So the sharp end then. All the caveats still apply from the previous list which if you haven’t read, shows the eternal battle between Vampires and Werewolves in the wars of rubbishness. All left in the shade by this batch however. Perhaps I should explain what I mean by bad, since a lot of the films I saw last year were mediocre. Indeed the lack of many comedies, say, in this list is not to say it was a bumper year for comedy (though, actually it was a pretty good one). I suppose these films are the ones which offended me the most, the ones where the time wasted in seeing them felt like an actual affront. Hate is an extreme emotion after all, so the directors and crew of these films can be content that they provoked a reaction in me. Though as that reaction was generally to tell people to stay away, it is not clear that this underpins a successful business model.

So here were the worst five films I saw last year.

5: Smokin’ Aces

What does that title MEAN? Really. Clearly smoking, and therefore this jazzy apostrophied version is cool. It is also a exclamation of cool (“that was smokin'”). It is also hep gangsterish term for assassinating someone, no smoke someone is to shoot them. How about the “Aces” bit. Well Aces are playing cards of course. It is also a term for people who excel at what they do, think of Air Aces, or indeed scoring an ace in tennis. Basically nearly ever permutation of what this title means screams I AM COOL!!!! And what do we know about people who scream I AM COOL!!! That’s right. THEY ARE FOOL!!!

Luckily there aren’t many films which attempt to rip off Tarantino’s early work any more. The abject poverty of nearly every hip stab at the flip violence plus snappy dialogue formula has meant that this source of lousy movies has almost dried up. Almost. Smokin’ Aces still shows what you can do when you have too many actors, too many needlessly quirky characters, too much plot and not enough will to do anything with it. You cannot stuff a film wholly with unpleasant characters and expect any of them to turn out to be interesting if they have nothing interesting to do. Smokin’ is bad for you.

4. Rush Hour 3

Two films were set over two days in Paris last year, which attempted to wring humour out of a number of cultural misunderstandings between American’s and the French. Both included jokes which involved items being stuck up someone’s rectum. One was a rectal thermometer, and the film it came from was really good (Two Days In Paris). The other was Roman Polanski, and that film was the still-born stinker Rush Hour 3*. Of the films in this list, this is probably the one I assumed would end up in it most before I saw it. Indeed bearing in mind how poor Rush Hour 2 was, I almost didn’t go and see number 3. But hey, I wanted closure, I still love Jackie Chan and – oh yeah – I AM AN IDIOT.

If it had just been an uninspired rehash of the past -er – glories of the previous Rush Hour films then I could just about stomach it. But instead to fan the flames of US anti-French fervour was straight out of 2002. Chris Tucker broadening his “Black men do this, Chinese men do this” humour to add “French people do this” schtick was ACTUALLY RACIST and from about 1975. I didn’t care that the action sequences were lame, the plot barely written on the back of a fag packet. This was a major motion picture which was about as isolationist as a US film can be. Which consider one of the two films stars is significantly not American is really some going. For shame.

3: Mon meilleur ami (My Best Friend)

There is always a French film in my ten worst films, but even I was surprised it was a Patrice Leconte film. Perhaps the appearance of My Best Friend is a symptom of the biggest gap between expectation and delivery therefore, as I have always liked Leconte before. Unlike Rush Hour 3 which I thought would be rubbish, I genuinely thought this tale of a man without friends learning how to get one would be an interesting twist on the romantic comedy. In some ways it is, it fills the rom-com formula almost perfectly. And then REALISES it, and quickly via the most convoluted and embarrassing method ever tries to wriggle out of it. Its perfectly acceptable up to that point, but that point is some of the most excruciating moments I have ever spent in a cinema.

The problem with the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire section of My Best Friend is it completely tips the wink on the genesis of the film. Someone said, probably over a pastis or two, what would happen is someone was on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and had no friends. However to make this work in the film they need to change the rules of WWTBAM, cheat, and distort aspects of television production that everyone KNOWS already. All for a tiny, mean spirited payoff. I was actively angry about this and then the attempt to provide a kind of happy ending. My Best Friend, almost My Worst Film.

2: The Number 23

Don’t get me wrong. I am not the kind of guy who saw Eternal Sunset Of The Spotless Mind and thought Jim Carrey was suddenly gods gift to acting. Equally there has never been a point in Joel Shumacher’s career when I have ever really thought of him as being an exciting, talented and innovative film maker. And yet, put these two together, in what promised to be most bonkers paranoid conspiracy theory ever and I really did think that it would at least be entertainingly bad. Instead the Number 23 showcases one of the worst actor / director combos ever serviced in the name of horror.

Except it isn’t a horror film. Its a strange stab at noir by someone who clearly thinks that the key concept of noir are camp and cheap sets. Its attempt at dreams, or a story within a story is phenomenally poorly thought out and when it finally gives us the twist it promises at the beginning it is so far fetched that you are likely to sit there in amazement booing constantly. I don’t why I thought this could be good: perhaps the world isn’t ready for a psycho-numerology movie. Even its numerology is wrong. But really, everyone involved should be ashamed.

1: Meet The Robinsons

Well lucky old me, that I predicted it might be my worst film of the year in April. Its quite possible I suppose that my hatred for Meet The Robinsons is completely at odds with the importance of the film. How can you hate with such vitriol a slight animated film for kids. ITS BECAUSE ITS FOR KIDS, surely there is nothing more important than making a decent kids film. Instead of talking down, talk to the kids. Instead of telling a story which is all flash and no heart, slow down a bit, get them involved, get them caring. Don’t throw in sly gags for the adults when
a) you don’t expect any adults to be paying attention
b) the gags aren’t funny.

To put this in context: I consider the only slightly better than TV animation computer generated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie to be vastly superior in every way to Meet The Robinsons. And MTR was one of Disney’s big animation splashes this year. From their computer animated department they put together to prepare for when Pixar were going to bugger off. Well it would never be ready at this rate. Ugly character designs, flat voice work and a script that beggars belief that anyone bothered reading it. EVEN WHEN THEY WERE READING IT OUT. I remember sitting there til the end, when the following Walt Disney quote came up: “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Disney, look backwards PLEASE. Even if its just to Herbie: Fully Loaded.

So those were the worst films of the year THAT I SAW. Why don’t we see if Silent Light, released last year but I saw yesterday, makes next years list. It was wretched too!

*This sentence is correct. Keep reading it until you think it makes sense, and if you need clarification, ask.