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Joe’s Worst of 2011

by on January 6, 2012
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Now that Christmas is over and the new year has come, it’s time to drop all of that holiday spirit crap and take a more cynical look back at last year.

There was some bad cinema out there this year, and while I didn’t see it all, there is still plenty of bad to round out our list. (Note that among the alleged dregs I missed out on in 2011 were “Adam and Eve,” “Just Go With It,” “Beastly,” “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1,” “Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star,” “Abduction,” “The Human Centipede 2,” “New Year’s Eve” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked”).

10. Battle: Los Angeles

A soulless, plotless, senseless depiction of alien invasion as war movie, “Battle: Los Angeles” is just fine as long as none of the characters open their mouths. But once they do, ridiculousness falls out like Tic Tacs. Aaron Eckhart’s big,rousing pre-climax speech ends with the words, “But none of that is important now,” meaning we listened to him blather on for five minutes for nothing. A good movie could be made out of this, but we at least need characters to root for.

9. Fright Night

A hamfisted remake of a (personally) beloved film that eliminated all of the great things about the original. The original was great because everyone thought it preposterous that Charlie Brewster believed a vampire lived next door to him. It was a cautionary tale of sleepy middle-class suburbia — danger literally right next door — and the vampire used that advantage to prey on the unsuspecting. Here we get Colin Farrell skulking around his house full of lame secret passages, blowing up houses and having car chases, a too-short appearance by Evil Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and a bony Anton Yelchin running around shirtless. And don’t even get me started on the lame-o Criss Angel knockoff version of Peter Vincent (David Tennant).

8. Johnny English Reborn

This stuff was hi-larious … when Benny Hill did it 40 years ago. But Rowan Atkinson trotting out a second helping of his not-all-that-funny-to-begin-with James Bond spoof? Not so fresh. Even my 6-year-old son, who loves Disney Channel sitcoms and cackles like a madman every time he hears someone pass gas, thought it stunk. Come to think of it, I change my mind. It wasn’t funny when Benny Hill did it, either.

7. Shark Night

Rednecks capturing a bunch of man-eating sharks, including a great white, and stocking their saltwater lake so that they can stream Internet videos of carefully selected, mostly faceless, racially diverse teens being eaten? In 3D? And PG-13? And with lousy CGI? Yes, please. And by “Yes, please,” I mean “God, please make this end.”

6. No Strings Attached

You know, I think I saw this movie, but I can’t say with 100 percent certainty either way. I at least know I regret losing the time I spent pondering, not to mention the time actually (or possibly) watching it.

5. Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Easily the film that disappointed me most. A child of the ’80s, I have long yearned to see an all-out live-action throwdown between two sets of cartoon rivals: “G. I. Joe’s” Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, and “Transformers’ ” Optimus Prime and Megatron. While I was slightly disappointed in Stephen Sommers’ rendition of the former a couple of years back, at least I have memories of this one. Instead, I sat through one fun movie and a second atrocious one getting teases each time of the epic throwdown to come. Instead I get …Optimus fighting a rogue autobot while Megatron simpers like a little girl with a skinned knee (and even getting called a “bitch” by the bubble-headed kewpie doll replacement girlfriend character?) followed by a mercy killing that doesn’t even qualify as a battle? Michael Bay, I hate you forever and ever.

4. The Roommate

OMG! Leighton Meester is the cutest little unhinged psycho roommate ever! Minka Kelly plays the oldest-looking college freshman this side of Rodney Dangerfield. What else is wrong with this movie? I have a list.

3. The Change-Up

Never see this movie. It’s vile. Seriously.

This body-switching movie (a genre that’s ripe for revisiting, mind you) has fun with computers — CG baby buttholes (No, not Ryan Reynolds. I mean that literally) and perhaps the biggest crime in cinema since “Crash” won Best Picture: CGI nudity from Leslie Mann and Olivia Wilde. That means we see them naked … but we don’t. And the rest of the movie sucks something awful, too.

2. The Smurfs

I’m not sure who I feel worse for after watching this — Neil Patrick Harris, who appears exasperated and is forced to “act” with Smurfs on his body by convulsing like he’s getting electroshock therapy, then making up with the Smurfs over a hearty game of … “Guitar Hero” or Hank Azaria, who gives a wonderful performance as the villain Gargamel, trying his heart out to save a movie that has him getting hit in the junk, run over by a bus and interacting in Harris’ perfume-ad subplot with Sofia Vergara calling him “Garbage Smell.”

Here’s a question for everyone: Why do the Smurfs have to come to New York? Why can’t they stay in their infinitely more interesting Smurf village and battle Gargamel and Azrael there? And who the eff is “Gutsy Smurf,” and why is he Scottish when none of the other Smurfs have accents? And why is anyone paying George Lopez to do voice work and ad lib in any movie? Okay, that’s more than one question. I’ll stop now.

1. Zookeeper

A horrifically unfunny comedy that 1) posits that Leslie Bibb is an appropriate romantic match for Kevin James and 2) that Rosario Dawson isn’t hot enough to attract him. That in itself is preposterous enough, but let’s get to the really wacky stuff: Our hero knowingly allows his simian buddy (voiced by Nick Nolte in a performance that effectively cancels out his performance in “Warrior”) to be abused and takes zoo animals’ advice on love, despite the fact their advice includes peeing in public places and making loud, obnoxious noises. Also, Sylvester Stallone is hereby permanently banned from doing any voiceover work. Also, TGI Friday’s employees can’t distinguish between a real gorilla and a person in a costume.

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