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2011: A Year in Badness

January 3, 2012

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Okay, so it’s time once again for a look back at the year in bad cinema that was. We could look at the good, but how much fun is that? Not really all that much. Plus, I’ve had, like, six cups of coffee this morning, so I don’t have much of an attention span. Anyway, I figured this year rather than do a list, I’d just lump a bunch of movies together in different categories. There was simply that much badness this year. Okay, so let’s get this party started:

It’s Not Easy Being Green: It was a bad year for stuff that featured “Green” in the title. Of course, it doesn’t really help that the two such offerings were both completely unnecessary superheroes. First up, we had The Green Hornet, a big-screen treatment of an ancient comic character from, like, the 1800s or something. The original TV show launched the career of Bruce Lee. This one features Seth Rogan and a damn-near unintelligible Korean pop star. This is not an improvement. Oh yeah, and Cameron Diaz is in it, but I’m pretty sure she just wandered onto the wrong set, and the director just kept filming, because, well, why the hell not? It’s Cameron Diaz. How many times do you see one of those. The second useless “Green” movie was The Green Lantern, a movie that pretends to be about outer-space cops with magical power-rings, but is really about Ryan Reynolds’ abs. Because, really, who would make a movie with such a fruity premise as glowing rings, murderous phlegm clouds, and the truly laughable notion that Blake Lively can act?

Yes, Hayden Christensen Does Indeed Suck: He does. He really, really does. Let’s just drop the post-“Star Wars Prequels” rehabilitation campaign. Maybe George “bantha poop is a great idea” Lucas shoulders most of the blame for the prequel’s awfulness, but included in that Nuremburgh-length indictment must be the casting of Hayden. As Takers and A Vanishing on 7th Street showed us, the guy has basically one mode of acting: douchebag. In Takers, he plays a sort of suburban mall food-court hepcat-wannabe, while in Vanishing, he’s just your basic all-around douchebag. Look, it’s time to face facts: no matter what role he plays, Hayden just comes off like the weird dude who lives next door, who you just know is going to get arrested someday with duct-tape, Vaseline, and a soiled Wonder Woman costume in his trunk.

You’re Not Even Trying Anymore: Now, we know Hollywood is lazy, but is it too much to ask that they at least pretend to be putting some effort into movies? You know, like, “Hey, this movie is all about luring chicks into summer movies using Ryan Reynolds’ abs, but we’ll make it look like it’s part of a superhero movie.” No, instead we get stuff like Apollo 18, which features a budget-saving found-footage concept, and even more budget-friendly killer moon rocks. Yes, you read that right. Fucking moon rocks sprout legs and kill people. In The Ward, John Carpenter phones in the entire damn movie as if trying to wrap things up in time for the Early Bird Special at Sizzler: “Hey, I’m gonna roll film, and you, uh, do some stuff…and someone will, uh, kill you, I guess…and, uh…fuck it, she wakes up and it’s all a dream.” Hey John, that sound you hear is whatever goodwill you still have left being flushed away. Then we got stuff like Priest and The Roommate, in which I’m reasonably certain there was never an actual screenplay involved, just a lot of blank pages with things like “Vampires vs. Priest in a Futuristic Western” or “Single, White Female on Campus” scrawled on them.

The Crazy Train Has Left the Station: Fortunately, Hollywood likes to whipsaw between extremes, so when it’s not being blandly derivative, it’s pants-crappingly nuts. I mean, in The Resident, we get Jeffery Morgan hiding in a fake wall, and slapping the ham over Hilary Swank (Oscar-winner Hilary Swank, I should point out), when he’s not hiding beneath her bed and suckling her fingers while she sleeps. Yeah, read that last sentence all you want–it’s not going to make any more sense. Then, in Insidious, a team of paranormal specialists don WWI-era gas masks before a seance and show off enough MacGuyvered equipment to make those nitwits on Ghost Hunters look like fucking neurosurgeons. In Red Riding Hood, the whole town has a festival wherein people wear animal horns and pretend to sodomize Amanda Seyfried’s father (and don’t tell me they’re celebrating The Feast of Horned Animals and butt-raping–I Googled that, and it’s not a real holiday), while later they make her wear an aardvark mask and slow roast someone in a giant, brass elephant. So, yeah, someone typed “aardvark mask” in a script in Hollywood and someone else filmed it. Yep, that happened. Finally, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn started and…it just went crazier and crazier from there.

Pretentiousness Punches You in the Face: Okay, so we got the usual suspect, Lars Von Trier, who offers up Melancholia, in which we get plenty of non-sensical still images, an excruciatingly drawn-out and unnecessary first act, thudding symbolism (“Aunt Steel-breaker?”), and finally the end of the world–which would almost be worthwhile if it meant we’d never have to sit through any more high-minded twaddle like this. Oh, and Kirsten Dunst’s nude scenes do not ease the pain. On the flip side, you have Hanna, which seeks to be a subversion of the action-hero genre, but comes off as silly, because no matter who her father is, a 13 year-old girl is not going to overpower a commando. There are physical principles involved that just can’t be avoided. On top of that we get Eric Bana’s junk in close-up, and a villain in nuthugger shorts. I’m absolutely certain the director thinks he was making an anti-Iraq War statement with the groin shots (Eric Bana’s junk is the UN, the nuthugger shorts are Cheney and Rumsfeld…something like that).

Pure Idiocy: Then you have the movies that are just plain stupid. Not fun stupid, like, “Oh good, I can shut my brain off and drool on myself for two hours” stupid, but “Really? Fucking really?” stupid. Like Immortals, in which people in silly hats slaughter one another in orgies of violence…that are impossible to take seriously because of the silly hats. Or In Time, which only needs a very minor amount of tweaking to be a sub-par Saturday Night Live sketch. Or pretty much every movie Adam Sandler has done this year, because he’s a 50 year-old man still acting like a basement-dwelling teenager.

Cage-tastic 2011: Nicolas Cage’s legal troubles ensure we’ll be fully stocked with movies featuring perhaps the only leading man for whom a raging coke habit would only make him more restrained. This year alone, we got Season of the Witch, Drive Angry, Trespass, and Seeking Justice. Who knows what Cagey goodness 2012 will bring? Cage donning a feathered bodysuit for a remake of Condorman? Cage playing the shark in a new Jaws installment? Or Cage just facing the camera shouting borderline incoherent things for 90 minutes? Really, I’d pay 12 bucks to see any of those things.

The WORST of 2011: It’s a toughie, but this prize has to go to Sucker Punch, a film in which Zack Snyder manages to sexualize four women in such a way as to make them as unerotic as possible, while; piling on the action sequences in such a way that they’re deadly dull. Really, the only thing he got right was the whole undercurrent of sexual assault and victimization that permeates the film. And then he claims that it’s all about female empowerment. Hang on a sec here…bwahahahahahahahahahaha! Sorry, I….hee hee hee hee hee Man, I knew I couldn’t get through that with a straight face. Okay, so having your various female characters raped, used as sexual chattel, murdered and lobotamized is empowering? Jeez, Snyder, why not just pay R. Kelly a couple bucks to pee on them and claim they’ve been canonized?

Okay, so that’s 2011. Bring on 2012…

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