I'm sure Peter Sarsgaard didn't intend to make a horror movie that would provoke gales of unintentional laughter. Yet in a key, emotionally-wrought scene near the end of Orphan -- out on DVD today and, perversely enough, worth a rental -- that's exactly what happens; by that point, the film's determination to take itself way too seriously has worn down the viewer, and its lunatic premise collapses upon itself. Sarsgaard bravely goes down with the ship, as does Vera Farmiga, two talented actors that were better than their material.
How do good actors end up in bad movies? The same way some of us end up in jobs we hate: (1) It sounded better than it turned out; (2) Gotta pay the bills. Sometimes they liven up the movie (The Devil's Advocate wouldn't be nearly as much fun without Al Pacino's self-parodying scenery-chewing) and sometimes they look befuddled that they ended up in such a turkey (Robert Downey, Jr. in Gothika, Zooey Deschanel in The Happening). We salute those who gave it their best shot, and ask the rest: what were you thinking?
1. Jon Voight in Anaconda
Intentionally cheesy or merely undone by cheap CGI? This tale of a film crew seeking to document a mysterious tribe of Amazonian natives is a rather tepid and poorly-executed horror adventure until Voight lends it a jolt of electricity as a jungle guide with an accent that's never been heard before. While decent actors like Eric Stoltz and Owen Wilson look like they're ready to cash their paychecks and go home, the Academy Award-winning Voight nearly saves the picture with his larger-than-life theatrics. That's entertainment!