Friday, December 18, 2009

TWIYT #75, now with 50% more me getting hit in the face by members of The Station

The final TWIYT of 2009 includes our year-end wrap up and, of course, more jokes about Tiger Woods and Lady Gaga! Because you demanded it (by which I mean you did not demand it but it artificially inflates our view count.)

Thanks to Kassem G for stopping by and attacking me!

Posted via web from Lon Harris

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The 50 Worst Films of the Decade, 30-21

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 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)


Tiger Not Out of the Woods Yet

Ha ha!  But seriously...

It seems that Mr. Woods has moved on to the next step in the Celebrity Scandal Method™ and decided to go to rehab.  But get's for Vicodin, Ambien AND Sex Addiction!  I wouldn't have thought you could be addicted to both a sleeping pill AND lovemaking, as those two things seem sort of contradictory.  But a quick check of the ultimate authority on all medical issues - and of course I mean Wikipedia - confirms that Ambien produces side effects like "increased libido," "increased impulsivity," "altered thought patterns" and "impaired judgment and reasoning," which basically makes it sound like a rich, creamy Adultery Sauce.  I mean, how do you NOT cheat on your significant other when you're on a drug with those side effects?  It does everything but map the coordinates to the city's most exclusive escort services on to your iPhone.

Anyway, we at Mahalo are following the Tiger Woods Rehab story very closely, so stay tuned there for the latest.

Posted via email from Lon Harris

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The 50 Worst Films of the Decade, 40-31

I think it's interesting to compare this list to the 50 Best Films of the Decade list I'll be publishing later on this week.  The most surprising revelation?  Four director's works appear on BOTH lists, and another director of a Worst Film manages to sneak in an Honorable Mention on the best list!  Can you guess who they might be?

The 50 Worst Films of the Decade, 40-31

40. Big Fish (2003)

"Big Fish" feels like the work of a hacky amateur trying to make a Tim Burton movie rather than a film by the man himself.  Self-conscious when it should be whimsical, creepy when it should be funny, maudlin when it should be uplifting, the film, in over 2 hours, never once manages to hit the right note, defying not only the established standards for Burton's filmography but also the very laws of statistical probability.  It doesn't even look good, with flimsy cardboard sets and cheesy facades standing in for the fantastical Southern landscape of Albert Finney's imagination.  But the biggest problem is that the movie celebrates the power of imagination and tall tales without actually relating one even remotely decent or interesting story of its own.  What we're left with is a romance about a man desperately in love with the sound of his own voice.

39. Daredevil (2003)

"Daredevil" is bad for a number of reasons, but what stands out to me years later is that it can't seem to decide what sort of comic book film it wants to be.  There's a serious, brooding, "adult" comic book film here, in which Daredevil is a scarred, tortured anti-hero who works out his trauma on bad guys.  But then there's also a ludicrous, candy-colored cartoon comic book film here, in which Colin Farrell parades around with a target etched into his skull and spouting cheesedick one liners like "I want a bloody costume!" and Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner have adorable mock-fight sequences in playgrounds.  The two movies don't ever actually meet, and the result is a movie designed to appeal to absolutely no one, save possibly Kevin Smith.  But that's probably just his Ben Affleck man-crush talking.  (NOTE: "Daredevil" spawned a sequel of sorts, "Elektra," that's almost assuredly an even worse film, but I never saw it, thus saving it from inclusion herein.)

38. Rat Race (2001)

Quite possibly the decade's most shrill, obnoxious comedy, "Rat Race" has approximately 3 tools in its arsenal: celebrities mugging, people who are not quite celebrities mugging and fast-moving objects running into one another.  Now, I'm not saying that a good injury or physical gag CAN'T be funny, but when that's ALL that happens - people crash into things, things crash into things, people crash into people, my palm crashes into my forehead - it gets old fast.  The movie actually has an okay set-up...John Cleese plays a billionaire who has organized an elaborate game for his rich cohorts, betting on which of a group of clueless chuckleheads will end up with a $2 million prize he has hidden away.  But it just goes absolutely nowhere, unless you consider Rowan Atkinson doing an offensive Italian accent to be "somewhere."  Also, here are some names that should never appear in the credits of a film that claims to have an "all-star cast": Breckin Meyer, Seth Green, Jon Lovitz, Whoopi Goldberg, Amy Smart, Dean Cain and, of course, Paul Rodriguez.  (Actually, that last name should not appear in the credits of a film.  End of statement.)  "Rat Race" made me yearn for the wit and subtlety of Goldberg's '80s comedies.

37. United 93 (2006)

"United 93," Paul Greengrass' ode to terrorists making Americans shit our collective pants, is not so much a BAD film as an inappropriate, unnecessary and even monstrous one.  The fact that it's actually pretty well-made does not redeem it, but actually serves to confirm that the people involved should have known better.  The movie seeks to do nothing less than recreate 9/11 - in particular, the flight that never made it to its final destination and instead crashed in a Pennsylvania field on that fateful day.  Not for dramatic effect, not to make any kind of academic or sociological "point," not even, presumably, to make money - cause who wants to go relive 9/11 on a Saturday night at the movies? - but just to do it, to see if it can be done.  And, yeah, it can.  Watching the film is a sometimes painful, always uncomfortable and intensely unpleasant experience...but that doesn't make it worthwhile.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  The movie made me dislike Greengrass, as a person, pretty intensely.  Why was he even putting us all through this again?  Just to show off?  In the hopes that, by making the year's most SERIOUS and sober picture, someone would give him an award?  What a piece of shit.

36. Shallow Hal (2001)

"Shallow Hal" marks the moment - the EXACT moment - when the Farrelly Brothers' schtick wore out its welcome.  The rest of the decade was a slow, painful slide into obsolescence for them.  All of their movies pair gross-out laughs with sentimentality and an essentially sweet nature, but "Shallow Hal" tips the scales (har!) and overwhelms any and all actual humor with a relentlessly judgmental, scolding tone.  The film, in which the superficial Jack Black is hypnotized by Tony Robbins (in a pointless cameo) and thereafter falls in love with a morbidly obese Gwyneth Paltrow (who appears beautiful to him), tries so desperately to have it both ways that it's practically bipolar.  You can either convince people that fat jokes aren't funny, and that we all have a responsibility to treat each and every human being with decency, love, compassion and respect, or you can make 90 minutes worth of fat jokes.  Just get off the bitchtrain and pick one, guys.  Doing both is like Hitler ending one of his rousing addresses to the German volk by sharing his old family recipe for gefilte fish.  There just isn't much of a middle ground there, and even if a skilled comic writer could FIND some way to balance these two impulses, the Farrelly Brothers just aren't talented enough to pull it off.  So you get lots and lots of (mostly awful) fat jokes followed by scenes in which we're told that it's wrong, WRONG, to pre-judge people because they're fat. Also, Jason Alexander with a tail, which is less funny than its sounds.

35. Ultraviolet (2006)

$30,000,000 was apparently spent on "Ultraviolet," though I can't imagine HOW.  Perhaps they paid people off to pretend it wasn't such an enormous turd?  It contains arguably the WORST-looking CGI in the history of that particular technology; whole sequences appear to not have even been finished, like the animators caught a few seconds put together of what they were working on and left early to go get drunk.  There aren't really even any big stars in it, besides Milla Jovovich and that kid Cameron Bright, who was in pretty much every movie this decade that didn't already feature Dakota Fanning.  Where did the budget go?  The costumes, which look patched together from discarded couches director Kurt Wimmer found abandoned on the street near the studio?  The prop guns, which look like cheap plastic toys with swords glued to the bottom, perhaps because they are CHEAP PLASTIC TOYS WITH SWORDS GLUED TO THE BOTTOM!  I think it's entirely possible "Ultraviolet," rather than a failed dystopian science-fiction film, was actually just a front for Kurt Wimmer's First Annual $30 Million Coke and Caviar Party, and the actual decoy "movie" that resulted only cost $11.50 and a handy in the parking lot of the Astroburger next to the Paramount lot.  At least, I'd like to think so.

34. What Planet Are You From? (2000)

What happens when an alien from an advanced race with incredible technology but no understanding of real emotion has to come to Earth and try to mate with a human female?  Well, the results are a mix between "The 40 Year Old Virgin" and the creepiest, most ick-inducing thing you've ever seen.  Comedian Garry Shandling plays said alien, and one of the running gags of the movie is that his artificial penis (which he plans to use to impregnate a human female and thus ensure the future survival of his kind) vibrates noisily when he gets aroused.  Which means that you spend a lot of the film thinking about and having your attention called to Garry Shandling's penis.  Which, right there, is kind of a deal-breaker.

33. Righteous Kill (2008)

De Niro and Pacino team tell a story that's somehow both incomprehensible and predictable.  I've been thinking about that for a while now, and I still can't quite wrap my head around it.  The whole mystery - in which a pair of cops search for a vigilante killer who leaves poems at the site of his murders - builds up to a twist that's completely straight-forward and obvious, but gets there via insanely convoluted, nonsensical means. It's almost like director Jon Avnet (the visionary genius behind "Red Corner" and "88 Minutes"!) wanted you to FORGET that you figured out the twist in the first 20 minutes.  Suffice it to say, when the protagonist in a suspense thriller looks into the camera in the first moment of a movie and tells you he's a serial murderer, it's probably a fake out, misdirection to keep you from paying attention to the REAL murderer.  And when that same suspense thriller has only 2 real characters, process of elimination alone would seem to dictate that...well, perhaps I've said too much already.

32. Evolution (2001)

Ha ha, butt...

In the ill-fated "Evolution," David Duchovney and Orlando Jones hunt an alien creature that doesn't understand how evolution works.  No, I mean, um, it "evolves" quickly, cause that's a thing...right?  Setting the cause of proper science education back further than Ben Stein and Kirk Cameron ever could, Ivan Reitman's sci-fi comedy (and I use all the words in that phrase loosely save "Ivan Reitman's") was originally conceived as a real horror film.  Then, realizing it was not at all scary, Reitman reconceived it as a comedy...ish thing, sorta.  Anyway, it's probably very much like its original incarnation, only Julianne Moore falls down a lot.  Who knows what it could have become next if Reitman hadn't presumably run out of time and been forced to release whatever he had thrown together, as-is.  A swashbuckling Technicolor adventure film about an alien menace that transforms into a variety of different forms before settling on "vaguely nondescript blob of computer-animated goo"?  An Errol Morris documentary in which Julianne Moore speaks directly into the camera about spending an entire film shoot pretending to trip and fall?  Pretty much anything would be less painful to sit through than this debacle.  It clearly just needed more time to...wait for it comes...any second now...evolve.  Yeah, that's right, I went there.

31. The Cat in the Hat (2003)

This movie's a loud, joyless, chaotic waste
Nothing like the Seuss book (on which it is based)

Look out for Mike Myers, with make-up that's scary
He's more frightening here than "The Grinch's" Jim Carrey

And despite being ignored by most of the nation
This still kicked off a wave of bad Seuss adaptations!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The 50 Worst Films of the Decade, 50-41

In some ways, writing a list of the "worst films" of the year or the decade is an act of pure cynicism, a bilious exercise in slamming someone else's work that is completely trivial and unnecessary.  If you write a review of a bad film the week it opens, you are, in some small way, doing a kind of public service.  "Hey, moviegoing audience," your review seems to say, "avoid this clunker at all costs in favor of something more worthwhile. You're welcome!"  But written months, or in this case, YEARS after the films have already been thrashed by critics and audiences (in most cases), serves no immediate purpose other than celebrating the taste and wit of the author and flattering the sensibilities of the reader, who is encouraged to sneer and laugh caustically at targeted artworks.  It's the cinematic equivalent of public masturbation...self-indulgence that benefits no one, and really only has the potential to offend.

Having said sure is a lot of fun!  And these movies are terrible!  They have it coming.


50. The Hunted (2003)

William Friedkin's overwrought pseudo-action film is essentially a remake of "First Blood," only without all that pesky action and social commentary.  The film was released 6 years ago and was immediately forgettable. So much so, in fact, the only thing I really recall about it, aside from disliking it intensely, is Benicio del Toro's completely indecipherable accent, despite the fact that he's supposed to be playing an American soldier.  It's like his character from "Usual Suspects" joined the military and wigged out...He must have just gotten bored and decided to try something a little different.  "Give me the keys, you cocksucker."

49. The Hours (2002)

Three generations of women suffer from inexplicable ennui, stare longingly out of windows and generally bore the living shit out of me in this mercilessly long, turgid, suffocating Oscar bait.  The theme of Stephen Daldry's self-congratulatory snoozefest seems to be that women are a mysterious puzzle-box of emotion that no one can ever even begin to decode.  So accordingly, he sets up drab, maudlin and entirely generic "depression" scenarios for his main characters and then does very little with them, not so much trying to investigate or explore the sadness of author Virginia Woolf or her '50s housewife counterpart as fetishize it.  ("Oooooh, they're so sad and you don't even know why!  Just give them some Critics Circle Awards already!")  Ed Harris earns groans, loud, heaving, guttural groans, as a self-pitying poet suffering from AIDS.  By the end, the audience is ready to throw him out a window before he takes care of the job himself.

48. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Where to even begin with the movie's inexplicable narrative?  Oh, I know, how about its main characters outrunning freezing temperatures?  Once you've actually written a scene in which a guy outruns the rate at which things turn cold, you've pretty much thrown up your hands in defeat.  (NOTE: Another horrible '00s film, "Die Another Day," asks us to accept a character driving faster than the sun, but this is a Bond movie, so I think a bit more baffling, ludicrous implausibility is acceptable.)

47. Scoop (2006)

"Scoop," the story of a journalist who gets a story idea from a dead guy and then follows it up with the aid of a whiny senior citizen, is clearly just lazy, the work of a guy who could make a movie in his sleep and essentially tries to do exactly that.  You keep expecting all the film's various threads to come together in a way that's dazzling and surprising and witty, like the last scene in a great "Curb Your Enthusiasm," but instead everything just kind of stops, limply, like the last scene in a mediocre "2 and a Half Men."  Writer/director Woody Allen himself appears in the film as a nebbishy old crank who for some reason starts hanging out with Scarlett Johansson (okay, so this part is based on a true story) and has never been less likable on screen.  Seriously.  Ever.  And I've seen "Scenes from a Mall"!

46. Southland Tales (2006)

You can tell things aren't going to go well within the first few minutes of "Southland Tales," as Justin Timberlake narrates an exceedingly complex, yet simultaneously silly, series of future events. All that exposition (really, it's about 20 minutes all put together) doesn't get us anywhere, as the movie then proceeds to ping around between different characters incoherently for the remainder of its running time.  Most of these individuals - many of them the results of Timberlake-esque stunt casting (hey, it's The Rock! Kevin Smith in old age make-up! Stiffler!) - play more like sketch comedy characters than significant players in a large-scale dystopian science-fiction odyssey.  After a while, it's impossible to even care what's happening or why you can't follow of it.  I sort of just gave myself over to accepting that the movie was abysmal and wouldn't make any sense after an hour or so, and entertained myself by remembering other, better movies about the looming apocalypse.

45. Spider-Man 3 (2007)

It's hard not to feel like the third "Spider-Man" adventure is just an obligatory addendum tacked on to the only movie in the series it felt like Raimi WANTED to make.  The pieces just don't ever come together...An alien symbiote whose existence is never really explored, and whose properties are never quite spelled out, a sort of rivalry between Peter Parker and another cameraman who seems bent on destroying him for no real reason, an on-again off-again romance that you keep sort of rooting will go off-again, permanently...It's all kind of shoehorned in there, and as a result, the film is a rambling mess.  How much of a mess, you may ask?  Tobey Maguire's Parker is transformed from a gangly nerd into an emo-hipster hybrid who actually performs jazzy musical numbers, and this is meant to be taken SERIOUSLY, as the central dramatic conflict of the film.  Drag me to Hell, indeed.

44. The Dukes of Hazzard (2005)

It takes a lot to make a film that can be said to "dumb down" perhaps the most inane, stupid, redneck-yshow of all time.  Just think about that...The stars of the "Dukes of Hazzard" TV program were OFFENDED by how stupid the movie adaptation was, and these are people who would have given a limb to get cut first from "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" at the time of the film's release.  This completely jokeless comedy actually does serve one useful's an amazing time capsule of the year 2005. Jessica Simpson and Johnny Knoxville are popular!  The nation is obsessed with "blue collar comedy"!  Everything completely blows!  It's like walking straight into the past without a flux capacitor!

43. The Da Vinci Code (2006)

OK, everyone, what's the secret to making a white-knuckle, edge-of-your-seat thriller?  If you said "a one-hour faux-history lecture from Ian McKellan," congratulations, you're a complete dipshit who may or may not be director Ron Howard!  2 quick things that bug the shit out of me about this tepid, bloodless adaptation of a book that wasn't any good in the first place: (1) Tom Hanks' character is referred to by a fake word, "symbologist," despite the fact that a real word for a person who studies symbols, "semiotician," already exists!  There's no quicker, easier way for a movie to tell you that it thinks you're fucking dumb than for it to make up easier words to substitute for difficult ones.  But maybe that's just me...I am, after all, an experienced vocabulist. (2) Hanks' character is presented with what are meant to be challenging, centuries-old math puzzles and they turn out to be based on straight-forward arithmatic lessons ripped straight from the archives of "Square One Television."  I mean, seriously...the Fibonacci sequence?  You figured that one out all by yourself, T.H.? Without the teacher's manual?

42. Vacancy (2007)

This is just another mindless "couple gets stranded during a road trip gone bad only to be set upon by psycho(s)" film, and one that wouldn't really stand out from all the other similarly-plotted shitkickers that have been clogging up New Straight-to-DVD Release shelves and Best Buy bargain bins for the better part of this decade, were it not for the cast.  "Vacancy" was seemingly cast entirely based on giving comedians of the future some material.  I don't even think it should have gone straight-to-DVD.  It should have gone straight to Mystery Science Theater.  Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale as the unhappy couple?  Well, um, sure, okay.  Frank Whaley as the homicidal lunatic who has trapped them in his motel of horrors?  Wait, wait, what?  Frank Whaley?  This guy is about as menacing as...well, as Frank Whaley.  I'm not sure I can un-menace him any further via analogy.

41. The Fountain (2006)

Darren Aronofsky spent about a decade trying to get this movie made, and all I can say is, "Wow, I didn't realize a bad mushroom trip could last that long."  There are no words to describe what a convoluted, nonsensical mess this movie is.  So I won't even try.  Suffice it to say that the movie ends with Hugh Jackman assuming the Lotus position in the middle of outer space next to a glowing tree.  And that's NOT the most laughable thing that happens.  That's not even getting into the "conquistador" sequences that look like they were shot in some guy's North Hollywood studio apartment.  Let's just not even go there.

Posted via email from Lon Harris