Movie Jail: This week’s defendant is…Reese Witherspoon!

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

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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

Reese Witherspoon

The Case

The Prosecution: Hot Pursuit, Devil's Knot, This Means War, Water for Elephants, How Do You Know, Four Christmases, Rendition, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, Sweet Home Alabama

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you might be questioning why Reese Witherspoon is up for Movie Jail, since she rebounded from her "love triangle period" in a big way with Mud and last year's Wild, with the latter being arguably her best work to date. But the actress went on to star in and produce Hot Pursuit, and the prosecution can't ignore how awful it was, or how she pretty much flushed her renewed goodwill down the drain with the film.

Miss Witherspoon's performances can been hit-or-miss as well. Besides receiving mixed reviews from critics, many also criticized her turn in Water for Elephants, and the prosecution also didn't care for her take on Becky Sharp in 2004's Vanity Fair, although some may argue that had more to do with how it was adapted from the book for the big screen. She has also starred in one of the most unnecessary sequels ever made (Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde), a straight-up terrible Christmas movie (Four Christmases) and the completely bland and forgettable (that is, until your girlfriend remembers about the film and wants to watch it) Sweet Home Alabama.

But really, this is about the actress pulling an Eddie Murphy a la Norbit by following up her recent well-received films with Hot Pursuit. Combined with her previous crimes against cinema, the prosecution feels Miss Witherspoon deserves, at the very least, a few months in the slammer.

Hot Pursuit Reese Witherspoon Sofia Vergara

The Defense: Inherent Vice, The Good Lie, Wild, Mud, Penelope, Just Like Heaven, Walk the Line, Vanity Fair, The Importance of Being Earnest, Legally Blonde, American Psycho, Best Laid Plans, Election, Cruel Intentions, Pleasantville, Freeway

Ladies and gentlemen, regardless of the size of the role, my client has done solid work throughout her career, from her lead roles in Election, Walk the Line and Legally Blonde to her supporting roles in American Psycho and Inherent Vice. Without a doubt, the past several years have been a little rough for Miss Witherspoon, but the defense doesn't think her career is in danger, even with Hot Pursuit fouling up her filmography.

Sometimes, we forget that actors and actresses are people too, and their personal life can affect their professional life. Miss Witherspoon actually took a hiatus from acting when she first started dating Ryan Phillippe, and took another break after filing for divorce from the actor in 2006. My client has admitted that she wasn't making movies she was passionate about for a while, and is fully aware that she isn't the draw she once was. So maybe she was hoping Hot Pursuit would be an accessible crowd pleaser, similar to some of her previous films, like Sweet Home Alabama and Legally Blonde. Unfortunately, it wasn't, and will probably go down as one of the worst movies of the year.

However, it's not like my client isn't a talented performer and can't find quality roles. She was fantastic in both Mud and Wild, and earlier this year, was cast in the new Alexander Payne film Downsizing. Ok, so she's also set to star in a live-action Tinker Bell flick for Disney, but there are definitely worst movie projects out there she could be eyeing. While Hot Pursuit is a hot, stinky mess, and Miss Witherspoon has starred in a number of poorly received movies, the defense doesn't believe we need to lock her up in Movie Jail.

Wild Reese Witherspoon


What should we do with the actress? Do you think Miss Witherspoon belongs in Movie Jail, and if so, for how long? I ask you, the jury, is Reese Witherspoon 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.


Election Reese Witherspoon Matthew Broderick


Immortals Tarsem Singh

The Cell and Immortals director Tarsem Singh was found NOT GUILTY of all charges in last week's trial. While his movies as of late have been met with mixed to negative reviews, most jury members didn't want to lock him up since he's only helmed five feature films, and said he still has plenty of potential as a filmmaker. It was recently announced that Mr. Singh will be directing all ten episodes of NBC's Emerald City, and the court is very interested in seeing how the series turns out.


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

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

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


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