If you need to know one thing about George Clooney, know this: he’s a movie star. The salt-and-pepper hair, casual charm, and smoking good looks made him instant Hollywood royalty. And movie stars equal success at the box office and with critics, right? In Clooney’s case, everything he’s touched has turned to gold — except for those movies that haven’t. Hey, it can happen to anyone. Clooney’s occasional forays into failure haven’t exactly harmed his career — he’s pretty much beyond reproach, at this point. But the fact remains: even someone as awesome as Clooney makes his fair share of mistakes. Which flicks does he (presumably) regret?
One Fine Day
Clooney starred opposite Michelle Pfeiffer in this generic rom com near the start of his movie career (which, as you’ll see, had more trouble getting off the ground than you’d think). You can’t blame him for choosing a by-the-numbers rom com about two single parents as the safe choice for his big-screen debut. But wow: One Fine Day shouldn’t have been made, period. A movie of the week by any other name, audiences stayed away, critics hated it, and even Clooney was boring. It wasn’t until three years later that Clooney really made a splash on the screen.
Batman & Robin
Mention the words “Clooney” and “flop,” and this is the title that comes to mind. An unmitigated disaster, the movie nearly killed the Batman franchise and remains unwatchable, save for its unintentional comedy. Even Clooney’s Dark Knight isn’t great, as he sleepwalks through the flick. Batman & Robin could’ve been Clooney’s undoing, but the actor invested his Bat money famously well, ensuring he would never have to take a giant payday again — unless he felt like it. In the end, Clooney’s was the only acting career that came out of the movie with any life left.
It’s not that the first film released by DreamWorks was a true disaster per se (at least in retrospect). But at the time there was incredible pressure on the infant studio to deliver, and most of it rested on Clooney’s well-developed shoulders — and right on the heels of Batman & Robin, no less. Sadly, his chemistry with famously icy co-star Nicole Kidman is nonexistent, and the whole movie is just, well, boring. The action thriller (in name only), about a stolen nuke, made its money back, but it landed with
a shrug, exactly what the fledgling studio didn’t need. Clooney was mediocre, as well, but not bad enough to do permanent damage.
Highly anticipated after the success of Ocean’s Eleven, the sequel alienated audiences and critics alike. Instead of another blockbuster, Clooney and company deliver a meta-commentary on the first movie, heaping on the quirks, including a climax wherein Bruce Willis (playing himself) mistakes Julia Roberts (playing Clooney’s beau) for…Julia Roberts. The best thing you can say about Clooney is that he wasn’t part of that plot device. Hated by audiences, Ocean’s Twelve somehow managed to make enough to spawn a back-to-basics three-quel.
The Good German
Steven Soderbergh and Clooney: a combination so good that they formed a production company together and, as a team, created some of the best films of the past decade. Except for the aforementioned Ocean’s Twelve and The Good German, a noir about postwar Germany. The visually arresting and stylistic presentation — Clooney is dapper, charismatic, and in black and white — can’t make up for a crummy script or the flick’s glacial pace. Audiences and critics responded alike, with a resounding “No, thanks,” making the film a bust at the box office.
Clooney’s writing and directing career got off to a pretty impressive start: he directed Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and wrote and directed Good Night, and Good Luck. He could have coasted on his pretty face, but the actor wanted more, and it’s paid off, most of the time. Not here. Leatherheads, about the beginning of professional football, was not that funny, not that exciting, and ended up being a mild disaster at the box office. Perhaps, after success with so many period pieces (Good Night, and Good Luck and Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, to name two), Clooney’s luck just ran out.