Hopefully you’ve all had a very Merry Christmas or maybe another holiday you choose to celebrate and maybe you had a chance to read my Top 25 or even had a chance to check out some of those movies mentioned, but now we get to the inevitable other side of the coin and that’s the Weekend Warrior’s annual list of the absolutely worst movies he saw in 2012.
As I’ve mentioned before, I see a lot of different movies and often ones that no one else ever gets a chance or makes any sort of effort to see, which is why we’ve ended up with a list of bad movies that seem worse than Battleship, worse than Silent Hill: Revelations, worse than Dark Shadows and even worse than Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
There are a few movies I knew would probably be bad and just outright skipped them–we’re talking to you Adam Sandler’s That’s My Boy–but there are others that sounded good in the screening invites or at the festivals I attended, so I checked them out. While I don’t particularly like picking on indie movies, which is akin to kicking puppies, there are a lot of bad movies made that should never see the light of day, let alone waste anyone’s time when they can be watching better things.
But don’t worry, there are a few major studio releases and a few movies you will have heard of on here, including a couple surprises. So let’s get on with it (As before, an asterisk next to a title means you can click on the title and read my review.)
*25. Killer Joe (LD Distribution) – Will Friedkin’s second movie based on a Tracy Letts’ stage play had Matthew McConaughey taking on the title role originally played by Michael Shannon, and really, McConaughey’s performance was the only thing even halfway palatable about this absurdly repulsive film with so many nonredeemable characters that one wonders who this movie was made for. With laughably bad Southern accents and equally awkward performances by Emile Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church and Gina Gershon and lots of gratuitous nudity and sex, the movie didn’t really take off until the last 20 minutes when everything goes absolutely batsh*t crazy. By then, you’ve been put through so much bad acting, it’s just a relief when it’s finally over.
*24. This Means War (20th Century Fox) is what every critic in the country said when their editor assigned them to review this awful movie from director McG, who desperately needed to recover after the depressingly bad Terminator Salvation. The funny thing is that I spent the entire time watching this awful mix of romantic comedy and action flick, starring Chris Pine, Tom Hardy and Reese Witherspoon, wondering who directed it and I had to stay through a series of endless epilogues before it was finally revealed. Boy, was it depressing to see McG taking on such a terrible attempt to make a movie on par with Mr. & Mrs. Smith. We don’t normally expect much from Ms. Witherspoon, but it was a serious misstep in Hardy’s career as an actor and it was surprisingly unfunny despite Pine bringing his normal charm.
23. Mirror Mirror (Relativity) – Six months after tackling the Gods with Immortals, Tarsem Singh was back with his own take on Snow White, which had Julia Roberts tearing up the scenery as the wicked Queen and Phil Collins’ daughter playing Snow White. Even though the trailer looked terrible, I decided to give it a chance and it was one of the most grueling movies to sit through this year. As much as some people hated Kristen Stewart’s Snow White and the Huntsman, that was a masterpiece compared to this nearly unwatchable mess that ended with a Bollywood number just in case there was anything left not to hate about it by then.
*22. The Watch (20th Century Fox) – How a movie starring Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill and Vince Vaughn, written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg directed by Akiva Schaffer of the Lonely Island, could be this unfunny is one of the big mysteries of the year, but somehow this premise just didn’t work. Granted, sci-fi comedy can be tough as seen by the “Men in Black” movie and Evolution, but much of this one failing was due to the awful chemistry between the four main actors as Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn did the same thing they do in every movie, Jonah Hill seemed to have forgotten how to be funny and Richard Ayoade wandered around trying to make up for it even though no one who would see this movie might have any idea who he is.
21. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection (Lionsgate) – You’d think that getting Eugene Levy to star in your movie would make up for the fact that your humor has a very specific audience of religious African-American women over 40, but Tyler Perry tried to make a slight concession to white comedy audiences yet failed miserably with his latest Madea offering. Granted, I’ve never been a Tyler Perry fan, try as I might, but this was just more of the same with him trying to glue together a half-written screenplay with his ad-libbing. This is something Eugene Levy usually excels at, so our only explanation for the ham-fisted performance is down to him trying to lower himself to Perry’s level.
*20. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Sony) – There are few movies I had higher hopes for in 2012 than this pairing of Marvel’s supernatural cyclist and the directors behind Crank, but this was just too crazy, almost to the point of being unwatchable and those worried about what might happen if Neveldine/Taylor’s nutty filmmaking sensibilities were translated into 3D had those worries confirmed. There were a few saving graces, like the always great Idris Elba, but otherwise this ended up being worse than the original Ghost Rider and that’s sayin’ something.
19. Detention (Samuel Goldwyn Films) – Torque director Joseph Kahn’s high school movie has some saving graces including some cool time travel bits, but it’s still a disastrous mess of too many ideas that’s almost impossible to keep up with as it goes from slasher film to John Hughes rip-off and everything in between. At least it’s not the worst high school movie of the year. (See below)
18. Stand Up Guys (Roadside Attractions) – While Fischer Stevens’ crime-comedy, starring Al Pacino and Christopher Walken, doesn’t open until February 1, Roadside Attractions decided to give the movie an awards release this year which makes it eligible for this year’s list. Lucky them. Normally a movie with Pacino, Walken and Alan Arkin should be made better by their presence but this half-assed attempt at humor had the three of them phoning it in as ex-cons trying to do one last score that just gets weirder and weirder. And this is a movie that takes its title from Pacino’s character taking too much Viagra forcing him to return to a brothel run by Lucy Punch to take care of it, just in case you were wondering. The humor never got much better than that.
17. The Inbetweeners (Wreckin Hill Entertainment) – If you’re British, you probably already know about this raunchy teen comedy TV show that features teenagers getting high and trying to get laid, but for some reason, the producers thought the premise would be worthy of a feature film that brought them to Greece. Maybe they were right, because the movie made $87 million in Europe (!), but in a year where we got American Reunion as well as an American remake by MTV, this one died a quick death, making just $36,000 and hopefully that’s the last we ever hear of this.
16. Death by China – It takes a lot for a doc to get onto this list. The last one to get on here was the 2010 Tea Party movie I Want Your Money, but this one was just as misguided. I understand where the filmmakers were coming from in exploring how America is losing jobs to cheaper works in China, but despite the disclaimer that tries to dispel any racism towards the Chinese, when you have those words over a giant knife that says “Made in China” slicing into the United States, it’s hard not to differentiate the two things and the whole thing comes across as extremely racist and it just annoyed me how the filmmaker went about trying to make a point while openly trashing an entire country.
*15. Moonrise Kingdom (Focus Features) Aha! That got your attention, didn’t it? Yeah, not only did I hate Wes Anderson’s latest offering, but I’ve gotten to the point where I’m sick of people kissing his quirky ass when he’s delivering something sub-standard and honestly, he hasn’t really made a good movie since The Royal Tennenbaums. This time, he made a period piece set in the ’60s based around the love affair between two adolescents and unfortunately much of the movie focused on the two young actors, although the great cast of older actors like Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton didn’t bring much to Anderson’s distinctive writing either. The worst part was the awkward beach make-out scene between the two kids in their underwear which made us feel more icky than those Calvin Klein commercials of the ’90s. And yet, Anderson’s work is praised despite his clearly pedophilic filmmaking. Go figure.
14. Virginia (EOne Entertainment) – Milk and J. Edgar screenwriter Dustin Lance Black made his directorial debut with this Southern drama starring Jennifer Connelly as a single mother trying to raise her teen son, who in turn is trying to find out who is father is. With such a great cast that includes Ed Harris, Emma Roberts and Toby Jones, I was expecting something more than this, but like Jesus Henry Christ (see below), Black turned something very personal and intimate into something that wouldn’t be of interest to anyone but himself. Or maybe we just don’t like movies set in the South ’cause there are a bunch of those in this year’s list.
13. Alex Cross (Lionsgate) – I’m sure that somewhere out there someone thought it was a good time to bring back James Patterson’s popular FBI profiler and probably someone else got the brilliant idea that casting Tyler “Madea” Perry as the character previously played by Morgan Freeman might bring in a new audience, but Perry’s inability to act was the least of the problems in this prequel directed by Rob Cohen, who has made more than his bad shares of bad movies… and The Fast and the Furious.
12. High School (Anchor Bay Films) – This movie by John Stahlberg Jr., which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010 and finally got a release this year. made Joseph Kahn’s Detention look like a masterpiece. This one starred Sean Marquette as a high school valedictorian who starts finding ways of sneaking pot into his school after his principal (played by Michael Chiklis) institutes a zero tolerance policy. The fact that Adrien Brody was in this (playing a drugdealer) as well as the far superior Tony Kaye high school drama Detachment, which made our Top 25, was pretty shocking.
11. Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (Magnolia) – I’m not sure who thought now was a good time for this franchise that’s been comfortably residing on a series of straight-to-DVD movies to return as a theatrical release, but boy, it would take a lot for a movie to make us miss Roland Emmerich’s movie which celebrated its 20th Anniversary this year. Sure, Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude Van Damme are still in the movie, but they’re now taking a backseat to Scott Adkins, an actor with absolutely zero personality and other than a couple decent action scenes, this was laughably bad and instantly forgettable otherwise and yet high profile enough that we’ll probably see another movie in the series. Go figure.
You can read my Top 10 worst movies of the year on Page 2.