It's the final week of 2012, so we're wrapping the year up the way movie people are supposed to wrap the year up: Lists! Today, we each give our five worst movies of 2012. Tomorrow, we count down each of our No. 6-10 best movies of the year, and Friday, we finish off with each of our top five.
It's important to remember that all worst-movies-of-the-year lists are inherently fraudulent. There are surely movies made this year that were worse than the five each of us chose. We just didn't see them. We imagine any accurate list of the five "worst" movies of any year would have to contain 80 percent porn, 20 percent Tyler Perry, and ours don't. But worst-movie lists like ours are less "worst movie" and more "movies we saw that we've decided to pick on." That said, we tried to be fair and single out the five 2012 movies that we legitimately think were the worst. It's the least we could do.
About Cherry. This was a tiny movie that made only $3,000 in three theaters: It might seem like I'm picking on poor little About Cherry. But then again, you haven't seen it. A supposed art-movie-about-porn that feels more like a pervy director playing Drunk Paul Thomas Anderson, About Cherry is stilted, awkward and stupid throughout. For a while you think it's trying to somehow send up or subvert all its clichés until you realize, nope—it doesn't even realize it's a cliché. It features a pretty-obviously-stoned performance from James Franco and a role for Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel that's so embarrassing I assumed the director just disliked him. A movie you want to throw across the room.
The Paperboy. I know this is one of those movies that's supposed to be so-campy-bad-it's-good, but I'm afraid it never quite rises below vulgarity, as Mel Brooks might say. The cast is game, maybe a little too much so—this is not a movie that Nicole Kidman, John Cusack or Matthew McConaughey will be featuring on their career retrospective reels. (Unless Kidman and Cusack want to focus their montages on bikini urination and prison-suit ejaculation, respectively.) Director Lee Daniels is a goddamned lunatic, which is fine, but also incompetent at constructing a basic dialogue scene, which isn't. This makes me feel pretty dumb for initially admiring Precious so much. (Original review here.)
Red Dawn. Sure, the original film is pretty terrible; it's not like they were working with the sacred script here. But this remake isn't just pointless, it's gutless. At least the lousy first film had the courage of its far-right, anti-Commie convictions. This one makes the bad guys North Koreans so it can still sell in China, not that anyone in China would be stupid enough to watch this movie. Its lack of politics or viewpoint or intestinal fortitude could be slightly forgiven if it weren't also so limp as an action movie. Most of it is incoherently shot and about as stirring as a home video directed by a lesser Hanson brother. The cast of kids looks unaware of what's going on around them, something that's only their good fortune.
2016: Obama's America. Less a political polemic than a bizarre vanity project put together by a strange little man, 2016: Obama's America makes a case against President Obama that only Lionel Hutz could love. Dinesh D'Souza knows less about filmmaking than he does about logical argumentation, and that's really saying something. As I put it in my initial review, " I am not sure D'Souza has a future in movies, in front of or behind the camera. (Maybe next to it? He might be all right next to it.)"
Bachelorette. Any movie that brings together Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, James Marsden, Rebel Wilson and Adam Scott ought to be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the movie they did star in was this obnoxious wedding comedy about a bunch of bitchy bridesmaids whose bad behavior—they do drugs!—is constantly held up as empowering and daring. Really, it's manic glibness masquerading as some sort of generational truth.
Darling Companion. More than 20 years ago, director Lawrence Kasdan made a terrific ensemble film called Grand Canyon that was, in part, about how people struggle through their midlife crises. Kasdan's latest returned to that same terrain, bringing together a great cast (including Dianne Wiest and Richard Jenkins) but stranding them in a horribly cutesy comedy about a married couple (Kevin Kline and Diane Keaton) whose hunt for their missing dog becomes A Metaphor For Their Strained Relationship. Getting old ain't for sissies, but does it have to be this smug?
This Means War. What's most frustrating about This Means War is that it actually has a decent idea at its core: Best bud CIA agents (Chris Pine and Tom Hardy) discover they both like the same gal (Reese Witherspoon) and use their spy skills against one another to win her heart. But what could have been a sharp screwball comedy instead gets reduced to an over-amped action-comedy in which everybody is encouraged to be as conniving and juvenile as possible. Plus, Witherspoon totally ends up with the wrong guy.
Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie. Hey, I liked Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! But Heidecker and Wareheim's particular brand of anti-comedy was like nails on a chalkboard when pumped up to feature length. I realize that hating Billion Dollar Movie this much is sorta playing into their hands: I'm the uptight prude who doesn't "get it." But that doesn't mean I'm wrong.
What to Expect When You're Expecting. If nothing else, What to Expect When You're Expecting inspired this piece, which is one of my favorite things I wrote this year. But that still doesn't forgive a movie this incredibly shrill and clueless about the complexities of relationships, family, love, life, being a human, you name it. I expect this type of garbage from Jennifer Lopez, but Chris Rock? How could you?
Grierson & Leitch is a regular column about the movies. Follow us on Twitter, @griersonleitch.