I'm finding that each group of 10 movies I'm posting contains 8 or so movies that are universally reviled...and then 2 controversial picks. Let me just say...I had no idea how many of you like "Big Fish." Really? When was the last time you watched it? I mean, even if everything else was really terrible but it just LOOKED awesome and Tim Burton-y, I could see forgiving it on purely aesthetic grounds, as I do with Burton's "Mars Attacks," "Batman Returns" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." But it's visuals are just as wan and uninteresting as everything else! I don't think of one single memorable shot or setting.Anyway, I predict this list will continue said pattern. 8 or so nice, safe selections and then 2 films that were largely popular. It's just my little way of saying, uh, suck it, I guess...The 50 Worst Films of the Decade, 30-21 30. Domino (2005)
Keira Knightley's a less-than-impressive actress even when aiming perfectly within her range. She plays non-conformist, headstrong women for a living, and performs, at her peak, in a minimally exceptional manner. Asking her to go outside of her comfort zone, even just a teensy bit, is taking a pretty big risk. Asking her to play a bounty hunter is like asking her to portray a club sandwich. She can't do it, Tony Scott. It's rude of you to even ask. The result is a "movie" in which Knightley focuses all of her mental and physical energy on looking tough, and therefore absolutely nothing of consequence happens. (The few things that DO happen are related to us in voice-over, as the movie's too busy being washed out and blurry to actually depict events.) I'm not sure I've ever seen a film - even an avant-garde documentary - in which the protagonist has absolutely zero motivation. If the great surrealist directors of the silent film era were to watch "Domino," they'd say, "Hang on, I'm not following this. Shouldn't we understand more about the character's motivation?" Domino Harvey, bounty hunter, is driven solely by the desire to make Keira Knightley appear tough. She has wasted her life. 29. Pearl Harbor (2001)Michael Bay's passion for history clearly begins and ends with The Big Bang, so I'm not even sure why the idea of directing a historical epic romance set against the backdrop of a foreign attack on US soil even appealed to him. No sassy robots? No wisecracking cops? Fuck that noise. Wanna do a remake of "Con Air"? (I just realized that there is no movie on Earth more appropriate for Michael Bay to direct than a remake of "Con Air"! He should just start doing remakes of shitty action movies from the last 20 years! Michael Bay presents...an entirely new take on an old classic..."Drop Zone," coming this summer.) Not so much an action movie (save for the bloated, spectacle-laden CGI orgy stuffed in the center), this is essentially a bad romance, except even Lady Gaga doesn't want it. Of course we don't care whether Kate Beckinsale will end up with Josh Hartnett or Ben Affleck; it's clear Bay doesn't pay attention to the parts of his movies where characters are speaking. He quite literally doesn't know what to do about dialogue. This was his fourth major film as a director, and he had not yet even come close to putting together one successful scene of interpersonal drama that develops or enhances a conflict. Not one. Ever. 28. Superman Returns (2006)Listen, not every comic book needs to be turned into a brooding, deeply serious cinematic contemplation about the nature of goodness and heroism. Some comic books lend themselves to dark, intense movie treatments. Batman comes immediately to mind. Other comic books lend themselves to madcap, cartoonish theatrics and adventure, to far-out fantasies with an eye towards lifting an audience's spirits, rather than commiserating with them about the tragedy of modern life. Like, you know, Superman. Unfortunately, Bryan Singer chose to adapt a story that can easily be rendered into terrific entertainment ("Superman II" remains one of the greatest all-time comic book films) into the world's most dour and obvious Jesus metaphor. I mean, the film opens with Lois Lane having won a Pulitzer for a recent "anti-Superman" editorial. Could you even possibly devise a more effective way to suck all the fun out of a Superman than having his best girl win an award for trashing him in his alter-ego's paper? Maybe we could get a pre-credit sequence of Jimmy Olsen just kicking him repeatedly in the balls, Bry...That do anything for you? I know you like your superheroes tortured, melancholic and survivors of the Holocaust, but some of us just want Superman to catch falling people, burn shit with his eyeballs and punch aliens. Is that okay with you? (Also, you couldn't have reminded Kevin Spacey that Bobby Darin was his LAST role and he's playing Lex Luthor now? He looks ridiculous.) 27. Christmas with the Kranks (2004)
I saw this on a plane. WOW. This movie's take on contemporary American life, particularly as it concerns families living in the suburbs, is surprisingly grim. I found the experience of watching it upsetting, as I do the sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond." It just hits too close to home...The jokes aren't good enough to cover the anger and desperation that's lurking JUST underneath the surface. Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis, depressed that their daughter has joined the Peace Corps and escaped their clinging, overbearing death grip, recognize that they are finally FREE of the burden of having to celebrate a holiday that apparently all you Christians are just pretending to like. But before they can escape on a tropical getaway, an entire neighborhood of mean, self-centered louts attempt to make them feel terrible for no good reason. It's supposed to be (guh?) funny and even (gasp!) RELATABLE, but it plays like something out of a horror film. "Just leave the Kranks alone and let them go on a vacation, you bloodthirsty leeches!" I wanted to scream. "Does anyone really care about winning a trophy for stapling small lights to the outside of their now-worthless McMansions?" If "Christmas with the Kranks" resonates deeply with you, light yourself on fire. 26. Finding Neverland (2004)Oh no he di'int. Yeah, I did. This movie blows. It plays like the work of a person who has only ever made art for small children, and can't bring themself to trust an adult audience to think for itself and handle ambiguity. In the film, we see playwright JM Barrie (played by Johnny Depp) forsake his wife and his adult responsibilities to spend time with the sons of a platonic friend he meets in a park. "Finding Neverland" chooses to see this as a dramatic statement about Barrie's free-spirited openness, and his child-like of wonder and delight with the world. And that's it. No other possibilities are examined, or even considered, other than the straight-forward interpretation that JM Barrie was a great man and he loved children and his wife was boring. The end. What an immature, dim-witted take on this material. Director Marc Forster and screenwriter David Magee at no point even attempts to explore the possibility that there may be any other motive for Barrie's behavior, which any thinking person would concede is bizarre. In one scene, a friend of Barrie's, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is asked whether he thinks that the interest in the 10-year-old boys may be inappropriately intimate, even sexual..."Of course not!," Sir Arthur insists, and it almost felt like Forster and Magee telling me to shut up and stop asking questions. ("See! That guy invented Sherlock Holmes. What the hell do you know! Don't ask questions, just feel sad when I kill 8 main characters in a row.") But grown men with careers and families of their own don't often just decide that they'd rather spend their days in the company of 10 year olds, and I can't understand a movie that implies that they should. 25. Gigli (2003)
What is "Gigli" trying to say? What is the meaning here? It's SO awkward, and so alien, and such a complete and total failure as either an amusing comedy or compelling drama, there's really no way to review it in a conventional manner. Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck play two criminals with very different styles - she a capable assassin, he a doofus from da neighborhood - who have to work together to kidnap a DA's retarded brother. Oh, and she's a lesbian. It feels a lot like a pitch you'd hear in a beginning screenwriting class...They've figured out that you need to have colorful, quirky characters and a solid conflict to work through over the course of three acts...but there's no sense of subtlety or craft. Everything's just kind of thrown together disjointedly, with the hopes that the major beats can be fine-tuned on the next draft. But as a much, it's far, far worse than that, because of the woefully hackneyed, on-da-nose dialogue and a pair of truly loathsome lead performances. There's a surprising lack of on-screen chemistry between Affleck and Lopez (despite the fact that they were dating at the time this was made), but it may be because they're both too focused on their lame affectations to worry about supporting one another. 24. Catwoman (2004)Usually, movies that are this terrible are sort of fun, but "Catwoman" won't even let you enjoy it on that level. It's an incredibly turgid experience, made as if everyone involved just forgot that movies are supposed to be entertaining and occasionally contain suspense and incident. "You mean you don't just put people in costumes and then shoot pictures of them? DAMN, I knew we left something off the list." It's also called Catwoman, and features an appropriate-looking woman (Halle Berry) in a recognizable cat costume, but it doesn't really have much to do with the character known as Catwoman, to the point that this feels like a "truth in advertising" problem as much as anyone else, like calling a movie "Friday the 13th" but just having it be about a real goalie who's never killed anyone. Instead, we get a lot of hokey discussions of Egyptian mythology and Sharon Stone as an evil executive who wants to sell skin cream that turns you into a rock monster. See? That sounds like it could be humorous, right? But it's not...I swear... 23. White Chicks (2004)
No one's saying that jokes based on racial differences CAN'T be funny. I will grant that the concept of a joke aimed at noticing differences between white and black people is not, itself, inherently not funny. I can imagine someone doing something with that as a starting point. But "White Chicks" just tries to mine this one, largely inaccurate observation ("whites and blacks are different!") for an entire feature, and it sort of runs out of steam within the first 15 minutes. (Oh, excuse me, the opening scene is actually about how blacks and Puerto Ricans are different.) It's sort of shocking how fast the Wayans Brothers run out of genuine differences between black and white people...within the first half hour, they just have to start making up differences that don't exist. One famous scene that was in the trailers shows the Wayans Brothers (very very unrealistically disguised as white women) riding in a car with two genuinely white women. A country song comes on the radio and the white girls know it; the black guys have to fake their way through to keep up appearances. Then a hip-hop song comes on and the black guys know it right away, but the white girls stare straight ahead, confused, like they have never even HEARD such a thing before in their lives. But, of course, this was 2004, and millions of young white women listened to hip-hop, arguably the most popular genre of music in America today. It's observational comedy based on an observation NO ONE HAS EVER MADE. "Hey, you know who hates rap music? White people!" "They quite clearly don't." "So what about those airplane peanuts...Why are there so few of them in that bag?" 22. Rollerball (2002)"Rollerball" is so amateurish and sloppy, it's like it was made by accident. John McTiernan (who made "Die Hard" and "Predator" BACK-TO-BACK in the '80s!) went on a six-day coke binge, and when he woke up, there were a bunch of reels strewn about his house. There's an extended (seriously, like 20 minutes) action sequence that's shot entirely in night vision! Genius! Clearly, McT felt that seeing splotchy green-and-black light blobs bounce around for a while was going to be more interesting than any of the stuff he had planned. It'd be like filming a scene in a stoner's apartment and just zooming in on the lava lamp for a while. "You guys get the idea, right? I'm gonna go get some munchies, you just hang..." Anyway, why remake "Rollerball"? It's a stupid, uninteresting, generic idea. "Oooh, a hyper-violent new sport that serves as a paper-thin metaphor for our own national obsession with brutality and cruel spectacle. I'm being satirical!"
21. Date Movie (2006)PARODIES OF MOVIES THAT ARE ALREADY COMEDIES DON'T MAKE SENSE, YOU DILLHOLES. JUST CUT IT OUT! SEE, THEY'RE COMEDIES, SO THEY'RE ALREADY ABOUT HOW THE SITUATIONS PRESENTED THEREIN ARE LIGHTLY AMUSING; REARRANGING THEM AND ADDING DIFFERENT, AND INFERIOR, JOKES, DOES NOT ADD ANY VALUE. MERELY RECREATING SCENES FROM FILMS THAT WERE MEANT TO BE FUNNY AND SELF-AWARE THE FIRST TIME AROUND DOES NOT MAKE YOUR MOVIE A PARODY, BUT A MERE IMITATION, AND I THINK WE CAN ALL AGREE THAT IT'S UTTERLY POINTLESS TO IMITATE SOMETHING FROM THE RECENT PAST THAT EVERYONE STILL CLEARLY RECALLS, AND THEN ASK THEM TO PAY MONEY TO SEE IT! IN CONCLUSION, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE STOP. YOU ARE HURTING MY BRAIN.