It's Oscars time. Somebody wake the Grouch.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Worst of the Worst of the Worst, Sir! With Honors!

Back in September, or as I refer to it around the house, that last mostly warm month, Rotten Tomatoes came out with their list of the worst films of the last decade. Being a fan of bad film riffing (MST3K, Rifftrax, Cinematic Titanic, etc.) and bad films in general (I'm very fond of the Medved Brothers's work in this field from way back - Without these guys, Edward D. Wood might still be the private pet whipping boy of National Society of Film Critics), I was deeply intrigued.

I'm not sure "fan" is the right word. Help me out here. Does being a fan of something involve showering the object of your attention with unrelenting mocking laughter and a numerous volleys of disrespectfully satirical verbiage? If so, then yes, I am a fan. A massive, massive fan.

Anyway, the list contains Rotten Tomatoes' choice for the 100 worst films. Naturally, the list is loaded with crapulent stinkers about which Leonard Maltin on his most diplomatic day would gleefully pen obscenities that would make Michael Caine blush. How bad are the films on this list? Gigli is number 73. Number 73! There were 72 films worse than Gigli this past decade. If you'd have told me three years ago that would happen, I would have assumed Hollywood was to be in rubble, overrun by giant, mutant voles who somehow managed to produce four or five dozen films before the end of the decade.

One interesting thing about the list is the ratings system used to pick the films. Rotten Tomatoes used their standard system of the percentage of approval by the critics. The best-rated films in the list had a full 7% approval rating. Essentially, this means that those films only got positive or mediocre reviews from critics who were so incredibly desperate to see their names in film adverts that they settled for these films. In other words, they got fair to positive reviews from unknown critics who knew they would soon be unemployed or deceased. That's my best guess anyway.

The lowest films on the list did not even get these critics. They got big stinking naughts. Nil. Zeroes. These are films so completely reviled they didn't even get mercy reviews.

Astonishingly, Battlefield Earth was not in this category, having mustered the two to three percent of critics who are. apparently, Scientologists. B.E. amazingly finished in a respectable (all things considered) 27th place.

Most of the worst ranked films are comedies. This is very sobering to the co-editor of a humour blog. And very familiar. Nothing rankles people so much as the promise of an evening of jovial festivities unexpectedly replaced by the dour, strained embarrassments of underachieving would-be entertainers. (Editor's note: Please save any blog analogies for your e-mails to the staff.)

I must confess, I have not seen a single film in the top ten of this list and have only heard of a few. Admittedly, I don't get out as much as I used to. I've a blog to run, dammit. Nonetheless, I felt I should give a cursory report on these films, so the next time a friend drunkenly suggests catching one of these on Encore or Flix you can excuse yourself to do more productive activities, such as washing the cat, scraping off scar tissue, or both.

  • Witless Protection - This is a Larry the Cable Guy film. If the the pun in the title isn't an instant clue as to the quality of this offering, the poster with Larry clumsily holding a gun and a brunette should quickly convince. The brunette is looking moodily off frame, a look that says, "If Larry's gun wasn't full of blanks, I'd use it to kill my agent."* Gives "Git 'er done" a whole new ambience, doesn't it?
  • Redline - From the poster, I assume this is a film about a car so hot it's tires are constantly being set ablaze. Eddie Griffin is the only actor I recognize in the credits. I assume his lines are worse than the ones he was given in both Deuce Bigalow films.
  • 3 Strikes - Strike one: Not a bowling film. Strike two: Not a bowling film. Strike three: What was David Alan Grier thinking? Not about bowling, that much I can tell you.
  • Strange Wilderness - This is a movie about people searching for Bigfoot that was bad enough to get no critical support whatsoever. (I'm not sure I can think of a more critical comment than that.) Appalling? Yes, but even more appalling is that this thing runs three hours and seven minutes. That's the length of more than two 3 Strikes, or 187 Jack Links TV adverts.
  • Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 - I saw the adverts for this. Any filmmaker that can make you hate babies deserves more verbal abuse than I can muster here.
  • National Lampoon's Gold Diggers - Remember when the words "National Lampoon's" in front of a film signified a reasonably funny time in the cinema? Me neither, it's been so long.**
  • King's Ransom - It'd take a king's ransom to get me to sit through this disaster. I'm assuming the film is even worse than my joke about it.
  • Pinocchio - Roberto Benigni as the beloved wooden son of Gepetto! What could go wrong? The cinematic equivalent of termites, apparently. Maybe people just aren't ready to accept a fifty-year old as a wooden boy. I mean, besides Ralph Macchio.
  • One Missed Call - Apparently, the title is much scarier in Japanese. The mask, too. To me, it resembles one of Cakey the Clown's more sensible accquaintances.
  • Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever - Without a doubt the worst title for a film since Highlander 2: The Quickening. However, what shocks here is the sheer, incredulously incompetent marketing prowess of the filmmakers. You have a cast consisting of the gorgeous Lucy "I'm a Charlie's Angel" Liu and Antonio "Too Sexy, but I Must***" Banderas. Obviously, a romantic, sensual drama or adventure would be simply too easy. No, this lot decided a film comprised almost entirely of senseless shooting and violence would best suit this pairing. Well, who said Hollywood is all about making money? Perhaps we can just admire the producers and director for sticking to their vision, as cretinously, wastefully self-destructive as it was. That's art for you.

* Good readers, you can decide for yourselves whether that line was a double entendre or not.
** Yes, I know, Animal House. A one-off apparently.
*** The SNL sketch of course. Not a personal observation, though if I had to look like another guy I wouldn't complain if the surgeons chose that bloke.

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