Movie Jail: This week’s defendant is…John Cusack!

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

Movie Jail

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

The Case

The Prosecution: The Bag Man, Adult World, The Numbers Station, The Raven, The Factory, Shanghai, 2012, War, Inc., Igor, Martian Child, The Contract, Must Love Dogs, America's Sweethearts

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you won't find a bigger John Cusack fan than the prosecution, however even we have to admit his film choices recently have been shockingly bad, and Mr. Cusack barely puts any effort into his performances as of late.

The prosecution knows movie buffs love Mr. Cusack. High Fidelity, The Grifters, Say Anything…, and Grosse Pointe Blank? Classic John Cusack. Amazing movies with outstanding work from the actor. So why is Mr. Cusack appearing in VOD or direct-to-DVD films that are below his talents? There are quality films that don't get theatrical releases, but The Factory definitely isn't one of them, and it's obvious Mr. Cusack didn't give a damn about the film. Shanghai is just plain boring, and Mr. Cusack's performance doesn't help.

Too often it seems like Mr. Cusack is just going through the motions, waiting for the check from the studio to clear. No one expected an amazing performance from Mr. Cusack in 2012, however that's no excuse for the actor to sleepwalk through the film. The Raven was just a bad idea to begin with, but once again, Mr. Cusack didn't help the film any with his performance.

But Mr. Cusack's biggest crime might be 2008's War, Inc. Although it's an informal sequel to Grosse Pointe Blank, it doesn't feature nearly as many laughs as the 1997 film, or its charm. Why is this the actor's biggest offense? Because Mr. Cusack also helped write War, Inc., and since he also contributed to the script for Grosse Pointe Blank, many expected it to be just as good. What we got instead was an absoltue mess, and the prosecution was very unimpressed with the film, and Mr. Cusack.

Mr. Cusack, we gave you our hearts, you gave us The Numbers Station. The prosecution isn't looking for a long sentence, but we do believe Mr. Cusack needs to spend some time behind bars for his crimes.

The Defense: The Butler, The Frozen Ground, The Paperboy, Hot Tub Time Machine, Grace Is Gone, 1408, The Ice Harvest, Identity, Max, Serendipity, High Fidelity, Grosse Pointe Blank, Being John Malkovich, Con Air, The Grifters, Say Anything…, Stand By Me, Better of Dead

Ladies and gentlemen, the defense will eat their own face if Mr. Cusack is found guilty. The prosecution doesn't have a clue about why fans love my client, and it's not just because of his fantastic older films. Mr. Cusack has always done things his way, and isn't your typical Hollywood actor.

"I'm not into the celebrity culture aspect of being an artist. To me it represents extinction. The more people know about you, the less they want to try to figure out what you have to say in your movies, and the less credibility you have. To me it seems: Go do your thing, then get out. That's the best way to do it."

The prosecution claims Mr. Cusack is above VOD stuff (even though The Frozen Ground is actually a very solid movie), but obviously my client likes to stay busy, based on how many films he appears in year after year. Mr. Cusack has six movies out this year alone, and while they all won't be hits, at least one or two will probably be very good. That's my client's track record. Mr. Cusack even admitted as much in an interview once.

"I've made 10 good films. The ones that suck I tend to blank out. It's like I never even made them. Well, there aren't 40 that are great, put it that way. But that's fine. Ten is a good batting average."

The prosecution's main argument is Mr. Cusack hasn't appeared in anything fantastic lately, and his performances have been lazy. Some like to knock Mr. Cusack's range as an actor, saying he always plays himself or the same low-key, quirky type of character. But The Butler and The Paperboy are excellent recent examples of my client not playing Mr. Cusack, and he did a fantastic job in both films.

However, if you really want "classic" Cusack, there's Hot Tub Time Machine and the very underrated The Ice Harvest. Both movies feature Mr. Cusack doing what he does best, and it's no surprise fans of the actor loved these films.

Mr. Cusack also appears in multiple genres of films. My client doesn't just stick to rom-coms, or thrillers, and while some of his projects are bland, many are very interesting. His upcoming Grand Piano looks fascinating, as does Maps to the Stars from director David Cronenberg. The defense's point? My client may appear in a few questionable films, but he'll also star in a couple that get movie nerds like myself very excited.


Does Mr. Cusack deserve Movie Jail? Do you think his performances lately have been boring, or have the problem been the films themselves? Will the jury have the balls to throw Lloyd Dobler in prison? Is John Cusack 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. Anyways, 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.




The jury wasn't too kind to McG in last week's trial, declaring the director GUILTY of all charges. Some defended McG, but most jury members said they've had enough of his films, and they think it's ridiculous he calls himself "McG." The director is looking at a long prison sentence, and he'll be sharing a cell with Rob Cohen and Brett Ratner. Hopefully the three of them don't come up with an idea for a movie while in prison together…


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

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 Special), Johnny Knoxville, Orlando Bloom, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dan Aykroyd, Sylvester Stallone, Gavin Hood, Jason Lee, Jennifer Garner, Carrie-Anne Moss, Kate Beckinsale


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