IT’S not the kids’ fault, but nothing breaks your immersion in a film more than a bad child actor speaking with inflections no human has ever used before. Like these adorable pests.
Jake Lloyd: Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace
We should really cut this guy some slack. He’s had a rough ride, and he tried his best. That said, it’s a relief that practically half the film consists of that absurdly long pod race where you don’t hear him deliver any lines. Particularly ‘I’ll try spinning – that’s a good trick’. Casting Hayden Christensen as the older and equally wooden version of Anakin was brilliantly consistent though. Well done, George.
Macaulay Culkin: Home Alone
This is controversial. Some people love li’l Macaulay in this movie, including the jury of the 1990 Golden Globes. Or maybe they were just afraid he’d cave their skull in with a can of paint. Or, in the case of Home Alone 2, introduce them to co-star Donald Trump. Actually by now getting your brains splattered with three litres of Dulux is preferable to seeing that GIF of him screaming at a tarantula one more time.
Sofia Coppola: The Godfather
Before Sofia Coppola sadly ruined The Godfather Part III, she appeared in the trilogy’s first instalment as the baby being baptised while Al Pacino renounced the Devil and orchestrated some gnarly murders. Her performance as an infant is fine (she delivers the line ‘googoogaga’ with aplomb) but her presence is a grim reminder of the nepotistic travesty that would occur 17 years later.
Cole Sprouse: Friends
Ross’ son Ben didn’t ruin Friends. That honour goes to the horrible Joey and Rachel romance that still feels somehow incestuous. Nonetheless, every time Cole Sprouse’s squeaky voice and smug face appear on screen it’s hard not to reach for the fast-forward button so fast you get a hernia.
Jonathan Lipnicki: Jerry Maguire
A small caveat: the little kid in Jerry Maguire isn’t necessarily a bad actor. But he’s not acting so much as saying words while being adorable. The rest of the film is ruined because you’re just waiting for the return of his ginormous head and adorable lisp. ‘Did you know the human head weighths eight poundths?’ We do now. Piss off.
Everyone: the Harry Potter films
From Daniel Radcliffe’s ‘I can’t be a- a- a- wizard’ to Rupert Grint’s gurning face, plus the dozens of other dubious child performances, the first few films make for difficult viewing. But it gets worse when puberty hits, and the cast’s adorably squidgy cheeks no longer make up for the fact that they’re incapable of speaking with anything resembling a recognisable human cadence.