The Feminine Mystique on the Big Screen: 10 of the Best Actresses in the Most Forgettable Films
Is there really any actress that can possibly make a bad movie worth watching? How about as the ultimate guilty pleasure (Lori Singer in 1987's very obscure Made in U.S.A.)? You might forget the film once it's over, but you won't forget Singer's performance as the unstable female drifter anytime soon. Occasionally, there has been instances where a memorable performance can almost make a bad film good. Meryl Streep is a prime example of this. If audiences would flock to see her in The Devil Wears Prada, the same would apply for disappointing fare such as Death Becomes Her or She-Devil. Don't be surprised if you catch yourself watching the cringeworthy Death Becomes Her one night and not flip the channel for the duration of the film.
Sometimes it's best to derive a few pleasures from a mostly dreadul movie in any way you can to avoid wasting the $10 you spent on movie tickets alone. If it's in an acting performance, it would make sense if you're already a fan of that particular actress. (Why else would people even bother to watch Sex and the City 2?) Here are a list of ten memorable performance from various actresses who nearly saved their films from complete ruin and two additional ones worth mentioning. Each performance is labeled based on the nature of the type of movie misfire. Read on to see if you agree with the list and see where your favorites measure up.
Piper Perabo in The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000)- In an early film role, Perabo was cast as the bright eyed FBI Agent Karen Sympathy who worked with Rocky and Bullwinkle to stop Boris (Jason Alexander), Natasha (Rene Russo) and Fearless Leader (Roberto De Niro) in another evil scheme. This time to take over the world by controlling their thoughts through the power of television. Sounds like a silly premise? It was and that was why the movie misfired badly at the box office. Despite embarassing performances from the movie's bigger stars, relative newcomer Perabo provided a grounded level of whimsy that transferred over to the TV show Covert Affairs. She kept a pretty straight face when she spent most of her time working with characters that weren't really there. Perabo drew the lion's share of the laughs and was the only one who truly came out of the movie without any egg on her face, which was a feat in itself.
Anne Hathaway in One Day (2011)- Day was based on the David Nicholls bestselling novel of the same name about two college graduates Emma and Dexter who had a 20 year friendship without being fully aware that they're meant to be something more. The story followed them during that period on the same day (July 15th) in their lives which didn't always go according to plan. Unfortunately, the movie version was a bit of a miss based on the fact that some of the key parts in the book were thrown by the wayside to speed up the story, but it left audiences more confused than entertained. Ironically, Nicholls was also involved in writing the screenplay as well, which made it even more disappointing. Hathaway's performance as the smart but cynical Emma was the film's only bright spot. After her performance, it wouldn't be hard to see why anyone wouldn't fall in love with her. See One Day if you dare to overlook the movie's obvious flaws and focus on Hathaway's true talent of making viewers feel good even when they should be depressed.
Emily Blunt in The Adjustment Bureau (2011)- This long delayed movie wasn't entirely helped by a plot that was too confusing to understand. The best way to get through this Science Fiction clunker is to overlook the subplot about the governmental forces keeping David Norris (Matt Damon) and Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) apart to focus on the real story. A key component in that is Blunt's breezy, humorous and realistic performance as the aspiring dancer. She was fun and flirty, which inspired Damon's David to loosen up. The real heart of her performance came when she was forced to decide to run away with David without knowing if he was crazy or not. Blunt's deer-in-the-headlights expression was realistic, because she reacted like anyone would've if they were told that a secret society was controlling their lives. Blunt's performance is what saved Bureau from being a complete waste of money at the movies. Watch it and see at your own risk of course.
Amanda Seyfried in Red Riding Hood (2011)- Sadly, not much pleasure could be derived from this updated fairy tale adaptation which bordered on lurid at times. In this version of the tale, Valerie (Seyfried) was torn between two lovers. One of them could be really the wolf who is terrorizing her town and could communicate through her thoughts. There were very few surprises in the film, until the end when the wolf was revealed. No one saw it coming, especially Seyfried in her reaction as she appeared genuinely afraid for the first time. That moment made the first two thirds of the film almost redeemable. Almost being the operative word.
Grace Jones in A View to a Kill (1985)- In this James Bond movie sequel, Jones used her larger than life persona to play Christopher Walken's number two May Day to dangerous perfection. Jones went toe to toe with Sir Roger Moore in his last go around as Bond and made it a memorable one. Bond's battles with May Day made the audience wonder if they were either going to sleep with or kill each other. In the case of the movie, it was a little of both in the end. Ultimately, the plot was weaker than Moore's earlier Bond films and Walken's villain was too campy to be taken seriously. It was Jones' performance who made Kill a film worth remembering for more than Duran Duran's title song for the movie.
Gemma Arterton in Clash of the Titans (2010)- Not much can be taken from the original or the remake version for Titans, except for the campy plot and the even sillier special effects. The remake version didn't much improve upon the original, except for the addition of Arterton's Io. She was the goddess who was sent down to Earth to be Perseus' (Sam Worthington) guide into saving man. Arterton provided Io with a mixture of humor and grit to keep him in line. Audiences actually rooted for Io and Perseus to survive because of the tense chemistry between both actors. It's a shame that Arterton won't be in next year's Wrath of the Titans, because her character's humor helped make Clash worth watching.
Olivia Wilde in Tron: Legacy (2010)- What you do remember about this sequel to 1982's Tron? Not much? That's understandable because the plots to both films were thinner than tissue paper. The real draw was the stellar visual effects and the action sequences. With Tron: Legacy, audiences were treated to Wilde's big screen breakthrough as Quorra who was more than a computer program. She had feelings and interests that went beyond the game world she lived in. Wilde's unexplored chemistry with Garrett Hedlund would've been an interesting story, but the disappointing box office might make audiences waiting for a possible sequel even less likely.
Dakota Fanning in Push (2009)- Fanning had made quite an impression on audiences since her turn in I Am Sam when she was a young child star. Her work in The Twilight Saga might not lead to any major acting awards for her, but she has a bright future in Hollywood. With Push, Fanning proved that she was no longer a child star. She could contend with the grown ups if she wanted to. In Push, she played Cassie, a girl with special powers that are beyond her control or her understanding. She goes into hiding to protect herself from a secret government group after her. She comes out of hiding to team up with Nick (Chris Evans), a fellow gifted person, to rescue a girl (Camilla Belle) who can change the odds in their favor. Although the special effects were ridiculous, Push was entertaining to watch because of Fanning's sharp and cynical performance as the always searching for hope Cassie. She made it worth watching no matter how many plot holes the movie had.
Maggie Grace in Faster (2010)- In Faster, Grace played the seemingly angelic Lily as a character who liked the danger that came with being involved with a hit man. She played with his fancy guns as they did some target practice after their impulsive wedding, but Grace grounded the impulsive Lily with a sense of realism that came with being the wife of a contract killer in a revenge thriller. She had the sense that he'd one day never come home from an assignment and didn't like it one bit. Audiences wanted to root for her to get a happy ending with the man trying to kill the movie's star Dwayne Johnson, even if that meant sacrificing his character's survival in the process.
Zoe Saldana in The Losers (2010)- Saldana has been known for playing tough girls in action films before in Avatar and Columbiana, but it was her performance in The Losers that really stood out. She played Aisha, a wealthy woman who hired a group of burned spies to help find the man who betrayed them all, with a sense of mystery and danger that caused people to stay in their seats. Saldana's Aisha seduced Jeffrey Dean Morgan's intrepid leader, even though he knew she could kill him just as easily. She could also operate heavy machinery without blinking an eye. Although the movie's plot was action movie cliche, Saldana made it worth watching nonetheless.
Kyra Sedgwick in Something To Talk About (1995)- This may have been Julia Roberts' movie, but it wasn't one of her better performances. Roberts played Grace, the wife of a cheating husband (Dennis Quaid), who had enough and decided to move home with her parents. Sedgwick played Grace's tough talking sister Emma Rae who literally took grief from no one. She let Grace's husband know what she thought of him every chance she got (verbally and otherwise). Sedgwick used her character's Southern charm to hide that she was not an ordinary Southern Belle. She even stole the show from her better known costar. Now, that's definitely something worth talking about indeed.
Betty White in Lake Placid (1999)- This film role helped audiences see that White was definitely nothing like The Golden Girls' Rose Nylund. She could be mean and swear with the best of them. Placid also gave her the starting ground for a beautiful working relationship with the film's writer David E. Kelley that led to her small screen role as the wickedly whacky Catherine Piper on The Practice and Boston Legal. Watch this horror comedy and White will have you howling with laughter.
In the end, not even the greatest of actresses can save their films from being complete and utter disasters. Oscar Winner Hilary Swank has a few hits, but a lot of misses that ranged from The Affair of the Necklace to P.S. I Love You. Not even the great Meryl Streep can walk away unscathed from such cinematic duds as the poorly adapted and miscast The House of the Spirits. Julia Roberts had to go through playing Mary Reilly before she earned her Oscar as Erin Brockovich. Like many actresses, moviegoers have to take the good film roles in great films along with the decent ones in lousy films. If the pain is unbearable to watch onscreen, simply think of the better roles before leaving the theatre with happier memories and not the ones you just endured two hours prior. That's all anyone can do, until the next movies comes along.