BY KEVIN CARR
As the year ends, many critics rush to build a list of top films from the past twelve months. While I do that myself (and you can check it out here), it’s sometimes more fun (or at least more cathartic) to compile a hate-filled rant that masquerades as a Worst of the Year list. Like any year, there have been plenty of terrible movies, but here is the sour cream of the crop for 2011.
10. THE ROOMMATE
To criticize a film as “derivative” has become a bit of a cliche in this business, but there is no other way I can describe this movie. As a heartless, shameless rip-off of the rather slick thriller “Single White Female” from the 90s, “The Roommate” borrows the way Vanilla Ice did music licks. There’s no originality, nonsensical characters and ridiculous hats worn for no good reason. And with its neutered PG-13 rating, there’s not even a chance of good R-rated nudity.
9. BIG MOMMA: LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
You knew Martin Lawrence’s career was over when he was shot in the deep background for the “Bad Boys II” posters almost a decade ago. Well, apparently no one told Martin Lawrence that the jig is up. Instead, he’s cranking out more fat suit comedies (a real category on BoxOfficeMojo.com, by the way). This time, he brings his son along to make things twice as bad. Typical of early-year releases, “Big Momma: Like Father, Like Son” is the “Police Academy 6” of 2011.
8. I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT
A couple years ago, the dreadful Sandra Bullock rom-com “All About Steve” forced me to rewrite my 10 Worst list at the eleventh hour. A similar thing happened to me with “I Don’t Know How She Does It.” Seeing it in the last few days before making this list, it knocked off “Hall Pass” from the list because at least I laughed a few times at “Hall Pass.” In this truly terrible film, Sarah Jessica Parker (who is pushing 50, by the way) plays the mother of young children trying to juggle her high-powered career as well. A film with no real conflict aside from the lead wanting to do it all (which really cannot be done without a full-time nanny), this movie takes aim at 80s stereotypes and serves as a salve to women (and men, incidentally) who are too selfish to be a real parent to their kids.
For some, this was a real awards contender, but it makes sense that Fox Searchlight abandoned any awards push before screeners were sent out. The movie tells the story of a girl suffering from guilt after causing the death of an innocent woman. But it’s impossible to feel any pathos for any character because each one is a raging asshole. I hated everyone in this movie, and it dragged on mercilessly… I should have known from the two-minute slo-mo shot of people crossing the street in the opening credits.
6. COUNTRY STRONG
Remember this movie? Few people do. It was a last-ditch release which actually made some 2010 contention and garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Song. But this emotionally vacant film about a drug-addicted country singer (with Gwyneth Paltrow doing her best to jump careers, a la Eddie Murphy with “Party All the Time”) struggling with her success and fame was shameless award bait. It wasn’t even good for critics.
5. THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN – PART 1
Sure, this series has its fans out there, and you could never convince them that this is a steaming pile of crap. But from the perspective of a standard moviegoer and not some teenage girl whose estrogen levels spike at the mere thought of Taylor Lautner taking off his shirt, this was one of the worst types of films around. Drawn-out, boring and intellectually void, “Breaking Dawn – Part I” sends terrible messages to its impressionable audience and features painfully laughable moments, not the least of which include werewolf voice-overs and baby mind rape.
4. THE TREE OF LIFE
Yeah, this is getting accolades all over the place, and I suppose if you like artistic masturbation, you’ll enjoy “The Tree of Life.” I, however, call shenanigans on vague, deliberately open-ended moviemaking. I don’t care if some folks think this is a cinematic version of an impressionistic painting. It’s a bore of a film with lazy writing and silliness abound. (And if you don’t believe me on the silliness angle, watch the wobbly dinosaur sequence or the tantric yoga climax, then get back to me.)
3. I MELT WITH YOU
Few people saw this movie, and for good reason. As a last-minute release in December, this film tries to be the suck-fest that was “Very Bad Things” and actually manages to make things worse. Most of the film is belabored scenes of middle-aged men taking drugs and thinking about having promiscuous sex. The rest of the film is an awkwardly forced crime thriller that is utterly absent of thrills.
Another independent film beloved by critics around the country, “Bellflower” stole some hearts at the Sundance Film Festival. And while I can always appreciate a grass-roots, no-budget filmmaking effort, I cannot support another goddamned emotional tampon about some writer/director/actor’s inability to forge a meaningful relationship with a woman. Enough, already!
1. JACK AND JILL
I have dumped on some films that many critics disagree with me. However, with the exception of my young sons (ages 8 and 10 who find anything with bathroom humor in it funny) and one person I know through Facebook, “Jack and Jill” is universally reviled. What appeared to be a cruel joke turns out to be a real film that wouldn’t even pass the smell test for an end-of-the-night sketch on “Saturday Night Live.” Adam Sandler stunk up the multiplexes this year with other movies like “Just Go With It” and “Zookeeper,” but it was this inexplicably horrible movie that takes the cake and eats it too.
As I make a list like this, there are always films that are awful but just don’t have the level of suck of the other ten I’ve picked. Not to leave anything out, here are some films that are worth mentioning for their entertainment failures…