8 Irritatingly Great Contributions Of Some Of Pop-Culture's Biggest Laughing Stocks
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8 Irritatingly Great Contributions Of Some Of Pop-Culture's Biggest Laughing Stocks

By Joanna Robinson | Seriously Random Lists | August 29, 2013 | Comments ()


I don’t know about you, but I prefer to keep my irrational hatreds pure. So when I discover (or remember) that a Hollywood player that I think is worthy of scorn once contributed something truly great to the artistic landscape, my scathing bitchiness becomes, well, scathed. I prefer to snicker and sneer at the Michael Bays, Uwe Bolls and Brett Ratners of the world. But when you have to start being reasonable about someone’s body of work — when you have to take into consideration that there is some talent there somewhere — well, that ruins all the fun. Here are eight irritatingly great things that rain all over my hate parade. Damnit.

Sam Worthington — Somersault: Obviously, when I use the word “laughing stock” to refer to Sam Worthington, I’m using it in the strict Pajiba sense. Out in the real world, Sam-bo here is a much sought-after leading man who is laughing all the way to the Stock Market when he’s not rolling around in his Avatar millions. From my perspective, he’s one of the dullest lumps of leading man we’ve been asked to swallow in years. So I’d really like to believe that he lacks talent. But, er, then I saw Somersault. So it’s there, damnit, somewhere. Sleeping, I imagine.

Jay Leno — “Louie”: This is maybe the most personal and jarring entry on the list because in the two-parter “Late Show,” Leno plays himself. And it’s a wreck. The self-awareness and defeat that Leno exhibits here while portraying himself will make you feel for the man. I DON’T WANT TO FEEL FOR THIS MAN. Tears of a clown. It’s fantastic television and puts a major damper on the purity of my hate.

Kristen Stewart — Speak: When I mentioned a few weeks back that Into The Wild was the best thing Stewart had ever done, several commenters brought up Speak. I had read the distressing YA novel by Laurie Halse Anderson but somehow missed the movie entirely. (Perhaps because it aired on Showtime.) Stewart is brilliant in it, largely because her naturally sullen and withdrawn nature fit the character and the plot perfectly. I still maintain that Into The Wild is the furthest she’s stretched herself, but Speak is without a doubt her most powerful performance. Which is too bad because she really is so enjoyably joyless.

Joel Schumacher — Flawless: What are the first words that come to mind when you hear “Schumacher”? It’s okay, you can say it. It’s Bat Nipples, ain’t it? Never mind that Schumacher had a solid career of somewhat over-blown classics in the ’80s (St. Emlo’s Fire, Flatliners), Bat Nipples are his legacy. In case you thought that was an aberration, he went and out-cheesed Andrew Lloyd Webber with his hideous adaptation of Phantom Of The Opera. NO ONE OUT-CHEESES SIR ANDREW. Anyway, it would be convenient to write Schumacher off as a tasteless, ham-fisted director were it not for Flawless. The film lives up to its title and features a heart pulping performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman and DeNiro right on the cusp of his downward comedic spiral. (This came out the same year he starting Analyzing things and just before he met Ben Stiller.) It proves that Schumacher does have his heart in the right place. Even if it is buried under a rubber, be-nippled breast plate.

Charlie Sheen — Platoon: Sheen, of course, had a run at a legitimate leading man career in the ’80s. Between Wall Street, Platoon and Eight Men Out, it’s not hard to see that there once was something there. Now, Sheen is not just a laughing stock, he’s an actual monster. Made all the more grotesque by the fact that he was so beautiful once. And young.

Gerard Butler — Dear Frankie: Oh Gerry, Gerry, Gerry. I mean, when you hear Gerard Butler is attached to something these days, it’s not exactly a selling point is it? The man is quite charming in interviews, but his taste in projects? Yeaurgh. We’ll absolutely give him points for his voice-over work in How To Train Your Dragon, but I want to grab him by his curly Scottish mop and demand to see more of what he showed us in Dear Frankie. Stop messing about with Anistons, Heigls, soccer balls and surf boards, Leonidas, and give me something to believe in.

Shia LaBeouf — A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints: A lot of young actors are plucked from the Disney meat grinder and immediately slotted into god-awful action movies or Sparksian dramas. But not our Shia. He took a detour before hitting his stride with these dry, middle of the road thrillers. And while he was good enough in Disturbia, he was actually brilliant in A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints. Playing a young version of Robert Downey Jr. opposite a fresh-off-the-pole Channing Tatum, LaBeouf exhibited an emotional depth well beyond his years. Where that depth went, I’ll never know. Maybe he lost it while swinging on the vines with Indy. I doubt we’ll see it again.

Kate Hudson — Almost Famous: I’m sorry. I can’t not include the lovely Penny Lane. It’s in my Pajiba contract. Visions of her tear-streaked face, empty concert hall pirouettes, impish middle fingers and Quaalude-induced despair haunt me through every one of her empty-headed rom-coms and sleazy “Glee”-full shimmies. She was the best. Just the best. And how can I hate her now when I loved her with all my heart?

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • freetickles

    Need to add The Chase to Sheen's list. Love that movie.

  • Ben

    Is it time to put Robert Deniro on this list yet? He's basically more laughing stock these days then great actor.

  • e jerry powell

    De Niro is going to need a few more years before he gets to the point in his career where the bad outweighs the good. Don't worry, he'll probably get there.

    Samuel L. Jackson, on the other hand, needs to let Siri pick his scripts from here on out and limit himself to making gazpacho until time to report to set.

  • duckandcover

    Ugh, I love P.S. I Love You and Gerard Butler's awful accent and I can't help myself but watch it over and over again because yeah I like that shit.

  • "I mean, when you hear Gerard Butler is attached to something these days, it’s not exactly a selling point is it?" It kind of is for me, mostly because he does those explosion heavy alpha male movies that I tend to love and that critics tend to hate. Even when he's in chick flicks, he's still pretty badass.

  • e jerry powell

    Bad + ass.

    I like big butts and I cannot lie...

  • Asmodeus

    I tend to feel this way when I see John Mayer doing covers of good songs. Mayer is probably the last really fantastic guitarist to get famous outside of the insular guitar geek circles where people actually know who Jung Sung-Ha and Akihiro Tanaka are. But the dude dedicates himself to the schmaltziest shit he can find in an effort to dip into as many panties as possible rather than create work with artistic merit and dip into a slightly smaller pool of panties.

    John Mayer's to blues what Robin Williams is to movies.

  • I have a sneaky suspicion that 95% of the guys who have ever picked up a guitar did so in order to dip into as many panties as possible. Granted, it may not have been their sole or primary motivation, but I'd be pretty surprised if it wasn't in the top three.

  • e jerry powell

    Money and babes are tied for the lead.

  • Jerce

    Joel Schumacher also gave us Tigerland, which is a quiet, brilliant movie.

  • Schumacher did Tigerland? No frakkin' way. I refuse to believe it.

  • crispin

    "Falling Down"

  • Untamed

    I can't believe it, you've names two of the top films I would have put into this category. Somersault is a gem of a film and Sam Worthington is indeed perfection in it. As is Abbie Cornish who plays the naive teenager. The second film is A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. But it was Channing Tatum in this film who I found fascinating. And you've discovered the reason I've had a soft spot for Sam and Channing all these years. However, now that he's the new big thing, I'm tired of our charming potato.

  • BrokenWindows

    Has anyone ever had as great a start as Kate Hudson and fallen so far?

  • Jerce

    Wes Bentley. Much as it pains me to say so.

  • manting

    that guy sucks. He's horrible in Jonah Hex (the movie was terrible too) Ghostrider (again another really bad movie) and just plain silly in the American version of Battle Royal High School aka the Hunger Games (which I also thought was non good.)

  • e jerry powell


  • lowercase_ryan

    I loved Charlie Sheen in Cadence. Frankly that movie deserves so much more love than it gets. Which is none at all.

  • manting

    charlie sheen in Cadence with his Dad Martin is a great film. Me and two friends did the song and dance on our last day of high school as we left. I would also say that Gerard Butler is great in RocknRolla. So is Tom Hardy, Edris Elba, and mark strong. Wow, amazing cast.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I didn't see this before my comment. Cheers

  • manting
  • manting

    that's the sound of the men (KICKBACK) workin on the chain (ONE MORE) gangiang. OH! AH! OH! AH!

  • mairimba

    Shia was good in Lawless. Regardless of what you think of the movie as a whole.

  • manting

    Good cast but a terrible movie. He was good in films as a child actor/teen but I dont like any of his adult stuff. He is so annoying and punchable. Like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

  • Meli_V

    Kate Hudson how I loved her and still pine for another good performance.

  • phofascinating

    Major unpopular opinion here, but up until 2008 I was such a fan of Shia LaBeouf's. He was so funny and heartfelt coming from Even Stevens, Holes and Guide To Recognizing Your Saints. And he surprised me in Disturbia by all of a sudden being super sexy. I was sort of on board with Transformers because he still had his trademark charm and snark. Hell, I thought he'd make an awesome Scott Pilgrim (I know, WTF was I thinking?). And now he sucks a giant bag of donkey dicks. So very sad.

  • I even like him in Lawless.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I liked him too, I thought Holes was a fun movie and he was very good in it. He lost his luster with the Transformers movies.

  • AngelenoEwok


    I still love him, so, don't worry about your unpopular opinion.

  • John W

    Emily Mortimer is in Dear Frankie. Must see Dear Frankie.

  • Wigamer

    You must. She sings and is generally heartbreakingly amazing.

  • John W

    Thanks to her my new football cheer is: Go Giants Beat Them With Impunity!

  • e jerry powell

    The only thing I give Kate Hudson at this point is that she conjures up a faint shadow of her mother at her Judy Benjamin best. Beyond that, I have precious few fucks to give.

    Say what you will, Hawn and Chase were a far more interesting pairing than Hudson and The Walking Abs Life Support System will ever be.

  • pumpkin

    Foul Play is one of my all time favorites.

  • tmoney

    When I taught high school lit, we would always watch Speak. The music is awful, but Stewart's performance is better than the book deserves. While I'll never be a fan, I know there's a great actor within her (I liked Adventureland).

  • Dan O'Neill

    Schumacher had a pretty solid movie with Tigerland, did you ever get to seeing it?

  • Nieve 'The Threadkiller Queen'

    SPEAK!! This film is why I cant hate on Kristen Stewart, her performance in that film broke my heart and gave her a lifetime pass from me. Plus I sort of like her perpetual teenage angst attitude its amusing.
    Ah Penny Lane, Kate Hudson's best role. I really hope she does something good soon.

  • e jerry powell

    "I really hope she does something good soon."

    Yeah, good luck with that.

    Good People with James Franco. Not a good sign.
    That Zach Braff Kickstarter thing. I think we hate it already.
    There is an outside chance that Born to Be King might be at least mildly interesting (iffy, since Ewan McGregor probably won't go back on his promise to keep Little Ewan well-hidden).

  • prince_of_montagu

    ....i guess i'm the only one who was fine with Schumacher's Phantom of the Opera? I really thought it was well-done. Gerard Butler isn't the typical type of singer for the Phantom but i thought he sounded great.

    It got loads of bad reviews but even I have it on DVD.

    Oh well.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I love, love, love musicals, and I know every word of the Broadway version of Phantom, but the movie was laughable to me. Though Rossum did a great job copying the Brightman freaky-vacant-stare.

  • linnyloo

    Their vocals didn't sync up. I found that so incredibly distracting that I couldn't focus on anything else. Bad dubbing makes me ragey.

  • e jerry powell

    Lloyd Webber makes me ragey. It makes me want to go all turducken on toads and moles.

  • Meli_V

    You're not the only one.

  • Mrs. Julien

    You're as good as the best thing you've ever done. It's why I don't do anything good. It sets a dangerous precedent. Okay, it's not the only reason I don't. Ability and laziness play into it, too.

  • L.O.V.E.

    But what if you're best at being BAD. Its a blessing AND a curse.

  • Notoriety isn't as good as fame, but it's a hell of a lot better than obscurity.

  • e jerry powell

    Well, I think the Kardashians are still hashing that out.

  • Anne At Large

    I believe the line is "Learn to sleep well".

  • Sara_Tonin00

    The problem is...you end up with a "best thing" even if you put no effort into things. It's just that the best thing sucks.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I can't help but think that's still a win for me.

  • emmalita

    Someone please alert Mrs. Julien that some scofflaw has hacked her Disqus account and is trying to smear her reputation.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I'd prefer schmear, because, as you know, I make my own bagels.

  • L.O.V.E.

    I'd prefer Pat Smear, because ... Rocknrolla, mother f'ers!

  • emmalita

    And no one who makes their own bagels can be accused of laziness.

  • Musically Rod Stewart gets this shout out for me. Most of his early work is phenomenal. Maggie May is six minutes long and has a flawlessly ridiculous intro. Then he had his work with the Faces, Long John Baldry and the Jeff Beck Group.

    Watching Rocky the other day, I was also struck by how that film is so unlike the rest of Stallone's work it's really a little working class love story that sets the tone and scene for so many sports films to come.

    No matter their flaws the Estevez/Sheen family get passes for life for Emilio's work in the Mighty Ducks franchise.

  • Asmodeus

    I feel the same way about John Mayer. Dude's the last really great guitar player to get regular famous rather than guitar geek famous, and half his repertoire is sugary "fuck me, I'm sensitive" bait like "Your Body is a Wonderland."

    It'd be like Stevie Ray Vaughan coming back from the dead to play Nickelback covers, or Metallica teaming up with Lou Reed to record a concept album about a 19th Century German playwright.

  • zeke_the_pig

    Stewart back in his early-70's heyday was fucking ballsy, 'don't-give-a-shit-if-you-think-I'm-sexy', bluesy dynamite.

  • The Beeb doc on him recently was fantastic. Had great little bits like him and Ronnie Wood talking about growing up in London and having facial profiles like hatches. Of course they included that obligatory Brit rock star thing where they talk about the drugs and shenanigans only to wistfully remember a cup of tea.

  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    Dead on accurate about "Rocky"! I re-watched it recently and was amazed at how deep the movie was, and how little of the movie qualified as "action".

    It feels very much like the indie fill it was. And the fact that Stallone wrote it and was basically the "show runner" speaks volumes.

    I also noticed the movie feels very 70's. There are entire scenes with no snap-cuts! The camera is allowed to focus on a single person for more than 3 seconds! Silence occurs!

    Kind of amazing how far we have gone.

  • Sean

    The original Rocky is brilliant. It actually deserves those Oscars. If it were released in a year without Taxi Driver

  • So many great shots in there, real urban decay.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Stallone was great in First Blood, too.

  • manting

    the movie that launched "pornoviolence." Watch First Blood and then watch 300 and see how far pornoviolence has come in film.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Really? I see violence porn as something that shows violence without meaning. First Blood doesn't seem to fit.

  • manting

    no, I mean the movie spawned the term "pornoviolence,". A reviewer used it/coined it - I tried to find the review but could not.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Then he's an idiot.

  • Sean

    No watch Rambo 4. Holy shit, is that violent. Even I said " I think this might be enough, even for me"

  • Both franchises started off as exemplary little indie films about one man only to descend into parodies of the genres they helped create.

  • emmalita

    I can't hate someone properly until I've seen them be amazing and then TURN AWAY from good to make mediocre, or out-right evil. Some talentless hack is being successful? Fools and their money. Someone who has been amazing in something is choosing to inflict lazy shit on to my retinas - BURN IN HELL. Best example Jennifer Lopez in Out of Sight followed by the rest of her crap career.

  • the downtrend pretty much started when she started her music career. It's like she sold her acting talent for a record contract.

    Or worse: she pulled a Billy Bob Thornton and started thinking she was a singer who acts sometimes, rather than vice versa.

  • L.O.V.E.

    I know! Before she did this American Idol vomit she really had me believing she was just Jenny -- you know -- from the block.

  • emmalita

    'Cause you weren't fooled by the rocks that she got.

    Why can i remember stuff like that, but not important stuff?

  • L.O.V.E.

    But this IS important. She used to have a little, now she has A LOT!

    She is the Horatio Alger AND Aphrodite Kallipygos of our times!

  • emmalita

    But better, because J.Lo's buttocks are bigger and presumably more beautiful. Also buffed more often.

  • L.O.V.E.

    And now have the Batman Seal of Badankadonk (TM, DC Comics)

  • emmalita

    He will never live it down.

  • L.O.V.E.

    And he will never buff IT again

  • e jerry powell

    He never should have buffed IT to begin with.

  • Funky_Brewster

    SELENA! I loved her in Selena. And now... ugggghhhh,.

  • Helo

    I feel as though this is the equivalent of that one band with that damnably good album or two, who have since been pumping out sonic dreck and coasting on the goodwill of their once great work.


  • sanity fair

    Thank you for mentioning Dear Frankie! I fell in love with Gerard Butler in that movie, and I am constantly wondering why the man doesn't make more movies like it.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Hot Shots for the Sheen as well.

    Is Flawless actually good? I remember it getting terrible (schlock) reviews when it came out.

  • kirbyjay

    I often think that Platoon could have been a smidgen better without the Sheen, and I also remember the snark that he delivered about Keanu Reeves in a Movieline interview a few years after Platoon. He was aghast that Reeves was getting good roles while he was being offered drek, as if he was the Daniel Day Lewis of the Brat Pack.

  • Fredo

    Add Major League and Men at Work as well.

    The dude was more talented than his dad (that's saying something). But I guess all that tigerblood ruined him.

  • Justin Kuhn

    wait, tigerblood? I only just realized it was his code word for cocaine.

  • manting

    more talented than Martin Sheen? That is just crazy talk.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Uhh...Men at Work I was sure I would love, since I adored Emilio but...not so much. Charlie was definitely more than a one-trick pony in the 80s-early 90s though.

  • IngridToday

    A lot of actors could learn from Emilio: make a few good, entertaining movies, then quietly fade away. No, string of bad movies, public meltdowns, or offensive comments.
    No kicking and screaming as you're career fades away like Lohan.

  • manting

    he could do that because of the deal he had on Mighty Ducks. He made so much fucking money and he had a piece of the pro hockey team as well. Emilo has 10 times the money that Charlie does. The guy also realized that fame is overrated like any other rational person (see Dave Chappelle).

  • Alwyn


  • Mitchell Hundred

    One could argue that Laboeuf was just coasting on Louis Sachar's excellent storytelling there.

  • Alwyn

    Fair point.

  • George Tarleton

    Joel Schumacher. See also: Tigerland.

  • Mitchell Hundred

    And The Wiz, which he wrote. I maintain that it is quite a good movie overall, for all its flaws (of which there are many).

  • Michelle

    Right? I feel like people stopped mentioning that movie when Colin Farrell lost most of the goodwill it earned for him.

  • Yorn

    Could not agree more about A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. It's really the only extant proof to debunk the theory that Shia is actually just the most current incarnation of Jar Jar Binks posing as a real person. Think about it.

  • AudioSuede

    Gerard Butler was actually pretty great in RocknRolla. That movie never gets the love it deserves.

  • MayorChapStick76

    I think because it came after 'Revolver', which wasn't a well received film, RocknRolla didn't get the kind of attention it deserved.

  • Justin Kuhn

    Seems like a return to form like RocknRolla got Guy Ritchie the Sherlock Holmes gig though.

  • Fredo

    Butler, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy as Handsome Bob, funny Mark Strong and on and on. It's a good movie.

    OK, maybe not good. But enjoyable. And fun.

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