CATEGORIES Features
I once interviewed Sylvester Stallone who, looking back on his hit-and-miss career, remarked, "'Cobra' - what was I thinking?" This was more than a decade after he'd released that particular turkey, but still, better late than never.

It's rare for stars to admit in public that they've made terrible movies. Recently, however, we've seen a rash of such admissions. Colin Farrell recently dissed 'Miami Vice,' saying, "I didn't like it so much." (As with Stallone, the apology came many years late, but still, there it is.)

Matthew Goode, at least, had the decency to apologize for 'Leap Year'
while the film is still skulking around theaters, thus performing a consumer service to anyone who might still make the mistake of going to see it at the multiplex. "I just know that there are a lot of people who will say it is the worst film of 2010... Was it a bad job? Yes, it was. But, you know, I had a nice time and I got paid," he said. I once interviewed Sylvester Stallone who, looking back on his hit-and-miss career, remarked, "'Cobra' - what was I thinking?" This was more than a decade after he'd released that particular turkey, but still, better late than never.

It's rare for stars to admit in public that they've made terrible movies. Recently, however, we've seen a rash of such admissions. Colin Farrell recently dissed 'Miami Vice,' saying, "I didn't like it so much." (As with Stallone, the apology came many years late, but still, there it is.)

Matthew Goode, at least, had the decency to apologize for 'Leap Year'
while the film is still skulking around theaters, thus performing a consumer service to anyone who might still make the mistake of going to see it at the multiplex. "I just know that there are a lot of people who will say it is the worst film of 2010... Was it a bad job? Yes, it was. But, you know, I had a nice time and I got paid," he said.

And Sandra Bullock, magnanimous on the same weekend she would win a Best Actress Oscar for 'The Blind Side,' was willing to acknowledge the universal loathing for 'All About Steve' by accepting her Razzie Award for Worst Actress in person, something stars almost never do.

Star apologies for bad movies are historically rare and often come years after the fact. Usually, stars talk up their movies as artistic masterpieces (or at least surefire entertainment) when the films are released and they're contractually bound to promote them. Now, however, stars often spout whatever comes to mind (say, on their Twitter feeds) without vetting it first with a publicist, and some stars realize they can brand themselves by being outrageous and outspoken. Megan Fox, for instance, has made a whole second career out of dismissing her 'Transformers' movies as little more than repeated scenes of people running from explosions.

After all, apologies may not help sell tickets (or DVDs), but they do generate goodwill. Halle Berry proved herself a good sport when she showed up at the Razzies five years ago to collect her worst actress prize for 'Catwoman' (though her funny, profanity-laced tirade about the movie managed to blame everyone but herself for its failure). Bullock, too, further cemented her status as America's Sweetheart with her Razzie appearance last week (she and Berry are about the only stars who've ever shown up to claim a Razzie), even though she, too, didn't go so far as to agree with the consensus that her movie stunk. (She still talks about 'Steve' like it's a work of misunderstood genius that won't be properly appreciated for years.)

Halle Berry at the 2005 Razzies


Similarly, we tend to forgive old-school stars like Michael Caine and Peter O'Toole (both of whom have plenty of howlers on their résumés) because their not-quite-apologies only reinforce their reputations as worldly raconteurs. "Ugh, what a disaster... I watched 15 minutes of the finished movie and then walked out," O'Toole said of 'Troy.' (Imagine how much fun it would be to hear O'Toole say that out loud, over a pint at the pub.) Of 'Jaws: The Revenge,' Caine famously said, "I have never seen the film, but by all accounts it was terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific."

Sometimes' it's just a relief to hear filmmakers confirm what everyone else already knows about a bad movie. Mickey Rourke agrees with the rest of us that 'Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man' is "stupid and without depth. I have no intention of ever seeing it." Joel Schumacher has apologized, more than once, for the way he directed 'Batman and Robin.' "I take full responsibility. It's all me. I know I disappointed some people, but it's a 'Batman' movie," he told the Onion's AV Club in 2003. "We're at war. Let's get over it."

The trick is to apologize for films moviegoers don't like; when you apologize for the ones they do like, you call your own judgment and temperament into question. "It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as goofy, fun-loving guys," Katherine Heigl said of 'Knocked Up.' "It was hard for me to love the movie." Maybe, but lots of people did love the movie, and it made you a bankable box-office star, so maybe you could learn to love it? Rupert Everett, whose reputation for amiability and soft-spokenness is right up there with Heigl's, said of the first 'Chronicles of Narnia' movie (to whose success he contributed by voicing Mr. Fox), "I didn't like the film very much... I didn't think any of the characters interacted very well."

The prolific Woody Allen told me once that he knew some of his films struck a chord with the public and some didn't, but the ones that hit weren't always the ones he thought he'd made well, and the ones he felt were failures turned out to be successes. Too bad he won't let us know in advance which of his movies he thinks work, so we can avoid them, and which he thinks don't, so we can line up to see them.

In the end, it may be up to entertainment journalists to aid moviegoers by doing a better job of eliciting preemptive apologies from stars. (Kudos, for instance, to the reporter who got Sienna Miller to say, before 'G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra' came out last summer, that "it's not going to be the best acting work we've ever done.") It's not that hard. Just watch whoever asks Megan Fox the first question about whether 'Transformers 3' is any good, and follow their example.