During a chat with his fans on Monday, ESPN sportswriter Bill Simmons wrote, "Somebody needs to make a list of the 'Top 20 movie plots that have now become ridiculous because of what happened to the actor involved in that plot.' I nominate Cracked.com, I enjoy that site."
Never one to turn down a challenge (or an opportunity to write a modular pop-culture countdown), and since it is a pretty good idea for an article, we decided to proudly pick up Mr. Simmons' gauntlet.
We only did 13, though. (We had 20 originally, but a lot of them involved suicides, and it was sort of depressing. So we cut them.)
Plot: Lindsay Lohan plays identical twins separated at birth due to their parents' divorce. When the Lindsays meet by sheer f*****g Hollywood coincidence at summer camp, they devise a sickeningly cute plan to reunite their parents by switching places. Yay for fun!
Subsequent Development: Lindsay Lohan became a buhgina-flashing, coke-hoovering, Paris Hilton befriending wreck who'd spread her s**t for everyone from Girls Gone Wild mogul Joe Francis to Benicio Del Toro. At that point, you should really just go to the zoo and let a gorilla drill you in the ass and save time.
Why It Ruins the Movie: Unless Lohan has been slutting and snorting her way across the globe as part of a clever plan to fake her way into rehab, hoping her estranged parents would reunite by her bedside at Promises, her recent behavior makes it tough to buy her as a bright-eyed adolescent. It's probably a good thing that the above scenario is highly unlikely, considering mother Dina is just as big a club-whore as her 20-year-old daughter and father Michael has spent more time in prison than with his kids. That brings us to an important question: Can you put a 20-year-old in foster care?
Plot: The president's daughter (Katie Holmes) ditches her security detail and goes off to a California college to lead a normal life. But it turns out her new beau has a secret: He's really a secret service agent sworn to protect her! Oh my goodness!
Subsequent Development: Just a year after this movie's release, and under rather murky circumstances, Katie Holmes was impregnated by, and subsequently betrothed to, one Mr. Tom Cruise.
Why It Ruins the Movie: It's kind of hard to watch Katie Holmes portraying a character who's fighting for her independence from a life of round-the-clock surveillance knowing a mysterious cabal would soon select her as the fertile breeding ground for high-level thetans. "Kate" now has a higher security detail than the last 20 presidents combined, and Tom Cruise regularly combs through her stool for traces of psychiatric residue while trained Scientologist hitmen keep a bead on her with automatic rifles.
Plot: Martha Alston (Ellen DeGeneres) just can't seem to find the right guy. When Whitman Crawford (Bill Pullman) shows up, everyone else seems to think he's Mr. Right, but Ellen sees a dark side that none of her friends recognize. Hilarity ensues as Ellen fights off the sexual advances of a man who' a kleptomaniac, a mickey-slipping psychotic, and-worse yet-Bill Pullman.
Subsequent Development: It turns out that for Ellen, every guy is Mr. Wrong.
Why It Ruins the Movie: The premise hinges on everyone else thinking Ellen's husband is the perfect catch, causing the friends to come off as painfully devoid of gaydar and making Ellen look like an even more uncomfortable leading lady than Nicole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut. What should be a sugary-sweet comedy becomes a twisted psychological tale of a woman imagining that her boyfriend is a total dick merely because he has one.
Plot: D-Day. A squad of soldiers walk through wave after wave of Nazi bullets, at considerable sacrifice, to find the last surviving Ryan brother and return him home safely, on account of his perfect facial features and flawless golden skin. Sergeant Horvath (Tom Sizemore) is the battalion's husky, businesslike second-in-command who collects soil from various battlegrounds and, presumably, eats it later for a snack.
Subsequent Development: Sizemore has committed more than his fair share of major social blunders since Ryan, including a 2003 conviction for beating the living s**t out of Hollywood whore queen Heidi Fleiss; multiple arrests for his crippling addiction to meth; and, of course, an underground porno he directed, produced, and starred in, during which he decided the pinnacle of sexy porno acts would be to squeeze into a spandex bodysuit and toss a football around with half-nude hookers.
Why It Ruins the Movie: Since Saving Private Ryan's release, Sizemore has proved to be the exact opposite of a selfless, disciplined patriot. In contrast, he's proved to be...well, a guy who does a bunch of meth and enjoys a hooker or two. It's pretty tough to picture him doing his duty during WWII when you can see it in his eyes in every frame of film that he'd rather be high-tailing it to Montreal to split a bag of heroin with five homeless women in the bathroom of an adult magazine warehouse.
Plot: Richard Farnsworth plays Alvin Straight in David Lynch's only intelligible film to date (there isn't a dwarf riding a purple unicorn in sight). An elderly man finds out his brother is seriously ill and drives his tractor thousands of miles to make amends with him. He and his tractor are pretty tight, so they don't even haggle over the gas.
Subsequent Development: After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, Richard Farnsworth shot himself a little less than a year after his Oscar-nominated performance for the movie.
Why It Ruins the Movie: You really can't feel all warm and fuzzy when Alvin finally reaches his brother, wondering if he only drove all this way because he couldn't remember where he left his .22. Plus, Farnsworth ruined Misery for us too, as watching his lovable ol' coot sheriff character getting shot in the back by Kathy Bates is now "That's just in poor taste," instead of "Ha ha! Fatty took the dumb sheriff out!"
Plot: Innocent manchild Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) searches for his stolen bike while simultaneously bringing joy to whomever he meets on a fantastic lesson-learning cross-country adventure.
Subsequent Development: Florida police became intimately acquainted with Reuben's little Pee-Wee when he was caught not-so-innocently playing with it in a porno theater. Afterwards, his house was raided for 15 metric tons of child pornography, which he claimed was art. Because, you know, it was all black and white and stuff.
Why It Ruins the Movie: Did you see that mugshot? This is supposed to be the lovable, mildly retarded manchild in a bowtie who used to talk it up with Jambi every Saturday morning, not a pervert in a raincoat publicly masturbating in a Toys "R" Us.
Plot: Possibly the worst scientist in the universe shoots his son into outer space after an earthquake on his alien planet, and a few years later, Earth gets a new immigrant. He finds out he has amazing powers that include invincibility and imperviousness to gravity. He then moves to the big city to pose as a mild-mannered reporter and meets a hotshot female reporter who's smart, self-assured-and blah, blah, blah, you should really know all this.
Subsequent Development(s): Christopher Reeve fell off a horse at an equestrian show, paralyzing himself from the neck down. And Margot Kidder went batshit insane and started sleeping in strangers' yards. (To be fair, the wood pile was really comfortable.)
Why It Ruins the Movie: Because in Reeve's case, to appropriate a tagline, it makes us believe a man can't fly. Reeve's tragic accident reminds everyone that actually, no, he isn't Superman, despite how many times people at awards shows insisted he was, indeed, super-duper. In fact, one would probably guess that Reeve probably got annoyed at how often people patronized him because of his signature role, wanting to say, "Hey, I appreciate what you're trying to do here, but being brave in the face of adversity isn't the same thing as being able to lift tanks, okay?" In Kidder's case, it's simply a matter of wondering if her thought in the movie-"Can you read my mind?"-isn't just what she asks every person who passes her on the street when she isn't wearing a tinfoil helmet.
Plot: Lillo Brancato, Jr. plays Calogero "C" Anello, a sweet and impressionable, yet super-tough, young man who falls for a local black girl. His racist peers think this is unwise, and try to convince him of his error by killing him. The sweetness and innocence of C's young love, and the valuable lessons he learns about friendship with black people, helps him grow from a Bronx boy into a hairy Bronx man.
Subsequent Development: While breaking into an apartment to steal prescription drugs, Brancato and an accomplice shot and killed an off-duty New York police officer.
Why It Ruins the Movie: "C's" sweetness and innocence are watered down just a little by the fact that he's a stone-cold cop-killer. When he has to make a choice between his father and the local mob boss, or between his black girlfriend and his racist buddies, we keep waiting for him to just kill them all and take their prescription drugs, too.
Plot: Rambo takes up arms with a plucky, can-do Afghani Mujahideen insurgence force against the unstoppable Red power of the Soviet menace, solving the problem by shooting 203,449 Russian soldiers single-handedly. Take that, Russian fags! Signed, AMERICA!
Subsequent Development: On September 11, 2001, some members of the Afghani Mujahideen (currently known as the the Taliban) sort of attacked the United States in an extremely bad and unforgettable way.
Why It Ruins the Movie: Watching two hours' worth of Sly Stallone helping out a body of people who would eventually decide to fly a plane into the World Trade Center can be a little unsettling. You don't necessarily blame Rambo, whose heart's certainly in the right place here. You more just want to take him aside for a few minutes with some informative charts and newspaper clippings.
Plot: Animal wranglers Steve and Terri Irwin rescue an endangered crocodile, which has swallowed a top-secret satellite beacon. CIA agents conclude that the Irwins are enemy spies stealing their technology, which would be the logical conclusion to make when watching two people in crotch-hugging shorts shout like idiots and point out animals' testicles to nearby cameras.
Subsequent Development: Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray while snorkeling.
Why It Ruins the Movie: At the time of release, Irwin's wildlife expertise and brass-balled foolhardiness made him apparently unkillable and a genuine riot to watch. But once the inevitable finally happened, it became impossible to watch The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course without a grim, foreboding sensation of watching a doomed soul on a collision course with death. It's sort of sad for a comedy, in other words.
Plot: The Mel Gibson-helmed film depicted a lot of Jews beating and killing and spitting and defecating upon the Christian Lord and Savior, whose passion was the whole basis of the film. But Mel assured everyone that the movie wasn't-no, couldn't be -anti-Semitic. And in case you hadn't noticed, he's Mel Gibson! You know, Lethal Weapon! What a great guy!
Subsequent Development: Gibson just happened to let slip that he thinks Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world in the back of an LA police car during his drunk-driving arrest. He also called a female police officer "sugar-tits." (Later inquiries revealed her tits not to be made of sugar.)
Why It Ruins the Movie: Well, for one thing, it seems a little weird to hear the story of Christ's crucifixion as told by a drunk driver who casually throws around words like "sugar-tits." Oh, and the whole hating Jews thing. That's kind of a big deal, too.
Plot: Tara Reid plays Vicky Lathum, the sexually inexperienced cutie who confesses to never having "double-clicked the mouse" and who claims that she really wants her deflowering to happen at "the right time, the right place."
Subsequent Development: In the eight years since Pie came out, Reid has shown her funbags and puss to every photographer in LA, in addition to having sex at wrong times and in very wrong places (Easter Sunday, In-and-Out Burger break room).
Why It Ruins the Movie: Pretty much the whole plot of American Pie hinges on Reid taking the "we should wait" stance, which, in hindsight, doesn't fly so much anymore. Especially considering that a photo gallery of Reid having violent sex with a frat boy pops up when you Google Image search "Vicky Lathum."
Plot: The bumbling Nordberg (OJ Simpson) helps Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Neilsen) foil various evil schemes, all while being hilariously murdered on-camera at least a dozen times.
Subsequent Development: OJ Simpson may or may not have stabbed a couple of people to death. (Okay, he did.) Either way, he was responsible for the most recent "Trial of the Century" and is allegedly still totally looking for the real killers, whenever he can break away from the golf course.
Why It Ruins the Movie: The third and last Naked Gun film was released shortly after "The Juice's" infamous Bronco ride down the California highways. If you (like us) were sitting in the theater on opening weekend, you can relate to everyone in the audience audibly groaning as OJ's name scrolled up on the credits over an image of a blaring police siren. In the blink of an eye, Simpson was transformed from likable Hall-of-Famer to reviled, cold-blooded murderer. These days, when he's riddled with bullets and falls into a harbor to be left for dead in the opening minutes of the film, it's more satisfying to just turn off the movie there and call it a happy ending.
Being at the top of your game can really drag you down.
Sometimes our big, dumb brains are just flat-out wrong.
Every critic is wrong from time to time.
Your favorite isn't necessarily your best -- sometimes it's your worst.