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Couple Bomb

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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. Sometimes, it's a Non-Actor Vehicle for one half (or maybe both halves) of the couple (such as the Directors Girlfriend), and it shows. 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.


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    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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. In a twist that did surprise many, they got back together and married nineteen years later.
  • Rumors abound that Kevin Smith chopped most of Lopez's scenes out of Jersey Girl to avoid the same fate. It didn't work.
  • Back in the 20s, Hollywood power couple Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks starred in their only film together - an adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew. True to the trope's form, it was made while their marriage was falling apart and it was a financial bomb that led to Pickford retiring from acting completely.
  • Overboard (Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn) - though the film has been Vindicated by Cable, mainly from the consensus that Russell and Hawn have strong on-screen chemistry. And unlike virtually every played-straight example of this trope, they've happily been life-partners for nearly forty years.
  • 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 was labeled as poison.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • Stephen Mangan starred in the short-lived Houdini & Doyle where his wife Louise Delamere played his wife in the show. He commented on how weird it was to film love scenes with his real wife.
    "It's what I imagine dogging feels like..."
  • Discussed on Mystery Science Theater 3000, in the episode "The Loves of Hercules". The movie that week is the second (of four) that Jayne Mansfield made with her then-husband Mickey Hargitay, and the riffers note how little on-screen chemistry the couple has.
    Servo: So, these two are married in real life, and this is how they kiss?
    Crow: She's laying eggs inside of him right now.