For the first half of 2005 I was pretty convinced we were seeing a banner year for crapola. Thankfully the second half of the year came to the rescue, but 2005 still saw a plethora of garbage released into theaters. Picking the ten worst of these was tough – first of all you have to have your criteria. I decided that the worst movies of the year weren’t just the ones that were egregiously poorly made – although God knows Uwe Boll has a spot on this list – but also films that may have been technically proficient (or even excellent) but otherwise completely failed. At least two films on this list made me physically angry for that reason.
It’s also worth noting that there are some films that were obviously terrible that aren’t on this list. For example, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo didn’t make the cut. Why? I didn’t see it. Sure, I get to go to the movies for free, but even still my time is precious. There was no chance I would enjoy or even be able to stomach that film, so there was no point in seeing it.
In the coming weeks look for the more positive spin on this, as I and other CHUD writers bring you our favorite films from the year. But for now, let’s get on with the drek. And if you have some feedback on this – agree or disagree – check out this thread, or email me at email@example.com .
10 – Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith. This film earns a special spot on the list for two reasons. One is that it’s the review I most regret. I was incredibly kind to ROTS, giving it an ostensibly passing grade because I was judging it only against the other films in the Prequel Trilogy. In truth, ROTS is a fairly bad film. It’s the only Star Wars film I have seen only once, and I have no plan or urge to ever revisit it.
The second reason this movie is on this list is that it’s the culmination of a gargantuan failure, the likes of which I don’t think we’ve ever seen in film before. The Matrix sequels come damn close, but they just don’t have the history the Star Wars films do. George Lucas was able to take his franchise, which had become a part of the popular culture seemingly forever, and tarnish it so badly that people don’t even hate it – they just don’t care anymore.
9 – Bewitched. 2005 is going to go down in history as the year Will Ferrell lost his invulnerability. He makes two appearances on this Ten Worst list, and both films are just incredible disasters. Bewitched is a truly bad movie in almost every way. Not only is it not funny, interesting or involving, it’s packed with bad acting and is even poorly made – the third act has the hack marks of strenuous post-test audience editing, leaving some characters to completely disappear from the film. It’s weird to see the credits come up and realize you have no idea what the hell happened to Shirley MacLaine’s character. And to realize that you don’t really care – you’re just glad you got out of this one alive.
8 – The Libertine. The Libertine opens with Johnny Depp, looking a lot like Howard Stern, delivering a monologue to the camera about how he dares us to like him. How’s this for a dare – I dare you to sit through this tedious piece of shit. It’s a movie about one of the great perverts and free spirits of all time, but it’s got nothing even remotely ribald going on. There’s just lots and lots of talking in painfully faux-olde fashioned Englishe. And while it is fun to watch Depp die of syphilis, you just don’t give a shit. His demise means only one thing to the audience – this damn thing is finally over. Somehow this movie got a limited release for Oscar consideration, but I honestly can’t imagine this taking home any awards besides the Razzies.
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7 – Alone in the Dark. I feel bad listing Uwe Boll’s latest video game adaptation this year. It’s like putting The Kids of Whidney High on a worst albums list. Isn’t part of the point that it’s terrible? Even still, Boll has proven that not only has he not learned even the basics of filmmaking, he has no clue what casting is about either. Tara Reid as a scientist? Alone in the Dark is filled with moments that, if I thought they were done purposefully, would make it a surrealist classic. Just the fact that the opening scene has Christian Slater sacrifice an innocent cabbie before doing Matrix-style kung fu (for the only time in the whole movie!) would make Bunuel green with envy.
6 – Brothers Grimm. A lot of people will defend the very worst Terry Gilliam movie by saying it was ruined by studio interference. Sure, the making of the movie appears to have been a nightmare (I was recently recommended a book about it – I’ll let you know my verdict), but the problems began long before Gilliam ever got onto a soundstage – Grimm has a completely awful and banal script. I can’t imagine that he was going to be able to do anything with the nonsense Ehren Kruger gave him to work with, and the finished product shows that he didn’t try. It’s a by-the-numbers riff on a Gilliam movie, made inexcusable by the fact that it is a Gilliam film.
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5 – Kicking and Screaming. Welcome back to the list, Will Ferrell. Remember when you could do no wrong? Kicking and Screaming is notable for being almost completely devoid of jokes – it seems like someone came in and just excised the humor from the screenplay. The film just costs on Ferrell’s persona, which isn’t enough to keep you interested in watching this pansy rehash of Bad News Bears. Kicking and Screaming is truly an endurance test of a movie.
4 – The Dukes of Hazzard. Hi, I’m Devin, and I’m the CHUD guy who’s not a big fan of Broken Lizard. I thought Supertroopers was OK, and I couldn’t make it all the way through Club Dread. I wish I had run out of Dukes of Hazzard, a movie that shockingly managed to dive below my already Marianas Trenched expectations. It seems obvious that a modern movie take on this awful TV show made by and for retards would be a spoof, but director Jay Chandrasekhar and his Broken Lizard pals have opted to play it fairly straight, except when they randomly and hallucinogenically dip into weirdness, like one of the Duke boys wanting to fuck the General Lee. If we lived in the world of Starship Troopers, everyone involved with this film would have been subjected to forty lashes in the town square, except for Willie Nelson, who would get off by virtue of being seemingly brain damaged.
3 – The Fog. I think a lot of people went to see this movie based on the “It’ll be so bad it’ll be good” theory. Wrong. It’s a plodding piece of trash that never even has the common decency to get campy. The Fog is directed like an industrial film, and it’s acted like a community theater production of No Exit. I firmly believe that the decision to kill Maggie Grace on Lost came after a screening of this film. Tom Welling shows all why it was such a good idea to not have him be Superman in the upcoming movie as he portrays the least effective and interesting hero of all time. And we learn that when ghosts attack, their preferred method of killing is defenestration. It’s a good thing there are no windows in movie theaters, or I would have been tempted to follow the undead’s lead.
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2 – Bee Season. I hated this movie so much. I hated it more than I would have hated it if it had sodomized my cats and then skinned them alive in front of me. I could have seen fit to forgive the movie for that – it was a rough week, it’s been drinking, the new meds haven’t kicked in. But Bee Season is one of the worst movies of the year because it’s the kind of sanctimonious bullshit that smugly acts like it has something to say while it’s really doing nothing more than vomiting New Age platitudes at you, with a red Kabbalah ribbon tied around its wrist. Richard Gere wins the award for Face Most Needing to Be Smashed in With a Fire Extinguisher (aka The Irreversible Prize) as he blankly smirks his way through a role so infuriating I began to flay the skin from my own body. Honestly, if all movies were this bad, I would be blind by now.
1 – Crash. One of the most critically loved films of the year is one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my entire life. Bee Season was filled with smug New Age nonsense – Crash one-ups it by being filled with smug Afterschool Special nonsense. One should not walk out of a movie about racial tolerance with an overwhelming urge to commit genocide, but I left my screening of Crash just about ready to end all of humanity.
What makes Crash most insidious is that it’s well made and well acted. It fools you into thinking that it’s worth a damn, but it’s really a wholesale rip-off of Magnolia soldered onto a Very Special Episode of Diff’rent Strokes. At least in Magnolia the coincidences that brought the characters together were part of the point of the movie – here they’re just a distracting series of plot contrivances engineered by a writer/director so full of himself that there’s no room left for dessert. Characters don’t behave like people or even stereotypes – they simply move across the screen like chess pawns, doing whatever the simplistic themes of the film require.
I call foul on every critic who fell for this film. I call foul on people like Roger Ebert, who have put it at the top of their ten best lists for the year. I call foul on any group that gives this film an award (including NYFCO, the critic group I belong to). This is a false movie. This is a movie made up only of manipulation and simplicity, a movie designed to pat you on the head and never truly challenge you with a new or original thought or concept. It’s the White Man’s guilt movie of the year, assuring us that everybody is just as bad as we are, and then giving us a greasy prostate massage of utter falsity. The fact that America’s movie theaters weren’t burned to the ground during the scene when the Saintly Hispanic daughter of the Saintly and Misunderstood Hispanic locksmith was “shot” proves only that the movie-going public is corrupt and depraved.
Runners up: It was tough winnowing it down to just ten this year, so here’s a peek at some of the films that were almost rans for worst of 2005.
Derailed – This is an egregiously stupid thriller that is predicated on a number of lame-ass twists at the end. Jennifer Aniston proves that the TV is where she belongs.
Flightplan – Another thriller that is ruined by a completely stupid twist. This movie comes across not so much as bad but as developmentally disabled, like you want to sit it in the corner with a helmet on its head. And Jodie – if you need money that badly, telemarketing is more honorable than starring in crap like this.
Mirrormask – I struggled to stay awake during this plodding trip through the hard drive of someone’s computer. There’s not an original element to the story, and while the visuals are cool, I certainly wasn’t stoned enough to actually enjoy them.
The Jacket – Yet another movie ruined by the need for twists. There’s a decent concept in here, plus naked Keira Knightley, but it just doesn’t actually cohere as a film.
Valiant – How do you make a movie starring the vocal stylings of Ricky Gervais and make it completely stink? Ask the geniuses behind this CGI claptrap, which was paced like an ADD kid on meth.