Stop That Vehicle! 20 Misbegotten Movies Custom-Made For The Utterly Unworthy
By Keith Phipps, Nathan Rabin, and Kyle Ryan
1. Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector (2006):
Who wants to see a movie whose own damn title can't decide whether its protagonist installs cable or ensures that businesses comply with health codes? For that matter, how many people are willing to live with the shame of uttering any variation of the words "Two tickets for Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector, please"? And how can you explain the complete dearth of cable-installation-based humor in a comedy with a comedian's name and cable in its title? Those are just three of the many reasons that Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector somehow failed to make the phrase "Cable Guy" synonymous with blockbuster comedy.
2. Grandma's Boy (2006): Allen Covert
Being Adam Sandler's pal must be swell. Just think of all the probable perks: round-the-clock access to Sandler's arsenal of strangely similar silly voices, meeting Rob Schneider (try not to be too intimidated!), and, for the artistically inclined, supporting roles, production credits, or co-screenwriting gigs on his ramshackle vehicles. Hell, if you're lucky, Sandler might even try to turn you into a movie star! And if you're incredibly lucky, he'll inexplicably sort of succeed, as in Schneider's case. He was less successful in launching the career of his old pal Allen "Who?" Covert, whose low-wattage lead turn in Grandma's Boy as an unambitious video-game tester unwilling to leave the nest ensures that he'll forever be known as "that guy from those Adam Sandler movies who inexplicably got his own shitty movie."
3. Turn It Up (2000): Pras, Ja Rule
What's the only thing less promising than a vehicle for gravel-voiced, leprechaun-sized 2Pac impersonator Ja Rule? How 'bout a dual vehicle for Ja Rule and marble-mouthed, wildly uncharismatic Fugees also-ran Pras? Mothballed gangster-movie clichés meet newfangled gratuitous violence and profanity in this muddled family melodrama about brothers torn between music and the lure of the streets.
4. Chairman Of The Board (1998): Carrot Top
No, Carrot Top doesn't play Frank Sinatra, but that might have made for a more entertaining movie than this lifeless comedy in which The Top plays a surfer/inventor who takes over a Fortune 500 company after inheriting it from Jack Warden under Melvin And Howard-like circumstances. He also pisses off an evil Larry Miller, inexplicably charms Courtney Thorne-Smith, and, sadly, appears near-nude.
5. Frank McKlusky, C.I. (2002): Dave Sheridan
Scary Movie's fluke-blockbuster status boosted the careers of its cast, especially Anna Faris and several dozen Wayanses. Alas, not even subsequent appearances in Bubble Boy and Corky Romano could transform Scary Movie would-be breakout star Dave Sheridan (c'mon, you remember, he was the retarded guy or something) into a man people would plunk down $9 to see. So his starring turn as a pratfall-prone insurance-claims investigator in the unforgettably titled, unmistakably Jim Carrey-inspired Frank McKlusky, C.I. skipped the multiplexes altogether en route to undiscriminating video stores everywhere.
6. Stone Cold (1991): Brian Bosworth
Brian Bosworth briefly captivated the sports world with his flamboyant personality, ill-advised haircuts, blockbuster contract, fondness for steroids, and contempt for the NCAA (which he saucily dubbed "National Communists Against Athletes"). Then injuries forced him to retire from the NFL after only three years. But he could still fall back on his career as an A-list action hero in motion pictures, right? Not exactly. Following in the footsteps of Chrome Rider star Joe Namath, Bosworth was a washout as a leading man in Stone Cold, a 1992 undercover-cop biker movie that somehow failed to propel Bosworth to superstardom in spite of dialogue like "The devil was a rebel angel. If you want to fuck with the living, you'll have to learn to fuck with the dead!"
7. Kazaam (1996): Shaquille O'Neal
In his own mind, at least, Shaquille O'Neal constitutes a triple threat: athlete, rapper, and actor. But most folks will only concede the athlete part, even after Shaq-Fu played a wisecracking genie inside a magical boom-box in Kazaam. Maybe America just wasn't ready for another smiling black man in genie pants following MC Hammer's very public fall from grace earlier in the decade.
8. Glitter (2001): Mariah Carey
It's almost impressive how many pop stars manage to be utterly unconvincing playing thinly fictionalized version of themselves. Alas, someone seems to have neglected to tell Glitter's Mariah Carey that making movies is different than making videos, in that it requires more than just smiling, posing, lip-syncing, and showing cleavage, four traits she's mastered. Actor-turned-director Vondie Curtis-Hall got a stunning performance from 2Pac in Gridlock'd, but failed miserably in his bid to make Mariah Carey a movie star in the semi-autobiographical dud Glitter. Maybe Carey just didn't fully understand the motivation and backstory of her Mariah Carey-like character.
9. Crossroads (2002): Britney Spears
Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes would probably like to remove this 2002 Britney Spears vehicle from her résumé. And though it's tempting to blame Spears' unintentionally hilarious performance for the film's dismal failure, its inability to decide whether it's a realistic message movie about serious social issues, or fluffy girl-powered escapism proved even more problematic.
10. On The Line (2001): Lance Bass, Joey Fatone
Remember those heady days when Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, and to a much lesser extent, 98 Degrees battled it out for the hearts of the world's teenyboppers? Then you might also remember 2001's On The Line, a Lance Bass/Joey Fatone vehicle about a shy professional who meets his dream girl on a Chicago el train, but neglects to ask her phone number. Fatone is the wacky roommate who helps Bass conduct a citywide search for said hottie. Dude, a city with a world-class public-transportation system like Chicago (Red Line holla!) so deserves a better lightweight pop-star vehicle than this.
11. From Justin To Kelly (2003): Justin Guarini, Kelly Clarkson
Evil genius Simon Fuller has cranked out a steady stream of pop stars via his American Idol factory, but he overreached by trying to manufacture prefabricated movie idols as well with From Justin To Kelly. Sparks fail to fly between charisma-impaired leads Justin Guarini and Kelly Clarkson, whose faltering chemistry was more Tomlin and Travolta in Moment By Moment than Bogie and Bacall in Key Largo. Who could have guessed that a film whose leads were determined by a massive televised popularity contest for singers would result in anything other than a creative triumph?
12. The Adventures Of Ford Fairlane (1990): Andrew "Dice" Clay
Before he tried to turn well-paid mannequin Cindy Crawford into an action star (see below), repeat offender Joel Silver tried to capitalize on Andrew "Dice" Clay's stand-up popularity among the kids who shoved you in a locker in high school by casting him as a "rock 'n' roll detective" in The Adventures Of Ford Fairlane, a creepy valentine to suspended adolescence and boorish misogyny. Alas, there apparently weren't enough emotionally stunted bullies in the country to make Fairlane a hit or Dice a movie star, and just three years after his big-budget, high-profile starring vehicle tanked, Dice was reduced to top-lining something called Brain Smasher: A Love Story, with Teri Hatcher no less.
13. What Planet Are You From? (2000): Garry Shandling
On The Larry Sanders Show, Garry Shandling brilliantly eked laughs from painful awkwardness and excruciating silence. But Shandling's fantastically misconceived starring vehicle What Planet Are You From? was painful, awkward, and excruciating for all the wrong reasons. As a space alien with a vibrator for a penis, Shandling was clammy and unlikable in a tonal mess that plays like a sniggering sex joke stretched to feature length.
14. Spice World (1997): Spice Girls
Like so much of the Spice Girls' career, their 1997 feature-film vehicle Spice World tries to have it both ways, playing simultaneously to jaded Gen-Xers and their guileless younger sisters. Kim Fuller's script winks constantly at the cynics to let them know it's all a big kitschy joke, while still delivering song-filled cotton-candy pop fantasy for the playground set. Elvis Costello, Bob Geldof, and Elton John show up to let audiences know they're in on the joke, but by the time Spice World was released, the gag had gotten stale.
15. Fair Game (1995): Cindy Crawford
When super-producer Joel Silver, in his infinite wisdom, paired William "The Cute One" Baldwin with supermodel Cindy Crawford for the forgettable 1995 action-thriller Fair Game, the questions most commonly asked were, in order: "Is Cindy Crawford naked in it?" and "Can she act?" The answers are, respectively, "Yes, but very briefly," and "Lord, no," and like so many of her unworthy peers, Crawford wound up with her acting career pretty much where it began.
16. My Demon Lover (1987): Scott Valentine
Years before Garry Shandling repulsed audiences as a fantastical creature with eccentric sexual quirks in What Planet Are You From?, Scott Valentine paved the way in unsuccessfully making the jump from TV to film with My Demon Lover. The first and only Valentine vehicle casts the once briefly popular Family Ties star as a man who becomes a terrifying beastie when sexually aroused. Hilarity failed to ensue.
17. Ringmaster (1998): Jerry Springer
Ringmaster tried to ease Jerry Springer into the demands of feature-film stardom by casting him as the Jerry Springer-like host of a Jerry Springer Show-like program. But Springer's self-effacing performance as a trash-TV kingpin nevertheless proves as sweaty, unsatisfying, and unconvincing as the film's strange, unfeasible mixture of trailer-trash melodrama and feeble self-parody.
18. Double Team (1997): Dennis Rodman
From Jay Leno and Pat Morita in Collision Course to Robert Carradine and Billy Dee Williams in Number One With A Bullet to William Baldwin and Cindy Crawford in Fair Game (see above), the buddy movie is a godsend to the acting-challenged who want to dabble in cinema without having to carry a movie by themselves. Dennis Rodman similarly hopped aboard the buddy train when he made the leap from smug, gratingly eccentric basketball superstar to smug, gratingly eccentric actor alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme and the increasingly disturbing-looking Mickey Rourke. (Forget Barry Bonds: Someone should check homeboy Mickey Rourke for 'roids.) Double Team is a wildly over-the-top Hong Kong-styled Tsui Hark-directed romp in which Rodman functions as just another obnoxious distraction in a Rube Goldberg contraption of a movie that's all blinking lights, whirring gears, and crazy gimmicks. For the most part, Double Team is a headache, but it's difficult to deny grudging respect to any movie so insanely excessive that Rodman actually qualifies as one of its subtler, more restrained elements.
19. Cool As Ice (1991): Vanilla Ice
It's hard to remember a time when Vanilla Ice wasn't a walking punchline, but that was apparently true back when someone at Universal greenlit this Rebel Without A Cause wannabe. It arrived in the fall of '91, after Ice's popularity nose-dived, and consequently grossed a paltry $1.2 million domestically, according to allmovie.com. As might be expected, Cool As Ice is unintentionally laugh-out-loud funny for its dialogue (such as the famous "Drop that zero and get with the hero!"), Ice's awful wardrobe, the brainless plot, the music-video-like direction, etc. The nonsensical tagline says it all: "When a girl has a heart of stone, there's only one way to melt it. Just add Ice."
20. Gymkata (1985): Kurt Thomas
In the mid-'80s, gymnastics enjoyed unprecedented American popularity, thanks to the U.S. team's performance in the 1984 Olympics. That popularity translated, as such things often do, into terrible, terrible movies like Gymkata. Real-world Olympics hero Kurt Thomas wanders through an Asian hellhole performing, yes, gymkata. What's gymkata? Let's go to the tagline: "The skill of gymnastics. The kill of karate." What they fail to mention: the lameness of a hastily made-up martial art in a movie that at one point has Thomas fending off enemies in a town with a freaking pommel horse in the middle of it. One year later, '84 Olympics standout Mitch Gaylord would star in American Anthem before enjoying a brief career in erotic thrillers.