We've all had the experience of seeing two stars reunited onscreen, only to have them fail to recapture the magic from their classic first pairing. Something special happens when the right two actors are put together. It's not only that the film itself is good, but that the two stars generate a specific kind of alchemy that burns into our memories. Sometimes, it's a romantic pairing with palpable onscreen heat. Other times, two actors might play off each other comically in an especially potent way. Whatever the reason, the collaboration proves unusually satisfying.
That's why it's a bummer when the follow-up doesn't deliver the same goods. Whether it's weaker material, troubled productions, or shifts to a different genre, lightning simply doesn't strike a second time.
Below are some of the most notable examples of times actors reunited onscreen after a big hit, but couldn't recapture the magic. Which was the most disappointing? Your votes will decide.
It's odd that Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock work up more romantic chemistry in an action movie subplot than they do in a full-fledged romantic drama, yet it's somehow true. In Speed, the stars create a palpable attraction between their characters - a no-nonsense cop and passenger both stuck aboard a bus rigged with explosives. Even though the love story is secondary to the fast-paced thrills, it registers strongly, thanks to the vibe between the stars.
Putting them in a movie where romance is front and center must have seemed like a can't-lose proposition to the makers of The Lake House. She's a doctor, he's an architect, and they share the same vacation home. The hitch is they're two years apart in time, and fall in love by sending romantic letters back and forth via a magical mailbox. While undeniably ambitious in nature, that concept keeps Reeves and Bullock apart for the majority of the film. Audiences who want to see them together again instead get a picture that alternates between scenes of her alone and scenes of him alone.
Without them in the same place at the same time, the magic simply isn't there.3111Not-so-special reunion?
Grease is one of the most beloved movie musicals, thanks in large part to the amazing chemistry between John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. He's suitably cool as T-Birds leader Danny Zuko, and she's endearing as good girl Sandy. It's no surprise the two have been close friends ever since making the film. You can tell watching it that they genuinely like each other. That affection exudes from the screen. Toss in those classic songs, and Grease is darn near perfect.
The same cannot be said for the second Travolta/Newton-John pairing, Two of a Kind. Rightly considered one of the worst films of the 1980s, it gets just about everything wrong. For starters, it isn't a musical, so Newton-John, in particular, is a little out of her element. The stars are also stuck in a dopey plot about a robber and a bank teller who have to redeem each other, or else God will destroy the world. That's a far cry from the summer-lovin' simplicity of Grease's boy-meets-girl story.
The only notable thing to come out of Two of a Kind is Newton-John's hit single "Twist of Fate," which she recorded for the film's soundtrack.227Not-so-special reunion?
Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson originally partnered in Thor: Ragnarok, the third and most comedic of Marvel's Thor movies. They had the benefit of a carefully constructed plot, as is part and parcel of the MCU, where each movie is its own separate entity that nevertheless ties together with all the others. Scenes between his Thor and her Valkyrie hit the right balance of funny and exciting.
When Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones opted not to return for a fourth Men in Black feature, Hemsworth and Thompson were tasked with creating new characters within the MiB universe. Although certainly up to the challenge, the two had their work cut out for them, considering how popular the Smith/Jones combo had been. Men in Black: International saddles them with a script that fundamentally doesn't feel in line with the tone of the first three installments. It also isn't very funny. Not even the leads' considerable skills can make the flat material work.3015Not-so-special reunion?
To be fair, any crime-related thriller Robert De Niro and Al Pacino would have starred in after Heat would probably seem like a letdown, given how masterful Michael Mann's crime epic is. Yet even by those lowered standards, Righteous Kill is a dismal disappointment.
Heat cast De Niro as a top-shelf career criminal and Pacino as the cop trying to bring him down. There is a sense of tension created, in part, because both actors are iconic and playing characters at the top of their respective games. When the two come face-to-face in a diner, their tense conversation is even more exciting than the chases and shootouts.
Righteous Kill, on the other hand, puts them on the same side. They're New York City detectives looking for whomever is responsible for knocking off acquitted criminals. Having them play partners rather than adversaries erases the hard-edged chemistry they previously had. The often incoherent screenplay also lacks the tightness that helped make Heat so riveting.175Not-so-special reunion?