It's awards season. Critical organizations have already started giving out their annual "best of" accolades (including some to movies that weren't even screened by the organization in question), and your very own Houston Film Critics Society will be presenting their awards on January 4.
But none of that explains why this is -- for me -- the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. The holiday season is also when I present my list of the year's worst flicks. I realize it's a little premature (let's just say calling The Secret Life of Walter Mitty "this year's Forrest Gump" does it no favors in my book), but 11+ months gives us a depressingly healthy sampling.
So without further ado; here are your Worst Movies of 2013.
In one sense, it's comforting that it took me some time to think of ten *bad* movies from 2013. In another, that just meant the vast majority of films I saw were so mediocre they didn't make much of an impression either way.
The key phrase here being "films I saw." I largely get to choose what movies I write up for Reviews for the Easily Distracted, so I avoided some obvious stinkers like RIPD, The Host, Gangster Squad, or The Fifth Estate, to name a few. Unfortunately, it appears I'm also something of a masochist. Hence, the following list.
For your reading pleasure, a snippet from my review (if applicable) is included. Enjoy?
So Kang (don't blame me, I voted for Kodos) is actually an extremist and not an "official" rep of the DPRK. Fine. That still doesn't explain how he's capable of flying an unidentified C-130 half a mile from the White House without getting blown to atoms, or why supposedly well-trained Secret Service agents would stream out of a door en masse so a waiting .50 caliber machine gun could mow them down, or why Academy Award winners Morgan Freeman and Melissa Leo (as the Secretary of Defense) agreed to appear in this in the first place.
9. The Counselor
If the cast hadn't included Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, and Javier Bardem or the screenplay hadn't been penned by Cormac McCarthy, of No Country For Old Men and The Road fame, this probably wouldn't have been as big a disappointment. At least we have Cameron Diaz doing her best Tawny Kitaen impersonation.
8. Broken City
Broken City is one of those rare movies that tells you straightaway where the story is going and then refuses to deviate in any fashion. At no point during the film was there a shred of doubt in my mind about where things would end up. Admittedly, there were some minor character tweaks that may have raised an eyebrow or two, but this is possibly the least intellectually challenging movie I've seen since That's My Boy.
And all that might be acceptable if not for the self-righteously anachronistic message attached to the production, a Larry Crowne-esque indictment of our modern, lazy youth who refuse to turn their frowns upside down and follow their dreams to success. What's that, recent college graduates? Worried about your 25 percent unemployment rate? Just hit a few strip clubs (who the hell paid for that, anyway?) and try connecting with people and finding your inner "Googliness" (seriously) instead of burying your noses in your smartphones and you'll be right as rain.
6. After Earth
So I can't tell you who's to blame for things like General "Raige" being literally one mission from retirement, or the fact that most of future Earth experiences a hard freeze every single night, yet is still lushly forested, or how species could evolve over the course of a mere thousand years to get a serious hate on for human beings, when no humans have been on the planet that entire time.
Ah, Tonto. I used to think Depp was one of my generation's greatest actors, but he's been cashing paychecks for so long I can't tell if that's still the case. Hiding his obvious lack of Native American-ness behind Norwegian black metal corpse paint, Depp portrays the Comanche sidekick as a more sober, less cowardly version of his famous pirate, addled by childhood tragedy instead of rum. Whether this conveys a more "dignified" representation of the American Indian in cinema, I leave up to you. Try and keep an open mind while watching him run around with a dead bird on his head.
But over the course of 25 years and four ensuing movies, we've gone from mild eye-rolling to goggling incredulity. Worse, there's now a peculiar invulnerability that surrounds McClane here. In spite of the film's title, which suggests a possible posthumous changing of the guard (you could do worse than Courtney as the next John McClane), it soon becomes apparent dad is in no real danger. McClane's mortality has illogically diminished from the first movie on, and there's something laughable about an almost 60-year old cop outrunning 30mm machine gun fire and flipping off a Russian gunship as he leaps in slow motion out of an abandoned nuclear reactor. And did I really just type that sentence?
An argument could be made that Solomon remains shell-shocked after the critical panning of his first two efforts: 2000's Dungeons and Dragons and 2005's An American Haunting. Both of which, to be fair, were gargantuan turds. Can we bring in an impartial mediator to negotiate a cinematic compromise? Say, Peter O'Toole agrees to unretire from acting if Solomon promises never to darken a director's chair again?
2. Grown Ups 2
I liked Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore, so I understood the desire to cut Adam Sandler some slack in the
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Charlie Sheen calls his cat "Emilio." That was in the first five minutes, and it was the last time in the movie -- or the subsequent three days -- that I've come close to cracking a smile. Because Scary Movie V murdered my capacity to feel joy.