In Honor Of Will Ferrell: The Five Biggest "Summer Blockbuster" Duds

That thud you heard last weekend was Will Ferrell's career settling noisily back to earth. With a budget estimated at over $100 million, Land of the Lost was supposed to propagate the 2009 summer blockbuster season (handily inaugurated by the new Star Trek) and continue Ferrell's successful box-office run.

Surprisingly, American audiences seem to have tired of well-meaning doofuses who run into things and holler a lot, even when you throw in a T-rex. Ferrell, however, can assuage his hurt feelings with the millions of dollars already stuffing his California king mattress, and the knowledge that plenty of other would-be summer blockbusters didn't quite meet financial expectations either.

5. Stealth (2005)
Budget: $138,000,000
Domestic Gross: $31,704,416

Stealth proves the old adage that there's no movie so bad that it can't be made worse by an expensive explosion sequence and nu-metal sountrack. Jamie Foxx, who won the Academy Award for Ray a year earlier, can at least commiserate with Renée Zellweger and Halle Berry about their post-Oscar career choices.

4. Catwoman (2004)
Budget: $100,000,000
Domestic Gross: $40,202,379

Speaking of Halle Berry, she may want to consider sticking to ensemble superhero movies from here on out. Already the weakest link in the X-Men films, she actually played chicken with the 20th Century Fox over getting Storm more screen time...and won. To celebrate, she went on to make a Catwoman movie with no connection to the Batman universe where the titular character dresses like an extra from a Winger video.

3. Battlefield Earth (2000)
Domestic Gross: $21,471,685

It can certainly be argued that no one was expecting a filmed adaptaion of L. Ron Hubbard's thoroughly ludicrous sci-fi "epic" to break the bank. Scientologists, apparently, felt they'd done their part in buying multiple copies of the book (the better to deceive various bestseller lists) that they didn't have to pursue similar tactics at theaters. Books can be shelved unread, after all; buying a ticket means you might actually have to sit through two hours of a dreadlocked Travolta shrieking about "man animals."

2. Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)
Budget: $110,000,000
Domestic Gross: $48,608,066

It's impossible to ignore the laugh value of this Keanu-less sequel, especially when seeing all the comedy movie shout-outs in this scene, where the ill-fated ship cruises inexorably out of control into the harbor. I personally spotted Al Czervik's runaway yacht from Caddyshack, the finale of Airplane, and the boat jump in Live and Let Die.

1. The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)
Budget: $100,000,000
Domestic Budget: $4,411,102

How often does Eddie Murphy dream longingly about the years 1982 to 1988 -- when his résumé listed movies like Beverly Hills Cop and Trading Places -- only to wake up to the horrible reality that is the last 20 years? Does he call Steve Martin to commiserate? And should vast amounts of government funding be set aside to research this descent into suckitude that seems to afflict all comedic actors? Will Ferrell may depend on it.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar