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Five Mediocre Movies That Don't Deserve Their Lead Actors

By Rebecca Pahle | Lists | May 6, 2014 |

By Rebecca Pahle | Lists | May 6, 2014 |

There are any number of things I would rather spend two hours of my life doing than watching The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Like going to the dentist or wrestling with a genetically mutated giant wasp. Don’t get me wrong—I didn’t hate the first Amazing Spider-Man. It was fine. But if you’re going to reboot a franchise after a mere five years, have the courtesy to do something interesting with it, dangit. Judging by the reviews (54% on Rotten Tomatoes), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is as bland and listless as its predecessor, which is a shame, because Andrew Garfield is a great Spidey. His exuberance at being a superhero—because f*** brooding, being able to swing off buildings would be totally awesome—is the best part of this new franchise. Unfortunately, the franchise doesn’t deserve him. He joins the august company of:

Sam Rockwell in Better Living through Chemistry
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This entire list could just be “Sam Rockwell movies that don’t deserve Sam Rockwell.” Not that Better Living through Chemistry—in which Rockwell plays a small-town, hen-pecked husband lured into a life of crime by a platinum blonde trophy wife (Olivia Wilde)—is particularly awful. It’s… okay. It’s fun. But it’s only those things because of Rockwell, who manages to transform a cookie-cutter character into someone worth the audiences’ time to watch. The same can’t be said of other characters, like the shrewish wife (Michelle Monaghan) or asshole father-in-law (Ken Howard). No offense to any of those actors. But Sam Rockwell. Damn, Sam Rockwell. You’re better than this. You’re better than most everything *coughIronMan2cough*. I’m going to go watch Moon again.

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby
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Leonardo DiCaprio killed it playing Jay Gatsby. Killed. It. Face-down-drowning-in-a-pool-with-gunshot-wounds slaughtered that performance. If only he’d done it in a version of The Great Gatsby that didn’t leech all the depth out of the book because glitter and fireworks and ’20s dresses are pretty, yay!

Tom Hardy in This Means War
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Yeah, yeah, Tom Hardy is only one of three leads in This Means War. But would I ever, in a million years, want to watch a movie that’s just Chris Pine or Reese Witherspoon sitting in a car talking for 90 minutes? No, I would not. But Tom Hardy did that with Locke, and it was amazing, because Tom Hardy could star in an all-Tom Hardy remake of Xanadu and I wouldn’t be able to take my eyes off it. In fact, he almost made This Means War decent, because the man could have sexual chemistry with a lamp. Alas, the non-Tom Hardy parts of the movie were not up to Tom Hardy’s standards of sexual magnetism, and the final product suffered as a result.

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in the second half of Silver Linings Playbook
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You know what I mean. The half of Silver Linings Playbook where David O. Russell forgot he’d set up an interesting movie about characters trying to find love while juggling with mental illness—something that doesn’t tend to get seriously looked it in rom-coms—and decided instead he’d tell a generic story where all of said characters’ issues are fixed once they compete in a dance contest.

Amy Adams in Leap Year
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Welp, Amy Adams had to get a rom-com out of her system, I guess. Leap Year is built on the God-awful premise that women can propose to men on Leap Day, and yes, this movie was made in 2010, not 1910. Infuriatingly, the romantic lead—an Irish-accent-turned-up-to-11 Matthew Goode—points out the ridiculousness of the tradition… because it bullies men into engagements they don’t want, not because, y’know, women should be able to propose to men whenever. Amy Adams is as winsome and charming as you’d expect her to be, but even she can’t rescue this four leaf clover-encrusted turd.

Honorable mention goes to Amy Adams and every single one of her Man of Steel castmates. I maintain that Zack Snyder has talent for casting (schlubby Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl II in Watchmen! C’mon, that’s perfect!), but he seems to forget that he needs to give all the good actors he’s roped into his movies an interesting story to work with.

You can find Rebecca on The Mary Sue, on Twitter, and swinging off the Brooklyn Bridge.