The popular reaction to news of Juliette Binoche being cast in Godzilla is that she's too good for a monster movie. Obviously, a lot of us forget that the talented French actress has appeared in more than a few weak English-language films, including Dan in Real Life, Bee Season, In My Country, Mary and, depending on your point of view, Cosmopolis. None have been as high profile as a Godzilla remake, however. Apparently her Jet Lag costar Jean Reno didn't bother to tell her that this exact sort of film could be a big mistake.
But great actors and actresses need to eat, and as we've discussed previously in a piece focused on Philip Seymour Hoffman and Michael Fassbender, they therefore need to slum it occasionally. And as we're reminded for the umpteenth time this weekend with the release of another bad movie featuring the always enjoyable Bill Nighy, the great performers can often add some appeal or even prestige to stuff like Jack the Giant Slayer or Wrath of the Titans or Godzilla.
Of course, we don't know that the new Godzilla will be bad just because the casting of a French person reminds us even more of the 1998 debacle. Director Gareth Evans already gives us reason to be hopeful. Binoche coming aboard should raise the expectations even higher. Unfortunately, there's a tendency for the hiring of high-quality performers in lowbrow blockbuster entertainment to actually be a sign of something awful.
Just think of any (or most) major tentpole or mainstream comedy with Al Pacino (Gigli; Jack and Jill), Robert De Niro (The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle), Julianne Moore (The Forgotten; Next), Ben Kingsley (BloodRayne; The Love Guru), Jeremy Irons (Dungeons and Dragons) and Nicolas Cage (almost everything). Excluding Minority Report, Max von Sydow is probably the champion of appearing in Hollywood crap, even enjoyable crap (see his entire filmography from 1980 on).
It's not a new thing, either, but we used to see more bad movies from great actors in their later years. Embarrassing stuff from the likes of Orson Welles, Buster Keaton, Marlon Brando and Laurence Olivier, to name a few legends who were apparently desperate or misguided towards the end.
I think the winner of this poll, though, is a tie between (almost) every actor in Con Air.
What is the best appearance by a great actor in a bad movie?
Here are some responses received so far via Twitter:
Join the next discussion on Twitter by following Christopher Campbell (@thefilmcynic) and Movies.com (@Moviesdotcom).