I took 9th grade chemistry in high school. There’s little to note or recollect about it, other than the one day our chemistry teacher decided in the middle of class to quit teaching the subject matter for the day and instead instruct us on how H-bombs are made. That certainly got our attention. I don’t recall if it got the authorities attention or not.
Chemistry is also that inexplicable connection between two people. You were meant to be together, a certain spark is ignited, and it bursts into a raging inferno of compatibility, with any luck that is. However, sometimes as much as two people may try the spark is either snuffed out prematurely or it was never there at all.
This can apply to a romantic relationship or two actors on screen together trying to make the scenes work within the film they’re helping to make, or in some cases both. Some have that undeniable chemistry where right off the bat you know this is going to be great and wonderful and beautiful. Others however just don’t have it at all, and today on PopLurker we’re going to look at four turkeys of the silver screen that flunked chemistry.
4) Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck in Gigli
Speaking of turkeys. Whether you watched this film or not at the height of Bennifer in 2003 (god that was cringeworthy to type and will be the only time I ever do), I’m sure we all remember at some point hearing possibly the five strangest words to ever be uttered when J. Lo wanted Ben to take a trip to her Batcave.
“It’s turkey time. Gobble, gobble.”
I’m surprised the script writers didn’t have Ben retort that he was going to give her a good stuffing.
Aside from that weird beard bit of dialogue that was supposed to entice foreplay somehow, one of Gigli’s biggest problems was the lack of chemistry between this super couple of the time playing two mobsters working a job together.
Putting two high profile, attractive people in a movie together has been Hollywood’s M.O. since the dawn of time, bonus points if they’re an actual couple, right? Watch the sparks fly! Both J. Lo and Ben Affleck are competent enough actors; Ben maybe more so, if you don’t watch Glory Daze.
However, watching these two try to act their way through this slog of a film and be compatible is about as exciting as watching paint dry. In the dark. While wearing sunglasses, and you’re also asleep. Asleep from how boring this movie and Bennifer’s (damnit I said it again!) lack of chemistry together is.
Because if your dialogue is bad, the plot and story are bad, just everything overall is the bad, cringeworthy garbage that was Gigli, even the combined forces of Batman and Selena can’t save it from the scrap heap of history especially if those sparks aren’t there. It’s just D.O.A.
Speaking of dead on arrival…
3) Kiefer Sutherland and Julia Roberts in Flatliners
Julia Roberts is overrated.
There, I said it. Although I’m willing to believe a lot more of you may agree with me rather than disagree. She’s just never done it for me and I can’t think of a Julia Roberts film I’ve enjoyed, except for Hook. That movie is amazing, but Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell is far down the list of reasons I love Hook as much as I do.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully acknowledge she’s made a ton of money in her career and has had unprecedented success. But, the Macarena was also a thing. People and their tastes can be weird.
Flatliners came to theaters in the spring of 1990 and stars Kiefer Sutherland who was hot from the success of Lost Boys and the first Young Guns, as well as Julia Roberts who was on top of the world thanks to her role in Pretty Woman. Both were dating at the time that this film about flatlining; essentially cheating death and viewing a sort of quasi afterlife where past transgressions await was released. But, rather than flatlining and cheating death these two cheated the audience with their transgressions which front and center in this film, namely neither of them exhibiting any sort of natural chemistry together while on screen.
Whether it was Julia Roberts looking to the vision of her future fame and fortune coming from turning in the same cookie cutter performances every time was the way to go, or maybe Kiefer was having recurring visions thanks to Lou Diamond Phillips peyote trip in Young Guns and saw that he could make a lot of money angrily yelling damnit every 5 minutes on 24.
Whatever the case, these two checked out on each other in the chemistry department and just couldn’t muster a convincing performance to save their lives, and while the film lived on and spawned a remake, their on-screen performance together kicked the bucket.
2) Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut
Tom Cruise. Another actor that I have just never got.
For me, he’s always been the weakest part of the films he’s been a part of. Whether it’s opposite far better actors such as Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Paul Newman in The Color of Money. The cocktail glasses in…Cocktail. Cruise has always been just sort of there and does little of note for me, aside from Collateral, I’ll give him that much. But for me he’s always been kind of bland and innocuous.
In Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, Cruise and wife at the time Nicole Kidman star opposite each other as Dr. Bill and Alice Harford. Tom’s character; after his wife tells him about a fantasy she had about a naval officer they had met on vacation, possibly swabbing her deck, becomes disturbed by this admission and goes off into the night and has several sexual encounters of his own from meeting with a prostitute to gaining admission to a masked orgy.
What does L. Ron Hubbard and Xenu have to say about two wrongs not making a right, Tom?
The film was adapted from the 1926 novella Traumnovelle or Dream Story, and while there may have been some interesting elements within the story, Tom and Nicole just don’t click here.
Maybe Nicole had checked out by this point, what with the whole Scientology deal and their impending divorce resulting in a severe lack of on screen chemistry, or maybe Kubrick had flashbacks of berating Shelly Duvall on the set of The Shining and it was he that sucked the life out of her performance in this film. Kubrick has always been known as being something of a taskmaster and this film does hold the Guinness World record of longest shoot at 400 days. Even the most charismatic of actors would’ve tapped out and said the hell with it by then and likely raised a mutiny, which leads us to…
1) Reb Brown and Cisse Cameron in Space Mutiny
Put your helmet on, we’ll be reaching speeds of three!
It’s no secret that a good number of Lurkers are MST3K fans. I’ve been aware of the show for years, but for one reason or another never had the opportunity to watch the show until just a few months ago, and while I’m not a hardcore, lifelong, dyed in the wool MSTie, the dozen or so episodes I have watched so far definitely have me on my way.
Space Mutiny sits at the top as my favorite episode so far, the riffing is outstanding and after getting my girlfriend to watch it with me, my 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon brain fell down the IMDB/Wikipedia rabbit hole to learn more about the cast of this so bad it’s sort of good movie. I mean, I could see myself watching Space Mutiny and at least not be bored if the riffing wasn’t there. Manos on the other hand, Joel and the boys earned my respect just for sitting through that slog.
Anyway, going through IMDB and the like I discovered that the stars of the film Reb Brown and Cisse Cameron aka Fridge Largemeat and Doctor Lady had already been married for almost a decade when this film was foisted upon the world. Who knew? Probably not many, unless you’re a purveyor of useless information like me.
MSTie’s know the story well enough, Kalgan, when not trying to push his skull through his forehead attempts to take over the Southern Sun, and it’s up to Butch Deadlift and Morgan Fairchild to save the day and the inhabitants of this totally futuristic spaceship.
Did you see my butt?
Maybe it’s unfair to blame the shortcomings of Space Mutiny on the two main leads lack of chemistry. I mean you could run with the idea of the poor script, the obviously low budget, the Bellerians and whatever the hell it is they were doing on the ship. But again, we’re here for the chemistry or the lack of it, and one would think after almost a decade of marriage, Punch Rockgroin and Doctor Lady would have some sort of natural chemistry to bounce off each other.
Maybe old Brick Hardmeat was having trouble getting over his portrayal of Captain America not setting the world on fire a good thirty years or so before Chris Evans took it and ran all the way to the bank.
Maybe it was Cisse Cameron’s apathy towards ancient dentistry that snuffed out the flame between them that could have made Space Mutiny…not…suck. Whatever it was, these two were not on the Edge of a Dream, but more like the edge of a cinematic chemistry free nightmare. But, maybe that’s what you get when you put your faith in Blast Hardcheese.
You can find Jonathan conducting experiments on Twitter.