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Wednesday, January 19, 2005
My contribution to an already huge stack of similar lists
I don't typically pay to see "bad" films. You know, the sort of moving picture shows that critics save all their pithy adjectives for. Anacondas: The Search for the Blood Orchid? Didn't see it. Torque? Didn't see it. Anything starring a Mickey Mouse Club alum that claws her way out of lower-middle class oppression to "find their voice," ascend to the throne of a tiny European nation or win a singing competition, dancing competition, beauty competition and/or ride a zebra? Naw, I didn't see any of them either.
What did I see watch plenty of movies that should have been great but somehow jumped the tracks and crash landed in The World O' Suck. I can forgive the Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement for being what it is, a mindless bit of fluff for people that still eat crayons. Napoleon Dynamite on the other hand? Everyone involved should be forced to endure the film's scrotum-frying time traveling device.
Here's a list of the bottom ten movies I endured during the year 2000 and 4.
10. Troy: $183 million dollars down the drain to expose the pitfalls of "Fake and Bake" tanning lotion. The makeup artists on the set must have spent no less than three hours every morning rubbing down Brad Pitt to give his skin that oranger-than-a-pumpkin-covered-in-orange-juice gleam. Troy is 163 minutes of the dullest moments from '50s gladiator films intermingled with half-hearted, shaky-cam action sequences. When an arrow meets Achilles' heel, the scene is so anti-climatic it may as well have never happened.
9. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence: Gorgeous animation aside it's the polar opposite of its predecessor. Watching Innocence is like riding a roller coaster through fog only to find you've moved barely an inch once you reach the end. If you ever find yourself writing a sequel for beloved anime masterpiece, save the endless philosophical ponderings and fifty-cent words for the nearest dorm room and be sure to jam in plenty of malfunctioning robot hookers. Wipe away the endless layers of pretense from Innocence and all you'll find is a pointless, contrived sequel unworthy of one of those Adult Swim imports that no one watches.
8. Van Helsing: Did this actually have the potential to be a good movie? If you ask Paidmovie McCritic, maybe not. As for me, I think a film that unearths the top three contenders in Universal's monster catalog for a battle royale could have been great. Instead, the company passed along the project to Stephen Sommers, a man who seems to have learned his craft from watching Playstation cut-scenes. A monster mash Bond ripoff full of lame CGI, lame monster designwork, lame plot, lame acting, lame weapons, lame everything.
7. Garfield: As long as I'm talking about movies that probably didn't have the slimmest shot at respectability, I may as well dive into this abortion. I watched Garfield overseas flight in a plane crammed with Japanese tourists. As the flight headed over the Pacific, this is what everyone seemed to be watching on Northwest Airline's newfangled, individualized monitors. Twenty minutes in, everyone was asleep, leaving a CGI Garfield to cough up hairballs in front of an entirely unconscious audience. I somehow made it through the whole thing, mostly because I couldn't sleep and the only other options were Troy, which I had already suffered through, and the Stepford Wives. Could Garfield have been a good movie? Maybe if it had been made in 1981 and had starred John Belushi in the title role. There, Garfield: The Movie had potential. It counts. It makes the list. Moving along....
6. Jersey Girl: All things considered, it's probably high-time I retracted that "these movies had the potential to be good" claim. Jersey Girl, an attempt by foul-mouthed Kevin Smith to cough-up a family friendly crowd pleaser was immediately doomed to failure. I snuck into it and somehow managed to make it all the way to the final shot- Ben Affleck dancing under a spotlight with his onscreen daughter. It's meant to be a tender moment but they're surrounded by lushes in a seedy sports bar. Oh, and this on the heels of the daughter's Sweeny Todd entry in a elementary school talent show. Jersey Girl film that attempted to cater to all audiences and appealed to absolutely nobody. Why isn't something like this at # 1? Because Smith cast George Carlin in a supporting role as a alcoholic street sweeper. Surely casting that inspired that has to count for something.
5. Alien Vs. Predator: If it weren't for the ticket stub and further proof all over the place, I would probably still believe I dreamt this thing. How hard is it to screw up a movie starring the two coolest movie monsters of the last 20 years? A Vs. P is an under-budgeted, PG-13 travesty that manages to squeeze in every tired action movie cliché from a Matrix swivel shot to the "Oh, god! That giant fireball is coming at us! Let's run in slow motion away from it!" As banal as sci-fi gets.
4. Primer: Math nerds loved it. Critics scratched their heads. No one else saw the bloody thing. Primer was made for $3,000 but it's a long ways from similar bargain-basements labors of love like El Mariachi. As exciting as 90 minutes of white-collar guys talking about metaphysics in garages and storage bins is I couldn't stay awake. To its credit, Primer is chock full of interesting concepts about time travel but it's trapped in the dullest framework imaginable. If I discover a way to travel through time, I'm going to hunt down a dinosaur and inadvertently change the scope of future world politics, not hang around in airport hotel rooms feeling sorry for myself. Pi it ain't.
3. Napoleon Dynamite: Three words: White. Minstrel. Show. There, I said it. Yes, everyone in the world went to a high school with someone like Napoleon. This is the onscreen equivalent of the assholes that used to viciously torment that kid, pushing that kid towards his first suicide attempt. Watch Napoleon stare blankly! Watch Napoleon hurt his crotch on a bicycle! Watch his downtrodden family subject themselves to endless dead-pan humiliation for your amusement! Making matters worse, unlike the films of Todd Solondz, which travel in similar waters, Napoleon Dynamite pulls its punches in the last act, settling for a cop-out happy ending. Plotless. Pointless. Humorless.
Except the bit where Napoleon breaks out his dance moves. That *was* funny. But nothing else! Nothing! Zilch! If you think I'm wrong about this one, track down Garden State. Watch it. Learn it. Love it.
2. Shrek 2: Pure evil and the embodiment of absolutely everything wrong with the medium of modern filmmaking. An endless string of already dated pop-culture references tied together with a threadbare plot. Shrek 2 is so incredibly witless that it managed to squeeze in a five-minute Ricky Martin parody. Painful to watch. Literally painful. Shrek 2 is the Anti-Funny.
1. The Passion of the Christ: Imagine a film about the life of Abraham Lincoln. Now imagine that it doesn't acknowledge a single one of historic accomplishments, instead focusing on the final hours of his life- complete with gory close-ups of his bullet wounds. Now toss out Honest Abe, stick in Jesus and you've got The Passion of the Christ, a hate-filled snuff film so inexplicably bad and misguided it defies all logic and reason.
In the final shot, Jesus rises from the grave looking like the Terminator as war drums pound over the soundtrack. Passion was the second highest grossing film of 2004. Millions flocked to it. People took their small children to the local multiplex to watch Jesus get flogged for twenty minutes straight. When it was released on DVD, Amazon offered group rates for churches. This is what passes for wholesome entertainment in America circa 2004? Is that "Marry a Canadian" website still around?