Friday, October 9, 2009

Weekly Top Tens: The Worst Films of the Decade

In a few months, when the decade draws to a close, you are likely to see any number of lists about the best and worst movies of the decade. While I am holding out hope that perhaps something will come out in the next 3 months that will crack my top ten list, I decided that now was the time to release my list of the decades worst films. All ten of these films are godawful on every conceivable level, and not only that, they all made me angry while I was watching them. Not only are the bad, they are also offensive to me on a personal level (okay, I’ll admit that numbers 9 and 10 don’t really offend anything but my intelligence, but the other 8 surely do). I am not one of those people who enjoy watching bad movies in a campy, it’s so bad they are good kind of way – unless I’m drunk and hurling obscenities at the screen that is. I took no joy in watching these films, and compiling the list was depressing because I had to wade through the worst of the worst of the last 10 years, and realized just how much time I had wasted on god awful movies. Consider yourself lucky if you missed these films.

10. From Justin to Kelly (Robert Iscove, 2003)
How sad is it that director Robert Iscove thought that Miramax was going to give him a chance to director Chicago, and instead he ended up directing this musical with the two braying finalists from Season 1 of American Idol. Admittedly Kelly Clarkson is a talented singer, but she cannot act (or dance really) to save her life, and her co-star Justin Guarini can’t do much of anything (which is why we never hear about him anymore). Writer Kim Fuller, who worked on the S Club 7 series, somehow managed to create even more inane dialogue than he gave those British idiots, and has since fallen back into oblivion where he belongs. Iscove has never directed another major movie, and there is a reason. He seems to have no idea what he is doing behind the camera. The dance numbers are poorly conceived, and poorly executed. I expected to walk into the theater and laugh at how bad the movie was. Instead, I ended up crying. This was the longest 81 minutes of my life.

9. Seven Pounds (Gabriele Muccino, 2008)
The level of stupidity in this movie simply astounds me. Will Smith plays a morose guy who walks around talking to people with terminal illnesses or other disabilities and tells them that he will give them something that will change their lives. The movie holds back all the crucial information – like Smith lost his wife and son in a car accident, and that he is planning on killing himself and donating his organs, but wants to ensure that “good” people get them until way too late in the game, at which point we’ve already figured it all out. Why do you cast an actor as charming as Smith, and then make him into a thudding bore? Why do you cast a sexual firecracker like Rosario Dawson, and then stick her with the most sickly sweet dialogue imaginable? Why do you cast the wonderfully weird Woody Harrelson and then give him nothing to do? Why do you think that anyone is going to like a movie that ends with suicide by jellyfish? I stared at the screen in disbelief by just how awful this film was.

8. An American Carol (David Zucker, 2008)
People on the right hate Michael Moore, and think that all liberals hate America. That if you oppose the war in Iraq, then you are an unpatriotic coward who wants America to be destroyed by terrorists. That is essentially the point of this awful movie, where a documentary filmmaker modeled after Moore (and played by Kevin Farley, who has none of his brother’s limited talent) is visited by ghosts of the past to tell him how great America is, and compares the Iraq war to the Civil War and World War II, and says that everyone from George Washington to JFK would support the war. They take him into the future, where LA has been taken over by Islamic fundamentalists, and his hometown has been destroyed by a nuclear bomb. The filmmaker then renounces his ways, and becomes a patriotic American again, prevents a terrorist attack and supports the troops. I throw up, the end.

7. The Condemned (Scott Wiper, 2007)
How hypocritical is it to have a movie starring a WWE star (Stone Cold Steve Austin) preach at the audience about the evils of televised violence? How much more hypocritical is it that the movie that preaches against the televised violence is itself extremely violent – with multiple stabbings and murders and even a rape scene? Here is a movie that takes an familiar premise – group of death row inmates on an island, the last survivor gets to walk free, all for the viewing enjoyment of a Pay Per View audience – and turns it into a tired diatribe about how violence is wrong, and that we as a society has lost its way. If you want to make this movie – and you could make it quite well – you have to do a better job than this. You have to take the premise seriously if you want anyone else to.

6. The Real Cancun (Rick de Oliveria, 2003)
Take 16 fame hungry, horny young Americans and send them down to Cancun for Spring Break and see what happens. That is the basic premise of the “first reality movie” ever (I guess all those documentaries don’t count, huh?). The film is essentially about who can degrade themselves the most in the shortest amount of time. Who wins? I’m not sure, but the guy who fucks one of the other cast members the first night, and then won’t talk to her again surely comes across as the biggest asshole. But the girl doesn’t come off much better. How about the twin hotties who take part in a wet T-shirt competition, where the T-shirts don’t stay on very long. Or the virgin guy who is looking for love, thinks he finds it in one day, loses his virginity, and then discovers that it wasn’t really love. No shit. If you ever doubt that people will do anything for just a little bit of fame, watch this movie. Or better yet, don’t.

5. Crank/ Crank: High Voltage (Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor, 2006/2009)
It’s bad enough that the filmmaker team of Neveldine and Taylor direct like Michael Bay after a week long crystal method bender, swinging the camera around wildly, and editing so rapidly that half the time you have no idea what the hell is going on. It’s also bad enough that Jason Statham has become so bored in his career as a B-level action star that he doesn’t even try anymore. Or that Amy Smart, a once promising actress, is no reduced to be being fucked on a crowded LA street (in the first film) or in front of a cheering rodeo audience (in the second one). Or the that the premise of both movies – Statham needs to keep the adrenaline pumping through his system in the first one to not allow a poison to take hold, and needs to be keep his body electrically charged in the second film to keep his artificial heart from stopping – is so incredibly stupid that you cannot take it seriously. But when you combine all these elements with the most racist, homophobic, misogynistic attitude of pretty much any movie this decade, you get two of the most offensive, least watchable movies of the decade. Don’t ask why I watched the second one – I haven’t got a clue.

4. Hostel Part II (Eli Roth, 2007)
The original Hostel was bad, but not quite terrible. Yes, it was torture porn in the worst sense of the word, but when I watched it, I felt as if Roth was striving for something that he just couldn’t quite reach. But in Hostel Part II, he creates a travesty of a movie. A group of girls are brought to the Hostel from the original film to be used as playthings for rich people who want to pay to hack them to pieces. The most offensive single scene, perhaps of the decade, is when poor Heather Mattarazzo is hung naked upside down as a woman (supposedly erotically) drags a sickle over her body, before bleeding her to death and bathing in her blood. What makes the scene so offensive is that there is utterly no context to it, no reason why it is in the movie, other than to see a young girl hung upside down and cut repeatedly. Roth’s attempt at political analysis, with the two brain dead idiots who pay for the pleasure of killing, is laughably stupid, and just plain bone headed. Roth may think he’s creating art, but he isn’t. He’s the nadir of the torture porn genre, which is a pretty low genre to begin with.

3. Karla (Joel Bender, 2006)
To hear this movie tell it, Karla Holmoka was almost as much of a victim of Paul Bernardo as the women he killed. Laura Prepon, from That 70s Show, puts on her best victim act as she tells her “sad” story to a prison shrink, who buys her story hook, line and sinker. Worse than Prepon’s performance though is Mischa Collins as Bernardo, who plays his character as a sad sack puppy dog who spends most of his time whining. In addition to the movie being truly offensive in its portrayal of these two monsters, it is also among the worst directed films I have ever seen. The audience I saw it with was made up of mostly teenagers, who laughed constantly throughout the movie, at the most depressing of moments. A good movie could be made about Holomoka and Bernardo, one that got these two people right and presented them not as monsters but as complex human beings. This isn’t that film.

2. Freddy Got Fingered (Tom Green, 2001)
I have to admit that some, small part of me admires Tom Green for making a movie as god awful as Freddy Got Fingered. Yes, the film is utterly, completely terrible and almost impossible watch from beginning to end. After all, here is a movie in which when someone falls off a skateboard and rips open his knee, Tom Green rushes to him and licks the wound. Where Green delivers a baby and then starts whipping it around his head like a lasso by the umbilical cord. Where he accuses his father of fingering his little brother. Where the heros handicapped girlfriend is presented for our mockery. Where eventually, Green will cover Rip Torn with elephant sperm shot directly from the elephant’s huge penis. I could continue, as almost every scene in the movie is a travesty, but what’s the point. I somewhat admire Green because, you know what, he made the exact movie he wanted to make, and so few directors these days can say that. He leaves everything he has right there on the screen. That the movie is so god awful is beyond debate. But for better or for worse (in this case, far far worse), Green did what he wanted.

1. Baise-Moi (Caralie Trinh Thi & Virgine Despartes, 2000)
I don’t expect that many people reading this have ever even heard of this movie, let alone seen the damn thing. Consider yourself lucky. This is a lame brained attempt at making a female empowerment movie, that is really just about the most misogynstic piece of crap I have ever seen. But perhaps that’s stating it too lightly, as the movie doesn’t just hate women. It hates the men in the movie even more. Here is a movie that opens with a brutal gang rape, and goes down from the there. The woman who is raped goes back to the apartment she shares with her brother, where he accuses her of liking being raped, so she shoots him in the head. Another woman gets into an argument with her roommate, kills her and takes off. These two meet up, and decide to go on a cross country sex and murder spree. They pick up a couple of guys and have sex (real, not simulated), and then kill them. Why? I don’t know, because they had sex with two crazy women? They then go into a swingers club where a huge orgy is going on and kill everyone they can find. After that they talk about what they have done, and realize it was all pointless. They still feel marginalized by society (yeah, because the best way to not be marginalized if you’re a prostitute and a porn star, which are the two characters careers by the way), is to go on a killing spree. Watching Baise-Moi I felt dirty. I am often offended by movies, but rarely do I sit there and feel guilty for watching a movie, but this one I did. The film was banned not once, but twice in Ontario before securing it’s release. The first time because it was deemed pornographic (no shit), and then when they tried to get it rated as pornography, it was rejected because there was too much violence in the film to be deemed pornographic. While I am against censorship in all of its forms, so I support the decision to let the film be released, I have to wonder what kind of sick person would actually enjoy watching this movie. While I think that any subject is valid for cinematic treatment, and have often liked movies with extreme violence, and do believe that at some point someone will make a valid movie using real sex (it hasn’t happened yet, but some of Catherine Breillant’s work comes close), I do believe that if you are going to force an audience to endure a movie like this, you have to have a reason. This movie doesn’t have one. It wallows in the depths of human depravity for no other reason than because it can. It’s a despicable movie.

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