What The Hell Happened To ... Cuba Gooding Jr.?
Show him the money.
The Oscar Winner Hits Bottom
There have been a handful of low points in Cuba Gooding, Jr.'s career, but the back-to-back release of Snow Dogs and Boat Trip was the lowest. Until Snow Dogs, you could still say Gooding was still riding his wave of Oscar cred, experimenting and stretching himself as an actor in a dizzying array of projects. The remainder of his credibility began to fade away with Snow Dogs, a hammy Disney vehicle that launched Cuba Gooding, Jr. into Eddie Murphy territory --- a once respected star doing pratfalls in a mediocre studio comedy. While Snow Dogs was a modest success for Disney, earning $115 million worldwide, it was not the antidote that Gooding's career needed.
The following year, perhaps buoyed by the commercial success of Snow Dogs, Gooding starred in yet another big budget comedy: Boat Trip. As a straight man pretending to be homosexual to get close to his dream girl on a gay cruise, Gooding was reaching for comic stardom; what he got instead was public derision. "When I got to Boat Trip, I thought it was time to do something that was going to make me a $20 million player," he later explained to the New York Times. The film was a critical and commercial flop, earning less at the box office than it had cost. It was a textbook example of the Oscar curse in effect. And it would not stop there.
Gooding continued his downward slide with another forgettable failure, the romantic comedy The Fighting Temptations, but what really sunk him was a role as a mentally-challenged young man in 2003's Radio. Critics chastised the film for its hypocritical and overly saccharine treatment of its protagonist, a childlike simpleton cheerily played by Gooding; to his credit, the actor seemed to give the role his all. But unlike the handicapped character that nabbed Dustin Hoffman an Oscar for Rain Man (and earned Charlize Theron one for Monster at that year's Oscars), the role of Radio failed to renew Cuba Gooding Jr. as an Oscar contender. After a minor voice-over stint in Disney's tepid animated tale Home on the Range, Gooding began looking outside of the mainstream.
Next: Cuba Goes Indie