Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Worst Ten Movies of 2011

I'll do my Top Ten after I've caught a couple more titles.

I have not seen such alleged stinkers as Big Momma 3, Beastly, Hoodwinked Too, The Art of Getting By, Spy Kids 4, One Day, Shark Night, Apollo 18, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, Creature, I Don't Know How She Does It, Dream House, Human Centipede 2, Three Musketeers, Like Crazy, Jack & Jill, I Melt with You, New Year's Eve, The Sitter or The Darkest Hour, but of what I've seen, these were the worst:

Dishonorable Mentions:

ATLAS SHRUGGED PART I - Maybe fans of the book will find some things to appreciate, but this rushed, unfinished production does Ayn Rand no favors.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN - This reboot is an ugly, unimaginative take on the character immortalized by Arnold Schwarzengger.  Marcus Nispel (Pathfinder) was the wrong hire for this material.

THE GREEN HORNET - Seth Rogen tries to remake the superhero movie in his own image, and the results are mediocre. Watching Jay Chou trying to speak English is akin to watching a cat trying to get peanut butter off the roof of its mouth. Christoph Waltz can't find the comedic notes for his villain role. If Jack Black tries to tackle the Green Arrow, someone tackle him.

GREEN LANTERN - You have Peter Saarsgaard as your villain, and yet he's made the subplot to the main villain - a giant cloud of evil. The overabundance of CGI does not compensate for the lack of thrills. Ryan Reynolds needn't worry about donning the green ring a second time.

KABOOM - Microbudgeted yawner about a party boy who wonders if, gee, maybe the end of the world is coming. But first, let's do drugs and dance!

THE OTHER WOMAN - An aftermath movie. Natalie Portman plays the second wife to a successful businessman, having snagged him by being his mistress. Then the baby they had together dies. Her marriage is becoming more and more loveless, and her stepson is the weapon his parents use against each other. Lisa Kudrow conveys deep bitterness as the first wife who had her life torn apart, but these are such awful selfish people to spend time with, I'd recommend it only as a cautionary tale for young woman thinking of sleeping with a married man. "Do you want this to become your life?"

THE ROOMMATE - This twist on Single White Female shows that Leighton Meester has talent and deserves better. No one else involved does.

SEASON OF THE WITCH - As corny and silly as you'd expect a medieval movie to be starring Nicolas Cage.

SOMETHING BORROWED - Kate Hudson was nominated for an Oscar once.  No, seriously, it's true.

THE TREE OF LIFE - A gorgeous 2 hour 25 minute slideshow. No real story. Just three boys living in 1950's Texas. And we go back to the creation of the world, and time passing, and waves crashing, and trees growing, and stars twinkling, and wind blowing through the grass, and the cosmos winking, and critics closing their eyes and chanting "Ohmmmmmmmm...." through the whole bloody thing. The Emperor has no clothes.

And now...

... the Worst Ten

10. DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK - The creepy-crawly creatures of this "from the mind of Guillermo Del Toro" effort are never scary, but that's not even the main problem. When Katie Holmes takes pictures of them to prove they're real, and the photos are all over the ground, it just cuts ahead to the next scene with still no one else believing her. Why did no one look at the pictures? I don't mind leaps of logic if they're not Herculean leaps.

9. PASSION PLAY - A drifter (Mickey Rourke) finds a woman with literal angel wings. An offbeat quirky comedy could have sprung from that premise, but instead we get a forlorn ponder-drama, where melancholy is chosen over mirth. Bill Murray wastes his time as a gangster who wants to keep her for himself, and the finale's terrible special effects make for the perfect exclamation point on why this film is such a mess.

8. YOUR HIGHNESS - This would-be parody never captures the quick wit of the Pythons nor the underlying sweetness of The Princess Bride. I think even Cheech & Chong would disown it. The R-rated stoner humor mixed in with medieval tropes never meshes, and it made me resent actor/writer Danny McBride and director David Gordon Green for getting this much money with this talented a cast, and this was all they could churn out.

7. SANCTUM - If you're going to make a movie about a group of people stuck in underground caves, it's imperative to always give the audience a sense of place. The whole thing was shot on sound-stages for all I know. It features paper-thin caricatures of people shouting and trudging down damp corridors and then dying one by one when they make incredibly stupid decisions.

6. DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT - One of those genre mashups that succeeds at none of its targets, not at horror nor comedy nor noir nor entertainment, with Brandon Routh completely miscast in the lead.

5. JUST GO WITH IT - Adam Sandler has lost it. I used to look forward to his movies, but what worked for him 10-15 years ago isn't working now. Between this, Grown Ups, and (what I've read about) Jack & Jill, he needs an intervention, and yet whenever he takes risks (Funny People, Reign Over Me), it's not as successful at the box-office. This comedy is about a man who pretends to be married to get one-night stands, but when he meets a woman he wants to continue seeing, his lies about his marriage expand and grow. There's so much effort put into the contrived premise that it kills whatever laughs might have been achieved.

4. RED RIDING HOOD - Well, the opening credits were cool. Other than that, director Catherine Hardwicke (the first Twilight) indulges her worst instincts in this ethereal medieval romance/murder-mystery where a werewolf is killing the townspeople at night. Our heroine Red (Amanda Seyfried) is torn between two village hunks, either of whom could be the killer lycanthrope, neither of whom have chemistry with her. Giant lanterns are hung on each red herring to the point it becomes obvious who the wolf is because the movie's tried to hard to make us think it's anybody else.

3. SUCKER PUNCH - Teen girls clad themselves scantily in fetishized costumes while fighting creatures in some dreamscape video-game of a movie pretending to be about female empowerment. Director Zack Snyder has had financial success adapting other people's work (Dawn of the Dead, 300, Watchmen) but in doing his own, he shows he really is all style and no substance.

2. THE RITE - Deathly dull exorcism flick with Anthony Hopkins in paycheck mode as the older priest who winds up getting possessed himself. Colin O'Donoghue is the black hole where an engaging protagonist should be.

1. BREAKING DAWN PART I - I've been fine with the first three movies. I take them at face value. But this... this plunges new depths of cheese. The actors aren't improving. If anything it highlights their weaknesses. Taylor Lautner has never been worse. The first half-hour is about the wedding, the second half-hour is about Bella's pregnancy, and the final act is about vampires and Jacob patrolling to keep Bella safe while she delivers whatever a vampire-human hybrid baby is. Even die-hard Twihards will have to admit how bad this movie is.

UPDATE: I now believe HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN was the worst movie of 2011.  I say "believe" because it was so rancid, I couldn't watch the whole thing.  For what it's worth.

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