Austin’s WORST 10 of 2011
Last year was my first year with The Film Yap. I was the young’un who took every film assignment, mainly the ones that nobody wanted to take — AKA the worst films imaginable. This year, I tried to avoid those assignments, but I kept taking ones that I found morbidly curious. They can’t really be as bad as people say, right? Of course they are.
Most of my most hated films this year I actually didn’t figure were going to be this bad. I was even anticipating most of them. Not all of them can be winners, but … boy they should be better than this.
#10 – Drive Angry 3D
By this point, everyone knows that Nicolas Cage desperately needs to make money. Even if you aren’t following his hysterical financial problems, it’s evident through his films. He makes a few films people enjoy like “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” and “Kick-Ass,” but mostly he just jumps aboard anything in production from “Next” to “The Wicker Man” to this. The reason “Drive Angry” is bad isn’t because of the subject matter. Having a guy escape hell to save his granddaughter from a satanic cult can be silly fun. Oh sorry, “daughter’s daughter.” They never use the “g” word; can’t let you think Cage is old. Instead, all of the plot holes, boring action scenes, worthless characters and fading stakes make this a mess instead of the cool ’80s film it wanted to be.
#9 – Anonymous
There are dozens of solid theories about why Shakespeare wasn’t the author of some of the beloved plays in history. “Anonymous” may be the dumbest. Their idea is that William Shakespeare was a poor actor. Therefore, he couldn’t have written anything of value, so it must have been a rich aristocrat. Then, it’s one implausible connection after another to set the pieces in place so “Hamlet” can be released to the world. Saying someone who didn’t go to an established university couldn’t have written “Richard III” but saying an 8-year-old wrote “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is valid? This would be stupid on its own, but with an idiotic structure, laughable theatre scenes and the most serious tone imaginable, this is unwatchable.
#8 – The Help
When this film ended, I really expected the row of critics to be on my side to say this is a trainwreck. Nope! But truly, this is a disaster of a film. Joe Shearer and I extensively argued the film when it came out. What still resonates after so many months is how the characters feel like nothing. Viola Davis is a great actress who deserves plenty of complex roles, but this wasn’t anything except for a footnote of history. She could have played a character who happened to live in an era where the situations of history affected her persona, but that’s not the case. She is just an archetypical example of a maid from this time, which means she will cry a lot. Everyone is either an extremely racist person or someone with 2011 ideals to criticize the others. The script, direction and editing are so amateur, it’s a struggle to get through.
#7 –The Beaver
I wanted Mel Gibson to have a comeback. He seems like a lousy person with whom I wouldn’t want to have dinner, but he is still an entertaining actor. This script has been thrown around for a while noted as one of the best unproduced screenplays. Now that I’ve seen the final product, I have no idea why. All of the actors are perfectly fine, but the skeleton of “The Beaver” is a mess — cliché after cliché without a single earned moment. Since none of the characters acts like realistic people, they fail every time they try for catharsis.
#6 – Mars Needs Moms
This is one of the biggest Hollywood financial disasters of all time, and most people can’t even remember this came out. Thus, the disaster. “Mars Needs Moms” cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make but only made a tad back theatrically. This hurt Robert Zemekis’ motion-capture business so much he’s had to return to live action after vowing to never do that again. Could this be an undeserving failure? I wouldn’t wish them to lose that much money, but this is a terrible movie. Aliens kidnap moms because they need to suck out the maternal instincts. That could be a cool, dark kids movie, but this is joyless. The main character learns that he loves his mom in the first few minutes, and the rest of the time is just complaining while being surrounded by ugly trash. Even without the 3D glasses, it has this unpleasant color to it that makes you want to switch it off. Never the vibe you want to create.
#5 – Just Go With It
I refuse to see “Jack and Jill” even though I was tempted to put the trailer as my No. 1 choice. At this point, I just want to swear at Adam Sandler on the street, which is a problem because everyone says he’s a nice guy. Why would such a nice guy keep making these movies where he’s treated like a god and everyone else on the planet is labeled as a worthless buffoon? Characters don’t just laugh at his jokes; they bust a gut and may even try to kiss his feet. “Just Go With It” is a remake of the very funny “Cactus Flower,” for which Goldie Hawn won an Oscar. That character in this one is a bikini model who is just supposed to stand with cleavage. Her most emotional moment happens off screen, further proving if it’s not about Adam Sandler being praised, it doesn’t make it to the final cut.
#4 – The Hangover Part II
When I walked out of the theater for this, I was disappointed. The more I thought about it a day later, I hated it. When I listened to an interview with the screenwriters, I loathed it. They took such pride into make the exact same movie without having a single point to add to it. It took them so much work to recreate every single plot point, changing only the setting or prop. Changing a joke from “Two guys walked into a bar” to “two guys walked into a pub” won’t get a laugh the second time ’round. I really liked the first one because I liked the characters. I wanted to see a sequel because I wanted to see them in something new, not to be in a shot-for-shot remake.
#3 – The Change-Up
Never see this movie. It’s vile.
#2 – Green Lantern
“The Change-Up” is probably a worse film, but I hate “Green Lantern” more for what it represents. (By the way, don’t see “The Change-Up”; it’s vile.) My favorite director is Alfred Hitchcock. With every film, he wanted to show the audience something new; he always wanted to shock and awe them. It’s a contract with an artist. We give them money for the product and they make the best product they can. People can easily spend their money on something practical like food or rent, but they wanted to spend it on art. So at least pretend to make something worthwhile.
This is the laziest film I have ever seen — boring beyond anything imaginable because it doesn’t care about the audience. The hero is blander than a green screen, and the story doesn’t exist. It literally doesn’t exist. A story is a character who wants something but can’t get it, so there’s conflict. In “Green Lantern,” the character wants nothing. He’s fine with how he is. There isn’t even an unconscious want for a better life. He’s just so static about everything even when he’s whisped across the galaxy and given extreme responsibility over the Earth. When confronted with that, he quits because it doesn’t seem interesting to him. If saving the world is boring to him, why should we care? Everything else in the movie has been done a million times already — this summer even! So if Hitchcock wanted to always give you something new because he cares about the audience, what do these filmmakers want?
#1 – An Invisible Sign
I have no wish to watch any of the movies on this list again because they’re awful. Except for this one. Honestly, I want everyone to see this movie because it’s wonderfully bad. People give allegiance to colossal failures like “Troll 2” because they are made by people who thought they were making a good film without having the perspective of questioning all of the madness around them. This film is worthy of being included amongst those great awful movies. Why is this so bad?
Jessica Alba plays a math expert … who doesn’t do any math during the movie.
Alba doesn’t know how to play a quirky Zooey Deschanel-esque character, so she plays her as autistic.
J.K. Simmons wears ivory numbers around his neck that reflect his mood.
Alba gets her job as an elementary school math teacher because the principal remembered that Alba liked math when she was a kid and her mom said she went to college. NO FOLLOW UP WAS NECESSARY.
Alba did not go to college.
Since first- and second-graders stress her out, she does not bother to teach them anything. The fourth and fifth graders are never seen.
There is a scene where Alba is supposed to guess what type of cancer a student’s mother has. That scene is a comedic setpiece.
Alba buys a giant ax because it kinda looks like the number seven and hangs it on the wall of a children’s classroom after putting wrapping paper on it. (You know what happens if you introduce an axe in Act 1 …)
The science teacher avoids a parent teacher conference and blows bubbles on a swing outside. He has a quote, “If anyone asks, just say it’s a science experiment. Look … spheres.” A sphere is a geometric shape. Geometry is math, not science.
Alba really really plays up the autism performance.
Thinking of numbers all the time is apparently math.
A student says her favorite number is 100. Alba scolds her because she says it should be from 1 to 10.
The science teacher hitting on Alba is the most aggressive thing imaginable. It’s basically flirt rape. Or rape flirt. Or whatever you’d call the idea of not taking “no” for an answer of them being a couple.
Their movie date is adorably bad in all the ways the movie didn’t attend.
Jessica Alba plays a math expert.
Please see this movie. I own it on Blu-ray!
The Rest of the List
11. Cars 2
13. The Green Hornet
14. Gnomeo & Juliet
17. Another Earth
19. The Thing