Extra butter, please
Our critics’ 2002 Popcorn Awards: If last year wasn’t the best year ever for movies, at least no one released anything as rotten as Showgirls or Battlefield: Earth. Or did they?
Why is it that so many people think that a job reviewing films is a cakewalk? Yeah, on the upside, you get to kick back and watch a bunch of movies. But the downside is that you have to write about them afterward—long reviews, even when a mere paragraph, a sentence or even a word would suffice.
Fortunately, our two stalwart critics, Jim Lane and Mark Halverson, kept copious notes. Here, then, are their awards, a compendium of dubious achievements on celluloid, the 2002 Popcorn Awards.
It Was a Dark and Stormy Night Award for the Worst Dialogue of 2002: From Rebecca Miller’s Personal Velocity: “She felt ambition drain from her body like pus from a lanced boil.”
Million-dollar Legs Award: To My Big Fat Greek Wedding, for lasting 32 weeks in the box-office top 20. Budget: $5 million; box-office: $215 million and counting.
Long Time Comin’ Award: To Return to Never Land, Disney’s sequel to Peter Pan, 48 years after the original—and 35 years after Walt’s death.
Most Unnecessary Sequel of 2002 Award: To Jason X, for transferring the Friday the 13th series to deep space (though not deep enough).
Golden Recycler Award for the Best Remake of 2002: To Shekhar Kapur’s The Four Feathers, for finding unexpected life in the old imperial warhorse.
Leaden Vandal Award for the Worst Remake of 2002: To Adam Sandler’s Mr. Deeds, which desecrated one of the classics. Dishonorable mention: John McTiernan’s Rollerball.
Bad Idea, Good Movie Award: To Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, a four-hour Indian musical about a cricket game during the British Raj.
Good Idea, Bad Movie Award: To Brad Silberling’s Moonlight Mile, all false poetry and wasted stars.
Adam Sandler Award for the Worst Performance by a Saturday Night Live Alumnus: Always a crowded field, but with a clear winner this year: Dana Carvey in The Master of Disguise. Runner-up: Sandler himself in Mr. Deeds.
Edsel Award for the Biggest Flop of 2002, Live-action Division: To Eddie Murphy’s sci-fi comedy The Adventures of Pluto Nash. Budget: $100 million; box office: $4.4 million.
Edsel Award for the Biggest Flop of 2002, Animated Division: To Disney’s Treasure Planet, still in theaters but flaming out. Budget: $140 million; box office: $27 million.
Art Imitates, Uh, Life Award: To Disney’s The Country Bears, based on the animatronic Disneyland attraction.
Why Audiences Don’t Trust Critics Award: To all those rapturous reviews for Rebecca Miller’s lifeless Personal Velocity.
Why Critics Don’t Trust Audiences Award: To everybody who didn’t see Jay Russell’s sublime Tuck Everlasting.
Would You Like a Bloody Dagger with That? Award: To Billy Morrissette’s grimly comic Scotland, PA, for transplanting Shakespeare’s Macbeth to a 1970s fast-food restaurant.
Can’t Take a Joke Award: To MGM, owners of the James Bond franchise, for filing a trademark-infringement complaint against Austin Powers in Goldmember.
Worst Imitation of Woody Allen Award: To Steve Oedekerk, for recycling Allen’s 1966 stunt What’s Up, Tiger Lily? as Kung Pow: Enter the Fist.
Oldie But Baddie Award for Worst Use of a Rock Classic: To Angelina Jolie for singing “Satisfaction” in Life or Something Like It.
Bend Over and Take a Letter, Miss Jones Award: To Steven Shainberg’s Secretary for its depiction of the kinky workaday world of a lawyer (played by James Spader) and a receptionist (Maggie Gyllenhaal).
Reckless Courage Award: To Mark Wahlberg, for gamely trying on Cary Grant’s shoes in The Truth About Charlie, Jonathan Demme’s remake of Charade (1962).
If You Release These Movies, the Terrorists Win Award: To Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Collateral Damage and Tim Allen’s Big Trouble, both slated for late 2001 and then delayed because of September 11.
Pry ’Em from Their Cold, Dead Hands Award: To Steven Spielberg, for reissuing E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial with the FBI agents’ drawn guns digitally erased and replaced with walkie-talkies.
Best Performance That Will Never Get an Oscar Nomination Award: To Andy Serkis, the voice and physical model for the computer-generated Gollum in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
Wallowing in Reflected Glory Award: To Julia (“I love my life!”) Roberts, for hogging the spotlight while presenting the Best Actor Oscar to Denzel Washington for Training Day.
Hey, Kid, Ya Want Some Candy? Award: To the producers of Scooby Doo, for loading the former kiddie cartoon with druggie humor and sexual innuendo—and then pitching it at children. —Jim Lane
A Rose by Any Other Name Award: To the character called the Boy Who Has Seen a Woman’s Breast in the micro-budget space oddity The American Astronaut.
Does a Bear Sing in the Woods? Award: To the exuberant, witty, wacky and criminally neglected musical adventure The Country Bears, in which the Disney jamboree beasts reunite on a sort of Blues Brothers road trip.
Two Sides to Every Coin Award: To the Asian kidnap victim in Transporter who sobs after the killing of her racketeer dad: “He was a bastard, but he still was my father.”
Music to My Ears Award: To the excellent soundtracks of About a Boy (featuring Badly Drawn Boy), CQ (retro-French pop rock and more), Big Bad Love (muddy blues) and Comedian (Miles Davis and John Coltrane, John Mayall, Steely Dan).
One-night Stand Award: To The Banger Sisters, for mindlessly equating groupie promiscuity with independence and self-empowerment.
Viagra Award: To Clint Eastwood as the septuagenarian detective in Blood Work, for scoring with a much younger woman.
I Have Arrived Award: To local filmmaker Joe Carnahan, whose short Tick streams alongside the works of John Woo and Ang Lee at bmw.com and whose Narc, starring Ray Liotta and Jason Patric, opens wide in January.
Oddest Profession Award: To the house-arrest-bracelet technician in Cherish who befriends a female ward of the court under his surveillance.
Virgin-Slut Marketing Strategy Award: To the messy melodrama Crossroads, in which pop princess Britney Spears dances in her underwear twice within 15 minutes of the opening credits.
Now I’ve Seen Just about Everything Award: To the popular house-of-prostitution employee in Diamond Men who has a huge eye tattooed on her chest.
Honorary George Michael Award: For the restroom sex scenes in Femme Fatale and Unfaithful.
Velveeta Single Slice Award: To the gruesome mass murder of passengers aboard a luxury liner in Ghost Ship.
Raining Cats and Dogs Award: To the scene in Kandahar in which lone artificial legs glide by parachute into a desert Red Cross camp along the Iran-Afghanistan border.
Let’s Play Charades Award: Again to Kandahar, in which little girls are instructed to pretend to be ants if their home imprisonment under fanatical Taliban rule becomes unbearable.
Sez Who? Award: To former Paramount chief of production Robert Evans in the documentary The Kid Stays in the Picture. Evans states: “There are three sides to every story: my side, your side and the truth.”
Brother from Another Planet Award: To Michael Jackson, for his cameo in Men in Black II.
Ozzy Osbourne Is a Wimp Award: To the blood-sucking vampire Lestat in Queen of the Damned, who awakens from a 200-year slumber to reinvent himself as a rock star.
Kids, You Won’t Find This in Your History Books Award: To the methamphetamine thriller The Salton Sea, which includes vintage film clips and a provocative narration that traces crank use from World War II Kamikaze pilots, President John F. Kennedy and American housewives of the 1950s to bikers and truckers of the 1960s.
Forty-niner Award: To former Davis “king of diggers” DJ Shadow in the vibrant, encyclopedic documentary Scratch; he scours the basement of a defunct K Street music store in search of buried musical nuggets.
Yellow Submarine Award: To Hayao Miyazaki’s wondrous anime fantasy Spirited Away, a Beatlesesque Through the Looking Glass, as channeled through Japanese folklore and culture.
Pessimist Award: To Alan Arkin in Thirteen Conversations About One Thing, as Frank Sinatra croons “put on a happy face” from a bar jukebox: “Show me a happy man, and I’ll show you a disaster ready to happen.”
Honey, Don’t Forget Your Lunch Award: To the white-collar worker in Time Out, who decides not to tell family and friends that he lost his job and instead pretends to be at work while often driving around the countryside and sleeping in his car.
They Shoot Heroes, Don’t They? Award: To Tom Hanks in Road to Perdition and Matt Damon in The Bourne Identity, who have bullets carved from their bodies while on the lam.
Rainy-day Women Award: To How High director Jesse Dylan, son of folk-rock icon Bob, for dreadfully crossbreeding Cheech & Chong-like weed comedy with hip-hop culture on the grounds of Harvard. —Mark Halverson