The Worst Movies of 2009
As with any year in Hollywood, there were a lot more bad movies than there were good. If there was one particularly unusual trend in seriously awful movies this year, however, it was not only in how well they did at the box office, but level of cultural impact several of these movies had in 2009. It's one thing to be an awful movie that falls on its ass at the box office and vanishes from our collective consciousnesses -- see My Life in Ruins, Battle for Tera, The Collector, Whiteout, New in Town, Dance Flick, or The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard -- but the Golden Pajibas are more interested in heinous cinematic butt nuggets (or anal bon mots) that not only made an impact at the box office, but commanded a lot of attention. These are bad movies that blew up in our faces and took big bloody hunks of our cheeks along with them.
Indeed, there seemed to be more instances this year than in any other in which audiences attended bad movies knowing they were bad, but did so anyway because they wanted to see what all the hubbub was about, because they got caught up in the hype, or because their high-school friends saw it, so millions of others had to jump off the cinematic bridge, too, broken knee-caps be damned. (Dan wrote eloquently about this phenomenon).
Unfortunately, studios don't know the difference between great movies that make a lot of money, and terrible movies that absorb massive audiences via marketing hype. They only see the bottom line, which means that many of these movies begat more bad movies or make flatulent waves that ripple into subsequent years. The sequels on this list, in fact, represent the still powerful stink of previous years' filmic farts, pooting their way into 2009 and beyond.
In other words, you have to do more than simply make a self-immolating turkey to be considered for the Golden Pajibas -- you have to make a bad movie that critics or audiences (or both) paid attention to. And in that regard, here are you ten worst movies of 2009.
10. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell: Oh, Tucker Max, you sad lame asshole. I know you all want me to Priscviscerate this cockmonger, but truth be told, all I can do is laugh at him. After almost a decade, the only way Tucker Max could capitalize on the tens and tens of pop-collared social deviants agro-trolling his website and fawning over his drunken exploits was to create an incredibly lame movie. While Max -- and one can only assume his writing partner/nutbuddy Nils Parker -- prides himself on being such a suave pickup artist who whittles his detractors with a silver barbed tongue, the resulting film is incredibly pussified. Vaginal, if you will. There's a uterine gap in this flick so vast, it actually has the promise of giving birth to a better film -- if only for the fact that Tucker Max was so intent on sticking his tiny Michael Baysian penis in it, and winking over his shoulder as he date raped it into a bland passed-out mess. All the while he was hoping everyone was admiring his toned ass as he plowed away in a sports bar bathroom stall. It's a pathetic effort, seven or eight clever zingers drowned in a terrible bachelorhood romp I dare not compare to The Hangover because it predates even that. It's Vince Vaughn as interpreted by John Travolta. It's Tom Hanks doing Bachelor Party without any of the jokes. It's a Miracle Whip and iceberg lettuce sandwich on Wonder Bread that nobody bothered jizzing in because the joke's already on you. If they're serving beer in hell, it's Coors Light -- watered down, barely effective, and marketed to guys who high five everything.
9. Crossing Over : Thank God for Hollywood. Otherwise, I'd never understand foreign cultures. From the same white-guilt-sphincter that turdspersed Babel and Crash, Crossing Over splashes into the bowl of theatres. (Inarratu is Spanish for Frank Jones. Shut up, and let me make my fucking point, assfaces.) Blessed be that Hollywood is brave enough to completely bundlecunt a pastiche of National Geographic articles with a C-student's current affairs report. The Weinsteins drop trough and speedfuck Wayne Kramer's uber-cliched assortment of immigrant horror stories, leaving behind a sloppily interconnected web that looks like Charlotte got into the farmer's still when spelling SOME PIG. It's about time someone finally stood up and said, "Foreigners, illegal or otherwise, sure have it rough." Bravo Wayne, you noble soul. Go back to making movies about Paul Walker getting hit in the face with iridescent hockey pucks and William H. Macy's cock. -- Brian Prisco
8. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: I realize I'm stating the obvious here, but it bears elucidation in light of this review because it's the single biggest driving force behind Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Michael Bay has a profoundly tiny dick. The man has a diminutive dangler -- what's known in medical circles as a micro-penis (less than 2.75 inches erect). And rather than seek psychotherapy for his small penis humiliation, Mr. Bay deals with his itty-bitty anxieties by hiding behind his work. It's classic overcompensation; all the symptoms are manifested in his person -- long hair, leather jackets, sports cars -- but none more evident than his pursuit of aggrandizement in Revenge of the Fallen. His desire to embiggen Transformers II over its predecessor -- to make bigger in power, to enlarge our conceptions -- is clearly an attempt to conceal his sexual inadequacy. It's sad, really. Mr. Bay has no ability to drive, thrust, shove or plunge. All he has in his arsenal is a malevolently irritating poke delivered with a toothsome sneer, the flick of his mullet, and a decidedly timorous and almost hopeful, "Do you like that, baby?" And so Mr. Bay takes these frustrations out in his films, and in Revenge of the Fallen his eagerness gets the best of him. It's easy to suggest that the two-and-a-half hour series of explosions, cheesy toddler one-liners, and cacophonous, bass-heavy noises is all part of an ongoing big-dick swinging contest Mr. Bay has with McG, but if you look closer, you'll see what's really at play here. Revenge of the Fallen is little more than a series of explosions transposed with shots of Megan Fox's cleavage and/or ass. Mr. Bay sees what he cannot have in the bedroom, and out of those phallic frustrations, he obliterates everything in his wake like a petulant little child who destroys the contents of his toy chest because he's been denied an ice cream cone. Those Transformers are his toys; the big screen is his bedroom; and sexual competence is the ice cream cone that will forever elude him. -- Dustin Rowles
7. The Twilight Saga: New Moon: The obsession with Twilight has something to do with the thought of being saved from self-loathing, and the empty promise that every woman -- regardless of her level of traditional beauty -- holds within her a love so powerful that it can bend the true nature of men, and it's just waiting to be tapped by some mystical being who doesn't abide by the rules of this world. It's a weird feminine love-triangle wish-fulfillment fantasy about being fought over by the scrawny, sensitive (and glittering) bad boy and the earnest but temperamental protector with chiseled abs. It's about forbidden love and anticipation and bestial sex, the erotic pull between the sensual vampire and the ravenous werewolf. It's about biting and ripping, fangs and claws, rejection and temptation, and about being the forbidden fruit that's plucked from the tree and fucked seven ways 'til Sunday. The problem, of course, is that while New Moon subtextually represents all of these things, on the surface, it's nothing more than a very bad movie. It promises a jackhammer drilling into the G-spot, but delivers only drunken dick and halitosis. There are worse movies, of course, but there's never been a chasm so wide between the intensity of devotion to a film and what it actually deserves.
6. Halloween II: In the first movie, Zombie appeared to sympathize with Myers, placing much of the blame for his propensity to commit evil deeds squarely upon his white-trash, stripper-mom, abuser-stepdad upbringing. With Halloween II, Zombie switches sides in the "nature vs. nurture" debate and, in doing so, he does away with the strong female character played by Jamie Lee Curtis in Carpenter's version of the sequel. Instead, Zombie nails Laurie into her fate and only offers up a nihilistic view of humanity. And, while I'd like to believe that breaking the preexisting rules was, perhaps, a gutsy move on Zombie's part, it probably had a lot more to do with scriptwriting laziness. After all, once a filmmaker slaps the "crazy" label onto a character, nothing that they do has to make any sense at all. Of course, I could have walked out of that theater respecting Zombie's decision to move in a different direction than the old sequel, but, if characters are gonna change, their transformations should be at least somewhat plausible. Instead, Zombie has also largely contradicted his own remake by, essentially, taking the stance that Myers' motivation to kill is not revenge for childhood abuse but, rather, something that's merely "in his blood." Hell, once one also considers the insufferable cameo by Weird Al Yankovic (as himself), Halloween II, as a whole, is nothing but a masochistically depressive's wet dream. -- Agent Bedhead
5. The Girlfriend Experience: The Girlfriend Experience is an unpleasant romantic dramedy slumped drunkenly over lazy political commentary and rich bitching. Through a slipshod time shuffled narrative, we're expected to give a shit about two bland emotionless twats. Like everything else that apes Bret Easton Ellis and misses, it grays out anything remotely intriguing with handheld camera shots and a constant shadow. The stunt casting of porn star Sasha Grey only reinforces that her best work is done up close and from the hips down. If this masturbatory fetishit was a first time film student's project, it would be execrable but understandable. The fact that it came from Soderbergh makes it inexcusable. If you want to make experimental films, keep that shit on the festival circuit where it belongs. -- Brian Prisco
4. G-Force: Imagine experiencing, at warp speed and for 90 minutes, the reality of the infamous Richard Gere gerbil joke. Next, add a bunch of "clever" allusions to authentic films of varying quality: Die Hard, Mission: Impossible, Scarface, Apocalypse Now, Indiana Jones, and Transformers. Then, throw on a superficial layer of cutesy references to such bastions of pop culture as the Pussycat Dolls and "Pimp My Ride" before accessorizing with a throbbing Black Eyed Peas musical accompaniment. It is through this unholy mating of Walt Disney Studios with producer Jerry Bruckheimer that G-Force was spawned. If Bruckheimer's presence ain't enough to convince you that this movie is awash with meaningless action, then consider the fact that the director, Hoyt Yeatman, is not only a veteran Hollywood effects pro but also, quite tellingly, was the visual effects supervisor for Armageddon and The Rock, both of which were directed by Michael "BOOM!" Bay. With G-Force, Yeatman makes his feature-length directing debut with a bunch of anthropomorphized, hyperactive CGI animals interacting with live-action humans, and it's truly a miracle that he didn't blow every cast member, both of the rodent and homo sapien variety, to fur-spattered smithereens. -- Agent Bedhead
3. The Ugly Truth: To call The Ugly Truth misogynistic is truly an insult to misogyny. Misogyny is the point of The Ugly Truth and to suggest that it's either sexist, degrading to women, or offensive would be to suggest that the movie is, in some small way, effective. I'm not willing to concede the point. Misogyny suggests a hatred of women; The Ugly Truth doesn't give women enough respect to hate them. In fact, though no one in Hollywood tickles my gag reflex more than Rainbow Killer, The Ugly Truth deserves the ultimate insult, which is to say: Even Katherine Heigl is too good for this movie. It is a vile, pitiable excuse for a film, and not because it's offensive or sexist, but because it's tedious, dull, predictable, poorly written, awfully directed, chemistry-free and despicably half-brained, written by three women born with a flaccid penis inside of their otherwise empty cranium. -- Dustin Rowles
2. Year One: It's been four years since Harold Ramis directed a movie (The Ice Harvest), seven since that movie was recognizable as a comedy (Analyze That), and 16 since that comedy was actually funny (Groundhog Day). It's not possible to assemble any kind of through-line or worldview or even sense of humor that would help explain Ramis' c.v., with his film work the past couple decades veering erratically and seemingly uncontrollably between quality and, well, something considerably less so. His latest, Year One, isn't the turnaround he needed, either. It's a film as far removed from comedy and wit as possible without turning into an outright meta-parody of bad comedies themselves. It possesses no brains, no heart, and not a single spark of life or joy that would make it worth watching. Even when he's fallen short of the mark, Ramis has still proven himself a capable filmmaker, but Year Oneis an unmitigated disaster, the kind of stupid, unenjoyable, lame idea of a movie that never should have made it past whatever deluded brainstorming session loosed it on an unsuspecting America. -- Daniel Carlson
1. Paul Blart: Mall Cop: Obesity is hilarious, y'all. But you know what's worse than fat jokes? Fat jokes about a pathetic fat guy. A pathetic fat guy who works as a mall cop and rides a Segway. A pathetic fat mall cop who puts peanut butter on his pie and can't get laid. A pathetic fat mall cop whose daughter is just as fat and pathetic (don't worry, though; there are no jokes directed at the daughter. That'd just be crass). Paul Blart: Mall Cop is offensively bad. And it's not the fat jokes that are truly offensive (though, those are, too), it's just offensively unfunny. It is a bland, overly-lit, formulaic action-comedy that's so ungodly tepid that I can't even work up any self-inflicted pain jokes to describe the experience.
But what makes Paul Blart: Mall Cop the worst movie of 2009 is not that it wasn't truly awful. It was. It was an insanely bad series of fat jokes seemingly stolen from the Internet forums combined with a smattering of shots to the testes The real reason is because it made nearly $150 million at the box office. How? Because it was aimed suburban families. Suburban families who turned out in droves. But did they get family-friendly fare? No. They got validation for their lifestyles, for their SUVs, the chain-restaurant gluttony, and their superior, entitled attitudes. And the assholes in conservative circles could boast that Paul Blart was a real American movie, and that Kevin James' character is a real American hero. Is there anything wrong with glamorizing an overweight, under-educated, minimum wage loser? Maybe not. Maybe it's cool to glorify the average working man. But do they have to make him so unapologetically pathetic? Indeed, the lesson in Paul Blart is that you can be a fat, pathetic slob with no career aspirations beyond trolling the food court for a living and you can still get the girl. You just have to wait for that dare to be great situation, and hope your goddamn heart doesn't give out. And thanks to that $150 million gross, that's a lesson that's likely to be repeatedly taught for years to come. -- Dustin Rowles