Ah, the assembly of the annual worst-films list. One of my Twitter followers asked me why I felt the need to engage in this torturous exercise. Trust me, I love movies and feel hugely privileged to be able to write about them for a living. But reflecting on the worst movies of the year along with celebrating the best hopefully provides a complete depiction of what we’ve seen.
So: Here you go, in alphabetical order. You will notice that “Movie 43,” “Grown Ups 2” and the like aren’t included. These are obviously terrible from the outset and beating up on them just feels needless and redundant. Rather, I pondered films that had loftier ambitions and failed miserably.
A shameless vehicle for Will Smith to promote his 15-year-old son, Jaden, who happens to look exactly like a young Will Smith. Jaden simply wasn’t up to the daunting task of performing alone on screen for giant chunks of time. But the movie as a whole, yet another post-apocalyptic parable (with less-than-subtle Scientological leanings), takes itself incredibly seriously but ends up being laughable.
This archaic and insulting depiction of feminine self-worth finds the usually radiant Paula Patton stooping to schlep across the country as a young woman desperate to get engaged within 30 days. Djimon Hounsou, Taye Diggs and Derek Luke are among her potential suitors. In a year filled with powerful and important black cinema, this was not exactly a shining example.
“The Big Wedding”
Wacky, hacky, strained and a huge waste of an enormously talented cast that includes Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams and Topher Grace. This is a movie that tries way too hard to shock us with risque humor, then turns around and wants to be all ooey-gooey and feel-good.
This “erotic thriller” was supposed to have provided Lindsay Lohan with her big comeback after years of substance abuse problems and erratic behavior. Instead, the low-budget effort from director Paul Schrader and writer Bret Easton Ellis is an inept, tedious and empty look at the desperation Hollywood breeds.
Such a sad irony that a film about the birth of punk rock should feel so remote, superficial and safe. Too often, it offers a parade of famous people playing famous people in what amounts to a distracting game of dress-up. It ain’t no party, it ain’t no disco, it ain’t no foolin’ around.
A movie in which Ethan Hawke plays a character named Brent Magna should be way more fun than this. Instead, “Getaway” isn’t even a guilty pleasure. It’s just a numbing barrage of overly edited car chases and noisy, crunched metal. This is flat, lazy, cynical filmmaking in which even the casting of Selena Gomez as a brilliant teenage hacker isn’t good for a laugh.
The pairing of Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy should result in comedy gold. He’s a master of deadpan, straight-man humor; she’s a gifted and fearless physical performer. Instead, they both come off as extremely unlikable in this frustrating waste of talent. It’s a film that confuses meanness for hilarity, including a weirdly uncomfortable streak of homophobia and/or emasculation.
“The Lone Ranger”
Johnny Depp complained that critics had it in for his latest blockbuster with “Pirates of the Caribbean” producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski before the house lights even went down. Actually, that’s not how it works. We want to be thrilled and entertained — we want the escape. This was just a messy and bloated amalgamation of action, comedy, romance, mysticism and history lesson — a misfire on every level.
The latest baffling step in the declining career of “thirteen” director Catherine Hardwicke is a clunky psychological thriller set in the Los Angeles rock scene. Emily Browning stars as a goth-girl lead singer struggling to rebound from the death of her bandmate brother. It feels so inauthentic at every turn, it’s as if the film itself is unsure of what it’s supposed to be.
“The Smurfs 2”
This would be Nicolas Lemire’s pick. Of all the movies my 4-year-old son saw this year — and he saw a lot — this was his least favorite. Even at his tender age, he recognized this mirthless sequel for its stilted dialogue, cheesy effects and cringe-inducing puns. The worst part of all? “I didn’t like when the Smurfs hugged at the end,” he said. Me neither, kid. Me neither.