The Worst Movies of 2011
By John Corrado
With the new year freshly upon us, it’s time to rank the movies that were released over the past year. My picks for the best of 2011 will be coming next Monday, but first I have to get these bad movies off my mind once and for all. These were the films that had me cringing in my seat and contemplating a career change. Strong words, I know, but all of these movies share the common thread of having left a genuinely bad taste in my mouth.
Before we get things started, there are a few dishonourable mentions. I Am Number Four was the first dud that I saw in 2011, and the shamelessly overloaded New Year’s Eve was the last. Kudos to Red Riding Hood for bringing the laughs, but the only problem was that Catherine Hardwicke’s fantasy was meant to be taken seriously as a broodingly romantic horror film. And for the terrible makeup alone, J. Edgar unfortunately also deserves a dishonourable mention.
Believe it or not, some of these movies did have a solid fan base, and I hold nothing against those who liked any of the films on my list. But these are the ones from last year that just didn’t do it for me. Once again, please come back next week for my picks for the best movies of 2011. First, the wait is finally over. Here my picks for the worst movies of last year.
10: Horrible Bosses: Here’s an idea for a comedy. You make three thoroughly unlikable characters the protagonists of your story, and have them plotting to kill three equally unlikable psychopaths. I’m still not sure why anybody thought that Horrible Bosses would be funny, let alone appealing. I should note that I don’t mind when a comedy pushes the envelope for the sake of entertainment and I often have no qualms with a dark premise. But Horrible Bosses is too dumb to deserve any of the clever plot twists, ultimately delivering an uneven mix of scatological one upmanship as well as a twisted tale of characters that range from unlikable to just plain psychopathic. Many liked and even loved this film, but for me the title adjective just about says it all.
9: Your Highness: Despite the strong leading cast and talented director, the humour in Your Highness is an awkward mix of scatological dialogue that is delivered with all the verve of a young teenager who has just learned about sex and how to swear. The violence and cheap gore goes so overboard that by the time it reaches the climax it does nothing but nauseate. I’m a big fan of Natalie Portman, but even the Oscar-winning actress can’t save this train wreck of a comedy. Even the great Zooey Deschanel who makes TV so awesome every Tuesday night with the hilarious New Girl doesn’t make it worth seeing. The only good thing about the disappointing Your Highness is that it has allowed me to get in a plug for two of my favourite actresses.
8: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: When we reviewed Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, I said that watching the film “feels more like witnessing talented director Wayne Wang desperately try to keep his head above water.” This is a disaster on multiple levels, especially for those who liked the book. The amalgamation of two stories, one in ancient China and the other in modern Shanghai, the editing between scenes looks as if it were done by a chainsaw. Rachel Portman’s musical score is nice, but overblown, and the character development so rushed that any emotional resonance is muted to the point of indifference. And then Hugh Jackman shows up…
7: Jack and Jill: Jack (Adam Sandler) is a rich commerical director who happily lives with his wife (Katie Holmes) and their two kids. But then his loudmouthed and lovelorn twin sister (Adam Sandler, wearing a dress and wig) comes to visit over the holidays. Seemingly made up of a series of lame sketches, Jack and Jill is a juvenile film of sweat stains and fart noises. Are there are a handful of moments where you might chuckle thoroughly in spite of yourself? Yes, but they come in shock at how low Adam Sandler is actually going to try and get a laugh. This is an idiotic comedy that doesn’t hold any merits as a piece of filmmaking.
6: Spy Kids: All the Time in the World: There were several annoyingly bad live action family movies that came out in 2011, including Mr. Popper’s Penguins, The Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. But Spy Kids: All the Time in the World takes the cake as the worst of this bunch, simply because the first two movies in the franchise were actually fun. Robert Rodriguez has made some good movies, but I’m not sure why he wanted to push his luck with this fourth installment, a film filled with far too many annoying and even gross gags to be truly enjoyable for adults. Ricky Gervais is just annoying as the talking robotic dog.
5: Something Borrowed: Based on a popular novel by Emily Giffin which I have no desire to read, Something Borrowed seems to get its name from all of the better stories from which it ‘”borrows” various plot points and situations. This is a desperately trite and contrived romantic-comedy, with obnoxious and thinly written characters who merely decide on feelings regardless of whether or not they actually should be feeling them. The dated portrayals of men and woman are insulting to both sexes, and every single one of the obnoxious plot turns could have been solved with 2-minutes of sharp dialogue.
4: Battle: Los Angeles: With no discernible characters or plot, the tone of Battle: Los Angeles is so relentless and pointless, that it feels like we are merely watching an uninventive video game play itself. The action and violence is nonstop, and the sound of constant machine gun fire becomes so monotonous that it would be surprisingly easy to sleep through this tale of an alien invasion. The bigger question that should be asked about Battle: Los Angeles is this: if a film falls flat by making a lot of noise, but doesn’t have characters or a heart, then can it really be called a movie at all?
3: Sanctum: Uninspired performances, a terrible script filled with laughable dialogue and a bizarre amount of assisted suicide make Sanctum feel needlessly depressing and utterly pointless. The confined underwater setting could have made for a unique and incredibly exciting experience, but the only true claustrophobia felt while watching it is the feeling that you are trapped in your seat until the credits start to roll. Although sold under the executive production of James Cameron, Sanctum ultimately sinks despite trying to tell a seemingly suspenseful story.
2: The Hangover Part II: In 2009, Todd Phillips’comedic instant-classic The Hangover deserved an honourable mention as one of the better movies of the year. The disappointingly nasty and mean-spirited Part II is a pointless and endlessly offensive retread that ranks among the worst – but sadly highest grossing – comedies in recent memory. Some of the supposed humour here is actually offensive and disturbing, as the film often feels like nothing more then a knock-off to an actual product. I’ll stick with The Hangover, because the real experiences of a morning after could potentially be more entertaining that watching this sequel again. I hated this sequel, but it’s still not quite the worst one I saw in 2011. That dishonour went to, drumroll please…
1: Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil: Last year the bottom honours went to the unbelievably unbearable Sex and the City 2, which ranks as one of the worst movies I have ever seen. This year’s number zero spot was saved for an experience that was very nearly equally excruciating. With an unbelivably lame script and some of the weakest CGI animation that I’ve ever seen in a mainstream film, the utterly pointless Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil is a joyless mess of a movie. It does boast a talented voice cast, but everyone just sounds really bored. Despite only running for a thankfully short 86-minutes, anyone above a certain age will find this hackneyed and annoying sequel nearly impossible to endure without falling asleep. This film easily takes my bottom spot because it seems like no joy or soul went into the largely outsourced production, and even less of either emotion is felt while watching it.