At some point in their career, every actor has a movie that they are ashamed of. For George Clooney, it was Batman and Robin. For Halle Berry, it was Catwoman. For Ben Affleck, it was Gigli. Or maybe it was Jersey Girl. Or maybe Daredevil (A lot of bad superhero movies out there, apparently!). Most actors aren’t just limited to one bad film, either. Plenty of big stars have a whole back catalogue of cringeworthy roles that they are hoping everyone will forget.
Now, Al Pacino is one of the greatest actors who ever lived, and certainly one of the best to ever grace the silver screen. From The Godfather to Serpico to Glengarry Glen Ross, you would be hard-pressed to find another actor with as many great films to his name as Al Pacino. However, at some point in the ’90s, Al Pacino took a turn for the worse. Despite a few respectable turns here and there (such as Insomnia and You Don’t Know Jack), Pacino has largely turned into a parody of his former self, often finding roles in which he can chew the scenery in an over-the-top manner.
So here, we take a look at his most embarrassing mistakes, bad films, and the characters that are better off forgotten with this list of All Pacino’s 10 Most Embarrassing Performances.
10. Simone (2002)
What do you do when the star of a film walks off set? If you are director Viktor Taransky (Al Pacino), you simply create a new one using CGI. Simone (also written S1m0ne for some reason) starts with this decision, and as the fictional Simone (Rachel Roberts) becomes an acting and singing sensation, Taransky finds it harder and harder to admit she isn’t real. Even to himself.
Unusual for Pacino, Simone is a comedy, and a surprisingly funny one at that. The premise, while occasionally lacking in plausibility, is intriguing and asks some serious questions about the use of CGI. Unfortunately, the film fails in its main aim of hard-hitting satire about the film industry itself. Still a reasonable watch, Simone definitely failed to prove its point.
9. The Recruit (2003)
Despite the number of twists and turns that the plot of The Recruit takes, its biggest flaw is that the ending is still too predictable. Al Pacino stars alongside Colin Farrell as CIA agent and new recruit. The two become embroiled in layers of secrecy and conspiracy as Farrell’s James Clayton has to try and establish who the enemy within the CIA is.
Intended as a taut espionage thriller, the film received very mixed reviews. While some appreciated it as a spy thriller, a lot of viewers found its twists unsurprising. Too many sub-plots build up and become distracting, while other character’s stories aren’t resolved by the end. Overall, a forgettable action flick.
8. People I Know (2002)
This depressing thriller centers on a New York publicist with one client and a drug problem, who ends up embroiled in both a murder and political scandal. Pacino’s Eli Wurman struggles to understand what happened on a night in an opium den, while simultaneously attempting to put together a fundraising event for a client.
The film was widely criticized for being derivative, and poorly thought out, despite its incredible cast (Kim Basinger also stars as the widow of Eli’s brother). Some found praiseworthy moments, especially in Pacino’s performance. However, overall it’s a scattered attempt to include too many plot points in a political thriller that failed to really engage the audience.
7. Two For The Money (2005)
A sports drama (just to mix things up), Two For The Money stars Pacino as slick gambling tycoon Walter. He stars alongside Matthew McConaughey as a football player who suffers a career-ending injury, and comes to work for Walter picking bets. What follows is a predictable trip through the highs and lows of professional gambling, from the high-end lifestyle to the dire consequences of failing to win.
Despite the interesting premise, the film relied too heavily on clichés and failed to finish well. The ending, in particular, drew heavy criticism for being too much of a feel-good cop out, and the movie ended up feeling uninspired. One point of criticism was Pacino’s performance, which involved a lot of shouting and swearing, but not a lot of nuance.
6. Bobby Deerfield (1977)
A young Pacino plays the titular character in this romantic drama about a racecar driver and a terminally ill woman. Despite a great performance by Pacino (and one that earned him a Golden Globe nomination), the film itself is trite and melodramatic.
Deerfield is the ultimate cliché of a racer: devil-may-care and surrounded by fast cars and fast women. However, when he meets the “right” woman, he falls in love and changes his priorities, before learning that she is dying. It’s a banal concept that relies too heavily on the terminally-ill angle, and there is little about the direction or cinematography to balance out the plot. Schmaltzy with a few too many forced “artistic” elements, it’s one of the few misfires from the earlier part of Pacino’s career.
5. Righteous Kill (2008)
A painfully formulaic crime drama co-stars Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro as Rooster and Turk, two NYC detectives after a serial killer. Despite the incredible star power of these two actors, the movie as a whole falls flat. The two run around NYC simultaneously trying to find the vigilante killer targeting criminals who got away, and investigating the men that their suspect is targeting.
It should have been a classic thriller, and it ticks all those crime-drama boxes that usually go over so well with audiences. However, it is just too cliché to be truly enjoyable, and critics complained that it felt soulless and overly slick. Pacino and De Niro, who previously teamed up in the classic Michael Mann film Heat, seemed like they were trying to recapture that magic, but it just didn’t work thirteen years later.
4. The Son of No One (2011)
In this R-rated cop drama, Channing Tatum stars as Jonathan White, a young police officer hiding a terrible secret. As someone starts to leak the truth about his criminal past, White has to deal with the fall out, while watching his world fall apart. Al Pacino is Detective Stanford, the cop who originally orchestrated the cover up for White.
Despite having an incredible cast (Tracy Morgan, Katie Holmes, and Ray Liotta also starred), The Son Of No One falls short of its potential, with critics taking issue with essentially everything but the cast. It’s melodramatic, yet lacks the build-up for the final scene to really have the punch we want. Messy, badly written and poorly directed, this is definitely a film to forget.
3. 88 Minutes (2007)
Another overly formulaic cop drama that falls flat, Al Pacino stars in 88 Minutes as Jack Gramm, a forensic psychologist and college professor who appears to be being hunted down for helping to put away a serial killer. He gets a frightening phone call telling him that he has on eighty-eight minutes to live, and has to try and save himself. At the same time, a copycat killer appears, and he attempts to hunt the perpetrator down at the same time.
Stuffed with red herrings, overly dramatic moments and plot holes, this is a travesty of a crime drama. Pacino himself gives one of his worst performances, insincere and lazy. One of the only reasons to watch is to see his hair, which is in a towering bouffant and brings a note of hilarity to the proceedings.
2. Gigli (2003)
A truly awful attempt at a kidnap flick, this painfully forgettable action film stars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez as a bumbling hitman and a lesbian career criminal. The two are sent to kidnap the mentally challenged brother of a federal prosecutor to keep a mob boss out of prison. It’s as convoluted and unsubtle as it sounds, and Affleck and Lopez somehow manage to have no chemistry, despite being in a relationship in real life.
Pacino comes in as Starkman, the mob boss who is headed for jail if Gigli and Ricki don’t pull this off. It’s a bit part, something that Pacino is no doubt glad, because he spends most of the time screaming at the two incompetent kidnappers. Pacino is on familiar ground as a mob boss, but the film as a whole is appalling, with the critical reception to match.
1. Jack and Jill (2011)
Once a darling of blunt comedy, Adam Sandler continues to prove how the mighty can fall with this appalling attempt to find humor by dressing up in drag to play one half of a pair of twins. Sandler stars as both Jack and Jill, siblings with very different lives who are stuck together in LA during the run-up to Hanukkah. Pacino stars as himself, but himself going off the deep end as an actor and confusing real life with the roles that he plays.
The three characters come together for forced and offensive gags, a thin plot, and a whole lot of predictable shenanigans. Pacino may actually be the one bright spot in this appalling excuse for a comedy, but not even he can make this a film worth watching.
Did we miss any really terribly Pacino performances? Let us know in the comments!