As we look back on the first year of a new decade, it appears as though nothing much has changed — at least yet — in the wake of the success of 2009’s Avatar. The ten worst movies of 2010 had nothing to do with advancements in 3D technology and almost everything to do with Hollywood’s insistence on cashing in with quick sequels, reboots, and remakes, as most of this year’s worst efforts were just an extension of groundwork laid in previous years. Lightning rarely strikes twice in the same place, but if it did, I wish Sarah Jessica Parker were standing underneath it.
At any rate, before we look at the anal bon mots that theaters have in store for us in 2011, let’s take one last look back at the shit-shower that rained upon us in 2010.
Sex and the City 2: Back in May, the women of SaTC returned one more time before being shuttled off to the nursing home and forgotten about by their friends and family. The painfully empty plot aside, it was hard to take the movie seriously, even as a 90-minute fashion advertisement, as it’s hard to find anything credible about watching four women hobble around in high-heels well past an age where they should be wearing track suits and playing canasta. Everyone broke up again, only to return to each other before the final credits rolled, a cycle that’s been repeated three or four times now over the course of the series and now, the movies. The entire experience was predictable, hollow, artificial, and filmed with so much soft lighting that I actually left the movie squishier than when I went in.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse: Ugh. David Slade (Hard Candy, 30 Days of Night) was an interesting choice for the third Twilight film, but Summit doesn’t allow even its more talented directors to show their stuff. They’ve got a formula for these Twilight movies — slow pacing, lots of overacting, cringe-worthy dialogue, and cheap special effects — that’s worked consistently, and hell if they’re going to let a director’s own sensibility get in the way. Eclipse was as predictably painful to watch as it was predictably successful, and if Kristen Stewart keeps at the lip biting, she’s going to gnaw that goddamn thing off. Her bottom lip is like Kerri Russell’s hair in “Felicity.” The franchise wouldn’t be the same without it. The sadder news here is that Eclipse also triggered that tragedy back in August, when a theater full of jilted Team Jacobs in Utah drank the Kool-Aid en masse and left room full of corpses for the ushers to contend with. The good news for the deceased, however, is that they won’t have to suffer through a fourth movie.
Meet the Little Fockers: How this movie passed for a comedy is beyond mortal understanding. It was uvula-ticklingly insufferable to watch Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, and even Harvey Keitel humiliate themselves for money they don’t have enough years left in them to spend, Ben Stiller continued to self-immolate for the enjoyment of families with the collective IQ of a severed (focking) head, and of course, there were 217 more jokes that we didn’t need about the Focker surname. But with another $250 million in the bank, we can probably look forward to yet another Fockers movie — let’s call it, Shut the Fock Up, Already.
Karate Kid: I didn’t think it was possible to dumb down the original Karate Kid movie, but give Harald Zwart some credit for plumbing the depths of stupidity to come up with a hip-hop version with all the charm of chemical castration. Just how menacing could a bunch of 11-year-old punks look, swatting each other around with all the force of a stifled sneeze? Jaden Smith was nearly unwatchable — he looked like a karate-chopping snot-nosed Lilliputian you just wanted to pick up and flick away, while poor Jackie Chan seemed like he was Bowfingered into the movie after he forgot to tell the filmmakers that he’d already retired. Dude was just sitting around his Hollywood mansion swatting flies, and the next thing you know, it’s become part of a major motion picture.
Let Me In: Matt Reeves delivered what he promised he’d give us: An “Americanization” of Let the Right One In. Who needs a creepy mysterious vampire girl when you can have a cute, twee one who delivers more bad one-liners than an afternoon at an ’80s action-hero convention. Creepiness is always better with a bigger budget, right? Smoke machines! Shaky cam! An amped up score! You gotta admit, though, that using this song for the big climactic scene was something of a stroke of genius, huh?
Paranormal Activity 2: Rushed together from script to the screen in only a matter of months, the producers behind Paranormal Activity 2 thought if they could just throw enough money around, they could completely short-cut the filmmaking process. And it showed. They replaced slow pacing and creepiness with REALLY LOUD NOISES and an actual boogeyman, and apparently tried to duplicate the low-budget effect of the first movie by just tossing a camera down a flight of stairs and putting the results on screen. The best thing about Paranormal Activity II, in fact, was the controversy surrounding the marketing strategy. In an attempt to replicate the man-on-the-street hype of the first film, it was uncovered that Paramount actually paid people to piss their pants and come out to give their Average Joe reviews in urine-soaked jeans. Indeed, like the adverts, Paranormal Activity was a pee-drenched sham.
Zookeeper: Kevin James’ movie might have gotten credit for being one of the few movies on this list that was neither a sequel, a remake, or based on a television show, except for the fact that it was basically Paul Blart: Mall Cop set in a zoo. But what’s the one thing you could do to actually make Mall Cop worse? Talking animals, of course. Why limit yourself to one walking fat-ass fart joke, when you can extend that joke to a monkey, a bear, a lion, and even an elephant (oh, Apatow — how could you voice the elephant?). And congratulations, Rosario Dawson, for breaking the record for man-boob jokes by a love interest. Chris Farley just rolled over in his grave. And then did another line of coke.
Yogi Bear: It was an even numbered year, so there was no Alvin and the Chipmunks live-action rodent abortion to dazzle us, and thus we were treated to more of Anna Faris’ downward spiral into the swamp of shame. Even the last two decades of Dan Akyroyd’s career couldn’t prepare us for what has become of the man, who voiced Yogi Bear, along with Justin Timberlake (as Boo Boo). It wasn’t just Hollywood that was dumber than the average bear in 2010; Yogi Bear — released last month — is on course (as of this writing) to cross the $200 million mark in a matter of days, putting parents in the same IQ range. What a giant pic-a-nic basket of suck.
Cop Out: In addition to making 2010’s list of worst movies of the year, this one actually stung the most, as a respected and admired director, in Kevin Smith, was responsible. Cop Out is what happens when mainstream studio machinations get hold of a Kevin Smith dick joke: They turn it into a flaccid three-inch member incapable of penetrating a jar of SPAM jelly. It was a goddamn embarrassment, and represents what is probably Kevin Smith 2.0: Corporate Bob. Smith couldn’t even bother to phone the movie in — he was too busy smoking a fattie to pick up his goddamn cell. Cop Out was like a broken vibrator — a completely useless facsimile of the real thing not even capable of pulling your hair.
Killers: What would a worst-of list be without at least one entry from Katherine Heigl, who actually was responsible for two awful movies in 2010 (the other, last month’s Life As We Know It, opposite Josh Lucas). What’s worse than a movie starring Rainbow Killer? How about one where she stars opposite Ashton Kutcher? You want to know what hell looks like on the big screen? Look no further than Killers, which tried (and failed) to blend that funky Heigl romantic comedy energy into an action pic, but forgot to hire an action director. Robert Luketic (21, The Ugly Truth) knows nothing about filmmaking beyond hiring pretty faces and shedding bright lights on them. Indeed, Killers was so awful that it actually wilted co-star Tom Selleck’s mustache.