The Twelve Worst Movies of 2012
"He doesn't have anyone to talk to. He spends all day with the trees and animals. This is what happens when you live too far away from franchised coffee outlets." - Peep Show
I spent the last hour looking at a website called Harriet Carter, which my friend Abigail informs me was a kind of SkyMall before there was SkyMall. The main item that caught my attention was this, a small notebook in which you're instructed to write down your Internet passwords and logins. People in the myriad reviews are quite glowing, praising the notebook for being compact, easy to carry and for replacing countless little strips of paper. Easy to carry? I should hope so, it's a tiny notebook. Scraps of paper? What the. Many people bought more than one, distributing them to friends and family. Everything is the worst, but this is one of the most simultaneously upsetting and ridiculous things I've ever seen. Closing my eyes tonight, I'll be reminded of the words of "KcScamp" from Texas, "I plan on having my info listed in categories...such as Q--for quilting website info, B--for bill paying F--fun websites" and those of "Cinny" from Texas, "Keeping tract of valuable information, in a very private way." Yes, yes you are.
Things like this, and seeing that video of the woman on the subway who had no idea who Jay-Z was remind me that the life I lead is a precarious one, my tenuous understandings of commonality and social norms perhaps unfathomable by dear KcScamp and the other sorts of people who buy a logbook to jot down every important password and login. How very much I should like to meet Cinny, to ask her (him?) questions about his life and the sorts of other things he (she?) likes. Well, besides quilting, bill paying and fun websites.
One of the best things about being a critic and seeing so many movies is that you're able to almost instantaneously decide if something is terrible and whether you'll be seeing it, often from the font on the poster. I see that Papyrus and I avert my eyes, quickly. But I jest, you need to see at least one minute of the trailer before making up your mind! I find I'm almost never wrong (except in the case of Ruby Sparks, which I expected to hate and instead, was rapturously in love with and disappointed I wasn't set to review it). Anyway, your ability to suss out what's terrible is honed and sharpened like a horrible pokey knife which keeps jabbing into you every day, all day long. Suffice it to say, I avoided most blatantly terrible movies like the plague. These here on this list are the terrible ones masquerading as acceptable. Snakes in the grass, Bible salesmen here to steal your wooden leg, unexpectedly.
Everything is the worst. Everything is a nightmare. I'm going to write this down on scraps of paper and distribute it that way.
This movie shouldn't have been as big of a disgusting nightmare as it was, but unfortunately, the jokes weren't funny, the performances were regrettable and most of the situations would have been deemed implausible and written out of a particularly bad episode of Mike & Molly. Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd have to pay the bills, I get that, and director David Wain is usually at least closer to the target, but this one is off the range, busily digging a shallow hole and wallowing in its own filth. Avoid.
This movie broke my spirit in a way that I didn't know was possible, setting new standards of terribleness that can only be met and exceeded by more American Pie sequels. From just embarrassingly improbably scenarios that stretch the limits of the human imagination, begging you to consider outlandish and disgusting behavior as not only possible but likely, to weak ass performances. Everyone looks tired. Thrilled to be in a movie that actual humans will see, yes, but beneath the thin veneer is the sadness. Close your eyes and even now you can see the haunted looks on the faces of everyone involved, their mouths moving creepily as they whisper inaudibly for forgiveness.
Damsels in Distress
I can't even tell you how mad this movie made me. Rage filled is probably the only way to describe how annoying and poorly made I feel this film to be, with stunted, abused, malformed dialogue and acting that would make the 2 Broke Girls cringe. The plot is insipid, the mechanics of the film are hacky and you know somethings is bad when your brain is churning, churning away and comes up with "Well, the editing wasn't too bad." Whit Stillman conned us out of our hard-earned pennies, kids, and we took it sitting down, watching a madcap crew dance the Sambola. The only other movie that disappointed me as much was "Rock of Ages."
Rock of Ages
After I got out of this movie I was in the worst mood, seething, really. I railed against it in the car, about what a waste of time it was, what a waste of money and how stupid, stupid, stupid it was in every single way. All the performances were bad, the music was annoying, it was smug and self-satisfied and terribly overwrought and awful. My boyfriend at the time got tired of hearing me snarlingly rip it apart and told me he didn't think it was "that bad," which, I mean, he might as well have spit in his hand and wiped it all over my face. A lengthy speech was made, by me, en route to a party, phrases such as "destroying the fabric of America" and "you just can't trust anyone" were bandied about. At the party someone took one look at me and said "What're you so angry about? You look like a big angry baby." Some days later I interviewed the director and asked him catty questions comparing the film to Godard and asking why he thought this was "an important story to tell NOW," which is as close as I come to being outright mean, it turns out.
The Three Stooges
Bobby Farrelly was perhaps one of the nicest men I've interviewed, a straight up class act, and I, being the lily livered half-human excuse for a journalist that I am, didn't press him with any hard questions. We talked about Jaws and production woes and I kept my seething hatred of this movie to myself. I have to admit that I've not even sat through the entire thing, but fast forwarded five minutes at a time, checking in with what was happening. The world has moved past the Stooges, long ago trading in our love of people getting hit in the face with a hammer for our equally deep love of writing mean comments on Internet articles, which we imagine is much the same thing.
Poor Taylor Kitsch. Two big blockbusters was just too heavy for your slender, muscular shoulders. But man does not bomb alone, and everyone else in this one, from Liam "Payday Is Nigh" Neeson to Alexander "You Look Weird With Your Clothes On, Trueblood Man" Skarsgaard is hoping that everyone else sucks more than they do. Hiding in plain sight. The special effects weren't silly but the ra-ra America montage of old guys coming to man the Battleship and save the day was, well, hilarious. The best is when the military begins to play a real life game of Battleship. And it really looks like Battleship, and you're sitting there watching someone else play a board game. Hopefully when they do Monopoly it has sort of a Werner Herzogian flair to it, 4 hours of documentary footage of one single game with a disheartening voice over that explores the dark heart of man and the lure of capitalism.
Oh man, and Rihanna was in this one and I remember reading an article where someone kind of intimated they just hired her because she had a lot of Twitter followers who would go see the movie if she tweeted about it. Hope that worked out okay.
Snow White and the Huntsman
Every moment that isn't Queen Charlize Theron is excruciating and terrible. I felt so sure this was the one that K-Stew would be found out in. That everyone would watch her lazy-eyed lackluster performance and realize that we'd been duped. But no, sequels were planned, marriages were ruined and everyone took another bite of the apple and fell into a deep Stewarty slumber.
Oh the diatribe I could write about the portrayal of women in this film. The central problem the main character has with his girlfriend is that she wants him to stop hanging out SO MUCH with his drug addicted best friend who brings out the worst in him. She is a super cool girl in every other respect who puts up with kind of a lot of shit because she's in love or something. In the end, she walks into the apartment and says that she doesn't care anymore, that SHE CHANGED and everyone can do whatever they want. Oh! If only all arguments about reaching our full potential and not being best friends with drug addicts went so well! How nice for him that "the problem" resolved itself with no difficult examination of self or consideration of others! This sort of depiction of women as semi-sentient beings who are at their best when they're totally compliant is disturbing. As I sat in the dark of the theater, surrounding by hundreds of hysterically laughing men, I felt panic rising. I wanted to do a poll, figure out if they knew they were laughing and cheering for the opposite of love, the opposite of progress or humanity or real, truthful relationship. It's just a movie, sure, but there's a certain kind of tribalism that surrounds the film, a kind of gregarious boys' club that gives one pause.
Admittedly, there was a pretty sweet Norah Jones cameo in this movie.
Poor little rich boy. I can't think of a worse time for a movie to be released about the million dollar difficulties faced by billionaires, but hey, what do I know. Also trying to cover up an accidental death while also defrauding your company? Tsk tsk, I'll be sure to work on feeling sorry for you sometime in the next century. In other news, Brit Marling's in this movie and she's absolutely aces, so, I guess it's not that bad. Man though, I'm just remembering all the lengthy shots of Manhattan from inside a town car with jazzy jazz jazz playing over it. What a wreck.
Perks of Being a Walflower
Self involved, pathetic and whiny, indulgent, lazy, horrific filmmaking. A tale of an artist who is visiting Los Angeles and makes some art that involves filming bugs and making noises, and then she gets involved with the dad of the family she's staying with and oh god it's all so Modern and Fresh and This Must Be How People Actually Are except no, no one is Actually Like That and if They Are, well, they deserve every horrible thing ever but we shouldn't Reward Them by making a movie about them. Seriously, I'm having trouble thinking of an amount of money someone could pay me to watch this movie again. (Over 500, probably, I'm actually quite easy to persuade to do things when money is involved.)
The Odd Life of Timothy Green
Hands down the worst movie I saw in 2012. Never in my life have I seen a big budget movie so contrived and convoluted and just plain frighteningly bad. Over and over I kept thinking that with just a little bit of cutting and a different score, you'd have the horror film of a lifetime on your hands. Who in the world would just accept some random kid in off the street and decide that he was their son? Desperate, crazy people. And the framing device of having the parents telling this deranged story to the adoption counselor is such a terrible narrative idea. Also the entire town is built around a pencil factory. A PENCIL FACTORY. I can take a joke as well as the next girl, but this was all presented with such a moralistic straight face that I couldn't help but want to scream, reach out and hit it. When the pencil factory almost went out of business I snarled and said "Good, let it." I hoped these people would all have to move to a real city. Hope they enjoy their life in PEN TOWN. Anyway, the only bright spot other than it being over was Rosemarie DeWitt as a bitchy, uppity sister to Jennifer Garner. You know it's bad when every time the villain says something evil you think, "Finally, a voice of reason."
Ugh. Here's to 2013, a year filled with less Internet logbooks and more joy.