The Worst Films of 2011

[9 January 2012]

By PopMatters Staff


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Season of the Witch

Director: Dominic Sena
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Claire Foy, Robert Sheehan, Stephen Graham, Christopher Lee

10

Season of the Witch


Whoever cut the trailers for Season of the Witch deserves credit for doing their job well. Those trailers made the movie out to be a guilty pleasure cheesefest of medieval action. Instead, the movie is a dull, grey plod through the forests of Bulgaria. Nobody seems to be having fun in this story of two Crusaders roped into escorting an accused witch to a far-off monastery. Ron Perlman at least bothers to show up for his usual solid performance. Nicolas Cage, on the other hand, sleepwalks through the movie looking like he’s regretting doing a favor for his old buddy from Gone in 60 Seconds, director Dominic Sena. Sena goes through the motions, too, dutifully staging his action-horror sequences with little flair as the rest of the cast gets picked off one by one. Season of the Witch never had all that much potential, but it should’ve turned out better than this. Chris Conaton

 


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New Year’s Eve

Director: Garry Marshall
Cast: Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Héctor Elizondo

9

New Year’s Eve


Finally, an answer to the pressing question: could Garry Marshall and Katherine Fugate’s Valentine’s Day have been worse? If only it were more succinct; their newest holiday-themed ensem-rom-com New Year’s Eve runs 115 punishing minutes. With eight or nine intersecting storylines and eight or nine thousand vaguely to extremely famous people acting them out, those two hours should be a breeze. Instead, the movie is so mechanical and stiff that it resembles robots attempting to replicate this strange art you humans call “sitcoms.” At the control center is Marshall, hitting the sentiment, bad-music cue, and overacting buttons as hard as he can, until the whole thing collapses into a heap of spare parts. Maybe the cast’s three Oscar winners can lay low there for awhile. Jesse Hassenger

 


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Abduction

Director: John Singleton
Cast: Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello, Sigourney Weaver, Michael Nyqvist

8

Abduction

True, spoilery fact: There is no abduction in Abduction. Sure, main character Nathan, played by Twilight’s second-fiddle Taylor Lautner, sees his own face on a missing-persons website. But it’s not because he was abducted as a child—and the real reason is almost too stupid to go into. (It was a trap so the bad guys could lure him out of his safe, secret-agent-led foster home?) What follows is a series of fights and chases led by the ultimately charisma-less Lautner, who doesn’t really sell his character ultra-trained CIA spawn, but is even less convincing as a normal teenager. What’s most confusing of all is how director John Singleton and actors like Maria Bello, Sigourney Weaver, and Alfred Molina got dragged down with him. Marisa LaScala

 


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Hall Pass

Director: Bobby & Peter Farrelly
Cast: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate, Stephen Merchant, Joy Behar

7

Hall Pass

Oy! Here’s another example of unsettled couples doing something completely pointless for the sake of their supposedly sacred vows. The theory here is that one week away from marriage will make said union even stronger. Oh yeah, on what planet? Never before has the Farrelly Brothers brand of gross out and schmaltz seemed so forced and unfunny. Even worse, the best these recently freed husbands can come up with as a means of re-sewing their stagnant oats is… a trip to Applebees? How about your life savings, a legal Nevada brothel, and a collection of antibiotics? Apparently common sense went out these dude’s doors along with any concept of comedy or wit. Bill Gibron

 


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Battle: Los Angeles

Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Ramon Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Ne-Yo, Michael Peña

6

Battle: Los Angeles


If I wanted to play Call of Duty, I wouldn’t go to a friend’s house and ask to watch him play for two hours. I would pick up a controller and do it myself. Jonathan Liebesman, the director of Battle: Los Angeles, fails to grasp the difference between engaging with a war and engaging with characters fighting a war. Through the use of sloppy, shaky visuals, cliched soldier character stories, and annoying COD-esque point of view shots, Liebesman turns the battlefield into a nauseating, cluttered mess of everything but emotional relevancy. The absence of impact is made all the more frustrating thanks to the brilliant, powerful trailer released to promote feelings that never enter into the movie. War may be this cold and crazy, but it’s no fun to watch. Ben Travers

5 - 1


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Red Riding Hood

Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, Virginia Madsen, Lukas Haas

5

Red Riding Hood

We said it at the time, and we really mean it… what film retrofits a famous fairy tale into a Twilight-esque excuse for young girls to fantasize about having sex with wolves? Even more concerning, why does a hack mistress like Catherine Hardwicke get another shot at staining the cinematic artform? Apparently, the appeal of Stephanie Meyer’s miserable vampire romance cannot be underestimated—either that, or Tinseltown is once again selling the moviegoing public incredibly short. This over the top atrocity, complete with gratuitous Gary Oldman and enough bodice ripping to make a Renaissance Fair go Mostly Madrigal can’t decide if it wants to teach tweens about the joys of self-empowerment or the pleasures of animal carnality. When you figure it out, give us a call. We still won’t care. Bill Gibron

 


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Jack and Jill

Director: Dennis Dugan
Cast: Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes, Al Pacino, Tim Meadows, Nick Swardson

4

Jack and Jill

Jack & Jill is so jaw-droppingly awful that it is almost a surreal experience. Its odiousness is pronounced enough as to cause cognitive dissonance and wield a certain kind of beyond-bad fascination. Adam Sandler provides his laziest ever characterization, in drag, as the titular twin sister Jill: she is shrill, overweight, unhygienic, flatulent, vaguely incestuous, clearly psycho and thoroughly obnoxious. Misogyny aside, there are horrifically unfunny toilet jokes, offensive racial slurs against Mexicans and Indians, and Al Pacino soiling his career even further. The only way the film works is as a cacophonous parade of cheap shocks—and by that measure, Sandler has indeed taken his perverse artform to a whole new distressing level. Andrew Blackie

 


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Just Go With It

Director: Dennis Dugan
Cast: Adam Sandler

3

Just Go With It

Let’s see what Adam Sandler had been doing surrounding Just Go with It. He played a rich guy with a hot wife in Grown Ups. He played a rich guy with a hot ex-wife in Funny People. Immediately following Just Go with It, he played a rich guy with a hot wife (and his awful twin sister) in Jack and Jill. Sandler’s most interesting comedies arise when he creates a character—either real people with real flaws that drive the action, like Billy Madison, or strange outlandish types like in Little Nicky. Now, he seems content with being the normal, rich dude who puts in the minimum amount of effort to woo whatever young actress is roped in to play his love interest. Just Go with It is the peak of this sort of Sandler laziness. He has to choose between the young paramour he’s been chasing (Brooklyn Decker) and his female best-friend-all-along (Jennifer Aniston). What’s unclear by the end of the movie is what, apart from his successful plastic surgery practice, either of them see in him. Marisa LaScala

 


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Priest

Director: Scott Stewart
Cast: Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Lily Collins, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q

2

Priest

As a tentpole, it tanked. As an example of the kind of suspect summer popcorn fare Tinseltown regularly tosses on the movie going populace, it’s par for the course. Still, some held out hope that Priest, a big screen adaptation of a beloved Asia comic book, would live up to its several years in development promise. There has been both anticipation and apprehension about his movie ever since it was first announced. Early on, Andrew Douglas (The Amityville Horror remake) and 300‘s Gerard Butler were attached. Then the current creative team of Scott Stewart and Paul Bettany (responsible of the ridiculously awful Legion) took over, and with the help of a meandering script from first timer Cory Goodman, fashioned this $60 million flop in the making. That’s the issue with many of these so-called Goth Apocalypses. Filmmakers find interesting ideas, twist them up into the standard motion picture pabulum, and then the studios serve it up like the big steaming bowls of bullspit they are. Bill Gibron

 


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Trespass

Director: Joel Schumacher
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman, Cam Gigandet, Jordana Spiro, Ben Mendelsohn

1

Trespass

It’s too late for Joel Schumacher, as this tawdry home invasion horror proves. A jittery Nicolas Cage and pale-faced Nicole Kidman, both visibly worried about how their careers have sunk to this, play Mr. and Mrs. rich bickering couple. Schumacher scrambles to invigorate his film beyond its desultory premise: there are guns, nail guns, needles and nasty commando knives; salacious plot twists—one of the robbers apparently intends to proposition Kidman while robbing her—and truly unspeakable dialogue. Yet, it’s not scary or thrilling, just another horror movie that insultingly insists that all a divided family needs is a horrific trauma for them to rediscover their love for one another. It’s also one of the most almighty box office turkeys in recent memory, making back only $25,000 of a $35 million budget. Andrew Blackie

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/152897-the-worst-films-of-2011/