The Most Wooden Movie Performances

Car interiors, guitars, goal-posts; all things that are awesome when they're wooden. In fact, most wooden things are great - as long as they're made from a sustainable source, that is.

One thing that is not great when it's wooden is acting, and in the history of cinema there have been some real wood-carved turns that crop up to ruin the experience.

Of course, it would be too easy to populate this list with non-actors and people who don't know any better, such as Athletes, Singers/Musicians and other Celebrities.

Instead, we're going for pros only, people who make a living from acting, the folks we should be able to distinguish from hat stand in the corner, but who have turned in whittled-turkeys they may never live down.

Here are the 10 Most Wooden Movie Performances, sponsored by Trees;

Sophia Coppola

The Performance: The Godfather Part III (1990)

Coppola plays Mary Corleone, daughter of shouty-Pacino’s Michael, in a case of nepotism-by-Ryder – a casting decision forced by the withdrawal of Winona Ryder.

Why It’s Woody: You can practically see the grain in the wood in every move Coppola makes, her poise about as balletic as an Ent on fire, her movement creaky and splintered – and that’s before she speaks.

From the stilted dialogue that sounds like she’s been hit in the face with a baseball bat, to the confusing facial expressions, which make it look like she’s been hit in the face with a baseball bat.

Thank Heavens she followed Daddy behind the camera and made some of the best films of the decade, because all the laquer and Mr. Sheen in the world couldn’t polish Sofia’s performance skills.

If The Performance Was A Tree: It would be a Silver Birch – described as a smallish, fast growing, short-lived tree – Just like Miss Coppola’s brief acting career.

Next: Orlando Bloom [page-break]

Orlando Bloom

The Performance: Elizabethtown (2006)

Bloom plays failed sneaker designer Drew Baylor, who has to fly from his home state of Oregon to his father’s birthplace in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, when the old man pops his clogs.

Why It’s Woody: We love Cameron Crowe. Love him. But our eyes had splinters every-time Bloom came on screen.

Between his awkward West-Coast accent, his fluffed timing, and mistaking eyebrow-maneuvres for emotion, Orlando goes a long way toward ruining this Crowe joint.

In the end the film is saved by the fact we are in love with Kirsten Dunst, Cameron Crowe’s record collection and Paul Schneider’s excellent turn as Drew’s cousin Jesse. Oh, and Freebird.

If The Performance Was A Tree: A Bonsai. Small and aesthetically pleasing, but also high maintenance, requiring constant manicuring.

See Also: Troy, Pirates, Kingdom of Heaven, Haven

Next: Keanu Reeves [page-break]

The Career of Keanu Reeves

The Performance: Dracula/Speed/Matrix/Dangerous Liaisons/Sweet November etc.

We will however make a case for his performance in Point Break , mostly because a) Point Break is the greatest action film of all time (Bigelow is a goddess) and b) We always wanted a cool name like Johnny Utah.

The rest of his career is as creaky as moist floorboards though.

Why It’s Woody:
The origins of the pyramids, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster and Keanu Reeves’s career - some of the great mysteries of the world, all of which are shrouded in conspiracy, conjecture and myth.

To discern exactly why Reeves is as emotive as park bench, you must think outside the pine box. The answer is simple – Keanu Reeves has no emotions.

There, it’s not that he can’t act, it’s that he’s not human.

If The Performance Was A Tree: Huarango - The Huarango is one of the hardest woods in the world, aka it is very, very dense. Sound familiar?

This tree is also nicknamed ‘the tree of life’ but it’s probably meant ironically. That ‘Alanis Morissette’ kind of ironic, perhaps. Or not.

Next: Charlie's Angels Full Throttle [page-break]

The Cast Of Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003)

The Performance: Lucy Liu, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Demi Moore et al.

Why It’s Woody:
Perhaps because this is a paycheck cash-in off the back of a suspect first installment, the plot of which requires so much suspension of disbelief that the actors themselves don’t buy a word they’re saying.

It’s hard to look anything but wooden when you know that you’re talking absolute nonsense, and you just want to get home and swim through your very deep pile of money.

Feel free to cringe. 3-2-1-Go!

If The Performance Was A Tree: One of those huge Christmas Trees you get in the town square. Impressively decorated, all shiny and bright.

On closer inspection, it’s nothing more than a cheap reminder of a hellish consumerist convention with little in the way of substance, value or necessity.

Next: Halle Berry [page-break]

Halle Berry post-Oscar (er… and pre-Oscar)

The Performance: Catwoman/X-Men 1-3/Gothika/Die Another Day etc. etc.

Why It’s Woody:
Perhaps a career of trying to prove yourself becomes a lot of unnecessary work once you’ve bagged Oscar, so you just mail-in performances in all your subsequent roles.

Between the marriages, the break-ups and the babies, perhaps whittling your way through film after film with the range of a master-less marionette is the only way to cope. That, and all the money.

If The Performance Was A Tree: It would be a Bradford Pear. Undoubtedly beautiful with a gorgeous blossom and the perfect shape, this tree has some serious flaws.

It is short lived, and self-destructs at the mere mention of the word ‘storm’. See what we did there? Yes, we’re very clever.

Next: Ben Affleck [page-break]

Ben Affleck

The Performance: Bounce (2000)

Why It’s Woody: Between Affleck and co-star Gwyneth Paltrow, this film has as much emotion as a log pile.

Any chemistry is lost in the gravity field created by Affleck’s chin, and his ability to add expression to his dialogue has been neutralised by Paltrow’s icy forcefield.

Not that we want to hate on them, you understand, they just make it too easy. Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms , though.

If The Performance Was A Tree: It would be hollow. When trees age the aptly titled ‘heartwood’ in the core of the trunk is often exposed to the elements or to insects, causing it to disappear.

This leaves a tree which can seem perfectly healthy and good looking from the outside completely hollow on the inside. Do the math.

See Also:
Daredevil/Gigli/The Sum Of All Fears and er... Phantoms .

Next: Saffron Burrows [page-break]

Saffron Burrows

The Performance: Deep Blue Sea (1999)

Burrow’s plays Dr. Susan McAllister, an alzheimer’s researcher conducting experiments on shark brains, the by product of which creates bigger, smarter sharks.

Why It’s Woody: Chewing through horrendously expositional dialogue that would make Lucas do a re-write, Burrows lack of experience on screen is amplified in every masticated syllable.

Tottering around the water-logger set, an environment which is hardly the place to showcase any moves you might have had otherwise, Burrows is about as fluid as log dam, making her demise feel like catharsis.

If The Performance Was A Tree: It would be a Jacaranda. Glorious purple blossoms last about two minutes, then fall away to reveal the shocking lump of wood beneath.

As a former model hired for a bit of eye candy, Burrows plays this description to a tee.

Next: Vin Diesel [page-break]

The Career of Vin Diesel

The Performance: The Pacifier/Chronicles of Ball-Lick/xXx/The Fast and The Furious etc. etc.

Why It’s Woody: When you lift weights you get muscles. When you get muscles, you lose flexibility, when you lose flexibility, you walk around a movie set like someone stuck a pole up your arse.

Spitting his lines in those trademark deep tones, Diesel can make an emotional back story sound like a shopping list, mistaking charisma for volume and a smug grin for charm.

If The Performance Was A Tree: It would be a Sequoia. The biggest, strongest tree in the forest, also contains more wood than any other tree.

Next: The Happening [page-break]

The Cast of The Happening (2008)

The Performance: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo etc. etc.

Brought to you by the man who carved up the similarly bark-covered Lady In The Water, a man who, by our count, has written one great script (it was Unbreakable).

A plot about plants is no excuse for the entire cast behaving like garden furniture.

Why It’s Woody: Between the dead eyes and monotones of Deschanel and the confusing verbal diarrhea Wahlberg spouts with the conviction of OJ during a game of truth or dare, this is the Woodstock of movie acting.

The mechanized dioramas at Disneyland are more emotive. Seriously, it’s hard to believe Marky Mark and Zooey have even met, let alone are engaged in a relationship. Oh, and Wahlberg talks to a plant. Bad.

If The Performance Was A Tree: A Rainforest. Yes only a massive wood-filled ecosystem could even begin to represent the shambles of a mockery displayed here.

Perhaps it was on purpose, what with the plot involving plants and all… but we highly doubt it.

Next: Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones [page-break]

The Cast of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

The Performance: Episode I has Neeson, and Episode III has Vader. Episode II has very little going for it.

Hayden Christiansen would be a good enough example on his own… if only it were that simple.

Why It’s Woody: Christiansen, Ewan McGregor and a cast of thousands are left to stumble over atrocious dialogue and green-screen confusion by a director too busy with CG and merchandising opportunites.

Refusing to learn the mistakes of Ep.1, notably eye-level errors when interacting with CG characters, and acting like a robotic shell of a cold-hearted bastard, Ep.2 expands on every flaw of its predecessor.

If The Performance Was A Tree: The forest moon of Endor. There isn’t a single form of flora, a single collection of plantlife or even a vast forest in a galaxy far, far away that is even remotely comparable.

The only way to fully do this atrocious example of group acting justice is to compare it to an entire tree-covered, Ewok-dwelling celestial body.

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