Nothing will take you out of a cinematic moment more than bad acting and bad chemistry. No star and no budget is safe from ridicule when an intense on-screen relationship becomes a source of unintentional comedy. Here's the proof:
Orlando Bloom & Keira Knightley – Pirates of the Caribbean
Can the world agree that Orlando Bloom is a less-than mediocre actor? (Sorry LOTR fans, but have you seen Kingdom of Heaven or Elizabethtown?) If there was ever any doubt about his talents, look no further than his scenes with Keira Knightley in the original Pirates film. Even with the romance of the high seas and swashbuckling heroism, Bloom and Knightley fell completely flat. It's no wonder the sequels developed a love triangle thing with Johnny Depp. Don't worry, Orlando, you've still got that pretty face and a supermodel wife.
Ben Affleck & Kate Beckinsale – Pearl Harbor
Director Michael Bay isn't exactly known for his ability to build believable relationships amid the over-the-top explosions, big budget CGI, and sweeping 360 degree camera shots that define his films. Kate Beckinsale and Ben Affleck found this out the hard way when they signed on for Pearl Harbor. Their scenes together had the ability to make a war film, a Michael Bay war film no less, a complete snooze fest.
Brad Pitt & Julia Roberts – The Mexican
Some studios believe that casting a film is simple math: Put two good-looking Oscar nominees together and it's instant cinematic gold. Let The Mexican serve as the precedent that puts this arithmetic strategy to rest. Within the first few scenes, it's apparent that you're not watching a couple in love, you're watching Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts collect a paycheck.
Sean Connery & Catherine Zeta Jones – Entrapment
The believability of the romantic relationship in Entrapment was at a disadvantage from the get go. Sure, he's the original James Bond and he's got that awesome accent, but were we really supposed to believe the 69-year-old Sean Connery could actually score with the 30-year-old Catherine Zeta-Jones? It was hard enough believing the old dude was a successful international art thief. Still, we have to give props to a film that was able to base its entire marketing campaign on a five-second close-up of Zeta-Jones' butt dodging a lazer security system.
Natalie Portman & Hayden Christensen – Star Wars
Fans had a lot to be disappointed about when George Lucas crapped out the long-awaited Star Wars prequels. Perhaps the most unfortunate letdown is the on-screen chemistry (or lack thereof) between a pre-Vader Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman. This one falls squarely on Christensen, who would lose to a turd in a personality competition, and who seems to believe the only way to act is to overact. He has two speeds – dull, wooden robot or pouty, emo brat. You'd almost rather watch Jar Jar Binx fall in love with Portman. Almost.
Christian Bale & Katie Holmes – Batman Begins
Despite Hayden Christensen's terrible on-screen compatibility with Portman, at least he didn't lose his job because of it. The same cannot be said for Katie Holmes, who totally blew her opportunity to be in what will surely be one of the most successful trilogies in film history. Holmes plays someone who we are supposed to believe has known Bruce Wayne since childhood, but she and Bale look more like they've been forced to awkwardly interact while their friends flirt and hook-up. Some blame has to go to Bale though – how is anyone supposed to develop a romance when he's doing his Batman voice?
Re: Bad Romance: Cinema's Worst On-Screen Chemistry
Jennifer Lopez & Ben Affleck – Gigli
In what still goes down as one of the worst movies of all time, Gigli suffers from a lot of things, but perhaps the most surprising is that a real-life couple couldn't manufacture the slightest bit of romance or sexual tension. It probably doesn't help that we are supposed to buy Ben Affleck as a Tony Soprano type. Regardless, you'd think that at a time when the world was fascinated by the original "Bennifer," their on-screen dynamic would be enough to carry the film out of Razzie territory. Instead, it set Affleck's career back by about five years, defining the moment when Matt Damon left him in the dust.
Madonna & Adriano Giannini – Swept Away
Make no mistake, Madonna has skills and her celebrity is deserved, but if her recent Golden Globes acceptance speech taught us anything, it's that after 30 years in the limelight, she's come to believe her talents are far more expansive than they are. Unfortunately, her subdued arrogance has actually made her a worse actress. Watching Madonna bobble in and out of a faux British accent coupled with her "look at me, I'm ACTING" delivery in Swept Away is torture (or hilarious, depending on how you look at it). The unintentional laughing stock almost singlehandedly undid director Guy Ritchie's credibility. Who knows what it did to their marriage.
Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman – Eyes Wide Shut
From Oscar nominations to box office records, Tom Cruise is one of the most successful actors alive, but there's always been something kind of "off" about his romantic record on-screen. He seems to find conjouring some kind of onscreen intimacy among one of acting's most difficult tasks. His crowning achievement in bad chemistry is Eyes Wide Shut, in which he was able to make the scenes with Nicole Kidman, then his real-life wife, awkward, forced, and completely unsexy.