Gladly in 2012, I watched more good movies (well, middling and mediocre movies) than out right bad ones. But there were a fair share of horrendous films that made me wonder, “what the hell were they thinking?”. I sat through these movies so you didn’t have to (it’s the downside of the job) but there were plenty times that I wish I didn’t. At least one of these movies is interesting failure but I still consider them a bad time at the movie theater. Consider this list as a “stay away from these movies” list. If you missed it, check out my most disappointing and surprising movies of 2012. Now onto the list…
10. Cloud Atlas (dir. Andy & Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer)
I applaud the effort and the ambition but this movie simply didn’t work for me. With bad makeup, gimmicky casting, and thematically on-the nose, “Cloud Atlas” fell really short of mediocrity. Just because a movie tries to be smart, that doesn’t mean it’s a smart movie.
9. Dark Shadows (dir. Tim Burton)
This movie was just all over the place. It had an interesting concept but ultimately did nothing with it. “Dark Shadows” introduced too many storylines that went nowhere. The climax of the film was inexplicable and the character development and engagement was lacking. Could you believe this movie cost upwards of $100 million? Where did that money go?
8. Act of Valor (dir. Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh)
This is a found footage movie about Navy SEALs on a secret mission to stop a terrorist organization getting into the United States. Wait. It wasn’t found footage. It was just footage of Navy SEALs on a practice mission with no stakes, character and audience involvement, or any signs of acting. The movie actually starts with a 5-minute bumper of the directors explaining that the Navy SEALs in the movie were actual Navy SEALs so please excuse the acting and narrative. Then the studio planted active members of the military in the theater to give audiences a sense of realism. I’m sorry, I have nothing but respect for our members of the armed services but this movie was nothing but flag-waving propaganda disguised as a “movie.” It was like watching a 110-minute recruiting video. They also had a sign up table in the lobby of the movie theater.
7. Red Lights (dir. Rodrigo Cortés)
What happened here? At first it might seem silly, but then you’ll think it’s a take on actual Ghostbusters, (Sigourney Weaver was in this movie). “Red Lights” was about a pair of psychic investigators who run into real paranormal activity, or do they… “Red Lights” also had the production value and a narrative of a late night cable TV movie. The actors in this movie were top-tier (Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert DeNiro, Toby Jones, Elizabeth Olsen, Joely Richardson, and Leonardo Sbaraglia) but they were all doing a terrible job on the screen. It felt like they didn’t know anything about the movie as it unfolded. The movie was misguided and misconceived and overall boring. Robert DeNiro plays an all-knowing psychic for chrissake!
6. Total Recall (dir. Len Wiseman)
I’m a big fan of Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 action classic “Total Recall” and apparently so is Len Wiseman. He’s such a big fan that instead of making his own version of the Philip K. Dick story, he referenced Verhoeven’s to cover up the film’s missteps and plot holes. Hey, remember when this happened in the original movie? Well, remember that while we do this. With tedious action sequences, a lifeless narrative, and terrible dialogue – “I give good wife.” – Len Wiseman’s “Total Recall” makes Rod Lurie’s “Straw Dogs” look like a masterpiece of remakes.
5. Battleship (dir. Peter Berg)
This was just loud and lifeless. The moment when we heard that one of the character’s names was “Stone Hopper,” I knew this was going to be bad. But when we watched the scene of sailors plotting out a grid to launch missiles in the dark, I knew this was going to be terrible. But when we heard one of the sailors call out “Echo 1-1” (E11), I knew this was going to be one of the worst movies of the year. You sunk my Battleship, Peter Berg, you sunk my Battleship…
4. Project X (dir. Nima Nourizadeh)
I was once a teenager. I liked to drink and have fun and try to hook up with girls. But when your movie was nothing but this, why even try to do anything with it. This whole movie was just one long party scene. Imagine being at a party full of bros, douchebags, and obnoxious people everywhere. You’re at this party, not drinking and you’re trapped with these horrible people for almost two hours. That’s “Project X.”
3. That’s My Boy! (dir. Sean Anders)
“That’s My Boy!” is the all-time low of bad wigs, bad jokes, and bad comedy. There’s something sad about a 40-something-year-old man trying to act like a 20-something. This movie stopped being funny and started to be sad. Adam Sandler needs to re-evaluate his acting career. He needs a 2nd act and start taking roles like the ones he played in “Punch-Drunk Love” or “Spanglish” because his current career is just pathetic. My review.
2. This Is 40 (dir. Judd Apatow)
I knew I was in trouble after the first minute of the movie but once Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann started arguing, it wouldn’t stop for over two hours. You know, divorce is a viable option for people. There’s no shame in it. Sometimes things just don’t work out and divorce is the last resort, especially for people who hate each other and subject their hatred and contempt for one another to their friends, family, and members of the audience who are watching this movie. “This Is 40” is just downright terrible! My review.
1. (tie) That’s What She Said (dir. Carrie Preston)
This was the first movie I watched during Sundance this year. It was extremely terrible! It was mind-numbing, mean-spirited, excruciating, and devoid of humor, compassion, or even morality. “That’s What She Said” is already a bad one-liner to begin with so it’s no shock that the film with this title would lack the comedy chops to even make an audience laugh or smirk even once. DeeDee (Anne Heche) is who is going through some sort of selfish mid-life crisis where she’s horrible to everyone around her. Her best friend BeBe (Marcia DeBonis) (Get it? DeeDee & BeBe) is also middle aged but is naive as a 20 year-old. They meet Clementine (Alia Shawkat) who is a serial masturbator. Yup! It’s 84 minutes of unfunny horribleness. My review.
1. (tie) Brooklyn Brothers Beat The Best (dir. Ryan O’Nan)
Ryan O’Nan should never do anything creative again…