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My worst movies of 2011 – The opposite of objective

Jeremy Fogelman presents his awards for the least favorite movies of the year. That is, the year 2011.

Fair Warning: I didn’t see Bucky Larson or Jack & Jill or New Year’s Eve or Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Third One. If I had, I am certain they would be in this list. But this includes only the movies I’ve actually seen this year.In my ignobly non-humble opinion, there are three kinds of bad movies:

  1. Ought to have been better — the sort of movie which should have been good, but despite many pieces working, just fails to meet its potential of being “watchable.”
  2. Badly Targeted — a specific case where you just aren’t the proper audience to enjoy something, where it’s low-concept Gothic horror porn, slapstick scatological kid’s comedy, or the comedy stylings of Adam Sandler (low hanging fruit!).
  3. Just Terrible – pretty simple. Just a bad movie.
Spoiler Warning:There are spoilers for every movie on this list, some more egregious than others.
Short review: I don’t like a movie that thinks it’s better than me and doesn’t prove it.
I was fully prepared to like this movie, or not. The central conceit of the film, that is, that an identical Earth-like planet (later revealed to be nearly the same Earth) suddenly appears in the sky. The logic doesn’t hold up from a sci-fi sense (if the planet is as close at it seems, wouldn’t that affect things like gravity?) — but that’s not really my problem with the movie. The entire movie is about a metaphor of “the path not taken,” using a literal other Earth as the “what if things weren’t screwed up” would be a lot more palatable if the movie used any sort of subtlety with the message. In some ways, this was like a Michael Bay version of an indie sci-fi film, without any real depth at all. And the ending is actually quite horrifying and illogical.

8) Killer EliteRobert DeNiro and Jason Statham in "Killer Elite"
Short review: Tries to be a smart action movie, is actually a dumb one.

I say, whatever sort of movie you are at the core, just embrace it. If it fails, at least it fails honestly and you can say, “well, it tried and maybe some folks would like this sort of thing.” I know I’ve got my own guilty pleasure movies I can’t defend other than “it’s fun.” If Killer Elite embraced the silly action nonsense it seems to be best at, or instead the slightly more high-concept plot of two characters at odds that are not true protagonists … but this movie tried to be a bit too clever and just couldn’t pull it off.

7) Sucker Punch
Short review: If I want to see a masturbatory fantasy coupled with failed psychological high-concept messages, I’ll just rewatch The Black Swan.

There’s a ridiculous amount I could write about this one, partially because I haven’t actually written a formal review already. Director Zak Snyder has an eye for impressive imagery and “big ideas,” but often those ideas aren’t fully fleshed out. The problem with Sucker Punch is that there are a lot of elements that could be great. But the double metaphor of a girl on a mystic adventure who’s actually trapped in a harem that’s actually trapped in a mental institution doesn’t really work. Mainly because the harem layer isn’t fully realized, and the mental institution layer is muddled and inconsistent. When I saw the trailer, I wondered how the movie could put together such disparate elements as giant robotic Samurai automatons, Nazi zombies, video game “fetch quest” concepts, ostensible female empowerment (meaning scandalously costumed girls with big guns), and the titular “Sucker Punch” conceit. Unfortunately, it just couldn’t do it.

6) In TimeIn Time
Short review: If I pretend this second half of the movie was just the fevered dream of Justin Timberlake’s character dying, it suddenly becomes brilliant.

I think my problem with this movie, other than plot problems, weak acting, and the annoying “wink to the audience” pervasive theme, is the classic “massive tonal issues” complaint. What I mean by that is that the movie seems to be trying for several sorts of movies at once. Some it doesn’t entirely fail at, but the rest … not so great. The film tries to be a dystopian cautionary tale in the traditional sci-fi style, while also being a zeitgeist-grabbing “Take it to the Man” anarchic Robin Hood fantasy. It was a nice try guys, but dang this movie began rapidly degrading after that car crash to be a terrible, cliched action movie — and it pretends to be so much better than that. And if you haven’t noticed, one of my pet peeves is a movie that acts like it’s better than it is.

5) We Bought A Zoo
Short review: Acting good, writing bad.

I only scratched the surface with my review already, as there’s always more that can be said about bad movies. The acting was mostly quite good, with a few exceptions (mainly the non-Elle Fanning kid characters and the over-the-top supporting characters). The writing was mostly terrible, with a few legitimate laughs (most courtesy of Thomas Haden Church’s sane and rational older brother character who knows this will all probably end badly). But you know my biggest problem with this movie? It takes an actually somewhat inspirational true life story of a family succeeding despite terrible loss and hardship and turns it into the most cloying of Hollywood nonsense.

4) Anonymous
Short review: Roland Emmerich’s very bestest movie.

Okay, so that’s not exactly explanatory if you don’t know who that is — but Roland Emmerich was responsible for, in order: the only-watchable-due-to-Will-Smith alien invasion movie Independence Day, the somehow boring monster movie Godzilla, the bizarrely anachronistic Revolutionary War revenge fantasy The Patriot, the laughably stupid The Day After Tomorrow, the even MORE anachronistic and nonsensical 10,000 BC, and the just completely ridiculous disaster movie 2012. Add on to that a movie that isn’t a ridiculous CGI-fest with vaguely offensive (or just actually offensive) stereotypes and some decent acting — well, it’s no surprise this is his finest work. Still, historically problematic Shakespeare authorship conspiracy theories aside, the movie is a classic Emmerich disappointment. He tried, he really did. He just always seems to fail.

3) Conan the BarbarianConan the Barbarian
Short review: Luckily, this didn’t kill Jason Momoa’s career.

I know a few people who liked this movie, and that’s okay. And I don’t have a problem with mindless violence if it’s entertaining with fun characters (see: last year’s silly The Expendables). But partially due to execrable 3-D, this movie was not only acted weirdly (not over the top enough for a Conan movie) but just hard to actually watch. I couldn’t even see the decapitations and blood spurts clearly! Sometimes a movie just fails to entertain even as lowbrow entertainment.

2) Your Highness
Short review: Not worth watching even for the one scene you’re thinking of.

It took me a little while to realize just why this movie fails. And I’ve finally cottoned on: It’s not a comedy. I mean, yes, it’s theoretically labeled as a sort “fantasy adventure meets stoner comedy,” but here’s the thing: there aren’t any jokes. There’s some contextual humor, and a bit of initial shock laughs due to the incongruously anachronistic profanity, but no more than any old, cliched “rescue the princess” fantasy B-movie. It turns out this movie is a “stoner fantasy quest,” which isn’t really a good enough idea for an actual movie.

And the Number One Worst Movie of 2011 That I Have Actually Seen:

1) ZookeeperZookeeper
Short review: This movie was terrible. Just Terrible. And I was wrong for thinking it wasn’t that bad.

It’s easy to explain why this movie is so bad. It’s three bad movies. 1) A slapstick kid’s movie (nope, not enough of that). 2) An emotionally affecting romantic comedy (not funny enough; ridiculously cliched plot). 3) A movie with talking animals (they have no point other than to push the titular loser into a bad relationship that fails). And that 13 minute commercial for a popular restaurant chain is the most egregious product placement I’ve seen in years — and it violates the sacred compact of “seamlessly integrate and we’ll pretend it’s not there”.

Oh, and it’s not funny.

You’ve seen Jeremy’s worst of the year, now check out Chuck’s.




Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures, Universal Studios, Lionsgate, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros

Categories: General, News

3 Responses to “My worst movies of 2011 – The opposite of objective”

December 31, 2011 at 6:25 PM

Dude, I LOVE Independence Day!

In that Popcorn movie kind of way, but still :P

January 2, 2012 at 2:09 PM

. . . . .

<——- is on board Ivey's train … and not just because of Will Smith

P.S. Rarely do I walk out of a film, but I was completely prepared to sit through Sucker Punch if it was even remotely interesting.

It was not. Still, I was grateful for the ushers to let me in to see it while I waited for what I was there for, The Incredible Hulk

January 6, 2012 at 12:50 AM

Did you see The Smurfs? If so, how did you not include The Smurfs?

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