In theaters this week are Clint Eastwood's slightly anticipated Razzie-contending Hoover biopic J. Edgar — featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and 50 pounds of sweaty, wrinkled silicone as the titular FBI director — and Adam Sandler's terrifying-looking Jack and Jill in which he plays his own sister. To celebrate, Grantland's YouTube Hall of Fame is remembering the worst and least explicable movie-star transformations ever.
Fisher Stevens in Short Circuit
Rafe Bartholomew: John Wayne did yellowface. So did Marlon Brando. Katherine Hepburn? You bet. Yul Brynner? Duh. If so many legendary actors have crude Asian stereotypes on their résumés, then what makes Fisher Stevens' turn as Indian engineer Ben Jabituya in Short Circuit (and the renamed Ben Jahrvi in Short Circuit 2) so horrendous? Well, Wayne, Brando, Hepburn, and Brynner all did their racial damage before 1960, while Stevens broke out his Kwik-E-Mart accent and mocha foundation in the late 1980s. Were we really so ignorant 25 years ago that a white guy from Illinois could spit malapropisms like "I have to go to the Jack" and "Her pants are blazing for you, Newton Crosby!" and audiences wouldn't mind? Apparently, yes. Thankfully, the Short Circuit movies had the perfect antidote to Stevens' unfortunate transformation: the open-hearted humanism of a military robot who has been struck by lightning and brought to life. Johnny Five Alive!
This week, in honor of Leonardo DiCaprio's performance as an old guy in J. Edgar, and Adam Sandler's as his own sister in Jack and Jill, Grantland's YouTube Hall of Fame is remembering the best, worst, and least explicable movie-star physical transformations ever.
The concept of Big Momma's House is that Martin Lawrence goes undercover as Nia Long’s grandmother in hopes of tracking down Long’s criminal ex-boyfriend. I only saw it once (in the theater, of course) so I can’t remember all the details. According to Wikipedia, Long and Big Momma are estranged — but how long would you need to have not seen your grandmother in order to believe she like Martin Lawrence in a crappy fat suit? A billion years? But here’s the thing: despite all that, this movie is almost as good as Lawrence's 1999 movie Blue Streak. Exhibit A: Paul Giamatti is in it, and he acts the same way he does in his other movies, even though he’s in Big Momma's House. Exhibit B: This exchange, at the one-minute mark:
Long: “Oh Big Momma, I thought you may have forgotten all about me.”
Big Momma: [hugs Long, surreptitiously checking her out] "Oh no, Big Momma could never forget that ass ...” [Long makes face] “...ma! Asthma!
Martin Lawrence is negotiating with CBS to produce and star in a new sitcom. No word yet on a premise or costars, but since Lawrence's return to TV could presumably thwart a fourth Big Momma's House movie, this one gets our full blessing. Grade: A [Vulture]
Mark Ruffalo and Amanda Seyfried will star in Now You See Me, about a group of magicians who rob banks during their performances and shower their audiences in money. (They'll join the previously announced Jesse Eisenberg and Melanie Laurent.) Ruffalo will be an FBI agent and Seyfried will, naturally, play "a master technician who builds contraptions to aid in the illusion of heists." Grade: B+ [Variety]
In predicting who might be nominated for Worst Actor, first you have to ask: What does the Golden Raspberry look for in its leading men? It’s a question that drives Razzie gurus crazy. Sometimes the winners of the Worst Actor award are megastars like Eddie Murphy, John Travolta, and Adam Sandler. Sometimes the winners barely qualify as actors at all: the Jonas Brothers, George W. Bush, Roberto Benigni.
Occasionally, an actor will dominate an era, as Kevin Costner did the 1990s, a decade in which he was nominated six times (and won three Razzies). But sometimes an actor will leap from obscurity with a performance for the ages, as Tom Green did when he won the Razzie for Freddy Got Fingered in 2001. (He’s still the only Worst Actor winner to accept his award in person at the ceremony.)