The worst movies of 2011

Each year, the argument grows louder that Hollywood is bereft of good ideas, and the number of truly terrible films foisted onto the viewing public seems to validate that statement.

I’m sure people in the 1970s were complaining about some of the crap that came out back then as well, but at least they got plenty of good movies to balance the equation.

You’d think that the suits in Tinseltown would realize that we are all more savvy about the system, but still they shovel remakes, sequels, and other half-hearted properties down the pike in the hopes of turning a quick buck.

The sad thing is, they usually get it.

Some bad movies can be fun, but each of the films on this list were painful to watch in their own way. And to think about what I’m leaving off – “Bucky Larson,” “Breaking Dawn,” “Jack and Jill” (which I could not bear to watch), “The Warriors Way” – will make you shed a silent tear for the future of cinema.

For reference, check my worst lists of 2009 and 2010. So without further ado, let’s check out the bottom of the barrel… 

No shit, you are likely saying to yourself, but good god was this movie terrible. It makes the first two “Alvin” movies seem like the first two “Alien” movies and this is that weird one that doesn’t make any sense. And there’s no excuse that this movie is for kids – what child is going to find humor out of multiple personality disorder, animated rodents singing Lady Gaga songs or lifting the entire island plot of “Castaway”? I understand Jason Lee and David Cross have to eat, but watching them mug their way through this disaster made me want to send them a check to help prevent a fourth film from happening.

Russell Brand apparently is an acquired taste, but I think the only person who likes it is Katy Perry. Watching Brand shuffle and stagger through this tepid remake of the Dudley Moore classic is Example No. 1 of the lazy Hollywood approach to filmmaking. Hey, we’ve got this old property that starred a British guy and … hey, isn’t Russell Brand British? Why don’t we remake it? Everything about this film feels forced, from the awful romance between Brand’s Arthur and Greta Gerwig’s character to Jennifer Garner’s pathetic attempts at being a ballbuster. You know a movie is terrible when the great Helen Mirren can’t save it. AND ON TOP OF THAT, THEY RUINED ARTHUR’S THEME!

I feel bad for Martin Lawrence. For a while there, the guy was on top of the world, with a hit sitcom, big movie roles and a raucous stand-up career. Then he went a little crazy. Now, as his penance, he has to put on the world’s worst fat suit and clown around in a franchise that should have died a long time ago. Does Martin really deserve this fate? Have we all forgotten that he made us laugh back in the day? Did you know that Brandon T. Jackson, who plays the teenage son in this movie, is actually 27 years old? Were you aware that this movie made $82 million worldwide? Did you know that “Big Momma’s House 4” is in the works?

It seems almost impossible to ruin this kind of popcorn-friendly premise when you factor in the director (genre favorite Jon Favreau), cast (Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford) and behind-the-scenes talent (producer Steven Spielberg), but “C&A” was one of the biggest disappointments of the year because it was … deadly dull. At no point did these ideas come together to make a coherent statement. Sometimes it was a sci-fi flick with the worst-shooting aliens in the universe and at others it was this weird relationship drama with a crusty Ford playing a father figure to an orphaned kid. And, maybe it’s just me, but Daniel Craig doesn’t move the meter at all. The guy is a personality vacuum, which is NOT what you want your heroic figure to be. You could have taken the $200 million or so wasted on this production and funded a small African nation.

This had the potential to be the midnight movie of the year; instead, it’s another black mark on the checkered resume of beleaguered star Nicolas Cage, who easily could have had three films on this list. It’s hard to imagine, but this is the most boring film about a killer who escapes from Hell to wreak havoc on a Satanic cult leader. This despite scenes where out man Cage is having sex with a waitress at the same time he’s mowing down bad guys, blowing people away in 3-D and the presence of William Fichtner. There’s a difference between pushing the envelope and just throwing shit at the screen (literally, if you saw this in 3-D) and seeing what sticks. If a bad movie aficionado like myself can’t get into it, what does it say about Joe and Jane Moviegoer?

Maybe Adam Sandler is conducting some kind of deranged experiment to discover just how bad movies have to be before a loyal audience finally turns its back on a performer. Sandler’s films and those of his production company, Happy Madison, have been trying our patience for years, but 2011 might be the last straw.  Similar to “Grown Ups,” the sole reason for this film’s existence seems to be for Sandler and his friends to enjoy a Hawaiian vacation and for Sandler to make out with the impossibly bosomy Brooklyn Decker and then also with Jennifer Aniston. The subversive laughs of Sandler’s earlier movies are long gone, replaced with generic concepts designed to promote small chuckles. It seems like the joke is on us.

Catherine Hardwicke’s laughable interpretation of the fairy tale is delivered with the same stilted, languid ennui of the “Twilight” films – the very same franchise that Hardwicke began before getting dumped. This movie is stunningly awful. I’m not sure what was hoped to be achieved here, but it doesn’t work from either a romance or horror angle. Amanda Seyfried, an actress that has done some fine work in the past, is not served well here. She appears to have wandered in off the set of the XXX parody, her cherry-red lips constantly agape in the manner of a porn star coming down from a post-coital experience. This film also features the most awkward dance party since “The Matrix Revolutions,” a mind-boggling scene so out of place it almost felt surreal.

Given its connection to “Single White Female,” you might think this movie would expand on that concept and provide more campy fun given its college setting, hot TV starlets and the knowledge that, well, we all know what to expect from this type of flick. Unfortunately, the film takes itself far too seriously, and when you do that, the myriad inconsistencies, plot holes and lack of common sense become all too apparent. Minka Kelly and Leighton Meester are putrid, movie killer Cam Gigandet shows up to do his lunky boyfriend thing, and the film even relies on the cliche cat scare to try and milk some drama out of this dry teat.

I did not have high hopes for this reboot of the franchise, and in many ways, it was worse than I could have imagined. At no point does this feel like anything but a cheap cash grab. There are no new ideas, no exploration of the ways horror has evolved since the last film, no attempts to create a psycho that is more self-aware. Woodsboro seems to be stuck in some strange warp where the Sidney Prescott murders and “Stab” movies have permeated the culture so deeply that copycat killers wouldn’t even bother updating Ghostface for the new decade. If so, why am I even watching this? Wes Craven, once a master of the genre, has lost his touch by delivering a perfunctory, uninteresting coda to one of his greatest achievements. I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised considering that amid all the talk about doing something different, this is the same old shit wrapped in shiny new paper.

What, exactly, is director Zack Snyder trying to say with this woefully misbegotten and wildly off-the-mark film? I have no idea. Leaving a film open for interpretation is fine. Making a film that is incomprehensible is not. And thus Snyder’s melange of sexy girls in revealing wardrobes, bad accents, pulp fiction, steampunk zombies, “Inception”-style dreamworks, a craggy Scott Glenn and disturbing rape/power themes splats onto the screen as a barrage of sound and fury signifying nothing. At its simplest, the movie is a geek’s dream – a live-action video game of sorts with the kind of women you don’t find at Comic-Con. At it’s worst, the film is a bogus attempt at portraying powerful women given the heavy underlying tones of rape and abuse our protagonists undergo. At it’s core, though, it’s an ugly, tiresome film that quickly grows repetitive due to its video-game structure.


~ by Elliott on December 28, 2011.

One Response to “The worst movies of 2011”

  1. Well I guess you’ve said it all. However, I beg to differ on Chipwrecked. It was far better than The Hangover II.

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