A handy list of actors who think you’re stupid

That’s what Forbes should have called their list of “Hollywood’s most overpaid stars”. In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with commercial filmmaking. It’s not a completely soulless endeavor, it’s just that it’s frustrating when movies consistently get made to the lowest common denominator and people with actual talent squander it repeatedly on trash. Certainly the audience bears some responsibility in that—filmmaking is a consumer-driven business—but it does seem like there are some actors who are determined to make the stupidest junk on the planet and expect us to buy it every time. Here’s who Forbes called out as the biggest offenders:

Drew Barrymore
Eddie Murphy
Will Ferrell
Reese Witherspoon
Denzel Washington
Nicolas Cage
Adam Sandler
Vince Vaughn
Tom Cruise
Nicole Kidman

Forbes ranked them according to dollars earned against dollars spent—Barrymore only returns forty cents on the dollar—but I would group them according to how dumb they think we are. Then the list looks like this:

Adam Sandler
Eddie Murphy
Nicolas Cage
Vince Vaughn
Reese Witherspoon
Tom Cruise
Nicole Kidman
Drew Barrymore
Will Ferrell
Denzel Washington

Sandler, Murphy and Cage go into the category of “people who think we’re complete morons who will watch whatever sh*t they shovel us”. The sad thing is, Murphy and Cage are actually talented and they squander it on trash like Daddy Day Care and Ghost Rider. Cage just bombed out with the disastrous Trespass. As Forbes noted, Murphy had a lot riding on Tower Heist but it failed to beat holdover Puss in Boots, earning barely $25 million against a $75 million budget—not impressive, but it is encouraging that people are not, in fact, as moronic as Murphy thinks they are. And Sandler continues to be inexplicably successful despite having long since abandoned whatever integrity he may once have had (I will defend Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore to the death). Worse, Sandler is so powerful he was able to foist Kevin James on us. HOW DID WE LET IT GET THIS FAR?

Vaughn, Witherspoon and Cruise are “people who got famous doing one thing and have stuck to that same move even as their scripts got continually worse”. Witherspoon has identified this problem and is trying to shake up her image, though I’m not sure that “sexy” is working for her, either. Still, at least she’s trying. Like Witherspoon, Cruise has determined he needs to branch out and he’s done so by donning a fat suit as Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder—a new schtick he quickly beat to death by not understanding the point of a one-off—and trying too hard to impress the kids. Also, though pushing 50 and having decimated his tough-guy image (if he was ever really convincing in that role to begin with), he refuses to retire the action star thing and it’s starting to get kind of sad. Sweet hell, Knight and Day was awful. And Vaughn is still clinging to his fast-talking, overgrown frat boy thing like a life raft on the Titanic.

Kidman and Barrymore are “people who bomb on the big stage but do well on a smaller scale”. Kidman has multiple commercial disasters against her—The Golden Compass, Australia, Nine—but she’s also done good work in Margot at the Wedding and Rabbit Hole at the same time. Likewise, Barrymore has the likes of 50 First Dates and Going the Distance, but she was terrific in HBO’s Grey Gardens and her directorial debut, Whip It, wasn’t totally unfortunate. Kidman could be choosier in her commercial roles and Barrymore should probably just avoid the multiplex all together for a while, but it’s not like they’re actually trying to kill us with their sh*tty movies.

And finally, Ferrell and Washington are “people who simply make too much money”. Denzel struck out with The Book of Eli, but Unstoppable was bankable, despite being ludicrous. Plus, he made the excellent Inside Man and American Gangster. Ferrell has the massive bomb Land of the Lost against him but generally he’s a guy you can count on to turn a profit, like with The Other Guys, Step Brothers and Blades of Glory. Ferrell isn’t trying to make epic cinema, he’s just trying to make us laugh and he’s consistently good at that. Plus, his movies are much, much less offensive than Sandler’s. No, for  Denzel and Ferrell, their biggest crime is not making bad movies, it’s making too much money. Their salaries—both in the eight-figure range—are so high that it’s virtually impossible for their box office to justify their paychecks. If they simply worked for less they’d be taken off this list.

Click here to read the Forbes profiles of the actors who think we’re dumb and who, in this spirit,  don’t deserve our support.

Previous Article Next Article