The 10 Most Unlikely Kids Movie Stars
The Rock's appearance in this week's Tooth Fairy compelled us to look back at some movies where tough guys went soft...
Ever since Arnie wrangled a bunch of infants in Kindergarten Cop, seems like every tough guy can't wait to show their softer, humorous side around kids, animals, 'toons and talking trains. Many of the films are critically reviled and only a few are hits, but -- as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson proves by donning the wings in this week's Tooth Fairy, his third go at family fun -- the trend isn't going away any time soon. Here then are 10 of the most unlikely stars of kids movies...
He'd already tracked down Sarah Connor, the Predator and the truth about the Mars colony, so it seemed only natural that someone should make a movie in which action-man Arnie's entire challenge amounted to buying a Turbo Man toy as a Christmas present for his son (future Anakin Skywalker moppet Jake Lloyd). His competitor for the little piece of moulded plastic? Comedian Sinbad. Released in the yuletide season, it managed to make box-office cash registers jingle just enough for it to break even but critics and audiences who went along responded to it like a lump of coal in a stocking.
Baldwin's a big guy who projects a brusque no-nonsense confidence, whether it's as an NBC chieftain on 30 Rock or in his formative screen tough guys in The Getaway and Glengarry Glen Ross. All of which makes it funnier to see him appear as a 12-inch tall fairy amid the talking trains of this terrible movie version of the popular tyke TV show. He's Mr. Conductor, who works the Magic Railroad between the human world of Shining Time and the talking-train universe of Sodor, and he has lost his gold dust -- meaning he can no longer sparkle between the two places! Try not to think of his "Always be closing" speech when he's driving Thomas, blowing a whistle and saying "Sparkle! Sparkle! Sparkle!"
Good sense of humor or dud career move? That's what we all asked ourselves when Robert De Niro joined this big-budget but small-brained adaptation of the TV cult cartoon. That he actually parodied his "Are you talkin' to me?" scene from Taxi Driver in this flop might just have been the line in his career where De Niro crossed over from awesome actor to self-parody specialist. Certainly his biggest hits since have traded on him mocking his tough-guy image, while actual meaty dramatic roles have been few and far between.
Hollywood had clearly learned nothing from that time the Harlem Globetrotters visited Gilligan's Island and so it was decreed that Shaq should become a movie star. But instead of an action effort -- the route Dennis Rodman would take next year in the gloriously cheesy Double Team -- or even a 'toon tale like Michael Jordan in Space Jam -- Shaq was shoehorned into this horrendous kids comedy as -- wait for it -- a genie. But not just an ordinary genie -- a rapping genie. Who lives in a beat box. You haven't lived until you've heard the lines: "Trapped in a box like a premature burial/Used to mull in the space cemetarial/Suffered a curse that was more than malarial/Lived as a ghost granted wishes material/Served every Tom, Dick and Harriel." Where did the screenwriters buy their rhyming dictionary?