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The Sad Thing All Of Kaley Cuoco's Movies Have In Common

While Kaley Cuoco has earned praise for her dynamic performance on HBO's "The Flight Attendant," the actress notably carved out a lucrative career on the long-running CBS sitcom "The Big Bang Theory." From the show's debut in 2007 until its finale, the half-hour comedy always garnered an impressive following (via Vulture): Almost 20 million viewers regularly tuned in to watch new episodes every Thursday, cementing its status as "must-watch" television and launching the core ensemble into superstardom. In 2019, a whopping 23.4 million people watched the series finale, effectively ending "The Big Bang Theory" with an aptly titled bang, as reported by Deadline).

After "The Big Bang Theory," Cuoco nabbed the leading role on "The Flight Attendant." Playing the titular protagonist, Cuoco received critical acclaim for her fierce, compelling portrayal of a young woman in flux (per Rotten Tomatoes). As one reviewer noted for Rolling Stone, Cuoco is "the very clear, and often very funny, protagonist of this darkly comic mystery story." In 2021, she secured her first Emmy nomination for best actress in a comedy series (via IMDb). Notably, the show's second installment has acquired similar celebration from both critics and viewers alike (as seen on Rotten Tomatoes).

Though Cuoco has steadily made a name for herself in the Hollywood industry, working in television for more than a decade, she has struggled to garner the same level of positive attention in her films. In fact, all of her past movies have earned a "rotten" score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Hop (2011)

In 2011, Hollywood capitalized on the popularity and visibility of Kaley Cuoco by casting her in a lead role in a tentpole release, the live action/CGI family Easter movie, "Hop." Ostensibly the story of E.B., a wisecracking rabbit and Easter Bunny in training, "Hop" follows the talking animal as he escapes to Los Angeles and befriends two human allies in laze-about Fred O'Hare (James Marsden) and Fred's more driven sister, Sam O'Hare (Cuoco).

"Hop" was a minor box office hit, raking in $108 million in North America, meaning fewer people bought a ticket to see Cuoco on the big screen than they did watch her on "The Big Bang Theory" that year. Critical assessment of "Hop" was just as middling. The film earned a pretty bad 24 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. "Gone are the days of childlike mystery and in their place we have the childish 'Hop,'" wrote Glenn Heath Jr. of Slant. Phillippa Hawker of The Age wrote, "For the most part it tries too hard, lurching from one plot contrivance to another and never giving any of its cast ... much to do."

The Last Ride (2012)

A lot of biographical movies about important American musicians hit theaters in the 2000s, many of them earning critical accolades and awards attention, including "Ray" (Ray Charles), "Walk the Line" (Johnny Cash), "Love and Mercy" (Brian Wilson), and "Straight Outta Compton" (NWA). One entry in the sub-genre that didn't knock film writers and Academy Awards voters off their feet: "The Last Ride," a 2012 movie about the last days of country music pioneer and legend Hank Williams (played by "E.T." star Henry Thomas) as he drives through the Midwest to play a couple of concerts in late 1952 before he succumbs to the fatal effects of alcoholism. Cuoco has a small but pivotal role as a woman named Wanda, with whom Williams shares some drinks and a brief, ill-fated romance.

With a thoroughly average 47 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, "The Last Ride" is, as of 2022, by far the best reviewed entry on Cuoco's cinematic resume. "Formally uninspired and thematically weak, 'The Last Ride' really goes nowhere," wrote Mark Olsen of the Los Angeles Times. "A romantic 'what-if' version of the story, interesting only as a cultural artifact," added Eric Melin of Scene-Stealers.

Authors Anonymous (2014)

With a paltry Rotten Tomatoes score of 7 percent, the handful of critics who even bothered to review "Authors Anonymous" were in near-universal agreement that Kaley Cuoco's lightly satirical indie comedy was a total dud. The 2014 movie, co-starring '90s heartthrob Chris Klein and consistent tough guy actor Dennis Farina, is the worst-reviewed movie that Cuoco has ever made.

"Authors Anonymous" is a mockumentary about a group of aspiring authors who experience jealousy, resentment, and other negative emotions when Hannah (Cuoco), the newest writer to join the club, becomes a wildly famous and successful publishing sensation almost immediately after putting pen to paper. That's despite being "an airhead who's never heard of Jane Austen," according to Glenn Kenny's review for RogerEbert.com. Like almost every other publication and critic, The Aisle Seat panned "Authors Anonymous," but singled out Cuoco's performance as "very good," and containing "shrewd" character work.

The Wedding Ringer (2015)

As the romantic lead and idealized crush object on "The Big Bang Theory," one of the most popular sitcoms of the 2010s (and all time), it was something of a foregone conclusion that Kaley Cuoco would star in a big-screen movie in the romantic comedy vein, not unlike "Friends" breakout-turned-A-lister Jennifer Aniston. "The Wedding Ringer" should have provided Cuoco a jumpstart into broad rom-coms and major movie comedies, but it didn't. The film is primarily a vehicle for Broadway and "Frozen" co-star Josh Gad, who plays a lovable nerd on the eve of marrying his dream woman (Cuoco). He has to recruit groomsmen because he doesn't have any friends, placing him in zany situations with a friend-match service director (Kevin Hart).

Despite the presence of the usually bankable Hart and a lot of screen time from well-liked TV star Cuoco (playing a character who isn't quite what she seems), "The Wedding Ringer" underperformed, bringing in $64 million in North America. Reviews were just as so-so, as "The Wedding Ringer" amassed a non-notable 29 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (2015)

2015's "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip" would mark Kaley Cuoco's last major theatrical release before shifting her focus back to TV. This was the fourth entry in the series of live action/CGI movies starring the talking, singing rodents made famous by novelty records in the 1950s and a Saturday morning cartoon show in the 1980s. Amidst a road movie plot about the male Chipmunks trying to prevent their human caretaker Dave from marrying a doctor, the singing critters bond and battle with the Chipettes, a trio of female chipmunks who are also a sibling singing group. Amy Poehler voiced tiny, shy Eleanor in "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked," but opted not to return for "The Road Chip," leaving the role open for Cuoco.

Commercially, "The Road Chip" was a big success, bringing in $234.8 million at the global box office. Film critics, however, found the film to be utterly repulsive; it scored a lowly 15 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. "Normally dependable comic actors are wasted," wrote Tara Brady of Irish Times, while Cath Clarke of Time Out recommended viewers "stick sharpened knitting needles" into their ears. With reviews like that, perhaps it's a good thing that Cuoco didn't show her face in the movie, represented only by her barely recognizable, pitch-shifted vocal performance.

How can Kaley Cuoco turn it around?

Regardless of her lack of critical praise or abundant commercial success in film, Cuoco's fame has skyrocketed ever since her role on Season 1 of the HBO Max caper "The Flight Attendant," as well as a lead voice role in the well-received "Harley Quinn" animated series. She's also got a number of advantageous opportunities in her future (via Glamour).

With multiple award-winning shows under her belt, the actress has proven that she is a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry. In fact, she has a number of films lined up, including the Netflix action comedy "The Man from Toronto," and a rumored role in "Role Play" (per Deadline). Of her upcoming romantic comedy "Meet Cute," in which she stars opposite "SNL" comedian Pete Davidson, Cuoco shared, "I saw the movie recently, and I'm so excited about it. I'm trying not to be biased, but it's really sweet."