Last week I publicly declared Jurassic World to be a disappointment. This isn’t to say that I did not like the movie. I did. A lot. But it wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be, and had more than a few easily fixable flaws that reeked of laziness. Yet as the guy who tends to find a reason to accept, if not love, almost every movie I see (I’ll defend The Happening until the day I die), it’s easy to understand how my slight distaste could be read as abject hatred. Soooooo, as a service to my critical validity, I present five films that I absolutely despise. These are films with little to no redeeming value. These films were not entertainment, but rather cinematic struggles after which I felt poorer for the experience. These are precisely NOT how it’s done. Boo these movies! Harder! BOO LIKE YOU’VE NEVER BOOED BEFORE!
Beyond Clueless (2014 – dir. Charlie Lyne)
This is, without a doubt, the worst documentary I have ever seen. That is if you can even consider it a documentary. Although it purports to be a study of “High School Movies”, it’s actually just a long montage of loosely connected clips from any movie that involves high school aged characters, each clip being described broadly and literally by the narrator, Faruiza Balk. At a few points the montage stops to merely describe the entire plot of a randomly selected film, absent of any thesis. The closest Beyond Clueless comes to having any sort of angle is when the narrator goes on a ranting diatribe about how Jeepers Creepers is actually a parable about homosexual lust. Whether this is true or not (it’s not), Jeepers Creepers isn’t a “High School Movie” by even the most ancillary criteria.
That a movie can have no point, yet be so all over the place is confounding to think about, and endlessly frustrating to watch. Oh, and Clueless gets half-mentioned one time.
But I guess I should be thankful, because if junk like Beyond Clueless found a Netflix release, I could probably blow my nose and submit the tissue for opening night at Sundance.
They Came Together (2014 – dir. David Wain)
This one pains me. I’m a huge fan of the Showalter/Wain/The State crew, and maintain that Wet Hot American Summer is THE funniest comedy of the aughts, but They Came Together is painfully unfunny – and there is nothing more trying than watching someone fail at being funny. It’s a comedic rule of thumb that if you have to explain a joke, it’s probably a bad joke. They Came Together goes further than explaining its own jokes – it sacrifices jokes entirely and replaces them with explanations. Rather than satirizing the tropes of the genre, the characters just partake in the tropes and describe what’s happening. THESE ARE NOT JOKES. THESE ARE EXPLANATIONS.
There are shades of the Wain/Showalter wit and wordplay, but these only serve as reminders of what They Came Together could have been, if not for what appears to be laziness. There’s no way that such a cast and crew could miff this one, and they did, big time.
I get it, movie comedians, you all know each other, and it’s just soooo adorable! Hey, since you’re all in the same room, maybe pool your talents and try writing something rather than taking a 70 minute selfie.
Remember the Titans (2000 – dir. Boaz Yakin)
Perhaps one of the most egregious offenders of the “Based on a True Story” tag, pretty much nothing that occurs in Remember the Titans ever happened. Also, by trying to cram so many different messages about acceptance into one movie, each is diluted to the point of transparency. Then it’s a war of attrition as Titans expends its running time hurling thematic corpses at the screen until viewers are shell-shocked to the point of thinking they just ingested art instead of garbage. Exploitative to a fault and needlessly hokey, Titans makes my toes curl.
Oh great! The whole team learned a choreographed dance to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” when they probably should’ve been practicing football! Yay!
But alas, we should always remember the Titans so that we are not doomed to repeat it.
Halloween (2007 – dir. Rob Zombie)
Michael Myers is scary because he is a faceless force of evil with no method to his madness. He cannot be stopped or understood. This is why he was originally referred to as The Shape. By giving him the most standard “troubled youth” background ever produced, Rob Zombie’s take on Michael Myers eliminates everything scary about him. The original Halloween is not a particularly deep movie (dense and fulfilling, sure, but not deep), yet it’s clear that Zombie doesn’t understand it at all. Yes, I’ve defended remakes in the past, and still do, but this one just gets me. And it’s not like Halloween was a sacred cow at this point either. Mr. Myers has certainly survived some sequels of varying quality, but of all the slasher franchises, Halloween had class, and Zombie’s film has none. Violent and scary are two different things, and a case can be made for the artistic integrity of each, but neither is a good substitute for the other.
A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014 – dir. Seth MacFarlane)
CHARACTERS INCREDULOUSLY EXPLAINING EVENTS AS THEY HAPPEN IS NOT FUNNY. EVER. IT’S NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER FUNNY. WE JUST WENT OVER THIS. IT DOESNT WORK FOR FIVE MINUTES LET ALONE TWO HOURS!
Yes, this Western comedy is two painful hours long. Even if it was funny – and it is absolutely not AT ALL – two hours is at least twenty minutes too long.
Seth MacFarlane, I’m a fan, but please don’t star in anything ever again.
See? I’m not all peaches and cream over here! I can hate with the best of them, but I really don’t want to. Can I go back to being peaches and cream? Good. Hit up the comments and let me know where I’m wrong, what I missed, and who I can talk to for help if the Wet Hot American Summer series turns out to be a failure.