Yesterday evening, I posted a list of what I believe to be the top 25 best films of 2011; now it’s time to look at the opposite end of the spectrum. Listed below are the ten films I believe to be the worst of the worst of 2011 – yes, these are the cinema releases that most made me want to vomit and gag and peel the flesh from my face. While 2011 certainly offered us some enchanting, intelligent and inspiring pieces of cinema, it unfortunately also produced a wide array of calamitous clunkers that numbed the mind and churned the stomach. Some had cross-dressing, some had fart gags, some had nose-picking and one had a human centipede. So, let’s brace ourselves and take a look back at the top ten worst films of 2011 – be smug, happy and bright-eyed if you’ve managed to avoid any of these.
10. “Apollo 18”
On a scale of “Plan 9 from Outer Space” to “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Apollo 18” probably sits at about the same level as that “Lost in Space” film starring Joey from “Friends.” It’s a science-fiction film set on the moon – this immediately brings to mind Duncan Jones’ masterful sci-fi thriller “Moon,” a comparison which is never going to work in “Apollo 18”’s favour. Unlike “Moon,” however, “Apollo 18” is a horror film and is presented to us as found footage, a la “The Blair Witch Project” and “Paranormal Activity,” though to even less convincing effect. Its footage is of a supposed Apollo 18 mission to the moon that NASA launched in 1974. The mission goes horribly wrong when the astronauts land on the moon’s surface and discover that there are vicious little crab-like creatures lurking about outside their craft. On paper, this may sound like a perfectly interesting premise, but I assure you that in practice, “Apollo 18” is anything but interesting. It is in fact a dull, boring and tedious piece of space horror that takes what seems like forever to get going and feels overlong even at a length of 90 minutes. Zero gravity? More like zero effort.
9. “Sucker Punch”
Unlike the rest of the films on this list, all of which I watched knowing damn well they’d be utterly terrible, I walked into “Sucker Punch” expecting a genuinely decent movie. I took the film’s overwhelmingly negative reviews with a pinch of salt and walked into the film with the general idea that I was about to experience a supremely awesome time at the cinema. Instead, “Sucker Punch” turned out to be something entirely different: a mind-numbing disaster of a film that discarded narrative coherency in favour of lovely visuals. The film is a fantasy actioner co-written and directed by Zack “300” Snyder. It stars Emily Browning as Babydoll, a young lady who is placed inside a mental asylum by her sadistic rapist of a stepfather. For some strange reason, the asylum swiftly transforms into a brothel where Babydoll must dance for perverted male clients. Even stranger, every time Babydoll starts dancing she is transported to a fantasy world where she, along with the asylum/brothel’s inmates/dancers, must battle supernatural creatures. Umm, yeah. Like Snyder’s previous efforts (most of which I genuinely liked), “Sucker Punch” has plenty of visual magnificence, but it’s in every other area that the film suffers. Sure, it’s an ambitious and original effort, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s an arse-numbing, headache-inducing 110 minutes of unrelenting tedium that succeeds in being entertaining only in brief, unsatisfying spurts – I expect more from a film involving zombie Nazis, gun-toting cyborgs and fire-breathing dragons.
If anyone out there is unsure as to whether or not Taylor Lautner is nothing more than a glorified porn actor, then “Abduction” will settle your mind: yes, he is. Directed by the once-talented John Singleton, “Abduction” saw Lautner in his first proper leading role, and it’s almost hilarious – actually, it is very hilarious – just how much he managed to screw it up. Lautner stars as Nathan Harper, a hunky teen who, after seeing a picture of himself on a missing person’s website, discovers that his parents are not in fact his parents. Soon after this shocking discovery that was revealed in the trailers, Nathan’s parents are murdered by assassins, forcing Nathan to go on the run with pointless love interest Karen (played by Lily Collins), all the while trying to figure out his true identity. With sloppy direction, laughable dialogue and a cardboard cut-out of a leading man, “Abduction” is a half-assed and ham-fisted excuse for an action picture; I’d say it’s taking a few too many pages from the “Bourne” trilogy’s book, but I honestly don’t think this film can read.
7. “New Year’s Eve”
Perhaps the most shocking thing about “New Year’s Eve” is that it attracted the interest of three highly respected Oscar-winning actors (Hilary Swank, Halle Berry and Robert De Niro); it’s also of note that it attracted the interest of a few Teen Choice Award-winners and -nominees (Ashton Kutcher and Zac Efron, among others), though that is significantly less shocking. The film is essentially a semi-sequel to the tedious 2010 rom-com ensemble piece “Valentine’s Day;” it has the same director (Garry Marshall), the same writer (Katherine Fugate), the same general premise and some of the same actors (though all playing slightly different characters). It takes place on (duh) New Year’s Eve and follows a convoluted band of ridiculously good-looking New York couples and singletons as they experience drama, romance and other deeply uninteresting trials and tribulations. Meanwhile, the whole world waits impatiently for the drop of the big ball in Times Square that will mark the very beginning of 2012. Sounds positively riveting, does it not? Blandly written and ceaselessly dull, the sickeningly syrupy “New Year’s Eve” is a two-hour endurance test featuring unfunny comedy, undramatic drama and unbearable characters; some of the more respectable A-listers do appear to put some effort into their roles, but it’s a struggle to shake the feeling that they’re just picking up a quick paycheck.
6. “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son”
Adding to the ever-growing list of “sequels nobody asked for” was the third instalment of the much-derided “Big Momma” franchise – yes, somehow we’ve let it get this far. This insipid threequel sees a desperate Martin Lawrence dressing up as a big fat old lady again, a joke that grew wearisome halfway through the first movie. This time, Malcolm Turner the cross-dressing cop must go into hiding at an all-girls performing arts school along with his teenage stepson, Trent (played by Brandon T. Jackson), after Trent witnesses a murder; Malcolm (or Big Momma) gets a job as the house mother, while Trent (or Charmaine) becomes a student of the school. So, we’re inevitably presented with a wide array of unfunny fat jokes, unfunny awkward situations, unfunny Martin Lawrence and, for some inexplicable reason, a random musical number. And it’s all ever so chucklesome because this time there’s not only one Big Momma, but two Big Mommas! Ha ha! Oh lawdy lawd. Surprisingly though, “Big Momma 3” wasn’t the worst cross-dressing comedy of 2011; we shall come to that winner/loser soon.
5. “Something Borrowed”
It’s almost unbelievable how unmemorable of a film “Something Borrowed” really is. In fact, it’s a film so unmemorable that when I looked at the “worst films of 2011” notes I’ve been jotting down since the summer, I saw the film’s title and actually had to google the film to remember what the hell it was – even after remembering that I’d watched and reviewed the film, my memory of it was still astonishingly vague. Anyway, “Something Borrowed” is a romantic comedy – I remember that much. As Wikipedia reminds me, it was based on Emily Giffin’s “chick lit” novel of the same name and starred Ginnifer Goodwin as Rachel, a single thirtysomething attorney who sleeps with her best friend’s fiancé. This starts an intricate web of lies and deceit as these pair of deeply immoral, horny douchebags continue sleeping together behind the best friend’s back. Look, I hardly even remember watching this useless piece of shit, let alone reviewing the damn thing, but what I do remember is being freakishly uninterested in every single plot point and character it contained, so much so that it appears I have turned the film into a repressed memory – put that on your poster, Warner Bros.
4. “The Roommate”
One film I do remember sitting through, however, is “The Roommate,” which easily takes the gong for the single most boring film of 2011. This is a fact that is made all the more surprising when one remembers that “The Roommate” was intended to be a thriller – y’know, a film that’s meant to thrill. Instead, “The Roommate” is more likely to bore you to tears than get your heart racing as it intended – indeed, your heart may very well keel over halfway through this uninspired load of old tosh. The film, which is directed by hilariously named filmmaker Christian Christiansen, stars Minka Kelly as Sara Matthews, a girl who has just started her freshman year at college. Her roommate is Rebecca (played by Leighton Meester), who soon turns out to be a crazy psycho-bitch who quickly develops an unhealthy obsession with the unsuspecting Sara. Essentially a cheap knock-off of the far superior “Single White Female,” this drab and coma-inducing stalker-thriller arouses one’s interest only in a scene where a sweet little pussycat is placed inside a tumble dryer – it surely aroused interest from the RSPCA too.
3. “Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World”
It is positively mortifying that writer-director Robert Rodriguez decided to film “Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World” instead of going ahead with the hotly anticipated sequel to his untouchable neo-noir masterpiece, “Sin City;” why Rodriguez believes the world needed another instalment in the “Spy Kids” franchise I don’t know, but what I do know is this: I want “Sin City 2,” and I want it here, and I want it now. Nevertheless, filming “Spy Kids 4” is exactly what Rodriguez did, and the result is arguably the worst film of the American filmmaker’s hit-or-miss career – yes, it’s right down there with kid-friendly 3D train wreck “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl.” Essentially acting as an unwanted reboot of the “Spy Kids” franchise, “All the Time in the World” (which was released in 4D, aka smell-o-vision) replaced series regulars Daryl Sabara and Alexa Vega with Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook, two annoying youngsters who, in the film, discover that their mother (played by Jessica Alba) is a spy. With the help of their robot dog (voiced by Ricky Gervais), these personality-free whippersnappers go up against the villainous Time Keeper, a masked maniac who plans on stealing the world’s time (don’t ask me to explain because I really don’t know). Chock-a-block with an unbearable amount of time-related puns and disturbingly unfunny jokes (most of which involve boogers and poop), “Spy Kids 4” was every bit as dumb as “Spy Kids 3D” and every bit as stale as its 4D gimmick – seriously, Rodriguez, you are better than this.
2. “The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)”
Director Tom Six promised moviegoers the world over that no one would walk out of the sequel to his cult horror hit “The Human Centipede” complaining that Six hadn’t gone far enough with the violence. Well, Six achieved this: “The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)” is every bit as depraved and grisly as the Dutch filmmaker proudly promised it would be. The only problem is that Six seemed to have either completely forgotten or completely ignored every other aspect that goes into making a movie; making sure it’s watchable, for example. This gore-tastic torture-porn sequel saw Laurence R. Harvey starring as Martin, an obsessive fan of the original “The Human Centipede.” Martin, who doesn’t utter a single word throughout the entire film, bravely and stupidly aspires to recreate the medical experiments depicted in his favourite film, but this time with twelve victims sewn ass-to-mouth instead of three. Oh, did I say sewn? Sorry, I meant stapled. Smothered in blood, poop and sick (although mercifully filmed in black-and-white), this revolting showcase of pitiful desperation is as pathetic and incompetent as they come. Y’know, someone really should staple Tom Six’s lips to his own asshole – maybe that will appease the self-adoring moron.
1. “Jack and Jill”
And in the number one spot is hack director Dennis Dugan’s mind-numbing 90-minute Dunkin’ Donuts commercial starring Adam Sandler as (get this, right) his own sister. Yes, running on a grand total of two jokes (the other being that the sister is very annoying), the endlessly excruciating and mind-bogglingly beastly “Jack and Jill” is already worn-out before it reaches the ten minute mark – still, it powers through, bafflingly hitting lower and lower lows, eventually ending with Al Pacino dancing and singing about how much he loves Dunkin’ Donuts (I am not fucking kidding). The story, loose as the film’s screw, has Sandler playing Jack, an ad executive whose obnoxious twin sister, Jill (Sandler in drag), stays over for Thanksgiving and never leaves. Cue a lazy display of dreadfully unfunny jokes revolving around Jill’s social idiocy and cultural ignorance, which stretches from accidentally crushing a Shetland pony’s legs to loudly yelling into her phone in a movie theatre (ha ha, she so grating). Witless, plotless, monotonous and mindless, “Jack and Jill” is a film so bad that one suspects Sandler is attempting career suicide – and if he’s not, then God help his sanity.
Endnote: The rules for films eligible for inclusion on this list are exactly the same as stated in the Best of 2011 list.