The 5 Most Baffling Career Moves in Hollywood
Nothing makes sense in Hollywood. Sometimes someone's career is trucking along nicely and then suddenly takes a wild and unexplainable turn. And I'm not just talking about people whose careers take an abrupt twist turn because of financial woes. Nicolas Cage, for example. It might seem like his career has taken a strange path, but nothing about Cage's career is confusing to me, because he's notoriously irresponsible with his money. He'll balance normal, standard movies, with completely bizarre and forgettable movies, (Wicker Man, or one of the three movies he made last year where he fights numbers), because a) he needs the work since he spent all of his money on castles and Elvis's old clothing and b) he's full-on crazy. That's fine. I support and understand you, Nicolas Cage.
And I'm also not talking about actors or directors who continue to get work even though I personally think they're bad, or because their particular styles don't appeal to me. Keanu Reeves keeps getting acting work even though he's made of porcelain and marbles, (for the eyes), because women find his featureless face and sexual androgyny to be oddly attractive. Tyler Perry keeps making Tyler Perry movies because millions of people watch every single one of them. I get that, even if I don't get that. I'm talking about actors and directors whose careers were trucking along smoothly until one day, something... broke.
"I am Brett Ratner. I directed all of the Rush Hour movies, directed the shit out of them. I am in-fucking-vincible!"
Has no one told you you're just lucky to be here?
I should back up.
For many years, I didn't know anything about Brett Ratner. He was a director that made several movies that, combined, left absolutely no impact on me, (except one you-ruined-the-trilogy shaped impact on my heart right after he made X-Men: The Last Stand). I knew who he was, and I was familiar with most of his movies, and I knew that he looked like a hairy meatball that wanted to convince other meatballs that it was super suave, or I guess, I don't know, the direct link between humans and teddy bear hamsters.
But I still never gave him much thought.
Lately, though, between doing press for Tower Heist and research for the How I Ruined My Career memoir I imagine he must be planning on writing one day, Ratner's been all over the news. I first noticed him when he talked openly in an interview about "banging Olivia Munn" and then promptly forgetting her. He later went on the Howard Stern show and apologized, claiming that he in fact did NOT have sex with Olivia Munn after all, which, yeah, man, obviously, we know.
Shortly thereafter this ridiculous and embarrassing episode, during a Q&A for his movie, when asked about rehearsals for his actors, Ratner said "Rehearsal is for fags."
This is dumb for a lot of reasons. It's insensitive, chiefly, but beyond that, I marvel at how stupid it is. Knowing how Hollywood and the media like to latch onto stupid things that celebrities do and blow them up, it's idiotic that he decided to use a slur while being interviewed in front of cameras and microphones. Also? It's such an absurd thing to take a stand on. You hate rehearsing? Rehearsing's "for fags?" What kind of human gets so incensed by the idea of rehearsals that he'll so thoroughly let his guard down in front of the press while he's out trying to convince people he's made a movie that they'll enjoy? It's not like anyone asked a question that was insulting or particularly incendiary that would cause Ratner to lose his cool and say something dumb. They asked him about the concept of rehearsals.
"Did you just ask me if I have rehearsals? To my FACE? I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU!"
He had a fine career, and now it's like he's actively trying to destroy it. Every interview that he does now is a mixture of arrogant boasts about his lavish, sex-filled party lifestyle, and strange, misguided attempts to get professional respect as an "artist." In a profile he recently did for the New York Times, Brett Ratner, bragged about his close friendship with director-turned-accused-statutory-rapist Roman Polanski in interviews.
I'd like to talk to just Brett Ratner for a minute, if I may. Brett Ratner, the guy who used to direct action comedies and now has a career as a living episode of Entourage, somehow. That guy.
Brett, you talked yourself into a spot at NYU despite being a C-student. And then you somehow convinced enough people to give you enough money to film Chris Tucker screaming and Jackie Chan punching for ninety minutes-- three times-- and you somehow made over $800 million at the box office doing it. You then somehow convinced Eddie Murphy to make movies again, and then somehow got hired to produce the Academy Awards, and then somehow convinced Eddie Murphy to host them, (they've since both stepped down). You ruined the X-Men franchise and insulted Olivia Munn and an army of nerds didn't murder you for it.
Don't. Touch. Anything.
I have no idea how you managed all of those things despite a total lack of abilities and class, but you managed it. Now that you're in this position of inexplicable power, for Christ's sake, don't do anything, you'll only ruin it. If you would have just left everything alone, you'd still be rich, you'd still be famous, and models would still sleep with you. As a schlubby kid from nowhere who's somehow become rich and famous, you should just be quietly thankful that you get to have a job, not bragging about all of the pedophiles you know.
Man, I shouldn't be the one who has to teach you that lesson.
Sir Ben Kingsley
Once a man does a live-action Thunderbirds movie, I no longer understand how to get inside his head.
The simplest and most effective way I can highlight how strange Sir Ben Kingsley is is by straight-up listing some of the movies he's done in chronological order:
Schindler's List- Itzhak Stern;
Twelfth Night- Feste;
Crime and Punishment- Porfiry;
House of Sand and Fog- Behrani;
Thunderbirds- The Hood;
Uwe Boll's BloodRayne- Kagan;
Prince of Persia- Angry Bad Guy;
The Love Guru- Guru Tugginmypudha;
His IMDB page reads like he's punishing me for something but he won't tell me what it is. Does he need money? Like... a lot of money? It seems like something snapped deep inside of his brain sometime after The House of Sand and Fog and no one knows how to tell him to seek help because we already knighted him, (which I think means he's above the law?).
"Hey, I'm a powerful and respected woman, and I'm just speaking my mind. People go to my movies because I'm charismatic and likable; not for any other actors, writers or directors. I am solely responsible for everything good about all of my work. So when there's bad stuff, it's fine for me to shit on everyone else. This is also the classy and professional thing to do."
I was single when the ratings for Grey's Anatomy were at their peak, so I've never actually seen a single episode of that show. So I, like a lot of other people, was first exposed to Heigl in Knocked Up, and I, like a lot of other people, thought she was fantastic. People have been having arguments and writing essays about whether or not Judd Apatow is decent or super shitty when it comes to writing women for years, and while there's evidence to support both sides, I've always landed in the "decent" camp. I won't say he's the best screenwriter in Hollywood when it comes to creating female characters, but when it comes to romantic comedies, he's up there. If nothing else, it's clear that he's trying to write strong, interesting female characters.
You're free to disagree, (and I'm sure you'll do so in a thoughtful and articulate series of grunts and keyboard-smashes in the comment section of this article), but that's what I thought about Knocked Up anyway. Heigl's character, (Alison), while unfortunately falling into the common "All Women Have High-Stress Competitive Jobs in Media" archetype, was interesting, and funny, and complicated and realized. She wasn't as fun and goofy as Seth Rogen's character, but she also wasn't as shitty and irresponsible. I watched the movie and thought "This is a cool character. It's tough to compete with Seth Rogen's likability, and it would be really easy to hate Alison, but Heigl makes her sympathetic and flawed and sweet. That Heigl sure is a fine actress; I hope she does more stuff."
Wait, that's... that's not what I meant.
That's why it took me by surprise when Heigl decided to a) devote the rest of her career to playing one-dimensional, insulting, stereotypical characters in insulting, stereotypical romantic comedies and b) trash Judd Apatow and Knocked Up.
In a 2007 Vanity Fair article, Heigl said that Knocked Up " paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys. It exaggerated the characters, and I had a hard time with it... Why is this how you're portraying women?" And to prove how offended she was, she dedicated herself to playing exclusively shrewish, humorless, poorly-written female characters in paint-by-numbers RomComs. As... some kind of artistic experiment, I guess, to highlight everything that's wrong with... Katherine Heigl...
Or maybe I'm wrong, maybe her post-Knocked Up movies deserve another chance. Let's take a look at five Katherine Heigl movies. I'm going to check out Rotten Tomatoes, and get a handle on how well her movies have performed, and whether or not critics respond positively to her work. Here are the Rotten Tomato scores for five of her movies.
Now, if you were Katherine Heigl, and you wanted to complain about how poorly-written or unbalanced a film was, would you choose the only movie of your career that can be considered successful in terms of box office gross and critical appreciation? If you'd come out and said "The Ugly Truth is another insulting romantic comedy that reinforces the tired stereotype that every woman -- even strong, professional, working women -- deep down needs an assertive alpha male to truly be happy," then we all would have said "Yes, you're right," or "I assume you're right; I haven't seen that movie." Instead, you crapped on the one movie that a) handled you realistically and b) people actually liked.
Heigl went on to publicly state that she didn't submit her performance on Grey's Anatomy for Emmy consideration because she didn't think the writing was good enough. She builds up good will doing a great job playing an interesting character in a movie everyone loves, and then she ruins all of that by starring in trainwreck after trainwreck and publicly bashing anyone who writes for her. It's like she's playing some kind of long con that I can't fully understand yet. I just watch her and think What's your plan? How could being in 27 Dresses possibly end up being a good thing for you?
"No one sees me. No one. No one can see the bad movies I do, because this whole world is just my imagination. It's okay to do whatever I want because I'm not actually real."
We can see you, and we're all really quite sad about it.
If you're one of Cracked's younger readers and you only know Murphy from Shrek, or even the Nutty Professor movies, please stop reading right now and watch Trading Places, Raw, or almost anything Murphy did on Saturday Night Live. And then you'll understand why the rest of us took Norbit so personally.
Here is a trailer for Murphy's latest movie. It's called A Thousand Words, and it's about a flashy, fast-talking, executive-type who doesn't have a problem lying to get what he wants, (kind of like Jim Carey in Liar Liar). After we establish him as a fast-talking liar, he gets hit with a magic spell that forces him to stop lying, (kind of like in Liar Liar). Apparently, he will die if he says one thousand more words out loud, so he has to spend the rest of the movie not talking. He will, I imagine, learn some profound lesson about himself by the end of the movie, (kind of like in Liar Liar). Here's what I said out loud in my office when I watched this trailer:
"You could have made absolutely any movie you'd wanted."
And that's true. We still all love him. Because even though he's churned out a lot of terrible movies lately, the strength of his early stuff alone has yielded so much good will for Murphy that we, his audience, are willing to forgive almost anything, because we want-- we desperately want-- Eddie Murphy to go back to making awesome comedies. He's a big enough star that he can get his hands on any script in Hollywood and, if he doesn't like any of the scripts available, he can hire the best comedy screenwriters in the world to write something specifically for him. There's no way he's short on money, right? Even if he was, with the exception of the Shrek movies, his other films of the last ten years have been failures, commercially speaking. And he must know what great comedy is because, shit, you guys, Raw.
So, if he can potentially make the greatest comedy of the year right this very second, why the hell would he choose to make this magic-tree-having, Liar Liar-looking, piece-of-crap movie? Why?
Don't give me that look you bastard I trusted you!
"Cage! Caaaaaaage! Blargle blargle blarge, Nicolas Caaaaage!"
I lied before when I said I understood Nicolas Cage's brain, I am not even close to understanding this guy's motives, but I am loving the ride.
Daniel O'Brien is Cracked.com's Senior Writer (ladies).
And to further expand your noggin, check out Cracked's De-Textbook: The Stuff You Didn't Know About the Stuff You Thought You Knew.