EDITORIAL: The Worst Films of 2011

(clip art credit: www.apt613.ca/wordpress)

After getting the professional list done of the "10 Best of 2011" (full editorial), it's only fitting that we also take out the trash here on "Every Movie Has a Lesson."  For as many good and great films this past year, there were plenty of god-awful heaps of hot garbage.  While I strive to see as many movies as I can, I still have my own scruples and taste.  I have limits of what I'm willing to pay money to see.  There are plenty of times that a preview is all it takes for me to skip a movie that millions of other people will see.

So, here are two lists of the "Worst Movies of 2011."  The first dishonors the worst movies I actually paid to see.  The second are the movies you couldn't pay me a fortune to see because they looked so incredibly bad.  Even without me judging them, I have to wash my hands of the year's ugly-looking movies that even scared me, the movie dork, away. I'm not even bothering with the life lessons in these movies.  Very little good can come from them.  Call all of them disappointments.


10.  Kung Fu Panda 2--  After the great fun of the first one, it was disappointing to see how dark and un-fun this sequel was.  I had such high hopes.  I'd rather see Cars 2.  (full review)

9.  Horrible Bosses-- It's not that this movie was all bad.  It has a great cast all having fun doing different work than their usual schtick (especially the three bosses: Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, and Colin Farrell), but the story just turned so hokey by the end.  I had more laughs and fun, by far, with Bad TeacherBridesmaids, and even The Change-Up.  (full review)

8.  Water for Elephants--Twilight star Robert Pattinson is quickly climbing my list of "unwatchable" performers.  As I said in the full review, he has just two moves: his vampire stare/gaze and the inability to kiss someone who's a half-inch in front of his face.  He ruined for me what looked like a promising novel adaptation and period love story.

7.  Green Lantern-- As the little kid who grew up loving comic books, this movie was the biggest disappointment of the year for me.  I liked the effects and Ryan Reynolds, but the story and ridiculous Peter Sarsgaard villain sucked all of the fun out of a possibly great superhero.  It's a shame that other than Batman, Warner Brothers and DC Comics can't seem to get their great characters off of the movie ground the way Marvel has with The Avengers culminating their work building far lesser characters.  (full review)

6.  Sucker Punch-- This Zach Synder (300, Watchmen) movie had arguably the coolest looking trailer of the year, but the whole movie couldn't maintain the coolness.  All of the genre-twisting action was stuck on an ugly ducking downer story of a women's medical prison.  It makes me scared to see what Zack Synder's going to do with Superman in Man of Steel in 2013.  (full review)

5.  The Green Hornet-- Speaking of disappointing superheroes, there are some actors who just can't play crimefighters.  Like putting makeup on a pig, no matter how much you get Seth Rogan to put down the cannabis, hit the gym, stop giggling, and diet, he just can't pull off a square-jawed stud.  An unrelated honorable mention goes to watching the now-skinny Jonah Hill shoot his way through Modern Warfare 3 video game commercials.  (full review)

4.  Your Highness-- As much as it still made me laugh often, Your Highness created just as many embarrassing cringes.  I like Danny McBride, James Franco, and Natalie Portman's ass, as much as the next guy, but mashing the medieval concept with modern drug-and-profanity jokes missed more times than it hit.  You might need a throat specialist for the laryngitis from groaning and an ophthalmologist to fix your eyes from rolling. (full review)

3.  Melancholia-- I'll save my really scathing words of weird art-house fare for my #1 slot, but Lars Von Trier's Melancholia earns plenty of points for weird and pointless cinema disguised as art.  While Kirsten Dunst deserves the Best Actrees nomination she's being hyped for, the movie is all over the place with its views on marriage, depression, and the unique apocalyptic end of the world that's hanging throughout the movie.  I respect the effort, but question the delivery.  (full review)

2.  Transformers: Dark of the Moon--As I say a lot in my reviews, I'm not a cynical critic who has lost the ability to suspend disbelief and enjoy a bad or dumb movie from time to time.  That being said, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, to gently adapt and edit from Chicago Bulls TV commentator Stacey King speaking about Derrick Rose, was "too big, too strong, too fast" in it's complete badness and dumbness.  As cool as is to see the hulking Transformers come to life with amazing effects, nearly three hours of their brew of white noise and bad Shia Lebouf is too much.  It earned one of only two one-star reviews I gave this year and a zero was tempting.  I actually left the 3D IMAX showing of it afterwards sweating and nearly nauseous from being beaten with over-stimulation.  (full review)

1.  The Tree of Life-- If you ask me what movie I've recommended the least all year, it's Terrance Malick's The Tree of Life.  At nearly three hours of disconnected and pointless poetic imagery between 1950's Texas and the origin of the universe, I can't even tell people to try it just to see how bad it was.  I fell for the rave 90%+ reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and the high praise from fancy-pants critics and made a special trip to downtown Chicago to see it.  In seeing it, I never checked my watch so often all year in a movie and I'll never get that time back.  As I alluded with Melancholia at #3 on this list, I can't stand how the obscurity of bad filmmaking gets held to such high regard as to be called "art."  Somehow, The Tree of Life won the Best Picture award from The Chicago Film Critics Association, which includes (among others) Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times and Michael Phillips and Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune, and is an Oscar contender.  I'm ashamed of them and had a blast bashing the sugar-honey-iced-tea out this movie in my review.  (full review)


(The trailers are attached to offer proof of their impending and advertised awfulness.)

1.   Jack & Jill-- Somebody please stop Adam Sandler from making movies altogether.  Playing a dual role of his stupid self and also in drag as his loud and obnoxious twin sister?  Come on.  This has to be last straw. (trailer)

2.  (TIE)  The Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked-- Dear Hollywood, please stop ruining the cute cartoons and television shows of my childhood with bad modernized crap.  (trailer and trailer)

3.  (TIE)  Justin Bieber: Never Say Never and Monte Carlo-- How do girls like this guy?!  Nails on chalkboard!  However, it's saying something when this man-child is third on the list to bad CGI and a double-dose of Adam Sandler.  And then we get to the overly-girly-everything of his girlfriend Selena Gomez's mistaken identity comedy.  Even if I have a daughter of my own someday, mommy is going to have to take her to terrible stuff like Monte Carlo.  Dad will stay home and get drunk watching The A-Team on Netflix.  (trailer and trailer)

4.  Gnomeo and Juliet--  Never before has Shakespeare been slapped in the face so hard.  Garden gnomes as star-crossed lovers?!  (trailer)

5.  Just Go With It--  You mean Adam Sandler got away with this and Hollywood still pushed the green button on Jack & Jill.  Again, break his legs and take away his right to make movies.  (trailer)

6.  Twilight: Breaking Dawn- Part 1-- How is the badness of Twilight sixth?  Like I tell people all the time.  I prefer my vampires to kill people, not sparkle.  I take pride in never wasting my time with any of the books or movies in this series.  (trailer)

7.  Zookeeper-- I was kind of OK with the possible cuteness of Kevin James and the usual fat jokes until a talking ape was taken to TGI Fridays in the trailer.  Ouch.  Guess who has an animal voice in this movies.  Yup, Adam Sandler.  (trailer)

8.  Abduction-- Sorry, Taylor Lautner.  You are never going to be Matt Damon. You're not even going to be a bad Shia LeBouf.  To think that formerly-great Boyz N the Hood director John Singleton has now been relegated to making crap like this is just sad.  (trailer)

9.  (TIE) Season of the Witch and Trespass-- I know we've been saying it for years, but what the hell has happened to Nicolas Cage.  He's the kiss of death for bad action movies and thrillers the way Sandler is for comedies.  (trailer and trailer)

10.  Pirate of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides-- Sorry to the fans of the series out there, but I always found Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow as way too much, even with the intended purpose of an over-the-top character.  I was done after the first three and didn't need a fourth.  (trailer)