The Worst Films of 2013

For those who love film (as we do), it's often hard to hate the medium you enjoy so much. In the case of the movies listed here, the ability to loathe was quite easy, actually.

For those who love film (as we do), it’s often hard to hate the medium you enjoy so much. In the case of the movies listed here, the ability to loathe was quite easy, actually.


Director: Harmony Korine

Film: Spring Breakers

Cast: James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, Gucci Mane

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Spring Breakers
Division Films

Another numbing disaster from the relentlessly immature camera and pen of Harmony Korine. Korine’s story about college girls (mostly TV good girls gone bad: Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine) who go to Florida for spring break and turn to a life of crime to avoid returning home is as repetitive and dream-like as Terence Malick, only with nothing on its mind. In a better world, James Franco’s devious turn as cornrowed dealer/rapper Alien wouldn’t have been wasted in this tiresome nonsense. img-1044 Chris Barsanti


Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Film: Only God Forgives

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm, Ratha Phongam, Gordon Brown, Tom Burke

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Only God Forgives

An utterly artless exercise in existentialism posing as a meditative modern western, Nicolas Winding Refn‘s selfish homage to violence is as dissatisfying as it is empty. Only God Forgives is so glacially slow and unsatisfying, the only explanation is Refn’s desire to alienate his audience. Job well done. The actors try to sink their teeth into incomplete roles, but only composer Cliff Martinez is able to produce anything memorable in this putrid picture. Mr. Gosling, Drive was fine, but the trade off between that and this is severely unbalanced. Please. No more. img-1044 Ben Travers


Director: Jacob Vaughn

Film: Bad Milo

Cast: Ken Marino, Peter Stormare, Gillian Jacobs, Stephen Root, Mary Kay Place, Patrick Warburton

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Bad Milo!
Magnet Releasing

What’s worse than an unfunny, gross joke? An unfunny, gross joke that drags on for 85 minutes. Jacob Vaughan’s Bad Milo is about a man, Duncan, who is so bad at managing stress, his stress manifests itself as a creature that exacts revenge for him. Oh, and the creature exits and enters through the man’s anus. Bad Milo expects you to find that so darkly funny in and of itself that it doesn’t really do anything else but remind you of this fact over and over. It’s a shame, because there are talented comedians in the cast — Ken Marino (the unfortunate star), Community‘s Gillian Jacobs, and Stephen Root, for starters — who aren’t really given any comedy to perform. The movie itself is hardly as out-there as it thinks it is, and you can see pretty much where every scene is headed as soon as it starts (usually with Milo exiting or entering Duncan). You wouldn’t expect “boring” to be the word that describes the movie about the ass-monster, but, in the case of Bad Milo, it’s the most apt. img-1044 Marisa LaScala


Director: John Luessenhop

Film: Texas Chainsaw 3D

Cast: Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Tremaine Neverson, Tania Raymonde, Thom Barry, Paul Rae, Bill Moseley

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Texas Chainsaw 3D
Millennium Films

In the 1960s and 1970s, several landmark horror films questioned the effectiveness of law enforcement, the military, the media and other official stabilizing forces and institutions. None of the above proved to be much help for that unfortunate group of young folks who wandered down the wrong roads in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). Yet in the four decades since that film’s release, a mistrust of authority has joined with postmodern attitudes towards misunderstood monsters to create absurd realignments within the horror genre.

John Luessenhop’s ridiculous new installment, Texas Chainsaw 3D, re-imagines Leatherface’s origin story as a tale of a family wronged. The local lawmen of the exposition and present action are so corrupt that they replace Leatherface within the film as the primary source of villainy. As a new group of young bodies meets his weapon of choice, the primary effort of the film is to humanize the monster by reuniting him with cousin/protagonist Heather (Alexandra Daddario). The moment she throws him his chainsaw and says, “Do your thing, cos!” is the moment Texas Chainsaw 3D becomes scarier than its foremost predecessor. Not because the horror filmmaking is more effective, but because massacre has replaced escape as the preferred narrative endgame. img-1044 Thomas Britt


Director: Shawn Levy

Film: The Internship

Cast: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne, Max Minghella, Joanna Garcia, John Goodman, Dylan O’Brien, Tiya Sircar, Jessica Szohr, Aasif Mandvi

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The Internship
20th Century Fox

So what? You were expecting, perhaps, Wedding Crashers 2. Ha! Ha! Charade you are, for Mssrs. Vaughn and Wilson aren’t going to reclaim their Hard R glory with this piece of Google synergy junk. As a couple of ex-salesman reduced to competing for single silly job at the search engine giant, the duo do their damndest to make us forget their were ever funny in the first place. Of course, all blame could easily be laid at the feet of unfathomably employable director Shawn Levy. Never meeting a cliche or contrivance he didn’t like, the mastermind behind such muck as Real Steel and Night at the Museum out Sandlers Adam in the awful mainstream comedy department. What’s next? Bing the Musical? img-1044 Bill Gibron

20 – 16

Director: Ariel Vromen

Film: The Iceman

Cast: Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta

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Display Width: 200The Iceman
Millennium Films

Months before American Hustle, theaters briefly saw another true-to-life 1970s Jersey crime epic; only this one was awful. Michael Shannon plays killer-for-hire Richard Kuklinski, who claimed to have x’d out more than a hundred people over a couple decades, only his family never suspected. Any of this might have been interesting had the filmmakers brought a scintilla of originality to the cliché-riddled story or cast anybody else in the lead. Finding out Shannon is a contract killer is about as shocking as discovering Jack Nicholson in The Shining might be having trouble finishing that book.img-1045 Chris Barsanti


Director: Ken Scott

Film: Delivery Man

Cast: Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders

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Delivery Man
Touchstone Pictures

What’s worse than an unfunny Vince Vaughn. A soft and cuddly version of the versatile actor who is equally bereft of laughs. Oddly enough, the same mind that made the French Canadian indie hit — Ken Scott — concocted this ridiculous remake, clearly with the help of several clueless suits who have no idea what makes comedy work. Add in the warm and fuzzy stuff as Vaughn (who discovers he is the father of over 500 offspring thanks to a glitch at the sperm bank he “frequented” as a youth) tries to bond with his biologicals and you’ve got a film full of gags… just not the ones that leave an audience in stitches. img-1045 Bill Gibron



Film: Lee Daniel’s The Butler

Cast: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, Terence Howard, Vanessa Redgrave, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Lenny Kravitz, Robin Williams, James Marsden, John Cusack, Jane Fonda

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Lee Daniel’s The Butler
The Weinstein Company
Lee Daniels’ The Butler marks the second of the titular director’s features to be inexplicably hailed by most critics. Daniels’ first awkwardly-titled film, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire somehow managed to confuse undiscriminating audiences eager to lap up a BS story of an impossible scenario. I didn’t think anything could top the 2009 film for utter preposterousness, but then I saw Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Forget the schmaltz. Forget the Lifetime “Movie of the Week” feel. All you need to know is this: most of Lee Daniels’ The Butler isn’t true. Not his name, not his family, and especially not the characterization drawn at the film’s bogus ending. Daniels has gone berserk yet again, and again, no one wants to call him on it. img-1045 Ben Travers


Director: Anne Fontaine

Film: Adore

Cast: Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Ben Mendelsohn, Xavier Samuel, James Frecheville

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Here’s a great way to celebrate the mature, right minded woman: have her and her best friend get into a quasi-incestual affair with each other’s hunky college age sons. Ewwwwww is RIGHT! Naomi Watts and Robin Wright deserve better than this Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone stupidity, their sun-dappled body avoiding all the issues that go along with MILFs making time with barely legal boys. If this wasn’t directed by a woman — Anne Fontaine of Coco After Chanel fame — you’d swear it was some sweaty perverts personal fantasy reel. Instead, it’s the sound of two deserving performers cashing a paycheck, hoping few will see what they had to do for said cash. img-1045 Bill Gibron


Director: Juan Diego Solanas

Film: Upside Down

Cast: Jim Sturgess, Kirsten Dunst, Timothy Spall

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Upside Down
Millennium Entertainment

The worst thing about Upside Down is how it squanders a great idea. The movie is about two connected planets, one always on top of the other, with people and objects only affected by the gravity of their home planet. It’s not scientific, but it does allow for great images of buildings where people can walk on the ceiling, upside-down restaurants with chandeliers that grow up from the middle of the floor, and people “falling” upward when they try to visit the other planet.

It seems like a cool world to explore, but writer/director Juan Solanas makes that exploration painful. He sets up rules about the the way the planets work that he immediately subverts with no explanation. The story is the most over-the-top melodrama. (Did I mention the two star-crossed lovers at the center of this story are named Adam and Eden?) People pop up in places where they don’t belong to deliver expositional lines, and then disappear again. And the whole thing ends in a humdinger of a reveal that, after careful consideration, makes absolutely no sense. I wish that I could take the visuals from Upside Down and give them to another director for a second crack at the story. img-1045 Marisa LaScala

15 – 11

Director: Mark Steven Johnson

Film: Killing Season

Cast: Robert De Niro, John Travolta, Milo Ventimiglia, Elizabeth Olin

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Display Width: 200Killing Season
Millennium Films

They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Sometimes, among the tarmac and gravel are a few films that should have stayed on the studio shelf. Such is the case with Shrapnel, now calling itself Killing Season. Considering the cast — Oscar winner Robert De Niro, Oscar nominee John Travolta — and its genre premise (a foreign combatant seeking vengeance against a NATO soldier for his “war crimes”), it shouldn’t be that bad. Granted, it’s a bit tired and hackneyed, but given the right action adventure spin, it could be a blast. Sadly, not even a bit of splatter or some lovely mountain scenery can keep this film from flopping like a flounder on the fishing docks. It’s dumb, repetitive, and truly only worthy of acting as asphalt for the devil’s own personal detour. img-1046 Bill Gibron


Director: Zack Snyder

Film: Man of Steel

Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Christopher Meloni, Russell Crowe

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Man of Steel
Warner Brothers

It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s Superman. Again. As if we didn’t get it the first time. To be fair, Man of Steel is one of those “origin” stories Hollywood has been churning out recently in an effort to trick audiences into believing that it has something original to show. Like the equally dreadful The Wolverine — also released in 2013 — Man of Steel demonstrates what happened to Superman before he became Superman. If this narrative premise isn’t innovative enough for you, the film is filled with expensive visual effects and computer generated imagery where things blow up and go boom. Clocking in at 143 minutes and featuring the worst performances by some of contemporary cinema’s most gifted movie stars, Man of Steel is a film for those lucky individuals who possess superhero powers to transcend the space-time continuum and live forever. For the rest of us, our time is a little more precious, and we’re better off doing anything else. img-1046 Jon Lisi


Director: Ridley Scott

Film: The Counselor

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz

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The Counselor
20th Century Fox

How does Cormac McCarthy, Ridley Scott, and an all star cast screw up a supposedly twisted crime thriller? By delivering nothing the audience expects and offering everything they’d never want. Who needs to see Cameron Diaz’s body double give Javier Bardem’s supercar a sloppy, catfishy lap dance? Why offer up a compelling protagonist (Michael Fassbender) without motive, personality, backstory, or character. Attitude and alienation will only get you so far, but the nihilism expressed by McCarthy’s first time feature film script (and hopefully his last) is so pronounced it’s like offering the viewer a delicious chocolate sundae and then substituting feces for the regular hot fudge. Believe me, it’s just as tempting and tasty too. img-1046 Bill Gibron


Director: Stuart Blumberg

Film: Thanks for Sharing

Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Gwyneth Paltrow, Josh Gad,m Joely Richardson, Alecia Moore

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Thanks for Sharing
Roadside Attractions

You can tell that, with Thanks for Sharing, director Stuart Blumberg really wants to take the idea of addiction seriously and explore it in a movie that also has some comedic elements. In execution, it’s neither here nor there: the “comedy” bits are either ridiculous or don’t land, and the serious parts are so reverential to the 12-step process that it comes off feeling like a PSA. The characters are reduced to types, based on where they are in their recovery, so their struggles barely make any emotional impact. (Compare/contrast with Steve McQueen‘s Shame, which is all bad emotions and no life-affirming recovery.) The end result is about as interesting and thought-provoking as watching someone else’s therapy sessions. img-1046 Marisa LaScala


Director: Klay Hall

Film: Planes

Cast: Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Priyanka Chopra, Brad Garrett, Cedric the Entertainer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Roger Craig Smith, John Cleese, Carlos Alazraqui

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The Walt Disney Studios

Blame your kids for this one. For every piece of Cars merchandise they demand during your regular trips to Wal-Mart, the House of Mouse banks another billion bucks and then tries to find ways to finagle even more green out of your wallet. As a result, we got two of the studio’s stupidest offerings — Cars 2 and this aerodynamic abomination. As lifeless as the cookie cutter CG and about as inventive, this film, while not from Pixar, actually takes place in the realm of said talking vehicles, the better to monopolize the marketing and sell through potential of each and every item on the screen. Oh, and to make matters worse, every aircraft has an ethnically appropriate accent depending on where they are from. If it wasn’t a cartoon, it would be racist as Hell. Maybe it still is. img-1046 Bill Gibron

10 – 6

Director: Edward Brown

Film: Unacceptable Levels

Cast: Ralph Nader, Devra Lee Davis, Stacy Malkan, Ken Cook, Christopher Gavigan, Alan Greene, John Warner, Andy Igrejas, Joan Blades

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Display Width: 200Unacceptable Levels
Macroscopic Media

Have you ever wondered how synthetic chemicals are affecting your health? Oh. You haven’t. Well, never mind then. If you were wondering, all you need to know based upon this unsuccessful piece of propaganda’s title is that you are being exposed to “unacceptable levels” of chemicals and your body is paying the price. Written and directed by Ed Brown, who has no other films to his name because he spent his earlier years trying to convince people that clouds come from vanilla ice cream, Unacceptable Levels is the kind of documentary you watch when you don’t want to be informed, you don’t want to be riveted, and you don’t want to be called to action. It’s the kind of documentary you watch when you want to lose faith in cinema’s potential to educate and enlighten the masses. All of this is to say that Unacceptable Levels should never be watched by anyone ever. img-1047 Jon Lisi


Director: Jacob Aaron Estes

Film: The Details

Cast: Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks, Kerry Washington, Ray Liotta, Laura Linney, Dennis Haysbert

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The Details
The Weinstein Company

A couple of years back, the brilliant Coen brothers unleashed A Serious Man on unsuspecting movie audiences. The masterpiece of faith and fate, the film featured a physics professor nebbish whose own growing anti-semitism is tempered by a cosmic design to make his life as unlivable as possible. Within the dark comedic core was a wonderful meditation on religion, morality, and the ’60s subculture simmering beneath Larry Glopnik’s supposedly perfect suburban facade. The Details wants to be a modern day reminder of the siblings’ era-appropriate satire. Sadly, writer/director Jacob Aaron Estes is no Joel or Ethan. He’s barely a comic, dark or otherwise. By offering characters so bugnuts insane that they make asylum inmates look like logisticians and presenting us with a wholly unlikable lead, the result is a film that forces us away, that dares us to indulge in its ever increasing array of antisocial behaviors and praise it for being right on the privileged, gated-community money. All it really ends up being is an exasperating experience of epic proportions. img-1047 Bill Gibron


Director: Josh Boone

Film: Stuck in Love

Cast: Jennifer Connelly, Greg Kinnear, Lily Collins, Logan Lerman, Kristen Bell, Liana Liberato, Nat Wolff

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Stuck in Love
Millennium Entertainment

Is there a worse kind of movie than an indie comedy that purports to explore the mysteries of love and sex? Yes, yes there is: an indie comedy that purports to explore the mysteries of love and sex through the lives of writers — multiple writers! — who suspiciously resemble what a screenwriter assumes novelists are like based on no research. At least I hope no research went into Stuck in Love: Otherwise the characters played by Greg Kinnear (stubborn sad-sack novelist) and Lily Collins (cutesily faux-jaded novelist/daughter who “doesn’t believe” in love, of course) might actually be roaming around out there, which means you could have an absolutely insufferable and unfunny conversation with them. Best not to think about it — though if you do, it might turn Stuck in Love into an effective horror film, rather than a failed romcom. img-1047 Jesse Hassenger


Director: Dean Parisot

Film: RED 2

Cast: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Byung-hun Lee, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren

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Summit Entertainment

Her name is Mary-Louise Parker and like Jennifer Aniston and Rachel McAdams she exists in that rarified air known as cinematic kryptonite, at least for yours truly. When she or her peers either male (Robin Williams) or female show up onscreen, this critic’s already tired temperament shuts down completely. She could be rewriting the rulebook on how to act and all I hear is the motion picture equivalent of a Charlie Brown adult and the visual counterpart of a dead dog. So naturally, the makers of this mandatory sequel decided that Ms. Parker, and not the rest of her far superior costars, needed the main character arc in this affront. The results remain so unexceptionally awful that they might as well have featured Chris Tucker and Dane Cook. Now that’s a frightening concept. img-1047 Bill Gibron


Director: Spike Lee

Film: Oldboy (2013)

Cast: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olson, Sharlto Copley, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Imperioli

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Oldboy (2013)

A by-the-numbers remake without enough alterations to be relevant but with just enough to piss you off, Spike Lee‘s Oldboy replicates all the wrong elements of a fundamentally compelling story. Lee, who seems disinterested in the characters inhabiting his film, uses only a few trademark camera angles to mark his presence in this useless creation. While many will see this instead of the Korean original simply because it lacks subtitles (or annoying dubbing), I can’t imagine understanding the many twists without first witnessing the intelligible version by Chan-wook Park. Please don’t try. As is customary advice following remakes, just watch the original. img-1047 Ben Travers

5 – 1

Director: Andrew Niccol

Film: The Host

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Jake Abel, Max Irons, Frances Fisher, Chandler Canterbury, Diane Kruger, William Hurt

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Display Width: 200The Host

When you combine the slipshod narrative, the emphasis on saccharine sentimentality, the lack of any real future vision (the aliens’ preferred mode of transportation? Cars, motorcycles, and helicopters decked out in shiny chrome) and the unsure nature of the series itself, The Host is/was doomed. It’s one thing to preach to the converted (the book did spend 26 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list), it’s another to reach beyond to tap into the mainstream. Twilight managed the feat because of its already established existence, as well as the on-again, off-again nature of Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s off screen relationship. The backers of The Host clearly hoped for more of the same. What they got, instead, was one of the worst missteps in modern moviemaking. img-1048 Bill Gibron


Director: Mark Mann

Film: Generation Um

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Bojana Novakovic, Adelaide Clemens, Jake Hoffman

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Generation Um

Here is incontrovertible and unsolicited proof that Keanu Reeves is master of his own destiny: no agent, no producer, no friend or relative could have reasonably convinced him to appear as a diffident, vaguely nineties-ish aging hipster who interrogates a pair of younger girls with a video camera in the lifeless Generation Um. No, this must have been something that Reeves really wanted to do. The result is like a behind-the-scenes feature exploring the making of the horrible documentary Winona Ryder was filming in Reality Bites, only without any of the characters from Reality Bites to make it remotely enjoyable. It aspires, I think, to be a generational statement, but it’s actually a very specific one: these people are deeply, irretrievably boring. img-1048 Jesse Hassenger


Director: Randall Miller

Film: CBGB

Cast: Alan Rickman, Malin Åkerman, Freddy Rodriguez, Stana Katic, Richard de Klerk, Rupert Grint, Justin Bartha, Joel David Moore, Johnny Galecki, Donal Logue, Ashley Greene, Taylor Hawkins, Mickey Sumner

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Unclaimed Freight Productions

If it was possible to sue from beyond the grave, CBGB would be in court for the rest of its sad, short, miserable cinematic life. Affronts to musical genres aren’t as hapless or hopeless as this awful expression of the punk movement in ‘70s New York. Actually styled as a biopic of club owner Hilley Kristal (played with all the passion of a paycheck casher by Alan Rickman) and his quite accidental role in giving a fresh faced cultural uprising a grimy, grungy home, what we get instead is celebrity impersonations by actual celebrities. Want to see Ron Weasley ape Cheetah Chrome? This is your film. How about Silk Spectre doing her best (worst) Debbie Harry? That’s here too. If you ever envisioned ‘the bruddahs from Queens’ as awkward, laugh worthy jokes, CBGB will provided such contempt and then festoon it with dog shit just to drive hope the point (Kristal pooch had a habit of using the club as its own personal toilet). img-1048 Bill Gibron


Director: Michael Bay

Film: Pain and Gain

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub, Ed Harris

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Pain and Gain

“Directed by Michael Bay” aren’t words you want to see connected to any story based in reality; just look at Pearl Harbor. So it is with this frenetic take on a stranger-than-fiction tale of some Florida gym rats (Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie) who want to bypass the whole working-for-it thing and just grab the American Dream by kidnapping a rich guy and extorting him for every penny he has. The casting is spot-on and the story rich with potential, but Bay’s slobbery love of beer-commercial sunsets and sub-frat-boy humor sucks all the fun out of it well before it starts in on the excruciating torture scenes; played for a joke, of course. img-1048 Chris Barsanti


Director: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer

Film: The Starving Games

Cast: Maiara Walsh, Brant Daugherty, Cody Christian, Nick Gomez, Lauren Bowles

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The Starving Games
Ketchup Entertainment

Yes, they still exist. Yes, they’re still painfully unfunny. No, there’s no sign of them going away anytime soon (their next target is supposedly the Fast and Furious films, though one wonders if the recent death of Paul Walker will put the kibosh on that). As representatives of the under-10 ideal of humor, lampoon lickspittles Friedberg and Seltzer seem desperate to destroy any ounce of a reputation they once had by channeling pop culture quips and bad acting through the most mundane and mediocre avenues possible. Could a spoof of The Hunger Games work? Probably. Is this laughless excuse for entertainment euthanasia it? Not by a braid dead long shot. img-1048 Bill Gibron