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


Display as: List

List number: 10

Display Width: 200

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


Display as: List

List number: 9

Display Width: 200

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


Display as: List

List number: 8

Display Width: 200

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


Display as: List

List number: 7

Display Width: 200

Terminator: Salvation

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


Display as: List

List number: 6

Display Width: 200

New York, I Love You

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


Next Page

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.