There are a few fun things about writing a Top 10 list of the worst movies of the year. I enjoy the fact that I can bond with fellow film critics. You see, we fight like cats and dogs about the best movies. Yet we all usually agree with about 90% of the worst film picks.
Time Magazine named Cloud Atlas the worst movie of the year. I can see their point. It was certainly the biggest disappointment, as it was an epic picture that was really ambitious and with Oscar buzz (before anyone had seen it); but since there were a few things I liked about it…it escapes my list. I felt the same way about Beasts of the Southern Wild and Silver Linings Playbook. Part of me wanted to put them on my worst list because of all the critics praising these flawed films. Yet at the end of the day, I just couldn’t. Each of those movies has a few greats scenes (and certainly great acting).
I can’t put Red Dawn, A Thousand Words, The Vow, Taken 2, Ghost Rider, One For the Money, or Dredd on the list. I didn’t see them.
Here’s the list, and if you’re reading this and you’re one of the filmmakers that made one of these pictures – you owe us! People spend lots of money watching this garbage (not me, I see them for free…but I can be angry on their behalf!)
10. What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
Chris Rock has a funny scene where he’s walking in the playground with other fathers, and Biggie Smalls is playing. I may have laughed a few other times. The character Dennis Quaid plays is as idiotic as the one he plays in Playing for Keeps. At least I have those 80s films in my memory to remind me of when he did decent stuff.
9. The Paperboy / Magic Mike.
It’s a tie with the Matthew McConaughey pictures. The Paperboy had a great performance from Nicole Kidman and a few good scenes, but it was a disgusting mess of a movie. Literally, disgusting. They gut an alligator and show it up close, for no reason. Magic Mike was just filled with horrible clichés, and unrealistic scenarios. What bothers me most about this — it got good reviews! Did the other critics see a different picture than I did?
8. Damsels in Distress.
Greta Gerwig was on such a role. She does all these indie movies that are so much fun, but this movie was painful to watch. A group of girls ran a suicide prevention group at a college. Those of us that watched it felt like killing ourselves. Not one of the characters is interesting. Nothing about the movie worked. The film broke while we were watching it, so at the end of it, we had the option of watching the beginning again. Most of the critics left. I stayed, just hoping the first 15 minutes would shed some light on something. It didn’t. If you went to see this movie and the film broke on you…consider yourself lucky.
7. That’s my Boy / Madea’s Witness Proection.
Each year Adam Sandler does a movie. Each year Tyler Perry does a movie. And all the critics agree – they are always among the worst of the year.
6. Rock of Ages.
What’s a shame about this not working is – Tom Cruise plays an arrogant rock star rather well. And the one long shot of him walking backstage while he sings Bon Jovi is actually well done. I like Russell Brand, and he and Alec Baldwin had a few funny scenes. Paul Giamatti was excellent as the scheming manager always chomping gum. I hated the songs (90s hair metal bands), hated the story, and was left wondering why the filmmakers never got the memo – We Built This City on Rock and Roll is the worst song ever!
I think Dax Shephard and Tom Arnold are among the funniest guests on late night talk shows. Shephard wrote, directed, and starred in this movie with his fiancé Kristen Bell. They had absolutely no chemistry, and ya know what? He was kind of gross to look at, and very unlikable (Dax, not Tom). Arnold plays such a bumbling idiotic cop, and the ex-husband is so ridiculous, that it becomes an unrealistic mess. It made me yearn for the 70s Burt Reynolds movies with guys driving cross country in cool cars.
4. John Carter.
There were some scenes that had some amazing graphics and special effects. This is a sci-fi story that’s really, really old. Apparently Disney had been trying to make this for a long time. They finally did, but we’ve now had so many similar pictures (that were better). This movie got such bad reviews, and such bad word of mouth – it lost over $100 million. And people lost jobs because of it.
We all made fun of them making a movie based on a ride at Disneyland. Now they’re making movies based on a board game? Sure, they made a film based on Clue, but that’s a game that can work for a movie. But hey – Liam Neeson needs to keep his quota of 4 movies a year, so I think he just does any script offered to him.
I missed the press screening of this and caught it on opening night with a paying crowd. True story: five different people left in the first 30 minutes demanding their money back. One woman after Robert Pattinson was getting a prostate exam in the back of a limo (most of the movie takes place with him in a limo). It’s in the not-so-distant future, and…oh hell, why am I even trying to explain it? Pattinson is in a limo, lots of people come to visit him in the limo (and have sex with him there), and it’s supposedly got some deep meaning. It’s crap. I hear the book is great, though.
And the worst movie of the year…is the most recent bad one I saw…Parental Guidance. Perhaps I think it’s the worst because it’s the last bad movie I saw, but I don’t think so. It didn’t have one scene I laughed in. Oh wait…one scene with Billy Crystal doing play-by-play made me smile. Now, I’m not a fan of Bette Midler, but she was great in Ruthless People. Marisa Tomei, who has been doing such great films (The Wrestler, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead)…must’ve just wanted to phone it in for an easy paycheck. I can give her a pass, but not the filmmakers, especially Crystal. There was a time I considered him a comedic genius. Watch some of his old stand-up specials, or things he did on Saturday Night Live. I think it was after another Saturday…Mr. Saturday Night…that he slowly started going downhill. And the last time he hosted the Oscars (and he was always my favorite host) – just dreadful.
Honorable mentions go to: The Lucky One (see Zac Efron in the great Liberal Arts instead), Playing for Keeps, Anna Karenina, Take This Waltz (critics are praising Michelle Williams performance; I have no clue why), and Resident Evil: Retribution. If you want to see a video game turned into a movie, see the charming Wreck-It Ralph.