Last week I published my ten favourite films of 2010 list. Now, after drafting, then whittling down a list almost three times the size of what appears here, I’m back with my ten least favourite movies. Geez, it is amazing just how many people Uwe Boll convinced to let him make films this year...
I should point out that sometimes I enjoy ‘bad’ movies more than I enjoy ‘good’ ones. There’s a perverse sort of pleasure to be taken from silly dialogue, shonky sets, befuddling narrative (see: the film career of Danny Dyer). None of those sorts of movies appear here. Consequently, not all that follow are ‘bad’ per se, just ten films I found boring, overblown, or just so inane that I will be invoicing everyone involved for compensation to the time I lost to them this year.
Once again, then, in reverse order...
10. A Nightmare On Elm Street
You don’t watch a film produced by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes imprint - a company that exists to such detriment of good in the world that, when they’re not remaking classic horror and rubbing their money over their private parts, I imagine them spending their time skinning babies and skewering them with sticks – expecting, y’know, Judi Dench. Even so, I was amazed at how bad the reboot of Wes Craven’s iconic 1984 slasher was. The time spent fleshing out the backstory of villain Freddy Kruger – attempting to establish sympathy for a mass child abuser! – was perhaps the most stupid thing about the year’s most stupid movie.
9. Date Night
I’m a fan of Steve Carell and Tina Fey, primarily because of the respective shows in which they’ve appeared on TV. It’s not unfeasible then, that director Shawn Levy might have conjured some laughs out of the pair united in this action comedy. Sadly, all he succeeded in doing was nullifying everything I like about both. Perhaps the problem was that Date Night breaks all known effective rules of comedy. The pace is too fast, there’s no ‘straight’ guy, there’s never any wry foil to the others goofs - what played out was one of the most frantic, frustrating comedies of the year, with two talented leads seemingly devolved to two drunken teenage baboons giggling at their own poop.
8. Shutter Island
As America’s greatest living filmmaker, I’d long been excited about what Martin Scorsese could do if he ever turned his attention to horror. As anyone who saw the film's trailer will testify, this adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s 2003 novel of the same name looked, and indeed sounded – Robbie Robertson turning in one of the years most imposing soundtracks – like it could be one of the director’s latter day masterpieces. As you might have guessed by its inclusion on this list, it wasn’t. More of an idea than a realized film, its tone changed midway through into a ‘shock’ ending that was only shocking to someone who had never seen the film's one simple trick realized far more effectively in an mid-afternoon movie on the Hallmark channel.
7. Cop Out
Written by Mark and Robb Cullen, directed by Kevin Smith, on paper, this buddy cop comedy had everything Date Night didn’t – a straight guy (Bruce Willis), a cohesive plot, Tina Fey’s 30 Rock co-star Tracy Morgan. However, it too had many things that were wrong with it. Someone should have told Willis that being the straight guy doesn’t mean you have to act like you’re asleep. Someone should have told the Cullens that whilst their plot was cohesive, framing their entire movie around a stolen baseball card made it hard to care for anyone concerned. Someone should have told Morgan… actually, someone should have shot Tracy Morgan with a tranquilizer gun, then muzzled him, then told him he was a grown man and not the guest of honour at a child’s eighth birthday party.
6. Gentlemen Broncos
Intended to be released to theatres in October 2009, Jared Hess’ comedy finally limped into filmgoer’s consciousness with a straight to DVD release in March. Speaking frankly, I haven’t got a fucking clue what it was all about. I remember Sam Rockwell. I think Jermaine Clement played a part. Was there someone dressed up as a horse? Seriously, I haven’t got a clue. But I don’t remember laughing. Or understanding anything that was going on. Or feeling anything resembling being entertained whatsoever. A terminally depressing experience throughout. Hess, whose career peaked with Napoleon Dynamite in 2004 must be starting to feel much the same way about his career.
5. Robin Hood
I love Robin Hood. I love 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves. I love trippy 80's TV drama Robin Of Sherwood. I especially love what Disney did with it. But let it be known that Robin Hood is a total douche. Here’s the thing: all great Robin Hood adaptations accept this. They understand the campery of a man running around a forest in his underpants is a very silly thing and something to be duly celebrated. What they don’t do is spend a year droning on about the nuances of medieval South Yorkshire accents, honing their swordplay while clearing a space on their mantelpiece for an Oscar. Sorry for only just pointing that out now Russell Crowe.
Christopher Nolan’s film isn’t a bad movie - but it certainly is a boring one. Like Shutter Island it’s one that’s again built around a lone idea (the duality of existences, dreams and shit) as opposed to a nuanced narrative, and while I enjoyed the changing cityscapes, there were too many scenes of people sat around asleep and not enough of that for my liking. Also, the spinning top ending is one of the cheapest cop outs to any movie ever – you might as well just run one frame with a question mark on it for two hours – and also, why did everyone involved have such boring, boring dreams? Maybe I just eat more cheese than they do, but I really did expect a dinosaur to turn up somewhere.
To quote that bastion of sense Roger Ebert, “Red is neither a good movie nor a bad one. It just features actors that we like doing things we wish were more interesting”. It’s Ebert’s analysis which forms my principal complaint with this adaptation of Warren Ellis/Cully Hamner graphic novel. Red is a film committed to the act of inertia; resolutely devoted to cinemas cardinal sin of boredom. Frustratingly, there are moments in the film when you think the (talented) cast might rise above it, seize something exciting from the (intriguing) premise – aging CIA assassins are being picked off, but by who? Obviously said cast didn’t think so, judging by how many scenes they spend just endlessly whittering on about arthritis.
2. Sex In The City 2
Never in the history of cinema has there been a film more hateful than the Sex In The City sequel. It hates women. It hates Muslims. It hates gay people. It hates men. It hates sex. If it was a biological organism and not a film, you might find sat somewhere in a darkened corner self-harming and smashing itself over the head with a brick. Not only that, but it couldn’t say less about the contemporary world if Sarah Jessica Parker blacked up and drove across the screen in a Sinclair C5 shouting about how she was voting for Ronald Regan. When the world ends in nuclear Armageddon, future alien species will visit the ruined earth, find a charred copy of this in the rubble and say, “oh well, they did sort of deserve it”.
1 The Last Airbender
As surprising as it is that a film which contains the unintentionally lol-some line, “I could tell at once you were a bender” could be my least favourite film of the year, seemingly there is no end in sight to M. Night Shyamalan’s lack of talent. Much scorn has been poured on the director's live action Anime adaptation – the poor casting, the wretched dialogue, the kooky, cod-environmental message – Entertainment Weekly even ran an article with the headline ‘Who’s To Blame For The Last Airbender?’. With Christmas mere days away, I’d like to make one last plea to Santa. “Please Santa, if at all possible, please stop M. Night Shyamalan making films. It’s all I really want. Thanks. Love James”.