6. (tie) Daredevil (2003), The Punisher (2004). On the surface, this isn't so surprising, since the American public's appetite for mediocre movies based on comic books is apparently endless. But these movies were laughingstocks from the beginning: Daredevil, along with Reindeer Games, will continue to serve as a Ben Affleck career punchline for the next twent years (OK, OK, I guess Armageddon, Changing Lanes, or just about any Affleck movie could probably serve as a Ben Affleck punchline. Still: the point stands).
The Punisher, meanwhile, featured a star-not-making performance by someone named Thomas Jane, who spent waaaay too much time in the weight room preparing for this role only to find himself, two years later, eking by with guest appearences on CBS's "Medium." Fat-faced John Travolta is also around, smirking unconvincingly, wearing a black suit with a black shirt and a black tie (get it? He's BAD!), and collecting his check.
In any case, despite Affleck, Jennifer Garner, and major summer-movie hype, Daredevil raked in just $78 million at the box office. The Punisher, in a comically feeble performance for a comic book movie, made just $33 million. People just don't want to watch these terrible movies. But don't tell FX, which is showing both of them before the month is out (in fact, if you're free on Sunday April 27, you can see both on the same day!). It's mysterious to me why they both get oodles of cable TV love, while the flawed-but-semi-interesting Ang Lee/Eric Bana Hulk is mercilessly mocked and very infrequently shown...
3. (three way tie) Navy Seals (1990), U.S. Marshals (1998), S.W.A.T. (2003). Even more than Drew Barrymore, cable TV loves action movies about military or police units, especially when the movies have simple titles reflecting those same military or police units. I have some can't-miss ideas for Hollywood: how about Mark Wahlberg in U.S. Army? Ed Norton in Homeland Security? Ashton Kutcher in Coast Guard? Wait a minute -- they made that last movie, except they stupidly called it "The Guardian." Now we never get to watch it on Spike!
Anyway, there's not much to be said for (or, really, about) any of these films. I'll nominate Navy Seals as the most watchable of the three, simply beacuse of the inevitable Charlie Sheen-as-crazy-early '90s-wildman sighting. Is there anything more tame, or less threatening, than Charlie sheen as a crazy early '90s wildman? In this movie, if I remember right, Sheen demonstrates his "wild and rebellious" side early on, primarily by carrying on excessively in his Jeep convertible.
If you're in the mood for a military-police action movie with a military-police organization title, you can check out Navy Seals on AMC this weekend, or S.W.A.T. on FX Somehow U.S. Marshals isn't on TV for the next two weeks... get ready for a triple-bill in May!
1. (tie) The Wedding Planner (2001), How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days (2003). Matthew McConaughey! Matthew McConaughey! Matthew McConaughey! This guy knows how to get himself on cable TV. If he ever did a romantic comedy with Drew Barrymore, I think they'd have to start a totally new network devoted strictly to screening and re-screening that movie.
Both of these movies did pretty well at the box office, but really... do they justify this kind of treatment? If I have to channel-surf past that brutal Wedding Planner scene where McConaughey and J-Lo 'accidentally' take dance lessons together one more time, I think I'll spontaneously combust. McConaughey plays a doctor in this movie. A fucking doctor! (This would rate highly on a possible future list of 'Most Implausible Performances By Hollywood Actors Playing Characters With Advanced Degrees'). How To Lose A Guy... was a bigger hit, I think, but that doesn't explain why it is literally on TV once every two weeks. It's like you're watching an actual TV series or something, except the show bounces around between TNT, USA, TBS, AMC, FX, etc, and in every single episode Matthew McConaughey takes Kate Hudson to the fucking Knicks game, only to miss the buzzer-beating shot. Man, that's frustrating! I need to watch it again in two weeks!
Fortunately, I'm in luck. How To Lose A Guy... is actually airing (twice!) on USA next week.