What the Hell Happened to Matthew Broderick?


Matthew Broderick is a triple threat.  He has been a star of stage and screen.  His filmography includes iconic roles like Ferris Bueller and the voice of the Lion King.  He’s even fought Godzilla.  But these days, you are far more likely to see the former Ferris Bueller on Broadway than starring in a hit movie.  The former A-lister’s film career is still active, but it has definitely cooled.

What the hell happened?

miller billoxi blues

Broderick started his acting career in theater.  He was noticed by a New York Times theater critic in an Off Broadway production of Torch Song Trilogy which led to roles on Broadway.

Broderick starred as Eugene Morris Jerome in two plays written by Neil Simon.  Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues were the first two-thirds of Simon’s Eugene trilogy.  The third play, Broadway Bound, starred Jonathan Silverman who would go on to play Eugene in the film version of Brighton Beach Memoirs.

The three plays were semi-autobiographical accounts of Simon’s life.  The successful plays lead to Broderick getting offers for film and TV roles.  Originally, Broderick was offered the role of Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties.  But he backed out when he realized bigger offers were on the horizon.

broderick - max dugan

Brighton Beach Memoirs also lead to Broderick being cast in his first film role, Max Dugan Returns, which was also written and produced by Neil Simon.  Max Dugan was released in 1983 and starred Marsha Mason, Jason Robards and Donald Sutherland.  Sutherland’s son, Kiefer, also appeared in a small role.

The film was not a hit at the box office, but it was a start.

broderick war games

Later that year, Broderick co-starred opposite Ally Sheedy and Dabney Coleman in the Cold War thriller, War Games.

Beverly Hills Cop director, Martin Brest, was originally hired to direct War Games.  But the producers found his take on the material to be too dark.  Brest was fired and replaced by Saturday Night Fever director, Jon Badham.

Badham has said that Broderick and Sheedy were “stiff as boards” when he arrived at the set.  They were concerned about being fired along with Brest.  So, Badham tried to put his young actors at ease in order to give the film a lighter tone.  He wanted to make it seem like the characters were having fun in spite of the film’s serious undertones.

War Games received very positive reviews and was the 5th highest grossing film of 1983.

1983 was an incredible year for Broderick.  He starred in a hit summer movie and he became the youngest actor to win a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for Brighton Beach Memoirs.

 broderick - ladyhawke

In 1985, Broderick co-starred opposite Michelle Pfeiffer and Rutger Hauer in Richard Donner’s fantasy film, Ladyhawke.

Broderick played a thief called The Mouse who helps a couple of star-crossed lovers.  The couple (played by Hauer and Pfeiffer) were cursed.  During the day, Pfeiffer’s character is transformed into a hawk.  At night, Hauer is transformed into a wolf.  With the help of The Mouse, they attempt to free themselves of the curse.

Ladyhawke received mixed to positive reviews.  But it was not a hit at the box office.

Miller - BB Playbill

Later that year, Broderick appeared in his second Neil Simon production on Broadway, Biloxi Blues, which co-starred Penelope Ann Miller and Broderick’s future Ferris Bueller co-star, Alan Ruck.  1985 wasn’t quite the grand slam year Broderick had in 1983.  But he was still starring in big budget movies and Broadway shows.

Next: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Biloxi Blues

Posted on January 12, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 70 Comments.

  1. I like Broderick very much, and just seeing him makes me smile….but there’s a problem.

    Ferris Bueller is such an awesome, heartwarming and funny movie – everything else is going to be a step down. Bueller is my all-time favorite 80s film, and in some ways is sheer perfection. How can an actor so closely associated with the title character ever top that?

  2. Ladyhawke was probabily not a hit in the US but here in Europe is something of a cult movie

    • The famous entrance of Isabeau turning into the light of the moon, shrouded in a black cloak is the single shot from Ladyhawke that I’ve never been able to shake.
      It’s completely burned into my moviewatching brain and it marked my introduction to the woman who would become my favourite actress.
      I rented Ladyhawke twice on VHS and was so hypnotized I completely understood the Bishop’s obsession and Etienne Navarre’s unshakeable romantic devotion.

      Fantastic write-up as always lebeau, you’ve certainly started 2013 with a bang!

      • In Ladyhawke the scene when Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer almost touch themselves just a second before Pfeiffer returns to be an hawk is very powerful and emotional IMHO

        • I haven’t seen Ladyhawke since the 80′s. At least, I think it’s been that long. I remember enjoying it, but not falling in love with the movie. Pfeiffer, yes, but not the movie. I was surprised to realize it was actually a box office disappointment. I had always assumed it was a hit since Pfeiffer and Broderick both went on to bigger things.

      • Thanks as always. My 2013 goal is to have a new WTHH every other week. But I am building up a buffer early. In between new articles, I’m still scrubbing up the old ones. Both my real life and blogging currently entail a lot of house-keeping!

      • Well here Ladyhawke is a must on TV. I remember when I was a kid at least once a year Ladyhawke was in primetime during the 90′s. And even now sometimes TV show it on prime time. That’s why I said that here is a cult. Here everybody have saw it at least two or three times. I don’t know if it is one of the many case of a movie that was a hit in Europe and not in the US or if it developed a cult following later.

        • I can definitely see why that would be the case. It has more of a European sensibility. And Rutger Hauer was a much bigger star over there than he ever was over here.

          I think the movie has a cult following in the US as well. It’s just not a very big one.

  3. I’m a big fan of how Broderick was used in both “You Can Count on Me” and “Election.” Despite his signature role (Ferris) being kind of a smarmy con man, audiences have always trusted Broderick. So when he showed up in these deeply flawed and dishonest roles, I thought it was very effective.

    It’s really too bad that they hired Susan Stroman to direct the film version of the stage version of “The Producers.” She did great work on the play, but you only have to take one look at her film to know that her skill set does not fit the medium. I’m a big fan of the songs written for the show and Gary Beach was astoundingly good as the cross-dressing director “Roger DeBris.” I’m less enthused by the inclusion of Ferrell and Thurman. Neither has quite the musical theatre chops necessary and both were slightly wrong for their respective roles. Ferrell, while funny, did not communicate the danger inherent in the Nazi playwright. Thurman, while still fetching, is too modern and atheletic in a part that needs a lot more va-va-voom hootchie-cootchie. This film still has some great moments, but overall, it’s a big missed opportunity.

    • You Can Count on Me and Election are probably my favorite films Broderick has made. Yes, I like them better than Ferris Bueller (which I like but have always considered over-rated. Good but not great.) I’m also a big fan of The Freshman.

      More often than not, you could take Broderick out of the movie and it would not impact my enjoyment negatively. The exceptions to that are probably War Games and Ferris Bueller where the movies hinged on his charisma as a young man. Once he switched from winning con-man to put-upon loser roles, he became a less welcome presence.

      He also seemed drawn to the most inane, commercial movies imaginable. You shouldn’t have both Godzilla and Inspector Gadget in your resume. You just shouldn’t.

      I respect that he made such an effort to reinvent himself in independent movies. But The Road to Wellville was horrid. Most of his other independent films were mediocre at best.

      It’s amazing to me how many movies he made and how few of them are good.

      WTHH to Uma Thurman… coming in 2013.

      • Dear Lord….I forgot about The Freshman! I loved that film. I also forgot to say thanks for another great article.

        As for Bueller….for me, no other comedy has ever pulled off that tongue-in-cheek humor. But then, I still had a full head of blond hair and zero body fat back in the 80s….and optimism. Those were the days!!!!

        • If I’m ranking teen comedies from the 80s, Bueller ranks at or near the top of the list. I actually didn’t see that one in theaters but years later on video. So I don’t have as nostalgic of a view of it as others my age. It’s a fun movie, but it has always felt a little thin to me. Good. Even very good. But not really great.

          But what do I know? It has stood the test of time. It’s hard to argue with that.

          On the other hand, I loved The Freshman. Okay, sure. That has a lot to do with Penelope Ann Miller who was possibly my biggest cinema crush at the time. But as much as I liked that movie, most people have forgotten it as you just mentioned.

          • Those were different times and we were different people back then….you gotta remember, this was a time when I thought Highlander was the greatest film ever made. (Still a fantastic soundtrack, by the way….)

            I look back at the 80s now and am kinda embarrassed!

            • Well, the 80s were embarassing. Up until I got my driver’s liscense, I couldn’t get out to the movies very often. And by then, the decade was mostly over. I followed reviews, etc. But I caught up with a lot of popular movies later on video. By the time I could drive myself to the movies, I got interested in classics, foreign films and indie movies. In ’88 I don’t think I saw a single mainstream movie. But I went to the art house twice a week. Looking back, I’m embrassed by what a movie snob I was at 17.

              Highlander was another movie I never got. By the time I saw it, it had been hyped up to the sky. I had no idea why anyone even liked it. Like you said, different times.

  4. His first movie Max Dugan Returns is underrated. I’d like to see a WTHHT on Marsha Mason, but she’s from a different era than all the other actors that have been covered so far.

    Broderick’s movie career is still going very strong. His career has always been hit or miss and he was never Mr. Box Office (the hits he had weren’t because of star power), so I don’t think he should be held to the same standard as other actors who truly fell from grace.

    I feel bad for the guy about that car accident. He killed someone and he has to live with that for the rest of his life.

    The Producers movie was wonderful and should have been a hit, it’s a bummer that it flopped. Uma Thurman’s star career is officially over now so I think she’s eligibile for a WTHHT.

    A lot of the more recent career coolings has nothing to do with the stars themselves, though, but the fact that the industry has changed. The star-making machine aspect of Hollywood ended around 2000. All of the bankable stars today (if there are any) became established around or before the early 00s. I mean, have we really had any new movie stars emerge since then? Not really. You could say Channing Tatum but he’s not really responsible for his recent hits. They weren’t star vehicles. People don’t go to see movies because of the stars anymore. Compare the top 10 highest-grossing movies every year since 2005. They’re all ensembles, animation, sequels, remakes, etc.

    • Wow. Lots of good points. I’ll try to take them all in order.

      1. I haven’t seen Max Dugan. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for it. I generally like Neil Simon.

      2. I’ve been concentrating on stars of the 80s and 90s because that’s really when I started actively keeping track of careers. It means less research for me. But eventually, I plan to move forward and backward. The scope of WTHH is always expanding.

      3. I wouldn’t describe Broderick’s movie career as strong. He can still get supporting roles like the one in Tower Heist. He can get leading roles in small movies. But he hasn’t been a sought-after actor in a long time.

      4. I’m no expert in stage careers, but my research also turned up some rather disasterous reports of Broadway shows where he was accused of being lazy or forgetting his lines completely during previews. They actually had to stop a preview last year because the guy just kept flubbing his lines!

      5. I didn’t want to dig in too deeply on the car accident. It was a tragedy. I obviously don’t know the details since I am reading about it on the internet decades latter. But it does sound to me like Broderick killed two people and got off with a slap on the wrist because he is rich and famous. A family member later said that he forgave Broderick for killing his mother and sister and was planning to meet with the actor for some resolution. That was years ago and the meeting still hasn’t happened. Again, I don’t know the details, but I don’t feel the least bit bad for Broderick. Not at all.

      6. I enjoyed the adaptation of The Producers well enough. But it went on too long. Thr original is roughly 90 minutes and it is 100x better.

      7. Were it not for Kill Bill, Thurman would have been over years ago. She’s on my short list for 2013.

      8. I agree that the definition of a star has changed. High concept has replaced star power.

      9. As I said before, the scope of these articles had broadened since I started. Originally, I was only looking at A-list actors who had disappeared from main stream movies. Now, I’ll do pretty much any body who has had a rise and fall somewhere in their career. Which means I can write up just about anybody who isn’t currently landing starring roles in big Hollywood movies. Why? Because these articles are popular and I want to write as many as I can. ;)

      • Matthew has a reputation for procrastinating and failing to memorize his lines accurately (meaning he often doesn’t know his lines word for word until weeks into the run of a show). However, there is an explanation to that “disaster” performance he gave a few years back. Personally, I think the media blew this story out of proportion.
        1. The play was about three hours long, and Matthew had multiple monologues, some of which lasted for three pages, nonstop.
        2. The director had dramatically changed the script right before previews started, giving Matthew no time to memorize what was changed.
        3. Matthew had his newborn twin girls at home, and I would imagine he was getting little sleep.

        And I have to clear something up about the car accident. There’s a lot of information that is fairly unknown, unfortunately. I won’t go into detail here, but the reason why he got off with a slap on the wrist is absolutely not because he was rich and famous, but because of the laws in 1987. He would have been charged with dangerous driving and put in jail for five years if and only if there was evidence of negligence. But Matthew tested negative for drugs and alcohol, so he was charged with careless driving. And in 1987, a fine was the penalty. There are so many similar cases that have happened where the driver didn’t get any penalty because it was simply an accident. It’s unfair, but there’s nothing you can do about it. Honestly, I do feel terrible for Matthew. This accident sent him into psychotherapy for many years and completely changed him as a person. He’s become kind of jaded about life and he’s probably the most cynical person I have ever known, and he was never like that before. I hope people don’t get the impression that Matthew doesn’t care about this accident or the people involved, because I’ve seen him torture himself over this many times, and it’s very painful to see. I’m not trying to convince you to feel bad for him, I just read so much inaccurate information about his accident and sometimes I just can’t keep quiet.

        • Thanks for sharing, TJ. I knew there had to be another side to the story. I’m glad you spoke up and put things into perspective.

          I hate it when I come away from researching an article with a lower opinion of my subject. And frankly, that was what happened here. Your comments make me feel a little better about this write-up.

          As I said before, the whole situation is tragic. Clearly lives were ruined.

          • Have you considered making video versions of the ‘What the Hell Happened’ series? It would probably do well on YouTube.

            For what it’s worth, I came across this page after looking at an article on “Celebs Who May (Or May Not) Have Had Nose Jobs”. It was about Jennifer Grey and how losing her famous nose made her completely anonymous. That lead to her wiki page… her dating Matthew Broderick and… the amazing shock of hearing of this car accident for the first time. Googling about the car accident brought me here to the main post and by chance I saw this very detailed comment about how it effected his personal life. It would be informative to add to the main post as this is really kind of exclusive stuff. .

            • This is the second time the You Tube idea has come up in two weeks. I honestly hadn’t considered it before someone brought it up last week. I am now considering it. But I would have a lot to learn before I could get up and running.

              I need to add Grey to my list…

              Good suggestion on the quote. I will bump it up to the main article for those who don’t read through the comments.

              Thanks for reading and for the great suggestions.

  5. Danielle Charney

    well said Daffy- the film was all wrong I thought too- Ferrell was all wrong- as was Thurman- and the direction was way off- nothing can really top the original- tough call to start out with- I have always like Broderick- a fine subtle actor – would love to see him in more- perhaps with the better TV roles now going to so many that would have fallen behind we can look forward to seeing him again-thanks for the post LeB- always good

  6. matthew broderick did some good films and some crappy ones i will admit. i enjoyed lady hawke, wargames, ferris bueller’s day off, the freshman, addicted to love, cable guy and the last shot. inspector gadget was a mismash ripoff not just of the cartoon but also hit 80s and 90s films of robocop, dick tracy, top gun, who framed roger rabbit, etc. back then it was ok, but i enjoyed the cartoon better. matthew’s new films have sucked he hasn;t done anything good. if he was like billy crystal he would do stand up with jerry seinfeld and be making hit comedies after another.

    • He’s kind of doing his version of stand-up by going back to the stage. But it sounds like he is wearing out his welcome on Broadway with recent lazy performances. I’ll leave it to someone who knows more about theater than me to provide additional details. Daffy, have you heard anything about the state of Breoderick’s Broadway career?

      • I really haven’t. But I can tell you some things about the nature of the work.
        1) It is a young man’s game. The sheer physical endurance it takes to do 8 performances a week is daunting for older performers, which is why you will see “name” actors taking a couple of shows off a run, month, week even. This happened less often in the old days when there were fewer film and TV roles being mixed in on an actor’s schedule.

        2) The memorization is different. An actor really only needs to know his pages for a specific day when he’s shooting a film or TV show. Sometimes that can be a lot and sometimes it’s not very much at all. It depends on the day. But it’s a constant deadline and a rhythm the actor gets into. The most important difference though, is that when an actor is shooting film he only ACTUALLY has to know the lines for THAT SHOT. Which very very often means one or maybe two lines. On the other hand, when he walks on stage he has to know ALL of the lines for the show that night. Either way, memorization is like a muscle. Use it or lose it. Short term memory is a different muscle than long term memory.

        3) No audience member has a right to be pissed about anything they see at any preview. They did not pay to be there. If they did, they’re stupid. Previews are rehearsals. If Broderick is any kind of professional, he’s embarrassed by any line problems anyway. But when it comes down to it, tell me how his lines were when the crowd was paying. That’s all that matters.

  7. I read the article, and all I can do is laugh at the person who chided the theatre for “using this as a rehearsal.” Previews are BY DEFINITION rehearsals. If it wasn’t a rehearsal, the show would’ve opened already. If people are willing to pay to see a rehearsal that’s their business, but they sure shouldn’t complain about not getting the same thing as opening night crowds.

  8. No one can play a charismatic teen when they are 40, and i have tons of respect for the sheer breadth of roles that Matthew Broderick has carried off. I really can’t think of another actor who can match his range. He is one of those rare types that command your attention with every word (like Christopher Walken) and can act with facial expression alone. I bet he will be working steadily as long as he wants to, either as part of an ensemble, on the stage, doing voice such as the bee movie, or, with the right vehicle, he could still open a movie,

    • I really don’t share your opinion of Broderick’s range. It seems to me that he has an extremely limited range. Once he outgrew the charismatic teen roles, his limited range was his undoing. He struggled to find a niche, but never realy found one that worked. I think at this point, he does much better in character roles.

      I have never seen him on stage, so I can’t comment there. But on screen, I find him kind of bland. Not remotely like Christopher Walken. He has talent to be sure. And I think he’s a skilled comic actor. But he never commands my attention. He enhances the other actors on screen which is a great talent for a supporting performer.

      But I’m glad you find his work so interesting. I do think he will be working for a long time in supporting roles and smaller films (not to mention stagework).

  9. We agree to disagree on some points. He did, as you pointed out, choose some truly dreadful projects. Some of the movies you mentioned were so awful that his presence was the only redeeming factor. Even Tom Hanks has a dud every once in a while, but MB did not succeed in finding a new audience after Ferris Bueller. However, I don’t think that says anything about his quality as an actor. To me the fact that he is a successful stage actor says a lot. It is also worth noting that he may have diverted some attention and energy towards his family, and supporting his wife’s career, which is commendable. Sometimes it boils down to, are you a fan or not. If not, you will find him, as you said, somewhat bland. If you are, like me, then you will hang onto every syllable onscreen. And maybe you’re correct that he has not displayed a wide range; my feeling is that he is capable of a wide range and has not had the opportunity to realize that, because audiences only see Ferris. Oh well differences in opinion make the world interesting. I liked him in Tower Heist, but then again, I was impressed with the entire film from beginning to end.

    • Good points.

      There’s no doubt that family life had an impact on his movie career. As was pointed out previously in the comments section, his twin babies had a direct impact on his performance on Broadway.

      We’re definitely of differing opinions on Broderick’s range as a movie actor. I’m more than willing to agree to disagree on that point. It’s hard to quantify an actor’s range and I find that people use the term to mean different things.

      It’s not that Broderick’s movie career faultered. He could be an actor with a lot of range who chose less commercial projects. The reason I say I think he lacks range as a film actor is that I didn’t find him to be very convincing in a lot of his adult film roles. It doesn’t help that he gravitated towards a lot of really banal movies.

      As an adult, he tended to play the flustered loser a lot. His role wasn’t to take center stage, but to give Jim Carrey someone to bounce off of. Or Meg Ryan. Or Godzilla. He was there to hold the movie together while not taking away from the star of the movie. That takes a certain kind of talent and I don’t want to diminish the importance of the straight man in a comedy.

      He also had a lot of supporting roles in smaller movies where I think he got to show a little more range. This is where I think he shines later in his career. But even these roles feel like variations on that smarmy guy persona to some extent.

      Since you brought up Hanks, I’ll continue the comparisson. Hanks has definitely had a more successful film career. But he is also an actor with a somewhat limited range. He has never been very convincing as a film nasty. He’s tried a few times, but can’t escape his “aw shucks, good guy” image. He’s more of a movie star than an actor with a lot of range.

      That’s common for lead actors in movies. Characters actors rely more on their range to survive. They will play more diverse roles in diffent kinds of pictures. Whereas the lead actor will have the entire movie built around their screen image. (I’m generalizing here.)

      Anyway, there’s no denying that Broderick is a talented actor. And I’m sure his stage career reflects a great range. But based on his film career, I don’t think he has displayed a very wide range.

      Thanks for the civil discourse. It’s always welcome round here.

  10. I posted this on your Facebook page, but I’ll bring it here too. By most accounts (just go on the trivia page for “Family Ties” on IMDb), the real reason why Matthew Broderick backed out of the role of Alex P. Keaton was because he wanted to be near his terminally ill father, James (who coincidentally, was on the show “Family” as Meredith Baxter’s father).

    • Thanks TMC!

      I haven’t gotten by the FB page as often as I would like. I have access to WP during the work week. But I usually only check the FB page on weekends. Like I have said elsewhere, my shedule will open up more in the spring and summer.

      I’m slowly working my way through the old articles and adding additional info here and there. I’ll need to flesh out the Family Ties bit when I update this article.

  11. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why Broderick is better known as “Sarah Jessica Parker’s Husband” Why is she more famous? She’s only done one thing worth remembering. Broderick’s filmography is nothing fancy but certainly far more diverse than hers.

  12. One thing of note regarding “Inspector Gadget” is how really little it had to do w/ the old cartoon from the ’80s (w/ Don Adams voicing Gadget). If you ever get a chance to watch Doug Walker’s reviews of Matthew Broderick’s movies (both “Inspector Gadget” and “Godzilla”) for his “Nostalgia Critic” series he lets it be known quite clearly that he isn’t really much of a fan of Matthew Broderick as an actor.

    • I have to admit, I was barely familiar with the cartoon. My younger brothers watched it. I never sat through the movie because I didn’t care and it looked plain awful.

    • Doug Walker further elaborates (at approximately the 1:37 mark) why he doesn’t like Matthew Broderick as an actor:

      It really all boils down to Doug finding Matthew’s acting bland and insecure. He adds that Matthew Broderick is the type of actor who doesn’t seem to be totally convicted to his characters.

      • 10 Terrible Actors Who Got Lucky Breaks:

        3. Matthew Broderick

        It pains me to say it, but Matthew Broderick really is not a very good actor. Though he’s widely-beloved for the excellent Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Broderick is another instance of an actor who just seems to be playing themselves.

        While this works wonders for a likeable, off-the-tracks character like Bueller, it’s not exactly something he could continue to play as he got older, and in failing to diversify, demonstrating his lack of range, the job offers dried up.

        Though Broderick enjoyed a brief run of successful post-Bueller roles in the 80s, he soon enough ended up playing Inspector Gadget in the widely-panned reboot movie, and basically saw his career swirl down the toilet.

        Why? Because he is, in fact, a bad actor. Nowadays he just comes across as stilted and awkward; the only remotely entertaining thing I’ve seen him in the last decade was an episode of Louie, but that was more down to Louie CK’s brilliant script more than anything. It pains me to admit it, but it’s true.

        • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off massive plothole:

          I enjoy War Games, Project X, The Cable Guy, and Election. They’re all good movies, but not because of Broderick. He’s an awful and very very limited actor. With the exception of War Games, I can easily picture someone far more talented do better with the material in each movie he’s been in over the last 30 years. Take Election, put someone like Jeff Daniels or Michael Keaton in the role, and the result improves tenfold.

  13. Whoever this Doug Walker guy is, he isn’t making a whole lot of sense, and I turned off the interview. I enjoy lebeau’s writing style, analysis and criticism with humor, but Doug just sounds like he has a personal vendetta when he criticizes Matthew Broderick. Watching MB, I get the total opposite sense: that he gets way into his characters, but occaisonally, his own magnetism can threaten to overwhelm the character. Which is not the same at all as saying he ‘isn’t convinced” of the character. MB is often subtle and self-effacing; that just makes me respect him more. We have seen on here that there are vast differences of opinion, and for those of us who are fans, there is not a movie he can make that we won’t see. Example; I loved “Deck the Halls” and watch it a couple times a year, didn’t care what critics said. It is hilarious, good family comedy and MB absolutely delivered a KO punch in his “straight man” role. In fact he, Kristen Davis and Kristen Chenoweth even managed to make up for the annoyance of Danny DeVito’s character, which wouldn’t seem like an easy task. Now, to be clear, it does try to be “Christmas Vacation” and doesn’t measure up to that standard. But it’s watchable enough that I went out and bought the DVD. There are also movies that I NEVER would have wasted money on EXCEPT for the fact that MB was in them.

  14. Enjoyed the writing, but I truly despise Broderick (the actor) for too many reasons to enumerate.


  15. It’s All Downhill From Here: Ten Actors Who Will Never Surpass Their Earliest Roles:

    Matthew Broderick
    Seminal Role: Ferris Bueller (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

    Broderick had a couple successes early in his career: Ladyhawke, Project X, Wargames. He seemed the go-to guy for fragile, impish nerdlings. But John Hughes gave him the opportunity to play the greatest high school student of all time. Though he’s turned into a nebbishy, closeted version of Ferris, and though he’s simply mah-velous on stage, Broderick won’t ever be able to do better than that Wayne Newton singing kid in the leatherette leopard jacket.

  16. The writer of that piece doesn’t come as very credible to me because he makes sweeping statements about the actor that in no way do justice to his career. This is made all the more obvious by the jibe in the last sentence, “as much as it pains me to say it, it’s true.” If it pains the writer to take potshots then maybe he could refrain from doing so?

    • Someone needs a refresher on the difference between opinions and facts. I think many would disagree with the supposed fact that Broderick is a bad actor. I am not his biggest fan, but I certainly wouldn’t say Broderick is a bad actor.

      But hey, whatever drives hits to your site, amIright?

      • Bad actors don’t have Ferris in their work history.

        I’m no critic- but I get annoyed when people say “He was playing himself”- he almost certainly wasn’t.

        • In his youth, Broderick radiated charm. That allowed him to play mischievious in a way that would have been grating coming from other actors. Somewhere along the way, the charisma got turned down. Maybe it was age. Maybe it was the tragedy of his lethal car accident. Probably has to do with the passage of time and all of his life experiences. But the magic that was there in his youth drained.

          Doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of giving great performances. In the right role, Broderick is a valuable player. But I’d say he had a star power in the 80s that hasn’t been present in a long, long time.

  17. Disclaimer: RB is about to get overly excited. OK. So, over the weekend we were watching “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (good, btw, but not if you like fast paced action movies!) Anyway, among the previews, a movie called “Margaret” I’ve never heard of. Must be from a few years ago, anyway in the preview there was Matthew Broderick! He appeared to be playing an English teacher as he was quoting a famous poem by Hopkins, “Spring and Fall to a Young Child” – specifically, the last line, “It is Margaret you mourn for”! In those couple of seconds, I saw the best of the stage actor, in a supporting movie role! I must get this movie ASAP!!

    • Good cast! Anna Paquin, Mark Ruffalo, Broderick, Matt Damon.

      It’s from Kenneth Lonergan who directed Broderick and Ruffalo in You Can Count on Me. That was a great movie. Reviews for Margaret aren’t as good, but it still has a 71% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes. That’s respectable. I’ll have to look for it as well.


    Blowing the opportunity to comment incisively on the backlash against feminism

    Solidifying the reputation of screenwriter Paul Rudnick as a glib mechanical gag machine

    Regularly killing the comic momentum so stars Nicole Kidman and Matthew Broderick can hold painfully earnest conversations about the state of their marriage

    Combining comedy and horror in a way that detracts from both

  19. Matthew Broderick starring in CBS comedy pilot:

    The Broadway star has been tapped to headline the network’s untitled
    Tad Quill comedy pilot, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

    The multicamera comedy revolves around Jack, a recently widowed father
    raising his 12-year-old son while jumping back into the dating pool.
    Broderick, who is currently starring on Broadway in the musical Nice
    Work If You Can Get it, will star as Jack, a confident and
    effortlessly charming self-aware dad who’s completely committed to his
    son, Sebastian. When the advertising executive finds himself pushed
    back into the dating scene by his well-intentioned son and married
    colleague, he’s initially hesitant but surprised when it goes well and
    he opts to sow his wild oats again.

    Scrubs alum Quill will write and executive produce the CBS Television
    Studios comedy, with James Burrows on board to direct.

    Two-time Tony winner Broderick, repped by CAA and Jackoway Tyerman,
    most recently guest starred on ABC’s Modern Family and episodes of
    Louie and 30 Rock. Broderick was previously attached to star in NBC’s
    2010 failed pilot Beach Lane. The casting comes as his wife, Sarah
    Jessica Parker, has been recurring on the fourth season of Fox’s Glee.

  20. Jeff Daniels is somewhat underrated as an actor, and as for Michael Keaton, his career is recapped nicely in this series :) Both of them put together do not match the talent and charisma of Matthew Broderick. He did play a smarmy middle aged character in “The Tower Heist”, and he did so very effectively, the perfect contribution to the ensemble. Which proves to me he can transition to those roles, think Christopher Walken in “Blast from the Past.” Again, consider “Deck the Halls.” There would be no comedy if Danny DeVito didn’t have Broderick providing the platform. For this reason, I have to disagree with critics who go on and on about how they think he can’t act. I submit that not only can he act, he makes it look a lot easier than it is.

    • I think that’s part of it. Broderick has a very easy-going approach that some mistake for laziness. Compare Broderick to Eddie Murphy who frequently can’t mask his lack of interest in what he is doing.

      I do like Jeff Daniels quite a bit. Like Broderick, he has a very natural presence. Neither of them commands the screen per se, but they are great straight men. I think it’s not surprising both worked very well against a comedian like Jim Carrey.

  21. I just watched Election on cable again, damn I love that movie. It’s got a great cast, and Alexander Payne did a superb job directing, I’ve really become a fan of his over the years, with Election, About Schmidt and especially Sideways, which is one of my favorite movies of the last decade. I plan on watching The Descendants soon, I hope it’s at least half as good as his last few films.

    As far as Matthew Broderick, I’d list his role in Election as my 2nd favorite role of his, only after his iconic Ferris Bueller. Unfortunately, going over his career in your article I realized that Election turned out to be his last great movie.

    • He’s good in You Can Count on Me, but it’s a relatively small role. Great movie, though. After that, there’s not much.

      I need to rewatch Sideways. It got so hyped that I was disappointed when I finally got around to watching it. Expectations are funny like that. They can make an okay movie a pleasant surprise and a good movie a disappointment.

      The Descendants was a divisive movie among Payne fans. I really enjoyed it. But I know others who didn’t feel it was up to Payne’s usual standards. Seeing as you have enjoyed all his previous movies, I am sure you will enjoy this one too. It is at least half as good as his other movies.

      • Sideways definitely deserves a second viewing. It was a film that received a ton of awards and nominations at the time, but now with the hype long gone you may appreciate the film more for what it is. I find the film deeply funny, charming and touching and just can’t recommend it enough. Paul Giamatti in particular is just a treasure with his nuanced performance. I’ve come to appreciate Alexander Payne’s work in part because he’s one of the few working directors nowadays that actually makes enjoyable films for adults. Now I love the big popcorn blockbusters as much as the next guy, but I also want to see an involving, entertaining film meant for adults from time to time too. I should be watching The Descendants shortly and be tossing in my two cents.

        • It was the awards that set my expectations too high. Plus a lot of people I knew were inspired by it to get heavy into wine. Or were using it as an excuse for their excessive wine drinking. You decide. I suppose there was no way it could live up to the movie in my head. And then I watched it under less than ideal circumstances. It definitely needs a second viewing.

          Hope you enjoyed the Descendants. I know I did.

          • Even though (regrettably) Matthew Broderick isn’t in the movie, I am so glad you guys reminded me about Sideways. It’s back on my to-watch list! The presence of Thomas Haden Church as a supporting actor is bound to make a project interesting. There was a movie with Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper… she played a crossword puzzle writer.. name escapes me at the moment but anyway, Church with his unique flair for character, really made the movie hilarious.

            • Thomas Haden Church was just surperb in SIdeways. but then again, so were Paul Giamatti, Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh as well. There’s such depth and nuance to all of their performances. I’m probably so passionate about the film right now because I just watched it again less than a week ago so it’s fresh in my mind, and it’s one of my favorite movies. I really need to shut up about this movie already! ha ha

  22. Glad to find this page, I thought I was alone in believing Broderick is the epitome of bland

  23. I think you people know RB isn’t going to agree with this “bland” stuff.

    • Yeah, I was pretty sure. ;)

      For me, it depends. Sometimes I do find Broderick to be bland. In something like Godzilla, man, he is so obviously cashing a paycheck.

      I don’t think he has the same type of on screen presence he did in his hey day. He couldn’t play a Ferris Bueller type anymore. There’s a middle aged sadness and frustration there now – which is natural given he’s no longer a cocksure teen.

  24. Mateo Broderick es un actor extraño, acabo de ver The Ferris Bueller day´s off y cuando terminó quedé convencida de que él y Ferris eran la misma persona, viendo sus películas tiene tres de culto que no es poca cosa, hay muchas como gozzila o el inspector gatget por las cuales debería ser azotado, pero tiene una personalidad tan única que yo solo puedo seguir confiando en él y estar pendiente de que será lo siguiente que sacará, no puedo quedarme indiferente a lo que haga, tengo que verlo para bien o para mal. A mi me parece que sus conflictos internos derivados del accidente de automovil son en algo responsables del estado actual de su carrera, se nota que le falta vida, él podría envejecer con estilo pero no quiere, simplemente deja las cosas seguir su curso y que su carrera este en piloto automático. Esto es extraño, no siento ese cariño por ningún actor actual, Caprio, Bratt, Clouny, y el resto no generan ese tipo de sentimiento…Muchos saludos desde Sud America.

  25. This Google translate thing seems to leave a lot to be desired….

  26. 9 Terrible Movies That Ruined Promising Careers:

    9. Inspector Gadget – Matthew Broderick

    Obviously, Matthew Broderick had a very promising career ahead of him. He is one of the faces of 80’s movies, and will forever be associated with Ferris Bueller. He was also the voice of adult Simba in The Lion King, the animated movie of our generation, and while it’s probably a more difficult sell, The Cable Guy is still underrated.

    But then, in 1999, Inspector Gadget came along and his career was practically halted. The key words “television remake” and “wacky violence” sum it up really. The whole thing smacks of desperation and anxiousness to make children laugh, but the pace moves so fast and the slapstick is so ridiculous that it doesn’t have any of the desired effect.

    The only halfway acceptable film that Broderick’s starred in since is The Producers, but we still get glimpses of his acting potential when he guest stars in TV shows like Modern Family and 30 Rock, and also on Broadway, where he showed off in Nice Work If You Can Get It. Hopefully we’ll continue to see performances of this calibre from him, even if they’re on a smaller scale.

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