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Top 10 List: WORST Films Edition

Posted on April 23, 2010 at 4:40 PM

Watching movies is a real passion/hobby/time waster in our house, and when you cycle enough films through your Netflix queue, you're gonna uncover what you thought was a  diamond but that turn out to be a chunk of stool. We watched a REAL dud of a movie the other night, and in honor of that I thought I would revisit the Top 10 movie list once again; this time with a far less controversial WORST movies.  Like the best movies, when it comes to the worst movies you’ve ever seen, everyone will have a different parameter. For me, the films that made my list were more than just *bad* movies, they were incredibly disappointing, or, in the case of the final three, just so downright offensive that they had to make the list. Also, unlike the best movies -- where you actually go out of way to see them -- when you hear about a real clunker of a movie, you generally avoid it like a weeping boil, so there are probably MANY bombs that I just haven’t seen.  Howard the Duck, Pluto Nash, Leonard Part 6, etc. Also, I elected to avoid placing any sequels on the list, meaning things like Caddy Shack 2, Meatballs 2, Jaws 3-D, etc. got a pass.


As always, love to hear your thoughts on films that left you sad/angry/disappointed/flummoxed in the comments section.  Without further ado, here’s the list, carefully alphabetized for Dan and Pierre’s criticizing pleasure.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – This Tim Burton / Johnny Depp remake may very well have been visually interesting and featured great character actors, and I’ll even concede that it might have been truer to Roald Dahl’s original story. (However, that isn’t always a good thing.  For a reason why a director *might* want to steer away from the original material, read Bernard Malamud’s “The Natural,” where Roy Hobbs is an absolute jerk you root against.) But none of that changes the fact that this movie was an abortion that spit in the face of a childhood classic. For me, the fatal flaw was Depp’s interpretation of Wonka, who came across as just incredibly, unbelievably, totally unnecessarily femme/queer, and who ultimately just hated children. Gene Wilder was eccentric, but at the end of the day, he cared for Charlie Bucket and really wanted him to succeed, which is why THAT film is a classic and this was a disaster.


Congo – When a movie is supposed to be a thriller, it should be, umm, thrilling. Congo was so ridiculous, it played more like a comedy. For months following this movie, Amy the talking gorilla – “Amy good gorilla” -- was a punchline. This was probably even more disappointing because it rode the marketing coattails of Jurassic Park. (I’ll submit that if anyone wants to argue that Sphere is an even worse Michael Crichton movie than this, you’ll not get too much rebuttal from me.)


The Darjeeling Limited – Not limited enough... This movie had all the ingredients to be great. It was written and directed by Wes Anderson, the creative force behind such truly great films as Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and Royal Tenenbaums. And Anderson brought back Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray, great actors all, who were so great in his other films. The plot also sounded like the recipe for another winner: a quirky road movie aboard a train traveling through interesting locales. But it was a rambling, lost and completely humorless fizzle. Nothing came together, you didn’t care about any of the characters, and you just kept looking at your watch waiting for it to be over.


Hudson Hawk – In all fairness, I did not actually see all of this movie, so I guess there is the stratospherically small possibility that this had a "Keyser Soze" finale, but we all know it didn't. Dan and I walked out about half-way through when it was just too painful to stay any longer. (That I walked out on this yet stayed through other, far more horrifying movies is probably more of a testament to Dan than anything else.) Filled with low brow gags and stupid jokes, this film is about a thief who times the length of his robberies by singing different songs. A singing thief! Who is Bruce Willis! The horror!


Lady in the Water – I’m not exactly sure when M. Night totally lost his way, but this film was just a total, epic fail. I could just picture the Disney execs sitting around the table after the final screening ripping apart their mantels and wailing, “Oh, Walt! What have we done?!” Again, a thriller that was just mind-cripplingly boring and s-l-o-w. The scariest part was that it just kept going. Apparently this movie was based on a bedtime story M. Night told his kids; his first clue should have been when they kept falling asleep right in the middle.


The Lawnmower Man – This is the ultimate example of how *not* to make a Stephen King short story into a movie. A movie adaptation SO far off the mark, that King sued (successfully) to have his name removed from the title. This was originally a short story about a guy who went around mowing lawns totally naked and by eating the grass – and anything else that happened in front of his chomping jaws. Somehow, the movie became this crazy excuse to do something with virtual reality. How they got Pierce Brosnan to sign on is quite possible one of the greatest mysteries of our day.


The Hudsucker Proxy – This movie has a ton of star power (Coen brothers at the helm, Paul Newman, Tim Robbins), but it has earned my personal tagline: It sucked Hud. Maybe I’m just not smart enough to *get* this movie, because a lot of people seem to like it. I mean *really* like it. But for me, it was just incredibly boring, slow and a total waste of time.


The final three movies are out of alphabetical order because they all fall into the category of “things I totally regret seeing on $2 Tuesday.” I lived in Berkeley for a while, and every Tuesday night the theaters in town would show a broad selection of films for $2. I often convinced my friend Pierre to come and see a movie, and there were long strings of weeks where we saw a movie *every* Tuesday night. Our parameters were pretty low: were two tickets available. And we actually saw many great films (Flirting, Night on Earth, Indian Summer, The Player, A Midnight Clear...) But, we also saw some real, real duds. These three take the cake of movies that were not only bad, but horrifyingly, mind scarringly, I-can’t-believe-we-just-watched-that bad.  Surely, some of you will (rightfully) ask/accuse “Why didn’t you get up and leave?” and to that, I can only say I was younger and far, far stupider. (Shame face...)


Bad Lieutenant – Make no mistake: Harvey Keital was indeed a very BAD lieutenant. In fact, this movie could easily have been called Worst Lieutenant. This movie starts off with a cheery little scene of a nun being raped inside a church and just picks up steam from there. Throw in some brutal violence and graphic drug use and you’ve got yourself just a feel-good gem of a film!


Leolo – Pierre nailed this. “Leolo with the emphasis on ‘lo.’” I think this very well may be the worst film I’ve seen, and compared to some of the others on this list, that is high praise indeed. This movie had so many disturbing and off-putting scenes that when it ended, people just kind of sat numbly quiet in their chairs, a little dazed and stunned about what had just happened, like we had all just finished the Normandy beach landing, except without the fun parts. Then after a few moments, everyone slowly rose and left without saying a word and avoiding any eye contact. Oh, and it was in French, with subtitles.


Man Bites Dog – Another horrible foreign film that is shot in a grainy, black-and-white, pseudo-documentary style following the life – and fun-fun times – of…a serial killer! This movie was actually the final straw for me, the alcoholic equivalent of hitting rock bottom where there was nowhere to go but up.  At the end of the movie I *literally* felt sickened and told Pierre that I couldn’t see any more films like that. Then, in classic Pierre fashion, he said he’d wanted to leave for a while and was just waiting for me to get up! Shockingly, The Criterion Collection has deemed this film worthy of their terrific transfer treatment, so if you’ve ever wanted to see a horrible movie in pristine quality, look no further!


Dis-Honorable Mention: The movie that we just watched that inspired this list was The Box. The producers should have taken one look at the script and said: Step 1, cut a hole in The Box. Step 2, put some junk in The Box.  Step 3, put The Box in a Box! Again, based on a short story (“Button, Button” by Twilight Zone scribe, Richard Matheson), which played wonderfully as a tense little 23 minute teleplay, but failed miserably as a two hour feature film. Dana and I just kept looking at each other saying, “What is going on here?” Plus, did The Box guy *really* need to have half of his face missing from a lightning strike or was that just a sad attempt at making him more creepy? And then Cameron Diaz’s character, “When I first saw you, I felt…..love.” Oh, LORD! Is this over yet?! At least with this awful movie, I didn’t feel skeezy when it was over, just like I’d been cheated out of two hours.

Categories: April 2010, Top 10 List, Movies

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12 Comments

Reply [email protected]
5:17 PM on April 24, 2010 
I do not like remakes. There has not been one that has got my vote. In my opinion they just ruin it when they try to make what was great in the first place a new and more modern version. I always say "I'll never rent one of those again" and yet a new one comes out and I think Aw this will be the one and then it leaves me very disappointed. Tonight we are watching the new Shelock Holms moive with Robert Downy Jr. I will give you my report on it tommorw "if" I can stay awake to finish it.
Reply yapr
3:10 PM on April 26, 2010 
I don't see Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds or Zohan. Add to honorable mentions.
Reply John Sciacca
5:09 PM on April 26, 2010 
yapr says...
I don't see Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds or Zohan. Add to honorable mentions.

You've got to love the walk down memory lane at the end. Even though that walk was sordid and disturbing. On the plus side, my superior putting usually meant you were buying, so... :-)
Reply HTI Guy
6:31 PM on April 26, 2010 
Blame the damn screenwriters...I read both Congo and Sphere and they were great books and shitty movies.
Reply HTI Guy
6:33 PM on April 26, 2010 
It will be interesting to see the remake of Nightmare on Elm Street with Jackie Earl Haley as Freddy. Some movies were great while way ahead of the technology. Take 1982s The Thing a remake itself from the 1955 version (James Arness was the thing--yes, the very same Marshal Matt Dillon of Gunsmoke and yes the brother of Peter Graves). I think a third remake of The Thing would be Sierra Hotel! (that's shit hot John)......
Reply Dan
12:02 AM on April 29, 2010 
I remember seeing 'True Stories' with you and Lynn. The few other people in the Theater seeing the movie walked out leaving just us. Lynn and I would have left, but unfortunately for us, you were driving and weren't willing to pull the plug on this one.
Reply John Sciacca
7:32 PM on April 29, 2010 
Dan says...
I remember seeing 'True Stories' with you and Lynn. The few other people in the Theater seeing the movie walked out leaving just us. Lynn and I would have left, but unfortunately for us, you were driving and weren't willing to pull the plug on this one.

I stand by that decision! True Story.
Reply Craig
11:16 AM on May 18, 2010 
I just want to know if you've kept up the boycott on White Men Can't Jump!?
Reply John Sciacca
11:20 AM on May 18, 2010 
Craig says...
I just want to know if you've kept up the boycott on White Men Can't Jump!?

I don't recall a WMCJ boycott. The boycott I DO recall is Home Alone. It played for like 9 MONTHS in the small town (Rutherfordston) of NC I was living in. Then, when they put on the billboard "Isn't it time you saw it....AGAIN!" I declared "I will NEVER see that movie!" Still haven't...
Reply Craig
11:25 AM on May 18, 2010 
John Sciacca says...
I don't recall a WMCJ boycott. The boycott I DO recall is Home Alone. It played for like 9 MONTHS in the small town (Rutherfordston) of NC I was living in. Then, when they put on the billboard "Isn't it time you saw it....AGAIN!" I declared "I will NEVER see that movie!" Still haven't...


It was after you and I had both watched a horrible movie...which for the life of me, I cannot remember the title. Anyways, soon there after, I saw WMCJ. You asked me how it was. I told you it was as horrible as what we had previously seen together. You then proclaimed that any movie that I said was that bad, you would boycott forever. Strangely from then on, WMCJ became our barometer of bad movies...even though at that time, you hadn't seen WMCJ.
Reply John Sciacca
11:28 AM on May 18, 2010 
Craig says...
You then proclaimed that any movie that I said was that bad, you would boycott forever. Strangely from then on, WMCJ became our barometer of bad movies...even though at that time, you hadn't seen WMCJ.

In that case, BOYCOTT STANDS!!!
Reply Terry
2:45 PM on November 9, 2011 
I think you might consider making a special case and adding "Cocktail" to the list. Worst coupel of hours of my life.