Honestly, what the hell happened to Vince Vaughn? And no, I’m not making a joke about his weight. If I lived in Chicago and had access to the Italian beef and sausage combo on a daily basis, my ass would look a lot like Queen Latifah’s, so there’s no judgment there. Wha I am making a joke about is his career, which is also starting to look a lot like Queen Latifah’s.
It’s not like Vaughn was the next Peter Sellers, but he did star in some memorable films: Swingers, Old School, and Anchor Man, to name a few. His last decent film, The Wedding Crashers, was a critical and commercial success, bringing in close to $300 million. But it’s been six years since Vaughn’s been in something that didn’t suck less on screen than Chloë Sevigny. His latest film, The Dilemma, is currently tanking at the box office, which is due in no small part to the fact that it’s rocking a 25% favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Critical reception isn’t everything, especially for a comedy. But considering that 25% is more than double what his last film scored, it’s clearly not an isolated incident.
Of his four previous films*, The Break-Up is the highest rated at 34%. Fours Christmases is next with 25%, followed by Fred Claus at 21% and rounded out with Couples Retreat at a whopping 12%. If you combine all four of those scores, the total is still seven points below Toy Story 3. I understand that not every attempt is going to be a hit. Making a film is extremely difficult work, and it’s easy for an asshole hack like myself to sit in my underwear and criticize via the Internet. But the fact that it’s easy for me to criticize doesn’t mean I’m wrong. Vaughn’s last five years of work are an embarrassment by any reasonable standard.
So, what caused Vaughn to pull an Adam Sandler? While there’s no telling for sure, it’s worth noting that Vaughn and his sister Victoria began Wild West Picture Show Productions in 2006, and the company was responsible for the five turds we’ve already discussed. This could just be a coincidence, but all things considered, it would be one hell of a fluke. Maybe the added responsibility of producing has clouded Vaughn’s judgment. Or perhaps he simply gave up all pretense of making a quality product and is now worried only about the bottom line. In either case, any moron (like myself) who knows how to use IMDB can spot the correlation between Vaughn’s career as a producer and a dramatic drop in the quality of his films.
To be clear, Vaughn is not only likable, but talented. That’s what makes the whole situation so frustrating. To see the guy who played Beanie Campbell in Old School sharing the screen with Paul Blart is depressing, and the fact that it’s in a romantic comedy just adds insult to injury. It’s one thing to see a struggling/washed up actor doing crap films to make ends meet. But Vaughn can literally do anything he wants, and he chooses to make Couples Retreat.
There may be hope for Vaughn, as there are rumors of an upcoming project with director David O. Russell. Although to put things into perspective, Ron Howard directed The Dilemma, so even a good director is no guarantee. But whatever happens, it’s high time Vince Vaughn decided to, once again, start making comedies that are actually funny.
Actually, scratch that. It’s high time Vaughn decided to start acting in comedies that are actually funny. He should leave the producing to someone else.
* Note: Into the Wild was not included because Vaughn did not have a starring role.