At the height of his fame, Vaughn was a bankable, popular leading man.
After making groundbreaking breakthroughs in films small (Doug Liman’s “Swingers”) and big (Steven Spielberg’s “The Lost World”), Vaughn initially stumbled out of the gate. Movies like Clay Pigeons were barely seen, The Cell and Domestic Disturbance were bombshells known more for behind-the-scenes turbulence than box office, and the Favreau reunion flick Made hardly seemed to be either help.
At the turn of the century, when the failure of his “Psycho” work, in which he played Norman Bates, was still hurting, Vaughn made a smart switch. He laid some weird breadcrumbs in movies like Zoolander and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, and then stole more than starring scenes in hit comedies Dodgeball, Old School, and Wedding Crashers. When a real-life romance with Jennifer Aniston dominated the headlines of the Brangelina era, his peak of fame seemed to come with 2006’s The Break-Up; The Vaughn/Aniston hit opened at number one and has grossed over $100 million domestically.
It was around this time that Vaughn’s penchant for picking bad scripts was beginning to catch up with him. From Be Cool to Couples Retreat, Fred Claus to The Dilemma, The Watch to Delivery Man, many of these films pair Vaughn with sympathetic friends (Favreau, Ben Stiller, Reese Witherspoon). They just so happen to represent some of the worst movies they’ve been a part of in the last two decades. Elizabeth Banks, whose career has rocketed in recent years, can hardly hide her disdain for “Fred Claus.”
Between 2006 and 2016, almost everything Vaughn touched was savaged by critics and audiences alike. Exceptions tended to be minor work, like a supporting role in “Into the Wild” or his cameos from the “Anchorman” series. For about a decade, Vince Vaughn, to paraphrase his character in Swingers, was the guy in the PG-13 movie everyone *really* hoped would make. But it just didn’t happen.