Saturday Night Live started off as an anti-establishment comedy program, and then went on to become an institution. For more than forty years, it has served as a launching pad for talented comedians. Some of the biggest names in comedy first came to the public’s attention as SNL cast members. John Belushi, Kristen Wiig, Amy Poehler, Jason Sudeikis, Adam Sandler…we could keep going all day. Many of the show’s veterans went on to star in movies after leaving Studio 8H at 30 Rock. Some of them made classics. (Think Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd in Ghostbusters, or Will Ferrell in Anchorman.) But for every classic, there are about three or four complete duds.
We have no doubt that Dana Carvey would like you to forget Opportunity Knocks (if you haven’t already), that Murphy regrets making The Adventures of Pluto Nash, or that Chevy Chase rues the day he agreed to appear in Caddyshack II. What follows is a list of the absolute worst movies starring SNL alumni. We’re sticking with the ones where they were the lead, as opposed to those in which they had small supporting roles or cameos. These are shamefully unfunny movies made by some very funny people.
These are the 15 Worst Movies Starring SNL Cast Members.
15. The Love Guru
Mike Myers struck cinematic gold with his SNL-spinoff Wayne’s World and the Austin Powers pictures. They were hilariously funny movies that audiences loved. He pushed his luck too far with The Love Guru, though. Released in 2008, it turned out to be a box office flop, as well as a critical punching bag. Myers plays an Indian guru named Pitka who tries to help a hockey star (Romany Malco) struggling to play after his wife leaves him for his rival (Justin Timberlake).
Roger Ebert used to say that giving movie characters funny names was a sign of desperation. Working overtime to prove that point, The Love Guru has supporting characters with names like “Tugginmypudha” and “Suchabigknoba.” The jokes, like those names, are often focused on male genitalia. For a movie that runs only ninety minutes, it’s astonishing how many gags of that nature are in here. It’s safe to say that Pitka is no Wayne, and he’s certainly no Austin Powers. He’s a one-note character spouting lame catchphrases in a film that fails to generate so much as a single honest laugh. The Love Guru bombed so hard that Myers hasn’t starred in a live-action movie since.
14. Corky Romano
Chris Kattan made a name for himself on Saturday Night Live with bizarre, manic characters such as Mr. Peepers and Mango. The comedian had an overflow of energy and was fearless in committing to these personas, making him one of the standouts in the cast. You just never knew what he would deliver. Hollywood came calling, giving Kattan the lead in the goofy comedy Corky Romano. He plays a mild-mannered veterinarian whose mobster family forces him to infiltrate the FBI and steal evidence that could prove incriminating to his father, a notorious Mafia boss.
The role puts the title character into a series of slapstick situations designed to showcase Kattan’s physical comedy skills. Unfortunately, it quickly becomes clear that his particular brand of zany humor is better suited to a four-minute sketch than to a ninety-minute feature. The same crazy energy that proved hilarious on SNL becomes oppressive and tiresome when stretched out to an hour-and-a-half. Corky Romano also wastes the talents of a great supporting cast, including Peter Falk, Richard Roundtree, and Fred Ward. It’s a irritating way to spend an hour-and-a-half.
13. The Ladies Man
Tim Meadows was what SNL creator Lorne Michaels calls a “utility player.” He was seldom the star of a sketch, but you could stick him into anything and he would do solid work. There was one exception. He came front-and-center in a popular recurring bit in which he played Leon Phelps, a suave broadcaster who drank Courvoisier and doled out romantic advice to callers. That bit was successful enough to inspire a spin-off movie, The Ladies Man. It finds the character reaching out to his many ex-girlfriends, trying to figure out which one of them sent a letter offering to financially support him after he’s fired by the radio station where he works.
The entire premise of the skit was pretty thin, so it clearly needed to be stretched out for the big screen. Putting Phelps into a different and more elongated context, however, just makes it clear how one-dimensional he really is. There’s only so much of that smooth-talking, lustful vibe that you can take before it starts to feel repetitive. The Ladies Man never figures out how to give its hero any depth or variation, leading to a movie that is only tolerable if you’ve guzzled a bottle of Courvoisier yourself beforehand.
12. Tales From the Crypt Presents Bordello of Blood
Dennis Miller didn’t appear in too many sketches during his years on Saturday Night Live. He was more of a stand-up comedian than a sketch player, so he tended to stay comfortably behind the “Weekend Update” desk, delivering a snarky take on the news stories of the day. Miller’s fundamental lack of desire to act helps account for the poorness of Bordello of Blood, the second (and last) feature film based on HBO’s once-popular Tales from the Crypt series. He plays a private detective who ends up at a house of ill repute inhabited by vampires, including Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Angie Everhart.
Casting Miller was the idea of producer Joel Silver, who was a fan of his work. Miller didn’t want to do it, and agreed only if they’d pay him a million bucks. To his surprise, they did. This created two problems that impacted the movie’s quality. First, paying him so much took money away from the special effects budget, leading to an occasionally cheap look. Second, Miller reportedly insisted on writing his own dialogue, which ended up being perfectly suited to him and imperfectly suited to everything else. He’s not the only problem Bordello of Blood has, although he’s certainly a big one. Not surprisingly, Miller never took another lead role in a feature after this dud.
11. A Thousand Words
SNL made Eddie Murphy a superstar, and he almost single-handedly saved the show at a time when it had just gone through some unsuccessful transitions that nearly got it canceled. From there, he of course found phenomenal success in movies, delivering hit after hit after hit. By the 2000s, though, Murphy’s career cooled down, thanks to a string of mostly family-friendly pictures that failed to connect with audiences. That run culminated in what is probably his low point, A Thousand Words.
In it, he plays fast-talking literary agent Jack McCall. One day, Jack discovers a weird tree in his backyard. Every time he talks, one of the tree’s leaves falls off. He eventually realizes that once all the leaves are gone, he will no longer be able to speak at all. That means conserving his words and trying to find other ways of communicating with those around him. Eddie Murphy, by nature, is a verbally funny guy, so casting him in a role that doesn’t let him speak much was a mistake. Also, that story is really dopey. While perhaps not as familiar a title as some of the actor’s other flops, A Thousand Words has a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, with more than fifty critics weighing in on its lameness.
You might have forgotten that Jim Belushi was once a cast member on Saturday Night Live. He tended to live in the shadow of his brother John, who broke out in a big way as a member of the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players. That extended to movies, as well. Whereas John had blockbusters like National Lampoon’s Animal House and The Blues Brothers, Jim had forgettable fluff along the lines of Mr. Destiny, Curly Sue, and K-9. The actor plays Michael Dooley, a San Diego police detective who teams up with a drug-sniffing police dog called Jerry Lee to take down a major narcotics peddler. Jerry Lee has a destructive streak, leading him to comically frustrate his human partner.
Jim Belushi certainly has talent, but he lacks the sheer magnetism that made John one of those performers you couldn’t take your eyes off when he was onscreen. For that reason, he tended to get stuck in garbage like this. The premise of a dog run amok wears out its welcome pretty quickly, while the crime plot isn’t an exciting one. Making K-9 seem even worse in retrospect is that, a few months after its release, a much better cop-and-his-dog comedy — the Tom Hanks hit Turner & Hooch — came out. It executed the same formula with much more wit and style, once again leaving Jim in second place.
9. Loose Cannons
Loose Cannons sat on a studio shelf for a while before finally hitting theaters in February of 1990. It was pulled from release two weeks later, which should give you a strong indication of how lousy it is. Gene Hackman plays a tough-as-nails cop trying to track down a Nazi sex tape that allegedly features Adolf Hitler as a participant. (Are you laughing yet?) To do this, he’s forced to team up with a detective suffering from multiple personality disorder, played by Dan Aykroyd.
The movie, which clearly doesn’t understand multiple personality disorder in the least, thinks it’s funny to have Aykroyd launch into different “wacky” voices out of nowhere. The thing is, he was never the kind of comedian known for such manic humor. Robin Williams could have nailed it. Aykroyd’s style is too cerebral to make the admittedly awful material work. Incidentally, the comedian knew how bad Loose Cannons was. When leftover footage from it was found in a landfill and briefly believed to contain an actual murder, he quipped, “The movie should have been left in the landfill where it belongs.”
8. It’s Pat: The Movie
Like The Ladies Man, It’s Pat is based on a recurring SNL sketch. Julia Sweeney played an androgynous character named Pat, and the big joke of the skit was that no one could ever figure out whether Pat was a male or female, despite repeated efforts to elicit telling information. It really was one of the more well-known bits of that particular era on the show, which led to the misguided idea of building a movie around it. The story finds Pat engaged to a person named Chris, whose gender is also indeterminate, while simultaneously dealing with a psycho intent on figuring out Pat’s sex.
A short sketch can get away with revolving around a single repeating joke. Movies require a lot more, obviously. The gimmick of having people become perplexed over the character’s gender grows stale after a while, and you start to anticipate the punchline to every set-up before it arrives. The studio releasing It’s Pat figured that out after the film had already been completed. Knowing they had a world-class turkey on their hands, they dumped it into just 33 theaters for a week, where it earned an anemic $60,822.
7. Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser
David Spade is a very smart comedian with a knack for incisively taking down whatever target he sets his sights on. That’s why it’s so surprising that, in film, he has chosen time and again to play stupid characters in overly broad movies. It really hasn’t brought him a whole lot of success, at least not in his own starring vehicles. Certainly one of his cinematic low points is Joe Dirt, in which he plays the biggest redneck stereotype imaginable, but an even lower point is its sequel, Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser.
Does anyone really believe David Spade as a dumb redneck? Probably not. But that doesn’t stop him from indulging in every cliche imaginable, right down to the mullet. This sorry sequel drags Christopher Walken and Sugar Ray singer Mark McGrath into the swamp along with Spade for 106 laughless minutes of cheap jokes. How bad is Joe Dirt 2? Aside from its 0% Rotten Tomatoes rating, it bypassed theaters altogether, premiering on the Crackle video service. That’s how bad!
6. Oh! Heavenly Dog
Benji was a cute little dog who starred in a series of popular G-rated movies in the 1970s and ’80s. Someone then got the idea to team him up with Chevy Chase, a comedian not exactly known for kid-friendly work. The result was Oh! Heavenly Dog, one of the most bizarre movies of its decade. Chase, who famously left SNL after the first season, plays Benjamin Browning, a detective who is killed while working on a case. He goes to Heaven, where he’s told that he must return to Earth in order to solve his own murder. They send him back in the form of — you guessed it — a dog.
If pairing an edgy comic actor with a canine star who was beloved by children seems like a bad idea, you’re right. This reviled movie can’t decide what it wants to be. There are scenes of Benji doing adorable things like dialing a phone and flipping the pages of a day planner. Then there are icky moments like the one where Benjamin-as-Benji ogles Jane Seymour while she undresses before hopping in the bathtub with her. There’s also an offensive running gag about a “gay” dog who is obsessed with other pooches’ privates. Everything about Oh! Heavenly Dog is wildly misconceived.
5. The Master of Disguise
Dana Carvey is an all-time A-list cast member, but his luck on the silver screen was pretty bad. Wayne’s World aside, his forays in film brought about bombs like Opportunity Knocks, Clean Slate, and the especially abysmal The Master of Disguise. Given Carvey’s talent for creating wacky characters, the movie cast him as Pistachio Disguisey, a master disguise artist who uses his skills to fight a criminal mastermind. During the course of the story, he dresses up as everything from a turtle to a cherry pie.
You can tell from looking at it that The Master of Disguise was a troubled production. The feature itself runs only 70 minutes, followed by a full ten minutes of credits, outtakes, bloopers, and deleted scenes. With so much stuff cut out of the actual story, it’s no wonder the movie feels badly disjointed. Carvey may be a funny guy, but this shockingly insipid vehicle caused his career as a lead in movies to come to a screeching halt. His subsequent film roles over the last fifteen years have been cameos or voice work in animated fare.
4. Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
Can we all agree that Rob Schneider isn’t really that funny? His “copy machine guy” character is the one thing he’s done in his career that made any sort of impact. Everything else has been varying shades of atrocious. With a filmography that contains cinematic sludge like Grown Ups and The Benchwarmers, Schneider’s absolute nadir has to be Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. This sequel to the inexplicably successful Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo finds the titular character applying his trade in Europe. In other words, free vacation for the Rob-meister!
The movie is full of misogynist, racist, and homophobic humor. When it’s not being any of those things, which isn’t often, it traffics in bad-taste comedy that is utterly devoid of wit or imagination. After all, this is a picture where one character eats french fries that have fallen into a toilet. Now that we think about it, that particular bit is a fitting metaphor for the act of watching Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. It’s a bad idea, it leaves a terrible aftertaste, and you’d have to be crazy to do it.
3. That’s My Boy
Here’s a twofer! That’s My Boy, a movie so bad that it almost makes you want to gouge your own eyes out with a pair of scissors, has not one but two SNL vets headlining the act. Adam Sandler (who, if we’re being honest, could have filled this list all by himself) plays Donny, a guy who impregnated his smokin’ hot school teacher as a teenager and now has a grown son (Andy Samberg) who wants nothing to do with him. We know how he feels! Donny is a drunken louse with a knack for annoying everyone he encounters, namely the audience.
As if the statutory rape of a tween by a teacher isn’t offensive enough, That’s My Boy is packed to the rafters with juvenile gags about bodily fluids and sex. People who are overweight or gay are frequently the butt of jokes, too. Perhaps worst of all is a scene at the end that attempts to earn yuks through the knee-slapping subject of incest. Because what could be funnier? (Hint: literally anything.) Perhaps the only thing here that elicits a chuckle is a moment in which it is revealed that Samberg’s character has a back tattoo of New Kids on the Block. Otherwise, crickets all the way.
2. Revenge of the Red Baron
Laraine Newman was one of the original Saturday Night Live cast members. Even though she never quite became the star that Gilda Radner and Jane Curtain did, she has worked steadily ever since. In 1994, Newman appeared in a movie called Revenge of the Red Baron that’s so awful you may not believe your eyes. It’s the story of a little boy (a pre-fame Tobey Maguire) whose doll and toy plane are inhabited by the spirit of the Red Baron. It begins flying around, killing people. Only the boy’s grandfather (Mickey Rooney) can help. After all, he’s the one who shot down the Red Baron during WWI. Newman, meanwhile, plays the hapless mom who gets caught in the middle.
Everything about this movie is inept — the acting, the writing, the direction, and, particularly, the “special” effects, which are jaw-droppingly cheap. It’s neither exciting nor funny. And what moron had the idea to make a family film about a killer doll? Aside from shooting at people, the doll at one point drops a bug zapper into a swimming pool in order to electrocute someone. What fun for the kids to see! Everything about Revenge of the Red Baron will make your head spin.
Jimmy Fallon was known for several things on SNL: co-hosting Weekend Update, playing Bee Gees singer Barry Gibb, and recurring sketches like the Boston Teens bit he used to do with Rachel Dratch. Perhaps the thing he was most known for, however, was cracking himself up during skits. It was almost impossible for Fallon to get through a routine without breaking. His debut movie as a leading man, the humor-challenged Taxi, left no one cracking up, not even its star.
Fallon plays a bumbling cop who has had his driver’s license suspended. In order to respond to a crime, he has to hail a cab, driven by Queen Latifah, and the pair ends up getting dragged into what becomes a major investigation. Odd couple teamings can be funny, but Fallon and Queen Latifah have zero chemistry together. A remake of a 1998 French hit, Taxi is loud, chaotic, and nowhere near as clever as it thinks it is. The action scenes are oddly flat, too. Roger Ebert dubbed the picture “wall-to-wall idiocy” for a reason. Worst of all, Fallon proves that full-fledged acting really isn’t among his talents, based on his lifeless, one-note performance here. Taxi is practically unwatchable.
Of course, there are many other terrible movies starring SNL vets. Which other ones do you think are really bad? Let us know in the comments.
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