I try to be as selective as I can be when watching movies. Between work and my family, my time is pretty well-occupied. I sacrifice a few things, mostly sleep, to watch as many films as I do and try as I may, a few shitty ones still make their way into my watching schedule. Here are what I feel are the five worst films I saw which were released in 2012. Now, I make it a point to not watch most of the wide-released studio fare, so you will not see the likes of Wrath of the Titans or Taken 2 or any of their kind on here. Not that I don’t believe that they are shitty, because they probably are. I saw the first of each of those series and they were awful, but I chose to stop the bleeding of my eyes there and not watch the new incarnations. So while it may not be an exhaustive list, it is nonetheless informed by my bulletproof opinion.
So here we go:
One of the biggest problems I had with this film is that it had so much promise. Its premise, three high school kids gain superhuman powers after encountering an alien substance in a cave and struggle with what to do with the new power they wield, is extremely fertile ground for an interesting film. However, it quickly devolves into some moral battle between good and evil that is cliched and overdone. Perhaps its biggest issue is the faux found footage/documentary-style that was employed to show us the happenings of these character was so out of place and nonsensical, it was hard watch. As my colleague on this blog wrote, Chronicle “absurdly demands the audience to reconcile how some unnamed person found snippets of footage from dozens of mobile phones, TV news outlets and security cameras and edited them all together” to tell this story. In an effort to seemingly jump on the success of the Paranormal Activity films, the filmmakers of Chronicle overplayed their hand destroying any hope of a watchable film. The heavy-handedness in its comment on our society today being overly fascinated with itself enough to film every move we make, reflecting what we see in “reality” television (fucking Kardashians) was too much. Just let the kids destroy shit with their new powers. Is that too much to ask?
I know Rotten Tomatoes has this film at 85% Fresh, but it just didn’t work for me. Bad choices by director Josh Trank (who is currently in production on the Fantastic Four reboot and rumored to be making the Spider-Man spinoff of Venom), sunk this film from its outset. Shame really. It had all the appearances of something interesting.
Where do I begin with this one? I should have known better than to see anything with John Travolta in it. SIGH. Someday, I will learn. Once again, this storyline is tired with a little twist that is intended to make it not seem so: two guys, one a war vet another a business/botany genius, make the classic brains and brawn combo is running a marijuana growing and distribution business. They share a girlfriend together and when they are asked to join forces with a cartel from Mexico and refuse, the girl is kidnapped and used as leverage to make the men join. Obviously, the men fight to get her back and make the cartel pay for their transgressions. YAWN. A bad script taken from Don Winslow‘s novel of the same name doesn’t help things. Here’s Ophelia (Blake Lively) describing sex with Chon (possibly the worst f-ing character name ever – it is pronounced with a hard CH-, btw), the war vet (played by Taylor Kitsch) – “I had orgasms. He had wargasms.” SIGH. It’s no wonder Kitsch headlined a triumvirate of box office bombs this year (John Carter, Battleship and Savages) – the guy really can’t act. The plain awful ending seals the deal. Why it was chosen given the events leading to it I will never know. Supremely ineffective. I will say that Salma Hayek is delicious as drug kingpin, Elena, but this role was no stretch for her. This is Oliver Stone‘s worst film that I’ve seen.
3) Friends with Kids
This one just sucked. I love Adam Scott and was blinded by his participation in this, but I should have known that since Jennifer Westfeldt was involved it was going to be bad. Her work in Kissing Jessica Stein (wrote and starred) was unfunny. Friends with Kids was no better. With most of the cast of Bridesmaids appearing, one might have thought this would be better. Nope. The story goes as this: two people who have been best friends forever decide to cut all of the bullshit out that goes into a marriage and have a kid together (because all of their friends are) but not be romantically involved. Of course, Julie (Westfeldt) falls for Jason (Scott) and he doesn’t feel the same. SIGH (that’s three now in this post). That is until he realizes he does love her and has to be with her. Not even Scott, who plays a loathable character undeserving of anyone’s respect, can save this one. Just bad all around. Chris O’Dowd and Maya Rudolph are this films only saving grace, but they seem to be nothing more than a device to level out everyone else’s assholishness in the film. If anyone who watched this wanted to become a parent or get married afterward, I would be shocked. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for either institution.
2) Red Dawn
I have already written extensively on why this movie is complete trash. Without a clear villain for the Unites States to have at the time of its making, this remake is superfluous fluff looking to capture heat from a few young stars (Josh Hutcherson and Chris Hemsworth) rather than give commentary on times in which we live. When the original Red Dawn was released in 1984, we were still in the thick, albeit the tail end, of the Cold War with a clearly defined enemy in the Communist nations of Russia and Cuba. It reflected thoughts and attitudes of the time. Does anyone really think the North Koreans are capable of not only invading the US, but wiping part of it out and controlling other parts? The motivation of the characters and the arc of their relationships with one another from the original are so watered down in this version it makes it nothing but laughable. The inclusion of the love story between Matt (Josh Peck) and Erica (Isabel Lucas) whores the intent of the its predecessor – that nothing is above duty to country in a time of war. The slapdash inclusion of Matt’s journey from selfish BMOC to paramilitary leader is its worse transgression and that speaks volumes. This is a 0 out of 10 if I’ve ever seen one. There is not one redeeming quality about this film. Not one.
1) The Paperboy
After watching this turd pile, I can only hope that many of the folks who were involved (Matthew McConaughey, John Cusack and even Nicole Kidman of whom I have never been a fan), needed a big paycheck. Otherwise, I see no reason that they participated. I understand why Zac Efron did it – he wants to shed his High School Musical innocent boy type-casting. Note to Zac: Stop trying. It isn’t going to work.
Director Lee Daniels, whose previous film Precious won two Academy Awards, proves that he is as inept as any director in the business. This film was so muddled and choppy, it was nearly impossible to follow. He has no touch for nuance and subtlety which is clear by the usage of the overexpository, annoying-ass voice over by the grossly miscast Macy Gray (stick to the music, honey). The performances are all weak, including Kidman‘s, which makes me wonder what the hell the Golden Globes and SAG saw in it. Her hyper-stretched, Joker-like face is getting tougher to watch. Her southern accent was worse. Nothing in this film worked on any level with me – the editing, score, the setting, the timeframe, the scene where Kidman pisses on Efron (well, that was kind of unintentionally amusing). Even why it was such an injustice that Van Wetter (Cusack) was convicted and in prison, a VERY vital point to the film, remains a mystery to me. This film is a mess and is very deserving of getting my Worst Film of 2012 Award.
There you have it. I hope that 2013 yields far less shitty films for my watching. May you also be blessed with only quality watching. Something tells me we’ll be back here pow-wowing again, describing what tripe we suffered our way through. Until then…