Like any year, 2009 had its share of awful movies (you guys remember The Tooth Fairy? Or The Bounty Hunter? Ugh) and box-office duds. But flops are more than duds — flops underperform compared to expectations, and these five movies performed about as well as Obama’s health care plan (sorry! Too soon? Those mid-term elections were brutal) and the expected 2010 bounce on Wall Street. How’s that 9,600 feel? Ouch.
5. The Wolfman ($33 million): Benicio Del Toro. Anthony Hopkins. Emily Blunt. Hugo Weaving. Fucking Werewolves! What went wrong? Everything, it turns out, from Joe Johnston’s terrible direction (how much are you not looking forward to his Captain Avenger now?) to the inept script. Nothing in The Wolfman ever congealed — it was edited together with a mish-mash of a bad director’s vision merged with a focus-tested cut, and neither one of them seemed to work. It was a bad movie from start to finish, and not even a decent transformation sequence could save it.
4. Cop Out ($41 million): The good news is that Cop Out was Kevin Smith’s highest-grossing movie to date. The bad news was that Cop Out was a real studio flick with a legitimate star (Bruce Willis) and an actual marketing budget and much higher expectations attached. The end result was a comedic turd, which not only failed to bring in a new audience for Kevin Smith, but turned off much of his existing audience, proving that Smith should stick to his own scripts. Was it Jersey Girl 2? Not quite. But it was close. And less than 10 months after its release, it’s already on constant rotation over on TBS, which is nothing I ever expected from Kevin Smith.
3. Red ($19 million): Another Bruce Willis pic, this one with even higher expectations, because it also starred Morgan Freeman and Mary Louise Parker, and was based on a Warren Ellis story. Unfortunately, Red (from Robert Schentke, The Time Traveler’s Wife) fizzled more than it bombed, arriving in theaters in late October and leaving in early November with barely a peep, drowned out by the latest Saw movie (in 3D), which itself was something of a dud. The real shame? It wasn’t actually a half-bad movie. A little lifeless at times, but Willis put on a fairly good show. Red deserved more than it made, but that didn’t make it any less of a box-office disappointment.
2. Robin Hood ($61 million): Ridley Scott’s latest iteration of the Robin Hood story will forever be known as The Fat Robin Hood. Russell Crowe was terribly miscast, as was Cate Blanchett, who looked plain silly swinging around that sword. It was, at best, mediocre, but the biggest strike against Robin Hood was its release date: The weekend after the Iron Man 2 juggernaut, which rendered Hood a blockbuster afterthought, further signaling the downward spiral of Russell Crowe’s career. You can interest the kids in movies based on ’80s television shows and merchandise, but a classic? Forget about it.
1. The Last Airbender ($21 million): Wow! So long, M. Night Shyamalan, huh? The Last Airbender was the perfect storm of suck: A lifeless action adventure flick based on a children’s television show that nobody watched. Worse still, Shyamalan completely removed whatever it was about that children’s show that appealed to the small audience it had in an attempt to take The Last Airbender mainstream. Just a plain awful movie, not that it had much of a chance, anyway, opening against two of the top ten movies of the year, in Knight and Day and Twilight: Eclipse. What the hell were the marketing people thinking? Shyamalan can officially kiss the A-list status goodbye, and welcome direct-to-DVD sequels of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable to his future.