The Worst On-Screen Duos of All Time

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We weren’t entirely sure whether it was an April Fools joke when we read over the weekend that Justin Bieber and Ashton Kutcher are to star in a movie together – it’s apparently going to be called What Would Kenny Do?, and features Ashton as an older version of Justin, somehow projected back in time to advise his younger self on how to survive the trials of adolescence. The Guardian published an amusing piece suggesting that this might well turn out to be the worst buddy movie ever, but the duo would have to beat some pretty stiff competition — namely, the disastrous pairings we’ve collected after the jump. (We’re omitting on-screen couples here, because that’s a whole new can of worms, and because there’s only one clear winner in that category: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.)

Dennis Rodman and Jean-Claude van Damme in Double Team

We’re generally all for The Worm, and will also stand up and argue that van Damme’s early output (pre-Universal Soldier, really) encompassed some of the best martial arts films ever made. So we’re not hating on either of these actors for the sake of it, but still, there’s no doubt that putting them in a film together was a casting balls-up of the highest order, made worse by the series of hackneyed basketball references that littered the script.

Tom Hanks and a dog in Turner and Hooch

The problem with animal movies is that they’re almost inevitably blatantly emotionally manipulative, designed to make you sympathize with the adorable dog and then weep like a baby when it dies. So it is with Turner and Hooch, which also has the added disadvantage of pairing Tom Hanks with the dog in question. See also: Chuck Norris and a dog, Owen Wilson and a dog, James Belushi and a dog, Whoopi Goldberg and, um, a dinosaur.

Eddie Murphy and Robert De Niro in Showtime

Apart from the fact that this was a terrible film, it also exemplifies the laziness/complacency/cynicism of the way that casting works in Hollywood. You can almost hear the studio execs planning this whole idea out: “We’ll get a black guy! And a white guy! Who’s available? So neither of these two have done a decent movie in years? Who cares?! The public will lap it up regardless!” De Niro and Murphy’s performances are as predictable and clichéd as can be – and no, the arched-eyebrow, oh-it’s-ironic self-referentialism of it all (like Rene Russo’s character suggesting they get De Niro a partner, “a funny minority type”) doesn’t make it any less cynical.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in Twins and, especially, Junior

While we’re on actors who really should have steered clear of comedy, what was with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s inexplicable early-‘90s comedy forays? You can understand him wanting to play against type, but what made anyone else think it was a good idea? Those of us of a certain age might remember these films with vague fondness, but watch them again and really, people, once you get past the one and only joke (Arnie’s big! Danny’s little!), this stuff just isn’t funny.

George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell in Batman & Robin

“It wasn’t the nipples that bothered me,” lamented Chris O’Donnell. “It was the codpiece.” The Batman franchise was already well into the land of diminishing returns by the time Batman & Robin hit screens in 1997, and this movie dispatched it to the celluloid sin bin for nearly a decade. There are so many things wrong with this film that it’s hard to know where to start – the crotch shots, the ice skates, Arnold Schwarzenegger – but the fact that the pairing of Clooney and O’Donnell as Batman and Robin just didn’t work meant that movie was doomed from the start. Even the actors hated it: Clooney later lamented that “we might have killed the franchise,” although, thankfully, Christopher Nolan has since rescued it from the scrapheap and invested it with the darkness that Joel Schumacher’s films so sorely lacked.

Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith in Independence Day

This was quite possibly the most ludicrously jingoistic and flat-out ridiculous film ever inflicted on audiences: Aliens invade Earth, and it’s left to the plucky Americans to defeat the seemingly invincible mothership with… a computer virus! And the President flies a plane! And those silly, hapless 5.5 billion people who inhabit the rest of the world and speak funny languages watch in awestruck admiration! Apart from its flag-waving plot, Independence Day featured some ghastly characterization, spearheaded by Goldblum and Smith pulling out every conceivable cliché as the action hero/geeky scientist double act. Apparently, a sequel may be in the works. God help us all.

Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson in Guest House Paradiso

The Mayall/Edmondson double act was an acquired taste at the best of times – it worked in cult-classic BBC series The Young Ones, mainly because there were other actors sharing screen time with the duo, and less so in Bottom, because there was only one joke, which was that the characters were horrible to one another. Which isn’t really very funny at all. Why, then, anyone thought it was a good idea to stretch this alleged joke out for 90 minutes is one of cinema’s great mysteries. Guest House Paradiso is so offensively stupid and tedious that even the actors start to look bored and faintly embarrassed by the end of it.

Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, generally

People, meet the clowns behind such “hilarious” parodies as Date Movie, Epic Movie, and Disaster Movie. These two are the cinematic equivalent of today’s sad shell of Mad magazine: They make parodies solely for the sake of making parodies, rather than because they have anything to say with them. It’s basically cheap, mean-spirited piggybacking off other people’s work – but even that might be forgiveable if Friedberg and Seltzer’s movies were funny. They’re not.

George Lucas and dialogue, generally

“You can type this shit,” Harrison Ford sighed on the set of the first Star Wars film, “but you can’t say it.” George Lucas’s contribution to the world cinema has been sizeable, and Star Wars remains a classic, but one thing he’s never been particularly good at is characterization – and specifically, dialogue. This wasn’t so much of a problem in the first trilogy, when the sheer excitement of the plot and the novelty of the special effects, as well as Ford and Carrie Fisher’s willingness to just ditch the script when necessary, carried the films. By the second trilogy, though, Lucas’ inability to write convincing dialogue was painful – as exemplified, in particular, by the excruciating “love” scenes featuring Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen.