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Mar 11, 2008

Worst sequel casting replacements

A few weeks ago, I inexplicably referenced The Flinstones in Viva Rock Vegas in one of my posts. Sure, that may be grounds for movie blog renouncement right there, but somehow my inpending trip to Las Vegas made me think of it. Besides, it gave me the idea for the post that you're currently reading. See, the first Flintstones movie starred John Goodman in the title role. Who doesn't love Goodman, after all? He was in Roseanne, he'll be forever remembered as Walter Sobchak - heck, he even played The Babe (not that anyone cares to remember that one).

So, imagine Jack's Total Lack of Surprise that the second, Goodman-less (and every other star-less) Flintstones movie bombed. But as bad as either film might sound, the truly egregious act here was the replacement of Goodman with the terribly unfunny, wildly annoying and somewhat cherubic Mark Addy in the role of Fred Flintstone. Surely, Alan Reed (the original voice of Fred) and Jackie Gleason (whose Ralph Kramden character on The Honeymooners was the inspiration for Fred) were both spinning in their graves.

That is but one case of terrible casting jobs in Hollywood sequels. The list is long and indistinguished, I'm afraid. Lucky for you, I'm here to recount and rehash some of the worst of them for you. For these purposes, a new actor or actress playing the lead in the sequel in a different role will count as a replacement (think Jason Patric taking the reins for Keanu Reeves in Speed 2: Cruise Control), though you might think I've stretched that definition before we're done here. As a bonus, I'll even throw in some good-great replacements (and maybe some that are too tough to call) at the end.

Kill the Casting Director

John Goodman --> Mark Addy (The Flintstones)
Well documented above and in the previous post.

Bruno Kirby --> Jon Lovitz (City Slickers)
Taken in small doses, and in the right roles (like the short-lived animated series The Critic), Jon Lovitz can be great. This was not one of those times. Besides, Kirby is probably most famous for his Slickers role; he might have been the smart one by skipping the sequel, but that doesn't make it any easier on us.

Harrison Ford --> Ben Affleck (Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series)
THE box office star of the 80s versus...the guy from Daredevil and Gigli? Sure, the public has a love-hate relationship with Ben (currently re-entering love after his Jimmy Kimmel skit), but this one is really no contest. It'd be like casting Shia LaBeouf as Indiana Jones son or something.

Jim Carrey --> Jamie Kennedy (The Mask)
Love or hate Carrey, their stars have never been close to being on the same level, and Kennedy has shown that he can be funny for 5-minute segments, but not necessarily for a whole movie. Not even close.

Brandon Lee --> Vincent Perez (The Crow)
I'm probably being harsh on Perez here; after all, Lee never actually had the chance to become a big star, and this was the only film of his that came close to being a hit (Rapid Fire doesn't count, and I have no idea why I can remember the name of that film - the only other thing I can recall is that it takes place in a laundromat or dry cleaner for a portion of it). But it's not like anything ever became of Perez, either, and he has the benefit of still being alive.

Arnold Schwarzenegger --> Danny Glover (Predator)
Sure, Glover's great and all, but replacing Ahnuld in what started out as a straight-up action franchise?! Gimme a break.

Macaulay Culkin --> Alex Linz (Home Alone)
Oh wait - I'm not actually an informed critic of this choice, as that would involve me actually watching Home Alone 3. Am I safe in assuming?

Tom Cruise --> Stuart Townshend (Interview with the Vampire)
Townshend has never seemed to me to be anything more than a Johnny Depp clone that makes bad choices (though, to be fair, it's probably because Depp gets first crack at all the scripts that might come Stuart's way). But Cruise was still near the top of his game when he was cast (miscast?) as Lestat in Vampire; Stuart's other high-profile role was in The League of Extraordinary Gentleman. I rest my case.

Christian Bale --> Mila Kunis (American Psycho)
Ahahahaha. You're joking, right?

Six of one, half dozen of the other

Vin Diesel --> Tyrese Gibson (The Fast and the Furious)
You might say that this is a big drop-off, and you might say that I'm terribly uninformed, having not fully seen any of the Fast and the Furious flicks. But this is my report, and I say this is more or less a wash.

Vin Diesel --> Ice Cube (XXX)
Same here. In fact, Diesel is a much more talented actor, and brings more to the table, than either Gibson or Cube, but it hasn't shown in his choices over the last few years. So he's getting a demotion to being on par with them. Deal with it, Vin.

Rachel Weisz --> Maria Bello (The Mummy)
Though it's hard to believe that these two are playing the same role (Bello will reprise the role of Evelyn O'Connell in the third Mummy flick, due out later this year), Weisz and Bello are generally a wash. Both are fine, attractive actresses that have starred in their share of crap and their share of quality, with the Mummy films snuggling right in between both of those classifications.

Michael Keaton --> Val Kilmer --> George Clooney (Batman)
To be sure, the quality of the Batman films took a nosedive after Tim Burton left the series (and some would say from the first to the second), but surely the new shoes filling the role of Bruce Wayne didn't have anything to do with that - or at least, not much. Val Kilmer made a fine Dark Knight, and had Joel "Hack" Schumacher not turned the series into a lame cartoon with bad jokes, some might have thought the dark, reserved Kilmer to be the best of the bunch. Instead, he was left with "chicks dig the car" lines - oy. Meanwhile, the abominable fourth installment is an abortion of a movie, and granted, Clooney was not yet the fine actor he is today, but he was still a marquee name.

Cillian Murphy --> Robert Carlyle (28 Days Later)
There are probably a lot of people that think they don't know who Robert Carlyle is. But then they see him and remember his unforgettable role as Begbie in Trainspotting. In terms of types of characters from one film to the next, these two probably don't even warrant comparison, but it's fresh and topical, so on the list it goes.

Wesley Snipes --> Omar Epps (Major League)
To be sure, Snipes was (at a certain point in time) a much bigger star than Epps has ever been. But if you watch Epps' inspired turn in the second Major League, you have to give the guy credit for doing such a wonderful impersonation of Snipes' "Willie Mays Hayes." While many of the choices on this list play different characters, and other play the same but bring a whole new set of tools to the role, Epps went the role of personification, and pulled it off.

Drew Barymore --> Alyssa Milano --> Jaime Pressly (Poison Ivy)
For the record, I've only seen the first in this series (starring Barrymore). But if you have as well, you know that I don't need to be a rocket scientist to judge the replacement casting. These are glorified skin flicks starring the hot young ingenue of the day (that's willing to bare all), and there can be no complaints about the skip from one of these actresses to the next.

Thought bad at first, not looking so bad now,

Michael J. Fox --> Jason Bateman (Teen Wolf)
As with the Batman scenario, the second Wolf was a vastly inferior one to the Fox-starring original (or maybe it was just that it was the exact same movie all over again, only with less overall talent involved). And though we might have once thought that the drop-off from Fox to Bateman was a drop in quality akin to the difference between Family Ties and The Hogan Family, surely Bateman's career over the last eight years or so has proven that conclusion wrong and given him some sweet redemption. Besides, the egregiously bad casting replacement from one Teen Wolf to the next was the vast drop from Jerry Levine (pictured) to Stuart Fratkin (Who? Exactly.).

Studio Head Takes all the Credit

Jodie Foster --> Julianne Moore (The Silence of the Lambs)
You might wonder why this has been placed in the "improvement" category - after all, how can you improve on Jodie Foster? While I agree with that assessment, just the fact that they got someone that could challenge Foster in terms of acting (when a dramatic fall was all but guaranteed) is a feat in and of itself, and warrants a spot here.

Alec Baldwin --> Harrison Ford (Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series)
Baldwin certainly has his strengths, and (believe it or not kids) was a veritable movie star at one time, but this was hands-down, without question, an improvement in quality and potential box office. This was like going from Timothy Dalton to Pierce Brosnan (don't think I forgot the Bond series altoghether).

For another take on this subject, check out this article.

14 people have chosen wisely: on "Worst sequel casting replacements"

Nick said...

Great list, but you're missing one really important one:

Richard Harris --> Michael Gambon as Dumbledore in the HP movies.

Gambon's Dumbledore is HORRIBLE, especially in Goblet of Fire and a few lines of Order of the Phoenix (anytime he yells and/or tries to strangle anybody, basically).

Mrs. Thuro said...

Great list!

I disagree on two points, though:

1. Now it's been a long time since I've seen it, and I'll never subject myself to that torture again, but I liked Stuart Townsend more as Lestat, but thought Queen of the Damned was terrible in every other way. But I just really HATE Tom Cruise, so a molding sponge would've been a better Lestat to me.

2. I'd watch Cillian Murphy run from zombies all day before I'd give Robert Carlisle a second thought, but also Days was by far much better than Weeks.

Nayana Anthony said...

In re your two Jack Ryan points...


Jess said...

Nick, you're totally right...I love seeing Richard Harris as Dumbledore and cringe with Gambon. I'm not sure I"ll be appropriately sad during the next one.

Nick said...

Jess: haha, I agree. But knowing my luck, Gambon is going to do the best job ever as Dumbledore in the next movie, so I'll hate myself for wanting to be happy come the end of the movie.

Daniel G. said...

Great post, Fletch!

Interesting to ask about why some of these sequels were made in the first place. The Mask 2? Son of the mask or whatever it was called? Yikes.

soundtrackgeek said...

Cool post!

Although I loved Carlyle in 28 Weeks Later and Lovitz was great in City Slickers... Glad they didn't replace Billy Crystal, now that would have been a major disaster.

DCMovieGirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DCMovieGirl said...


You are WRONG, WRONG, WRONG....So, wrong in fact, YOU'RE WRONG.

Yes, it goes against popular opinion, but popular opinion loves American Idol so...

Gambon NAILS Dumbledore cannon. That is how Rowling wrote him.

Harris was old, frail,and looked like he would kick the bucket any second. Which he did soon after.

Yes, he had a gentleness that I dug. But one scene clenches Gambon for me. His response to Harry and Hermione after their return with the time-turner in Azkaban.

That was the first time I thought DUMBLEDORE has finally made an appearance!! Well, that and the "brandy".

Gambon is an upgrade.

Fletch said...

Well, I haven't read any of the books, and I like both Harris and Gambon in the role, and find it odd that anyone would love one and hate the other. They appear to be playing it pretty much the same way, though I recall there being some awkwardness when Gambon first appaeared on screen.

Thanks all for your comments.

Nick said...

dc: You're either mental or on drugs. I can grant to you that Gambon was decent in Prisoner of Azkaban, but he was SO off in Goblet of Fire that it wasn't even funny. And he did better in Order of the Phoenix, except for the 'don't you have studying to do?' line.

With the exception of PoA (and a few scenes here or there in the others), Gambon DD is so off from canon it's ridiculous. I agree that Richard Harris didn't have all the fun goofiness that book DD has, but Dumbledore was NEVER all angry and shouty. In fact, the books even make a point of it and how strange it is when Harry notices DD is getting upset (though just through his eyes, never his actions or voice). I know some people like Gambon DD (I don't know why), and I guess that's fine... but I refuse to allow it be said that he's the canon Dumbledore, because that's just a big fat lie. And it's insulting to JKR to say otherwise.

Tony Tanti said...

Great post, I love opinions in list form.

I was about to say I disagreed about the Batman casting buy you may be right that my opinion is affected by the fact that the movie quality went down so dramatically with each sequal. Taken apart from the movie itself their performances were all good.

What about Christian Bale's Batman? Best yet?

Cairo said...

Wow, how long did it take to compile that list?!? Impressive!

Personally, I can't stand when they have to make casting replacements. It never works for me. I mean seriously, Michelle Pfeiffer and Maxwell Cauldfield in Grease 2 instead of Olivia Newton John and John Travolta?!? Seriously!

General Disdain said...

Clear you put some time into this one! Good job!

I was going to mention Crispin Glover -> Jeffrey Weissman (Back to the Future), but I think it may actually be one of the best recastings since they passed some laws over it . . .