What’s Wrong With John Cusack?

I’m a lady of a certain age, so you know I have a fondness for John Cusack.  I’m not saying I need him to be Lloyd Dobler every time, heck I don’t even think that was his greatest role, but I would like to know — who is guiding this man’s career? Does he not typically read a script before he signs on?  Sometimes I think he must just want to work with certain people and signs on before there’s a script.  How else could one explain America’s Sweethearts?  Here’s a bit of career advice for John (and any actor for that matter) and by the way, this is for free: never sign on to do any script in which there is a bit where a dog humps someone’s leg.  I don’t care if it’s Billy Crystal’s leg, hell I don’t care if Scorsese is directing.  I don’t care if it’s Scorsese’s leg. Never take a part in a film that calls for a dog to hump someone’s leg anywhere in the script. Maybe that scene was ad-libbed. Perhaps it wasn’t in the script.  I can give you the benefit of the doubt. If that was case, my advice would be, on the day that the scene is filmed, and every day thereafter….refuse to come out of your trailer. In fact, I would put that stipulation as a rider in any contract I sign.  If a dog humps a leg, I don’t have to come out of my trailer.

To be fair, while America’s Sweethearts is a crappy movie, you can tell Cusack is working really hard there with what he’s got. It does show.  And I think the same would be said for Must Love Dogs, which, let’s face it…woof. (It was a mediocre book.  Somewhat interesting adding the computer element as well as the man’s perspective, but overall, dogs come and go for no reason – much like Christopher Plummer’s Irish brogue, Diane Lane’s got too many siblings and not enough for them to do, she comes off like some kind of PMS-bitch, oh, it’s a mess.)

I say this out of love, really. Heck, I am a person who saw Pushing Tin on opening weekend. I think there’s potential there, but he’s not utilizing it in films like The Martian Child.  I figured this past weekend, I would take Edison to see Igor. And this is actually why I am writing this piece. I still haven’t seen Igor, because the reviews kept me away. I know I shouldn’t feel sorry for Cusack, he’s doing alright, but the man can’t even pick an animated movie.  His sister was Jesse in Toy Story 2!  He did Anastasia.  Where’s his Toy Story 2?  I have faith that John Cusack will have a Toy Story 2 in his career.  I don’t know why I have this faith.  He turned down Bill Paxton’s part in Apollo 13, but around that same period, he did make Bullets Over Broadway, so…

So, I figured, I would put his movies into four catagories:

I actually used to work for a guy just like Rob in a store just like Championship Vinyl.

I actually used to work for a guy just like Rob in a store just like Championship Vinyl.


Say Anything

Grosse Point Blank

High Fidelity

The Grifters

Eight Men Out

Bullets Over Broadway

Being John Malkovich

The Sure Thing

Better Off Dead


America’s Sweethearts

Must Love Dogs

The Martian Child

The Ice Harvest



Con Air (though good for some laughs, especially Nick Cage’s hairpiece)

Hang on, a better script is coming.

Hang on, a better script is coming.



Cradle Will Rock

Map of the Human Heart

Stand By Me

Sixteen Candles

Bob Roberts

Roadside Prophets

Shadows and Fog



Fat Man and Little Boy

Runaway Jury


Pushing Tin

The Jack Bull

The Thin Red Line

Midnight In The Garden of Good And Evil

City Hall

The Road to Wellville

By the way, I have not seen 1408, War Inc., or Grace is Gone yet, so I can’t really put those in any of these catagories. Also, to be fair, I don’t remember much of Money For Nothing, which I think I watched at the video store where I used to work,(a different job than the record store, but still had the feel of Championship Vinyl, only in a video kind of way, let’s say Championship Video), while I was working, so I can’t really form a solid opinion of that one.  And I am also going to leave off some early roles, like Tapeheads and The Journey of Natty Gann because I think they are kind of dated and don’t really want to comment on them.  Plus, there’s The Contract, with Morgan Freeman, which I think was straight-to-DVD. Ouch.

But I think that’s a fairly reasonable assessment of his career.  There were a few that could go into different categories, perhaps, depending on your personal taste.  This is just my opinion. He’s got some good ones in there, and you have to give the man credit for not over-reaching, doing something like Troy, where he’d have to do an accent and run around with his shirt off.  I doubt he was offered Troy, but I have faith that if he had been, he’d know better.  Though based on his choices lately, that faith may be a blind one.

Update: 11/20/09 — I did try to watch War Inc. by the way.  Couldn’t get through it.  I had high hopes, but ultimately found it contrived.  Cusack is currently filming one called 2012, which Roland Emmerich is directing.  I saw a teaser trailer for it last night when we went to see the new Bond. Doesn’t look promising, I have to say.  Looks like a big budget disaster movie with more effects than believable dialog.

Here you go.  Based on the script of this trailer, I think I can prove my point:

11 Comments on “What’s Wrong With John Cusack?”

  1. 1minionsopinion says:

    I think I can safely say I agree with you. “Must Love Dogs” was the last movie of his I watched (cringed through is more like).

    I loved Cusack in his earlier roles. He was funny, sweet, charming, and enjoyable to watch on screen. I don’t think his attempts to break from romantic comedy have gone well, but his attempts to return to romantic comedy have also done poorly. The guy needs a career-boost before he’s tossed on the has-been pile.

    I don’t want him to turn into another Eddie Murphy. Murphy was brilliant in the 80s and what kind of garbage is his putting his name on now? Terrible. Just terrible.

  2. Rachel says:

    At least Eddie Murphy had “Dreamgirls,” which got him an Oscar nomination. What does Cusack have? Nothing.

    Sad to say, I have sort of given up on Cusack. If he makes any more bad movies, “Con Air” will move to the “classic” list.

    Also, don’t forget “One Crazy Summer” — another Savage Steve Holland effort.

  3. egghead23 says:

    Wasn’t Demi Moore in “One Crazy Summer?” That would cancel out any positives Cusack or Savage Steve might bring to the table.

    Which one has the animated sequence with the burgers?

  4. Hey, I liked Serendipity!!!! No fair 😦 I do agree with Must Love Dogs & the others you mentioned. I adore John Cusack and I agree where is his golden script? It’s gotta be out there somewhere!

  5. Excellent analysis. I shall be including a link to your post in Monday’s post on my Traveling Through Time and Space blog. Such goodness must be shared with my lovely followers.

  6. brigid42 says:

    I agree totally with your categories of good and crappy John films.

    I am not cheered up by the news he’s now doing something along the lines of Hot Tub Time Travel.

    What went wrong John? Please be in something good again – we know you have the talent.

  7. me says:

    have any of you considered he doesnt want a big hit movie? make some money in hollywood then do whatever he want out of the spotlights. check out huffington post

    • egghead23 says:

      I have considered that. I don’t think he’s picked a good small project lately either — and I like art house/independent kind of films.

  8. Moj says:

    Can’t believe you have put Con Ai in crappy but identity in bearable section. Con Air id the movie everyone is too cool to admit to loving! But the rest I would have to say fair wenough although anything with him in is highly watchable!

  9. […] What’s Wrong With John Cusack? October 2008 9 comments 5 […]

  10. Little Shit says:

    @Moj – I put Con Air in a category/section I like to call “action movies only rednecks think are good”! While I can see it’s entertainment value, it’s far from a good movie. Identity is better cuz it has some brains to it. There’s some intelligence behind it. Its not just a mindless slasher movie.

    The last John Cusack movie I saw was Hot Tub Time Machine. I thought it was entertaining, yet it kinda made me feel a lil sorry for John, cuz I grew up watching all his movies….1st one being 16 Candles, like egghead says, a small but great role. Then he did The Sure Thing (which is one of my top 5 J.Cusack films). Then he was in Stand By Me as Denny Lachance, Gordie’s older deceased brother. His next one was Say Anything, I don’t think I have to explain that one. Then he did True Colors, a very under-rated movie that know one seems to talk about or remember. But its one of my favorites. I thought he was good in City Hall but definitely not his best work. Next was Grosse Point Blank, another one of my top 5 favorites. Then Con Air lol. The Thin Red Line and Pushing Tin I’m kinda on the fence with them. They were watchable yet nothing I would want to see again. Followed by Being John Malkovitch and High Fidelity, both great films. Other movies I really liked him in are: Identity, Runaway Jury and War Inc. 1408 was crap…so was The Contract.

    Better off Dead is the movie that has the animated burger scene. It’s on Youtube if ya wanna check it out.

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