The Worst Films of 2009

[6 January 2010]

By PopMatters Staff


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He’s Just Not That Into You

Director: Ken Kwapis
Cast: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson, Justin Long, Jennifer Connelly, Ginnifer Goodwin, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper

10

He’s Just Not That Into You
Ken Kwapis

Spawned from a B storyline of a Sex and the City episode and the follow-up dating guide, He’s Just Not That Into You has all the wit and emotional depth of an algebra formula. In this joyless and pointless “romantic comedy”, not one of the relationships feels even remotely organic or believable. Worse, director Ken Kwapis manages to take some of the most crushable actresses working today (Ginnifer Goodwin, Drew Barrymore, Scarlet Johansson) and drain them of nearly all their appeal. (The men don’t fare much better.) Surely the screenplay by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein doesn’t help matters: the female characters fall into one of three woeful camps: pathetic snivelers, humorless shrews, or amoral home-wreckers. The last-ditch coda advising viewers to remain hopeful about love only highlights the movie’s cynicism. Ostensibly a film for women, He’s Just Not That Into You is essentially a bitch slap to ladies everywhere. Marisa Carroll

 


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Year One

Director: Harold Ramis
Cast: Jack Black, Michael Cera, Vinnie Jones, Oliver Platt, David Cross, Juno Temple, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Olivia Wilde

9

Year One
Harold Ramis

How could this much comic talent yield so few yuks? The pairing of manic Jack Black and straight man Michael Cera must have seemed like an inspired idea at the time. And at first, you can’t help rooting for them in Year One... and then you silently begin to pray that their careers survive it. Sadly, their combined strengths can do little to save this abysmal biblical comedy. (Ditto for Paul Rudd, Hank Azaria, and David Cross.) Under the direction of Harold Ramis, most of the movie’s jokes come off as old as dirt, and nearly all of them land with a deafening thud. It would be exceedingly generous to refer to this string of stale, overlong vignettes as a “film” per se, but one could forgive the absence of a plot if any of the gags—like, any—made you laugh out loud. Marisa Carroll

 


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Land of the Lost

Director: Brad Silberling
Cast: Will Ferrell, Anna Friel, Danny McBride, Leonard Nimoy

8

Land of the Lost
Brad Silberling

Sid and Marty Krofft WERE on drugs—no, not when they made their original ‘60s/‘70s kid vid freak outs. Those adorable bits of TV psychedelia will clearly stand the test of time. No, the aging brothers were clearly tweaking when they said “Yes” to having Will Farrell turn their semi-serious attempt at sci-fi into a ridiculous, raunchy, PG-13-pushing sex farce. Laden with curse words and characters you wouldn’t want to spend a second with, let alone 90 noxious minutes, everything about this attempted update fails to function—the laughs, the effects, even the original premise. Turning favored elements like the Sleestaks and the crystals into plodding plot points was bad enough, but did fun furball Chaka have to become a pervert as well? Bill Gibron

 


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Terminator: Salvation

Director: McG
Cast: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin, Helena Bonham Carter

7

Terminator: Salvation
McG

After all the hype and credibility-mongering, the fourth Terminator installment crashed noisily and needlessly, like a lewd, ungainly bomb, this year to Earth. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, it found humanity fighting for survival against the machines… And it was abysmal. It may have been because of the script’s refusal to make us care one iota about any of the characters, told to stand around and scowl. Perhaps it was the Olympian hubris of its director, or the dry, colorless tone he draped over the film, masking an offensively vapid screenplay lacking any narrative interest or momentum. There was not a single great scene. There was no dialogue worth remembering. And great swathes of material from the older films, the classic ones, were heisted in a patronizing and brainless wink-wink to the audience. It was a slap in the face. It was the worst action blockbuster of the year, and there were some bad ones this year. Terminator: Salvation is the cinematic equivalent of a blown-up doll, an imitation of life, a cardboard cut-out, a limp re-enactment; the nadir of a once wonderful series. Andrew Blackie

 


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New York, I Love You

Director: Various
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Natalie Portman, Irrfan Khan, Shia LaBeouf, Chris Cooper, Robin Wright Penn, Ethan Hawke, Orlando Bloom, Christina Ricci

6

New York, I Love You
Various

You don’t have to be a New York resident to hate New York, I Love You, but it doesn’t hurt. Start with a healthy sense of jealousy over the filmmakers that signed on for the Paris-based anthology of love shorts (Alexander Payne, the Coen Brothers, Alfonso Cuaron, Tom Tykwer), add disappointment over the inclusion of Brett Ratner and the lack of Scorsese or Spike or Woody. The topper: a bunch of shorts more about sex, cigarettes, cabs, and a movie version of Manhattan than they are about either love or New York City as a whole. Even as harmless, city-agnostic bits of entertainment, few of these dopey, uninvolving segments work. Jesse Hassenger

 

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The Proposal

Director: Anne Fletcher
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Betty White, Mary Steenburgen, Malin Akerman, Craig T. Nelson

5

The Proposal
Anne Fletcher

We have become so beaten down by the annual inundation of romantic comedies that are punched out like so many factory-produced widgets, updated very occasionally to keep up with that year’s fads, that sometimes it can take a film as disappointing as The Proposal to remind us just how bad things have gotten. The fish-out-of-water story, in which an abused assistant (Ryan Reynolds) gets even with his dragon-lady boss (Sandra Bullock), would be unfortunate enough, but the sexist disapproval of professional single women that hovers over the whole thing gives it an additionally foul stench. The laughs that Reynolds and Bullock spark up together against all odds make you wish for a screwball comedy that was worth their time. And ours. Chris Barsanti

 


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GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Director: Stephen Sommers
Cast: Channing Tatum, Christopher Eccleston, Sienna Miller, Dennis Quaid, Rachel Nichols, Ray Park, Marlon Wayans

4

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Stephen Sommers

There’s nothing wrong with trying to cash-in on ‘80s toy nostalgia, but GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra doesn’t match the wit and imagination of an eight-year-old playing with his plastic army men. Sure, lip service and the occasional action sequence is paid to accelerator suits and nanotechnology, but the “recent future” world of the film feels flat, thanks mostly to a charisma-less cast of heroes working for an organization that’s supposed to read as international but mostly feels generic. With Joes so bland—whose inoffensiveness is reiterated in a series of time-killing flashbacks—it’s hard not to come away rooting for the only aspect of the film that has any spark of inventiveness to them (even if only temporary): the villains. Marisa LaScala

 


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Brüno

Director: Larry Charles
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Gustaf Hammarsten, Clifford Bañagale, Josh Meyers

3

Brüno
Larry Charles

No one ever doubted that Sacha Baron Cohen was a brazen and daring comedian—he proved that with Borat—and his marketing campaign for this story of a gay Austrian fashionista was a work of dogged genius. Why, then, is Brüno so disappointing, a grab-bag of desperate, attention-whoring stunts? Perhaps the shtick is getting stale. Most of the set-ups and baits here are painfully obvious, lacking any bite or satire. Baron Cohen narrates the film in a smug, deliberately narcissistic voiceover, clamoring for some semblance of story to tie up his eye-rolling gags. Whatever else it is, the whole scene in which he visits Israel is stupid and irresponsible. There was a lot of debate upon this film’s release regarding whether it straddled homophobic or homosexual-awareness lines. To be honest: does it really matter, when the titular hero is such an unfunny village idiot? Brüno is as subtle and as imaginative as the gyrating schlong which actually appears in it, and I don’t mean that in a good way. Andrew Blackie

 


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The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Director: Chris Weitz
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Nikki Reed

2

The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Various

The Twilight Saga: New Moon could best be described as a long, drawn-out perfume commercial with fangs… except that the perfume commercial would be better written and acted. Horrendously wooden voiceovers bookend a ludicrous plot about a high school girl who is the hormonal equivalent of a chum bucket to strapping vampire and werewolf lads who both happen to find her irresistible. While Kristin Stewart’s Bella bellows anguished cries over her lost vampire lover in the middle of the night (more hilarious than heartrending), Taylor Lautner’s teen wolf tries to make her forget him by whipping off his shirt to show his washboard abs at completely inappropriate moments. All this and more makes New Moon a full blown fap-fest to lovelorn folks with goth leanings. The only mythical power the film possesses is to make the viewer want to pound a stake into their own heart rather than endure multiple viewings. Lana Cooper

 


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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Peter Cullen, Tony Todd, Mark Ryan, Hugo Weaving, John Turturro, Tom Kenny, Reno Wilson, Megan Fox, Charlie Adler, Frank Welker, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson,

1

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Michael Bay

Have you seen the trailer for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen? Well, resist the urge to see the movie, if you haven’t already, and imagine watching the trailer over and over for roughly two hours and 15 minutes. Don’t try to add any plot (the film doesn’t have much of a plot anyway). Just the trailer, that’s it. If the idea of watching an insanely long trailer sounds unappealing, then you should be able to understand why Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is the worst movie of 2009. Devoid of exposition to the point where one could fall asleep without even realizing he had, the film is a mindless collection of explosions and a girl in a tank top. It’s not a movie, it’s a commercial for GM and Megan Fox that can be explained by anybody able to memorize the sentence, “Hey did you like that one explosion with that one robot?” Gregg Lipkin

 

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/118219-the-worst-films-of-2009/