Reflecting On “Friends” Failure In The Movies

NEW YORK(RushPRnews)12/03/08-As the old saying goes, there are always exceptions to every rule. The rules we’re talking about here is the absolute inability of TV stars to successfully make the transition to movie stars. Yes, there are the odd success stories like Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Johnny Depp and even Rhona Mitra seems to be on her way (she’s not there quite yet), but for the most part these represent mere drops in an ocean of small screen to big screen flops and failures.

Some people believe that the more popular a TV performer is, the better the chance that they could successfully transition to movies. But in reality the opposite seems to be more true. In some recent film production classes I took, the instructor made a great observation about this by saying:

“The general public isn’t likely to pay money to go see a celebrity (go to see a movie they’re in) that they’re accustomed to seeing for free on TV each week”

On top of that, people in general don’t deal very well with change, and if they love a certain TV celebrity, they don’t normally want to see that actor playing a different character from the one they love. This obviously isn’t true for everyone, but the principle is still there.

There is also the issue of TV acting being very different (not harder, better or worse) from acting in film. They are two different styles. Yes they are obviously similar, but it’s like in baseball where batters are better at hitting either left handed pitchers or right handed pitchers. It’s the same game, they’re doing the same thing… but it’s different. Think about it… if you flip on the TV late at night and see something you’ve never seen before on the screen, you instantly know if you’re watching a movie or a TV episode (Unless it’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force).

The most striking example of this “rule” is the cast from one of the most popular sitcoms in television history… “Friends”. The show lasted 10 seasons and was still extremely popular when it went off air. The 6 leads of the show were household names and conventional wisdom dictated that they would all be very successful in any move to the big screen they made. Well… that didn’t really work out did it?

So let’s take some time to reflect on the film legacy of former “Friends” stars shall we?

THE ONES THAT WORKED

Just as there are exceptions to the “no TV stars make it in the film industry” rule, there are also some exceptions to the “All the Friends stars movies have failed” rule too and it’s only fair that we acknowledge those exceptions (although as you’ll see, most of these exceptions don’t even really count):
Friends-Nine-Yards.jpg THE WHOLE NINE YARDS
This is easily the very best movie to have a former friends star as a lead. Yeah Matthew Perry basically played his exact same character from Friends in this film… but for this movie that’s exactly what he needed to do. Acting this way along side of Bruce Willis made for a terrific on screen chemistry. The movie was flat out hilarious and introduced me to one of my most powerful celeb crushes… Amanda Peet. Too bad the sequel sucked so badly.
Friends-Scream.jpg SCREAM
To be honest I never really liked this one and have never understood the following it has. However, there is no denying this film was a success and has a very loyal following. I hesitate to put this one in here because Courtney Cox isn’t really the “lead” of the movie, but her role is a big and significant one so I’ll say it qualifies.

Ummm… really that’s about it. Of all 6 former “Friends” stars, those two are the only movies that could fit here. I’m sure some people would like to point out Office Space or perhaps Analyze This and also thrown Bruce Almighty in there too… but although Friends stars were IN those movies, they were only secondary supporting characters and that doesn’t really count. I also don’t count doing a voice in an animated film wither, so please don’t mention Madagascar (sweet heavens how I LOATH that movie).

So what are we left with? The surprising (or not so surprising) reality is that out of the 6 Friends stars, not many of them have even been given more than a couple of opportunities to lead a project. The smell of big screen failure seems to march ahead of them into any casting meeting. And sadly, when they have been given a shot… it usually ends up an epic failure. Don’t believe me? How about some of these classics (seriously, the following list looks like it was pulled right out of a Wallmart $2 bargain bin):

THE EPIC FAILURES
Friends-Ed.jpg ED
Who can forget the instant cinematic masterpiece where Matt LeBlanc (Joey on Friends) plays opposite a baseball playing monkey. No… I’m serious. I’ll repeat those three words again to let the aweomeness sink in a little deeper. BASEBALL… PLAYING… MONKEY. I hope LeBlanc didn’t just fire his agent after being talked into doing this… I hope he dragged his ass into the parking lot and beat the hell out of him too.
Friends-Mari.jpg MARCI X
I hope whatever movie executive gave the official green light to this movie took a trip to some third world nation and caught syphilis. What the hell was Lisa Kudrow thinking?!?!?! Exactly what part of “A Jewish American princess falls in love with a bad boy gangsta rapper played by Damon Wayans” sounds like a good idea to you?
Friends-Lucky.jpg LUCKY NUMBERS
Another absolute shit bomb from Lisa Kudrow. At least with this project you could understand the appeal since John Travolta was still a pretty hot name in 2000 (although his career had already started its decline again by then). Still, one read of the script should have sent her, and everyone else involved with this film running.
Freinds-3000.jpg 3000 MILES TO GRACELAND
Man, the first 15 minutes of this flick had me thinking I was watching one of the greatest guy movies of all time. Then it went straight downhill for the rest of it. I hesitate to put this one on the list because technically Courtney Cox isn’t one of the “leads”, but her role is the third most prominent one in the film. To bad.
Friends-Fools.jpg FOOLS RUSH IN
Ok, I at least can understand why Matthew Perry gave this one a shot. The studio was very behind this film giving it a big marketing push, Selma Hayek was a hot name (and hot other things as well) and in theory it at least sounded interesting. However the movie turned out horribly, and even though Friends was insanely popular at the time, the movie failed to even crack $30 million. No one cared.
Friends-Romy.jpg ROMY AND MICHELE’S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION
Words simply fail me. I watched this 10 years ago once to appease a woman I was with. I no longer speak with that woman.
Friends-Picture.jpg PICTURE PERFECT
Really the first (of many to come) film where I realized that Jennifer Aniston was pretty much always going to be Rachel in every movie role she ever took. A standard RomCom snooze fest without the courtesy of giving us anything to laugh at in the film (other than at the film itself). Times must have been pretty rough for Kevin Bacon to appear in this thing.
Friends-Pallbearer.jpg THE PALLBEARER
Seems like in a 2 year span the studios were taking chances on every Friends cast member, and even the funny looking David Schwimmer was no exception. Hey, don’t get me wrong… offer me a movie with Gwynethh Paltrow and I’d take it too. But come on… anyone could have told that this film was going to be terrible. Oh… and even though Friends was huge at the time… the flick made LESS than $6 million. Nice.
Friends-Polly.jpg ALONG CAME POLLY
Wow… SHOCKING! Another RomCom from Jennifer Aniston! This time she’s paired up with with Ben Stiller and even that doesn’t work. There were times that this whole mess just felt like a rip off movie version of Dharma and Greg if you follow me.
Friends-Serving.jpg SERVING SARA
I’ll give this to Matthew Perry… when he signs up to appear in a RomCom as the same old guy he always is… he at least manages to appear with some of the hottest women in the business. This movie was almost worth the 90 dreadfully painful minutes just to see Elizabeth Hurley. Well… at least when she wasn’t speaking that is.
Friends-Tango.jpg THREE TO TANGO
Wow, i don’t even know where to begin with how bad this movie was. Ok, if you’re going to have a love triangle type of comedy, this isn’t a bad cast for it. But nothing worked in this film. Well ok… there was this one scene where Neve Campbell is talking about a lesbian experience she had in college while soaking in a bath tub that’s pretty memorable… but that’s for the wrong reasons.

Oh there are others, but I think we’ve tortured ourselves enough at this point don’t you agree?

One of the interesting things to notice is that even though these people are all “names”… today you really don’t see them getting many (if any) roles at all aside from Jennifer Aniston. So Matt LeBlanc hasn’t had a lot of failures… but that’s because no one wants to give him any more chances… and who can blame them?

However, I don’t think the lack of big screen success for the former Friends cast is necessarily a negative reflection on them as actors, but rather more of a case of what I was saying at the beginning of this post. TV stars have an almost impossible time transitioning to the big screen successfully. It does happen sometimes, but not often.

I also think that in the specific example of the Friends cast, the general audiences’ reluctance to accept these performers in any other role is actually a testament to just how good they all were on that show and how great the chemistry was between them, so please don’t take this post as a “bash” on the Friends crew… just as an observation, good or bad.

So what are some of your favorite Friends cast movies? Do you even have any at all?