Airbrushed abs, the Ten Commandments, Lindsay Lohan, and a sassy, five-hundred-pound bitch named Rasputia irreverently populate my list for the year’s biggest hams to invade your local cinemas. In some ways, this list is meant to be cautionary, steering you clear of a miserable evening if you happen to pick one of these turds up at the video store. In other ways, it’s combative, in a small attempt at dispelling whatever good things your doofus brother might have said about a few of these (trust me, I know he liked more than a few on this list). I had reservations about the inclusion of a few of these, as I’ve personally provided my own commentary on Snow Cake, which is an example of a film whose awfulness must be seen to be believed. I could go on for hours about how stomach-churning a scene where Sigourney Weaver makes Alan Rickman play a game of made-up-word Scrabbel or how Rickman was probably made fun of for running like a little girl when he was a child… but my words can only do so much. So, in a way, I’m also recommending some of these crap-fests (I laughed a lot more during Snow Cake than I did Hot Fuzz, if you were wondering). Though I didn’t get a chance to see Daddy Day Camp, Captivity, Bratz: The Movie, Delta Farce, Perfect Stranger, Wild Hogs, or Good Luck Chuck, rest assured that these films could hold their candle to those films you already knew were going to blow. I’d also like to extend a few dishonorable mentions to The Namesake, The Brave One, and The Bubble for totally sucking though not hard enough to make the cut. Good luck next year, Jodie Foster! Additional commentary: I'm having second thoughts as to the inclusion of I Know Who Killed Me after reading someone describing the film as a splatterpunk remake of The Double Life of Veronique. Ha! And, even if you disagree with my placement of The Ten, just think I had to include the awful Jessica Alba on the list somewhere, and as I didn't see Fantastic Four, Awake, or Good Luck Chuck, this was my only option. And without further adieu, the worst films of 2007:
1. 300 (Zack Snyder, Warner Bros., R)
It takes a special kind of awful to sit atop someone’s list of “worst of the year” list nine months after its initial release. I spent those nine months incubating my hatred, allowing for passivity to hatch out of me some months later. Such wasn’t the case. Much more than just proving that the success of director Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake had everything to do with James Gunn’s clever screenplay, 300 lowered Hollywood to a new level of stupid. I’ve heard it described as many things (gay porn for soccer moms, a fanboy wet dream, shallow propagation for xenophobia), but all of it just adds up to a glossy pile of manure. For having endless possibilities in filming on a green screen, 300 is remarkably flaccid visually, and haven’t we had countless examples already of why Matrix-style action sequences should have never been imitated outside of that film (including the originator’s two sequels)? Dramatically, 300 is just as uninteresting, as the film’s progression hits dead end when you realize that the “heroes” never actually advance any closer to Persia the higher the body count rises. Plus, how am I supposed to root for the Spartans when Synder makes Persia look so appealing in its video-game interpretation of Caligula? That’s not even to mention that their leader looks as if he were the ancestor of Grace Jones. I could probably provide a DVD commentary for everything that’s wrong with 300 if I could even muster to look at another frame of it again. Ultimately, with that commentary, I’d like to prove that the sum of all of 300’s shittiness greatly exceeds its putrid whole, but no matter how you look at it, 300 was 2007’s biggest piece of garbage. Full review here.
2. The Ten (David Wain, ThinkFilm, R)
The Ten probably isn’t the worst film you’ve ever seen, or even the worst you saw all year, yet it’s astonishing only in how a collection of so many talented people could pull off such a laughless dud. It’s also a pretty bad sign if Winona Ryder is the best thing about your movie.
3. Snow Cake (Marc Evans, IFC Films, NR)
Mystery Science Theater 3000, meet Snow Cake. Well-meaning dramedies about the handicapped come around nearly every year, but seldom do they come in such an unintentionally hilarious package as Snow Cake, which is surprisingly more embarrassing for Alan Rickman whose crusty hauteur “melts” after informing the autistic mother that her hitchhiking daughter died in his car during an accident than Sigourney Weaver who plays the token handicapped in her most over-the-top manner. Snow Cake should be further reprimanded for using several songs off Broken Social Scene’s You Forgot It in People, almost forcing me to never want to hear the otherwise-incredible “Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl” again.
4. Norbit (Brian Robbins, DreamWorks, PG-13)
On a dare, I sat through Norbit. Out of my own self-loathing, I sat through the whole fucking thing. It was probably the most offensive experience I had all year, and not because the fat jokes and farting spoiled my prudent sensibilities, but that a bunch of white studio execs decided that this could pass as funny. To anyone. On top of not being remotely funny, it’s also a transparent romance, the kind that makes a Meg Ryan film look nuanced by comparison.
5. O Jerusalem (Eli Chouraqui, Samuel Goldwyn Films, R)
Well-meaning historical dramas about tolerance in the face of conflict come around every year too, but few can be as exasperatingly miserable as O Jerusalem. The suffocation of genre cliché always tend to annoy me more when the director has otherwise good intentions. Nick Cassavetes’ Alpha Dog was riddled with a polished familiarity, but it didn’t come close to provoking the agitation this reviewer felt while enduring the formation of Israel through the eyes of two best friends on different sides of the battle. It would be too easy to condemn O Jerusalem for its lousy production values, clumsy acting, or the fact that everyone in the film spoke English (and this was a French production, to boot!). Instead, O Jerusalem crumbles in its hokey melodrama and clueless understanding of human relations. Full review here.
6. The Page Turner [La tourneuse de pages] (Denis Dercourt, Tartan Films, NR)
There’s no way that The Page Turner was meant to be taken seriously. No possible way. It had to be a joke from the French to the USA, I thought. The Page Turner is the finest example of taking every single cliché of your nation’s cinema and placing it on full display for the world. I couldn’t tell if director Denis Dercourt loved or really, really hated Claude Chabrol, as The Page Turner could be seen as either the most faithful love-letter to the renowned filmmaker or the harshest condemnation of an artist I may have ever seen. I leaned toward the former as a film this horrid couldn’t possibly harbor subversive elements of any sort.
7. Boy Culture (Q. Allan Brocka, TLA Releasing, NR)
I had hoped that films with a snarky, self-referential narration would have died in the 90s, but with Boy Culture, director Q. Allan Brocka gives the notion a breath of rank regurgitation in his tale of a hooker with a heart of… something that resembles gold. Who would have thought that a hard-exterior male prostitute, who goes by the name X, could begin to crack when a lonely wealthy man offers him wisdom instead of money and sex? Boy Culture congratulates itself in its acknowledgement of the old, expected stereotypes of queer cinema, only to fall into the trappings of new ones. I think I preferred when my cinematic homosexuals were still doom-and-gloom.
8. I Know Who Killed Me (Chris Sivertson, Tri-Star, R)
I Know Who Killed Me was made three years too early. It really should have existed as another reminder of its fallen star (Lindsay Lohan), instead of being the reason she fell. It’s almost more disturbing seeing the faded promise of a child star than the gruesome dismemberments that take place in the film. Full review here.
9. Black Snake Moan (Craig Brewer, Paramount, R)
Black Snake Moan promised me a sizzler of a good time and didn’t even come close to giving it to me. To set the scene, I woke up on a Friday morning, painfully early, not realizing, “shit, I have absolutely nothing to do today.” Instead of letting ennui set in, I opted to go to an early bird show of whatever opened that week, and, lo and behold, I saw Black Snake Moan. Perhaps due to my lofty expectations of a saucy, exploitive Hollywood picture, I found myself even more bored than I would have been wasting my afternoon browsing YouTube videos. Black Snake Moan was earnest, “meaningful,” and good-natured. Fuck all that noise! My friends tell me that the film really wasn’t as bad as I make it out to be, but here it stands, at number nine, if only for memorably ruining my morning.
10. Into the Wild (Sean Penn, Paramount Vantage/Miramax, PG-13)
Yeah, so, this isn’t a very popular choice, I know, but as I didn’t see Epic Movie, it left room for Into the Wild. The film isn’t so much bad as it is musty; Sean Penn’s ambition has all the staleness of unwarranted self-importance… and it’s nearly two-and-a-half hours of it. There’s an awkward moment midway through the film where Emile Hirsch breaks the fourth wall and smiles directly at the camera. Sorry, but Godard nor Wayne’s World this is, Sean Penn, and I just can’t help wondering if that was his cue to make sure you hadn’t already fallen asleep. If it weren’t for that morning’s pot of coffee, he probably would have found me guilty. Full review here.