Worst X by Y?
December 26, 2021 9:19 AM   Subscribe

What are the most disappointing works by various entities who have an excellent reputation?

For example, filmmaker A is very well respected but directed terrible movie B. And is movie B truly terrible, or just very bad in comparison to A’s other work?

This question is meant very broadly, for any type of entity or work. Tell me about visual or performing artists, writers, athletes, scientists, elected officials, companies, organizations, etc.
posted by NotLost to Grab Bag (55 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Waterworld was considered Kevin Costner's worst movie for many reasons.
posted by hydra77 at 9:29 AM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

M Night Shyamalan hit it out of the park with The Sixth Sense, but then dropped two real turds with The Village and Lady in the Water.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 9:32 AM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Although it's nice that its creation was filmed for posterity, Let It Be is in fact the Beatles' weakest album.
posted by Rash at 9:49 AM on December 26, 2021 [6 favorites]

this may be an inflammatory statement but I think most of Ridley Scott's works after the first two are not so great. like ranging from fine to lame-o-matic to major suckage.
posted by supermedusa at 9:56 AM on December 26, 2021

Response by poster: To clarify, I am looking works that are singularly bad, not the outlier(s) that are good. That is, most of the works by the entity should be excellent, but he or she produced one that is bad.
posted by NotLost at 10:00 AM on December 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I love Sofia Coppola's films but I think Somewhere is terrible.
posted by Threeve at 10:03 AM on December 26, 2021

New York, New York, directed by Martin Scorsese.
A boring failure of improvised dialog.
posted by BostonTerrier at 10:04 AM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Gilbert and Sullivan’s last two operettas, “Utopia Ltd.” and “The Grand Duke,” were considered awful, the latter being their only financial failure. They generally disappeared from the repertoire until the mid ~70s, and people today, myself included, think they’re not too bad.
posted by Melismata at 10:06 AM on December 26, 2021 [5 favorites]

Shyamalan sorta fits but didn’t have *much* rep to destroy IIRC - his first couple of films flew under the radar.

I can’t stand Bowie’s first commercial release, especially when compared to his 70s and 80s output.

There are a ton of rock bands/pop acts who follow the formula “did a bunch of good stuff according to critics of their genre, taste changed/started sucking after commercial success, never recovered.”

Ridley Scott also follows this formula, as observed recently on the blue.

John Steinbeck’s The Winter of our Discontent is . . . not very good, IMO.

[on preview Steinbeck and Bowie probably best fit the idea]
posted by aspersioncast at 10:07 AM on December 26, 2021

JD Salinger's writing got progressively more byzantine and strange until he wrote a very long story in the New Yorker (more of a novella) called "Hapworth 16, 1924," which is ostensibly a long letter from camp written by a child-genius-saint (Seymour Glass) and is nearly impossible to like or understand. The reaction to it was so negative and confused that, despite continuing to write for the rest of his life (40+ years), he never published again. (Weirdly, he briefly authorized the republication of it in the mid 90s, but withdrew it when people noticed ahead of time that it was happening.)

I love Salinger—I've read his early uncollected fiction, Catcher, the stories, all his other Glass stuff, etc.—but I cannot for the life of me get through Hapworth. If you're familiar at all with his other work, dig it up online and prepare to be startled by how much one man's taste can change (and in what strange directions).
posted by Polycarp at 10:27 AM on December 26, 2021 [8 favorites]

The 1980 Corvette notoriously received an undersized and hobbled engine in California to meet emissions regulations. The vast majority of Corvettes since 1953 have been considered excellent for their time.
posted by Seeking Direction at 10:46 AM on December 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: The delightful YouTube series Trainwreckords covers, in detail, reputation-destroyingly-bad albums from otherwise popular bands.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:52 AM on December 26, 2021 [10 favorites]

Mike White directed the Emoji Movie
posted by Morpeth at 10:58 AM on December 26, 2021 [5 favorites]

Lee Iacocca was by most any standard a very successful automotive executive, with things like the Ford Mustang and the first American minivans created under his watch.

Also, the Ford Pinto, infamous for being released despite engineers' knowledge that it often burst into flames after even relatively minor accidents.
posted by box at 11:02 AM on December 26, 2021 [5 favorites]

I love nearly every single note of every single Oasis album- as well as Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds first two albums. But his last album, "Who Built The Moon" is mostly unlistenable dogshit in my humble opinion.
posted by mrmarley at 11:24 AM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

What a strange coincidence, while I've always enjoyed 'Waterworld,' I saw the Ulysses cut last night and it's even better.

Mark Messier is an ice hockey player with an impeccable reputation as a leader - until he was signed by the Vancouver Canucks when he then embodied the exact opposite of leadership.
posted by porpoise at 11:36 AM on December 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

The Ladykillers is pretty widely considered the Coen brothers' worst movie, and unlike any other potential candidates, I don't think I've ever seen someone try to defend it.
posted by quizzical at 11:41 AM on December 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

Some fans though Hannibal by Thomas Harris was so bad that the author must have intentionally set out to destroy the main characters (Lecter and Starling) to free himself from writing sequels. Here's a random reddit thread, for example, with fans calling it the worst book they ever read. Harris's Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs were excellent.
posted by Mid at 11:52 AM on December 26, 2021 [6 favorites]

Sir Terry Pratchett is beloved the world over for his books, especially on Metafilter, but two of them come to mind: Interesting Times (which, with the best will in the world, was full of racism) and Raising Steam (his final novel, when he was suffering terribly from Alzheimer's; it reads more like a dictated set of notes).
posted by Countess Elena at 12:03 PM on December 26, 2021 [5 favorites]

I'd say Lou Reed's Mistrial, although there's also New Sensations.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:18 PM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

And Lulu, and (in the world's opinion, not mine) Metal Machine Music.
posted by box at 12:23 PM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

The delightful YouTube series Trainwreckords covers, in detail, reputation-destroyingly-bad albums from otherwise popular bands.

Man that is a good list. I don't disagree with a single one.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:23 PM on December 26, 2021

Some fans though Hannibal by Thomas Harris was so bad that the author must have intentionally

My favorite criticism re. Hannibal by writer Martin Amis:
Harris has become a serial murderer of English sentences, and Hannibal is a necropolis of prose.
posted by phunniemee at 12:32 PM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

David Lynch’s body of work is incredible, but while it has its defenders, his take on Dune doesn’t really work.
posted by cakelite at 12:34 PM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Elephants Can Remember is absolutely terrible whereas you can pluck out any other book by Agatha Christie at random and see why she was feted as the grand dame of mystery.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:35 PM on December 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

My instinct was Eyes Wide Shut and it is rated lower that everything other than some of Kubrick’s early films, but I guess it got decent reviews. I think it’s pretty dreadful.
posted by vunder at 12:37 PM on December 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Early in the pandemic I did a chronological watch of the Coen Brothers filmography and generally found that even their lower tier movies are mostly enjoyable. The exception being The Ladykillers, which I tried four times to get through and never made it past the 45 min mark. That movie is annoying, offensive, and just overall like the cinematic equivalent to fingernails on a chalkboard.
posted by mannequito at 12:38 PM on December 26, 2021 [5 favorites]

Francis Ford Coppola cemented his status as a great director with The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather I and II, and some say his 1981 One From the Heart was exceptionally bad (haven't seen it). I once tried watching one of his later movies (Tetro, 2009) and found it to be truly terrible.
posted by perhapses at 12:48 PM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

the clash' final record 'cut the crap' is notoriously bad. jones had left the group and they used a new, terrible producer.

lou reed metal machine music.

grateful dead go to heaven. good lord.
posted by j_curiouser at 1:04 PM on December 26, 2021

The 1989 live album Dylan and the Dead is widely considered by both Bob Dylan fans and Grateful Dead fans to be their worst album.

(I don't necessarily agree--they both have some stinkers in their catalogs. I'd probably say it's not terrible as much as it is disappointing.)
posted by box at 1:07 PM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

The podcast Extra Hot Great takes tv canon submissions but they also take nonac ones - episodes where an otherwise good show delivers a real stinker.
posted by PussKillian at 1:18 PM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Director Tom Hooper is known for directing movies like The King's Speech and Les Miserables, and miniseries like John Adams and Elizabeth (starring Helen Mirren).

And....he also directed the adaptation of Cats.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:18 PM on December 26, 2021 [7 favorites]

Aerosmith's 1982 Rock in a Hard Place, with two principal members missing, was bad enough that they had to get Run-DMC (and then a bunch of outside songwriters) to resurrect their career.
posted by box at 1:39 PM on December 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I really enjoyed Dan Simmons' Hyperion/Endymion books, and a few others, but his Illium duology was so bad it forced me to reconsider my opinion of his other works.
posted by adamrice at 1:55 PM on December 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

Beethoven wrote a set of military marches that are...just kind of boring.
posted by daisystomper at 1:58 PM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Scientists can have some really weird scientific blind spots. James Watson and Francis Crick, later in life, both made statements supporting eugenics/racial determinism. Linus Pauling also spoke in favor of eugenics, and was an advocate of a quack medical practice of taking megadoses of vitamin C. Peter Duesberg is a highly regarded molecular biologist and yet an AIDS-denialist.

Isaac Newton was an ardent believe in alchemy, and had a nervous breakdown when he accidentally burned his alchemy notebook. Johann Kepler had mystic notions about the orbits of planets being related to the Pythagorean solids (cool idea, but they're not), and expended a great deal of effort trying to fit that square peg into a round hole.
posted by adamrice at 2:03 PM on December 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Kazuo Ishiguro is one of my all time favorite writers. IMO he did something magnificent with A PALE VIEW OF THE HILLS, WHEN WE WERE ORPHANS, and THE REMAINS OF THE DAY. These books make me want to drop down to my knees and weep in gratitude.

The same author also wrote THE BURIED GIANT and KLARA AND THE SUN which, while being quite characteristically his work, did bore me to tears. I suppose it comes with the territory of trying to write that particular kind of novel. Sometimes the magic happens. Other times it's just confusing and hard to understand.
posted by MiraK at 2:06 PM on December 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

I thought Spielberg's Hook was just incompetent. I don't think every film he makes is great but Hook just sucked.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:07 PM on December 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Hemingway The old man and the sea.
George Eliot Romola
Edith Wharton's poetry
posted by rhonzo at 2:09 PM on December 26, 2021

It seems this post should likely be about actors/writers but I wanted to guide this to a company I used to think were decent but now, quality has gone downhill.

Everytime I have to buy their products makes me angry.
And that company is Johnson & Johnson. They used to make great qtips, and good band aids.
Now the swabs cotton comes off almost by itself and the band aids actual bandaging gets smaller with every pack I buy.
WTH J&J, where did your supposed quality go??
posted by gregjunior at 4:17 PM on December 26, 2021

Seconding the disappointment with J&J's current band-aid offerings. Maybe vintage NOS Sheer Strips are available on eBay?
posted by Rash at 4:28 PM on December 26, 2021

The Beta Band's 3 EPs release was one of the classics of the 1990s. Their self-titled album, however, has no redeeming features whatsoever.
posted by scruss at 4:53 PM on December 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Rian Johnson directed some pretty good movies like Brick, Looper, and Knives Out, but he also did The Last Jedi, which many regard with much less favor.
posted by ambulatorybird at 4:55 PM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Elephants Can Remember is absolutely terrible whereas you can pluck out any other book by Agatha Christie at random and see why she was feted as the grand dame of mystery.

A 2019 Radiolab podcast explained a theory that when Christie wrote Elephants Can Remember she was in the early stages of dementia.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:30 PM on December 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

Neil Young had a decades-long run in rock with arguably no missteps except Trans, which was his sudden attempted pivot into Kraftwerk-influenced synth-rock. It has its champions but is generally regarded a a single massive outlier in an otherwise pretty impeccable body of work (until Pono-era Neil Young, but let's just focus on the his first four decades of music).
posted by Shepherd at 5:31 PM on December 26, 2021

Didn't Neil Yong famously punk his record company by releasing "Everybody's Rockin'" just to play out his contract? No matter, "Wonderin'" is awesome.


CCR was obviously one of the biggest bands of the 60s, but I think people overlook the wonderful subtlety of some of John Fogerty's songwriting. And at such a young age. Almost everything they did was gold.

But everything he's done post-CCR has been either flatfooted rockabilly or a half-assed attempt to recapitulate CCR's oeuvre. IMHO, it sucks. All of it. To the extent that I wonder if Tom, Doug or Stu was CCR's real songwriter.
posted by klanawa at 7:07 PM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Among Shostakovich's 15 symphonies, two (No. 2 and No. 12) are encomiums to Lenin. Believe me when I say this isn't automatically damning in my book. Symphony No. 2 doesn't really work, but it's interesting.

Symphony No. 12 doesn't work either, and it isn't interesting.
posted by aws17576 at 9:32 PM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

I personally think Run, River by Joan Didion is the only thing of hers not worth reading.

I also object to Dash's assertion that Let It Be is the weakest Beatles album. It's better than ... almost all of them. No stinkers in the catalogue but Rubber Soul is the bottom of the barrel, to me.
posted by kensington314 at 10:12 PM on December 26, 2021

I'd say Lou Reed's Mistrial, although there's also New Sensations.

Eh, I liked bits of Mistrial (though 'The Original Wrapper' was kinda embarrassing). But surely if we're talking about Lou, we're talking about Metal Machine Music?
posted by Pink Frost at 12:24 AM on December 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

F. Scott Fitzgerald's play The Vegetable is an embarrassment.
posted by Violet Blue at 12:49 AM on December 27, 2021

I thought Margaret Atwood's The Testaments read like fanfic messing with a story setting (The Handmaid's Tale) it didn't need to touch.

(Help me out if you know the book I thought I was reading/wanted to read instead: I guess I wanted a book that helped me reflect on resolving the hopelessness of the autocratic capture of Gilead. I think that means different storytelling than conventional mechanisms: normal attempts to tell stories about the overthrow of injustice requires singular heroes on an arc, named characters already chosen by destiny. I believe that actually overthrowing autocrats, despots and dictatorships is a collective effort where enough people stop supporting the lies of the age and then enough people stop acting out the playbook of the age, then enough arbitrary people -- you can still seize this role in your own life, it could be you! -- are brave enough to seize a definitive role in objecting to the dictator, oppression, news feeds and catalysing the end to the unjust system. The Testaments had pre-formed characters on rails riding unavoidably toward their destiny with little peril.)
posted by k3ninho at 3:00 AM on December 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Beverly Cleary revolutionized children's literature by introducing an entirely new level of realism and psychological insight.

She also wrote three Leave It To Beaver novelizations. She later admitted that she wrote them because they didn't take much effort and she could bang them out while sitting in her car waiting to pick up her kids.
posted by yankeefog at 4:05 AM on December 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

Daniel Day Lewis is my favorite actor and in my opinion, the best living male actor out there. I have loved every one of his movies and thought they were fantastic, both because of him and on their own merit.

But Nine..... Good God, that movie was awful. Painful to watch. I'm so mad he made so few movies and one of them was Nine! What a waste!
posted by silverstatue at 7:15 AM on December 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks. You have given me a lot of flops to consider.
posted by NotLost at 3:41 PM on December 27, 2021

One more! Worst painting by Goya: Equestrian Portrait of the 1st Duke of Wellington, left rolled up in the back of Wellington's closet because it's just so... meh.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:28 PM on December 28, 2021

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