1. Heath Ledger
Why so deceased? Heath Ledger was an actor on the climb, albeit a rather subtle one, to the upper ranks of his profession. While “10 Things I Hate About You” and “A Knight’s Tale” weren’t necessarily Oscar-contenders, at least one of them was based on Shakespeare. And while playing second fiddle to Mel Gibson in “The Patriot” wasn’t a star-making turn, playing the skin flute with Jake Gyllenhaal in “Brokeback Mountain” and playing pseudo-Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There” were worthy of increased respect and recognition. Everything was pointing up and Ledger’s role as the Joker was the prize fruit he’d been climbing towards.
There’s no way Ledger wasn’t aware of the buzz around his – admittedly – bravura performance as the Joker in “The Dark Knight.” And yet, even with a career reaching its apex and a young daughter, he ended up overdosing on a shitload of painkillers and antidepressants. We’d love to cry for someone cut down in his prime, but clearly Ledger didn’t appreciate what he had, or the journey he took to get there.
Now before you get all angry and violent with us, understand that we see this as a tragedy; moreso for his family than for him. He left a young child fatherless, and all because he couldn’t keep his meds right. If this were any other person than the guy who played the Joker and mumbled through “Brokeback Mountain,” we’d probably be nominating him for a Darwin Award right about now.
Anti-Freeze: Develop the posthumous ability to go back in time and read some pharmacology textbooks that might’ve clued you in to the fact that mixing OxyContin, hydrocodone, Valium, temazepam, Xanax and doxylamine wasn’t a wise movie. Hell, go ahead and lend them to River Phoenix while you’re at it.
2. “Star Wars”
It used to be popular to utter the phrase “Star Trek is dead.” Heck, the San Diego Comic Con hosted panels with passionate Trekkers discussing that very issue. But a new age is upon us… where optimism or Obamatism is in the air. Fans are fickle, but now more than ever they are more excited about boldly going as they steer clear of that galaxy far, far away. I mean, have you seen that new “Star Trek” trailer?! We remember when it was actually “cool” to wear a “Star Wars” t-shirt and “uncool” to glue on Vulcan ears. How the times have changed. Let’s face it, “Star Wars” is dead.
The reasons for the demise of “Star Wars” may be numerous, but it really comes down to three prequel films that are not only awful in retrospect, they make the original three look worse knowing the full back story. It doesn’t help that George Lucas and company continue to deliver things the fans never really asked for or don’t care about. If you are still a “Star Wars” fan you can look forward to more merchandise, the CG animated “Clone Wars” TV show, all the movies in IMAX 3-D and an upcoming live-action show featuring all-new characters instead of the ones fans know and love. As one wise LOLcat once said, “Do not want!”
Even more embarrassing are the Lucasfilm presentations each year at Comic Con which reveal exciting news such as upcoming video games or, sadly, the logo for a new division of the Lucas Empire. Whu-? Really? Hey, George, can we just have more “Star Wars” movies? But can you make them good this time around?
Anti-Freeze: Like anything dead in sci-fi or fantasy, a resurrection is always on the horizon as long as there is a fan base willing to spend money. So, George, if you really like money and you want to reinvigorate your ailing franchise, just give the fans what they want. Give them that final “Star Wars” trilogy you promised back in 1980 featuring an older, wiser Luke Skywalker played by Mark Hamill. Give us “Star Wars Episodes VII, VIII and IX”… just not written or directed by you.
3. Katherine Heigl
Twice in a row, she went out of her way to trash the writers who pen acclaimed material for her. While promoting “27 Dresses” last January, she criticized “Knocked Up” as sexist because the women (she and Leslie Mann) were emotional and, uh, three-dimensional, while Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd got to make dick and fart jokes.
Then she publicly withdrew her name from the Emmy nomination list because she felt that the “Grey’s Anatomy” writers didn’t measure up and thus her fourth season material wasn’t worthy. Her next big role is in the latest from “Legally Blonde” director Robert Luketic, but then the horizon appears completely empty. If she’s got anything booked, she’s not sharing.
Anti-Freeze: It’s so simple it’s cliché, but if she doesn’t have anything nice to say, and she wants to keep working, she might want to shut up.
4. Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
Arguably the worst thing to happen to cinema, Friedberg and Seltzer have done little in their short time as “writer/directors” save destroy the minds of all who come in contact with their “Date/Epic/Disaster Movies.” An hour with Carrot Top will lead to more fun that 5 minutes with one of the films these two knuckleheads are involved with, and with only minor brain damage.
We were as skeptical as anyone that the American movie-going audience, usually so sober and well-informed in their choices, would ever tire of the monotonous stream of obvious movie gags and appearances by a fully-clothed Carmen Electra, but the dismal showing of “Disaster Movie” at the box office gave us more hope than a hundred Obama posters.
Anti-Freeze: We’re not falling for that one. Even if we knew a way two talentless, mouth-breathing hacks could turn their undeserving career around, we wouldn’t tell them.
5. Carmen Electra
Mindless tits and a*s have their place in society, but her body has been duping people into paying for s**t cinema for far too long, and it’s not even as if folks are paying to see her naked!
We’re not saying the only good Carmen Electra is a naked Carmen Electra (okay, maybe we are), but how bad is it when Pamela Anderson is making more informed, and memorable, career decisions? We’re sure Carmen can act, she convinced Dennis Rodman to marry her once, but we wish she’d have stayed in that carnival and not crossed over into ours.
Anti-Freeze: No more movies with the word “Movie” in the title.
6. Al Pacino
Want to ascend to the dizzying heights of movie-watching nirvana and plummet to its Cyclopean depths all in the space of a single afternoon? Host a back-to-back viewing of the just-released Blu-ray “The Godfather II” and 2008’s “88 Minutes.” For added pathos, tack a screening of “Cruising” on to that and marvel at how it’s actually better than anything Pacino has made in the last 10 years.
“Scent of a Woman” was one thing, but this is the scent of a has-been holding on to a perch that he should’ve let gracefully go of a long, long time ago. Sorry, Al, but we’ll get our bug-eyed “performances” punctuated by random shouting elsewhere from now on.
Anti-Freeze: Embrace his incipient elderly status and pitch an updated “Matlock.”
7. Robert De Niro
“What just happened?” He just shat on his rapidly diminishing legacy for the 50th time since winning Best Actor (for “Raging Bull,” a creative millennium ago). Everybody said how great it was he was getting together with Pacino again after teaming up in “Heat,” conveniently forgetting that one of the things that made “Heat” so effective was the fact they were only in one scene together. 100 minutes of Pacino’s garrulous sarcasm and his tiresome “intensity” is more than enough.
And what’s worse, we’re not afraid of the guy anymore. In the days of “Mean Streets” or “Goodfellas,” we wouldn’t be caught saying s**t about the guy for fear of him showing up to our house with a shovel and forcing us to bury our own graves in the backyard. Now the only fear is that he’ll deliver a candygram to our house while dressed as Fearless Leader from “Rocky and Bullwinkle.” Why that’s still scary, just not in the way where we’re, you know, respectful too.
Anti-Freeze: Retire before he starts making “We’re No Angels” sequels.
8. Justin Timberlake
The good news is that he can act. Yes, he can! JT is more than just a dancing, singing sex machine with a Timbaland entourage of beats behind him, and anyone who saw his turn as the host of the 2008 Espy Awards knows it.
The bad news is that he is acting in films that no one is paying to see: “Alpha Dog,” “Southland Tales,” “Black Snake Moan,” “The Love Guru” – he’s not under the radar, he’s nowhere near the radar!
Anti-Freeze: “Dick in a Box: The Movie.” Will not only save his career, but maybe redeem “movies based on SNL skits” too.
9. Jessica Alba
Alba’s a perennial fixture on the Frigid 50, though each year we hope she’ll find her way off the list. As recently as 2006, we recommended that she keep her clothes on and try to develop her acting. Her response was “Good Luck Chuck,” “The Eye” and “The Love Guru.”
We have now reversed out position, and are calling for full frontal.
Anti-Freeze: Does Vincent Gallo have anything in the works?
You made “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” #1 for two weeks. You’re the reason we have to be frisked when we go to a movie to make sure we’re not smuggling in cameras. You bring toddlers to a 10pm screening of “The Hills Have Eyes.” You show up late to the movie, then loudly ask questions about s**t you missed because you couldn’t be bothered to leave the house five minutes early.
You spend more money to see a talking zebra than you do on documentaries about your own f*****g government. Your complete willingness to bend over and spread your cheeks for the movie studios is why Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer continue to have careers.
Anti-Freeze: Kill yourselves.
The list continues in part three of FILM THREAT’S FRIGID 50: THE COLDEST PEOPLE IN HOLLYWOOD 2008>>>