Jack Nicholson’s Worst Film Is A Star-Studded Disaster

Man Trouble, Jack Nicholson's worst-ranked movie on Rotten Tomatoes, has a mere 7% approval.

By Jennifer Asencio | Updated

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Jack Nicholson is a classic actor who has uttered some of cinema’s most famous lines and been the face of numerous iconic scenes. That’s why his 1992 black comedy Man Trouble was such a disappointment to critics that it bears a mere 7 percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie co-stars Ellen Barkin, Harry Dean Stanton, Beverly D’Angelo, Michael McKean, Lauren Tom, and Veronica Cartwright in an ensemble cast for a movie that just didn’t hit its mark.

The story follows Jack Nicholson’s Harry, who runs a guard dog service and is in counseling for his troubled marriage to his wife Adele. Harry is hired by classical singer Joan Spruance, played by Ellen Barkin, to protect her after her home is ransacked and she is compelled to move in with her sister, Harry’s neighbor Andy. Harry finds himself helping Joan in more ways than canine protection, and as the situation around him becomes more out of hand, and has explanations he makes to himself about his role in them.

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In the background is a serial killer who is menacing Los Angeles, threatening notes directed at Joan, and some of Andy’s ex-lovers, who keep turning up around the neighborhood looking for her and terrifying Joan even more. Domineering spouses, threatening phone messages, and nosy neighbors abound as the relationship between Harry and Joan deepens. Jack Nicholson is supposed to be protecting Joan, but his character is almost as bad as those he stands against.

Jack Nicholson is known for some stellar performances during his career, including One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s NestChinatownA Few Good MenBatman, and The Shining, but his portrayal of Harry was not one of them. In fact, he was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for a terrible performance that was only overshadowed by eventual winner Sylvester Stallone’s turn in Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot! Even actors of his caliber have their bad movies.

Especially unfortunate was the fact that Jack Nicholson had worked before with director Bob Rafelson and writer Carole Eastman on Five Easy Pieces, a classic that was nominated for two Oscars and is included in the National Film Registry for preservation. The trio was unable to duplicate their success with Man Trouble, although critics did note that the premise of the film had potential. The film was so bad that it barely lasted a month in theaters and earned only $4 million during its entire run.

Fortunately for Jack Nicholson and the rest of the cast, there are plenty of movies in all their resumes that counteract the disappointment Man Trouble was. Beverly D’Angelo is known for the National Lampoon’s Vacation movies, and Michael McKean recently played Chuck McGill on the hit Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call SaulMan Trouble may have been a stinker, but at least the prolific cast found other roles.

Viewers looking for this movie will actually have to find it for purchase because it is not available on streaming platforms. Man Trouble was so bad that it has fallen into obscurity, and for Jack Nicholson’s sake, that may be for the best.