Last night, after it was announced that Henry Winkler would be playing Jean-Ralphio’s Dad in Parks and Recreation, I ended up looking up Winkler on Wikipedia just out of curiousity. His Wikipedia entry, however, triggered some terrible, terrible memories of Henry Winker’s stabs at directing feature films. Great actor, funny guy, probably one of the nicest people on the planet, but damn, the man cannot direct a movie. You may recall, for instance, Cop and a Half with Burt Reynolds (17 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) or Memories of Me with Billy Crystal, which made only $4 million at the box office. (Winkler also made a TV movie, A Smoky Mountain Christmas, with Dolly Parton and Lee Majors).
Of course, after having the memory of Cop and a Half triggered, I jumped into the rabbit hole and found ten more well-known television actors who took stabs at feature film directing with disastrous results.
Jason Alexander: For Better or Worse (1995) with Alexander, James Woods, and Jay Mohr. It made $41,000 at the box-office before bypassing DVD and going straight to TNT. Reviews were not kind, including this blurb from the St. Paul Pioneer Press: “Oh, that Jason Alexander is a crafty one. Last summer, director Rob Reiner cast him in one of the year’s lousiest movies. For months, Alexander has been biding his time, but now he has his revenge: He’s given Reiner a cameo in an even worse movie.”
Tim Allen: Crazy On the Outside (2010) with Julie Bowen, Ray Liotta, Kelsey Grammer, and Sigourney Weaver. It received a 8% on the Tomatometer, and made $88,000 at the box office.
Kevin Bacon (a TV star now by virtue of The Following): Loverboy (2005) with his wife, Kyra Sedgewick, Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, and Oliver Platt. It received an 18 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and made $33,000 at the box office.
Alec Baldwin (credited as Harry Kirkpatrick): Shortcut to Happiness starring Baldwin, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Dan Aykroyd. Fetched a 45 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and despite a $35 million budget, was never released in America. It made $600.000 overseas.
Michael Ian Black: Wedding Daze (2007), which Black also wrote. It starred Jason Biggs and Isla Fisher. It scored a 33 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It was also never released in the United States, but actually managed to make $11 million overseas.
Larry David: Sour Grapes (1998) with Steven Weber and Craig Bierko. The film scored a 23 percent on Rotten Tomatoes (and was on Ebert’s Most Hated films that year), and made $123,000 at the box office.
David Duchovny: House of D (2004) with Duchovny, Anton Yelchin, and Robin Williams. The film scored a 10 percent on Rotten Tomatoes (with most critic’s blaming its failure on Duchovny’s bad direction) and made $388,000 at the box office (on a $6 million budget).
John Krasinski (2009): Brief Interviews with Hideous Men starring, among others, Rashida Jones, Will Forte, Will Arnett, Josh Charles, Bobby Cannavale, and Timothy Hutton. The film scored a 40 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and while it was a lousy movie, I’ll at least give Krasinski credit for trying the impossible: Turn a book of David Foster Wallace short stories into a movie. The film made $27,000 at the box office.
Keifer Sutherland: Sutherland has directed two films, in fact. The first Last Light (1993) with with himself and Forrest Whitaker was a TV movie that was not well received, while the second, Truth or Consequences, N.M (1997) starred Vincent Gallo, Mykelti Williamson, Kevin Pollak, and Kim Dickens. It scored a 38 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It was not seen widely due to ratings problems becuase of a particularly violent scene with Martin Sheen. It made $122,000 at the box office.
Fred Savage: Daddy Day Camp (2007). A sequel to Eddie Murphy’s Daddy Day Care starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. It actually made $18 million (thanks largely to the fact that it was a sequel to a very successful, though also terrible film). However, it scored a 1 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and is considered one of the worst movies of the 2000s. I saw it. I can attest to that (Granted, Savage has acquitted himself quite well since in directing episodes of It’s Always Sunny and Happy Endings).