Film

Short Ends and Leader's 10 Worst Films of 2010

#1 - Furry Vengeance...and again, our sentiments exactly!

Ten examples of how Hollywood has micromanaged a movie down to its most basic demographic components... and it doesn't need to be well made or entertaining, creative or even competent. Watch for our site-wide worst film feature when we return to full publication next week.

It's time to shoot some filmic fish in a barrel. Indeed, every year, it gets easier and easier to pick out cinema's worst. The question, of course, is "Why?" The answer, sadly, is inherent in the business itself. Seems that Hollywood has finally got a handle on how to micromanage a movie down to its most basic demographic components. It doesn't need to be well made or entertaining, creative or even competent. As long as it supplies the mandatory focus group facets (dumb jokes for the kiddies, splatter-free PG-13 scares for the teens), it should make enough money to warrant the investment. Tinseltown lives in mortal fear of something like James L. Brooks' How Do You Know, a $100 million gamble that argues for its place as a smart RomCom, but dies because the audience is already used to the genre being stilted and stupid.

And so it continues, affronts like You Again and Letters to Juliet making 'love' the worst kind of four letter word. Similarly, slop like The Tourist and Killers showed that nothing is less thrilling than famous faces acting the espionage fool. There was The Last Airbender, yet another nail in M. Night Shyamalan's already interred coffin and Sex and the City 2, an unnecessary sequel to a franchise no one really requested in the first place. From Valentine's Day to Death at a Funeral, Clash of the Titans to Little Fockers, 2010 was ripe with the repugnant. So those singled out here must be really bad, right? Without a doubt.

So before you bellyache about your own personal choice for a strong slice of celluloid Hell, check out our Worst Films of 2010. If you're like us, you'll regret ever steeping into the theater to see something as awful as:

#10: Saw 3D (dir. Kevin Greutert)
They say this is the final installment in the formerly full-bodied horror franchise. We say THANK GOD! , especially since this abhorrent episode decided to piss all over everything the original movie stood for, extrapolating out the mythos to the point where it no longer bends but breaks into a billion unsatisfying pieces. From the afterthought death trap puzzles that do little except mark time to the totally unnecessary storyline featuring fake Jigsaw victim, there is literally nothing left of James Wan and Leigh Whannell's little suspense movie that could. This was a callous cash grab, nothing more.

 

#9: Lottery Ticket (dir. Erik White)
Sometimes, a critic can use the audience as a gauge of a film's success. While never a consistent or completely valid radar, a horror film without screams or a comedy without laughs indicates an abject failure of the genre basics. So you know things are bad when a crowd primed to see their favorite onscreen faces crack them up instead sits silently, struggling mightily to find a single reason to snicker. Even when male machismo is undermined and new school hip-hop icons are mumbling away furiously, the viewers in attendance for this Brewster's Millions mediocrity sat there, stone faced. It was amazing to watch enthusiasm turn to ennui, then to a mad dash to the nearest exit.

 

#8: The Last Exorcism (dir. Daniel Stamm)
In the cyclical world of horror films, we have suddenly shifted from the vile vivisection of torture porn to the undeniably hit or miss "found footage" approach. Such is the case with this tepid terror take on demonic possession. For nearly an hour, nothing happens. Then our supposedly bedeviled heroine starts giving everyone dirty looks and bends over backwards. Big deal. No pea soup. No reversible noggin. Finally, our fledgling filmmakers decide to dump anything remotely associated with reality and turn the experience into Rosemary's Baby on a Race with the Devil holiday.

 

#7: Our Family Wedding (dir. Rick Famuyiwa)
A mixed race couple wants to marry and they head off to LA to confront each other's parents. The results? Reprehensible. The message? No matter how far we've come since Martin Luther King and Malcolm X demand social change and individual equality (and accountability) for all, ethnicity is still a go-to gag for sloppy, semi-illiterate satires. And you know what makes things even worse? The entire cast should know better, from Oscar winner Forest Whitaker to Ugly Betty's America Ferrera (race-baiting comedian Carlos Mencia? Not so much). It's sad when a goat strung out on Viagra is your most potent pratfall.

 

#6: Jonah Hex (dir. Jimmy Hayward)
It's rare when a movie wholly fails on two accounts - both as entertainment and as an actual film - but this horrific adaptation of the DC property managed that...and much, much more. Incoherent to the point of preposterousness, jumping around like a sugared grade schooler with hyperactive ADD and actually wasting the questionable talents of Megan Fox, this proposed actioner was a fiasco from the moment Crank's Neveldine/Taylor were fired in favor of Horton Hears a Who helmer Jimmy Hayward. Their original sex and violence filled script, was then turned into an incomprehensible riff on Will Smith's Wild Wild West. P.U.!

 

#5: Splice (dir. Vincenzo Natali)
Otherwise known as "Sex and the Horny Teenage Mutant". For a while Vincenzo Natali's "Just Say No...to Playing God" allegory has its moments, its arguments over ethos and the desire to manipulation biology for man's betterment. Then star Adrian Brody does the dirty boogie with his specious scientific discovery and all bets are off. The most stunning aspect of this last act abomination? The number of supposedly legitimate critics who still support this exploitative nausea. At least Geek Nation has an excuse for its mentality. If you've never known the touch of a woman, a sexed up she-creature is the next best thing, right?

 

#4: The Spy Next Door (dir. Brian Levant)
For a while, he was considered the Buster Keaton of martial arts films, a deft physical comedian who could also kick some major league ass along the way. Now, Jackie Chan appears ready to soil every ounce of his considerable reputation, what with the tacky trifecta of The Forgotten Kingdom, The Karate Kid remake, and this abysmal attempted family farce. Brian Levant's dreary direction sucks all the adrenalin out of the action and Chan is obviously too old to do ALL his own stunts. The CG and other trick F/X are obvious.

 

#3: My Soul to Take (dir. Wes Craven)
Thanks a lot, Wes Craven. You've screwed up your legacy yet again. Perhaps it's time to go away and teach Advanced Career Destroying to the rest of your flattering fear brethren. After all, THIS is what we waited for? While you've been whoring out your back catalog for one remake after another, this was the ORIGINAL horror film you were going to give us? If we knew you were going to revisit Shocker by way of some sorry urban legend lameness (and a more than obvious narrative "twist") we would have bailed before the hooded claw came out. Just painful.

 

#2: Skyline (dir. Colin Strause and Gregg Strause)
It takes a lot to better Plan Nine from Outer Space as the worst alien invasion movie of all time, but this low budget F/X reel excuse for entertainment indeed found a way to turn Ed Wood into Neill Blomkamp. It's not bad enough that wannabe directors Colin and Gregg Strause lack the basics when it comes to speculative fiction filmmaking, but they turn around and center almost all the action in a single high rise location, limiting what they can and cannot do. With a no name cast of barely recognizable faces and visuals that argue for computing power, not creativity, this was 2010's biggest letdown.

 

#1: Furry Vengeance (dir. Roger Kumble)
Skunks endlessly spraying a puffy overpaid actor in the face, white clouds of comic stench replacing the animal's actual abilities. This is just one of many affronts to taste and talent that this atrocity heaps upon unsuspecting viewers. But it's not just the critters that turn craven. Famous faces such as Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields, and Ken Jeong drop their dignity to jump around like jackasses all in the service of a script that offers absolutely nothing original or inventive. About the only intriguing element here is the casting of stand-up comics Patrice O'Neal and Jim Norton as construction workers. No, they don't get to crack wise. They don't get any lines of dialogue at all. That's right - NONE! Perhaps the producers felt their crude curse-laden jibes wouldn't gel with the intended demo. What's offered instead, however, is even more offensive.


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