Hola all. Massawyrm here.
It’s been a while. A long while. But, you know, I’ve been busy. Making a movie, selling novels. It’s been a crazy year. But as crazy awesome as it was, there was no way I could deny myself my annual tradition of watching the very worst movies of the year for a week straight in order to sort out what movies really, truly deserved the title VERY WORST OF THE YEAR. After all, “worst” is a pretty heavy term to hang on someone’s movie – especially when what you really mean is “The worst movies I actually bothered to see this year.” Well, after an eyeball bleeding, sanity testing tour through a cinematic sewer, I’ve come out drenched in 10 films that have truly earned their status as THE VERY WORST THEATRICALLY RELEASED FILMS OF 2011. So let’s get it on, shall we?
HONERABLE MENTION: IN THE NAME OF THE KING 2: TWO WORLDS. Ordinarily my annual lists are comprised only of theatrically released films, but this year I decided to make a small exception for the work of Dr. Uwe Boll. Once held to be the very worst working director in the world, both his budgets and notoriety shrank as people stopped paying attention to his shenanigans. But since the good doctor is perhaps the only director in the world to both have spent twenty minutes yelling at me *and* to have seen me naked, I give him the benefit of a watch every now and again.
And boy howdy is this one of the very best pinched-off links of the turd sandwich that is his career. I mention this not to pick on it, but to highlight it. Fans of terrible cinema know that the first film in this franchise is simply magical; epic in scope, terrible in execution and mind boggling in the audacity of its anachronisms and non-sequiturs. It made my 10-spot a few years back. So how do you improve upon a time honored six-pack and pretzels piece of shit like that? You don’t. You make it worse.
First of all, ignore everything you know about the original. No one returns. They don’t even bother to shoot in Europe, this time using the forests of Vancouver to stand in for the fantasy world. No castles in Vancouver you say? Don’t worry. Uwe brought plenty of styrofoam and spray paint. Meanwhile, lacking the $5M it costs to get Jason Statham to star in anything at all whatsoever, they instead turn to Dolph Lundgren in a magical hipster scarf that is impervious to dirt and blood, who Uwe mysteriously allows also to narrate the film – Lundgren, not the scarf, though I suspect the scarf would have done a better job. The effect is mind blowing. The minute he starts dropping bombs on you like “This was weirder than any acid trip. Or maybe it isn’t. I wouldn’t know,” you realize just how freaking awesome this crapfest is really going to be. Oh yeah. And it’s about a martial artist sent back in time to fulfill an ancient prophesy, of which he must accomplish at least two of the three tasks. Because even the protagonists in Boll films are allowed to half ass it.
Only to be watched with friends and beer, this comes recommended as the very best bad thing you will find.
10) THE THREE MUSKETEERS. As hinted at earlier, I reserve the 10 spot on my list every year for the very best of the bad movies; the one actually worth watching – if you’re into that sort of thing. This year’s 10 spot goes to Paul W.S. Anderson’s spectacular clusterfuck of an adaptation that borrows a few of the ideas from a classic work of adventure, slaps them into a video game and then seemingly completely forgets what movie it was he was supposed to be making. But the kicker here is that it is never, ever boring. One of two things is always going on. The first involves the practical action sequences. Anderson is at his very best when dealing with action sequences involving only practical effects. So sword play and Musketeer tomfoolery all work here. The main establishing fight scene when d’Artagnan first fights alongside Porthos, Athos and Aramis is wonderful. It is every bit the fun and frolic it should be – even after Anderson butchers the classic setup of the scene. The second involves just how gleefully moronic every other action scene – you know, the ones involving CG - are. The film tries so hard to be edgy and unique, that it instead becomes a parade of jaw dropping sequences, clunky attempts at adaptation and direct lifts from other better movies. These are so deliciously terrible that you will clap like a retarded kid on ice cream day.
It’s hard to do anything but laugh when Anderson rips off the MATRIX Morpheus rescue scene using a steampunk airship in place of the helicopter and cannons in place of machineguns. And of course it should come as no surprise when the film begins to brazenly borrow from WRATH OF KHAN. When it’s good, it’s fun; when it’s bad, it is so glaringly misguided that you have an even better time than when it gets things right. This is still playing in a handful of dollar theaters around the country. If you haven’t yet, see it and see it big. It’s the best theatrically released bad movie of 2011 and is well worth a couple bucks.
9) THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2: FULL SEQUENCE. This was a tough film to slot. In terms of film-watching experiences, it was the very worst of the year. But that’s exactly what it wants to be. HC2 isn’t a movie trying to be good; it is a movie trying to piss you off, going as far as humanly possible, throwing every single taboo it can at you until you throw your arms up in exasperation and just say “Fuck it.” I fortunately saw the theatrical cut of this, which lacked the single, final taboo left in Tom Six’s bag of tricks, only to discover from friends who had seen the full, uncut version at Fantastic Fest that no, it in fact went all the way. By the time our mentally handicapped (and molested) protagonist was savagely beating a pregnant woman, I checked out mentally and sat numb to everything else that came at me. By that point it was all academic – me asking myself “What hasn’t he shown us yet.” He still had some surprises up his sleeve, and Six is effective enough of a filmmaker that he actually made me gag during one scene, so I find it hard to call it the very worst film of the year – the man hits every mark that he’s aiming at. But there’s zero reason for anyone to ever watch it. It doesn’t want to entertain you; it wants to make fun of you. And seriously, fuck that.
8) ZOOKEEPER. Another tough call. There were so many terrible Happy Madison movies this year that it was hard to choose. It ultimately came down to which I hated more – this or JACK AND JILL. And I hated this one more. After FUNNY PEOPLE, Adam Sandler and crew seem not to so much be pretending as if that movie never happened, but as if they are now just making fun of their own audience. Because no matter what they do, these stinkers make money – with a few very notable exceptions. And they are all getting worse, year by year. Continuing their very long tradition of incorporating product placement into their films, ZOOKEEPER goes the extra mile by making its shameless schilling more than just a sticky plot point; the movie actually stops for several minutes and becomes a commercial for T.G.I.Fridays. Sure the monkey poo throwing jokes and wolves peeing on tree gags border on the positively imbecilic, and the populist bitter at the rich because they are all douchebags angle is handled as if written by a thirteen year old after his first bad breakup, and the film forgets even to develop characters in the direction they need them until seconds before applicable plot twists – but when talking animals crave nothing more in life than to spend an evening at one of the bistro-clone white trash night out chains, this finds its way to a new level of despicability and plants its flag.
7) JUDY MOODY AND THE NOT BUMMER SUMMER. Making a movie that kids love but drives parents up the wall isn’t all that hard; making one that kids hate as well actually takes talent. Enter JUDY MOODY, a protagonist so unlikable I’m surprised Tom Six didn’t toss her into the scatological mix of HC2. This isn’t so much a movie as it is a series of scenes involving the world’s whiniest pain the in the ass, failing to accomplish pointless dares in order to gain thrill points to prove she had a much better summer than all of her friends. And it has a song. Played by Urkel. On a banjo. With words and a bouncing ball so you can sing along. I’m surprised kids simply didn’t flip the theaters over and set them on fire after watching this. It will make you beg for David Cross and a pack of chipmunks.
6) SUCKER PUNCH. You honestly think that GREEN LANTERN was the most disappointing movie of the year? Then you blocked this shit like women block the pain of pregnancy. Watch it again and reel at how masterfully Snyder dismantled every bit of artistic credibility he had. It is the most beautifully hollow piece of garbage to grace screens all year. It’s hard to find anything more to say about it than what I did here.
5) HOODWINKED TOO! HOOD VS EVIL. Everything that is wrong about animated filmmaking in this day and age is exemplified here. A product of bad punch-up, the very worst element of this film is that fact that every time something happens, they try to cram in four different punchlines about it, all immediately one after another like guys swarming the bathtub girl at a frat party, trying to see which one will pop first. The result of this comedy staccato is a net of zero laughs. It’s a 90 minute animated headache.
4) CREATURE. The biggest theatrical misfire in years, this terrible, terrible attempt at cheap monster horror opened on over 1500 screens, took in less than $217 per screen and closed in 7 days, pulling in roughly half a million dollars. It is the very definition of the word fiasco. More importantly, it earned every bit of failure that it got. The movie is inexplicable. It’s rare that you can watch a horror movie and not understand what the fuck they were trying to do with it; rarer still is a film in which you forget who is even still alive because not only do you not care, but the film shows entirely too much restraint - perhaps for budgetary reasons – that you have to actively wonder who died in what scene just to keep up. Worse still, the film doesn’t even bother to show you its own climax; characters just disappear and then reappear with something that looks nothing like the rubber suited guy running around throwing cans of fake blood on the thirty-somethings pretending to be twenty-somethings that are the worst written Navy SEALS ever put to film. Don’t worry. There’s an even more inexplicable ending that comes after that.
3) PASSION PLAY. Wooooow. I’m about to type a phrase you have never read before and will no doubt never read again. Megan Fox’s performance in PASSION PLAY is the very best part of this film. Yes better than Bill Murray, who appears to be mainlining sleeping pills between takes. And yes, even better than Mickey Rourke, who they decided just not to bother to sober up. Making matters worse, PASSION PLAY feels like a script that sat in a drawer since the mid-90’s, after DESTINY TURNS ON THE RADIO failed at the box office and people realized that there wasn’t a market for badly written surreal-supernatural-crime-indie-comedies. How bad can it be? They couldn’t even score Christopher Walken for the out of nowhere “Holy shit! It’s Christopher Walken!” exposition scene, so they had to get Rory Cochrane instead. By the way “Holy shit! It’s Rory Cochrane!” just doesn’t have the same kind of magic to it. I still said it, but it just isn’t the same.
2) BUCKY LARSON: BORN TO BE A STAR. Conventional wisdom has it that if you serve as Adam Sandler’s comedy bitch for long enough, he will give you your shot at a movie built entirely around you. Sometimes, as in this case, he’ll even help you write it. Unfortunately for Nick Swardson, when his turn at bat came up, he didn’t have any ideas and Sandler had finally tapped himself out of even his least tolerable of low-rent humor. This is the very worst thing to ever have the Happy Madison logo on it, which is kind of like saying Kim Jong Il was the very worst dictator to die last year. But at least the other films were movies. This was an unending purgatory of small dick jokes, coupled with a bucktooth gag that just made you feel bad for everyone having to act opposite Swardson.
This is a movie so bad it borders on anti-comedy – as if somehow the joke of the movie is that none of the jokes are funny. There were very few comedies that failed to make me laugh this year. Even the worst offenders usually got a giggle or two out of me. After all, despite how rotten or base a bulk of the gags were, these were still professional comedians and they are capable of making anyone laugh at least a little bit. But not so with Swardson and the cast he assembled. The film is absolutely baffling in just how low a bar it sets and never manages to rise above. But the icing on the cake is how ineptly the story it wants to tell is, with major plot revelations told in the worst possible sequence to keep us from even being remotely invested in its done to death story.
Watching this film from beginning to end is nothing but a Rochambeau contest in which Swardson yuks it up as painfully as possible as you sit swearing, savoring the end of his career. No matter who flinches first, you both lose.
1) ATLAS SHRUGGED: PART I. Propaganda in and of itself is a bad thing. But ineptly made propaganda is a far, far worse thing indeed. I wavered for quite some time over which was worse – this or BUCKY LARSON. At the end of the day I realized that the only person who stood up to defend Swardson’s movie was Swardson himself. The people that stood up to defend ATLAS SHRUGGED were numerous and thoroughly misguided. I received dozens upon dozens of e-mails over my ATLAS SHRUGGED review –all calling me a liberal, a RINO or a traitor to the Republican party, depending on how much research they bothered to do on me - and there was an oft repeated phrase that sounded more hollow and shrill every time I read it: “It may not be the best movie ever made but…”
Not the best movie ever made? That’s pretty fucking generous for Objectivists, don’t you think? I mean, for people not exactly known for their charity...
The film is garbage. This is an ashcan film, no better than Corman’s FANTASTIC FOUR, meant only to maintain the rights to a project the producers were never going to get right anyway. This went from being an $80M tentpole film with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt attached to a limited release clunker helmed by a television director and starring the kind of cast you’d expect in a slapdash movie of the week in under three years. The portrayals on all sides are offensively cartoonish, the ideas presented are only the most lizard-brained of Rand’s, and more importantly, it was written with the mindset of its agenda being more important than its delivery. The thing is a mess – a repulsive, derogatory heap of celluloid that fails on all counts. And because of all that, I find it far worse than a movie about a small dicked guy shooting cum bullets every time a girl is about to take off her top.
Until next time friends,