By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist June 14, 2012 at 3:14PM
After a few of years since the last major effort (the ill-fated "Nine"), the live-action movie musical is back again, with two starry efforts due this year about as far away from each other as you can get. This Christmas will see the terribly serious-looking "Les Miserables" hit theaters, with a star-studded cast including Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway. But first is "Rock of Ages," which arrives in theaters tomorrow, with another A-list ensemble including Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Musicals have given serious career boosts to stars like Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Nicole Kidman and Eddie Murphy in recent years, but if you pick the wrong project, or are more self-confident about your pipes than you should be, it's also the best way to embarass yourself completely. In honor of Alec Baldwin's tone-deaf belting in "Rock of Ages," we've collected five of our favorite big-name performances in movie musicals that the stars would likely rather sweep under the carpet and delete from the resume. Check them out below, and feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section.
For all of the many flaws of "Mamma Mia!" (principally that it's been directed by someone who appears to have never seen a movie before), it's hard to argue that the cast aren't throwing their all into it. Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper are a little dull, but their elders -- Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Julie Walters, and Christine Baranski -- seem to be having a whale of a time. And if they're not exactly going to be finalists on "The Voice," they're at least performing on the level of a relatively competent karaoke competitor. Then Pierce Brosnan arrives. Brosnan can be a hugely entertaining actor (see: "The Matador," "The Thomas Crown Affair"), but he seems hopelessly adrift here. And then we discover why: while he doesn't have all that many musical numbers, compared to his cast members, he's got a couple of big ones, including an "S.O.S." duet with Streep, and his voice can best be described as a cross between Joe Cocker, a deaf Chewbacca, and an oil tanker trying to warn smaller boats out of its path. It's both the worst, and kind of the best, thing in the movie, and something that will permanently scar your eardrums.