Some talented, high-profile actors have been unfairly maligned.
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29 Mar 2010 - 12:00 AM  UPDATED 6 Nov 2012 - 2:30 PM

Jude Law, George Clooney, Nicole Kidman, Michael Cera, Bruce Willis, Harrison Ford and Cameron Diaz have all appeared in films that bombed in recent times… but does that mean they deserve to be mocked and pilloried?

I'd argue that every hard-working actor is entitled to fail occasionally, but their flops and disappointments do make them vulnerable to attack from bloggers such as The Wrap's Brent Lang.

In an article headlined Hollywood's Top 10 Flop Squad, Lang pointed the finger at stars who keep working despite “spotty” track records. He cited Jude Law's latest dud, the futuristic thriller Repo Men, after the misfires My Blueberry Nights, Sleuth, All the King's Men, Closer and Breaking and Entering. Ah, but what about Law's performance as Watson in Sherlock Holmes, Guy Ritchie's movie which sold more than $US500 million worth of tickets worldwide? Its success was due solely to co-star Robert Downey Jr, according to Lang.

Audiences loved Michael Cera in Superbad and Juno but they ignored Year One, Paper Heart, Extreme Movie and Youth in Revolt, Lang notes. Maybe so, but Cera also starred in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, which grossed $31 million in the US, a fair return on its $10 million budget.

Perhaps most unfairly, Lang derides Clooney, writing off as flops The Men Who Stare at Goats, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Leatherheads and The Good German, while grudgingly acknowledging the success of Up in the Air. Never mind the Oscar nominations and critical plaudits for Mr Fox and Clooney's terrific work in most of those films as well as in Michael Clayton and Burn After Reading. Or the highly lucrative Oceans capers.

Maligning Nicole Kidman, he blasts Australia, Nine and The Golden Compass as epic bombs, ignoring the fact that Baz Luhrmann's romantic epic performed strongly outside the US, to the point where Fox made a small profit. Nic was merely a member of the ensemble cast of Nine , so why put all the blame on her?

It is hard to defend Bruce Willis after his recent track record of Cop Out, Surrogates, What Just Happened, Grindhouse, and Perfect Stranger. Diaz has blotted her copybook with The Box, My Sister's Keeper and In Her Shoes, but The Holiday racked up a healthy $205 million worldwide.

Harrison Ford showed he can still crack a whip with audiences in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but he lucked out in Extraordinary Measures, Hollywood Homicide and Crossing Over. Still, should we blame a guy who's 67 for trying to prolong his career in low-budget independent movies?

Lang recognizes that Kate Winslet has been widely hailed as the greatest actress of her generation but carps that she has “never been able to translate critical plaudits into box-office love.” He rates Revolutionary Road, Little Children and All the King's Men as challenging fare, but claims their “meagre” earnings show that Winslet's “moneymaking prowess sank” with Titanic.
Piffle! Evidently he forgot her Oscar-winning performance in The Reader (which grossed a tidy $109 million globally), and her nominations for Little Children, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Iris. Or that throughout her career she has won the admiration of millions of cinemagoers.