Not all movies are great. And it has to be that way, because if every movie was great, then no movie would be great. There need to be a few not-so-great and even a few pretty-bad ones to really let the great ones shine. For every overly cheesy romantic comedy, there’s a empowering girl squad we’d love to join IRL.
For each ‘are you out of your mind?‘ scary movie, there’s an out of this world psychological thriller. The point is, it evens out. The thing about bad movies is that they can feature good actors and actresses, who then unfairly gain a reputation as “the person who starred in that terrible movie.” (They can also feature bad actors and actresses who just compound the terribleness, see #12 and #13.)
Fortunately, good actors can prove themselves in other performances, and that initial reputation is just something to laugh about, like a childhood nickname. These 18 actors and actresses are well known for their worst movie—but for most of them, they’ve starred in enough redeeming roles that we’re willing to forgive them for their missteps. And don’t deny it, some of these are secretly your guilty pleasure. It’s okay, we all watch bad movies on purpose sometimes.
1. Shailene Woodley in Divergent
Let’s be honest, The Hunger Games series really takes the cake with the whole adolescent navigating a dystopian world while also confronting family problems, budding sexuality, and other typical teenager stuff thing. Divergent didn’t really stand a chance. I’m not trying to say Jennifer Lawrence is better than Shailene Woodley (although I’m not not saying she is, ya feel?), but Katniss Everdeen > Tris Prior. The Divergent franchise didn’t even finish because the third bombed so hard, so… yeah. Redeeming movies: The Fault in Our Stars (if you’re into that cheesy YA kind of stuff), Big Little Lies (TV show but you get the point)
2. Emma Stone in Easy A
Yes, Emma Stone had hilarious roles in Superbad and The House Bunny, but Easy A is the first movie where she was the lead character and you can’t think of one without thinking about the other. It’s a dumb movie. It’s so dumb that Amanda Bynes is also in a leading role, and it’s Amanda’s very worst role, as well. Emma Stone is now one of the biggest names in Hollywood, so thankfully that scarlet letter didn’t follow her very far. Redeeming movies: The Help, Crazy Stupid Love, La La Land , Birdman
3. Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean
The first movie was great! Even the second one was pretty good! A drunk pirate in beaded dreadlocks and heavy eyeliner is kind of the perfect persona for Johnny Depp, and when he does it, he does it well. But let’s get real. Did this franchise really need to make FIVE movies? No, it did not. And it only cheapens his role in them. Yes, Johnny Depp is definitely known for the slightly creepy but very sweet Edward Scissorhands, but kids these days don’t know that. Redeeming movies: Edward Scissorhands (classic!), Chocolat, Blow
4. Piper Perabo in Coyote Ugly
Tale as old as time: naive small-town girl moves to the big city to get famous and becomes a sexy bartender instead, but still manages to get her big break as a songwriter, AND find a hot boyfriend. This movie has all the cliché rom-com bits and stars a model who, while she can dance on the bar like a pro, just really isn’t an actress (I still love you though, Tyra Banks). P.S. Yes, there is a Coyote Ugly bar in NYC and yes, you can dance on top of the bar, and yes, I have done it. Redeeming movies: The Prestige, Looper
5. Hilary Duff in A Cinderella Story
Hilary Duff is known for Lizzie McGuire, which was a fantastic Disney show and probably the inspiration for Bitmoji. But her film career never quite caught on the same way at her TV one. A Cinderella Story is even cheesier than it is unrealistic, and I can never get over the fact that Chad Michael Murray doesn’t recognize her because of a tiny white mask. Is he dumb? Redeeming movies: Tbh all of her movies (aside from The Lizzie McGuire Movie, where we all learn teenagers become famous pop stars when they go abroad) pretty much suck. BUT she’s really great in Younger!
6. Ryan Phillippe in Cruel Intentions
This movie is kind of a cult classic. Everyone’s seen it, and everyone hates to love it or loves to hate it. So many iconic moments. The uncomfortable sexual innuendo between step-siblings! The depiction of Reese Witherspoon as an innocent virgin! The cocaine powder drifting out of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s rosary! Yes, the movie is trash, and all the characters are terrible people but thank you to the 1990s for producing it anyway. Redeeming movies: The Lincoln Lawyer (he’s so manipulative and creepy and it’s so hot), Straight A’s
7. Rachel McAdams in The Notebook
I realize my personal dislike of anything Nicholas Sparks may taint my judgment and some people might disagree, but *literally* just the number of memes that have been inspired by this movie should tell you how bad it is. First of all, fighting constantly is not sexy or romantic. Second of all, her mom is a total b*tch for hiding those letters (Also, really? She got to the mailbox first every. single. day. for a year? If Allie really loved Noah that much I think she’d be waiting at the end of the driveway for the postman to arrive). Third of all, poor Lon. He was the perfect gentleman and would be an amazing husband and he got screwed over for a teenage fling with a bushy beard and an inability to move on. Also, I think she played Regina George so well in Mean Girls that people actually forget that it’s her. So that’s pretty tragic. Redeeming movies: All of her many other movies. Seriously, any of the others… except Morning Glory.
8. Alex Pettyfer in Magic Mike
This movie is horrible. Don’t even get me started on the second one—half because I didn’t even watch it, half because why in the world did a movie about male strippers need a sequel?!?!? Yes, these men are all incredibly attractive with sick bods and pretty stellar dance moves. But the plot is terrible, the acting is subpar, and just because Channing Tatum started as a stripper and made it big as an actor doesn’t mean there needs to be a movie (or two!) about it. Redeeming movies: Lee Daniels’ The Butler
9. Ludacris in Fast and Furious
I’m not saying that the Fast and Furious movies are bad. And I’m definitely not disrespecting Paul Walker, because RIP. But does there really need to be so many of these? How many times do we need to watch choreographed car chases? And I love Ludacris, but does he even act? I’m pretty sure he’s like this in real life. (I’ve seen him live as a rapper, and he’s great. I highly recommend it.) Redeeming movies: No Strings Attached (when he makes appearances as himself does it really count as acting?)
10. Megan Fox in Transformers
Yet another franchise that just takes things a little too far. Cars turn into robots! Cool! Shia LaBeouf is slightly less crazy! Megan Fox is obviously gorgeous and I really appreciate her total deadpan humor in New Girl (though why she would date Nick Miller I honestly don’t understand), but the Transformers series does her no justice. Don’t even get me started on Jennifer’s Body. Redeeming movies: Friends with Kids, This is 40 (okay that’s kind of a stretch but I’ll give it to her)
11. Gerard Butler in P.S. I Love You
Gerard Butler might be better known from 300 for some, but as far as his non-action accomplishments go, P.S. I Love You was his first but not last unfortunate foray into horrible rom-com territory. Also awful: The Ugly Truth, The Bounty Hunter, Playing for Keeps. Yes, his accent is endearing and he looks like he could carry you up and down the steps without breaking a sweat, but the dude just has a knack for picking up really bad romantic comedy scripts. Redeeming movies: 300, Olympus Has Fallen
12. Mariah Carey in Glitter
No one expected Mariah Carey to be a good actress. But even if this movie starred Meryl Streep, it would still be a really bad movie. I mean, seriously, even the cover art makes my teeth hurt — pink and purple and sparkle and oh look, we’re all gagging. Leave the acting to your ex-hubby, Nick Cannon and stick with soprano level vocals that only dogs can hear properly. Redeeming movies: I don’t think she has any…?
13. Jessica Simpson in The Dukes of Hazzard
This movie is 1) a remake of a classic that 2) stars Johnny Knoxville. Did anyone really expect it to be better than Jackass? And Johnny leads opposite Jessica Simpson, whose biggest on-screen moment is, “is it chicken or is it tuna?” Sure, she looks great in those denim booty shorts, but a nice body does not a good actress make. Redeeming movies: Again, not sure there are any…
14. Malcolm McDowell in Mr. Magoo
Why do audiences think bumbling old men are entertaining? Mr. Magoo himself is just too ridiculous to appear endearing, in my opinion, and Malcolm McDowell as ruthless billionaire Austin Cloquet isn’t any better. That’s the problem with putting good actors in bad movies: even they can’t save the day. Fortunately, only kids watching Disney movies in the late 1990s (aka me) will know him for this movie, so at least for that reason, he can count his blessings (apparently this movie is not remembered on GIPHY, either). Redeeming movies: A Clockwork Orange, The Book of Eli, Some Kind of Beautiful, *not* Easy A
15. Adam Sandler in any of the movies he’s in
WHY, WORLD, WHY DO YOU KEEP MAKING ADAM SANDLER MOVIES?!?! The same old slapstick humor gets old, man. I think the only time I’ve ever seen Adam Sandler act even semi-serious is in Spanglish and that movie also sucks thanks to a total lack of closure. And don’t even get me started on 50 First Dates, which disturbs me deeply on a psychological level. Redeeming movies: Okay, okay, Big Daddy is funny, I guess; I might even like The Longest Yard, kind of and then there’s Anger Management which was carried majorly by Jack Nicholson
16. Robert Pattinson in Twilight
Poor Robert. Though I think it’s fair to say he has managed to step out of his sparkly vampire’s shadow, it was tough going there for awhile. Especially when his costar girlfriend cheated on him with the director of the other horrible film she was in. Rob, honey, if you ever need a girlfriend who doesn’t make out with married men — I’m your gal. Redeeming movies: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (he was hot Cedric Diggory—RIP—before he was hot Edward Cullen), Remember Me, Water for Elephants
17. Kristen Stewart in Twilight
We also had to pour one out for RPatz’s costar/ex for her role by his side. Looking back, it almost seems like these two had conspired to make the Twilight series as much of a mockery as possible. I mean, both of them have proven since that they’ve got serious acting chops. Yet, in this book-to-film adaptation, their acting is seriously laughable. Redeeming movies: Panic Room (she was only 12!), Into the Wild, On the Road, The Runaways, Adventureland
18. Nicolas Cage in any of the movies he’s in
I don’t remember exactly when Nicolas Cage became a joke, but here we are, roasting him in Instagram memes, making pillowcases of his face, and face-swapping him into any and all images whether or not it makes sense. If poor Mr. Cage is in any redeeming movies, I certainly can’t remember them after seeing his likeness used in jest so many times. He should have disappeared for awhile like Anne Hathaway did when everyone randomly decided to hate her, and then made a comeback. Too late, man, too late. Redeeming movies: Open to suggestions here! Anyone?