Unfortunately, while I worked hard to make a true and honest Best of 2010 list, I had absolutely no trouble at all filling out the list for the Worst Films of 2010. These were the worst films in a year that was truly awful. And I didn't even see GROWN UPS.
There was no shortage of horrible films in 2010. First, here's what didn't quite make the list.
DISTRICT B13: ULTIMATUM, DREAD, LEGION, NANNY MCPHEE RETURNS, THE OTHER GUYS, PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF, PRINCE OF PERSIA, THE PRIVATE LIVES OF PIPPA LEE, REPO MEN, ROBIN HOOD, VALENTINE'S DAY, WHEN IN ROME, YOUTH IN REVOLT
All of those are terrible films sure, but only ten films could be chosen. And here it is,
THE WORST FILMS OF 2010
Directed by Jorma Taccone
Chalk this one up to a matter of taste, I suppose. I am told that there are a number of people who really enjoyed this spin-off of the SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE character. Personally, I didn't see it. I actually think the skits on SNL are pretty funny and the concept certainly held more promise than the glut of SNL spin-offs we got in the 1990s.
But what should have been a funny action comedy was filled with overblown humor that constantly begged for attention. It played like a film whose first draft was written by the SOUTH PARK guys and then quickly handed off to committee. Val Kilmer is wasted in his return to the big screen and Ryan Phillipe should be embarrassed. In the end, the whole thing comes off as a second-rate Will Ferrell comedy.
9. PIRANHA 3-D
Directed by Alexandre Aja
The sheer number of people who praised this film depressed me. Here was a film that promised 100 minutes of sex and violence, a return to the no holds barred exploitation cinema of years gone by. That so many seemed to think they pulled it off makes me think they have been watching bad exploitation for far too long.
The film plays like a SyFy Channel Original, with special effects to match.. The post-converted 3-D process made the bright colors seem murky. And the big showcase is that in a bid to alleviate the mediocrity, a ten minute geek show of random violence is thrown into the middle.
The thing is that Aja's style does not lend itself to good fun. Even when he tries to be silly, the tone comes off as relentlessly punishing as his HIGH TENSION or THE HILLS HAVE EYES. Maybe that tone works for those films, but it doesn't for this one.
Yes, it had adult star Riley Steele without clothes. But you can see like that elsewhere, and in films with better writing.
8. THE BOUNTY HUNTER
Directed by Andy Tennant
THE BOUNTY HUNTER may not be the worst film to come by in 2010, but it was certainly the most boring. I actually have respect for Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler. For this film however, it seemed as though they heard the promising premise and signed on the dotted line before they released the script was not about to be fleshed out any further.
Hence you have a film that plays like a first draft. No laughs. No inspired set-pieces. No chemistry between the leads. Everyone, including director Andy Tennant, goes forward on cruise control, just trying to get to the end without offending anyone or allowing anything exciting to happen.
Take a good look, people. This is the exact type of film that infuriates me. Here is a film that had no desire to try. The idea was to have a set-up and two likable stars. Once you got into the theater, nobody cared if it was any good. A boring, flatlined mess of a film.
7. TOOTH FAIRY
Directed by Michael Lembeck
Dwayne Johnson seems like a nice enough guy, but his choice in movies seems to undermine his earnest performances.
Hearkening back to a time when family films were the absolute basement of quality entertainment, TOOTH FAIRY does pretty much everything wrong. There is not one three-dimensional character here. Everything is placed right on the surface as the main character keeps repeating, "dreams are bad." Thankfully, certain enterprising filmmakers have since shown that family films do not need to insult or talk down to their audience. It's a memo the makers of this film failed to receive.
All you're left with is an endless barrage of people mugging for the camera and taking lame pratfalls. The film's tagline of "the tooth hurts" is more prescient than we dared believe.
6. THE LAST AIRBENDER
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Shyamalan's earlier films THE SIXTH SENSE and UNBREAKABLE are major achievements. Since then however, he's been struggling, with films that ranged from disappointing to merely decent. I never got on the bandwagon of fanboys who enjoyed ripping him apart over the last few years. But THE LAST AIRBENDER is sure to be the biggest black mark on his filmography.
Give Shyamalan credit for trying something different as people began criticizing him for repeating himself. He put himself out there and tried something different. Unfortunately, there is no redeeming this poorly scripted, poorly acted, poorly realized fantasy adventure. It's a film that features not one moment of true excitement, no fleshed out characters and tons of unintentional laughs.
A rather inventive attempt to stretch action sequences into long takes (think OLDBOY) is a good effort, but couldn't redeem this painful film.
Directed by Robert Luketic
Most people learned a long time ago that if Ashton Kutcher is in a film, you should probably stay away. Now, we can say the same thing for Katherine Heigl. After a promising turn in KNOCKED UP, Heigl has been setting a land-speed record for the most insufferably horrible romantic comedies this side of Kate Hudson.
In this pathetic attempt to rework MR. AND MRS. SMITH, we're expected to buy Kutcher as a government assassin and Heigl as the woman determined to make their relationship work. Because that's what defines women in films like these. Luketic is one of the most bland directors working in Hollywood and that blandness strikes like gangbusters here.
There's not much to say here. Two boring movie stars acting out a boring script being shot by a boring director. I'm now staying away from every Heigl film as well. It's probably the only reason LIFE AS WE KNOW IT didn't make my list.
4. SAW 3-D
Directed by Kevin Greutert
Why wasn't this on more worst lists? My guess is that on one end, it wasn't screened for critics. On the other, there was a sense of ennui, "It's a SAW movie, what did you expect?" I can't be the only one to find the latest SAW film to be this bad... can I?
While I never jumped for joy over the SAW franchise, I enjoyed most of what they had to offer. But to say this is merely the worst entry in the SAW franchise does not scratch the surface. You practically have to try to make a horror film this bad.
We start out with a set-piece that seems more appropriate for one of the FINAL DESTINATION films (the current nadir of popular horror films) with a ridiculous "bros before hos" payoff. It sets the tone for the rest of the film, or rather the lack thereof. The film follows the evil Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) as he seeks revenge. Hoffman was never convincing in the whole morality-play theme. Yet, even when it becomes obvious Hoffman has no moral compass at all, the film half-heartedly tries to wring one last game out of the lot. The game is really nothing more than Jigsaw bitching and moaning about copyright infringement, while even killing innocent people as the clock ticks down. All of this is just a distraction as Hoffman becomes more of a slasher superhero than Michael Myers at his worst.
Kevin Greutert (who did a very good job with SAW VI) did not want to direct this film. He was contractually forced into the job when Lionsgate grew worried that he would be directing their biggest competition, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2. The lack of commitment shows. Everything in the film looks shabby. Most infuriating of all is that while this is promised as the final entry in the SAW franchise, the film leaves many openings for more installments, though I wouldn't count on it.
3, LEAP YEAR
Directed by Anand Tucker
How bad does your film have to be in order for the film's star to call it one of the year's worst... while the film is still in theatres? That's what Matthew Goode did, saying he took the job because the pay was good and it was close to his house. We can't really argue with him on that one.
But why in the world did Amy Adams get herself sucked into this? Adams is one of our most talented actresses and it was just depressing as she tried to breathe any life at all into this dull, laugh-free, romance-free warmed over script from the Heigl-Hudson fold.
It's interesting that Anand Tucker is responsible for one of the worst films of the year, and also one of the best. He directed the concluding chapter in the RED RIDING TRILOGY.
2. FURRY VENGEANCE
Directed by Roger Kumble
If you enjoy seeing people scream incessantly while getting their testicles pulverized, this film might be the one to wean you off of that for good.
FURRY VENGEANCE is nothing more than 90 minutes of slapstick-gone-wrong. People get injured, personal belongings are destroyed, sleep is disrupted, scatological humor rules the day and people scream. Oh, how people scream.
We have animals who do not look or sound like animals. We have a family that is just horrible to behold. And for the second time this year (after Aasiv Mandvi in LAST AIRBENDER), we have talented DAILY SHOW people wedged into a film that suggests they should stay on basic cable until they can better roles.
I will admit that I was probably too hard on Ken Jeong when reviewing this film on Film Geek Central. But he still winds up being the worst thing in a film that is more Guantanamo-styled torture than motion picture. Check him out on COMMUNITY instead. If you were a parent that somehow managed to not be dragged to this film, be thankful.
And the worst film of 2010 is.....
1. VAMPIRES SUCK
Directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
Of course. Just when you think you've seen the worst the year has to offer, here comes Friedberg and Seltzer with another of their so-called spoofs. And while this take-off of the TWILIGHT franchise might have more focus than their earlier films (DATE MOVIE, EPIC MOVIE, MEET THE SPARTANS, DISASTER MOVIE), it still doesn't make it funny.
So, why give this one the top spot? Because while even FURRY VENGEANCE shows the same level of inventiveness of a Wile E. Coyote cartoon, VAMPIRES SUCK shows no originality whatsoever. These films hold their audiences in absolute contempt, believing the concept alone should get them in theatres.
It would be one thing if the film's jokes just fell flat. That would be forgivable. But Friedberg and Seltzer continue to show no real understanding of what a joke is. What they offer instead is a series of pop culture references, gathered from a week's worth of watching E! NEWS DAILY. It's a film with such sloppy writing and such a poor opinion of their audience that when they briefly need to lampoon Buffy the Vampire Slayer, they require the character to have "BUFFY" printed out in block letters on her tank top.
I've heard people defend Jenn Proske's performance, since she imitates the Bella Swan character well. Let me break it to you, it's not that hard. I offer these films no quarter. Making excuses for them only encourages them to continue. These are the worst things to come out of Hollywood right now and VAMPIRES SUCK is no exception.
Onward and upwards, stay tuned for my much happier Best Films of 2010 list.