Movie Jail: This week’s defendant is…Barry Levinson!

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

Movie Jail Banner

This is Movie Jail, a unique maximum security prison that houses some of the worst writers, directors, actors and producers from Hollywood and beyond. Their crimes? The offenses vary from convict to convict but most of these inmates have contributed negatively to the film world to some capacity* and his or her misdeeds have covered a long enough period of time that the authorities had to intervene. In each column a defendant is put on trial, arguments are made, and then it is up to YOU, the jury, to decide if the person is guilty or not guilty of crimes against cinema. Their lives are in your hands, dude.

The Defendant

Barry Levinson

The Case

The Prosecution: Rock the Kasbah, The Humbling, What Just Happened?, Man of the Year, Envy, An Everlasting Piece, Sphere, Jimmy Hollywood, Toys

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Barry Levinson has helmed multiple award winning movies, including 1988's Rain Man, which won him a Best Director Oscar, however most of his directorial efforts as of late have failed to connect with critics and audiences. In fact, one could argue that the filmmaker is in the midst of a slump, with 2012's The Bay being his only fresh rated film at Rotten Tomatoes since 2001's Bandits.

Man of the Year and Envy both scored very low marks from critics, while The Humbling and What Just Happened? only received mixed reviews. Rock the Kasbah, Mr. Levinson's most recent film, opened last month to scathing reviews, and is also bombing hard at the box office. Mr. Levinson has directed other misfires such as Sphere, Jimmy Hollywood and Toys, but the prosecution is more concerned about his current fourteen-year stretch of mostly bad movies. What happened to the guy who directed Good Morning, Vietnam, Bugsy and Wag the Dog?

For the record, the prosecution still thinks Mr. Levinson is a talented filmmaker, but he has definitely earned a prison stay, and the prosecution is recommending a 90-day sentence for his decade-plus run of disappointing movies.

Man of the Year Barry Levinson

The Defense: The Bay, Bandits, Liberty Heights, Wag the Dog, Sleepers, Disclosure, Bugsy, Avalon, Rain Man, Good Morning, Vietnam, Tin Men, Young Sherlock Holmes, The Natural, Diner

Ladies and gentlemen, although it's true that most of Mr. Levinson's more recent movies haven't done that well critically or at the box office, they certainly don't take anything away from his positively reviewed older ones. Rain Man and Good Morning, Vietnam are both classics in the defense's book, but he's also directed plenty of other great films, like Wag the Dog, Bugsy, The Natural, and Sleepers.

While my client has helmed a handful of stinkers as of late (except for The Bay, which the defense is a huge fan of), we don't believe The Humbling and What Just Happened? are so bad that they should be used against the director. They aren't fantastic movies, but they aren't complete disasters either. Even with a few missteps on his resume, Mr. Levinson still has a very impressive filmography, and, considering how long he's been in the industry, it's not as if Rock the Kasbah will be a career-killer like it would be for other, less-established directors.

In short, Mr. Levinson just doesn't belong behind bars with the likes of Michael Bay, Brett Ratner and Paul W.S. Anderson. If anything, he deserves a The Good,The Bad and The Badass column, not Movie Jail, and, thanks to his older directorial efforts, the defense doubts the jury will want to lock the filmmaker up.

Barry Levinson


Do Mr. Levinson's good movies outweigh his bad ones, or do you think he needs to spend some time in prison? Should we toss him in Movie Jail, or wait and see if he'll be able to rebound from his latest cinematic failure? Is director Barry Levinson GUILTY or NOT GUILTY?

*The cases for and against a defendant going to Movie Jail by the author are not necessarily his views and opinions but they are some of the beliefs that one would use to effectively make an argument for both sides. Not quite a devil's advocate but you get the point. Anyway, this is all in fun so don't take it too seriously. We have a separate jail for those people called "Troll Tower" and believe me you do NOT want to go there.


Rock the Kasbah Barry Levinson


Vin Diesel

Vin Diesel came out on top in last week's trial, with the jury finding the Fast & Furious star NOT GUILTY of all charges. Mr. Diesel may not be a strong actor, however most jury members said they still like the dude, although many also said they do wish he would appear in better movies. Mr. Diesel is a free man, but the court will be keeping an eye on the actor.


GUILTY Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, Vince Vaughn, Tim Burton, The Farrelly Brothers, Michael Bay, Jessica Alba, Ice Cube, Gerard Butler, Halle Berry, Marlon Wayans, Julia Roberts, M. Night Shyamalan , Katherine Heigl , Cuba Gooding, Jr., Tyler Perry, Cameron Diaz, Kate Hudson, Ashton Kutcher, Happy Madison Productions, Jennifer Lopez, Bruce Willis, Paul W.S. Anderson, Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brett Ratner, Rob Cohen, Renee Zellweger, Shia LaBeouf, Renny Harlin, Diane Keaton, McG, Demi Moore, King Joffrey (Game of Thrones Special), David Spade, Spike Lee, Kevin James, Joel Schumacher, Ehren Kruger, Chris Rock, Mark Steven Johnson, Mickey Rourke, Ashley Judd, Uma Thurman, Josh Duhamel, Saw Franchise (Halloween Edition), Zach Braff, Sam Worthington, Melissa McCarthy, The Wachowski Siblings, Kate Bosworth, Garry Marshall, David Goyer, Akiva Goldsman, Avi Arad, Damon Lindelof, Hayden Christensen, Dennis Dugan, Sharon Stone, Jessica Biel, Nick Swardson, Simon Kinberg, Alex & Stephen Kendrick, Eli Roth, Paranormal Activity Franchise (Halloween Edition)

NOT GUILTY Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Nic Cage, John Travolta, Oliver Stone, Ben Stiller, Jim Carrey, Wes Craven, Matthew McConaughey, Robert Rodriguez, Kristen Stewart, Roland Emmerich, Kevin Costner, Sandra Bullock, Hilary Swank, Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves, Kevin Smith, Channing Tatum, Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson, Anna Faris, Robin Williams, Charlize Theron, Ray Liotta, Jason Statham, Paul Walker, Will Smith, Salma Hayek, Michael Cera, Johnny Depp, Ryan Reynolds, Milla Jovovich, John Singleton, Jon Voight, Jack Black, Brian De Palma, Jerry Bruckheimer, Nicole Kidman, Justin Timberlake, Freddy Krueger (Halloween Edition), Johnny Knoxville, Orlando Bloom, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dan Aykroyd, Sylvester Stallone, Gavin Hood, Jason Lee, Jennifer Garner, Carrie-Anne Moss, Kate Beckinsale, John Cusack, Chris Columbus, Clive Owen, Terrence Howard, Andrew Niccol, Drew Barrymore, Steve Martin, Joel Silver, Michelle Rodriguez, Kiefer Sutherland, Dario Argento, Susan Sarandon, Dennis Quaid, Rob Reiner, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mel Gibson, Pierce Brosnan, Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman, Ivan Reitman, Stephen Sommers, Shawn Levy, Jai Courtney, Ridley Scott, Peter Jackson, Jamie Foxx, Luc Besson, Jason Reitman, Mila Kunis, Jennifer Connelly, Sienna Miller, Ben Barnes, Simon West, Len Wiseman, Brendan Fraser, Megan Fox, Neal McDonough, Cameron Crowe, Katie Holmes, Elijah Wood, Tarsem Singh, Reese Witherspoon, Burt Reynolds, Ed Helms, Sean Astin, Michael Polish, Kelsey Grammer, Queen Latifah, Mark Wahlberg, Vin Diesel

UPDATES: Robert De Niro, Nicolas Cage and Roland Emmerich, Jim Carrey, Robert Rodriguez and Gerard Butler, Jessica Alba, Julia Roberts and The Farrelly Brothers, Ben Stiller, Tim Burton and Shia LaBeouf, Johnny Depp, Kevin Smith & Chris Rock, Ice Cube, Owen Wilson & Vince Vaughn


About the Author