Film

The Worst Films of 2009

What does it say about the last 12 months that two of the year's biggest blockbusters also find residence near the top of our annual compilation of cinematic abominations? Oh, and the rest are pretty rotten as well.

Film: 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

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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

 

Film: Year One

Director: Harold Ramis

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

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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

 

Film: Land of the Lost

Director: Brad Silberling

Cast: Will Ferrell, Anna Friel, Danny McBride, Leonard Nimoy

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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

 

Film: Terminator: Salvation

Director: McG

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

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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

 

Film: 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

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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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