Sometimes, even amazing, talented actors are capable of giving unconvincing or utterly uninspiring performances. Other times, they fall victim to wretched writing or terribly trite characterization, or they simply don’t mesh well with their dramatic surroundings.
Once in awhile, a performance can be so bad, or so off, that it drags the entire film down with it. This list is for those performances— with a specific caveat. We’re looking at terrible performances in Netflix original movies specifically.
Why? Well, partly because we think it’s interesting that, while Netflix has had great success in the television department, they haven’t exactly duplicated that success with their original films. Sure, not every Netflix original can be as all around riveting as Beasts of No Nation, or feature a stellar breakout performance like that of Jessica Williams in The Incredible Jessica James.
However, it does seem as though there have been tons of crappy Netflix original movies— and a great many incredible actors who have totally stunk it up in them. Whether the performance was way off, or the role was miscast, we compiled a list of the absolute worst cinematic performances the streaming service has seen.
Thus, here are the 15 Terrible Performances That Ruined Netflix Movies.
15. Jason Segel – The Discovery
Don’t get us wrong— we love Jason Segel. He was amazing on Freaks and Geeks, as Marshall on HIMYM, and he was a revelation as David Foster Wallace in The End of the Tour. However, in The Discovery, he just feels flat and out of place.
The film itself has a fairly interesting premise: Segel plays Will Harbor, whose father (played by Robert Redford) has not only discovered proof that there is an afterlife, but also invents a machine capable of recording what the deceased see during said afterlife. This sounds cool, until we learn that this has led to a mega increased suicide rate.
The film is about Will’s struggle to determine how to handle this afterlife machine and all that goes with it, but Segel fails to disappear into this character the way he has with other characters in the past, and thus, watching The Discovery wasn’t really much of a discovery at all.
14. Bob Odenkirk – Girlfriend’s Day
It almost feels sacrilegious, saying that the man who brought us Mr. Show and who brought Saul Goodman to life is capable of giving a bad performance. Yet, Girlfriend’s Day exists. As Ray, the greeting card writer with nothing but tough luck, Odenkirk simply doesn’t register, and he gets upstaged by every supporting player around him.
We don’t mean to be so hard on Odenkirk, but the cast is full of aces (Amber Tamblyn and Alex Karpovsky are standouts) and the plot, at least on paper, has loads of potential.
Odenkirk’s Ray, whose career as a greeting card writer has all but dissipated, gets involved in some risky business when he enters a competition to create the best greeting card for a new holiday, Girlfriend’s Day.
The film should be comedy gold, but the leading man meanders a bit too much, and we never felt like we were watching Ray Wentworth, greeting card writer. It felt more like we were watching Bob Odenkirk be Bob Odenkirk.
13. Kevin James – True Memoirs of an International Assassin
If we’re being real, this script and James’ character most likely couldn’t have been saved by any actor (maybe Edward Norton?) but casting Paul Blart/The King of Queens in the lead role doomed this flick from the get-go.
James plays Sam, an author who whose fictional novel about an assassin gets altered by his publisher into a nonfiction account.
(Non-)Hilarity ensues when Sam is mistaken for the assassin in his book and is kidnapped by multiple ridiculously clichéd bad guys who attempt to convince him to utilize his amazing assassin skills to off their enemies. Um… yeah– Leon The Professional, he is not.
At this point, we’re not sure it’s a good idea to cast James in anything, as he has failed to display any kind of evolution as an actor (even Adam Sandler has Punch Drunk Love and the recently filmed upcoming Meyerowitz Stories to his credit, which looks promising). Trust us: there’s nothing memorable about these memoirs.
12. Bella Thorne – You Get Me
Sure, this flick isn’t going to be winning any major awards (unless MTV throws it a few way undeserving bones) but it could have been campy scary in the same vein as Riverdale… except that, unlike Riverdale, this film wasn’t cast perfectly.
To be fair, Bella Thorne is given just a few notes to play here—there’s only so much you can do with the “jilted ex” role. However, Jennifer Jason Leigh did a lot more with very similar material in Single White Female (which was also a dud, but Leigh was fantastic in it), whereas Thorne just plays the same note over and over again until the audience loses its collective mind.
To stay aboard the Riverdale train for a moment— it’s pretty easy to see either of its leads, whether it be Camila Mendes’ bad girl Veronica or Lili Reinhart’s good-girl-with-a-dark-side Betty— stepping into Thorne’s role here and doing much more with it. We’ll chalk it up to bad casting.
11. Chloe Grace Moretz – Brain on Fire
Chloe Grace Moretz gives grade-A performances in nearly everything she’s in. In Brain on Fire, however, she’s way off key as a writer who comes down with a serious yet mysterious condition.
When her character, Susannah, begins hearing odd voices and experiencing unusual symptoms that drastically affect her moods and behavior, we should feel more as an audience. However, instead, the film feels more like a Lifetime movie dressing up as an award show contender, and Moretz’s performance is a primary reason why.
There’s not much subtlety from Moretz here; Susannah feels like a flat, one-note character who has these inexplicable outbursts of mania— there are no layers or depth of her character explored other than: this girl has a weird condition that makes her turn into Linda Blair running up the staircase from time to time.
Moretz also overacts throughout, which can be distracting and can detract meaning from a very serious situation. We can’t help but be curious as to what another actress (Bex Taylor-Klaus, perhaps?) could have brought to the role.
10. Donnie Yen – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny
First things first: Donnie Yen is amazing. We love him in nearly everything he’s in, and we will never be over him in Rogue One— like, ever. However, can we just ask: why was this sequel made again? From the Land of the Unnecessary Sequels comes Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, and not even Donnie Yen can save it.
In fact, after Chow Yun-Fat’s brilliant turn as Master Li in the original film, Yen’s presence only serves as a constant reminder that we’re watching a much lesser film– and Yen can’t fill the gaping void left by Yun-Fat’s absence.
The first Crouching Tiger was propelled by Yun-Fat’s performance, and the incredible chemistry he had with Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh). So why would we want to see some other guy enter the picture years down the road who also once loved Shu Lien?
9. Vinessa Shaw – Clinical
In Shaw’s defense, this script isn’t the best, and Clinical seems to care more about throwing in you-didn’t-see-it-coming twists than it does about giving its audience full and rich characters.
However, as a psychiatrist who gets attacked by one of her patients and immediately gets involved with a potentially even more dangerous patient, Shaw swings and misses throughout the entire film.
Clinical delves into psychological horror territory, and while Shaw is a talented and capable actor, we can’t help but think she was miscast here.
There are a lot of flashbacks and did-you-see-it-or-didn’t-you visions in this one, and Shaw is never as compelling as she needs to be to make them believable or interesting. More often than not, she seems as lost as her character— and the audience is right there with them both.
8. Bill Milner – Iboy
Here’s the thing. When you star in a film opposite Maisie Williams, you have to be incredible, because while she’s tiny, Williams is quite the heavyweight performer.
We don’t mean to pick on Bill Milner—he’s a fine young actor. But when we heard that Will Poulter was originally cast in this role but had to drop out due to a scheduling conflict, well…we couldn’t help but wonder what might have been.
Milner never feels right in the role of Tom Harvey/iBoy, a teenager who gets shot in the head while trying to help his friend Lucy (Williams) who was raped and attacked. The film is centered on Tom’s vigilantism, which is largely why Milner feels miscast.
Tom survives his shooting, and goes on to punish those who attacked he and Lucy, which we never quite buy. Milner does bring some nuance, but he also brings a lot of raised eyebrows that distract from the film.
7. Marlon Wayans – Naked
We blame Wayans for taking this role in the first place. When the primary plotline features your character stuck in a time loop while running around butt naked. The film itself is as one-note as one-note comedies get.
On his wedding day, Wayans’ character Rob wakes up 100% naked in an elevator with no recollection as to how he got there. At the sound of church bells, he gets tossed back an hour in time and becomes stuck in a nudist time warp of sorts. Yeah, it’s as weird as it sounds.
Wayans, a gifted comedian, doesn’t do much to help himself here. Sure, this is no Groundhog Day, but at least in that film, Murray milked the material for all it was worth, and here— Wayans pretty much literally runs around and talks animatedly. The naked truth? This flick isn’t worth seeing.
6. Jane Lynch and Chris O’Dowd – Mascots
Christopher Guest’s films usually hit way more than they miss. That was not the case with Mascots, his 2016 Netflix original. Imagine our surprise to find that not one, but two actors we love were a large part of why Mascots is an eye-roll inducing, boring, and uneven film.
O’Dowd plays Tommy, the “bad boy” of mascots whose character is basically a really large foam fist. We love O’Dowd’s humor and delivery, and perhaps that’s why we were a little disappointed when Tommy’s self-proclaimed bad boy wasn’t entertaining at all.
Lynch, a veteran of Guest’s troupe, has never turned in a bad performance in one of his films—until this one. Lynch’s mascot-turned-judge, Gabby Monkhouse, is more than a little resentful after an injury forced her into an early retirement.
5. Taylor Lautner – The Ridiculous 6
Not that any performances in The Ridiculous 6 were revolutionary— this film is notoriously bad in every way. But some performances are worse than others, and unfortunately, Jacob from Twilight hasn’t exactly evolved acting wise—at least if roles like this are any kinds of indicator.
Lautner plays Lil Pete, perhaps the most one-dimensional country bumpkin type ever seen onscreen. In a film full of grating performances, Lautner’s is arguably the worst and most difficult to watch.
Whether he’s trying to figure out how to eat ice cream or discussing the merit of having sex with cantaloupes, Lil Pete is never entertaining, and always head-shakingly stupid, gross, or unnecessarily offensive.
4. Henry Cavill – Sand Castle
Nicholas Hoult is great in this war drama set in Iraq in 2003. Cavill, however, as the buff leader of a Special Forces unit, Captain Syverson, is way over the top, and the film suffers whenever he enters a scene.
While the film features several young actors who give fully realized, subtle performances, (Hoult, Logan Marshall-Green, and Glen Powell are all excellent) Cavill shows up all gruff and over-the-top and begins gnawing on and spitting out scenes as though they were his favorite chewing tobacco.
In a film that focuses on issues like the importance and difficulty that comes with getting fresh drinking water to Iraqi villages, it can be more than a tad bit distracting when one of the film’s main characters detracts from the film’s seriousness by being a gravelly, idiotic bully every time he’s onscreen.
3. Josh Peck – Take the 10
Peck has been in the news recently concerning drama over his former Drake and Josh costar Drake Bell, who complained on social media about not being invited to Peck’s wedding. Turns out, this drama was way more interesting than anything Peck has done creatively this calendar year.
In Take the 10, Peck plays Chris, a cashier a Wholesome Foods, whose best friend and fellow cashier Chester owes the grocery store manager some major money. Chris, who just wants to take his super hot gf to a hip hop concert, ends up getting in way over his head when he gets involved with a drug dealer in order to ascertain some funds.
Peck isn’t helped by the plot, but he also does the film no favors by being bland as day old waffles. He possesses zero charisma, and when the leading man/leading lady has no charm or verve, the film suffers majorly—and that’s what happened here.
2. Ricky Gervais – Special Correspondents
Ricky Gervais, who also wrote and directed this dud, didn’t show much of the genius here that we saw him display on Extras or The Office.
Failing completely to put a fresh or originally satirical spin on journalism or the news media, Gervais plays Ian Finch, a bumbling radio employee who gets assigned to cover a story about a rebel uprising in Ecuador. Co-starring Eric Bana and America Ferrera in roles that clearly outshine his, Gervais brings absolutely nothing to his role, other than a very irksome presence.
In fact, with Kelly Macdonald and Vera Farmiga rounding out the very solid supporting cast, Gervais only serves to annoy when he’s onscreen—the film is clearly better when he’s not in it. He would have been better off hosting another award show.
1. David Spade – The Do-Over
David Spade has never been a quality actor, nor has he ever proven to be a stellar comedic leading man. And yet, he keeps showing up in movies produced and/or directed by his friends, and he keeps turning in gut wrenchingly bad performances. His work in The Do-Over is no different.
Spade plays Charlie, a bank manager who totally hates his life, dude. He runs into his old friend Max (Adam Sandler, who, let’s be real, is no Brando either) at a high school reunion, and the two party on a yacht, drinking and reminiscing. Seemingly out of nowhere, Max decides to blow the yacht up so the two can—wait for it—fake their deaths and start their lives afresh and anew.
What ensues isn’t two comedians at the top of their respective games— it’s Sandler being Sandler and Spade being Spade— and Spade is definitely more annoying here. We wonder if these guys might take the title of this one literally and try again? It couldn’t be much worse than this mess.
What do you think? What terrible performances in Netflix original movies did we miss? Let us know in the comments!
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