It might be hard to believe from the amount of enthusiastic snark I put into this Terrible 25 list every year, that I actually don’t enjoy subjectively trashing bad movies like the ones that make our annual list of the worst of the worst. Believe me, I don’t set out to see any bad movies as the year begins, but sometimes, it’s just a side effect of wanting to see a lot of different kinds of movies that I end up sitting through a few true dogs. Honestly, I don’t want to spend too much time writing about any of these movies because frankly, most of them I’ve thankfully forgotten about since watching them, so the thought of reminding myself of the experience watching them isn’t a great way to end the year.
Please note that some of the more obvious dogs that didn’t make the list may be ones I didn’t have an opportunity to see (like Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill) so please don’t ask “Why isn’t this or that included?” Thanks.
Just like my Top 25 required a rating entry point of 8.5 out of 10 or higher, everything mentioned here ended up below 5 out of 10, but before I get to the actual list of the year’s worst movies, here are a few to get you started that just squeaked by and avoided making the Terrible 25:
The Skin I Live In (Sony Pictures Classics) – Yes, believe me, as a long-time Almodovar fan, I was surprised by how much I hated this one, too.
The Big Year (20th Century Fox) – Not nearly as surprised that this birdwatching comedy featuring some seriously unfunny antics by Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson didn’t make the list.
No Strings Attached (Paramount) – Easily one of Ivan Reitman’s worst movies and normally I’d approve of any movie that gets Natalie Portman down to her skivvies.
Red Riding Hood (New Line/Warner Bros.) – One of these days Catherine Hardwicke might make a movie that I like as much as Thirteen, but this whacked out fairy tale barely made me forget how much I hated Twilight.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Paramount) – Yeah, it had some cool 3D action scenes but the writing and acting and characters were even worse than the previous movie, making it hard to appreciate all the great Michael Bay action later in the movie.
So with those five out of the way, we can safely say that the following 25 movies were worse than Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon, just to give some perspective to those of you know are more likely to have seen that than any of the following:
(* Means you can read our review by clicking on the title)
*25. 1911 (Go USA/Variance Films) – After starring in one of our favorite movies of 2010, Jackie Chan co-directed and starred in one of this year’s worst, made sadder by the fact that the importance of the Chinese Revolution that took place 100 years ago was lost in some of the more ridiculous moments in telling the story of Sun Yat-sen, played by Winston Chao. Chao was decent enough in the role, but the script was really terrible as were the attempts at English by some of the cast.
24. The Ledge (IFC Films) – I tried really hard to find merit in Matthew Chapman’s drama, because there are some interesting ideas in there, but essentially this was a movie with Terrence Howard trying to talk Charlie Hunnam from jumping off a ledge and by the end, I was ready to jump off of one ourselves.
*23. The Son of No One (Anchor Bay) – Another Sundance dud from earlier in the year, this was a Queens-based police drama by director Dito Montiel (Fighting) that once again starred his favorite actor Channing Tatum, this time playing a police officer returning home to his old neighborhood and dredging up dark secrets. The story itself didn’t make sense and having prestigious stars like Al Pacino and Juliet Binoche didn’t help, especially when the best dramatic performance came from Tracy Morgan. (Yes, you read that right>)
22. Kidnapped (IFC Films) – A Spanish thriller about a home invasion that’s only impressive for its long camera tracking shots that allowed the whole film to be shot in ten takes. Otherwise, it was an ugly, ugly film with no redeeming value, as any hope the home invaders might get their due is sunk as we watch this nice family being terrorized and murdered before our eyes.
*21. Abduction (Lionsgate) – Speaking of no redeeming value, “Twilight” star Taylor Lautner was given his first non-“Twilight” leading role since playing Shark Boy in a John Singleton-directed action-thriller, which was so dull and poorly-made one wonder how it got past the script stage, let alone ended up with a wide theatrical release. I’ve seen straight-to-DVD movies that were better made than this. I’m still not sure if there was an actual “abduction” anywhere in it.
*20. Passion Play (Image Entertainment) – In what may very well be Megan Fox’s last starring role, she played a girl with wings in Mitch Glazer’s movie about a jazz musician played by Mickey Rourke, who immediately started badmouthing the poor quality of the movie himself. Hey, Mickey, you haven’t exactly been making any classics other than Aronofsky’s The Wrestler, you know? Or have you forgotten how many times a movie you’ve been has made it onto this list since your comeback?
19. Kaboom (Sundance Selects) – My love/hate for Greg Araki (Mysterious Skin) continued with this movie, which I liked at first but then started to hate the more time I spend with Thomas Dekker exploring his sexuality, done in a way that makes you think Araki would rather be directing porn. And yet oddly, the marketing blurb calling it “a hyper-stylized Twin Peaks’ for the Coachella Generation, featuring a gorgeous, super-hot young cast” is absolutely 100% accurate but that doesn’t mean it’s a good movie.
18. The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch (Music Box Films) – This long-delayed French action film about the heir to a dynasty on the run from those who want his money made it obvious that director Jerome Salle saw far too many James Bond films without the talent to recreate them. The bilingual movie was all over the place using every action cliché in the book, and who knows how they convinced Kristin Scott Thomas to take part in some of the more ridiculous scenes inside a corporate boardroom.
17. The Rite (New Line/WB) – Apparently, every year, we’re obligated to endure at least one bad exorcism movie and here is this year’s offering, which features an impressive cast that includes Anthony Hopkins and Ciaran Hinds collecting a nice paycheck while offering us absolutely nothing new or original. I watched it on a cross-Atlantic plane and it successfully killed some time.
16. I Melt With You (Magnolia) – Possibly one of the worst movies I saw at Sundance this year was this new movie from Mark Pellington starring Jeremy Piven, Thomas Jane, Rob Lowe and Christian McKay as forty-something friends gathering for a weekend of debauchery which reminded us a lot of Peter Berg’s awful debut Very Bad Things. I almost went back and rewatched this but I have a feeling it would’ve ended up even lower on this list if I did. Even Carla Gugino couldn’t save it.
15. Sympathy for Delicious (Maya Entertainment) – Mark Ruffalo’s a nice enough guy and a damn good actor, and I love all he’s done to support #occupywallstreet on Twitter, but as a director? Well, let’s just say someone needs to take responsibility for this disastrous tale of a paralyzed DJ turned faith healer (played by Ruffalo pal Christopher Thornton) and since Ruffalo’s name is listed as “director,” we’re going to have to put the blame him. Hopefully, that doesn’t make him too angry cause we don’t like him when he’s angry.
14. Sanctum (Rogue Pictures) – Yeah, that James Cameron name as Executive Producer doesn’t mean a hell of a lot when the resulting movie is this bad. Essentially, this was a cave diving adventure in 3D, and if I hadn’t already seen the awesome The Descent or the equally awful The Cave, I may have been slightly more forgiving of this movie, which didn’t even offer 3D man-eating creatures or 3D gore to make it more exciting. Bah.
*13. In Time (20th Century Fox) – Who knows if Abduction will damage Taylor Lautner’s career very much, but one wonders how established “actors” like Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried could read the script for Andrew Niccol’s sci-fi thriller In Time, which revolved around people using time as currency, and not think it might hurt their acting careers. It ended up doing okay but it was pretty disappointing as a follow-up to Niccol’s far superior sci-fi flick Gattaca.
12. John Carpenter’s The Ward (ARC Entertainment) – Again, this is a movie I saw so long ago (Toronto 2010) that I’ve pretty much forgotten why I hated it so much. It certainly had lots of hot actresses in it including Amber Heard, but it was clear that this was horror by the numbers, full of cliches and jump scares and none of the ingenuity we expect from the filmmaker who brought us Halloween and other classics. It certainly didn’t help that it came out just months after Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch, which actually was a much better movie, just to give you some idea how bad this was.
*11. Flypaper (IFC Films) – So Rob Minkoff directed The Lion King, considered an animation classic, and a couple of years ago, he delivered the martial arts flick The Forbidden Kingdom, which I kinda liked and found myself defending so many times (it’s got Jackie Chan fighting Jet Li, dammit!), but he completely lost me on this caper comedy starring Patrick Dempsey and Ashley Judd that seemed to be trying so hard to be “Ocean’s 11” if done by the Coen Brothers without being as funny or clever as either.
10. Vanishing on 7th Street (Magnolia) – I had high hopes for the new horror film from Brad Anderson (Session 9) when I saw it at Toronto last year, and I was as disappointed as I was with Carpenter’s film, this one involving a world where being in the dark literally can kill you. Anderson’s premise was killed by a weak cast who overacted their way through every scene and made it hard to endure. When he ripped off his own trick from Session 9 for a scene, we were done.
*9. Zookeeper (Sony) – Oh, look. Kevin James is in a bad movie and it’s made our Terrible 25. I actually used to like James when he was in Hitch and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (and he’s a super nice guy), but ever since Paul Blart: Mall Cop, he’s just made one bad movie after another. I barely got through The Dilemma, which teamed him with Vince Vaughn, and I was starting to wonder if James actually watches the movies he makes and finds them funny. Then again, our dislike of the movie did lead to a very funny interview moment, which our video editor Mike threw together as a joke:
8. Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (Relativity Media) – Oh, look. Heather Graham is in a movie and it’s bad and it made my Terrible 25. At this point, Graham has turned into the poster child for bad movies (Boogie Nights and The Hangover were rare exceptions) so I wasn’t too surprised when this family movie based on a popular series of books turned out to be nearly unwatchable. (And I give special props to Renny Harlin, another frequent Terrible 25 director, who wisely chose to kill Graham off in the first five minutes of his new movie 5 Days of War, which is why you don’t see his new movie in our list this year.)
7. Colombiana (Sony/Tristar) – This action-thriller produced by Luc Besson had so much potential, being that it starred smokin’ hot Zoe Saldana and was even directed by a guy with the last name “Megaton” for gosh sake, so it’s gotta be cool, right? Wrong. Boring, full of clich