2011: The Unforgivables
I had a crisis of conscience this year.
I turned over a new leaf in 2011 in terms of how I watch movies. I became much more open about certain films, trying to go into (and come out of) them with a more positive outlook. I stopped looking for things to attack and ridicule, because that goes against what movies are. You’re supposed to look for the value in them, not watch and go, “Oh, I can annihilate this one.” The change in mindset led to me being much more okay with some movies that I just wouldn’t have been okay with last year. I still didn’t like them, but I just didn’t get so upset at them.
Last year, I posted a list of what I considered to be the Unforgivable films of 2010. What made a film unforgivably bad instead of just regular bad was the fact that it made me physically angry as I watched it. We know films like Twilight are gonna suck. They’re bad, but they’re not Unforgivable because we know they’re bad. An Unforgivable movie is one that’s not only bad, but it makes you want to tell people how bad it is while you’re watching it. So I made my list and wrote some pretty funny rants about them (all stemming from one I wrote on The Switch that began as a Jerry Maguire-type memo (or mission statement) to my friends about how they should avoid the movie at all costs).
Thing is, though — afterwards I felt bad. Sure, I didn’t like the films, and I wanted to tell people that I did not like them
Sam-I-Am, but the rants were somewhat unnecessarily harsh, even though they were meant for humor. And this year, with my newfound positive outlook, I wondered whether another list of Unforgivables was the right thing to do. I thought, “Why just bash something in the name of humor?”
And then I thought, “Why not just bash something in the name of humor?”
So welcome to the Unforgivables list for 2011.
I think what this year’s list will focus on — since I’m trying to cut back on the rants this year (there are still several, don’t worry. It’s just — sometimes you need to curb the hate speech a little bit) — will be why things are Unforgivable. Because if I can use this year to establish that, then I can make them standards by which Unforgivable films are thereby measured, then I can just go rant crazy next year. I’m playing the long game, people.
So what this list will try to do is explain why films are Unforgivable. There will be types. We’re setting up the equivalent of genre standards. Like: the film ruined by a studio cutting out a good script and sticking to formula. Or the blockbuster trying to get by on CGI and money rather than character and story. Or the star vehicle going by nothing but formula figuring that’ll be enough to get people to show up. Or the actor who makes shitty movies most of the time and continues to churn out soulless entities that continue to plague humanity every year. And then there are just the terrible movies that I hate. Those will always make it on.
Let’s get started, shall we?
We start with a bonus film. Technically #11, but it’s still just as Unforgivable as the rest.
11. The Hangover Part II
I used to have this as my #10 on the list. But over the past few weeks — I began to understand why it was what it was. Maybe empathize is the better word. This film is nothing more than a money grab. The first one did surprisingly good business, so they quickly reassembled the troops, threw together a sequel and put it out there, because they knew it was gonna do the type of business it did. Which is fine, and which is why this is no longer #10 on the list. I can at least understand if you’re doing it entirely for the money.
However — this is still Unforgivable. Just because it’s not officially a top ten entry does not make it any less of an abomination. And my main focus as to why I still have problems with this films start with one person and one person only: Todd Phillips.
I said before how I used to like him. I loved Old School, and the original Hangover is a really funny film (and I hate comedy over the past decade). I ignore the other entries in his filmography, because when it comes to comedy, having two films of that caliber on your resume, for me, is enough. It’s more about how many hits you have than misses. But then Due Date came out. (Yes, that again. It’s not gonna stop.)
I documented last year just how much I hated that movie. The short story is — I read the script and loved it (again, don’t like comedies nowadays). So I was kind of excited about it (even though I’m not really a Galifianakis fan). But then it came out.
My main reason for having problems with it is that Todd Phillips boldly came out and defended the horrible, horrible botching of that script into what was put on screen by saying that he and Robert Downey deserved writing credit on the film because they wrote the script every day together in their trailers. Which is the equivalent of — have you ever seen the movie The Informant!? Where Matt Damon plays the executive who secretly works for the feds and helps take down his corporation (despite also being guilty of embezzling lots of money from the corporation and just not telling them about it). Near the end of the film, as the feds are preparing to raid the place, and are about to reduce the company to a smoldering pile of economic ashes — due to Damon’s direct involvement, which will become publicly known — he asks, “But I’m going to be okay, right?, because he thinks he’ll become a Vice President after this is over. He just destroyed a company and now wants to take credit for it and proudly sit atop the pile of shit. That’s what that movie was like.
The other reason Due Date (and Todd Phillips) are responsible for this film being where it is, is because it highlights something that, to me, is lazy, uninspired, and something that should never be promoted, ever — the repetition of jokes. That’s why this is still Unforgivable.
I could have lived if just this sequel repeated jokes. That’s the point of this sequel. Do what the first one did. Replace a masturbating baby with a masturbating monkey. That’s fine. Follow the same structure and just change shit slightly. I’m totally cool with that. But when you repeat jokes in a third movie, totally unrelated to the other two — that’s bad. And to be proud of that repetition! That’s why I can’t stand this movie. It’s not that it repeated the first one. It’s that it’s doing it knowingly and proudly. Which is exactly like Hollywood, knowingly and proudly making shitty remakes of older movies, knowing that even though they’re repeating the same stuff and providing nothing of value, people will go see it. And that’s not okay.
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Okay, now for the actual list.
10. Larry Crowne
Of course this film made it on. Sure, there were bigger atrocities on a much larger scale (a certain movie about an alien invasion springs to mind. Don’t worry, that’ll show up somewhere in this article), but this film epitomizes everything about what an Unforgivable movie is.
The word bland does not even begin to describe this festering turd of a movie. Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts are the to most whitewashed, generic leads this movie could have starred. And the only thing that would have made it worse was if they cast Owen Wilson and Reese Witherspoon in supporting roles.
But that’s not what makes it Unforgivable. I can accept bland. What’s terrible about it is that it was created to perform. That is — everything about this movie is manufactured. Everything.
Start with the stars. Tom Hanks came up with the plot, which already reeks of someone of his stature — movie star, not totally in touch with real people anymore, trying to tell a story that people can relate to that’s also a movie people will go see. So it’s like, “It can be about this guy who loses his job, much the way a lot of people are losing their jobs in this economy. And then he can go to school and meet the teacher, and — you know.” It’s that turn of going to school where it switches over into studio manufactured. Then, when casting the female lead — he goes with Julia. Who better to appeal to boring middle-aged people than Julia Roberts? Did you see Eat, Pray, Love? It was terrible. I’d rather get Montezuma’s Revenge than watch that movie again. Watch any movie she’s ever done. There is nothing remotely interesting about her or her performances. Yet, she’s bland enough that she appeals to everyone. Plugging her into this movie is directly saying, “We want to make a lot of money.”
And there’s nothing even remotely interesting about the plot. He’s working at this place. They fire him. He decides to go back to school. He meets a varying cast of characters (more on them in a second), makes lots of friends, reminds his teacher of the joys of learning and of life, and ends up with her. Cookie cutter does not even begin to describe this movie.
Now, the cast of characters — black neighbors as friends. Spanish friends. An Asian teacher. And, of course, a white teacher/love interest. It’s trying to be so diverse that it’s offensive. Not to mention — every single character in the film (outside the leads. They have no personalities whatsoever) is a stereotype. Cedric the Entertainer (because when you want black — oh yeah, you go Cedric the Entertainer) is Tom Hanks’s neighbor, who likes him in that nonoffensive white way. They’re friendly, but they’re not really friends. He’s a millionaire (won the lottery), and is still cheap as a motherfucker. Because that’s funny, right? Black people will see the cheap black man stereotype and laugh because they recognize it, right?
And then the Spanish friends — right there, they’re appealing to both everyone in California and white people. (Having a diverse set of characters, but making them broad stereotypes, appeals to white people, who want diversity, but only if it’s white diversity. All of these characters are inherently white. They’re just ethnic on the outside.) If I remember correctly, the big characteristic of the guy is that he’s insanely jealous, and always thinks Tom Hanks is hitting on his girlfriend. Oh, you know those Spaniards. Always jealous! God, I love authenticity!
And then you add to that all these terrible jokes that only your parents would laugh at. Oh man, Tom Hanks is getting in trouble for texting in class! Watch out, Some Like It Hot, there’s a new comedy sheriff in town. But wait, there’s a scene where Hanks tries on tighty whities and you see a close-up of his ass! Whoa! Be prepared to see only 55-year olds in your theater laugh. And then there’s that scene of the scooter gang! Because it’s funny to see a middle-aged gang on scooters and not motorcycles! I think I just heard the retiree in back give a belly laugh! Oh, wait, that was a death rattle. I don’t blame you, dude, at least you got out before it ended.
When your movie is trying to appeal to the same people Wild Hogs appealed to — you have a problem.
Oh, let’s not forget the biggest joke of all — this one’s laughable even if you’re willing to go along with everything else — the fact that Julia Roberts’ husband’s biggest flaw is the fact that he looks at internet porn. Okay, looking at porn is one thing. Having someone’s only flaw (because remember, these are two-dimensional people. The one personality trait they’re given is their entire being) be “porn addiction” — that’s so on-the-nose it’s offensive to noses. Even bad movies avoid things like this. Not only that — it’s like they didn’t even try. Did you see the porn site he frequents? It looks like what people would consider a porn site to be in 1995. What person could honestly jack it to that site? It goes back to the same thing everything else in this movie comes back to — it’s like the equivalent of what a boring, middle-aged white person would think. It’s not that this is just trying to appeal to someone with no sense of what the world is really like, it’s that it’s told from the perspective of that person.
There’s nothing unique, interesting, or genuine about this movie. It was made entirely for the money. There is not one moment in this film that feels like it deserved to be told on screen. I would honestly have understood if they said they told a computer to write a screenplay, and it took all the prevailing elements of all the films it had stored in its database, and this is what came out. It’s horrible, it should never have been made, and is an example (relatively small, but still an example) of what is wrong with cinema. (Something tells me Will Smith might be this example next year.)
9. No Strings Attached
You know what led me to putting this on? Zooey Deschanel.
I started watching New Girl, which is a show created by Liz Meriwether, who wrote the original script this movie was based on, then called “Fuckbuddies.” Right from the title, you can see where things went horribly, horribly wrong. But, the show itself, while it has its problems (it’s a bit too heavily reliant on formula. All of the episodes end with a “transcendental moment” where everyone bands together and helps each other out. Plus the characters are slightly two-dimensional. As in, they began as two-dimensional, and despite being given more backstory and character moments, are still hampered by those original characterizations), is pretty delightful, and is one of the few television series I actually continued past an episode or two. (Those of you who know my relationship with television will understand what it means for me to actually still be watching this show.) That’s not to say I won’t not go back for season two (kind of like I did with Boardwalk Empire), it’s just, right now, I enjoy the show. I think it’s smarter (which admittedly isn’t saying much, but it has legit moments of intelligence here and there) than most stuff on TV in terms of its writing.
Now, Liz Meriwether — she wrote the pilot. And the pilot of this show is what got me to this point. That pilot was one of the funniest half-hour comedies I’ve seen on television. Ever. It was insanely well-written. What does this have to do with No Strings Attached, you ask? Don’t worry, I’m getting to it. Why are you getting on my case all of a sudden? Chill the fuck out, we’ll get to it.
So Liz Meriwether wrote the script for this movie. It was called “Fuckbuddies.” I read it on that binge last year (right around this time, actually), when I decided I was going to read more scripts. And I read a bunch of stuff that was coming out (which always proves to be a bad idea). And I knew this was coming out, so I figured I’d read it. And the script — actually was pretty good. I called it “4-star dialogue in a 3-star movie.” Simply because — while it was clear that her voice was strong and that she was a very capable writer — it seemed like the script was a bit too sitcom-my, and tried to fit too much into formula. Like, she knew what she could do but in order to get it sold (or at the insistence of a studio), put in the requisite “friend” characters, and all this other stuff. You could basically have kept the script with just these two people and it would have worked. But even so, I figured — if they kept the dialogue the same (and it was a hard R, that film. Lots of sex montages, and Natalie Portman saying some filthy stuff. Which would have been awesome. And Ashton Kutcher would have came out okay. He’s basically a fill-in actor, but the role is such that it would have worked fine if he didn’t fuck up), the script would have ended up being a decent to solid 3-star movie.
However, once I saw the trailer (which you can do, should you choose to accept it, here), and saw it was begin released PG-13, I lost pretty much all hope for this movie.
THEY CUT OUT THE STORY! Nothing happens in this movie! And all the dialogue was replaced by “plot”!
Let me explain. When I say they cut out the story — basically, they meet cute, they talk, they become friends. They meet years later, through some stupid contrived occurrence. (As in: His father is a famous TV producer. He works on one of his shows. He comes home to find his father banging his girlfriend. He goes out, gets drunk, and calls every number in his phone, looking to have sex. He wakes up, having blacked out, on her couch. This is what the movie considered an acceptable way for them to meet again.) They have sex. The rest of the film is spent with her saying she doesn’t want a relationship, and him going along with it, even though he does. His friends basically just say, “You should do this and this!” to him, and basically serve no purpose. One of them is Ludacris. This is never explained. And then it resolves. Nothing happens. There is no progression, no arc — it’s basically just a holding pattern until the finale we know will happen.
And the dialogue — rather than all the interesting and well-written dialogue that the script had (that was actually funny), the movie just had the characters regurgitate the plot. In every other scene, all Ashton Kutcher was saying was, “I like her but she doesn’t want to date me!” And that’s all the characters did. “I’m a doctor. I don’t have time for a relationship.” Yes, motherfucker, we see that! You don’t have to tell us six times! It’s literally like they cut all the dialogue, and then shot from a logline, and since they had nothing to say, they just said the same thing over and over and over, figuring that would help the audience figure out what the fuck was going on.
I wasn’t going to put this here at all. Back in January, I believe I said it probably wasn’t Unforgivable, just very disappointing. But you know what? After seeing New Girl, and seeing what a Liz Meriwether script is like without that much interference (because admittedly, TV, they interfere all the time. Which is fine, but, even so — look how this Pilot turned out. Also, don’t feel bad about watching it. They put it online for free to get people interested in the show), I had to make this Unforgivable. Because how can you ruin something like that?
8. Crazy, Stupid, Love.
I had to do it. I was originally going to make this #12, simply because I said everything I needed to say about this movie back when I reviewed it in August.
You can read my review of the movie here. You should. It’s probably better than anything that’ll be in this article. It seems only once a year do I get that angry. (Okay, maybe twice.)
Honestly, if I hadn’t already posted it, I’d probably have put this film in the top five.
The reason I ultimately stuck by this as being Unforgivable is because I reread that review I wrote. And I remembered everything about the film that angered me when I first saw it, and agreed with all of it. There’s almost nothing redeeming about this movie, and I disliked it very, very much.
Seriously though, if I didn’t already post that review, it would have been #3.
7. Sucker Punch
Boy, this one was a no-brainer, huh? What the hell happened here?
Or, was there actually nothing there to begin with for that statement to apply?
I remember hearing about this, that Zack Snyder was creating this fucked up movie about all this stuff, and I had some small interest in it. It’s because, while I detest the mostly green-screen work Snyder does, Dawn of the Dead and 300 were pretty good movies. That is to say, I enjoyed them. Not as much as some people, but I did enjoy them. And to me, Watchmen was a top ten film of 2009 (and I’m not even someone who had read the book before the movie came out). I knew nothing about that movie at all before I saw it, and I fucking loved it. So I figured — at the very least, he can make this badass.
But then the trailer came out. And that was okay, but I still had my worries. It seemed like he was trying to skate by entirely on badass images. And I wasn’t ready to go all in to see that movie. (Even though I heard that rumor that he had musical numbers in it. Any film that does the musical number, I’m interested in.) But I did have certain expectations. Here’s what I said about it a year ago:
“Here’s a movie that, I guarantee you, will be awesome. It will look good, despite being horrendously CG and green-screened, have some random awesome moments, have no coherent story to tell of, have complete stereotyped characters, be offensive in some way, and not be boring enough to speak that badly of.”
I got two things wrong here. It wasn’t awesome, and it was boring enough to speak very badly of. Other than that — I was spot on. All I really did was overestimate the quality of the film.
The real problem with this was the fact that Snyder got so wrapped up in his own success (I’m totally making this up right now. This is just what it seems like based solely on the film evidence. The only reason this is here is because I don’t want this to seem like one of those attack articles bitter journalists write. I hate those.), that he felt he could just do what he did before. Which is fine, except — you need to tell a story for all those visual flourishes to work. Watchmen worked on the green screen because you were recreating a comic book and because it had a really solid story to tell. 300 worked because there was a story there. This didn’t have a story. This was a vague, esoteric idea that is just like Guy Ritchie’s Revolver. It’s a film that only makes sense to one person, and the one person felt that as long as they put their visual stamp on it, people would enjoy it and go see it. That’s why I have a problem with this movie.
This movie is inaccessible from beginning to end, and then it takes liberties with the action scenes, pointing at itself and celebrating its badass-ness as if it warranted it. It’s like a terrible NFL player getting a garbage time touchdown in Week 16 (his first of the season) and celebrating like he’s this big badass even though he shouldn’t even be doing anything based on his lack of production. You have to earn slow-mo badass action images. If your film sucks and you’re like, “Look at me, I’m awesome,” you come off as a tool.
This movie is nothing but a bunch of action scenes laid on top of an optical illusion of a plot. It seems like one’s there, because it’s operating like one is — but there really isn’t. And the reason this is Unforgivable is because this was completely self-indulgent (this is the movie he got made because his other movies were successes. You learn a lot about filmmakers by knowing what their passion projects are. Oliver Stone’s passion project was Alexander. Martin Scorsese’s were Gangs of New York and The Last Temptation of Christ. Zack Snyder’s — Sucker Punch) and provided nothing of value for that self-indulgence. This is just a terrible movie all around, and one that could have easily been saved if only they told a story that wasn’t a precursor to action sequences!
I have to hand it to Snyder, though. He just got the coveted Superman gig, directing Man of Steel. So when the second Superman movie in ten years bombs and turns out terrible, this time, people will actually go, “Well, I guess we all saw this coming.” It’s rare for them to actually have an out like that.
PS: You’re right, poster. I was very unprepared for how terrible this would be.
And speaking of CGI costumes…
6. Green Lantern
God, this was a piece of shit, wasn’t it?
This is here simply because Warner Bros. thought they could buy their way out of trouble. This is an example of how a blockbuster can go horribly, horribly wrong.
Okay, they start with the property. They’re going to make a Green Lantern movie. The fanboys are happy. They cast Ryan Reynolds, who was all over the place when they announced this. Unfortunately, by the time this movie came out (and also because of it), the country was over him. Had they gone with their second choice, Bradley Cooper, they might have caught him at just the right time in his trajectory. Either way, this casting decision — well, it didn’t really matter one way or the other.
Then they wrote a script. I’m sure it was okay. Passable by genre standards. Kind of like Thor. They hire Martin Campbell, who directed what I consider the two best Bond movies since Connery left: GoldenEye and Casino Royale. To me, these are top ten Bond movies for all time. He also directed another personal favorite of mine: Vertical Limit. (I don’t know why I love that film, I just do.) And he had just come off of Edge of Darkness, which was actually a really solid film, despite being obscured by everyone hating Mel. So that seemed like a good decision.
But somewhere along the way — things went really badly. I’m guessing it’s because the script was pretty flimsy, because Green Lantern (or Hal Jordan. Whatever the hell it is), much like the superheroes that don’t work on screen anymore — Superman, etc. — doesn’t really have any flaws. We like Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark because they are flawed people. There is an interesting character there. Studios just aren’t getting that. That’s why these movies will continue to fail (ultimately). When your hero is just a bland person whose flaws are really only on paper, there’s nothing for him to learn. Even Captain America had some flaw — he was short, he wanted to be a hero, but couldn’t because no one wanted him. That’s interesting. That’s why the better superhero movies are better. The heroes have character traits. If Superman were secretly a kryptonite junkie, I’d be much more interested in him.
Also — does Hal Jordan get scared shitless whenever he takes a piss? No one ever mentions that.
Anyway, I’m guessing that when they started shooting, they saw that things just weren’t coming together, and they said, “Well, we’ll just add more CGI, and make it bigger.” And they tried to mask a lack of plot or story by just adding more action sequences. (Seriously? A roller coaster ramp for a car?) And that’s not okay. I don’t understand why people still don’t understand the basic element of these movies is story first! People don’t care about the explosions. They like when the explosions are part of an interesting or unique story. You know why Christopher Nolan’s movies work? Because he gives a shit about the goddamn characters! You know why Iron Man 2 didn’t work? Because they cut out the story of Tony Stark and put in more explosions and set pieces. No one gave a shit about Mickey Rourke swearing revenge. They wanted to see Tony do what he does and fuck up his life while trying to do the right thing.
This film is another example of what’s wrong. Money in place of a plot. $200 million and nothing of value from it.
I’m also pretty sure this film broke up a marriage.
Don’t tell me you’re surprised.
Sometimes you have to do it. Sometimes a piece of shit is just so bad you have to call it out. Despite wanting to give it a pass because it’s not trying to be anything — sometimes we need to attack things in the hope that they never come back.
When watching this film back in July, I decided to live blog it to my friends. This is the result:
I’m watching Zookeeper. I’m hoping when people go to the theater to see this they give them some complimentary sleeping pills and bottle of gin.
I mean this in the best possible way — WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE? Kevin James and a gorilla are singing along to Flo Rida in a fucking pedophile van! WHY ARE THERE NO POLICE DOING ANYTHING ABOUT THIS?
Next thing you know, they’re gonna stop by a bar, wearing casts on their hands, asking for help moving a couch. “Just get all the way in the back….oh wait, was she a great big fat person?”
Seriously — they’re eating at fucking Friday’s! WHY DOES NOBODY NOTICE THERE’S A GORILLA AT THE FUCKING TABLE? Oh, wait, it’s Friday’s. The clientele look like that there.
But let’s flash back to how we got here. Treat this like a noir…
It was one of those long nights. The long nights that lead to even longer days. There was a rattling in the alley. Probably just another crooked street peddler on an all night bender. I’d planned on settling in early, but like every good intention, it didn’t go according to plan….
(Cue the man with the saxophone standing under the streetlight.)
I wish I could continue that, but I really just need to start tearing into this fucking thing.
The movie opens with Kevin James and a woman on a horse. They’re on the beach at sunset. They’re shown in silhouette. Kevin James’s silhouette is almost as big as the horse’s. As they ride, they see a message in a bottle on the beach. If you think there’s a cheesy proposal coming, you’re absolutely right. Apparently everyone sees it coming except this bitch on the horse.
So Kevin James proposes, and she turns him down. How do we know she’s gonna turn him down? Because it’s clearly set in the past. He’s made up to look younger. And because he’s Kevin James.
So she breaks up with him, citing the fact that he’s still a zookeeper as the main reason. She says she thought his being a zookeeper was a phase, like being in the mailroom, potty training, or chemotherapy. All three of which would be less painful than the way this film has started.
She tells him she thought he’d eventually leave the zookeeper job after a while and do something more. She was hoping he’d be more like her dream guy. Because, that’s how relationships work, don’t'cha know? If you hope really hard, a person will change into exactly what you want them to be without you having to say anything. (This is what’s known as the Grease effect.)
Also, if someone works at the zoo, what does it say about you if you’re expecting them, within five years, to be a tax attorney?
So she breaks up with him, and they have to ride off the beach together, because, you know, you break up, then you go sit down and eat at Chili’s together. And as they ride, he tells her he “may have hired a mariachi band.” And randomly, there’s a mariachi band on the beach, which she didn’t know about. How she didn’t notice a bunch of Mexicans in sombreros standing where they just passed is beyond me, but, maybe Kevin James’s shadow caused a momentary eclipse. (It’s not a five o’clock shadow, he just puts it between ten and two.)
Now we cut to five years later (if you notice, these shitty comedies always cut to years later. Just wait until we get to #1), after some horrendous opening titles that look like no one even gave a shit.
(Note: Major pet peeve of mine — establishing shots of a city over the credits. I seriously might start cutting throats if I have to see another shitty comedy that cuts to a title card or a scene in the city with a helicopter shot revolving through or around bridges and shots of traffic, buildings, and all that other shit. We know it’s a fucking city. We don’t need that shit. It’s lazy filmmaking. Seriously, watch for it. You’ll be amazed at how often they do it. They just cut to like five seconds of shots of bridges and the city for no reason at all, just to let you know, “This is where we are.” Which is hysterical, since 90% of this movie takes place in a fucking zoo!)
I hate it. I hate this film. This film has already started on bad feet.
At least there isn’t voiceover.
We cut to Kevin James, still working in the zoo, and apparently still really happy to be there. It seems the animals are his only friends. He likes talking to them more than he likes talking to humans. I’m sure there’s a bunch of pedestrians with his AK-47′s name on it. (Note: He can’t go postal, so what would it be? Going gorillas? That sound good, Kanye?)
The real problem with this whole thing is — we see him walking into the animal’s areas, right up to them, and talk to them, and not once do they — you know — fucking maul him to death! HE’S IN A CAGE WITH LIONS! LIONS KILL YOU! THEY CAN EAT FOR LIKE A WEEK OFF KEVIN JAMES!
I know the point of the movie is that they like him and they talk — BUT THEY’RE FUCKING ANIMALS! I bet that tiger loved Roy. He still mauled him half to fucking death, didn’t he?
So Kevin James is being nice to the animals. He’s also friends with Rosario Dawson, because women who work at the zoo always look like that. They have a random scene where they save a tiger or a lion or a liger something. It happens for no real reason other then to have them work together and have one of them say “You did it,” and for the other to say, “No…we did it.”
Excuse me while I just involuntarily jerk off right now.
Then they cut to Kevin James’s brother having a party to celebrate — I don’t know, something — at the zoo. There are a lot of parties that happen for no real reason in this movie other than to serve what happens next in the plot. But at least there is a plot, right?
Anyway, Kevin James makes a speech, and pretty much lays out exactly what the rest of the movie is gonna be about. Then we find out he wants to get his ex-girlfriend back, and we find out she might, sort of want him back. Because you know what they say — once you go Kevin James — I don’t know. That joke burst into flames. Why the fuck would she want to be back with him? I guess because she’s a cunt.
So he thinks he’s gonna get back with her, and then Joe Rogan shows up. Because of course it’s Joe Rogan. And he’s the asshole of the film. Along with Donnie Wahlberg, who’s the low-key asshole. You see, there’s the human nemesis and the animal nemesis. But Donnie’s not really the animal nemesis, because they only tell you he’s a dick to the animals. You never actually see it. Joe Rogan is an asshole because he says mean things to Kevin James. This is all very complex. I hope you can keep up with it.
Anyway, all the animals (who watched the party) decide they want to help out Kevin James. They do this by having a meeting, where, somehow, they don’t all kill each other. The meeting is presided over by the king of the zoo — the lion — voiced by Sylvester Stallone, who sounds like he’s had both Down’s Syndrome and a stroke. His wife is played by Cher. I guess because they wanted to see how much plastic surgery they could fit into one couple.
Then there’s the giraffe, voiced by Maya Rudolph, who has to play this as the worst black stereotype they could think of. Think if Maya Rudolph were playing a black stereotype — as written by the SNL writers. The 2011 SNL writers. It’s — awful. There’s one point where she does this pseudo rap thing, and it’s the equivalent of if your mother tried rapping in front of your friends. I am so embarrassed that this scene exists. I hope they euthanized that giraffe.
There’s also the monkey, played by Adam Sandler, who voices it in such a way that it sounds like the dumb Adam Sandler character he always plays had a stroke and is trying to play a retarded monkey. I am not joking.
There’s also an elephant, voiced by Judd Apatow (therefore, coded as Jewish), two bears, voiced by John Favreau and Faison Love — you can see where they thought they’d go right here — but no. No they don’t. I would never want to go to a zoo if I knew this is what the animals sounded like.
The main animal here is the gorilla. He stays hidden in his area, because he’s lonely. Kevin James tries to get him to come out of his shell. The gorilla is voiced by Nick Nolte, who sounds like what metastasized throat cancer sounds like. The two characters are meant to be parallels. So I guess this just like 48 Hrs.
(Note: Hrs. in this case is an abbreviation for “extra pounds.”)
The animals get together and tell Kevin James they’re gonna help him get his woman back. They also tell him they can talk. At which point he never once asks about all the shit he’s told them over the years. (“So that means you understood when I told you I started jacking it to the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics?”)
To do this, they’re going to give him tips. He goes along with this — I guess because he has no shame. There’s actually a scene where two bears show him how to walk, and he struts around, gut out, huffing and puffing and walking like a bear. If that shit worked, I’d get more ass than a Mexican delivery boy.
I also love how not once does he question the fact that he’s taking advice from animals, who only know what they’re biologically programmed to do. Because based on the logic of this movie, Sylvester Stallone would be teaching him to sneak up behind the woman, quickly pull out his dick, fuck her for five seconds, ejaculate, then move away. And he’d just do it and never think, “Wow. You know, maybe I should take her into account during all this.”
There’s also a series of scenes where Kevin James tries to take the animals’ advice. One of these attempts occurs at a random bike race, because they just needed to have that happen. What would a shitty comedy be without an unnecessary competition scene between the main character and the smarmy nemesis? I’ll tell you what it would be — better.
In this sequence (I call it that because by definition, I have to), Kevin James shows up late and all the bikes are taken. It just so happens — they have one left. One of those adult tricycle things. Get it? Fat man on a little bike. Hilarious, right?
Is there a way for me to throw scabies at this movie?
So Kevin Kames rides around on this fucking tricycle, trying to derail Joe Rogan as they yell about how they’re gonna get the girl (who hears and sees none of this. Because she’s just meat with eyes). Sometimes there aren’t enough fruit stands. and in this case, fruit stand signifies very large bus that kills upon impact.
Anyway, about midway through the movie, Kevin James and the gorilla go to TGI Friday’s. That’s not a euphemism. No one notices the gorilla because he’s wearing a t-shirt. They explain this to the waitress as, they just came from a costume party. She buys this, because the gorilla is wearing a t-shirt. And can talk.
I guess if Superman can get away with just those glasses, right? Oh wait — he’s not someone who spent years in a fucking zoo, not bathing and shitting all over the place. Does no one smell this fucking thing?
I’m talking about Kevin James, by the way.
Then there’s a series of scenes where they do crazy shit at Friday’s, because that’s apparently how they roll over there. The only thing missing was a keg stand.
The highlight of this is a moment where the gorilla is dancing with a woman (who also doesn’t know he’s a real gorilla), cheek to cheek, to Meat Loaf (“Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”), and she’s telling him how amazing it is that she met him. Almost like it’s fate, even.
To reiterate — there’s a moment where a woman, at TGI Friday’s, has met, partied with, and is now dancing slowly with a gorilla, and is smitten with him, telling him she can’t believe she’s never met a guy like him before.
Again — a woman, is telling a gorilla, SHE WANTS TO TAKE HIM HOME AND HAVE SEX WITH HIM.
Ladies and gentleman, I give you the lowest common denominator.
So they come back from Friday’s, and then there’s the scene where he (Kevin James, not the gorilla, but honestly it’s all fair game at this point) recruits Rosario Dawson to accompany him to a party in order to make the woman feel jealous, but then of course he’s going to realize he likes Rosario more, and all that bullshit.
Honestly, I stopped trying at this point. There’s a scene where they swing around on ropes and shit, it’s fucking chaos. I honestly don’t even know — wait, is he riding a fucking ostrich?
I’m sorry. I’m at the end, and Kevin James just got on an ostrich — the gorilla is driving the van — the birds are flying him around, they’re climbing on the bridge (Note: This is also how Rise of the Planet of the Apes ended) — I honestly just wish I were drinking right now.
They should offer you either a ticket to this film or a handgun and give you a good long second to think about your choices in life.
Seriously, there’s no reason for this movie to exist. I really wish it was called Paul Blart: Maul Cop, and the entire movie was Kevin James being fed to lions.
4. Something Borrowed
There’s always one really bad romantic comedy that makes it on. The kind that you know is going to be horrible, and then it is, and then despite knowing this, you still wish they had vaccines for it.
I’m going to go over the Wikipedia synopsis for this one, line by line, and comment on it. Because just by seeing the plot, you’ll understand how terrible this movie is, and how much it deserves to be verbally annihilated.
Also, I’d like to point out — in every scene of this movie, Kate Hudson is holding a drink. You know how in Ocean Eleven, Brad Pitt is always eating something? Well this is just like that, but with alcoholism.
Oh, and another thing I’d like to point out. This is what Wikipedia says about the film’s reception:
“Something Borrowed has received overwhelmingly negative reviews. Many commenters on film review websites slam this film for its sub-par acting on the account of the protagonists. More notably, thousands of viewers were displeased with the story line’s condoning for irresponsible, selfish, barely believable, and often downright cruel behavior on the part of Rachel and Dexter’s characters.”
It’s a romantic comedy based on irresponsible, selfish and downright cruel behavior by its protagonists. Sure, what can go wrong there?
Also, just so no one’s confused about the characters (because honestly, who gives a fuck what anybody’s name is in this movie?): Ginnifer Goodwin is Rachel, Kate Hudson is Darcy, John Krasinski is Ethan, and random douchebag from soap operas is Dex.
Okay. And, here we go.
Rachel White (Jesus. White? Are you kidding me? You name a character White? That’s like naming a slaveowner Joe Oppressor.) is (Let me guess… “young.” All of these characters are young nowadays. They have to tell you they’re young because young people are the ones going to see the movies.) a single (Oh, right. It’s a Rom Com. She has to be single.), cute (Fuck you. Cute. Why don’t you blow me?) attorney (Job never matters. She’s ultimately gonna decide she wants to be a housewife anyway. That’s how these movies work.) working in a New York law firm. (It’s always either New York or LA. Never is there a romantic comedy that takes place in Duluth.) After too many drinks (This sounds exactly like how I ended up watching this movie.) on her 30th birthday (Right there, you know this movie is filled with the problems of a stupid, vapid cunt. “Oh no, I’m 30. When will I find love?” Seriously, just kill yourself), Rachel grabs a cab with Dex (I interpret this as a euphemism.) and playfully reveals (She can’t just reveal it, can she? She has to playfully reveal it. Excuse me while I playfully slap you in the face with my dick.) she has had a crush on him since law school. (Because, you know, you never actually tell the person at the time. No, that would be too much.) The problem is, Dex is also her best friend Darcy’s fiancé. (Of course you wait until he’s engaged to your best friend. That’s what a cunt would do.) They wake up in (Calcutta.) bed together the next morning to Darcy calling (“Khan!!!!”) both of their phones. (Motherfuckin’ Jam.) Dex sneaks out and they do not have time to speak about what happened between them. (“So what was with the whole Judi Dench thing you made me do?”) What Rachel thinks is a one night stand, is actually the beginning of (A medieval crusade. A tragic journey of self-discovery as she destroys herself and the people she loves. A daring adventure as she and a ragtag group of ne’er-do-wells try to save the Rec Center from mean old Mr. Dastly and his business schemes.) an emotional roller coaster (Who wrote this synopsis? You seem to care much more about this movie than the people who made it.) once Dex tells Rachel he is (Gay. Adopted. Gay and adopted. Really her brother. Really her brother who is gay and adopted. A ghost.) in love with her. What also follows is a web of (Spider-Man) lies (Every movie should have, whether it warrants it or not, someone screaming the line, “This family is a web of lies!!”) created by Rachel and Dex to Darcy and several others. (Doesn’t a web of lies make you feel romantic?) Rachel continuously conjures up (Demons. Dead pirates. Her viking ancestors. Mephistopheles. Dick Haymes.) false stories of sexual relationships with Ethan and Marcus (Who the fuck is Marcus?) to cover up her sexual encounters with Dex. (There’s more than one? Are you seriously building a relationship that’s supposed to sustain a romance based on cheating and deceit of a best friend?)
Ethan (Who has had nothing to do until this point.) has been friends with Darcy and Rachel since (They raped and killed his parents outside of a theater when he was a child.) childhood. (What did I say?) He is the only one who knows (That Rachel has both male and female genitalia.) what has happened between Rachel and Dex, which he is reluctantly keeping a secret. (Oh boy! Coercion! Now we’re hitting all those genre beats!)
Meanwhile, Dex’s mother has been suffering from (Alzheimer’s, right? All parents seem to suffer from Alzheimer’s in the movies nowadays.) depression (That doesn’t count. This is a movie! Minor characters don’t really have depression.) for some time and Dex and Darcy’s wedding is the only thing keeping her sane and happy. (Why? Why is that the one thing? Did you try telling her about the rabbits?)
When Dex skips out on 4 July weekend (Oh, it was written by someone not from America. That makes more sense.) in the Hamptons to stay in the City and spend time with Rachel, they run into his parents. (Just to be sure we’re on the same page — he’s ignoring his fiancée and is spending time with her best friend. Man, people are fucked up.) His father suspects (she is a Nazi) something is going on between the two of them and he tells Dex to end it as soon as possible (Finish Her!), saying that what he wants should not be considered a priority (That’s kind of cold, Dad.) when it conflicts with what is right. (Since when is marrying Kate Hudson automatically the right thing to do? Isn’t she twice divorced or something?) Considering his mother and father’s feelings (What is this, Victorian England?), Dex gives Rachel the cold shoulder (Fun fact: The “cold shoulder” becomes the “wet t-shirt” once the ice melts.) and leaves her to go back to Darcy (who has been partying the Hamptons all weekend with Dex’s friend, Marcus). (That parenthetical was theirs, not mine. Also, I love how everyone is fucking somebody else, and everyone is acting like an asshole to each other. Great way to make a romantic comedy. You know if you shot this for $2 million with handheld cameras, this would have won Sundance, right?)
As the wedding nears, Dex and Rachel are speaking less and less. (Way to use tenses.) At the beach, their secret is almost revealed by Ethan, who is frustrated with Rachel not taking what she wants and especially lying to people she cares about, but Rachel stops him by hitting him in the face with a badminton racket. (Was this written by an international student? Holy shit, with the run on and the grammar. Also, what the fuck does this even mean? He’s frustrated with her for “not taking what she wants.” What is she taking? Wasn’t he against the whole sleeping around thing and not telling Kate Hudson? Isn’t that what the whole “lying to people she cares about” thing is about? Also — if an unlikable character who has done horrible things all movie then goes and hits their best friend (and only source of logic in the film) in the face with a badminton racket, is that supposed to be funny? Because that’s how this film is treating it. I’m sure that has nothing to do with why the film sucks, though.) This results in his nose becoming very badly broken. (Well, no fucking shit it does. She hit him in the fucking face with it!) Ethan is frustrated with Rachel because (SHE HIT HIM IN THE FACE WITH A FUCKING RACKET!) she doesn’t see that he is the only one who really cares about her. (This movie is filled with people whose problems could have been solved if only they said shit to each other. Know what that’s called? The Idiot Plot. Films with an Idiot Plot have a very high probability of being Unforgivable.) That night at the bar, (Also known as “the scene of the crime” in this film.) Rachel finally tells Dex that she wants him to call off the wedding so they can be together, (2/3 of the way into the movie.) but he tells her that he can’t. (Schmuck.)
Ethan moves to London for a (blow) job and Rachel flies out to visit him. He reveals that he (is gay) loves her and just wants to see her happy, (Not realizing that telling her that will make her anything but.) but is sad that Rachel refuses to see what’s right in front of her. (Actually, Rachel is blind. You’re just a dick.) Rachel returns to New York to find Dex sitting on her (I bet she’ll be sitting on some Dex. Am I right? Huh? Huh? Oh come on, don’t even act like I’m not the best part of this synopsis.) doorstep. He reveals that he ended things with Darcy and called off the wedding. (I’d forgive this movie if, right now, they just said, “Let’s Dance!”, and randomly started dancing to “Ghostbusters” and that’s how the movie ended.)
Rachel is ecstatic until (She realizes she doesn’t know what that word means.) Darcy ends up (Killing her with a spear.) at her door begging to come in to talk. (WILMA!!) Dex hides (the salami) and Darcy enters her (Cave of Wonders) apartment. She tells Rachel that she (can show her the world. Shining, shimmering splendor) ended things with Dex and has been cheating on him with his friend Marcus. (The theme of this movie: Everyone’s a cunt! Hooray, audience-pleasing!) She is also pregnant with Marcus’ child and says that they are very happy. (Who, her and the child?) Rachel gives her her blessing (Who is she, Michael Corleone?) and Darcy proceeds to leave but only to return (“She proceeds to leave but only to return” — I love whoever wrote this.) and ask what Dex’s jacket is doing in her apartment. (“Uhh…we’re not in your apartment.” Way to use grammar.) Dex then comes out (of the closet!) and Darcy figures (it) out (and) Rachel (gets slimed) is the other woman. (Pretty sure until this point she had no idea there even was another woman.) She becomes infuriated (About what? You were also cheating on him, you shallow cunt!) and storms out of the apartment (She should have Cyclops’d out of the apartment. Much more destruction.), telling Rachel that she hates her. (Does telling someone you hate them, especially when you’ve known them for years and years, mean anything anymore?)
Two months later, Rachel and Darcy ran into each other on the street. (A lot of running into happening in this movie. That’s how you know it’s shitty, when people have to meet by coincidence more than once.) They have not spoken since (The accident.) the incident and Darcy (Still has her anus taped up.) says that she is happy, but doesn’t sound so convincing. (Oh, but she did the first time?) Rachel is unapologetic for sleeping for Dex (Seriously. What a cunt.), but is sorry for hurting Darcy (with her pimp hand). As they leave, they turn back and glance at each other (With their cold, beady eyes.), with Darcy smiling and waving. (Why? Because they’re trying to make everything better. Honestly, I hope this takes an R. Kelly turn and we find out they all have AIDS.) Rachel walks around the corner (Departed ending. Departed ending. Come on…) to Dex sitting on a bench. (“I could eat about a million and a half of these!”) They walk down the street together. (This woman is the relationship Keyser Soze.)
The film ends with an ambiguous (ly gay duo?) scene during the credits. Darcy shows up to surprise Ethan in London (Oh god, just kill her and get it over with.); Ethan tries to ignore her and briskly walks away. (That’s ambiguous?) The screen turns black (Like, the opposite of vitiligo?) with text indicating that the story is to be continued, which may indicate that a movie based on Something Blue, which is the book sequel to Something Borrowed, will follow. (NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!)
But seriously, folks. This movie fucking sucked. It’s laughable how unlikable all the characters are and how much you want them all to die while watching this movie.
3. Hall Pass
This is a movie written by people out of touch with comedy.
Nothing in this movie is remotely funny. It seems like people reaching for what they think people find funny. Not what is funny — what they think people find funny. Remember in the 90s when the Farrelly brothers made funny movies? I guess, once the 2000s started, comedy changed. And they just got out of touch with the times. Admittedly, comedy has changed (for better or worse, that’s not really for me to decide. Clearly I say worse, though) over the past decade. It’s gotten more vulgar and profane, and tends to be more about shocking than anything else. And it seems like, for a while there, the Farrellys were going with what they used to do, and that didn’t work, so then they tried to adjust with the times. Which is what brought us this abortion.
Not one thing that happens in this movie is remotely funny. That’s its main problem. Most of the time, you’re watching a story take place and they’re not even trying to be funny. And the problem with that is — comedy is a genre in which, inherently, the story isn’t that good. That’s kind of the point, most of the time. So when you’re not even trying to make jokes, it’s just dead air. This movie is 90 minutes of dead air. And when they do try to be funny, it falls really flat and makes you wonder if this is what they truly thought an audience would find funny. It’s kind of like if you were wearing weighted clothes and then tried to run a funny marathon. Anything it tries to do feels heavy and you can see coming. And it’s the kind of thing where you’re like, “You seriously took all that effort to set up that?”
Here’s the thing: Owen Wilson — not a comedian. Nice guy, likable screen presence, does well playing nice, average, and stupid. Not a guy you’re gonna watch try to be funny. It’s just not in him.
Here’s what I’m going to do for this one. I’m going to write out, line by line (without scene directions. No need to make this longer than it’s already going to be. Unless they’re necessary, of course), every word of dialogue spoken in this movie. And I will stop when something is remotely funny, interesting, or vaguely original, or when we’re ten minutes in. Whichever comes first, that’s when I’ll stop. Okay? I also want you to do the same. Let’s see where we finish.
I also want you to pay attention to how many lines are spoken that are, for the most part, throwaway lines. Stuff that, while inconsequential when done once, can build over time and create lots of negative space where nothing is happening. As a writer, I notice these things. I’m talking about when you start a scene with two characters saying “Hello” to one another. If you’re trying to save space in a film (time-wise), having characters start and end every scene with “hello” and “goodbye” (unless they’re the Beatles) is four unnecessary lines. And bad movies tend to leave all that stuff in. I want you to pay attention to how many lines are spoken here that are of no substance whatsoever (aside from all of them).
- “You recognize who this stud is in the blue shorts right here? That’s me the summer I got out of college.”
- “Wow, Dad. You used to have muscles.”
- “Well, I still got a few.”
- “They’re hibernating.”
- “Who’s that girl?”
- “That’s Mommy.”
- “No, the young one standing next to you.”
- “That’s Mommy.”
- “How come Mommy doesn’t wear a bikini anymore?”
- “Is it because of her fat ass?”
- “Yeah…I guess. What? No! No, no – who said Mommy has a fat ass?”
- “Mommy did.”
- “Words hurt, Gunnar.”
- “Hey, honey. You know, we better get a move on, we gotta meet up with Fred and Grace soon.”
- “No, I know, I know, I’m trying.”
- “How long do you think you’re gonna be?”
- “Uhh – 45 minutes? Less if you help with the kids.”
- “No – 45 minutes is good… And this photgraph is of me in high school… I’m kidding. A joke! Come on!… Okay, come on. Bath time! Time to scrub some backs and clean some cracks.”
- “I miss going out with you on Saturday nights.”
- “I wanna have a new policy where we go out six nights a week without the kids…Seriously, though, I think it would be good to go out one night a week where it’s just you and me.”
- “You’ve gotta be kidding me.”
- “You just checked out that girl’s butt.”
- “Who did?”
- “You did. And it’s incredibly rude.”
- “You think she noticed?”
- “I noticed.”
- “Oh yeah. I’m just spacy tonight, honey. I’m sorry.”
- “Guys, come on, we’re late!”
- “How you doing?”
- “Grace, let me ask you a question – does Fred ever check out other women in front of you?”
- “Fred? No, no. Fred’s not a gawker. He’s a good boy. Come on, let’s go say hi to Dr. Lucy.”
- “Let’s go get a beer.”
- “Hi! Hi!”
- “Thank you, thank you.”
- “Our first friend to win an award.”
- “Oh, stop it. I don’t deserve this thing.”
- “Oh, come on! Yes you do! Yes you do!”
- “It’s embarrassing. The whole thing is just embarrassing.”
- “Is this amateur hour? How the hell does your wife keep catching you checking out another girl?”
- “Because she walked by and I glanced for like half a second. Two beers please.”
- “You got it.”
- “Hey, Quagmire, you don’t wait for the girl to walk past and then glance back at her, okay? You gotta spot her from fifteen feet away, turn, then wait for her to walk into your line of vision.”
- “What do you mean?”
- “Don’t you get it? You can’t help it if her butt walks where you’re already looking.”
- “Oh, where you were looking. It’s your air space. What could you do?”
- “Is that original?”
- “Hey guys!”
- “Hey, Missy!”
- “Drink up, you guys. Let’s get this party started!”
- “Well, she sure is looking chipper for someone who went through a divorce.”
- “Yeah. God – you know what I love about divorcées? They love sex.”
- “Is that true?”
- “I don’t know. I like to think so.”
- “You would like to think that it’s true.”
- “Look at those meatheads, checking out Missy Frankinopolis.”
- “What do they think, they’re invisible?”
- “I know!”
- “Hey, I thought you said Fred isn’t a gawker?”
- “He was standing right there! I can’t let him know that I know. It’ll take all the fun out of it. Oh god, he has this stupid move, where he looks back, and he waits for the girl to pass, so that it seems like he couldn’t help but notice her ass. It’s pathetic.”
- “You wanna hear a great idea? Why don’t you go upstairs and slip into something uncomfortable while I give the babysitter a ride home?”
(Note: We’re not counting unintentionally funny lines. These are a staple of bad movies and make them moderately tolerable for small moments. We’re looking for something to not make this Unforgivable. Find something yet?)
- “I want to, honey, I really do. It’s just, it’s after midnight, and I gotta get up early with the kids.”
- “No, no. I’ll get up with the kids. I’ll get up early, take them to the park, I’ll take them to Finn’s birthday party. You just stay in bed and play back some of the more acrobatic highlights from the show I’m about to put on for you.”
- “Oooh. Okay, I’m in.”
- “You’re home!”
- “Sorry. He couldn’t fall asleep.”
- “So how were the little monsters tonight?”
- “Perfect. That Gunnar is so cute. He’s like a little monkey who just wants to climb all over me.”
- “All right, here we were. Night, thank you.”
- “Mr. Mills, can I ask you something?”
- “Sure. Go ahead.”
- “I was wondering, umm – can you buy me some beer?”
- “Buy you some – how old are you?”
- “I’ll be 21 next week.”
- “Wow. That’s a biggie. Happy birthday.”
- “Yeah. So – could you?”
- “Well, you know, the law is pretty clear on this. I think you can actually get in a lot of trouble—“
- “Come on! I’m a junior in college. You drank when you were in college, didn’t you?”
- “Besides, it’s so arbitrary. How does it make sense that 20 is old enough to vote or watch porn but it’s too young to have a beer?”
- “Really? 20 is old enough to, umm…?”
- “No, the other thing.”
- “Watch porn? Oh yeah. Half the girls in those things are my age. I mean, unless it’s that weird fetish stuff where the women are like 40… Look, I promise. No one’s gonna find out. Come on. Join me down at the river. We’ll listen to some tunes, and suck down a few beers.”
- (This is all what happens as he imagines what will happen if he does it.) “Freeze, right there!”
- “Sir, you’re under arrest for supplying alcohol to a minor!”
- “You’re fired!”
- “I award your wife the house, the cars, and half your wages.”
- “I don’t want you walking me down the aisle. You cheated on mom!”
- “I don’t want you to mess up the ceremony. You cheated on mom!”
- “Get out!”
- “What I mean is that, I’m sorry. I can’t do it.”
- “Why not?”
- “Because, it would be inappropriate, Paige.”
- “What is that, your adult voice? That would be inappropriate, Paige. Come on. It’s beer.”
- “No, Paige! Come on. What are you thinking? I’m a married man. I have children. You think they’d like me down at the river, all alone, drinking beer with a co-ed?”
- “I never said alone. My boyfriend and his roommates are down there.”
- “Okay. You better head inside now. Night Paige.”
- “Eww. What the hell were you thinking?”
- “Okay, scoot along now, Paige.”
- “Oh, thank god you’re still awake.”
- “Hi. Gunnar just went to sleep.”
- “Let’s tiptoe. Very quiet and still.”
- “I’m scared. Can I sleep with you tonight?”
- “Aww… Daddy?”
- “No. Absolutely not.”
- “Daddy – words hurt, you know.”
- “Well –”
- “Come on, she’s scared. We can let her –“
- “Are you serious? This isn’t just about her cockblocking. I don’t like that my daughter needs someone to sleep with her every night. That’s not gonna be good when she goes to college.”
- “Well, can someone at least read me a story?”
- “Okay, one quick story. Jump up.”
- “What is this new expression, “Words hurt.” Where did you get that?”
- “Mommy? Okay, well, Mommy isn’t always right. You know what my dad had? A belt. Okay? And that hurt… (cut to him reading her a story) Amazingly her plan worked. The gum kept the door from banging and we never heard “Don’t slam the door” again. The end.”
- “There. You look pretty, Daddy.”
- “Good. Okay. That was the last pony tale and it’s time for you to go ‘night night.’ Give me a big hug and a kiss. I love you more.”
- “No I love you more.”
- “No I love you more.”
- “Honey. Honey. No! No!”
- “I won.”
- “Can you believe all the talent here today? I mean, look at this buffet of ass. Can you imagine coming here back when we were single? Oh… the damage we would do. Oh man! Did you get any action last night?”
- “Nah. Came close, but the kids were awake when we got home. What about you? You get lucky?”
- “No. Well, I mean, kinda. You know, Grace conked out right when we got home, so I snuck out to the car, rubbed one out.”
- “What are you, Night Rider? Why can’t you do it in the bathroom like every other guy?”
- “What, and get caught by Grace? Can’t risk that. Nuh uh. And besides – cars turn me on. That’s where I lost my virginity. So I go out there, pump the seat back, put on some tunes. It’s pretty nice. That’s one of those things they don’t tell you when you’re young, huh? That you’re still gonna be jerking off after you get married? I mean, I thought that was just gonna be a teenage thing, right?”
There we are. That’s ten minutes. Anyone find anything even remotely interesting? How can you expect a film not to be Unforgivable when there’s not even one remotely interesting line in the first ten minutes? You know what the only part of those ten minutes is that has to do with the plot? None of it.
Keep in mind, this is supposed to be a comedy. You are supposed to be laughing at the stuff that happens in it.
The rest of this movie is worse. Trust me. Because there are awkward and unfunny scenes as the men, upon getting their “hall pass,” go out and try to get laid. And the “jokes” are that they’ve never actually been single, so they don’t know how to pick up women. And then there’s some crazy car chase and shit at the end — it’s really just a terrible, terrible movie.
Trust me, it belongs here.
2. Jack and Jill
By this point, nothing on this list should come as a shock to anyone. I think we can all agree that these are the universal worst films of the year.
I’m pretty sure, from the moment we all heard this was being made, we penciled it into our “Worst Films of the Year” lists. The best thing about these movies for me is wondering just what goes through Adam Sandler’s head the entire time these films are in production. Because production on a film lasts at least two years. Someone has to pitch the idea, a script has to be written, they have to rewrite the script twelve times and water it down for the idiots in Middle America, they have to shoot it all, probably rewriting it as they shoot it, they have to edit it, and then they have to go do press for it. And I really like to think about what Adam Sandler thinks about during all of this.
I understand him wanting to put all of his friends in the movies with him. I truly do. Grown Ups was an excuse for him and his buddies to hang out for four months. That’s fine. But don’t you have any pride? Don’t you at least want to put out some kind of watchable product? Have you no shame, Adam Sandler?
That should be what this year’s list is called: Have You No Shame, Adam Sandler?
A tragedy in three acts.
Let’s ignore the fact that the entire selling point of this movie is that Adam Sandler is co-starring with himself (and how narcissistic that is) and treat Jill as if she were a real person. Please resist all violent urges for the time being. Let me finish making fun of the film first.
Adam Sandler is an advertising executive. (I love how they give him jobs in these movies, like it fucking matters in the least. All it does is create some bullshit obstacle that has nothing to do with the “plot.”) Thanksgiving is coming, and that means his sister Jill is coming to visit. He hates this, and he hates her. And honestly, after having seen Jill — I agree with him 100%. She’s loud, obnoxious, monstrous, crude, rude, sweats like a leaky water bed, and is the most ungraceful human being on the planet. And everyone seems to paint him as the villain for wanting to distance himself from her. I don’t get it.
And the rest of the film — you know what, fuck it. Do you care? I don’t care.
If you saw this film, you realize what a piece of shit it is. The plot is flimsy enough to be questionable for a half hour series of a Disney Channel show, and the film literally doesn’t even try to get by with the fact that Adam Sandler is playing both characters. They actually try to make Jill a person. In which case — why have Sandler play it in the first place? And — it seems they felt adding cameos would get people to forget the fact that it’s one of the worst films to come out of Hollywood in years.
The only worthwhile thing in this film is Al Pacino’s performance. And I mean that. He is the only one who seems remotely self-aware, and seems to be having fun with the whole thing. His performance is so good that it actually makes you stop and go, “This movie does not deserve what Al Pacino brought to it.” Al Pacino is funnier than the entire cast times four. I’m not even joking.
I don’t even want to waste words on this movie because it doesn’t even deserve to be ridiculed.
I’ll tell you right now, Al Pacino is what kept this from being #1.
Also, while we’re at #1, let’s consider this an unofficial joint #1 and #2, because…
1. Just Go With It
This is two years in a row for Aniston.
Though admittedly this one isn’t her fault. This is Sandler’s fault. She’s just her boring, bland self in it. She’s not the driving force behind the garbage. She’s just another piece on the pile.
This one’s a Sandler creation. He made last year’s list too. (The expansion version. Grown Ups was my #6 worst film of the year.) In fact, he’s made this list aslmost every year for the past five years. (2010: Grown Ups. 2008: You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. 2007: I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.) Technically, this is his third entry onto this list (he was a voice in Zookeeper).
Aniston, meanwhile: Two films on last year’s (complete) list: The Switch and The Bounty Hunter, and a long history of shitty movies.
This movie was pretty much Unforgivable from the moment I laid eyes on it. My criteria for a movie like this is that if it does anything right, then it won’t be Unforgivable. Especially #1 Unforgivable. And I’m proud to say that this movie exceeded even my lowest expectations. It failed with flying colors.
I want to point out that this movie is based on another movie. It doesn’t say it is, because all it stole from that movie is the basic premise. It then warped into the unholy demon spawn you see before you. So honestly, I’m happy they don’t mention that it’s based on the other film, because I don’t want the other film being diminished by its association with this one. (That other film is Cactus Flower, by the way. Walter Matthau and Ingrid Bergman. Goldie Hawn won an Oscar for it. It’s a great film. Same basic premise. Doctor enlists his secretary (who is secretly in love with him) to pretend to be his wife.)
The film begins with a flashback. I feel like almost every Adam Sandler movie begins with a flashback. There must be some kind of Adam Sandler “formula” by which all of his films operate. I don’t care so much about the flashback, outside of how anyone thought the size of the nose they put on Sandler would actually be funny.
The premise is: he’s getting married and overhears his bride-to-be making fun of him behind his back. He hears that she’s been sleeping with her ex. Distraught, he goes to a bar. In his sadness, he ends up picking up a woman. She is sick of getting hit on by men in bars (why she’d go to one alone, dressed like that, and then sit at the bar is beyond me, if she didn’t want to get hit on. But logic and an Adam Sandler movie are two mutually exclusive things), and sees he’s wearing a wedding ring. And he makes up this bullshit story about how he’s getting divorced, and ends up fucking the chick. Which actually says more about her than it does about him.
Then — VOICEOVER. I fucking hate voiceover! And it’s exactly like the voiceover in The Switch, too! Sandler talks over the flashback for like thirty seconds, and leads into the actual movie. Then the voiceover disappears entirely until the very end of the movie. Which begs the question — why fucking put it there at all?! Seriously, that’s how you know a movie is bad, when it just uses voiceover for no reason at all. Not only that, when you listen to the voiceover, and you’re being told something that could easily have been shown through about thirty seconds of screen time (which would probably be better than shots of the city, taxi cabs and bridges and shit that are there now, as the voiceover plays), it shows you the film is lazy and not trying.
Now, after the flash forward, we’re with present day Adam Sandler. You know how we know we’re with him? The fucking voiceover says, “This is me now,” as if we couldn’t tell this is the version of you that looks like you. And as if we were just calmly staring off at the distance, thinking about pizza rolls and Jesus when you said, thirty seconds ago, “This was me a long time ago.” Christ, do you even read the shit they put in front of you, Sandler?
The gist of this is — he’s a successful plastic surgeon, and has been successfully wearing his wedding ring to successfully pick up chicks for years. (Successful has to be beaten over your head, because movies like this use the word successful in order to ignore any form of logic. The amount of money Sandler spends in this movie is insane. I wish someone kept a rolling tab of just what he spends on this ruse. And what this says about him, as well as the rest of the characters. Go ahead. Try it. I bet you it would cost about as much as the actual film did.) And he always tells them these fucking ridiculous stories (which we see in montage. God — montage. I should have known you were coming.), like, “She beats me,” and “She loves me when she’s sober.” Stuff that only silicone with eyes would ever believe. If you notice, the trend with a lot of these really Unforgivable movies is how stupid the characters are. To the point where, even you the audience member (Note: I assume that “you the audience member” is some dumb schmuck from the flyover states who thinks “That Chelsea Handler is pretty funny, right there.”), would go, “These women are fucking stupid.” All anyone in this movie has to do — any single one of them — is stop and go, “Wait, is there a better way to do this,” and the sky would crack, the universe would implode, the four horsemen of the apocalypse would ride up and smite everyone in the movie. And then bake cookies for everyone as they exited the theater.
I’m honestly not gonna go plot point by plot point through this ungodly hell beast. I’m just gonna refer to my notes.
These are all the notes I took while watching this movie. This is how much I knew it would be Unforgivable. I sat down and wrote down exactly what I was thinking, proving to myself that it would be so bad as to make me involuntarily say bad things about it, by sheer fact of just watching the movie. Read them, you’ll see:
- The dialogue is just so bad.
- They’re making fun of a woman with a bad eyebrow. That’s so horrible. She goes in to make her life better, something goes horribly wrong, and they, medically licensed professionals, ridicule her to the point where it’s not even funny. (Not that it ever was funny. It’s Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. The two of them ad-libbing is like watching Rick Perry freestyle while Rain Man commented on it). Why would you try to make your characters likable (It’s Jennifer Aniston, too. You’re already fighting a losing battle) by having them destroy another human being emotionally?
- Everything about this is just so fake and manufactured. So, actually, the fact that Sandler is a plastic surgeon is quite appropriate. Hooray, unintentional humor.
- The music choices are bland and mainstream. This is the kind of movie that puts a song in it simply because it was a hit six months ago.
- They cast a pair of tits as the second female lead!
- Who the fuck is this woman? There’s no way she’s an actor.
- There is no way they used a headshot to cast this woman.
- Is there some kind of tit almanac? I bet they used that to cast her.
- Almost all of her dialogue is in one-shot, which probably was the result of her saying things five or six times until it sounded remotely passable.
- This is one of the worst scripts I’ve ever seen.
- They populate the film with stereotypes and obvious, unrealistic sight gags as if people find that stuff funny.
- This feels like one of those movies the people watched in Idiocracy. You know, where the highest grossing film of all time was just a series of people running up and kicking other people in the nuts, and doing it so hard that the other person flew away.
- I’m pretty sure the people who say they liked this movie are prime candidates for sterilization.
- What I don’t understand is how you can cater to the lowest common denominator and not feel any shame in doing so.
- The fact that this movie goes 110 minutes shows how stupid all of the characters are. Anyone with an IQ over meat puppet would get the fuck out of there.
- You can tell this woman (or none of the characters) have no brains, because he is literally making up what he says to her on the spot. This is like when old cartoon villains were in disguise, and the hero was like, “You don’t look like Professor Johnson,” and the villain would be like, “Oh, uh, err, umm — that’s because, uhh — I was away on vacation for the past month. Yeah, right, vacation. I was away and I got a good tan, uh huh.” And the character would warily be like, “Uh huh. I guess that makes sense.” ONLY THAT WAS A CARTOON! THIS IS A REAL PERSON! How does a real person actually buy a character sound like Jon Lovitz’s Pathological Liar character? Christ, we should just kill these people.
- Everything Adam Sandler says to that woman sounds like he’s making up fake movie lies. I guess it’s a good thing she’s not smarter than a fifth grader, nor is the audience.
- What I never understand in films like this is how no one gives a shit about anyone else. They just talk. Whatever their stereotype is – like that little child of hers (I left out another c-word in there), whose only characteristic is that she took an acting class. Nothing else. No hopes, no dreams, no other identifiable characteristics. And whenever anyone else starts talking, its her turn to start up with her bullshit. Adam Sandler is going over the plan by which she and her family (who have been bribed into being accomplices in this scenario) will dupe a young, dumb, and unsuspecting female into believing they are a family (which will then calm her enough to where she will date Adam Sandler, who believes that her pair of tits will finally be the one pair of tits for him. He’s creating an elaborate, expensive web of lies because he loves her, you understand). And instead of just listening, as soon as he stops talking, she asks if anyone wants to try acting exercises. They say no, because they can’t stand the bitch either. And rather than listen to them, she keeps going, doing those tongue twisters that acting classes teach you to loosen your voice. They tell her to stop. She keeps going. Why? Because it’s supposed to be funny. These characters can only perform what their two-dimensionality says. So whenever they can speak, all they do speak is their one function. And her continuously trying to put on a terrible accent is therefore supposed to be funny, despite the fact that everyone including her own mother has told her to stop (and she’s specifically being paid money to not do that). Why none of the characters plug two into her skull, double tap to make sure, bury her body deep in the woods and never talk about it again is beyond me. If people like these characters existed in real life, I would not only expect them to be voted “Most likely to get eaten by a dinosaur” in high school, but I would actually consider that a legitimate possibility.
- Somebody call in SEAL Team 6 on this movie. Please.
- This movie’s entire plot is predicated on lies and bribery. It’s kind of like The Departed, only, sadly, I know none of these characters will be exiting any elevators any time soon.
- One of the lies Sandler told was that his soon-to-be ex-wife was dating a German guy named “Dolph Lundgren.” The woman actually asked, “You mean, like the actor?” The problem with this is, you know she’s not smart enough to know who he is, especially when her third characteristic (two of them are the same, the only difference is which side they’re on) is the fact that she’s young and loves *N Sync (the point being that Sandler is too old for her, and it supposing to be funny that she loves boy bands, references to which are too old for this movie’s target audience. Brilliance personified). So someone young enough to like *N Sync also knowing the name of the actor who played the Russian from Rocky IV. Again, does anyone even pay attention to the shit they write in their scripts? They just gloss over any form of continuity for the sake of a joke that’s not even very good (Sandler is like, “Yeah. They have the same name. But don’t talk about the other one, because he gets very upset about it,” and then the name is never mentioned again), and has terrible legs because — Nick Swardson shows up as the German guy. Christ, did they really think this was going to be enjoyable for anybody other than Adam Sandler and his friends? Anyone at all?
- There’s a gay hairdresser – everything’s a fucking stereotype.
- Aniston can’t even act like she can’t act.
- This film’s message is – if you’re faced with aiding and abetting someone who is lying just to get laid, “just go with it.” It’s better to go along with morally reprehensible behavior because it doesn’t cost you anything to do so. None of it actually affects you, so what’s the harm of just going along with it? In fact, you may actually get something out of the deal, because if you help this morally reprehensible individual accomplish what they want to accomplish, they’ll throw you a bone and get you something that you want. ‘Hey, if you vote for me, I’ll sign a bill that allows thousands of troops to go over and kill thousands of innocent people, many of whom will be killed by those people, and also sometimes by their own side, but that’s all irrelevant to you, and you don’t have to face any of it, so why not just go along with it? Besides, if you do vote for me, I’ll also make sure that new Starbucks on County Road has a drive thru, so you can go out in your minivan at 7 am in your sweatpants and without makeup so you don’t have to walk the three blocks in front of all the neighbors.’ The moral reprehensibility in this message is beyond words.
- And just when you think it can’t get any more embarrassing – Nicole Kidman shows up. I’m pretty sure this movie is grounds to make her give back that Oscar.
- Movies that use nut shots for comedy should just automatically go Unforgivable.
- Another piece of the formula for the Adam Sandler movie: someone being attracted to an old/unattractive person (for comedy. Allegedly). See (only don’t, because it’s terrible), most recently: Rob Schneider in Grown Ups.
- And let’s not forget the contest. There’s always a contest of sorts — a basketball game, a hula hoop contest, or a random double dutch challenge) — that the main character must go through with the antagonists and overcome midway through the film. These are poorly set up, and they happen much the way songs are set up in musicals. There’s a scene going on, there’s like a second’s pause, someone goes, “You know…”, and the music starts up underneath. And they’re like, “I wanna be somebody! I wanna go to the big city! I wanna be — (music kicks in) A STARRRRRR!” And they sing the number. That’s how these are set up. Out of nowhere, the characters are at this place, and then it’s, “Time for the annual hula hoop contest!” And you’re like, “No! No! It is not time for the annual hula hoop contest. It’s time for someone to start making some fucking sense. Why haven’t all these characters been thrown out of the hotel? Surely someone will overhear anything that’s been said in this movie and report them all for war crimes or something.” And by then it’s too late. Jennifer Aniston is dancing and Nicole Kidman is shaking her ass like a Brazilian woman at Carnivale. And actresses think a sex tape is embarrassing to be out in public?
- And what’s so funny about these films (It’s certainly not the films themselves) is how they try to make the audience feel something. It’s like — artifice artifice artifice, bad jokes, stereotypes upon stereotypes, nut shots, formula, pandering to idiots, then – oh, please care for these characters. Maybe if you spent more money on writing the fucking film and not on the goddamn musical budget, it would made the product less of a piece of shit.
- This film is so reflective of the state of Hollywood, there’s no way this wasn’t going to go number one. Because this is what Hollywood does. They put out a shitty film like this, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. They spend a fortune on the film ($80 million on this one, reportedly. $40 million of that was for the stars alone. Plus a percentage of the gross). They spend even more money to bombard you with advertisements for the film. And even when your better judgment (if you indeed have it, and aren’t as morally bankrupt and stupid as they assume you to be) tells you the film will be terrible, they say, “just go with it! It’ll be fun.” And that’s how they get your money. And that, my friends, is Unforgivable.
- Also, maybe the reason this is Unforgivable, like The Switch from last year, is because both movies end with somebody marrying Jennifer Aniston, and the universe seems to have decided that’s just not okay.
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The Hangover Part II – I had it up there. I just wanted to remind you that it was, in fact, #11.
Arthur – The only reason this didn’t make my Top Ten list is because, without the original, it would just be a bad, bland movie. Generic. And this being as bad as it was — it was different enough where it didn’t tarnish the legacy of the original at all (plus not enough people saw this for it to have made an impact). So, while it was bad (and they did take a legitimately good script, that kept all the great parts of the original and still kept it fresh and modern, and ruined it by making it what it turned out to be), it wasn’t Unforgivable.
Battle: Los Angeles – I hated this. So much. And for a while, it was on my Unforgivables list. But honestly — there was really no reason for me to put it on other than the fact that I hated it. At least Larry Crowne, Sucker Punch and Green Lantern were not only bad movies that I hated, but they were examples of what is wrong with cinema today and made me angry for those reasons. This just made me angry because it sucked and it made a lot of money. People shouldn’t be going to see films like this, where all the dialogue is either generic or filler during the action scenes. Half this movie’s script is “Get Down!”, “Shoot it! Shoot it!”, “Follow me!”, “Sarge!!” and shit like that. And people talked about it like it was some great movie. So, I realized my problem was with the idiots who saw this movie and not with the movie itself (even though I do have major problems with the movie itself). I felt 13th worst of the year was appropriate.
Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son – I don’t make sequels Unforgivable. That said, this was an abortion.
What’s Your Number? – Another one that almost made my top ten. It seems this has made a lot of top tens this year. The main problem everyone (and myself) has with it is the fact that it makes a big deal about when women sleep with a lot of people and celebrates when men sleep with a lot of people. And it was written by women. Which is just all sorts of fucked up. There’s a lot of fucked up gender shit going on in this movie, some terrible messages all around, and a really shitty movie on top of all of it. But the reason I didn’t make it Unforgivable was that I couldn’t find a spot for it, and Crazy, Stupid, Love was the film that took up my “fucked up message” spot, and that movie made me much angrier than this one did. Also, at this point, I think we can stop saying how Anna Faris is great and is always the best thing about bad movies. Now, she makes bad movies. Just because she’s the best thing in them does not absolve her choices.
Red Riding Hood, Conan the Barbarian, I Am Number Four, Dream House, The Dilemma, Your Highness, Hop, Monte Carlo, Shark Night, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star
(Note: Bucky Larson is the only film I haven’t actually seen. I had to put it on, though. The trailer was enough to assure me that if I saw this, it would be on here. What I want to know is — how have so many people seen this to be able to put it on all the worst films lists I’ve seen it on? It only made $2.5 million at the box office. Methinks some people are full of shit. At least I have the decency to put it on the non-publicized portion of the article. And I will actually see it just so I can legitimately talk shit about it. At least say you haven’t seen it when you put it on the list and cite the reviews as the reason it’s on. Don’t put it on like you saw it just because everyone else is doing it. I’m also serious when I say I will actually see this movie to see how bad it is. I will actually back up this statement I’m making now.)
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Tomorrow, we add some sugar to the salty proceedings and go over my Top Ten list for the year. What better way is there to cap off a year than to talk about what was best in it? (Don’t even fucking think about it, Conan. You don’t deserve that line after that movie.)
Just think of it as — you had to get through the tough part in order to get to the fun part. We had our meat, now we can have some pudding.