Music to film transitions – the worst of a bad bunch

Musicians have starred in countless films and actors and actresses have had no end of chart toppers, have they not? “Um, no” you reply, but why is this? Is acting that much easier than singing, or can studio executives just bank on box-office takings when they put a chart topper in the lead role?


The latter is probably more the case; people, putting aside notions of taste, will go out and see the latest Miley Cyrus movie but they will not be likely to buy the latest Russell Crowe single (yes, there is one). Can you name one movie star who has transitioned to making music in a way that replicates the success of people like Will Smith or Justin Timberlake, both of whom moved from successful pop careers to ones in acting? No, because there isn’t one.There are some, however, for whom the move or even dabble into movie-making did not go quite so well. What follows here is a sampling, if you will, of what can happen when music stars believe a little bit too much in their movie-making talents.

Cavemen (1981)
Whether the Beatles drummer Ringo Starr was short on cash or he liked the idea of a film with no legible dialect, who knows? With barely any comprehensible lines (95% of the film’s script is made up of caveman language) Caveman can be somewhat of a tough watch. At some showings of the film, audiences were issued with a leaflet of translations, a nice idea apart from the fact that translation becomes rather difficult in a dark cinema.
Ringo was not deterred by the film’s poor critical and audience reception, playing several other roles before finding his calling as the narrator in the Thomas the Tank Engine cartoon.

Moonwalker (1988)
Any film that has a trailer stating “from the mind of Michael Jackson” is sure to be an odd one, and Moonwalker does not fail to deliver on this front. The movie is basically a collection of Jackson’s elongated music videos from the Bad album. The mishmash of claymation, fourteen minute Smooth Criminal video, and Jackson as a transformer leaves you thinking you’ve been on a horrendous acid trip. Despite Moonwalker’s box office success, Jackson decided not to return to the silver screen in a creative role, opting instead to stick to cameo appearances and his own movie-like music videos.


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joshmott Josh was the editor of Wired (now Gaming) 2011-2012.

April 2021
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