Bombs away

A cynical look back on the movies that stunk up the Box Office in 2005

USHER, MAY I BE EXCUSED? <br>Pretty face + great dance moves = crappy movie

Pretty face + great dance moves = crappy movie

Anyone who pays even casual attention to media reports on the state of Hollywood is familiar with the recent lament from the Tinseltown suits that ticket sales this year, well, sucked. And for some reason, they’re arguing among themselves as to why. Anyone who has kicked down the dear green for a recent movie can give an instant answer: The product sucks.

Sure, quality of this product mirrors the steady decline of any American-made product in recent years (remember when a pair of Levi’s would wear like iron? Now you’re lucky to get a year out of them. Oh, wait—they’re made in Mexico now. Never mind). But the last few years have been a virtual Hoover of suckage. No one wants to lay out 30 bucks on something that’s almost assured to be executed with the creativity and craft of a mid-'70s Movie of the Week. But with these sorry efforts going almost directly to DVD after a few weeks of limping along at the Cineplex, and with the rise of Internet DVD rental, all one has to do is wait a few months and have the flick waiting for them in their mailbox when they arrive home from work.

In my position as the house Cinematic Nattering Nabob of Negativity, here are my suggestions as to what not to litter your queue with.

In the classification of movies that are just merely stupid and inept with absolutely no redeeming aspects, it’s hard to beat Stealth. Completely by the numbers but saddled with cinematography that looks like the camera was thrown into a dryer, you’d have more fun watching someone play the video game version … sans headache.

As far as inane goes, Sturm und Drang wanker Michael Bay finally met his Waterloo with The Island, a glossy cliché in that ‘70s view of a future where clones are harvested for organs until a pair of them escape the remote facilities to seek the real truth. It gets extra Stupid Bonus Points for all of the gratuitous product placement branded around people who don’t buy products.

The Weather Man was Nicholas Cage doing his lugubrious schtick for two interminable hours of non sequitor nonsense, a wannabe post-The Graduate study in existential angst among a cast of thoroughly unlikable characters.

It’s exceptionally rare that I leave the screening room during the course of the movie and ask the ticket clerk how much longer the film was going to take. Not a good sign when they reply, “An hour.” Flightplan was nothing more than a Steven Segal movie tweaked over to show that Jodie Foster doesn’t really seem to be all that focused on the quality of her projects anymore, with the mantra, “It’s only a movie” taken as a challenge to see how much of a disregard for internal logic an audience can swallow. Judging by the ensuing box office, internal logic isn’t really needed anymore.

A Lot Like Love was aggressively miscast and awkwardly written, not to mention completely forgettable in retrospect. Don’t remember this one? Well, if you see a rental featuring Amanda Peet and Ashton Kutcher … don’t rent it. And serving no other purpose other than to sell a soundtrack and get Usher his SAG card, In the Mix played like one of those lame made-for-cable movies you’d run across on the USA network at 2 in the morning.

If you’re a sucker for Broadway, you might like Rent. If you’re not, there’s nothing here that’ll make a believer out of you.

Derailed was nothing more than tedious wannabe Euro-trash without the possible redemption of a point of cleverness. Jennifer’s acting shows why Brad left her for Angelina. Learn your lines, woman—even Dubya does a better job reading off of a teleprompter.

Okay, that was an exaggeration.

Of course, no one really expects much from a horror film … well, except for it to be maybe scary and if that fails go for the gross-out? But for some reason the gross-out is passé now as studios got a memo that the biggest audience for horror today is, get this, teenaged girls. If I got that news, I’d be churning out films with killer unicorns and packs of sharp-toothed Hello Kitties.

Do we get a rip-off of The Ring where a week after watching the video, the victim’s boobs deflate and their faces blossom with hideous, oozing pustules? Nope, we get a remake of The Fog, where in the end some teenybopper makes out with the ghost of a middle-aged man (eeeeew!) in some addled attempt to evoke, something. I couldn’t figure it out, and I’m sure they didn’t know themselves. And in another case of a film living up to its title, see Wes Craven’s Cursed. Actually, don’t. Making a werewolf film without gore is like making a Jenna Jameson flick without nudity, but the makers of Scream made an attempt to rebottle the ironic horror niche. They failed miserably. Not only that, they had a female werewolf with only two breasts. What in the hell was up with that? Comedy gold, traded for lead.

Ring 2 showed that pasty-faced girls with black hair hanging over their faces was now just stupid, and The Cave disappointed because it too was PG-13 and so one was denied the pleasure of watching human blow-up doll Piper Perabo ripped apart in gory majesty, not that the camera would have settled down to allow any detail anyway.

We also have the inevitable Special Unmentionables—films so astoundingly bad that all existing prints should have been spliced into bookmarks and handed out in books printed in Braille. Sometimes a couple of years will go by without a film that fits into this category, but they’ve been seemingly more common as of the past few years.

For some reason, someone keeps giving German “filmmaker” Uwe Boll money to make film versions of crappy video games. His take on House of the Dead was one seriously bad horror film, but he made up for it with a certain Ed Wood level of ineptitude. His sophomoric follow-up was the Christian Slater (‘nuff said) piece of cinematic slag, Alone in the Dark. No inadvertent amusement to be found here, just gross incompetence on every level.

With Hide and Seek, Robert De Niro gave up pissing on his legacy and decided to drop his pants all the way. One of those The Sixth Sense wannabes, this tedious exercise ham-fistedly gave away the twist a half-hour into the proceedings, then nattered on towards CSI: Obviousville for another hour-and-a-half. Even then, the “twist” was so deadly idiotic that when the film was released to DVD, they felt compelled to add a few alternate endings.

But the nadir came early in the year, with the vehicle that was to prove that perpetual sidekick Anthony Anderson could carry his own movie. It’s rare that a movie is so bad that I feel depressed for hours afterwards (not out of disappointment, just out of having undergone the experience), but King’s Ransom was easily the most corrupted piece of exposed film that I’ve had to endure in years. The section of the video store this movie rests in should be plastered with toxic-waste warnings.

To be fair, I couldn’t bring myself to endure The Honeymooners, Son of the Mask, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, or The Dukes of Hazzard. They could be even worse, but I doubt it. Explore at your own risk. Sucker.