Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Top 10 Worst Movies I Didn't See This Year

I see an awful lot of movies each year. One thing I pride myself on, however, is being able to avoid the worst of the worst (at least in a theater). I'm very rarely surprised by how bad a movie is once I'm in the theater. Sure, mediocrity can sneak up on me from time to time but I'm usually able to avoid all around miserable experiences (or at least hold them off until they hit DVD shelves). Many of my contemporaries make an attempt to see a higher number of films, whether they expect them to be good or not, an approach which I certainly appreciate but ultimately reject. I don't get paid to go to the movies, for one thing, and for another, I'm quite busy as it is. Forking over my limited amount of spending cash for a movie I expect to stink is just not my bag. Because of this, my annual end of year rankings (coming next week) are generally top heavy in grades as compared to the lists of other writers who spend more time with bad movies than me. With that in mind, I present to you the Soap Box Office's first annual Worst Movies I Didn't See This Year. Please enjoy.

Note: Despite the fact that I am 100% certain that both "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Saw 3D" are atrociously horrible movies, I excluded them from consideration because I don't generally enjoy horror movies of any quality. I felt their inclusion would be unavoidably biased.

10. Death at a Funeral - Chris Rock, Danny Glover, Tracy Morgan, Luke Wilson
We start the list off with an unorthodox choice. In truth, this movie is probably relatively enjoyable on one level or another. "Death" takes a place on this list as a matter of principal rather than content. In 2007, the British production of this film debuted, went through the festival circuit, and ultimately received a fairly large US release. 2010's version is an almost scene-for-scene "adaptation" with all the British/white actors replaced with just about every famous black actor (minus Will Smith) with a few lowbrow jokes thrown in. I'm not a movie snob; I doubt you'll ever see me complain about an English remake of a foreign film and very rarely will I wax poetic about how much better an original film is than its remake. But this was an English-language film and it opened less than 3 years before this remake did! The only significant difference is the black actors. I think if I was a black moviegoer, I would be thoroughly offended by this production. Its existence suggests that black people will only understand and therefore pay to see a movie starring black actors. That's an ignorant, foolish, and embarrassing assumption and it bugs me that this angle didn't get more play.

9. Tooth Fairy - The Rock, Ashley Judd, Julie Andrews
Children's movies are going to make a few appearances on this list so I guess you could look at this as "the best, worst children's movie of the year." The Rock is a self-absorbed hockey player who becomes the Tooth Fairy through a series of "Santa Claus"-esque events. I have yet to enjoy a single movie The Rock has been a part of and tired plotlines like this don't make me want to put that prejudice aside. Add in a cringe-inducing trailer and you've got a recipe for disaster. At least Disney was smart enough to release this in January when it could make a little money.

8. The Back-up Plan - Jennifer Lopez, Alex O'Loughlin
I'm CERTAIN that had I seen this blergfest, it would have rivaled the worst movies I've ever seen in my life. Just read the IMDB plot summary: "A romantic comedy centering on a woman who conceives twins through artificial insemination, only to meet the man of her dreams the very same day." Here's my question: how long until "The Back-up Plan" is being used as psychological torture in holding facilities across the world? An even better question: has Jennifer Lopez EVER been in a good movie? "Out of Sight" has a solid reputation and "Selena" is decent enough for what it is. Everything else? Crap.

7. Furry Vengeance - Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields, Matt Prokop
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the greenest human in the world. Still, I'm all for curbing global warming, conserving our planet, etc. Green ideas have been prevalent in kid's movies for a long time but perhaps never so blatantly (and moronically) than in "Furry Vengeance." The gist of the plot involves Fraser being an all around douche bag to everyone and everything and Mother Nature taking out a slapstick revenge upon him. Even extreme liberal film followers distanced themselves from this pile of junk and despite a modest budget, it failed to recoup even half of its expenses. Just go away, Brendan Fraser.

6. Vampires Suck - Jenn Proske, Matt Lanter, Ken Jeong
If the vampire phenomenon wasn't bad enough (I'm talking to you, "Twilight" fans) now we have to suffer a spoof on shiny vampires? Really?! I mean, of course I'm not surprised. Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer have made a TON of money with their witless, brainless, pointless parodies like the "Scary Movie" franchise, "Date Movie," and "Meet the Spartans." But still, when is enough enough? Can we start some sort of petition or start sending threatening letters to these clowns or something? Please stop.

5. Killers - Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl, Tom Selleck
A woman (Heigl) meets and marries a mysterious man (Kutcher) who turns out to be a spy. Shenanigans ensue. This is the only film on this list which wasn't immediately tossed out of viewing consideration the minute I saw the trailer. For a very short period of time I went back and forth over whether this really was going to be terrible or if my own unquestionable hatred for Katherine Heigl was swaying my opinion. And then the reviews came rolling in and wow, what a Crapalooza this thing must be. Entertainment Weekly (not exactly known for taking much of a stand) dedicated a full page to the many reasons why they hated Heigl's character so much. Best EW article of the year, by the way. And I'm a little upset that this movie managed to smear its stink on the otherwise awesome Tom Selleck.

4. Marmaduke - Owen Wilson, Emma Stone, Lee Pace
When did I know that "Marmaduke" was going to suck, you ask? When, approximately two weeks before its June 4th debut (coincidentally the same week as "Killers"), I looked at the movies coming to a theater near me in June and for the very first time saw ANYTHING concerning "Marmaduke." Look, it's possible that in all the prep work I do over the course of a year to stay in touch with coming attractions, I missed notes about this movie. That very rarely happens but it's possible. What isn't possible, however, is for me to miss any and all promotion of a summer movie. If a studio cares about a movie, anyone with cable, Internet, a car, or a pulse sees promos, billboards, etc. whether they want to or not. I swear I didn't see a single "Marmaduke" advertisement until a week before its debut. That's a terrible sign. My friend at Marshall and the Movies picked this as the worst film of the year. Again, I don't doubt it.

3. Alpha and Omega - Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, Dennis Hopper
The last kid's movie to make the list, "Alpha and Omega" centers around two wolves who are relocated to a national park to...are you ready for this?...repopulate the area with little baby wolves. If your reaction to this synopsis was anything less than, "Wait, what now?" to the combination of "kid's movie" and "repopulate" then either you helped make this movie or we need to have a serious talk about what's socially appropriate. If that insane plotline wasn't reason enough to stay away from this thing, the trailer, which I was inundated with over and over no matter what movie I was waiting to see, is one of the worst in recent memory. I love animated features and kid's movies in general. I really do. But I come from the Pixar school of thought which insists that, just because we're making a kid's movie doesn't mean we can't strive for greatness. This doesn't cut it.

2. The Bounty Hunter - Gerard Butler, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudekis
Someday when our society is overrun by anarchists, I believe their leader may cite this movie as the final straw that broke the camel's back and forced him into a life of rebellion. And it's not just that it was obviously a brutally bad film but also the fact that somehow it managed to make $60 million in the US. I feel like every person who saw "The Bounty Hunter" should have to come before some sort of tribunal to defend their actions. (I'm talking to you, wives and girlfriends who maliciously dragged your well-intentioned other halves to see this train wreck.) And by the way, Gerard Butler, you have officially cashed in all the Awesome Manly Man chips you earned with "300" on the following films: "P.S. I Love You," "The Ugly Truth," and this heap of rubbish. You're done now.

1. Sex and the City 2 - Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon
Here are the three best/worst things about "Sex and the City 2."
1. Despite the fact that our country is going through the worst economic crisis of the last 25+ years, the people at New Line/HBO thought it would be a great idea to release a film about 4 Manhattan socialites spending exorbitant amounts of money vacationing in Abu Dhabi. Way to keep up with the times, guys.
2. The runtime for this movie is a whopping 146 minutes. Two and half hours of old, disconnected women sitting around and complaining! Quite ambitious, isn't that?
3. When looking at the movie's IMDB page, I noticed it had won an award. Shocked, I clicked to discover it had been named "Best Ensemble Cast" by the ShoWest Awards. Obviously I had to check out the ShoWest festival where I discovered that the clearly brilliant minds at this establishment had also named Katherine Heigl "Female Star of the Year," Jay Roach "Comedy Director of the Decade," and given Jerry Bruckheimer a "Lifetime Achievement" award. Note to the people at ShoWest: I will pay you to not invite me to your convention. Just bill me.

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