The Film Babble Blog Top 10 Worst Movies Of 2007

Oscar season is now officially over and we’ve basked in the glory of a great year for film for long enough so now it’s time to look at the not so great movies of 2007. Actually “not so great” is being too kind – these were wretched evil slabs of celluloid sent from Hell to taint our collective unconscious and will make us all pay a higher psychic price than we can possibly imagine (as the late great comedian Bill Hicks would say). So let’s warm our hands on the fire as we throw these movies back to from where they came one by one:

1. WILD HOGS (Dir. Walt Becker)

Hard to believe this was one of the biggest box office hits of the year. It’s a CITY SLICKERS-ish mid-life crisis tale with motorcycles instead of horses padded out with bathroom humour, gay-panic jokes, and tired stupid sitcom plotting. We’re used to seeing Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, and even John Travolta slumming it in such unfunny cinematic crap but why did William H. Macy and Marissa Tomei have to be dragged down with them? Read my original review here.

2. REDACTED (Dir. Brian DePalma)

This has been a really bad year for films about the Iraq war with audiences staying away from both documentaries like NO END IN SIGHT and dramas like LIONS FOR LAMBS. Of course it doesn’t help the cause when the movie is actually really bad like DePalma’s misguided horribly named unaffecting mess REDACTED. Through the conceit that the fictional (though based on a real incident) tale of a troop in Samarra who are involved with the rape and murder of an innocent 14 year old Iraqi girl and the killing of her family is told by one of the soldier’s hand held videocams, fake cable TV footage, and simulated YouTube clips we just get the same old bottom line: War Is Hell. Worse yet this obnoxious exercise comes across like it’s more down on the troops than the war.

3. Tie: GHOST RIDER (Dir. Mark Steven Johnson) / NEXT (Dir. Lee Tamhori) A Nicholas Cage double whammy! Actually if I had seen the sequel to the awful NATIONAL TREASURE that came out last December this may have been a triple whammy. In NEXT a clever Philip K. Dick short story is awfully adapted into a boring by-the-numbers action movie formula while GHOST RIDER takes its comic book source and well…also awfully adapts it into an equally lame action movie. Come on Cage! We all know you have another ADAPTATION or WILD AT HEART in you, so why do you have to keep giving us this pap? Read my original review of GHOST RIDER here.

4. THE NUMBER 23 (Dir. Joel Schumacher) This is the stupidest film in Jim Carrey’s entire career and with a filmography that includes the ACE VENTURA movies and especially DUMB AND DUMBER that is really saying something. As a wise-cracking dogcatcher who starts seeing the number of the title everywhere and they start piling up as clues to a long unresolved murder. Wait! It gets stupider – read my original review here.

5. FACTORY GIRL (Dir. George Hickenlooper) A vicious disapointment in the department of biopics of C-List celebrities. Sure, model and 60’s “It girl” Edie Sedgewick (played by Sienna Miller) was a wasted vapid Warhol groupie but she deserved better than this putrid portrait. My review is of course, right here.

6. 1408 (Mikael Håfström) John Cusack in a hotel room from Hell. That’s pretty much it. Want more of a description of the Stephen King derived suckitude contained within? Click on this.

7. SHOOT ‘EM UP (Dir. Michael Davis) At one point Clive Owen says: “You know what I hate? I hate those lame action movies where the good guy calls just one person who ends up betraying him.” Me? I hate lame action movies like this. Even one in which ace actor Paul Giamatti (talk about slumming it!) plays the bad guy. After CHILDREN OF MEN Owen must have hesitated to do another ‘save an important baby from evil forces’ movie but maybe he just decided that the price was right. I never reviewed this bombastic blockbuster wannabe for good reason.

8. YEAR OF THE DOG (Dir. Mike White) I like former SNL cast member turned film lead actress Molly Shannon. I like the supporting cast including Regina King, Peter Scaarsgard, John C. Reilly, and Laura Dern. I like screenwriter/director Mike White. Also I like dogs. But I really didn’t like this awkward indie comedy and by the end of it wanted to put it to sleep. Read about how it rubbed me the wrong way here.

9. BUG (Dir. William Friedkin) A ridiculous conspiracy minded thriller with hammy overacting and silly twists. Normally I love ridiculous conspiracy minded thrillers with hammy overacting and silly twists but Friedkin really doesn’t bring it here. Read my review of the DVD here.

10. THE TEN (Dir. David Wain) A sketch comedy film without a single laugh. Paul Rudd, whose smug detachment helps him walk off unscathed from this dreck, is the presenter of 10 vignettes ostensibly based on the morals of the 10 commandments featuring the usually reliable members of comic ensembles from the TV cult favorites The State and Stella who have all done good funny work before. WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER this ain’t. My original review? Never wrote one – in fact this is the most I ever want to write about this mean minded offensive unfunny doggerel. Next time I won’t mince words.

More later…

WILD HOGS #1 – America Has Spoken

“This whole country’s just like my flock of sheep!”
Lonesome Rhodes (Andy Griffith) A FACE IN THE CROWD
(Dir. Elia Kazan, 1957)

WILD HOGS (Dir. Walt Becker, 2007) In the last few years there has been much op-ed piece and pundit speak about whether movie critics really matter any more. If we judge solely by the case of WILD HOGS the answer is a deafening “Hell NO!” This film, which was critically panned by practically everyone (it has a 15% approval rating = rotten on the Tomatometer), was the #1 movie for several weeks when it opened earlier this year even staying in the top ten 13 weeks after its release! It was the #1 DVD in sales upon release and rentals (now it’s #3) and the #1 download right now online according to iTunes. It’s like it’s giving the finger to every movie critic ever! So yeah, I had to see for myself – I couldn’t take anybody’s word for it. I put it in my Netflix queue and naturally it came up “Very Long Wait” which made me feel even more ashamed to giving in to what I knew was going to be an atrocious experience.

And boy was it! Another depressed yuppies take to the road in an attempt to re-boot their stale lives – see CITY SLICKERS get their GROOVE BACK by way of EASY RIDER and LOST IN AMERICA. Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, and the really slumming it William H. Macy are the motorcycle crew here – they face off with real bikers led by Ray Liotta while Macy falls for Marissa Tomei. That’s about all of what happens here unless you want to count the endless stopping to go to the bathroom jokes and all the homophobic humor especially embodied in a gay cop (Scrubs’ John C. McGinley) who may be the most offensive character in a movie comedy in a long time. I didn’t think one second of this film was funny – I didn’t even smile at the Peter Fonda cameo (especially as it is such a contrived walk-on). With its base, broad and just plain boring kind of comedy WILD HOGS is the movie equivalent of pig slop but I know, my opinion doesn’t matter – as Stephen Colbert says “the market has spoken”.

Post Note : There has been much speculation that a significant percentage of the gross of WILD HOGS was from teenagers who bought tickets to it and then attended 300 but that doesn’t explain the DVD and download numbers. Maybe it’s a Red States thing.

More later…

DVD Babble Blurb Bash-tacular!

I have seen a lot of recent DVDs over the last few months that I haven’t been blogged about so I thought it would be good to take a break from the summer sequel season and round up a handful and square them off. I tried to keep it in a brief blurb format but since this is film BABBLE the reviews of course wind on and on. Let’s start with –

New Release DVD Recommendations :

LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA (Dir. Clint Eastwood, 2006) Word was that this was vastly superior to FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS but this politically correct companion piece is roughly the same quality in my estimation. Told from the Japanese point of view entirely in their language with sub-titles LETTERS has the same sense of earnest honor and the same grey overcast tint. The standout characters are General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe) the young Saigo (Kazunari Ninomira) who run into each other more than once in the tunnels between Mount Saribachi and the north side of the island as bombing and ground attacks by the American troops rage above. The melodrama involving the sympathy that emerges is handled deftly by Eastwood while the sentiment – such as the sunny Speilbergisms that sadly have defined the modern era war-film is kept in check. It may be too much to watch both FLAGS and LETTERS in one sitting or some double feature setting but both even with their glorified old-school faults (most likely from the screenplay written by CRASH * director Paul Hack-ish, oh – I mean Haggis) should not be missed.

* Incidentely my least favorite Best Picture Academy Award winning film ever!


49 UP (Dir. Michael Apted, 2005) The 7th in the excellent documentary series that began in 1964 with the bold statement – “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man” and followed 14 British children catching up with them every (yep) 7 years. Since most people I know haven’t seen any of these movies I’d highly recommend the Up Series box-set which has the previous 6 films but honestly that’s not absolutely necessary to enjoy this movie. Plenty of clips from all the films inform and enhance the new material and don’t come off as redundant for those who have kept up. It would be too much for me to recount all the names, stories, and economic backgrounds so check out this Wikipedia entry if you are curious. Seeing this group of real people at the various stages of their lives through turmoil and peace makes for extremely satisfying viewing. Bring on 56 UP!

ROCKY BALBOA
(Dir. Sylvester Stallone, 2006)

It’s hard for me to believe this is making my recommendations list. I mean as a kid I hated the ROCKY movies, ridiculed them with other snotty pimpled faced friends, and grew up to believe them to be populist Narcissistic America at its most lame brained epic-wannabes. At some point when I got older I caught the original Best Picture winning ROCKY and found myself liking it. It came from my favorite era of cinema (the 70’s dummy!) and it was grittily touching in its portrayal of the boxing underdog making a name for himself. Then sequel-itis set in and the character became a machine who could never lose in glitzy gimmicky match-ups with Mr. T (III) and that evil Russian powerhouse played by Dolph Lundgren (IV) – yes that’s right – Rocky was going to win the Cold War! I never even saw ROCKY V (1990) – so why do I like and recommend ROCKY BALBOA? Because we have Stallone at his most likable – an aging humble simpleton running a restaurant named after his deceased wife Adrian (Talia Shire – who is not deceased; she just didn’t return to the series), telling the same fight stories, and brushing off daily indignities. It seems oddly necessary for Stallone to return to his Rocky roots – this is his best and most definable character and even with the contrived ‘inspired by a video game simulation Rocky gets an exhibition match with the current troubled champ Mason ‘The Line Dixon’ (Antonio Tarver)’ scenario, I hate to admit it but it works. Bring on JOHN RAMBO! Okay, no wait – that’s a bit much.

And now :

New Release DVD Disses :

BOBBY (Dir. Emilio Estevez, 2006) I had heard the news upon its theatrical release that this was a NASHVILLE remake – relocated to the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles with the RFK assassination the backdrop to a convoluted mishmash of over 20 cliched ’60s stereotypes. I held out ’til it came in that red Netflix envelope because of my love for political period pieces but damn was that description right on the money! The Altman derived framework doesn’t disguise the awful screenplay with ham-fisted base dialogue like Nick Cannon playing an insufferably idealistic Kennedy staffer emoting “now that Dr. King is gone – no one left but Bobby. No one.” Cannon joins an ace cast including Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence Fishborne, William H. Macy, Harry Belfonte, Christian Slater (one of the few non-idealist characters – he plays a base racist), and Estevez’s Daddy Martin Sheen. Not so ace actors here include Elijah Wood, Lindsay Lohan, Demi Moore and Estevez himself. The cringe inducing cliches pile up – Ashton Kutcher does his worst acting ever (can’t believe that was possible) as a hippy that would look phony on Dragnet 1967– during a horrifyingly stupid acid trip sequence actually sits staring at an orange in his hand saying “no, you shut up!”, every TV set has a perfect quality picture of carefully chosen clips of RFK speeches and there’s even a MAGNOLIA-esque montage going from strained close-up shots actor to actor. Can’t deny the heart that went into this movie but all we have here is an A-list cast, B-list production values, C-list cliches, D-list overused soundtrack standards, and an F-list script. Somebody revoke Estevez’s cinematic license! He should be exiled to the TV movie circuit after this film felony.

SMOKIN’ ACES (Dir. Joe Carnahan, 2007) Another better than average cast slumming it through derivative drivel. Flashy Vegas gangster caper in which every one in the cast is after sleazy magician soon to be snitch Buddy Aces (Jeremy Piven – pictured on the left). Some are trying to protect him – (lawyer Curtis Armstrong, FBI agents Ryan Reynolds and Ray Liotta under the supervision of chief Andy Garcia) but everybody else is trying to kill him including Alicia Keys, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, and rapper Common – okay yeah so it’s not A-list but most of them are still better than the material in this worn entry into the PULP FICTIONGET SHORTYLOCK STOCKGO sweepstakes that expired over a decade ago. Kind of like Shane Black’s also post-dated glib witless KISS KISS BANG BANG (2005) SMOKIN’ ACES is a lesson in how quick cutting and hip-hopisms don’t ensure a clever crafty meta-movie. Just say Tarenti-NO to this piece of pop-nonsense.

This post (especially the disses) is dedicated to Good Morning America critic Joel Siegel (1943-2007). He became a film babble hero when he walked out of a screening of CLERKS II last summer. Knowing his days were numbered he figured he didn’t want to waste his last hours on that crap. The fact that it pissed off Kevin Smith was the icing on the cake! Check out Roger Ebert’s heartfelt tribute.


More later…