While I'm in a holding pattern to see Zero Dark Thirty before posting my "10 Best" and "Best of the Rest" of 2012, I feel pretty confident with a day to go that I've hurdled all that will be deemed the "Worst of 2012." Just as I stated last year, for every good or great film this past year, there were plenty of god-awful heaps of hot garbage that passed themselves off as movies. While my goal as an amateur movie critic is to see as many movies as I can, I still must emphasize that I have my own scruples and taste and both have limits to what I'm willing to pay my hard-earned money to see. There are occasions when I "take one for the team," but not often. My wife will tell you that, even after coming home from a bad movie, some of the first words out of my mouth are "Well, I'm glad I saw it." If any advice comes from this, I say keep your scruples and taste. It's what makes you unique.
I've got two lists of the "Worst Movies of 2012." The first dishonors the worst movies I actually paid money to see. The surprising news here is that I (luckily) only saw three movies that ended up two-star reviews and three more with a one-star review. The second section are the movies I refused to pay money to see. Furthermore, I'll go so far to say that you couldn't pay me a fortune to see some of those because they look so incredibly bad. I'm not even bothering with the life lessons in these movies. Very little good can come from them. Call all of them disappointments. Let the bashing begin!
THE WORST FILMS I PAID MONEY TO SEE IN 2012
6. TED-- I'm going to get some crap on this one. To many, Ted, Seth McFarlane's grand entry in the movie business, is the funniest movie of the year. I get those folks, but dig a little deeper than the hilarious "Thunder Buddy" song and attempts at Flash Gordon fun. I know the movie wasn't trying to win the Oscar for Best Picture, but Ted gave us one of the most dumb and predictable stories of the year. It's a movie that is two hours of trying to stretch the one fun idea of a talking teddy bear that cusses. (FULL REVIEW)
5. ALEX CROSS-- I don't mean to bust Tyler Perry's chops. He's built an extremely successful career and isn't the worst possible Alex Cross replacement for Morgan Freeman, but all of the execution of Alex Cross goes wrong. Uneven, inept, and just plain bad in its delivery of a coherent or interesting serial killer case, the falling scaffold ruins decent work from Perry and Matthew Fox's Method attempt at being a loose cannon. (FULL REVIEW)
4. THE MASTER-- This is my The Tree of Life and Melancholia of 2012. Here's the movie that will make other critics' "10 Best" lists and firmly lands on my worst. Like those two 2011 movies I listed, The Master is praised as an artist's masterpiece at work when, for two-and-a-half hours, the movie goes everywhere without actually going anywhere at all. The movie, as well-acted as it may be (Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams do deserve their Oscar chatter), is utterly pointless and aimless. It has zero bearings. Its acting saved it from a one-star review drubbing. (FULL REVIEW)
3. SAVAGES-- Here's the first of my three one-star worst of the worst movies and reviews. Oliver Stone's uneven Savages makes Alex Cross look like a Cirque de Soleil performer of perfect body control. This movie goes up and down more than any other. One minute we're asked to love the swinging, decadent drug-dealing lifestyle in SoCal of Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, and Blake Lively. The next minute later, we're wishing we could brush our teeth after watching Mexican cartel business dealings. This doesn't know if it wants to be Traffic, truthful and messaging, or something violent, fake, and melodramatic that even Quentin Tarantino would say no to making. (FULL REVIEW)
2. TOTAL RECALL-- Len Wiseman's Total Recall is the newest standard bearer for so many movie pitfalls. It's the newest reason why movies don't need to be remade. The Schwarzenegger one we all know was fine. This one offered very little new territory and, because we know exactly the twists and turns the story takes, there is absolutely zero surprise, peril, or thrill. It's also the latest expensive example that Hollywood is running out of originality and that someone keeps spending nine figures to make this crap. (FULL REVIEW)
1. THE WATCH-- The Trayvon Martin-delayed The Watch tops my list as the worst movie I paid money to see this year. It's a shame too with the oodles of comedic talent involved in front of (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Will Forte, Rosemary Dewiit) and behind the camera (Akiva Schaffer, Shawn Levy, Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogan, Jorma Taccione, Andy Samberg). The movie was colossally dumb and just came across as disconnected jokes that were thrown against the wall (or camera in this case) to see what would stick. Ouch. (FULL REVIEW)
THE WORST MOVIES THAT I REFUSED TO PAY MONEY TO SEE IN 2012
1. A Thousand Words-- This has to be the worst and Eddie Murphy just can't stay away from stepping in crap. It actually has a real 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I don't think I've ever seen that. 54 reviews, none of them positive.
2. One For the Money-- The closest contender to A Thousand Words is this Katherine Heigl bomb and its 2% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 52 reviews and just one positive review (from Scott Nash of "Three Movie Buffs" website). Go fill his Twitter feed with gentle ribbing.
3. That's My Boy-- My disdain for Adam Sandler just keeps getting worse. At least this one seemed a little better than the 2011 double-whammy of Just Go For It and Jack and Jill. I miss the days of Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore.
4. Battleship-- Tell your eyes had to be surgically removed from the back of your head from rolling as mine were when you saw that someone (director Peter Berg of Friday Night Lights) was dumb enough and unoriginal enough to make a board game into a movie. This looked Transformers bad.
5. The Three Stooges-- I couldn't in good conscience see a movie that even attempted to replicate the comic greatness of the old black-and-white shorts. They worked because of their age and their short length. Trying to get a new and modern movie out of these antiques wasn't going to be worth it.
6. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn- Part 2-- As I say to everyone who asks: "I prefer my vampires to kill people not sparkle."
7. Playing for Keeps-- Tracking not far after One For the Money's 2% rating is Katherine Heigl's The Ugly Truth co-star Gerard Butler and his recent 4% dud Playing For Keeps. Is this what the director of The Pursuit of Happyness has now been relegated to? Save her Will Smith! Oh wait. You tried with Seven Pounds (27% from 2008).
8. Wrath of the Titans-- Wasn't this also called Transformers with Greek Gods Starring the Dullest Action Actor Possible?
9. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance-- Burning the house down with a 17% Rotten Tomatoes rating (a personal high score for Nicolas Cage, just kidding) was this unnecessary Marvel sequel that teased being darker and rougher (with the directors of the Crank series on board), but only ended up dumber and louder.
11. The Babymakers-- What ever happened to the fun Broken Lizard comedy troupe that made Super Troopers, Beerfest, and The Dukes of Hazzard? They're continuing to scrape the bottom of the barrel with this 9% winner about sperm donation theft starring TV's Olivia Munn and Paul Schneider.
12. Red Dawn-- Following in Total Recall's missteps of movies that didn't need a modern remake, here's the sullying of a Patrick Swayze classic that scored a paltry 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. No wonder it was held from release for almost two years.
14. Every bad horror movie possible-- Sorry folks. I'm just not a horror guy. They are a dime a dozen. I wasn't going to waste my time or money to see (in chronological order) The Devil Inside, The Woman in Black, Silent House, The Cabin in the Woods (though I heard that one was good), Chernobyl Diaries, Piranha 3DD, The Apparition, The Possession, Resident Evil: Retribution, Sinister, Paranormal Activity 4, Silent Hill: Revelation, or The Collection).
Stay tuned in early January for my "10 Best of 2012" and my "Best of the Rest" pieces of many categories! If you dare, many of these movies are available at your local west side Chicago Blockbuster and Redbox locations. A few are still kicking in your west side Chicago area theaters as well.