It’s nearly impossible to make great comedy movies without funny stars.  But funny stars guarantee nothing. Nothing, we say! From Eddie Murphy in Norbit to Will Ferrell in Bewitched to Amy Poehler (again with Will Ferrell!) in House, our most hilarious comics prove quite capable of laying odious eggs.  Put your hands over your eyes and squint through your fingers -- your favorite comedians are capable of creating some real comedy turds.   

Bo Burnham in American Virgin (2009)

Here’s a comedy time capsule for you.  Remember Girls Gone Wild, the series of sorority sister flashing videos that were advertised late at night on 2000s cable TV?  That particular brand of softcore trash serves as the backdrop for American Virgin, starring SNL’s Rob “Makin’ Copies” Schneider as a sleazy video producer and superstar YouTuber Bo Burnham as Rudy, his trusty cameraman. Burnham isn’t the lead here -- that would be 29-year-old Jenna Dewan as a virginal college freshman -- but he helps Dewan lose at least some of her innocence when he’s not voyeuristically pointing a camera at drunken spring breakers.  We’re guessing Bo would like to delete this one from his channel. 

Patton Oswalt in Nature Calls (2012)

For some reason, the goofy Oswalt is more successful in dramatic movies -- Young Adult, Big Fan, I Love My Dad -- than in big-screen comedies. That formula holds true with Nature Calls, a movie that smells just about as badly as its title would suggest. Patton is a Boy Scout troop leader whose brother (Johnny Knoxville -- we’re guessing different dads?) is not a Boy Scout type at all!  So fights and stuff, with foul-mouthed kids! Like the kids in Bad News Bears except not funny! It’s the wannabe laff riot that Reel Film Reviews called “an ordeal to sit through.” 

Aubrey Plaza in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016)

We’ll say this for Mike and Dave -- rather than making Andy Devine and Zac Efron the comic center of the movie, they turn the laugh-making over to Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick (but let’s be honest, mostly Aubrey Plaza).  Plaza is actually pretty funny here, but the movie is a mess.  We’re with one reviewer who thought the flick would be better with more Wedding Dates and less Mike and Dave.  General rule:  When the end-credit bloopers and outtakes reel is the funniest part of your movie, you got a problem.  (Unless you’re Cannonball Run and then you’re golden. Dom Deluise and Burt Reynolds really crack each other up. Hey-o!)

Kenan Thompson in Fat Albert (2004)

Hey hey hey -- there was a time when “from the mind of Bill Cosby” was a line you’d put in a movie trailer. Cos had some fatherly advice for SNL rookie Kenan: “Just be ready because when this movie comes out you’re gonna need two (penises) because women are gonna be all over you.” The movie’s plot was just as nonsensical, with Albert and the rest of the Junkyard Gang somehow coming to life by emerging from a TV set.  Sound like a horror movie?  That approach may have been more entertaining than what Kenan and friends deliver here. To continue the horror-film motif, Fat Albert ends with live-action Bill Cosby and his aged childhood friends visiting a cemetery to contemplate the grave of Albert Robertson, the real Fat Albert. Wait, whose chubby fingers are digging out of the dirt …  RUN!

Melissa McCarthy in The Boss (2016)

There was a time in comedy movie history when Melissa McCarthy could do no wrong. The Boss was not made during that time. Look, we’re sure McCarthy’s partner Ben Falcone is an awesome dude and an attentive, loving partner, but the comic’s downhill sled started picking up speed around the time the two decided they needed to write every movie together. Critic Max Weiss spoke for all of us in his Boss review when he wrote:  “I love Melissa McCarthy -- she is a truly gifted comic actress -- and I want to love her films. So she should stop making bad ones! It's bumming me out!”  This bomb, with McCarthy heading up a gang of foul-mouthed Girl Scouts, might make a nice hatewatch double-feature with Nature Calls.

Mindy Kaling and Awkwafina in Ocean’s 8 (2018)

So much potential!  Heist movies are practically foolproof, and hiring comedians to goof around on the job is always a good idea.  (See Bernie Mac and Carl Reiner in Clooney’s version to see what we’re talking about.)  That’s what makes Ocean’s 8 so frustrating -- it’s mediocre as a crime pic and a total mess as a comedy.  Kaling is a counterfeit jeweler, Akwafina a street con artist -- so far so good -- but neither is given enough to do to deliver on the film’s comedy potential. Critic Ricardo Gallego summed up the laugh problem nicely:  “The film tries to cover the logic gaps with comedy, but the jokes are so bad they somehow worsen the experience.” Give the movie credit for this -- it’s not the reason people decided to hate on Anne Hathaway, but it was smart enough to know it was a thing and play into it.  Her turn as a love-to-hate celeb might be the funniest bit in the movie.

Kevin Hart in The Wedding Ringer (2015)

The Wedding Ringer stars two big-personality, love-em-or-hate-em comics in Kevin Hart and Josh Gad.  In the case of this movie, it was apparently “hate ‘em.” The premise is funny-ish but one of those “only in a movie” ideas -- Gad is a mope without any friends to serve as his best man, so he hires Kevin Hart to do the job. Apparently, Hart has built an entire underground business providing this service, which … wait, this isn’t only in a movie?  There are businesses that rent entire wedding parties for socially awkward grooms?  And this group of strangers will even throw you a filthy, disgusting bachelor party? We’re going to need a minute to rethink our entire existence. 

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