Impressed by GOOD acting in a bad film?

There have been few episodes that I’ve watched where an actor has made me laugh not because they’ve said something funny or riffable, but rather because their performance seems too good compared to the rest of the film they are in.

It is subjective, of course.

Sometimes it is subtle, like the brass salesman in Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II, who impressed me in a way that I can’t quite articulate. Other times, it is like the navy officer (not one of the main cast) in Atlantic Rim giving very straightforward, non-dramatic orders in a clear, confident way that just makes me think he must have been hired because he was a real-life admiral or something.

Has anyone else reacted similarly to good acting in a bad movie?

8 Likes

Occasionally, that does strike me. Sometimes it’s that all the acting is good, it’s just that the premise is terrible. Like the RiffTrax Giant from the Unknown. Or in The Killer Shrews how everyone but one guy acted well.

3 Likes

Space Travelers. Sure, the movie was poorly written and horribly paced, but it’s an embarrassment of riches in terms of acting talent. Not sure if there is another ep with more Oscar & Emmy winners and nominees.

Even when Gene Hackman or Gregory Peck phone it in, they’re still a cut far above the standard level of acting we normally see in experiments.

10 Likes

Jeremy Irons in… well, everything.

And he’s made a LOT of bad movie choices.

7 Likes

Jeremy Irons is indeed great, but his Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias was really off the mark.

Nothing wrong with his performance at all. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t feel true to the character. And for that, I blame Damon Lindelof. Why can’t Hollywood get this character right?

3 Likes

Here’s an interesting perspective from both of them:

I haven’t seen the HBO show… is it any good? I loved the movie, it was just about the best adaption that could have ever been made from that source material in a movie length.

Snyder was perfect for the Watchmen world. However, I’d like to STRANGLE whatever idiot at WB thought that would translate to the main DC universe… DC characters are NOT supposed to be “grimdark”!!! Snyder was WRONG for DCEU in every conceivable way!

4 Likes

The series in a nutshell? Fan-fic. Very good fan-fic, but fan-fic nonetheless. Fan-fic that extends a story that the original author meant to be self-contained.

Lindelof is clearly a fan of the source material. And I agree with just about everything he says here about Veidt:

"This was my favorite character in the original Watchmen , a thousand percent,” says Lindelof. “I had so many contradicting feelings to him and about him, that could only be worked out through trying to write him. He was both a philanthropist and a sociopath, apparently. I always wondered if he was asexual. He’s such a good-looking guy, but he doesn’t seem to be attracted to people of either gender, or even talk about things in sexual terms. His obsession with Alexander the Great was completely and utterly fascinating. But more importantly, in every single frame of the original Watchmen , this guy is in complete and total control — every single frame. What would it look like if this guy was a little bit out of control, if he was spinning out of control? I wanted to tell that story.”

I just didn’t care for his story (at least, with regard to Adrian). Again, Irons is great with the material he is given, but the characterization itself (from Lindelof) just didn’t “hit” for me. It didn’t feel like it was Adrian Veidt.

That said, the series had excellent performances all around.

4 Likes

Eric Roberts deserves an award; he’ll pretty much say Yes to everything and somehow, still manage to be the best thing in the film. He just manages to channel enthusiasm and appear to be having a blast with every part he plays–the fun he has in a career where you essentially are getting paid to make-believe really comes through, and I gotta respect that.

6 Likes

That is so jarring, when one actor is good. I don’t remember any off the top of my head, but I’ll keep an eye out. I know there are some more great examples of this.

5 Likes

I’m not terribly familiar with Eric Roberts’ body of work – I know him only for a couple things – but I have a hard time reconciling this with his work in A Talking Cat?!

I would sure like to know the story of how/why he did that. It’s all good in the end since that’s such a gem, but still the question lingers.

5 Likes

Yeah, he has acted in a whole gambit, from talking pet films to student films to more mainstream productions. Still always has a blast and gives his A game, no matter how dumb the film is. It’s just cool to see someone who seems to genuinely enjoy doing his craft and always commits and appears to respect the content.

4 Likes

Wow, are we talking about the same Eric Roberts from A Talking Cat?!? One of the Rifftrax riffs on that film sums his performance perfectly in my opinion - “I’m gonna go be more aloof over here”

I love that film though, and his performance (or lack thereof) regardless - I named my cat Erica Roberta in his honour :+1:

5 Likes

You can take this with a grain of salt, I guess, since I’ve had a BIG crush on Peter Graves since I was 14, but I’ve always thought he gave even his B-movie roles his best. He never just phoned it in. He and Beverly Garland are EXCELLENT in It Conquered the World, even though the movie bites it big.

14 Likes

Lee Van Cleef, too. For all of Roger Corman’s shortcomings as an actual creator of films, he knew talent when he saw it.

12 Likes

Last month I got HBOMax and watched Scanners, one of my favorite sci fi movies featuring a young Michael Ironside. The whole movie feels like an improv troop decided to do a sci-fi movie as a goof. Sorry, great story, but some horrible acting. However, Ironside just acts the hell out of each scene. He just seems natural relaxed and able to flip a switch when needed, definitely a sign of what a talented actor he would become.

4 Likes

Beverly Garland in Gunslinger. In fact, most of that cast turns in solid performances; I think that movie’s deficiencies are due to Corman’s accelerated approach to filmmaking .

12 Likes

Yeah, Beverly Garland brings it. I have no doubt Peter Graves, who is fine, was happy to get a big speech at the end of his movies, Beverly brings a lot of passion and life to otherwise listless movies.

11 Likes

Patrick Stewart in David Lynch’s Dune is a masterclass in just how much an actor can bring to a role. As scripted, his character is just as vague as everyone else in the film (which especially hurts because the book is so great), but his natural magnetism still leaves you hanging on his every word.

12 Likes

Going back to MST3K movies, Bruno VeSota is terrific in every role and he’s in five experiments. He’s a really good actor. His weight kept him from getting good roles.

9 Likes

I came here to say Gene Hackman and Gregory Peck in Space Travelers, glad to see that it’s already been covered.

I’ll also give props to Joyce Meadows as Carrie in The Girl in Lovers Lane. She really got me to invest emotionally in her character.

Also, as I’ve said elsewhere, I really like what Peter Breck does as Mooney in The Beatniks. I don’t know if you could honestly consider that GOOD acting, but he gets the job done.

9 Likes