| I'm sure there's a name for it, but I just don't know what it is: where actors who have enjoyed some notoriety lend themselves out to feckless vehicles in which they headline but do nearly nothing to advance the plot. In fact, they appear for no other apparent reason than to enhance the cast's pedigree. It's reminiscent of when Raymond Burr was spliced into the original Godzilla: King of the Monsters! (1956). I'm not picking on Raymond Burr: when I was a kid and saw Godzilla, et al., I could't tell that he was spliced in at all, and it didn't make a split of a difference to me; because that was a huge fucking lizard with electric fins that spit fire!
But everyone knows that Burr's splice-in served the purpose of appealing to American audiences, so that's not a good example (shouldn't that be "North American audiences"? Aren't people from, say, Argentina, technically, "American"?). Perhaps I should have used Bela Lugosi as a seminal example and his puzzling presence in Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959).
Nah: the late great Lugosi gets a pass from me for a Wooden classic. (Clearly, you saw what I did there.)
What I'm really talking about is completely shitty movies that headline, for example, Bruce Willis -- like, Once Upon a Time in Venice (2017). This is a complete mangling of the wise-cracking, tough good-guy gumshoe persona that Willis practically canonized. There is absolutely no need to have cast him in this film (other than to have tricked loyal fans into parting with some cash): his screen time is minimal, the dialogue they give him is stilted, and frankly, he adds nothing that substantial to the plot -- though, ostensibly, he plays the lead character! Were it not for the fact that he keeps getting cast in other films where he does appear prominently, the Venice film would be one of those movies that heralds the end of a once fun career. Update: there's another Die Hard film slated -- an origin story called Die Hard: Year One -- where Willis does flashbacks; maybe this is the herald that Venice could or should have been. And don't think I didn't notice John Goodman in this film. I lied: I didn't notice John Goodman in this film, and that's because I just couldn't finish watching it. (Goodman, you're on notice.)
But that's not really the movie I want to pick on. It's Father of the Year (2018) and its use of David Spade. First of all, you ask, who gives a fuck about David Spade? Wasn't he that one guy from SNL who basically played himself, did appearances on the Weekend Update and went on to play himself again and again in everything he's ever done since then. Like Chevy Chase; and Norm MacDonald; and Dennis Miller (albeit, Spade never "anchored" the skit).
Father of the Year is not worth talking about. Not that it's not NOT worth talking about -- it's harmless, it's a college-kid coming of age rom-com, of sorts -- but it advertises itself as a Spade movie, when it isn't. Spade comes in from time to time to deliver some banal un-witty banter and a few malapropisms with an unexplained vague Boston accent and does a pratfall. Then he leaves and lets the movie continue on its harmless (and unremarkable) way. It's not that I'm expecting a tour de force from David Spade; I'm just making an observation about whoring into an acting job that serves no true acting purpose.
Is it a sin? No. It's not going to stop, and there's really not much of a point to pointing it out other than to warn others not to waste their time. But I think that all I wanted to say, really, is "Dude: it's not like I didn't notice."
(Earlier I used the word "gumshoe" -- I know, I know: even people who were old when I was a kid didn't actually use that word. Busted. And what's with the sporadic parentheticals? Am I trying to be funny, or ironic? Nah; I'm just doing the same fucking thing that I'm complaining about -- popping in with shit that doesn't really do anything to advance my point. Now pay me.)