Total Recall: Superstar Duos
With The Tourist hitting theaters, we run down some notable flicks featuring pairs of big stars.
What's better than a movie with one huge star? A movie with two huge stars, of course -- and this weekend, when Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie give filmgoers a double shot of celebrity charisma with The Tourist, they'll become the latest in a long line of superstar duos who have combined their talents (and box office power) to make Hollywood history. Naturally, we couldn't fit them all into this week's feature, but the ten pair-ups listed here include some of cinema's biggest hits (and at least one truly noteworthy miss). It's time to double your pleasure, double your Total Recall!
Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio, Catch Me If You Can
Hanks and DiCaprio may not have shared many onscreen moments, but Catch Me if You Can offered filmgoers the chance to see a movie anchored by a pair of honest-to-goodness screen titans -- and in a Steven Spielberg project, to boot. Taking the true story of legendary con man Frank Abagnale, Jr. (played by DiCaprio) and the FBI man who doggedly pursued him (Hanks), this Christmas Day release earned more than $350 million, multiple Academy Award nominations, and the admiration of critics like Ben Schwartz of the Chicago Reader, who wrote admiringly, "Catch Me if You Can is one of those deceptively slight offerings that manages to reveal more about its maker than the intended masterpieces often do."
Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Eyes Wide Shut
Cruise and Kidman met on the set of 1990's Days of Thunder, married later that year, and collaborated again in 1992's Far and Away -- but by the time they made their third movie together, Cruise wasn't the only superstar in the family. The real-life spouses' casting in the dark, heavily sexualized Eyes Wide Shut made headlines and subjected the film to intense tabloid scrutiny even before director Stanley Kubrick died, and their notoriety helped propel it to more than $160 million at the box office. A number of critics were left cold by Shut's glacial pace, but most scribes echoed the sentiments of Variety's Todd McCarthy, who called it "A riveting, thematically probing, richly atmospheric and just occasionally troublesome work, a deeply inquisitive consideration of the extent of trust and mutual knowledge possible between a man and a woman."
Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, Gigli
We've included a lot of successful superstar duos on this list, but we couldn't leave out one of the most notoriously toxic combinations in recent memory. In 2002, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez were a perpetual tabloid frenzy machine, and the public seemed like it'd never tire of hearing about their impossibly beautiful exploits -- but by 2003, Bennifer was passe, and it definitely didn't help that their cinematic debut, Gigli, was an unqualified dud. The golden raspberry on top of Affleck's annus horriblis, Gigli brought an abrupt end to director Martin Brest's award-winning career, and inspired almost universal loathing from critics such as Film4's Richard Luck, who called it "a sickening exercise in smugness and self-love."
Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Katahrine Hepburn could get her own Superstar Duos list -- her filmography boasts collaborations with Humphrey Bogart, Henry Fonda, Cary Grant, and John Wayne -- but she worked with Spencer Tracy most (and best) of all. Hepburn and Tracy made nine movies together, and we really could have chosen any of them for this list, but ultimately, we settled on 1967's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner -- partly because it was an important film about race relations that won two Academy Awards (against an impressive eight nominations), and partly because they made it knowing Tracy didn't have long to live. While it hasn't aged particularly well, most critics are still willing to look past Dinner's flaws, including Roger Ebert, who asks, "It would be easy to tear the plot to shreds and catch Kramer in the act of copping out. But why? On its own terms, this film is a joy to see, an evening of superb entertainment."
Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, Heat
De Niro and Pacino had shared film credits before, for The Godfather Part II, but they didn't share any screen time -- which is why it was such a big deal when they finally got around to an actual co-starring gig for 1995's Heat. The two acting titans only ended up trading a few lines, but maybe it was just enough of a good thing, judging from 2008's wretched Righteous Kill; with just a single tension-wracked scene in Heat, they helped anchor what Chris Barsanti of Film Threat called "one of the greatest crime films of all time."