January 1, 2012

SHOWBUZZDAILY 2011 IN REVIEW: The Year’s Worst Movies


The problem with 2011 on screen was more the pervasive mediocrity than an overload of terrible movies, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some awful films to be found–and, if possible, avoided.  Here are 10 or so:
10.  ONE DAY:  Admittedly, a cheat:  One Day wasn’t a complete disaster–it was far less painful to sit through than I Don’t Know How She Does It, among others.  But it deserves mention as an object lesson in how a movie can seem to do everything right–a fine novel by Nicholls as source material, script by the novelist himself, direction by Lone Scherfig coming off An Education, a cast headed by Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, and Patricia Clarkson—and yet end up utterly flat and unmoving.

9.  UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES:  Apichatpong Weerasethankul’s Thai fantasy was the most willfully impenetrable and pretentious art film of the year–naturally, it won the Grand Prize at Cannes and abject acclaim from worshipers of the incomprehensible for incomprehensibility’s sake like the NY Times. 
8.  THE ART OF GETTING BY:  Gavin Wiesen’s dreadful indie (picked up at Sundance by Fox Searchlight, to no discernible audience interest), may actually have been the nine millionth film festival movie about a quirky, oversensitive teen, or just felt like it.  Agonizingly twee, unfunny and charmless.
7. HALL PASS:  Remember the Farrelly brothers?  Remember There’s Something About Mary?  They continued down their downward path with this witless, visually ugly sit-com about attempted adultery that dragged Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate and Jenna Fischer down with it.  (Coming in 2012:  The Three Stooges.)
6.  DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK:  Producer/co-writer Guillermo del Toro’s name was all over the marketing for this flick, so even though technically Troy Nixey gets blame for the dull, virtually scare-less direction (the one and only boo! moment was used in every single trailer and promo), del Toro was the man in charge.  The combination of this and #2 below suggests that Katie Holmes may be the Hollywood actress most in need of a new agent.
5. THE NICOLAS CAGE SHOW:  A one-man extravaganza of dreadfulness, he gave us Season of the Witch, Drive Angry and the essentially direct-to-video Trespass, all in one calendar year.      

4.  THE DILEMMA:  What was Ron Howard thinking?  A witless script–yet again, about the hilarity of adultery–credited to Allan Loeb couldn’t even have looked good on the page, and wasted not just Howard’s talents, but a cast that included Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder and Channing Tatum.  

3.  ANY SUPERHERO MOVIE WITH THE COLOR GREEN IN THE TITLE:  Yes, another cheat, but how can one choose between Green Lantern and The Green Hornet, two of the genre’s all-time worst?  Lantern (combined with The Change-Up, which could also easily have made this list) turned what was supposed to be the year of Ryan Reynolds into one he’ll have to hope people forget; Hornet, co-written by as well as starring Seth Rogen (and directed by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’s Michel Gondry!) was a flat-out embarrassment.

2.  JACK & JILL:  Even by the very, very low standards of Adam Sandler vehicles, this drag “comedy” was an unfunny, endlessly stupid piece of crud.  

1.  SUCKER PUNCH:  But nothing in 2011 was worse than Sucker Punch, Zach Snyder’s putrescent exercise in PG-13 fanboy porn that was so senseless, ugly and incompetent in every way that I’m surprised it hasn’t been “rediscovered” yet as an unappreciated masterpiece.  (If only it were in subtitled Thai!)  Good luck to Warner Bros, which now has Snyder behind the camera on its giant Superman reboot…

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."