After last year’s Worst Movies feature, I received feedback from some readers and Twitter folk about me possibly being “too negative” and “mean” when it came to criticizing films that I chose to watch for this annual hate crime report. Some people even pulled the “What movies have you written?” card, which is cheap because I can just turn around and ask what dog they’ve ever photoshopped a mustache on, and BOOM – argument over.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of films are made each year, and a lot of them are bad. That’s not just by my standards; that’s by the standards of the majority. I have never, in the several years that Vince has let me poison the quality of his website, proclaimed to be a critic. I am just a bro who likes watching movies, and I have a naïve innocence that lets me still believe that people in Hollywood care about making quality films. Then I watch Bucky Larson and that gullible side of me is shoved into a wood chipper.
So how, then, do I determine which of the many, many mainstream films that I have watched in 2012 are the absolute worst of the worst of the WORST? It’s a little pinch of common sense mixed with a dash of “Come on, that’s just f*cking awful”. But I also have some rules, and let’s review them now…
Rule No. 1 – No personal vendettas. Let’s say that I’m pissed off at an actor because his restaurant wasn’t open when I was in New Orleans. I cannot let that influence my opinion of his films. The distaste has to be legitimate.
Rule No. 2 – Sequels are no fun. In order for me to include a sequel or remake in the master list, it would have to be a truly horrendous effort. We’re talking Caddyshack 2 or Godfather 3 terrible. Otherwise, there’s a special category for that.
Rule No. 3 – No picking on the little guys. I don’t get to watch a lot of indies, but when I do, I have to take into consideration that maybe they sucked because they didn’t have the same resources as mainstream films.
Rule No. 4 – No Adam Sandler. As you may recall, I have checked Happy Madison films off the list. But we’ll get to that shortly.
Rule No. 5 - One romantic comedy. This is incredibly important, because otherwise this list would be all romantic comedies.
Rule No. 6 – Just close my eyes. Take a deep breath. Be honest.
But to answer the critics of my criticisms, I have decided to add a new feature to this feature this year. I will say one nice thing about each of the films in my Top 10 Worst Films of 2012 list. This is going to be incredibly difficult for me, so that means it will be more fun for you.
Other than that, please feel free to disagree with me in the comments and/or tell me which films you thought were better or worse. And if you’re a studio executive, I can be bought for cheap and I will write a Last Starfighter remake or a Greatest American Hero adaptation for free.
And now… ON WITH THE SUCK!
These are films that weren’t terrible enough for me to write more than one or two sentences for, but they were on the verge of making the Worst Films list.
The Campaign – Characters we’ve seen before, and jokes we’ve heard before. Sure, I laughed, but the Zach Galifianakis “Seth” routine and Will Ferrell just going through the motions are weak for two comedy icons.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green – This movie wasn’t bad as much as it was creepy and hard to follow. I couldn’t mow my lawn for a week after I watched it.
Won’t Back Down – Another year, another wrong-side-of-the-tracks teacher movie, so I’ll just let Bill Burr reiterate my feelings on this. (I know it’s not exactly the same, but it’s close enough.)
Hit and Run – This movie was crammed down our throats with TV commercials calling it the funniest movie of the year. Its only purpose was to tell everyone that Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell are dating. Because it was barely funny.
Sinister – I know some people who really liked this horror film, and it had its moments, but the ending was so ridiculous that I found myself laughing more than being worried that any you-know-who’s were going to kill me.
Chasing Mavericks – I had to choose between two Gerard Butler movies and this was the lesser of two evils.
Lockout – I didn’t hate this space prison movie as much as a lot of people, but it definitely fell short of “so bad it’s good”, which leaves it just sort of floating out there.
A Thousand Words – I may or may not have made it all the way through this movie. Normally, that would push it into the Top 10, but Eddie Murphy basically falls in the same pile as Sandler.
Katie Perry: Part of Me – I had this in my Top 10 up until last night, because unlike Bieber’s 2011 “documentary” this was really just a PR statement that Perry and her team conveniently launched after her divorce from Russell Brand to tell the world how strong she is. I removed it because that’s not fair to the other films.
Think Like a Man – Who the f*ck is Steve Harvey to give women or men advice on the opposite sex? He’s been married THREE TIMES. This had no reason to be made other than to keep pushing Kevin Hart (who I don't mind in doses).
The Raven - If this was a Top 11, I wouldn't feel so bad about leaving this film out. Consider this a BCS ranking and The Raven missed out on a bowl game by .001.
Now on to the superlatives…
(Runner-Up: Silent Hill)
I asked the question when this movie’s release date was upon us, and I’ll ask it again – Was anyone out there, aside from the actors and their agents, seriously wondering: “Hey, what’s up with the American Pie gang?” Apparently not, because this movie only made $56 million in the U.S. ($234 globally), which is a far cry from the $100+ million that each of the first three films grossed.
(Also, Silent Hill: Revelation was such a close second because it had been six years since the first film, and there was just no point, especially for how goofy the sequel ended up being.)
(Runner-Up: Total Recall, which I actually enjoyed, but still... shouldn't have been done.)
I have read many nostalgic write-ups on the original Red Dawn film, but my stance remains the same – that was a terrible movie that was thoroughly enjoyable, because it made sense back then. Now? It’s a shameless attempt to profit on that very nostalgia and it failed miserably. Also, Patrick Swayze > Chris Hemsworth.
The Amazing Spider-Man
There’s a point behind the title of this award, but we’ll get to that in a minute. As for the film, it’s no secret that Spidey was rebooted because it was a sh*t or get off the pot moment for the studio. Otherwise, Marvel was going to recall the franchise and add it to The Avengers mix. So what did we get? The same exact story as last time. Except with Gwen Stacy and the Lizard instead. No ambition, and thanks to a few hundred million dollars, no apologies.
That’s My Boy, Here Comes the Boom
If I didn’t have Rule No. 4 in place, That’s My Boy would have blown this list away. All this movie was, through every excruciating minute, was the cutting room floor jokes from all of Adam Sandler’s other films lazily tied together into one giant “F*ck you, pay us” moment. Fortunately, not many people fell for it.
I reached out to you fine folks here and on Twitter to pick a collective film that you loathed, and it was a tight race, but one film simply inspired more vitriol than the rest.
The Winner, and By Winner I Mean Loser: Alex Cross
Please keep in mind that because this is the Drunkards’ Choice, I removed it from the Top 10. Otherwise, it was No. 3.
Dishonorable Mentions: This Means War, The Sitter, Rock of Ages, Branded, Damsels in Distress, Lockout, The Raven, Paranorman, Project X, Prometheus
I had Prometheus on my list several times before I finally decided on my Top 10, and I took it off because it was just too hard to explain. I didn’t hate it, but I was very disappointed in it.
The Democratic Process at Work: The Dark Knight Rises, Marvel’s The Avengers
I loved both of these films and think people just want to complain for the sake of the Internet.
And now... on to the main event.
This breaks my heart. I’d written before that I wanted to like this movie obviously because we love Patton Oswalt, but also because it was Patrice O’Neal’s final film role. Well, I didn’t like it. The jokes were everything I’d expect from Johnny Knoxville, but none of what I’d expect from Oswalt. It seemed like the point was to make Rob Riggle scream as much as possible while kids mixed in curse words and piss jokes. If this was supposed to be Meatballs, it was made with tofu.
One Nice Thing: O’Neal was hilarious as always. That dude could always make me laugh. I’m gonna go watch Elephant in the Room for the 50th time.
Talk about a pair of “Once upon a crimes"! *high fives a clown, drops pants*
Mirror Mirror’s fate was doomed partially because Julia Roberts’ reputation had been poisoned by the tabloids, but it was also way too over-the-top, which should actually be a good thing for a fairy tale adaptation. Instead, this was a forced retelling that didn’t make sense at times – I still don’t understand the father/beast thing, but it was nice to see Sean Bean live – and it left me wanting to snatch the apple from Snow White’s hand.
As for Huntsman, my problem was the hint of an old trend, in that you know that Universal wants a franchise, but they also need to know this thing is going to work first. What we got was an overambitious mess that was boring for stretches and overdone in others. There was no steady pace.
One Nice Thing: I actually enjoyed Kristen Stewart.
The Vow is not a comedy, but I laughed. Oh my, how I laughed at this story of a woman who suffers from amnesia after a car accident and completely forgets who her husband is. It’s a sweet story, and to his credit, Channing Tatum tried so hard – you could see in some of the scenes just how badly he wanted to be taken seriously – but he wasn’t right for the role.
It’s not just on him, though. Rachel McAdams was wrong, as was Sam Neill and Scott Speedman. Everyone was just wrong. It felt like this was a paycheck movie for the entire cast except for Tatum, and I just really shouldn’t have been calling this the Best Comedy of 2012, not when 21 Jump Street was intentionally funnier.
One Nice Thing: Like I said, Tatum tried and you could tell. That might have been what made Magic Mike that good. Or it was Olivia Munn’s boobs. I’m not sure.
I sat in that movie theater for two hours. I sat there in complete silence, watching good actors in a film that belongs to a good franchise with a good plot. I waited for something good or exciting to happen, and it never came. After all, this is the next chapter of the Jason Bourne films, and now with Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross, we supposedly have a better breed of super soldier. Of course, he has to keep taking his drugs or he’ll die, but he’s still supposed to be better than Bourne.
On top of that, we’re teased with this assassin in China who is supposed to be better than Cross, so I waited for the payoff, what I assumed would be a huge fight to someone’s death, and what we got was a motorbike chase that ended with a whimper. Director Tony Gilroy wrote The Bourne Supremacy, so I know that he’s aware of how awesome the showdown between Matt Damon and Karl Urban was. And yet we barely got a third of the action in that one battle in this entire film. With that, there was no point in continuing this franchise like this.
One Nice Thing: Gilroy and Co. left the door open for improvement and retribution to the audience with Ed Norton’s mysterious involvement. So they’ll get my $12 again.
It’s not necessarily a bad idea to take something from the past and mesh it with today’s pop culture for the sake of enlightening a new generation. For example, The Addams Family and Brady Bunch movies were made very well in regard to catering to audiences that were unfamiliar. The key to that success, though, is actually thinking about what you’re including and making sure that it isn’t something that people don’t like.
At some point, the Farrelly Brothers became Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg, and it showed in their ambitious Three Stooges film. You can’t just take these characters, who some people almost see as religious figures in comedy’s history, and mash them together so carelessly with Kate Upton or Dwight Howard. And as much as we sing the praises of Upton, it was just annoying.
But the cake goes to the Jersey Shore cast. The rest of the three-act film could have been Oscar gold, but when they show up, it’s the height of Hollywood laziness. “Hey look, it’s those people that are either popular or hated, topical!” Wrong.
One Nice Thing: Come on.
This could have been No. 1. It really could have been. A few people strongly encouraged it as well. But I ignored them the same way I ignored how much I detest Russell Brand. In fact, Brand had nothing to do with my decision, at least not his acting. If I were going to sack this film just based on acting alone, well, that honor would go to Alec Baldwin, and it really pains me to say that.
Musicals are supposed to be fun and campy, I get that, but you can’t do that with the 1980s, especially not in 2012. We all know that what happened in the 80s. We know that Ozzie snorted ants and Vince Neil killed someone. There are stories upon stories upon stories about the horrible things that 80s rock musicians did with their fame.
Plus, how can we take a story about the rock revolution of the 80s seriously with a guy singing “We Built this City”? This is a story made for Broadway that had no business leaving Broadway.
One Nice Thing: Paul Giamatti and Bryan Cranston are good in anything they’re in, and this was no exception.
It is very hard to hate a film that was created to inspire positivity and well-being in the people who watch it, but this film took a walk down by the well of downer thoughts, fell in, screamed for days to no avail, died and now haunts all those who approach it. There’s a formula for upbeat films like this – two people don’t like each other, they feud, their siblings or someone close plots to bring them together, a mutual problem occurs, they team up to solve it and all is well with a hug or a handshake.
By the end of Joyful Noise, I was so aggravated and angry with the bevy of side plots and dramatic twists that I didn’t want Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton to ever get along. It also doesn’t help that this is just another of the thousands of unoriginal “Some people with some talent need to band together to save something” tropes that have been done to death. Again, I’m sorry to be so negative, but the rec center has been saved, for the love of everything holy.
One Nice Thing: I’m always a sucker for the soldier coming home plot, even if it is just used as a cherry on top of the “How many things can we cram into this movie” sundae.
Gerard Butler has never been a good actor. He was heaped with praise for 300 because we were distracted by the scenery, but he wasn’t good in that film. He was meant for films like Playing for Keeps because he’s very handsome and the target audience can look past a terrible, recycled plot that seems like it was scribbled on the last piece of notebook paper by a kid who just realized he has a book report due in second period English.
This film took an old stereotype – “Soccer moms, bro!” – and combined it with the exhausted tradition of a womanizing, broke douchebag realizing that he doesn’t need money and fame to succeed if he just has love. Just once, I would kill to see a film that involves the main character as a professional athlete behaving exactly like a pro athlete. It’s like the people who made this film didn’t even bother looking at an actual soccer player for some sort of reality. If so, this movie would have been five minutes long, because Butler’s broke ass would have been in Bristol trying to snake Sam Steele away from Christian Ponder.
One Nice Thing: Dennis Quaid’s character was such a gross cartoon of a RomCom villain that I actually thought he was fantastic.
What did we expect from a film based on a board game that had absolutely no plot other than “Uhhhh, B-7”? Everything we needed to know about this movie can be summed up in Rhianna’s performance, which included nothing but one-line reactions. This was my choice for the worst movie of 2012 for several months, but it’s not fair. Movies like this – with its cheesy alien plot and token heroes, void of any creativity – are the lowest hanging fruit. Hell, this movie is a carrot, buried in the ground, so easy to pick.
You could have written 1,000 Hollywood clichés on index cards, taped them to your wall and thrown darts at them to write the same movie. But my favorite is the bad boy who is forced to join the military, or Navy in this case, to clean up his act, and then he ends up saving the world. Seriously, Star Trek did it 1,000,000 times better.
One Nice Thing: As for finding the good in all things evil, I can always enjoy a Liam Neeson performance, no matter how stupid or contrived the plot – it was like Independence Day for a slower audience – and Brooklyn Decker is definitely fun to look at. But being fun to look at doesn’t necessarily translate to good acting. This was a film created to entertain the easily entertained. In that regard, it was a huge success.
So what film could have possibly been worse?
I write this today as a man shamed for flying too close to the sun on wings made of trust. I’ve written too many times that bad movies can be good if we simply shut off parts of our brains and expect certain things from them when we walk into the theater. In the months leading up to the release of this film adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s fictitious take on the Great Emancipator as a malicious opponent of the blood-sucking undead, I championed the possibility that director Timur Bekmambetov could make a good movie out of what I consider to be a good, fun book.
I was f*cking wrong, friends. Consider this a mea culpa for my recklessness, because I should have held on to my naturally cynical values and expected the worst. Ultimately, the over-the-top visual effects and incredibly hokey acting validated every pre-release criticism that I tried to dispute.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was an ambitious project that failed to capture the underlying silliness of its source material, which was essentially the only thing this had going for it. If Abraham Lincoln had lived long enough to see this film, he would have let the vampires win.
One Nice Thing: Mary Elizabeth Winstead > Sally Field… The fellas know what I’m talking about.