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31 Biggest Mistakes Ever

From actors to programmers to casting directors – what in God’s name were they thinking?

  1. All of Terra Nova for starters

    Like seeing a badly-acted spoof of all the most impenetrable bits from Lost, then randomly changing channel to watch your eight-year-old nephew ham-fistedly play Turok: Dinosaur Hunter on the Nintendo 64. For 12 weeks.

  2. Don Cheadle’s accent in Ocean’s Eleven

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    Really? Soderbergh you cahnt

  3. Guy Pearce in Prometheus

    Because – and we weren’t aware of this – apparently it is impossible to cast an actual old man with gravitas in Hollywood. Or hire a make up artist who doesn’t moonlight as a plasterer. Or commission a coherent screenplay, for that matter.

  4. The Oscars, generally

    It began, arguably, with anointing John Ford’s droning How Green Was My Valley as the best film of 1941. Ahead of mindless seatfillers like, er, Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon and Hitchcock’s Suspicion. But since then the Academy Awards have got progressively worse – locked in a perpetual cycle of wallowing in over-romanticised 1950s Golden Age nostalgia, transparently lauding average movies in order to correct previous oversights, or hiring Billy Crystal. Despite a reputation as tree-hugging lefties, the powerbase is frothingly middle-class and conservative: hence the adoration for the likes of Forrest Gump, or any movie where white people help black people (The Help, Crash etc). But worse for all? Still nothing for Hitchcock, Kubrick, Fincher, Tarantino etc. Or Chuck Norris. Norris for Chrissakes!

  5. Bruce Willis’ cameo as himself in Ocean’s Twelve

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    It’s hard to watch Soderbergh’s “inspired”, fourth-wall-smashing exploitation of his A-list cast without feeling faintly insulted. Julia Roberts playing someone pretending to be Julia Roberts is patronisingly “meta” enough. But did they really have to get John McClane to legitimise it?

  6. Cancelling Firefly

    So: Josh Whedon’s sharp-witted, meticulously-visualised space cowboy caper gets shut down after 14 episodes. Meanwhile, the Fox Network takes that year’s same development money and makes The Swan: a show about competitive plastic surgery. See? And there was you saying there was no God.

  7. Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy 

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    No words for this one. Just this promotional photograph, the statistic that it received just 40,000 regular viewers, and the all-too-predictable news that it was recommissioned by the second show. For foreign readers: this, in a nutshell, is Cameron’s Britain.

  8. This poster

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    Come on, now. There are children watching.

  9. Willy Wonka’s hair

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    The Burton/Depp cinematic axis should heed the warning signs: when your visual inspiration descends to a cross between Anna Wintour and a Lego version of Dead or Alive’s Pete Burns, maybe your well of creativity has started to parch somewhat.

  10. When Rachel had sex with Joey

    Yes: INDUSTRIA really is talking about Friends. But really? True, all formula sitcoms face a tortuous winding down period, when weary scriptwriters try anything to wring a scintilla of conflict or drama. But NBC did it by the numbers: simply running every possible romantic permutation of the cast. Culminating in this risible season-padder between Aniston and Le Blanc – a tepid, forced clinch blithely unlikely even by their saccharine standards. Although the quickly-shelved pregnancy plotline between Phoebe and Marcel the capuchin was reportedly red hot.

  11. Rosie O’Donnell as Betty Rubble

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    Second only to Jessica Rabbit, Mrs Barney Rubble was always our go-to cartoon erotic fantasy. (Ok, maybe third if you count Bugs Bunny dressed as a lady). Hence the disbelief when 1994’s live action Flintstones movie was cast. Not some demure, giggly brunette filling that ragged blue dress, but O’Donnell: a 14-stone ball-breaking lesbian with a voice like someone angle-grinding Brooklyn. All together: yabba-dabba… don’t, actually. 

  12. Not commissioning Heat Vision and Jack

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    In 1999, at the peak of their collective powers, Ben Stiller directed Jack Black and Owen Wilson in a TV pilot. Black played a former astronaut who gains super intelligence in sunlight, rides a talking motorcycle haunted by the ghost of his old roommate (Wilson), and references Buck Rogers, Doctor Who and The Six Million Dollar Man. At the time of INDUSTRIA going to press, this remains defiantly uncommissioned. Ahem?

  13. Winnie The Pooh remade with American accents

    Seriously: did we win World War 2 for nothing? 

  14. Denise Crosby

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    Wait, wasn’t she the wife in One Foot In The Grave? Nope, but you make our point admirably. Crosby played Lieutenant Tasha Yar in Star Trek: The Next Generation, before flouncing off set halfway through the first season after deciding the show would fail. And not, for example, go on for a record seven seasons, inspire three spin-offs, and four phenomenally successful movies. So then: what’s the Klingon for “oh balls”?

  15. Green Street 

    So: a female German director, helming a movie about English soccer hooligans, with a fey American in the lead role and a supporting Geordie playing a Cockney. “Authentic” was never a word that was going to appear on the poster, was it?

  16. “Do you know what happens to a toad when it’s struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else.” Halle Berry’s line to Toad in X-Men

    Fact: a percentage, however tiny, of your ticket or DVD price went to the twat who wrote that lame line. He lives in Hollywood now. Probably near the beach, too. 

  17. Mark Strong’s makeup in The Green Lantern

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    Be fair: if you looked like you were constantly straining at a problematic stool, you’d have diabolical thoughts too. But Thaal Sinestro’s bulgy-eyed, raspberry-like visage is a savage indictment as to why unshifting loyalty to a comic book is not necessarily a good thing. Especially when the 99.9% of your audience who haven’t read it spend the movie’s entire running time thinking: “He really needs to get some aftersun on that. He’s going to peel like an onion later.”

  18. That girl in Jurassic Park

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    Turn the fucking torch off! Every time!

  19. Ian Main’s snootiness

    Mr Main, being, of course, the BBC’s Comedy Editor in 1974. And the man who telexed this remark to his boss about a new script he’d read: “I’m afraid I thought this one as dire as its title… a collection of cliches and stock characters which I can’t see being anything but a disaster.” A year later, Fawlty Towers was made anyway, to pan-dimensional acclaim. Mr Main? Well played, sir.

  20. Hitman: Absolution 

    OK we, like every other spittle-flecked reactionary, have only seen the trailer. And maybe, yes, we’re getting old. But is anyone happy that a gaming series famed for its stealth and understated action now seems to be about massacring lycra-clad, Uzi-toting nuns with your fists? And that all subtlety seems to have… uhh. Wait. We blacked out there for a sec. 

  21. The film adaptation of Spawn 

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    “Memo To All Studio Heads: just signed the rights to a great comic series! It’s about a CIA hitman being killed, descending to Hell, and then striking a deal so that he can return… as an avenging super-assassin. Sounds challenging, eh?! But look: with enough time, money and patience, I’m positive we can fuck this up somehow. All suggestions welcome.”

  22. The CGI gophers in Indiana Jones And The Crystal Skull

    Enough said.

  23. Any scene involving parkour

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    Shorthand for a screenwriter thinking: “Fuck, hasn’t been any action in a while. But it’s too late to incorporate a car chase now. And helicopters are too expensive. Shit. Er… how about something vaguely urban and edgy, but also hackneyed and faintly pointless? Bingo.” 

  24. M Night Shyamalan’s The Happening 

    “Wait, we’re running away from…the wind?”

  25. Season 4 of Oz onwards

    Behold the rule of precipitously diminishing returns. Until 2000, Tom Fontana’s whip-smart comedy drama on the Oswald State Correctional Facility represented one of the finest pieces of American TV writing. Then, with scant warning, Fontana charted a course straight down the “What the fuck” wormhole – filling season four onwards with musical interludes, plots about ageing drugs and shows-within-shows. This, to paraphrase the show’s tagline, was “no place like home.”

  26. ET, The Extra-Terrestrial

    Not the film, mind but the infamous Atari 2600 game. One of the earliest movie tie-ins, the release was doomed from the start: despite purchasing the rights in July 1983 for a colossal $30m, Atari negotiated a mere five-week programming schedule. Something which chief (and, indeed, sole) Atari programmer Howard Warshaw then further complicated by cheerfully ignoring Spielberg’s suggestion to create “something easy like PacMan”. The result? The worst game ever created: a 16k, bleeping, four-screen maze confusing even by early game standards. Despite huge price cuts ($49 slashed to, er, $1), 3.5m of the 4m cartridges produced were returned to Atari. And quietly buried in the New Mexico desert. Six months later Atari posted a $583m loss. As ET might say: ouch.

  27. The post-Sorkin West Wing

    Don’t get us wrong: even the worst episode was still head and shoulders above anything else on TV. But with Sam Seaborn gone, Martin Sheen reduced to irregular cameos (perhaps due to his $300,000 an episode paycheck) and shortlived kidnap plotlines reeking of desperation, it all started to feel like a party struggling on long after the DJ went home. Also: Jimmy Smits. 

  28. Nipples on the batsuit

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    Because when you’re a renegade billionaire fighting to save a city while dressed as an anthropomorphised rodent, then homoerotic anatomical realism has to be one of your top priorities. (Minor query: do they represent human nipples or bat nipples?).

     

  29. Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates

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    Gus Van Sant’s 1998 retread of Psycho proved one thing: Trent from Swingers should really give up trying to act. Instead, why not stick to phoning in increasingly wooden and comedy performances for the next fifteen years? There’s an idea.

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