Couple Bomb

"Bandit and Carrie have an utterly bland chat about their relationship, and all I can say is that there’s a very good reason to not cast two people who were once an item as a couple in your movie. I’ve seen more heat in my freezer."

For whatever reason, when married couples (or even just couples who are known for being together) make a movie, it rarely works. Who knows why? In some cases, it's public backlash against the couple. Sometimes the couple's Real Life chemistry just doesn't show up on-screen (or it does, and it becomes somewhat unsettling when you realize you're watching an actual couple during a love scene). Sometimes, it's just a Vanity Project with no real direction. In any case, even though Couple Bombs have a track record of not succeeding, they somehow still get made anyway.

Subtrope of Real-Life Relative. Might be related to Creator Couple if the Love Makes You Uncreative trope is factored in. Could also be a result of Yoko Oh No. Should not be confused with Battle Couple.


  • Gigli is probably the most notorious example. Even though Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck weren't married at the time, they were the hot couple, and the movie was significantly rewritten during production to capitalize on their relationship. In a twist which surprised no one, Bennifer called it quits shortly after the movie bombed.
  • Overboard (Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn) - though the film has been Vindicated by Cable.
  • Swept Away, sort of. It starred Madonna and was directed by Guy Ritchie, and was almost universally panned as being terrible, and led to Madonna's declaration that she would never act again.
  • Shanghai Surprise starred Madonna and then-hubby Sean Penn. The original script probably didn't set the world on fire, but the decision to include the couple was a fatal one, on multiple levels. Shooting began in Hong Kong and problems soon arose: the exposure produced by such a hot tabloid couple served as catnip to Chinese gangsters, who sabotaged equipment and even extorted money from Madonna and Penn before they'd allow them back on set. Penn, like clockwork, went berserk every time a paparazzo snapped a picture of him, culminating in an assault charge. Eventually Penn and Madonna stopped cooperating altogether, causing the budget to balloon as directors and actors were replaced on Penn's decree, and the couple were labeled as poison.
  • El Cantante (Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez).
  • Dirty Love, written by and starring Jenny McCarthy and directed by her then husband John Mallory Asher. They divorced shortly before it went down in flames.
  • In 1959, Audrey Hepburn starred in Green Mansions, directed by her then-husband Mel Ferrer. It was one of the least successful movies of her career.
  • Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor had a string of flops starting with the notorious Cleopatra (1963) and continuing on with The Sandpiper (1965), The Comedians (1967), Doctor Faustus (1967), Boom! (1968), and Hammersmith Is Out! (1972). Their turn in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? shines even brighter by comparison.
  • The Marrying Man and The Getaway for Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger.
  • In The X-Files, Mulder had a one-night stand with David Duchovny's then-partner. The crew later noted that it was to the detriment of the love scene, because there was just no tension between them.
  • Peter Sellers had couple bombs with his second and fourth wives: The Bobo with Britt Ekland (they also did After the Fox together, but in that film they play siblings, not lovers) and The Prisoner of Zenda (1979) with Lynne Frederick.
  • A father-son variant happened with After Earth. Will Smith basically approached M. Night Shyamalan to write and direct a movie featuring him and his son, Jaden. The movie bombed spectacularly and was reviled by pretty much every critic except Matt Zoller Seitz (who many consider to be Roger Ebert's Poor Man's Substitute anyway).
  • Discussed Trope on Friends. Chandler is worried that his actress girlfriend Kathy is cheating on him with her co-star after seeing their steamy sex scene, but Joey assures him that actors that are actually together have no chemistry with their co-star.
    Joey: Look, you guys have seen me in a lot of plays. Have I ever had chemistry on stage?
  • Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson with Paradise and the remake of Born Yesterday.
  • By the Sea, a 2015 film written and directed by Angelina Jolie and starring herself and Brad Pitt as a couple in a dying marriage. The film was a critical and commercial failure, and soon became Harsher in Hindsight when Jolie filed for divorce in the next year.
  • The view of many fans regarding Soap Opera couples that hook up in Real Life at some point. As stated in the page description, love scenes become uncomfortable to view. Conversely, arguments fail ring true or have any impact on the viewer. And on the handful of occasions where a couple's Real Life breakup coincides with an on-screen one, those arguments get even more painful to watch.