10 Worst Films of 2011

December 27, 2012 in Best Of, Movie Reviews

It’s a Christmas Day miracle!

Yeah, you better believe it. I have finally finished watching and reviewing all the 2011 movies (ie, movies with a 2011 release date according to IMDB) on my list and I’m ready to deliver my worst and best lists of the (last) year. Sure it’s a little late, but better late than never, right? Take that, 2011!

Anyway, it was very interesting going through all 110 movies on the list and seeing whether I still felt the same about the movies so long after I initially rated them (well, for the older ones at least). There were indeed some differences. For example, I could have sworn I gave Transformers 3 a rating much worse than the 2.5 stars it received, and from memory I thought Something Borrowed should have been worse than 2 stars. On the other hand, having seen The Adjustment again more recently I think perhaps it deserved more than a 3.5. But to keep it to first impressions I decided not to change anything.

To make it easier for myself, I highlighted all the movies with ratings more than 4.25 and less than 2. And guess what? I ended up with exactly 10 films for each! Another Christmas Day miracle!

OK, so here goes. First up, counting down my 10 worst films of 2011! Click on the title to read the full review for each film.

10. Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown (2011)

IMG_8497.CR2

You don’t wanna mess with us, punk

You know, the sequel to MMA flick Never Back Down is not actually that bad when placed in context, which is a straight-to-DVD film with low expectations. The fight scenes are OK, but its recycled plot, laughable subplots and cringeworthy dialogue were enough to propel it into my top 10 worst of the year. Just.

9. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)

1223-Film-Review-Extremely-Loud-Incredibly-Close_full_600

Tom Hanks piggy backs annoying kid

This was supposed to be a triumphant tear jerker about post-9/11 American, but instead it came across as exploitative and pretentious, and probably the worst Best Picture Oscar nominee ever. The kid (Thomas Horn) deserves some kind of award for portraying the most irritating child character in recent years.

8. Your Highness (2011)

Natalie Portman's best performance ever

Natalie Portman’s best performance ever

I really wanted to like this fantasy comedy farce but it turned out to be one of the year’s biggest disappointments. Perfect example of where there was not enough script and too much improv for a bunch of stoned actors/comedians who needed to be reigned in and saved from themselves.

7. Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

OMG, we're in a movie that's exactly the same as the last two!

OMG, we’re in a movie that’s exactly the same as the last two!

As long as they keep making them I’m pretty sure Paranormal Activity movies will keep landing on my worst movies list every year. This one was actually one of the better ones, which really says it all about this gimmicky franchise that has as much trouble filling up the screen time as it does producing genuine scares.

6. The Art of Getting By (2011)

Let's see who can stare at the other person longer

Let’s see who can stare at the other person longer

Probably the most pointless film of the year in which a kid tries to get by with minimal effort, meets a girl, falls for her, kind of, not really, no one cares. Whatever the message was, it didn’t come out.

5. Jack and Jill (2011)

Two Adam Sandlers laugh at an Adam Sandler movie while everyone else pouts

Two Adam Sandlers laugh at an Adam Sandler movie while everyone else pouts

Adam Sandler movies used to make me so happy, but now they just make me sad — and angry. Jack and Jill is yet another example of how far he has fallen. Not only is it terribly unfunny and mean spirited, the film takes a dump all over screen legend Al Pacino by allowing him to be involved.

4. Gnomeo and Juliet (2011)

Watching real garden gnomes would have been more exciting

Watching real garden gnomes would have been more exciting

Possibly the worst animated film of the last two decades. The last cartoon I fell asleep in was Cars, and that was because I was really tired. This one had no excuse. The dearth of laughs was terrifying and there was no originality apart from the fact that they are garden gnomes. And as nearly always, the 3D was a waste of everyone’s time.

3. The Darkest Hour (2011)

Why am I screaming?!

Why am I screaming?!

The idea was good on paper and the trailers looked promising, but invisible alien enemies turned out to be oh-so-lame…until you saw the aliens and realized that was even lamer. Despite all the running and supposed danger, for whatever reason, The Darkest Hour just had no pulse. With no characters to root for and almost zero excitement, it was indeed the darkest hour — well, 89 minutes, to be exact.

2. ATM (2011)

I think people are watching us watching them watching us

Hang on, I think people are watching us watching them watching us

Ordinarily, a film released straight to video-on-demand and DVD should not be this high up on the list, but ATM does star Alice Eve, Brian Geraghty and Josh Peck, who aren’t exactly unknowns. My problem with it is that it’s just too unbelievably stupid and nonsensical, to the point where I actually started getting annoyed and wanted the protagonists to get killed for their lack of IQ. A slasher movie where everything is so predictable is never a good thing either.

1. New Year’s Eve (2011)

Michelle Pfeiffer and Zac Efron being forced to pretend there's chemistry between them

Michelle Pfeiffer and Zac Efron being forced to pretend there’s chemistry between them

The honour of the worst film of 2011 goes to New Year’s Eve, a new low in saccharine ensemble films where a bunch of stars are forced together on the screen because of some arbitrary common theme. How they managed to make a film with 20+ Hollywood A-listers that sucked so bad is beyond me. No one is given enough screen time to do anything meaningful and nearly all the characters/story arcs are unlikable or contrived or both. It was my only reviewed film of 2011 to be rated less than a 1 star (I actually gave it a 0.5), meaning the gap between this film and the my no. 2 film is wider than the gap between no. 2 and no. 9. The only positive thing I can say about it is that at least it wasn’t in 3D. Eek.

That was depressing. Next up, my 10 favourite films of 2011!

PS: It actually wasn’t such a bad year in terms of bad movies. A lot of average and below average stuff but not many made me want to pull my hair out.

Movie Review: Jack and Jill (2011)

March 4, 2012 in Movie Reviews, Reviews

Can someone please explain to me what the [email protected]&! happened to Adam Sandler?

I guess I am just a glutton for punishment.  After hearing that Sandler’s latest comedy about twins, Jack and Jill, in which he plays both titular characters, raked in the Razzies nominations, I decided to check it out because it made me curious.

Could it really be that bad?  After all, I had seen some real shockers last year, and the Razzies usually tend to be based on hype more than anything else.  Most of the time the winners were nowhere near the worst films of the year, or so I believed.

And thus I held out a little bit of hope for Jack and Jill.  Sadly, while I doubt it is the worst film of 2011, it was a colossal disappointment, even by Sandler’s recently abysmal standards. And hey, I loved his earlier films like Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, The Waterboy and so forth.

Jack and Jill is just so wrong on so many levels.  Sandler plays Jack, an advertising executive married to the most thankless character I’ve seen in years, played by Katie Holmes (I’ll get to her later, don’t you worry).  He is what you would probably call a “normal guy”.  His twin sister Jill, also played by Sandler, is an overweight, embarrassing, ignorant and probably slightly mentally challenged woman who comes to stay with him for a little while.  During her stay, Jill somehow inexplicably catches the attention and affection of Al Pacino (played by the real deal), whom Jack is trying to get for one of his commercials.  And I can’t believe I just tried to explain the plot of this film.

The biggest problem with Jack and Jill is that it’s just not very funny, especially when Jack and Jill are on screen, which is almost all the time.  I don’t know why, but lately Sandler keeps playing these rich, “normal guys”, probably versions of himself, who are complete dickheads.  Jack is no different.  He’s just his mean, highly unlikable guy who’s pretty much a big bully.  I know he also plays Jill, but this feels different because she’s a woman and we know she’s nothing like Sandler in real life.  And the whole film is essentially Jill, who is actually quite likable despite her flaws, being bullied.

You can probably already guess what happens. Jack can’t stand Jill at the start of the movie and tries to use her to get to Pacino, but in the end he realises…need I say more?

In fact, I’ve come to realise that most of Sandler’s films follow this same trajectory nowadays, and it stinks. Jack and Jill painfully reminded me of one of the worst films I saw in 2010, the appalling Grown Ups, in which Sandler and his comedian buddies were about as unfunny as I had ever seen them.

Here, watching Sandler on screen was as funny as watching some successful millionaire make fun of a handicapped person begging on the side of the street.  When I saw him revert to incredibly obvious and lame toilet humour I knew he had hit a new low.

The only thing that saved the film from complete disaster was the great Al Pacino, playing the great Al Pacino…or at least a caricature of the great Al Pacino. I have no idea how they convinced him to star in this movie, but Pacino was the film’s saving grace and provided essentially all the laughs — though to be fair even he was a little hit and miss at times.

Oh, and before I forget, Katie Holmes.  Is this what Tom Cruise allows her to do these days?  Really?  She did basically nothing.  A pot plant could have played her role, and probably could have done it better.  It made me wonder whatever happened to her after carving out a successful TV career in Dawson’s Creek.  Sure, she was popular for a while, especially after she bared her gifts in The Gift, but has she had a role in which her character really mattered since?  Batman Begins, maybe, but remember how much better The Dark Knight was without her in it?  It’s a tragedy because I think she has a lot more potential.

I hate to finish on a sour note after this rant, but the truth is Sandler needs to get back to his roots, where “character development” takes a back seat to just plain old silly fun.  That’s what he was good at and that’s what he’s always been good at.  His earlier movies were funny because he made fun of himself.  Now he is, explicitly or implicitly, making fun of others who don’t deserve the ridicule, and that’s just not fun to watch.

1.5 stars out of 5