For as many career improvements as we saw throughout 2011, as many, if not more began or continued a downward spiral the likes of which we wish would just come to an end already. It's not just specific actors or directors, but entire franchises that we've frankly seen enough of for a little while. The laws of diminishing returns have hit these folks/movies hard, and maybe, just maybe, it's time to take a break.
All of the things appearing on this list are people/franchises we, at least at one time, had fond feelings for. All we're saying is that maybe, just maybe, a bit of time off for reflection could help us love them again.
After seven straight years of Saw films, it looks like Paramount is attempting to launch their own Halloween franchise with the Paranormal Activity films. That's not a huge surprise: they're dirt-cheap to make, reap relatively huge financial rewards, and people don't seem to be tired of them yet. There's also still probably some storyline material to mine after the end of Paranormal Activity 2, should they choose to crank out another entry in the series for 2012.
That said, there's only so much in the way of bump-in-the-night scares that a franchise can dish out before it becomes less thrilling than simply boring. PA3 was a decent entry into the series, with some neat new tricks, but if Paramount wants to keep the series fresh, they should give it a year off and let everyone come back to it in 2013 with fond memories, rather than simply cranking out yet another haunted house movie year after year. God knows there isn't really a shortage of those, anyway.
Has the law of diminishing returns ever proved itself more mightily than with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise? This was a film series that came out of nowhere. Nobody expected a big budget film based on a Disneyland park ride to be anything worthwhile, but the first film turned out to not only be a ton of fun, but actually feature enduring characters whose appeal extended well beyond the confines of the series itself. The second and third films certainly took a dive in overall quality, but they mostly maintained the things that you liked about the series--albeit with too many extra layers of complexity for what this series ever really needed.
In 2011's On Stranger Tides, it became clear that there is just no gas left in this series' tank. Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow has been all but reduced to an impersonation of Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow, and the film's attempts at keeping this thing afloat with new characters and returning favorites felt like godawful pandering in sacrifice of a coherent, enjoyable script. Given that this movie did make like a billion dollars, the odds of Disney even taking a momentary breather with this money-printing machine is looking more and more unlikely, but dammit, can't we just take a few years off until someone comes up with an actually good idea for the next one?
2011 was not particularly kind to one of Hollywood's most purportedly charming actors. Though things certainly looked up at the outset, with Reynolds set to star in both a huge, potential blockbuster comic book franchise, and an R-rated comedy with fellow usually-good-in-funny-movies actor Jason Bateman (who might also need to be on this list one of these days), neither film really panned out particularly well. Green Lantern was a critical bust, and only barely scraped past profitability (due in no small part to the film's $200 million budget), and Change-Up was widely considered one of the very worst films of the year.
The real problem with Reynolds is that these issues have been persisting for years now. His career choices always seem reasonable and full of potential on paper, but they rarely pan out that way. Since 2009, he's starred in the hugely hated (yet profitable) X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the super-dumb (but also super-profitable) The Proposal, the completely forgettable indie Paper Man, and Buried, another indie that was supposed to help launch Reynolds as a more serious-minded actor, but really only registered as a blip on the 2010 radar.
2012 has only the super-bizarre-looking Safe House, with Denzel Washington, currently on the schedule. He's also got a couple of other comic-related projects on the horizon (including that Deadpool movie), so it's not looking like Reynolds will be slowing down any time soon. Here's hoping that in lieu of taking a break, Reynolds at least takes a bit more time to pore through his potential scripts.
Has a director's career trajectory veered more wildly off the beaten path, and straight off a cliff, than that of David Gordon Green? Green's career started off in the typical realm of the indie director, with serious dramatic work including the likes of All the Real Girls and George Washington. Then, suddenly, out of nowhere came Pineapple Express, a completely out-of-left-field stoner action/comedy with his new best buds, Danny McBride and James Franco. That veer toward the absurdist pot comedy wasn't a bad one, necessarily, as Pineapple Express is actually one of the more memorable films of the genre made in the last several years. It's where Green's taken things from there that's more...unsettling.
While nobody will complain about Green's assistance on McBride's HBO series Eastbound and Down, less niceties have been lobbed in his direction regarding the films he's made since. Both came out this year, and both Your Highness and The Sitter--two more juvenile-minded R-rated comedies--largely disappointed. I was even comparatively pretty nice to Your Highness, given how other critics considered it an affront to all things funny (not accurate at all). But even my niceness toward it was largely tempered with depressed sighs, as I wondered what exactly had happened to Green's career. No one around here necessarily wants him to just go back to making all serious business films all the time, we'd really, really love it if he'd take some time off to figure out exactly what he'd like to be doing. Don't worry David, we'll wait for you.
You've no idea how much it pains me to write this about Jason Statham. As far as Screened.com editor man-crushes go, the order pretty much goes Kurt Russell, then tied for second is Nicolas Cage and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and then The Stath. We love Jason Statham specifically because of his total unwillingness to be anything other than extremely masculine, extremely gruff, and extremely British in every goddamn role he occupies. And yet, there is a sense of Stath-related malaise that has begun to settle in. A cloud of disinterest hovering above each Statham release that grows ever darker as they continue to come, rapid-fire, with no signs of slowing.
The issue is not so much with Statham himself, as again, we love the guy. The problem is that the roles he choses are, by and large, the exact same roles time and time again. What we like are variations on the Statham style. The Crank films, in particular, a good example of how Statham manages to keep his persona fresh, while still more or less delivering the same grimmacing bad-assery we've come to expect from the man. Unfortunately, the last couple of years have been largely devoid of any real variance on the theme. Can you remember much of anything about what Statham did in Killer Elite, besides fight Clive Owen's mustache? Did you even recall that The Mechanic came out this year? It totally did!
Now might be a good time for our man Stath to take a little breather and reevaluate what it is he'd like his career to be. If all he wants to do is make some decent scratch playing the same cantankerous assassin every single time, then that's fine. We'd just hope that maybe he'd realize that there are more opportunities out there beyond the scope of "Guy with five-o'-clock shadow and thick British accent who is a loner and kills people sometimes."
Any other franchises/people you'd like to see take a little break? Hit up the comments, and grouse away!