There are some actors and actresses who should have pulled the plug on their careers years ago, but they have instead continued to Chuck Liddell us (that’s a reference to an MMA fighter who won’t retire, if you’re not into the octagon) with the same boring, uninspired appearances in the latest schlock that they are getting paid to sleepwalk through. But let’s also not forget the directors out there that keep doing the same to us. There’s a horde of filmmakers who used to be pretty damn good or at least did a couple of good films early on in their careers, but who now only turn out movies that make us want to resort to Weekend at Bernie’s II again and again. There are many offenders, but for now we’ll look at ten who should hang up their directing beret.
Dumb & Dumber, Kingpin, and There’s Something About Mary — laugh your ass off funny. Even Shallow Hal had some moments. Oh, but wait. The same guys who delivered us these gems have also most recently given us Osmosis Jones, Stuck on You, and Fever Pitch. The Heartbreak Kid was a move in the right direction, but it also showed that the Farrellys had lost their great mix of gross-out humor while showing the heart of dudes trying to ‘make it’. Hall Pass is their next movie and while it sounds like it has potential, we’ve been burned too many times lately by Peter and Bobby to get excited about it.
Up Next: Aside from Hall Pass, The Three Stooges feature is in the works.
He could do no wrong after The Sixth Sense. “Dude, Bruce Willis was dead the whole time!” was all you heard for a month after the movie came out. (Note: If you haven’t seen The Sixth Sense yet, this is a retroactive spoiler alert.) Unbreakable was still visually cool and interesting enough for us to still like him. Signs and The Village made us start twisting and growing uncomfortably in our seats. Then came the one that brought down the empire: Lady in the Water. The one that had a book written about the behind-the-scenes and contained stories of Night breaking down in tears to Disney execs because he wanted to play a bigger role in the film. He and Disney severed ties, he played the role and the movie was hated by most of his former fans. Suddenly, M. Night had managed to go from superstar director to audiences wanting his head on a platter in about seven years. The Happening — or should I say, What the Hell is Happening? — was icing on the cake. And I won’t even go into the The Last Airbender. Shyamalan needs that to be his Last Movie.
Up Next: He produced the upcoming Devil and has an untitled film in the works for 2012.
Mortal Kombat is a guilty pleasure for a lot of dudes. Event Horizon was semi-scary and the film version of Resident Evil made me giggle like a school boy when my video game fantasies came true (Milla Jovovich as Alice getting all naked was a highlight) Paul W.S. Anderson, not to be confused with Paul Thomas Anderson who makes critically-acclaimed dramas, has never made high-brow stuff and doesn’t pretend he has. But his early stuff had a certain tongue-in-cheek, just-for-the-dudes pleasure to it. That started melting quickly away after the first Resident Evil movie. AVP: Aliens vs. Predator was, well, a movie. But saying it was watchable is a stretch. And if that was unwatchable, what does that make Death Race? The advance buzz on Resident Evil: Afterlife is that Anderson has another stinker on his hands…and he recently announced his next directing effort: The Three Muskateers. That could be interesting, except he is doing it with Orlando Bloom in the cast. This madness needs to stop.
Up Next: In addition to the Orlando Bloom swor fighting thing, he’s attached to direct the Buck Rogers feature.
Early in his career, Copploa worked for about a decade writing and producing films while directing small, low budget films. Then the 70’s came. The Godfather and The Godfather II are near masterpieces. The Conversation was crazy cool and every guy loves Apocalypse Now. In the 80’s Coppola gave us The Outsiders and Peggy Sue Got Married (you know, the one with Nicholas Cage’s voice). But he also gave us some boring flicks. Rumble Fish, The Cotton Club, and Tucker all had some good elements to them, but could be coma inducing at times. And Francis wasn’t finished. He decided to begin the 90’s with a third Godfather movie. Damn him for that. It wasn’t remotely near the quality of the other two and nearly ruined their memory. His daughter, while a decent director in her own right, was part of the ensemble. A Scottish terrier dressed in drag would have been better cast. He continued the 90’s with the overrated Dracula, the sappy and crappy Jack, and the seen-it-all-before Grisham flick, The Rainmaker. The pattern of his films getting weaker as he got older was painfully obvious. He’s done two flicks in the past three years and both are barely shadows of his early genius. The man has produced tons of other great films, so maybe it time to step away from directing and just produce.
Up Next: Producing a couple of films. No directing in sight. We win!
Singleton’s Boyz n the Hood was badass in so many ways. He was a director who was raw and not afraid of hitting a nerve while dealing with some deep sh*t. Higher Learning showed that same quality and Poetic Justice wasn’t half bad either. Then he did Rosewood, which was a way under-appreciated dramatic film about actual events. Everyone thought Singleton was moving onto the next level as a filmmaker. Certainly he would follow that up with something smart…like a remake of Shaft. What? Some movies should just not be redone — not that Shaft was a work of art, but it has its place in cinema history. After that debacle, Singleton did the bland Baby Boy and jumped on-board 2 Fast 2 Furious. This movie was without Vin Diesel, but despite that bonus was somehow worse than the first one. All he has done since is some producing and he directed Four Brothers, a movie that could have been a solid revenge drama, but ended up being four actors trying to outdo one another in the tough guy department.
Up Next: Abduction, starring Taylor Lautner. Boyz n the Hood seems so many years ago…
This is Spinal Tap, The Sure Thing, Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Misery, A Few Good Men. Rob Reiner directed all of these films right in a row. There was comedy, there was drama. There was award show nominations. And on top of all that, he’s a guy it’s impossible to dislike. He still acted in and produced a lot of films, too, but he went through the 90’s with The American President being his only decent directorial effort. North was just not even close to his early quality and The Story of Us was disjointed and trying to say something about the institution of marriage that frankly, everyone knows already. And Ghosts of Mississippi was just boring. So what Reiner decided to do to improve his directing streak after this string of films was direct Alex & Emma, Rumor Has It, and The Bucket List right in a row. All three were complete wastes of celluloid. Rob, you had a great run in the 80’s. Let’s step aside now.
Up Next: Flipped coming out this week and three other films in development.
Another guy from TV (like Reiner) who made the successful leap into feature films. And also another guy who is difficult to dislike. But he still needs to stop directing movies. He did a ton of TV and a feature before The Flamingo Kid, which got him some movie director notice. Overboard was solid, but it was the sobby girlfest Beaches that had chicks loving everything he did after that. He followed that up with more girly stuff, like a tiny film called Pretty Woman. That movie was huge and certainly prostitutes everywhere were thrilled that they were finally being portrayed like the well-spoken, hygiene-conscious ladies they truly are. Frankie and Johnny brought Marshall more critical acclaim and despite his sensibility for romantic comedies and slapping on too much sentimental crap, his movies weren’t hard to watch. Even for guys. But then he either stopped taking his meds or started taking too many meds, because Exit to Eden, Dear God, The Princess Diaries, The Other Sister, Runaway Bride, Raising Helen, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, Georgia Rule, and Valentine’s Day were dropped into our laps. Seriously, it hurts my brains.
Up Next: State of the Union, a romance with Richard Gere and Annette Bening.
Andy and Larry Wachowski (or ‘Lana’, as Larry is now referred to whether he actually had the sex change or not) made The Matrix. And it was awesome. There’s no denying how cool the story was and how it kicked ass visually. Then came the ho-hum Matrix Reloaded and the soooo not good Matrix Revolutions. They did write V for Vendetta shortly after their four year love affair with all things Matrix, but then they decided to write and direct the awfulness that was Speed Racer. But it’s their latest film that doesn’t sound like it contains anything we loved about The Matrix. It’s called Cobalt Neutral 9 and is described as a ‘Hard R gay film’ that is about an American soldier who falls in love with an Iraqi. Think Brokeback Mountain with stop motion effects.
Up Next: Cobalt Neutral 9 and some producing.
Some say it is heresy to suggest George Lucas be done sitting in the director’s chair. I proclaim, give it up, nerds. Yes, the guy made one of the greatest trilogies in history. And his America Grafitti was a great film that inspired more than a few other films (Dazed & Confused, etc.). He’s a talented producer and great at coming up with a story (or at least a kernal of a great idea), but look at his recent time at the helm. His last three entries into the Star Wars universe were the equivalent of pooping on a beloved celebrity’s grave. From his casting of Jake Lloyd and Hayden Christensen to the absurdity of Jar Jar Binks, the movies were trainwrecks driven by an insane CGI conductor. Lucas’s hand in the recent Indiana Jones is also showing his delusion in other areas of filmmaking and how it permanently damaged that franchise. Someone should get him to retire to his ranch where R2-D2 and C-3P0 can shuttle him pina coladas pool-side all day long.
Up Next: No directing, thank God, but producing Red Tails, about the Tuskegee Airmen, and of course, some Star Wars-related stuff.
Th Brothers McMullen was in no way a great movie, but for how cheap it was pulled off, it was good. The dialogue was sharp and it had some good relationship moments. Ed Burns was the writer, director, and star, and despite his high pitched annoying voice, it all worked. He followed up Brothers with She’s the One and No Looking Back. They were average and had Burns’ usual relationship shtick except now he had money to make the film look sharp and hire name actors. During this time, he started getting cast more in other people’s films, which I think somehow made us forget how average his own films were. Saving Private Ryan and 15 Minutes had him climbing the Hollywood actor ladder while he kept making his own films. Sidewalks of New York was okay and an improvement on his last film. Then he cranked out Ash Wednesday and Looking for Kitty. Things were going south quickly and that wasn’t about to change. When The Groomsmen came along, I actually tried to file a class action suit against Burns for wasting all the talents he had assembled for that film. He followed that with Purple Violets — a film reportedly so bad, it couldn’t even get distribution at first and had to premiere on iTunes. Let him still act if he wants, but directing? Please God, no.
Up Next: Nice Guy Johnny, which looks like an extended ad for Abercrombie & Fitch.
Did I get them right or wrong? Leave your additions and subtractions to the list in the comments section.