Such was not the case with my Ten Worst list. This year I once again managed to avoid most of the obviously ridiculously bad films – I only saw one movie with Dane Cook in it, and while that wasn’t a very good film, Mr. Brooks did feature Mr. SuFi getting offed with a shovel. Cathartic! – so my list will be devoid of some of the movies that will hog the crap lists of other critics. I saw no need to subject myself to Norbit or I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, and besides, I don’t like including these sorts of movies on lists like this. They’re almost made to be the worst films of the year; I believe that the more deserving entries in such a list are the movies that were made with some seriousness or effort, or that had all the elements to at least make a mediocre picture. In a lot of ways this list is made up of films that disappointed me. They disappointed me by sucking ass in a major way, but almost every movie on this list was one into which I walked hoping for the best. Or at least not the worst.
10. The Last Mimzy (Buy the DVD)
Why it’s here: When someone with no sense of whimsy or wonder tries to make a hippie dippie quantum physics version of E.T., you end up with a rotten, rotten film.
See this Film Instead: E.T.
How to Make it Work: Don’t allow New Line president Bob Shaye to direct it. Or to speak on the record about Peter Jackson.
Comments: It was a tough year for New Line, and no film more represented that than this movie, which was a vanity project for studio prez Bob Shaye. Sure, The Golden Compass hurt the bottom line more, but The Last Mimzy was the embodiment of a man and a studio out of touch with what had built them both up in the first place, and especially with what had made them as successful as they were a couple of years ago.
9. Live Free or Die Hard (Buy the DVD)
Why it’s here: There’s nothing worse than a long delayed sequel to a beloved film series that totally betrays that series in just about every way imaginable.
See this Film Instead: Die Hard With a Vengeance.
How to Make it Work: An R-rating. John McTiernan.
Comments: A PG-13 Die Hard film was a bad enough idea, but this movie ended up not even being a Die Hard film in anything but name. Gone was the very human, very fucked up John McClane and in his place was a bald-headed superhero who effortlessly surfed on fighter jets. Also gone was the series’ conceit of being trapped somewhere, whether it be an office building in the first film or the puzzle machinations of a villain in the third. When the first Die Hard came out it was a statement against the sort of overblown, dehumanized action spectacle that Live Free or Die Hard exemplifies.
8. Angel-A (Buy the DVD)
Why it’s here: A movie this absolutely stunning to look at should not be this absolutely insulting to sit through.
See this Film Instead: It’s a Wonderful Life.
How to Make it Work: A decent script would be a good start.
Comments: ILuc Besson has an outstanding eye for shots and women, but he scripts movies like an autistic monkey on a Twinkie binge. Here Besson takes It’s a Wonderful Life and Wings of Desire and mushes them up with his usual superpowered supermodel bullshit and ends up with an odious movie that has all the charm of a swim in a sewage canal. Special hatred must be singled out for star Jamel Debbouze, best known in America as the one armed and dim witted guy in Amelie. His performance in this alone got him on a DHS watchlist.
7. 28 Weeks Later (Buy the DVD)
Why it’s here: The sequel to a great, smart and original horror movie should try to be at least one of those three things.
See this Film Instead: The Crazies.
How to Make it Work: Find someone with a working brain to try their hand at the script.
Comments: What a fucking stupid movie. I don’t know if I would have hated 28 Weeks Later if I hadn’t liked 28 Days Later so much; as a lifelong lover of zombies, I enjoyed Danny Boyles’ askew take on Romero’s Dead trilogy. I especially liked that he and writer Alex Garland populated their movie with good characters who responded to situations in ways that I could buy. Weeks, on the other hand, is filled with lame-ass cliches who engage in behavior that makes me root for their death. Worst of all, though, is the inclusion of a superzombie – sorry, superinfected – which blows away all reason, logic and sense. This film eschews real thrills in favor of big, dumbass action set pieces, and if that’s a good thing in your opinion, you’ve declared yourself on the side of the enemy.
6. 30 Days of Night (Buy the DVD)
Why it’s here: A great premise should never be wasted this brutally.
See this Film Instead: The Thing.
How to Make it Work: Someone needed to get director David Slade a watch and a calendar so that he could learn about the passage of time.
Comments: I’m a fan of Survivor. No shame here. One of the things I like best about the show is seeing how the people change – physically and mentally – over the course of 39 days stranded on an island. The effect is always major and often shocking when compared with how they looked at the beginning of the game. 30 Days of Night is 9 days shorter than an average Survivor season, and yet everyone in it looks like they’ve just gone through an inconvenient afternoon. This isn’t the kind of a problem that earns a movie a spot on a Worst list, but it’s emblematic of the sorts of problems that do – this is a film that’s seemingly uninterested in its own premise (a group of people are stalked by vampires in an Alaskan town where it’s night for 30 straight days in the winter), let alone its own characters and its own plot. Director David Slade, who did so well with his first feature, Hard Candy, goes for style over any sort of substance here…. which wouldn’t be half as bad if his style was any good.
5. The Invasion
Why it’s here: Because this is just a terrible fucking movie. By any standards
See this Film Instead: Pick any of the previous Invasion of the Body Snatchers movies.
How to Make it Work: I’m not sure, but I can tell you that it certainly isn’t ‘Bring the Wachowski Bros to refilm most of it.’
Comments: This film, the latest iteration of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, stinks like a dead dog left on a hot highway for three day. Which, for all intents and purposes, is what The Invasion is; originally directed by German up and comer Oliver Hirschbiegel, the movie was radically reshot by the Bros Wachowski at the behest of producer Joel Silver. We may never know what was wrong (or right) with the original version of this film, but the poor bastards who saw the released cut know exactly what’s wrong with that version. Slack in both brains and suspense, The Invasion is a movie that slowly ramps up to a third act so bad, so ridiculous, so poorly written, that the film nears a feeling of ‘so bad it’s good’… but never quite makes it, staying so bad it’s bad right up until the end when Jeffrey Wright is sodomized by the script.
4. The Number 23 (Buy the DVD)
Why it’s here: If you saw this movie you wouldn’t be asking.
See this Film Instead: The Invasion. It’s marginally less worse.
How to Make it Work: GReplace the reels of film with old Mathnet segments from Square One.
Comments: Some bad movies you can understand; they’re lowest common denominator garbage made for the sole purpose of parting people with bad taste from their money. I get that. But a movie like The Number 23 baffles me. How could anyone have looked at this retarded concept – a dog catcher starts to notice the ubiquity of the number 23 in his life and becomes enmeshed in a murder mystery – and thought that people would want to see it? I have to imagine that it was Jim Carrey, whose personal ‘passion’ (read: bizarre fixation) for numerology, got this movie through development, but then he goes and plays the ‘serious’ Carrey, the one the public has already said they don’t like. The Number 23 is a movie so daft that when the big shitty twisterooni comes into play you feel satisfied: it’s hitting all the bad movie grace notes.
3. Southland Tales
Why it’s here: I’m old fashioned – I like my movies to have coherence.
See this Film Instead: The Holy Mountain.
How to Make it Work: You cannot.
Comments: I am amazed that someone is letting Richard Kelly direct another movie after Southland Tales. This film isn’t just bad – it’s bad in an epic way, the kind of bad that ruins careers and lives. It’s the kind of bad that will be looked back at with wonder in twenty years time. People won’t have actually sat through Southland Tales‘ impenetrable running time, but they’ll know all about it. In fact, it will enter popular slang: when you do something really stupid and terrible, like lay your head on the train tracks in front of a speeding freight, they’ll say you ‘told a Southland Tale.’ There will be some – in fact there already are! – who will defend this movie’s turgid, meandering plot and talky, no-dimensional characters, but these people are deluded at best. Southland Tales sets a new high water mark for self-indulgent, idiotic crap that has reportedly already sent Vincent Gallo back to Final Draft in a competitive fury.
2. Halloween (Buy the DVD)
Why it’s here: Due to the fact that this is a steaming pile of hog crap, watchable only in the sense that you will not be literally blinded by it
See this Film Instead: Halloween (1978).
How to Make it Work: Have John Carpenter direct it back in 1978.
Comments: I have a weird relationship with this film in that while I hate it, I sort of appreciate it, as my review of it – where I gave the movie a ‘Fuck You Out of 10′ – has become my calling card. A lot of people come up to me and tell me how much they appreciated that rating. The thing is that the film deserves it; Rob Zombie has made an undeniably execrable piece of excrement that can’t decide if it wants to waste your time with the usual hokey redneck garbage Zombie loves or with a subpar, almost Van Santian remake of the original movie. By exploring the childhood and traumas of Michael Myers, Zombie has almost completely invalidated the character, and when he gets to the end of the story, where Mike is killing people and Loomis (a care free, check collecting Malcolm McDowell) is saying that the kid is pure evil, maybe even the antichrist, you just don’t believe it. Michael Myers is just another Dahmer type, a standard serial killer who happens to be really big. In Carpenter’s vision Michael Myers was the unknowable, unstoppable evil hiding in our idyllic suburbs. In Zombie’s he’s just that squirmy kid next door who would cut up frogs for fun. How boring.
1. Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters (Buy the DVD)
Why it’s here: Because this might be the worst movie I have ever seen.
See this Film Instead: Anything. Or stick your thumbs in your eyes. You’ll be better off.
How to Make it Work: Film the creators of this crap being mauled to death by tigers. Set that footage to the strains of Yakkety Sax.
Comments: The Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie is so bad, so unfunny in such a forced, boring way, so devoid of anything that could make a person with higher brain functions laugh, that I still wonder if the whole thing isn’t a performance art stunt, some Andy Kaufman-esque gag. If that’s the case, bravo to the men and women who managed to find all the worst elements to put in a film. But if this was a serious attempt to make a crazy, zany, funny adult swim movie, I hope everybody involved gets AIDS via monkey rape. By which I mean I hope they get raped by AIDS-infected monkeys. Repeatedly, until the AIDS really takes. That’s how much I hate this film.