Worst Films of 2008

And now to purge the demons.

I’m beginning to enjoy this time of year. Everyone’s settling back down from the holidays. My (sometimes) relieved friends are returning from visiting family. Christmas chocolates are 75% off! And I get to give one final verbal ass-kicking to the films that were a complete waste of celluloid and time.  Let’s pull back the welcome mat and shove these losers out the door with a final “fuck you!” as I list my choices for…

The Worst Films of 2008.

10. Married Life

marriedlife

Harry (Chris Cooper) is bed thumpin’ with Kay (Rachel McAdams) while his wife Pat (Patricia Clarkson) stays home. Meanwhile, Harry’s best friend Richard (Pierce Brosnan) finds out Harry would like a divorce but can’t put Pat through the strain. Richard meets Kay and guess what? He brings Kay to the unhappy couple and starts fucking her. Distraught Harry decides to poison his wife and then changes his mind. That’s it. That’s the whole film! One critic praised Married Life‘s “understated” performances, but it’s just a cover for the fact that this was the most boring and pointless film I’ve seen all year. You’ll need toothpicks jammed in your eyelids and an open flame on your balls to stay awake for this one.  Someone will also have to tell me why it was necessary to have this film set in 1949. Different mores? Sexual undertones? Nostalgia? Perhaps Jay Leno was able to loan his classic cars at a cut-rate price?

9. Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild!

another-gay-movie-2

I know I probably shouldn’t pick on small films, but I chose this feature (the sequel to Another Gay Movie) to make a point. As a member of the gay community I want to give a clarion call to all future gay filmmakers out there: stop copying bad straight movie ideas! With films like Save Me, Le Leon and Milk being produced, you shouldn’t need to rehash bad movie formulas just to be able to say, “Me too.” The four young queers from the first movie head down to Fort Lauderdale for Spring Break for a contest of who can fuck or get fucked the most when the only ones getting fucked are you out of your hard-earned ten bucks. There are so many logistical problems with this film, it’s tough to know where to start. First, the gays get the beach all to themselves during Spring Break. Second, this wild party filled with hot bodies only attracts about thirty or so guys from across the country. Lastly, there’s not a single scene of anyone doing ecstacy.  I mean, what is this, a parallel universe with an Earthly appearance?  The sole laugh in this entire film was from a three-minute vomiting scene occurring when one of the young hunks accidentally ends up porking his dad, and that laugh only came because I’m perverted enough to enjoy projectile vomiting in movies. Oh and speaking of wretched vile substances, Perez Hilton should not have to been seen or heard in any movie–ever. That demand should be contractual.

8. Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who

horton

Hey, here’s an idea: let’s make an animated feature with the metaphor of a possible apocalypse or holocaust and make the main character an insufferably cheery elephant voiced by Jim “I-just-can’t-take-large-doses-of-this-guy” Carrey.  Another of Dr. Seuss’ great tales is ruined by someone’s decision to change the tone of the story to presumably maintain the interest of easily distracted children. There’s no improvement whatsoever from Chuck Jones’ great short animated TV version of this story about an elephant who hears an entire world existing on a speck of dust. In fact, none of the main characters are memorable and some of the secondary characters (for instance, the jungle creatures Horton tutors) are just downright irritating. The animation I think is ugly and I ended up not caring at all if Whoville survived. That ain’t good, folks. Ironically, it was one of the most depressing movie viewing experiences of the year. This is the third Dr. Seuss catastrophe his widow helped give the green light to (after The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas), prompting me to call for the ghost of the genius doctor to haunt his widow until she agrees to no longer let a Hollywood studio touch another of his classics.

7. Run Fatboy Run

runfatboy

Here’s an example of a comedy that simply doesn’t work on a conceptual level. Simon Pegg stars as Dennis,  a one-time groom who jilts his pregnant bride Libby (Thandie Newton) at the altar and decides five years later to run a marathon against her new fiancee Whit (Hank Azaria) to prove his love for her. This despite the fact that he’s become a pudgy security guard who can’t catch simple thieves. The opening scenes of Dennis ditching the wedding add a huge ball-and-chain on this comedy that has to be dragged around while we’re supposed to root for him. Newton’s character is reduced to choosing between Dennis and Whit with the latter being the better guy (that is, if you really want to invest enough emotional attachment in this movie to even make a choice).  However, the film takes leaps through flaming hoops to make the new fiancee look like an asshole during the last third of the film when he’s quite the nice guy during the first two-thirds. The excuse given:  Dennis’ young son still loves his biological father even after his father practically abandoned him and his mother. Either that kid has already gone through years of therapy or he’s dumber than dog shit.  Another stupid mistake this comedy makes is that there’s no real knowledge shared about marathon preparations. Instead, we’re given cliches like the running-to-exhaustion-while-an-out-of-shape-coach-urges-him-on sequence. The final “inspiring” scene which shows an irresponsible, ill-prepared and injured Dennis trying to finish the marathon is the definition of phony.  Such an ending befits this horrid comedy.

6.  Speed Racer

speed-racer

My eyes! My eyes!! The Wachowski Brothers unnecessarily update a 1960’s cartoon and prove they think any static shot lasting longer than two seconds belongs in a Bela Tarr film. Emile Hirsch (who’s probably thankful he’s getting more attention for a supporting role in Milk) plays the title role, a race car driver determined to win The Crucible championship after that contest took the life of his older brother Rex some years before. This movie’s candy-coated graphic design is so ostentatious that the live actors look goofy in costumes and make-up trying to match the style. Watch Susan Sarandon and John Goodman playing Speed’s parents and if they don’t look embarrassed, I’ll kiss your ass. The visual style of this film is so overwhelming and distracting, you’ll need the concentration of a Zen master to be able to follow what lackluster plot there is. It’s obvious, the filmmakers didn’t think there was much of one. That explains why scenes of the little irritating bastard Spritle Racer and Chim Chim the chimp stealing candy and other showstoppers are included. Too bad they forgot the scene where they both are run over by a bus. I can always hope for it in the sequel.


5. 88 Minutes

88mins

Think about this for a minute: Al Pacino decides he’s going to star in a crime thriller. Do you think A-List actors would not have wanted to see this script for a chance to be on screen opposite the Oscar-winner? I just have to think a number of them read this god-awful script, and when they turned it down, Pacino should have taken the hint to run away as fast as he could. Alas, he stuck himself by playing a successful forensic psychiatrist and college professor who’s given 88 minutes to live by a serial killer who enjoys offing victims by stabbing them and hoisting the carcasses upside-down on block & tackle pulley systems assembled in what has to be world-record time. Your own fetishes are definitely not this weird. I actually watched this film on 2X fast-forward with subtitles and was still able to figure out who the killer was less than half-way through. And guess what? It’s a lesbian. Golly gee, that’s original.  Because we have a recession going on and your money and time are valuable, I’m going to save you both and tell you that in the picture accompanying this review, you’ll see Al Pacino and a vicious lesbian serial killer. Guess which is which?

4. Forgetting Sarah Marshall

forgettingsarah

I have to admit Judd Apatow is probably the best huckster of comedies working today. Last year, he convinced a shitload of you that Knocked Up was worth your time and this year he put up the money for this movie. Jason Segel writes and stars as Peter Bretter, a musician who provides the incidental music soundtracks for a successful TV series. He gets dumped by his girlfriend Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), who’s become the beloved star of the series. Let’s get one thing clear right now: you don’t get to the positions these two are in without buying into the Hollywood lifestyle and work system. Once you are there, you are outside any normal form of life. Thus, when Peter and Sarah are supposed to be acting like down-to-earth people, it struck me as so phony and insulting I couldn’t take more than about 40 minutes of this horseshit. Peter’s spiral into depression doesn’t lend itself well to comedy, either. It’s clear from this movie he’s clinically depressed. What’s next, Judd Apatow’s goofy movie about cancer? While he’s working on that messterpiece, Apatow was also busy this year lending his unfunny words to this next craptacular…

3. You Don’t Mess with the Zohan

zohan

Adam Sandler stars as a super-powerful Israeli Special Forces Soldier who wants to give up his dangerous life fighting Palestinians and become a hairdresser. He fakes his death and heads to New York City to live his dream, bedding old women in the process and eventually faces his arch nemesis The Phantom (John Turturro–oh, how I remember when he was a great actor). Even if this idea for a movie were to work, it could not be properly cast with Sandler in the lead. He’s not buffed up enough to be a fierce fighter and his Israeli accent sucks. The only true competition he has in the category “Year’s Worst Foreign Accent” has to be Chris Rock, appearing in a cameo as a cab driver and providing the worst Jamaican accent in movie history. Listening to the two of them talk to each other will make you take the pledge.  It’s amazing to me that Sandler, who had a surprise hit last year with the incredibly shitty I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (my choice for the worst film of 2007), would follow up with a movie that uses hummus as a running gag at least half a dozen times within the first thirty minutes. Adam Sandler, Mike Myers and Will Ferrell should all take a cue from another SNL alumnus, Bill Murray: stop trying to make films that seem like bad SNL ideas and expand your horizons a bit.


2. What Happens in Vegas

whathappens

One of my co-workers had it right. Don’t ever trust a movie whose title sounds like it came from a tourism board.  Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz decide to drop trou and lift skirt to take steaming dumps on their careers in this jaw-droppingly unfunny comedy. They both play complete strangers who head down to Las Vegas to forget their troubles and end up married after a night of drunken debauchery. When they sober up and want out, they win a fortune in the slots and head to court to settle the dispute where they are forced to remain married (pleasing Prop 8 proponents, no doubt).  Ever live in an apartment building next to a couple arguing loudly day and night? That’s what watching this movie is like.  This romantic comedy is a case study of how you can achieve zero chemistry between leads, since both Kutcher and Diaz look dazed and confused, probably wondering how the fuck they ever agreed to appear in this garbage.  Here’s a helpful hint: if you say no to these films, they probably won’t be made and you won’t look stupid and desperate to millions of people. You can make out the check for the consultant’s fee courtesy of this blog.

1. Blindness

blindness

A great many terrible films are true underachievers, as the expectations for them are so low, but this movie truly shocked me in the worst way. I attended a free screening of this movie and twenty minutes in, I wanted to run away screaming. I hoped the award-winning and Oscar-nominated director of such films as City of God and The Constant Gardener would come up with an interesting story about the havoc created when a blind illness suddenly grips a city’s residents.  One by one, each of the citizens are blinded, as Julianne Moore’s character remains the only person unaffected. She joins the others as a whole group of them are interred into a prison with absolutely no supervision. Cue the Lord of the Flies analogy as a vicious set of guys, lead by the embarrassingly hammy Gael Garcia Bernal, make whores out of the women in the camp in what was the most unpleasant, horrendous sequence of any movie in years–and I’ve seen and enjoyed more than my share of sleazy sexploitation. Director Fernando Meirelles tries to combine an eco-thriller with shades of very dark comedy, horror,  socio-political commentary and elements of avant garde theater and fails at all of them. It’s my understanding that the American release version of this movie removed a constant voice-over by Danny Glover’s character that was irritating Cannes viewers. It’s too bad the entire soundtrack and all visuals didn’t go as well. The National Federation of the Blind condemned how blind people were portrayed in this film and they actually have it half right. It treats all people horribly.


Heading for Cult Camp Status: The Mother of Tears

Dishonorable Mentions:

A Christmas Tale

Get Smart

The Grand

Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay

Miss Pettigre Lives for a Day

The Other Boleyn Girl

Penelope

Postal

Rambo

Redbelt

Semi-Pro

Sex and Death 101

Sex Drive

Slumdog Millionaire (yes, it’s a shitbag)

Then She Found Me

The Tracey Fragments

Transsiberian

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