Monday, January 16, 2012

The Worst of 2011 So Far

MAY 2018 UPDATE: As some films were left off and some shifted positions during my inventory of past reviews, this is an updated Ten Worst Films of 2011 List. Note that some may shift again once all 2011 films reviewed have been cataloged. 

Counting down the Ten Worst Films of 2011 shouldn't be so hard, except that it is.  It's not hard finding more than sixteen lousy features this year; it's narrowing it down that's the difficult part.

With that, let us begin.

Dishonorable Mention
The Tree of Life
Sean Penn's face pretty much reflects my own feelings towards The Tree of Life.  I imagine I will get a lot of grief on making Terrence Malick's visual poem one of my Worst films of 2011 (though shockingly, I found films I disliked more).  I find that every year my fellow critics masturbate to a specific film. This year, it is The Tree of Life.

My problem with The Tree of Life was first off, all that DAMN WHISPERING.  I DETEST WHISPERING DIALOGUE, IN VOICE-OVER TO BOOT!  I cannot tell you how irritating and frustrating it is to hear people speak in these soft tones, and I find that whenever people whisper dialogue, it is suppose to signal 'we are hearing deep thoughts'.  We are not.  We are just hearing people whisper.

Moreover, the camera work where it was going all over the place was driving me bonkers, and I really didn't understand how Penn's character came to be wandering around the desert with his family.  I'm not someone who has to have everything spelled out for him, but I also have a repulsion on deliberately opaque films.  I would find watching The Tree of Life to be torture because I found it dull, pretentious, and tedious.  I am one of the unconverted, and if by declaring The Tree of Life as one of the worse films of 2011 makes me a heretic, so be it.

Just Go With It
What can one say about a comedy where you actually cheer when a little girl falls face-first in the mud because she's a horrid little intolerable creature?  Adam Sandler now has the market on comedies that appear to lower the IQ of all who watch it, and I know he has a core fanbase (I figure of teenage boys and those who think like them), but this has nothing going for it.

All the characters are amazingly stupid, the children mean to where you wanted them to suffer (hence my cheer when the female child fell into mud), and even that could have been tolerated, if not for the sudden lurches into sentimentality.  Somehow, in some time, Sandler will have to accept that he's well into middle age, and that women almost old enough to be his daughter will not be flocking to his bed.  Granted, we had the benefit of seeing both Brooklyn Decker and Jennifer Aniston show us how attractive they are, but that isn't enough to make these dim characters ones we want to spend any time with, let alone go to Hawaii with.

Sucker Punch
I have all but forgotten Sucker Punch, and that is a good thing because it is such a bad movie.  It tries to put a feminist, girl-power veneer over a tale of abused women forced to perform in skimpy outfits, but the movie is so dead and hollow that we don't care about the people wrapped in this nonsense.  The visuals were all straight out of a video game, no surprise given the director is Zack Snyder (who somehow has been put in charge of the Superman reboot Man of Steel, which to my mind is a dangerous sign).

It's a misogynistic feature masquerading as a female-empowerment film, an ugly video/video game trying to be a movie.  Nothing in Sucker Punch works, and everything is just ugly, pointless, and brain-killing. When I first saw Sucker Punch, I was convinced it would be one of the worst, if not the worst film of 2011.  Ultimately, it still made the Top Ten Worst, but what is truly sad is that somehow, we found films even worse than this one.

30 Minutes or Less

A new entry into our revamped Ten Worst of 2011, 30 Minutes or Less showcases people whom I'm told are highly talented in their worst light.  Brain-dead, filled with unpleasant people I didn't care about, I fail to see why Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari or Danny McBride continue to be championed as great performers.

For a film that may or may not have been based on a bizarre real-life incident, it is devoid of anything worth watching in terms of comedy, drama or action.

How would YOU like to wake up with that grinning face staring back at you?  Wise were those who were spared this blunder of a remake.  The original Arthur, I think, is a classic: a light film where our lead was an alcoholic, but at least one whose heart was in the right place.  Why people feel compelled to remake good films is a mystery to me.  It's one thing to remake bad films in an effort to make them better, but the original Arthur is already so well-established there was no need to see another version of it.

Russell Brand, I'm told, is a 'comedic genius'.  Arthur belies that idea.  I'm sure people thought that changing Hobson's gender from valet to nanny was a bright idea, but while it made sense for a man to have a manservant, it made no sense for a 30+ year old have a nanny "wash his winkie".  Arthur, the character, was shrill, vain, and perhaps clinically insane.  There was nothing endearing or lovable about him, and every decision of his, be it to fall in love or even go to AA, made him and his enablers around him look either stupid or insane.

Drive Angry

Another new addition to our Ten Worst of 2011, Drive Angry came and went so quickly that I'm sure people forgot it existed.  Nicolas Cage has been having an awful slide in his career after the lofty heights of Moonstruck and Leaving Las VegasDrive Angry has not helped his reputation, but I think by now Cage simply does not care.

Perhaps, in time, something will bring him back to if not greatness at least respectability.  Given his participation in such films as Left Behind and another horrible remake, The Wicker Man, hope is fading.

Your Highness
Danny McBride makes a second appearance on this Ten Worst List, only this time in a starring role versus his supporting role in 30 Seconds or Less.  Your Highness is simply inexplainable to me on so many levels. It might because I've never used drugs.

After his disastrous turn as co-host of the Academy Awards, James Franco should have stayed away from appearing in a film that was a pun on marijuana use. After her triumph at the same Academy Awards, Natalie Portman should have gone for more intelligent fare.

I know what they were going for: a spoof of medieval epics.  Certainly they at least understood the conventions of the genre: damsels in distress, the noble warrior to rescue said damsel, the evil wizard.  However, by focusing so much on pot and sex jokes (I still cringe at the suggestion of someone masturbating a puppet not unlike Yoda) with a lead that we neither care for or want to be around, Your Highness was just lazy and stupid...not unlike the end results of actual pot-smoking.

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night
Moving up on this revamped Ten Worst of 2011 List, or down depending on perspective, is this failed effort to start a franchise that mixes horror and comedy with a faux-epic storyline.  I've always found films with colons to be a sign that they are the first of a hoped-for series, and Dylan Dog: Dead of Night is no exception to this rule.

We had a terrible series of blunders with this film: voice-over narration that spelled out everything for you, a curiously dead lead (Brandon Routh looked as though he were a waxwork attempting to come to life), lousy special effects and a story that could never decide if it we were watching a horror/action film or almost a spoof of them. 

I have a feeling that Sam Huntington, one of the few good things both here and in his previous teaming with Routh, Superman Returns, will find more and better things to do in the American version of Being Human.  However, all my thoughts about Routh not being to blame for the failure of Superman Returns are now in serious question after Dylan Dog.  Despite its hopes, there will not be more Dog tales. 

The Green Hornet
In an oft-told tale, I asked my BFF Gabe what he thought of The Green Hornet after we had finished watching the film.  He told me it had too much comedy for it to be an action film.  He asked me what I thought of it.  I said, and I quote,
"This is the biggest pile of shit I have ever sat through". 
The Green Hornet is really a gigantic pile of shit, a term I don't use lightly.  Gabe is correct in his assertion that there is simply too much comedy in The Green Hornet.

Seth Rogen missed a great opportunity to show he was something other than the stupid pot-fueled slacker by going for the tried-and-true in his persona rather than try to establish a genuine character.  Add to that Christoph Waltz's decision to be camp and Asian pop star Jay Chou's almost unintelligible English and you already have a sinking ship.

Somehow The Green Hornet wanted to make a comedy while making a serious action film at the same time.  The main character was quite clearly insane and narcissistic, a dangerous mix, and clueless to boot.  Too much time was spent trying to have things played for laughs, so when you have a killing spree of people for wearing green (which would make Packer fans a major target), we really can't laugh.

The Green Hornet was a bungled fiasco, and yes, the biggest pile of shit I've ever sat through.  Even though it came out in January, I was certain that it would be the Worst Film of 2011, and for the longest time it held out its position, that is, until I found two other films that managed to be more horrifying.

I Melt With You
This lost weekend was an absolute nightmare to endure from beginning to end.  Few films attempted to be so much and not only failed so spectacularly but actually made one loath everyone and everything involved in the film as I Melt With You.

Promoted as four men dealing with various mid-life crises, the movie is both pompous and nasty.  None of the characters we suffer through are interesting: indulging in nothing but booze, drugs and sex.  These four were so much into the drugs that I was completely amazed that they didn't die because of the massive amounts of pills and coke they ingested.

I Melt With You is trying to be some sort of generational story, but we just a group of horrible people we actually want to see die.  And die they do, in particularly artsy ways that would make Agatha Christie envious.  Once we get actual police involvement, we get Carla Gugino (from Film Number 9) as the world's dumbest cop.

This is not an exaggeration: she really is beyond stupid in how she investigates a series of disappearances.  These were terrible people, doing terrible and amazingly psychotic things for the thinnest and stupidest of reasons.  I HATED this film, and I HATED the pretensions I Melt With You is no nakedly aspiring to.  I genuinely felt sorry for the four actors, all talented, having to be in this film.

The Hangover Part II

Until I saw The Hangover Part II, I would not believe that I could sit through an even BIGGER pile of shit.  The Hangover Part II is unique in that it is the only film to be both a sequel and a remake at the same time.  Perhaps there was a hope that we would get to relive the fun of the original The Hangover, but instead we find that we truly can't recapture the magic the second time around. 

The Hangover Part II is a mean, nasty film, one that is racist, sexist, and homophobic, sometimes in the same scene.  It's as if the makers and performers took out what made The Hangover so good (primarily its heart) and decided that what made it funny was the gross-out aspects.

Bad move for a bad movie.

I was stunned that people could find all the hijinks funny, given they were built on violence and torture, on treating people so badly.  It also had no real sense of suspense because the situations that led up to this latest hangover weren't as well-structured as last time.  It's one thing to have a sequel, but another to basically make the same movie, take out the good things, emphasize the bad things, change the setting, and think we will see a good movie. 

There was nothing funny because they were doing things that were damaging to others, not to themselves as they did in the first Hangover.  Here is the biggest flaw in The Hangover Part II: while our Wolf Pack really did damage to themselves (and rather innocuous damage such as pulling out their own teeth), here, one of them attempts to murder a minor, and the group doesn't seem disturbed by the fact that said minor had his finger cut off, thus destroying his potential career as a cellist and surgeon.

The Hangover Part II is a nasty piece of work, and I will not go see The Hangover Part III.  I don't make enough money to waste it so casually.  If The Hangover Part III is a big hit (and I mean beyond opening weekend), it is another Sign of the End of Western Civilization.

For as long as I live, I shall always hate The Hangover Part II and I doubt I'll find a film I loath more.  Plan 9 From Outer Space is more enjoyable.

Well, these are my revamped Ten Worst Films of 2011.  Mercifully, we will also have the revamped Ten Best Films of 2011.  Thank heavens for that.

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