

 

7. Jeremy Irons in Dungeons and Dragons

Jeremy Irons in Dungeons and Dragons

Classic Line: ”Let their blood RAAAAIN FROM THE SKYYYY’’

Dungeons and Dragons is one of those terrible movies that was saved by an established actor who clearly didn’t give a shit (see Raul Julia in “Street Fighter”). In this case, it’s the great Jeremy Irons, a man that personifies class. Anytime they need to class up a film, they cast Irons. He’s so classy he followed up Michael Caine as Alfred in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”, and nobody complained.

But like Caine, every now and then you need to ham it up – for good money, of course. Caine had to get his rocks off in Steven Seagal’s ego-trip/eco-film “On Deadly Ground” and Irons had to do this in “Dungeons and Dragons”. Like Caine, he plays the villain of the piece, but while Caine plays a corporate giant with a particularly bad facelift, Irons plays an evil magician who wants to control dragons.

Irons is known for his subtle acting. He’s able to evoke more with a facial expression that most actors can do with an expository monologue. Just watch his magnificent double performance in “Dead Ringers” to see his incredible range. But Irons rightfully felt that this film didn’t need any of that thespian class.

Nope. Instead he saw that this film needed some furious overacting. Thus, becoming the only redeeming value of this godawful film, he goes absolutely batshit crazy for everyone unlucky enough to see this film. And by god, it’s beautiful.

His performances consist of every villainous trope known to man, from maniacal laughter, orgasmic facial expressions when he’s wielding power, from screaming ‘’No!’’ when he faces his demise (in this case, getting eaten alive by a dragon), you’ll have a blast.

 

6. Maurice Smith in Miami Connection

Maurice Smith in Miami Connection

Classic Line: “My father! I found my father!’’

“Miami Connection” is one of those very, very special films. Watching this film, you start wondering why you even bother to watch all those depressing art house flicks. Yes, they are beautifully made, but do they even include ninjas or such catchy songs as “Friends for eternity, loyalty, honesty”?

It’s a film that does everything wrong yet everything right at the same time. Imagine a film made by a group of man-children who just found out about kung fu, who also just started a rock band, in the 80s!

Discovered accidentally on eBay, when a programmer of Alamo Drafthouse randomly bought this movie, it garnered a much deserved cult classic status. Yes, it’s on the list of the best of the worst – like many, I found out about this film on Red Letter Media, but this film has such a gigantic heart that it’s impossible to not love it.

When choosing the most entertainingly bad performance, it’s not easy. They all have that touch of magical cringe. But Maurice Smith as Jim is the standout, mostly because he was given the most dramatic scene of all. The scene, which involves crying about his long father (“my mother was Korean and my father… Black American…’’) is so beautifully awkward, and you know that after that scene was done, all his buddies high-fived him from delivering a Brando-like performance.

 

 

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  • Jules F. Melo Borges

    Dennis Hopper in Waterworld.
    John Reynolds in Manos The Hands of Fate… and everyone else in it.
    Almost everyone in Mortal Kombat Annihilation.
    And Arnold Schwarzenegger… in ‘The Running Man’.

  • Frank Langella in Masters of the Universe (although it’s a movie I dig, probably for purely nostalgic reasons)

  • Emre Kara

    You cannot call Divine bad! 🙂