It feels like there’s always a small number of stars who we’re constantly hearing and reading about, and who consistently – possibly deliberately – choose the worst projects to be a part of. These are the stars who are occupying the Friend On the Couch status in popular culture, the people who were once well liked neighbors but have since become the friends who needed a place to crash and never left. They have overstayed their welcome in the public spotlight and we are sick and tired of hearing about them, and we would like them to please disappear so we can have newer, more talented stars take up our televisions and movie screens. Whether it’s because they’ve become too crazy to deal with, too prolific in an obnoxiously ubiquitous way, or simply because they never had talent to begin with and have taken the wave of good looks and good luck as far as it goes, we want these people out of our faces. Post haste.
10. Jennifer Aniston
Aniston has had a really good run and should be proud of what she’s accomplished (Friends, a couple of decent movies). But she has gone from being an object of our pity full of potential to an object of our scorn and a close-to-middle-aged case of Hollywood sloppy seconds. Who will Aniston shack up with next and fail to be rescued by from her decade-long case of ennui? Who cares? Last I checked – and it was a while ago – Aniston’s current beau was John Mayer. I’ll bet fifty bucks that Mayer got drunk at a club and thought he was hooking up with Matthew McConaughey, only to be rudely awoken the next morning. Look at me, I’m as bad as the worst of the gossipers. The fact of the matter is, she’s in all the tabloids every week with some new douche bag sitting by the side of a pool working on her perfect tan, the only thing in life she’s managed to perfect. Please, let’s find some other used-up has-been to waste our lives obsessing over.
9. Owen Wilson
At one time a man who was both a hero of the indie Wes Anderson ensemble and a refreshing addition to the frat pack mainstream comedies, he has played the same note on the same fiddle for a little too long. Owen Wilson has the acting range of Vince Vaughn and half his charisma. He has coasted for 12 years off a strange, endearing personality, broken-nosed American good looks, and a fortunate friendship with Wes Anderson. I think it’s safe to say at this point, however, that Wilson cannot float a film on his own and has become a vacuous addition to every movie he appears in. For his own mental well being and ours, he should sit out the next ten idiotic projects that come his way.
8. Jake Gyllenhaal
As far as I’m concerned, after Donnie Darko and Bubble Boy I haven’t seen a single film where Jake Gyllenhaal didn’t annoy the crap out of me. He has gotten a long ways off his boyish good looks and Hollywood’s mysterious indulgence of his inability to do anything other than have onscreen baby tantrums that endear him to audiences for all of fifteen minutes. Between him and his turtle-faced sister a percentage of screen time wholly out of proportion to the talent wielded by both Gyllenhaals must come to an end. But I digress; let’s try and focus just on Jake, the weaker of the two Gyllenhaals. Despite the fact that Hollywood has tried to force his transition from giddy man-child to grown up down our throats it has not stuck. In fact, it has made us hate him even more. Please give this man (child) what he truly needs: a show to host on the Disney channel.
7. Johnny Depp
Were he to follow these basic strictures I fully believe Johnny Depp’s career would become even more successful than it is now: Johnny must never take another part where an elaborate period or fantasy costume is required; he must never take another part that requires him to paint his face white; he must never work with Tim Burton in any capacity, ever again. The 90’s have come to an end, dude, and so has Burton’s talent. Move on.
6. Cameron Diaz
There’s really not that much to say about her. Diaz has taken crappy role after crappy role in lame movie after lame movie, and she puts less effort into each successive movie than she did the last. Her looks have more than faded (I’m often reminded of a smiling baseball mitt every time she bares her teeth in that cartoony grimace) though her acting ability has not grown in proportion to her lengthening teeth and withering uterus. I think she should star in a sequel to The Mask, and rather than spend a trillion dollars on CG effects, every time the main character puts the mask on they could just have Diaz do those scenes. Which reminds me of another actor who’s welcome wore thin about as soon as he was let through the door….
5. Matthew McConaughey
I’ll be the first to admit it: at this point hating on McConaughey is so easy as to be kind of facile and trite. Saying McConaughey sucks is like saying Bush is doing a bad job – duh. It’s like saying shit stinks. But I would be more than a little bit remiss were I to leave this uber no-talent-ass-clown off the list. Here’s a guy whose most admired performance was seen in a film titled Dazed and Confused, where he played a sleazy townie preying on high school girls. Here’s a guy who can get under most red-blooded Americans’ skin simply by speaking. Here’s a guy whose list of Special Skills on his resume probably included Mouth Breathing and Dimples. One of McConaughey’s most recent triumphs of cinema was titled Fools Gold. I think that title is symbolic of so much of what is wrong with McConaughey .
4. Scarlett Johansson
Johansson is a relative newcomer to stardom, and yet has already used up so much of the public’s good will as to give me pause. She’s given some good performances, but it seems like the more fame she accrues the stupider parts she takes and the worse her performances become. She’s a mediocre actress with a very limited range to begin with, and is most in her element when she’s able to snidely condescend to everyone onscreen in precocious bouts of well-scripted cleverness. Which gives us all of two movies: Ghost World and Lost in Translation. She’s also not too bad as the object of lust, which she’s done well in any number of films; most notably in Match Point. But when it comes to period pieces (The Other Boelyn Girl – gack! cough! wretch!) or action films (The Island) or serious drama (The Black Dahlia, The Prestige, Girl with a Pearl Earring) her gravelly voice and bee-stung lips just aren’t enough to compensate for her lack of acting talent. Enroll in an acting conservatory, Scarlett, and come back when you’re…27.
3. Will Ferrell
Will Ferrell has been indulged for the better part of this decade and, because of his occasional hits, has deserved his golden status. But I think we’ve gotten to the point where he’s oversaturated the market with one or two too many Ferrell films. For every great film he’s done this decade (Zoolander, Old School) he’s matched with at least a couple duds (Elf, Bewitched, Stranger Than Fiction, Blades of Glory, Semi-Pro). And now, most recently, Step Brothers, which I haven’t seen but is getting knocked by critics. At a certain point he needs to take stock in himself and ponder just how long he can pull off the bewildered innocence peppered with bouts of offensive hostility act. His abilities as a character actor are clearly strong (Anchorman; his parodies of James Lipton and George Bush), yet he is consistently cast as the goofy leading man. I.e., as himself. It’s time for Ferrell to put as much effort into his feature films as he does his viral videos.
2. Nicolas Cage
Cage was soooo close to taking the top spot on this list. His offenses and injuries to cinema are grievous and many. For starters: The Weather Man, both National Treasure movies, Ghost Rider, Lord of War, 8MM, Snake Eyes, It Could Happen to You, to name just a few. And then, of course, there’s the upcoming (and nonsensically titled) Bangkok Dangerous. Cage seems to take any part that comes his way as long as it requires: obnoxiously introspective voice over; a hairpiece that resembles the leftovers of Ringo Starr’s last haircut; and a pseudo-edgy character flaw: he cares, but he’s an assassin; he’s a disrespected weatherman, but he carries a bow and arrow; he’s just a businessman—who sells weapons to third world dictators. Time for Cage to go back to his roots: Raising Arizona, Valley Girl, Leaving Las Vegas. He does best when he’s not killing people (unless Sean Connery is involved) and he’s playing some kind of doofus who’s not respected by his peers (Adaptation, Raising Arizona). Is there anything left of the Cage from the 80’s? Probably not. That doesn’t mean he can’t start doing a little damage control and simply go against his instincts: the next ten films he’s offered he should turn down, for a change.
1. Tom Cruise
Of course Tom Cruise is numero uno on this list. For starters, he’s one of the biggest, if not the biggest, movie stars in the world. On top of that, he just happens to be the most famous and most evangelistic of all the Scientologists. For the past couple years he’s let his hair down and shown us just how crazy he really is. From jumping on couches on national tv, to starring in recruiting videos for the Scientologists, to shacking up with Katie Holmes and imprisoning her and their new kid, to sacrificing babies to the spirit of Ron Hubbard. This guy’s mental problems have not dissipated with age, they have grown, and his career seems to be headed the same way as his unstable head. Things started to go down hill with Vanilla Sky, improved a tiny bit with Minority Report, improved a bit more for The Last Samurai and Collateral, then took a nose dive with War of the Worlds, Mission: Impossible III and weren’t improved by Lions for Lambs. The rumor is that he’s taken a self-effacing role in Tropic Thunder, where I hear he plays a bald, braying producer, which would be a nice change of pace from the wee yet fierce hero he plays in…well, just about every movie he’s ever done. But he’s balanced out the awesomeness of his role in Tropic Thunder with a role – the lead, I believe – in Valkyrie, where he plays a Nazi who’s trying to overthrow Hitler during WWII. Who, if the trailers are any sign of things to come, doesn’t have a German accent. Tom can do his own stunts, he can charge 15 to 20 million a movie, and he can get crazy with the best of them. But accents? Tom doesn’t do accents. Tom doesn’t do much of anything anyone’s interested in. Not anymore.