The highly uncoveted Razzie Award
To keep this post from going to novel length, these infamous pop culture bombs will be limited to five. All were unanimous flops: critics and audiences, who don’t always agree, were rushing out the same Exit door. None were grade-B efforts. They had big celebrities, big expectations, big budgets, and big loses. In alphabetical order:
How’s this for a hit formula: a huge budget sci-fi spoof, featuring a drop-dead funny baby boomer comedian along with a stellar list of co-stars including Peter Boyle, John Cleese and Pam Grier? Producers were salivating.
Plot: Year is 2080. Criminal mis-adventures of a retired smuggler running a bar on the Moon.
Budget $100 million +
Worldwide Revenue: $7,103,892
Critics lambasted the movie for its acting, dialogue, lack of humor, and crude special effects. Rotten Tomatoes ranked the film 79th in the 100 Worst with a rating of 6% on the Tomatometer. Pluto Nash was nominated for five Golden Raspberry Awards, including Worst Picture, and later nominated for Worst Comedy of Our First 25 Years at the 25th Golden Raspberry Awards.
It had the right stuff. A mobster comedy starring one of the hottest items in Hollywood – Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, who dominated tabloid gossip. They had sizzling personal chemistry and were considered charismatic performers in their own right. How could the movie miss? Gen-Xers would gobble it up and even baby boomers, reliving their youth, should dig it.
Plot: A lowly and inept hit man is assigned a mob job to kidnap the mentally retarded brother of a California district attorney. Ricki, a “lesbian assassin,” is sent to oversee his job. Oh yes, opposites attract, and they fall in love. Art imitates life. But art doesn’t imitate success.
Total cost: $74,000,000
Worldwide theater gross: $7,266,209
Plot: An almost four hour epic recounted the true story of big cattlemen vs. small immigrant settlers during Wyoming’s Johnson Country Wars in 1892.
The baby boomer A-List cast included Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, Isabelle Huppert, Jeff Bridges, John Hurt, Sam Waterston, Brad Dourif, Joseph Cotten, Geoffrey Lewis, Richard Masur, Terry O’Quinn, Mickey Rourke, and Willem Dafoe in his first film role.
Director: Peter Cimino, who won Best Director for the 1979 Academy Award Best Picture, The Deer Hunter. After Heaven’s Gate, his Hollywood career dried up.
Heaven’s Gate did “well” at the Golden Raspberry Awards:
Won: Worst Director (Michael Cimino)
Nominated: Worst Picture
Nominated: Worst Screenplay
Nominated: Worst Musical Score
Nominated: Worst Actor (Kris Kristofferson)
Total cost: $44,000,000
Worldwide theater gross: $3,484,331
The movie was mercilessly thrashed by critics. New York Times’ Vincent Canby compared it to “a forced four-hour walking tour of one’s own living room.”
Get me Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty as leads. Throw in Charles Grodin. Elaine May to write and direct. We’ll have a winner. Or not.
Plot: an untalented lounge singer duo travels to Morocco looking for work and stumbles into Cold War intrigue.
The movie was nominated for Worst Picture and Worst Screenplay in the 1987 Golden Raspberry Awards, winning one for Worst Director. It received overwhelmingly negative reviews and holds a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Ishtar has since become synonymous with critical and box-office flop.
Budget: $55 million
Box Office: $14 million
The idea and casting must have seemed inspired: a young, drug-using drifter becomes infatuated with an unsatisfied, icy, middle-aged Beverly Hills housewife. A perfect poignant and offbeat May-December romance for the jaded times, destined to be cult classic. 24 year-old John Travolta – fresh from the disco hit Saturday Night Fever (1977) and Grease (1978) – teams with Lily Tomlin, veteran star of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In plus big screen successes, including a recent Best Supporting Actress nomination for Nashville.
The movie was so bad, it’s one of the few never to be released on home video in any medium. John Travolta’s career was went into hibernation for 16 years until rescued by Pulp Fiction. Critic’s reviews of Moment by Moment included the comments:
“an excruciating viewing…”
“drippy, mawkish, supposedly romantic drama…”
“characters are savagely portrayed…”
A “civilian” said: “You’ll find yourself wondering if it was all meant as a joke, but when you realize that all these people were apparently dead serious, you’ll want to watch it again and again to savor the wonderful horror of it all.”