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Thread: Makeup mishaps: Worst makeup jobs in movie history

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    Default Makeup mishaps: Worst makeup jobs in movie history

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    There have been some downright awful makeup jobs and prosthetic blunders in Hollywood history. In (dis)honor of 'W.,' here are the worst offenses ...

    By Kim Morgan
    Special to MSN Movies

    The act of transforming, it can't always be accomplished from the inside; sometimes we need a little cosmetic assistance, especially in Hollywood. And we're not talking plastic surgery, Pilates or salicylic acid peels; we're talking makeup, prosthetics and fat suits, an art form that has existed since the beginning of cinema. From Lon Chaney's ingenious and innovative creations, like his remarkable Quasimodo from "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," to Rick Baker's brilliant American werewolves in London to Lee Grimes' team de-glamming Charlize Theron's mug in "Monster," makeup is enough to make or break a movie. And it even helps wins Oscars (see Nicole Kidman's nose in "The Hours" and Theron's teeth and skin in "Monster").
    With that in mind, we can't wait to see the cavalcade of made-up actors in Oliver Stone's already controversial "W.," a movie that casts the younger and more handsome Josh Brolin as President George W. Bush through various stages of his life. Will it work? Or will we crack up every time hottie Elizabeth Banks walks on as Laura Bush? All of this "W" (Dubya) anticipation has us thinking about other movies that have used and, in this case, abused the makeup brush. Here are 10 examples that could really use another makeover.
    "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961)
    The offense: Insane Asian Persuasion
    The cosmetically challenged: Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi
    The lipstick on the collar: Cinema boasts (or hangs its head in shame over, rather) a long list of Asian characters played not so convincingly by Anglo-Saxon actors. From the misguided but not necessarily offensive performances (Marlon Brando in "The Teahouse of the August Moon," Katharine Hepburn in "Dragon Seed," John Wayne in "The Conqueror") to the downright appalling (Rob Schneider in "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry"), Asians have and continue to receive the "no ticky, no laundry" treatment, even during our supposedly more enlightened era. But perhaps the worst and most iconic politically incorrect offender is Mickey Rooney's perpetually perturbed photographer Mr. Yunioshi in Blake Edwards' otherwise charming classic "Breakfast at Tiffany's." As neighbor to Audrey Hepburn's flighty Holly Golightly, Mr. Yunioshi is a man whose life consists of eating bowls of noodles, sleeping on his futon and screaming at the doorbell: "Miss Golightly! I proteeeest!" With false buck teeth, darkened skin and slicked, black hair, the look and act was so insulting that a young Bruce Lee reportedly stared at the screen in disgusted disbelief, vowing to change the face of Asians in cinema forever. (With that in mind, perhaps Mr. Yunioshi wasn't so bad, after all.) Nevertheless, even director Edwards has admitted to a serious error in judgment by allowing such a performance, and more than likely cringes every time the movie switches from little black dresses to little white kimonos. "Miss Golightly! You-a disturbing me!" Really? You disturb us, Mr. Rooney.
    "Trog" (1970)
    The offense: Monkey Dearest
    The cosmetically challenged: Joe Cornelius as Trog
    The lipstick on the collar: Regarding bad prosthetics, wretched makeup and general missing link unlikeness, it almost feels like shooting fish in a barrel going after such classic camp fare as "Trog." But the fact remains: This is one of the worst renderings of a troglodyte in cinema history. OK, so there aren't many troglodytes to choose from, but star Joan Crawford (who in her final role plays a sensitive anthropologist studying the behavior of a trapped cave creature she names Trog) is one game gal acting her talented heart out to a hairy man in a busted up Halloween monkey mask. Forget "Mildred Pierce," this is what Joan should have won her Oscar for. Even Bette Davis (who must have enjoyed a good cackle over this one) would agree. And, equally as important, Joan's makeup is far superior.
    "Soul Man" (1986)
    The offense: Soul Mammy
    The cosmetically challenged: C. Thomas Howell (in blackface) as Mark Watson
    The lipstick on the collar: "Soul Man," a misguided mid-'80s effort to tackle both political correctness and racism, gets seriously lost while exploring something like what John Howard Griffin experienced in "Black Like Me" -- something like. A lighthearted college comedy spiked with last act moments of truth (wait a second ... racism is bad! And it still exists! Even with "The Cosby Show" on TV!) is not enough to accept C. Thomas Howell as a young black man attending Harvard (or anywhere, really). With his darkened skin and fright wig, he looks either like a bratty, bizarre rich kid who would get his ass served to him in a Compton minute or a bratty, bizarre rich kid abusing the suntan lotion while idling in Cabo San Lucas during spring break. If you're going to work with something as racially charged as blackface you better know what you're doing. Or hire Robert Downey Jr.
    "Battlefield Earth" (2000)
    The offense: Saturday Fright Fever
    The cosmetically challenged: John Travolta as Terl
    The lipstick on the collar: Even after living in our collective consciousness for nearly 10 years, enough time to potentially soften our view toward a fondness for crap (it happens), "Battlefield Earth" is still one of the worst, if not the worst, science fiction movies of this decade. That was easy. What's not easy is dragging the uninitiated reader through the plot, not because it's terribly complicated, but because it involves things like Psychlos and Man Animals and Clinkos and a character named Terl, the evil leader of a greedy race of aliens intent on destroying Barry Pepper's career -- I mean character. Quite memorably, John Travolta, fueled by the fire of his Scientologist master L. Ron Hubbard (who wrote the "classic" source novel) is Terl, a laughing, long-haired lunatic who, along with his hair and makeup person, actually thinks he's scaring viewers by cross-pollinating a Rastafarian with a werewolf and Amy Winehouse (incredibly, before Winehouse was famous). Wait, now that's kind of ingenious. Where's the nearest recruitment center?
    "Vampire in Brooklyn" (1995)
    The offense: Where's Rick Baker When You Need Him?
    The cosmetically challenged: Eddie Murphy as Maximillian/Preacher Pauly/Guido The lipstick on the collar: Eddie Murphy likes performing while encased in loads of makeup and pounds of prosthetics with results ranging from incredibly amusing and cosmetically innovative ("Coming to America," "The Nutty Professor") to only prosthetically impressive ("Norbit," a wretched movie but Oscar nominated for makeup and special effects by the master Rick Baker). Sadly, "Vampire in Brooklyn" is neither amusing nor inventive, and Murphy slumps through the dreary horror comedy (directed by Wes Craven; what were you thinking, Mr. Craven?) with a depressing lack of zest. The makeup does not help, and, after working with Baker in "Coming to America," Murphy had to have felt the difference. Save for his more inspired Preacher character, Murphy seems trapped by cheap hair, badly applied putty and layers of Cover Girl. The only thing funny or scary here is the makeup, but obviously for all the wrong reasons. We can ask not only, "Where's Rick Baker when you need him?" but also, "Where's John Landis and Wesley Snipes?" Now, that would have been interesting.

    "The Hours" (2002)

    The offense: Goodnight Mrs. Dalloway, Wherever You Are
    The cosmetically challenged: Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf
    The lipstick on the collar: This is a controversial one, we know. Nicole Kidman won an Academy Award for her role as the depressed "Mrs. Dalloway" author Virginia Woolf, and legions were moved by her performance. But there were many of us who felt a little like the brilliant author, that innovator of stream of consciousness style, was reduced to ... that lady with the big honker. Since Kidman is such a major talent, we wondered why she even needed the extended proboscis. Maybe by sheer ability and character examination alone, she could have accomplished the same, perhaps more, in a dowdy dress and little makeup. Instead we were sometimes left with, "Boy, that lady must have been really depressed to have a honker like that. Lucky for Nicole, she doesn't really have a honker like that because she would give up acting forever, just like Virginia Woolf gave up life." Well, she nabbed the Oscar, famously, and as Denzel Washington quipped onstage, "By a nose." Did we mention how much we love Denzel Washington?
    "Citizen Kane" (1941)
    The offense: F Is for Fake
    The cosmetically challenged: Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane
    The lipstick on the collar: I'm not one of those contrarians who believes Orson Welles' classic is simply that overrated, AFI favorite -- the cinematic equivalent of "Stairway to Heaven." No way. It is one of the greatest movies ever made. So I am begrudgingly adding Welles (who loved using, sometimes abusing, makeup and prosthetics in his pictures) to this list, but only during his moments as a grumpy, old Charles Foster Kane, or rather a 26-year-old playing a grumpy, old Charles Foster Kane. It's not that he isn't convincing, acting-wise (after all he trashes that room with an elderly, "you kids get off my lawn" gusto). But in his makeup (the obvious bald cap, the exaggerated aged eyes, the general egglike look of his head) Welles almost appears like Otto Preminger in the "Batman" TV series. And yet, the man was so damn talented that when he touchingly picks up the snow globe, I still get teary eyed. On a side note, Joseph Cotten, as the elderly, visor-wearing ex-friend, didn't do so well in the makeup chair, either.
    "Nothing but Trouble" (1991)
    The offense: Erectile Dysfunction
    The cosmetically challenged: Dan Aykroyd as Judge Alvin "J.P." Valkenheiser
    The lipstick on the collar: A freak show of alarming makeup, ghastly prosthetics and protruding proboscises, Dan Aykroyd's directorial debut is a dark comedy that remains, well, dark -- as in comedy rarely seeing the light of day. The stupid story finds yuppie couple Chevy Chase and Demi Moore becoming prisoners in a disgusting place called Valkenvania, held captive by an insane justice of the peace (Aykroyd) who is so heavily and grotesquely made up that it's hard to find anything funny in his repulsive appearance or performance. And when your movie becomes more famous for a prosthetic nose that looks like a penis, well, you've got some problems, even if said penis nose is the comedic point. We got it -- far too well. And it's still too gross to be funny. Worse, the film can't be redeemed by a terrific Ray Charles song, John Candy, or an appearance by the Digital Underground, a rap group that, come to think of it, was led by a much cooler fake nose.
    "The Aviator" (2004)
    The offense: Stunt Casting
    The cosmetically challenged: Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow
    The lipstick on the collar: Though I like Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator," and was perfectly fine with Cate Blanchett aping Kate Hepburn, I absolutely detested the insert-a-pop-star-here moment of Gwen Stefani playing Jean Harlow, arm-in-arm with Leonardo DiCaprio's Howard Hughes at the opening of his "Hell's Angels." This was classic stunt casting. Rather than finding a struggling, good actress who not only looked more like Harlow, but also could have used that one line of dialogue to get her SAG card, the filmmakers went with Stefani, presumably to get the young kids in the theater. Who knows? Whatever the case, her makeup looked too modern, more like an early '90s Vanity Fair layout of Madonna by Steven Meisel than the great blond bombshell herself. And, worse, Gwen's look took us out of the movie. Yes, it was a brief moment that didn't destroy the entire picture, but was it a wrong move? No doubt.
    "Mr. Saturday Night" (1992)
    The offense: When Harry Met Spirit Gum
    The cosmetically challenged: Billy Crystal as Buddy Young Jr. The lipstick on the collar: As schmaltzy, sappy and hackneyed as Billy Crystal's vaudevillian character study, "Mr. Saturday Night," is, I have a strange soft spot for the movie that I've never quite worked out. (I have the same feeling for "The Sunshine Boys," too.) But, my own issues aside, the movie has major makeup problems in its flashbacks of declining age. Crystal plays the ambitious and egotistical comedian Buddy Young, an abusive guy who'll stop at nothing to get to the top. Through flashback, we learn that he's quite haunted and emotional about some of his past behavior, but it's tough to feel the power of reconciliation when Crystal looks more like his elderly face was slapped on quickly before a "Saturday Night Live" skit (which would be forgivable) and not, you know, looking like a sad old guy. To quote Crystal's own creation Fernando, Billy's Buddy does not look "mah-va-lous."

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    Elite Member Penny Lane's Avatar
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    The Soul Man blackface was pretty bad... it almost looked rust-colored. And the prosthetic nose in The Hours reminds me of a MadTV skit I saw once... the nose kept getting bigger and crooked every time Nicole Kidman came into the shot.. it was funny.

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    Gold Member heathersharon's Avatar
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    I recall the age makeup in "For the Boys" was terrible. Alarmingly bad, if I remember correctly.

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    ugh all i could think of when i read this thread title is how in certain scenes in twilight you could see the makeup applicator lines on robert pattinsons

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    Elite Member southernbelle's Avatar
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    LMAO. I wasn't familiar with this.... I haven't seen Breakfast at Tiffany's. That is awful!!

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    Can't find a pic but Sean Connery being made up to look Japanese in the Bond movie "You Only Live Twice" is pretty hilarious.
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    Elite Member msdeb's Avatar
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    i was hoping Soul Man was in there. THE WORST makeup job ever!
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    Oh my God that's awful!!!! So friggin racist!!

    I'd like to nominate Carlisle from Twilight to be number 11.
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    Joan Crawford in A Torch Song.
    As Canadian as possible under the circumstances


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