The Year’s Worst Movies – 2012

My ten best (or ten favorites) is up at North Shore Movies, where my reviews regularly appear:…

However I also like to unload on the worst or most overrated movies I had to suffer through over the course of the year. As I’ve often noted, some of the worst movies aren’t even screened for the press so if I didn’t review it I didn’t see it. In no particular order, then, here are ten of the most unpleasant occasions I had at the movies this past year.

Casa di Ma Padre – Will Ferrell decided to make a movie in Spanish, a language he doesn’t speak, and to have it shot in the style of Mexican TV’s telenovelas. It was a possibly amusing concept but the execution was painfully unfunny.

Moonrise Kingdom – Arthouse dilettante Wes Anderson strikes again. My colleagues swooned but all it was were Anderson’s usual affectations, with sexualized children, moronic adults (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand giving the worst performances of their careers), and stilted cinematic storytelling which some people insist on confusing with genius. Pretentious and dull.

Beasts of the Southern Wild – Another critic’s darling, I tried hard to get into it, but the inept filmmaking and incoherent script kept getting in the way. A bunch of poor and stupid people in the Louisiana bayou decide to ride out a hurricane, and later escape from the people who rescued them. The fact that there’s a little girl involved — and extraneous shots of mythical animals — was supposed to make it “meaningful.” It didn’t.

Oslo August 31 – Hats off to my colleagues in Boston who thought this was an important film and rescued it from obscurity by getting a local release for it. Too bad it was more arty emptiness in which a thirty-something drug addict finds that his friends and family have moved on without him so there’s nothing left to do but die. Perhaps people under 40 find this a powerful metaphor about growing up. Those of us who gotten beyond that could only see the whining of a self-absorbed twit.

Silver Linings Playbook – This year the Boston Online Film Critics Association was formed and I found myself as co-chair. When we gave out our first awards I was startled when some Internet dingbat attacked us for not mentioning this dreadful movie. I’d never heard of him but apparently he’s BIG in the “blogosphere,” a legend in his own mind. As someone who has written extensively on romantic comedies, watching a movie where we’re supposed to find two mentally ill people amusing as they find each other was simply appalling. Yet another hambone performance by the once great Robert DeNiro (as the father) simply added insult to injury.

Looper – Possibly the biggest disappointment of the year for me. I so much wanted to like this science fiction movie about time travel, but the filmmaker not only refused to take his premise seriously, he openly mocked people who wanted it to make sense by having Bruce Willis’s character dismiss the very idea of trying to understand it. An interesting premise and talented cast were abandoned in a film that ultimately made no sense at all.

Project X – A “comedy” that thinks that teens destroying property at a party is hilarious, and that being a teenager is solely about drugs and alcohol, when it isn’t about sex and violence. This is the dark mirror image of the brilliant “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” Where “Perks” is brutally honest, this is not only dishonest but moronic. Shame on everyone involved.

Red Lights – Robert DeNiro continues his downward spiral with this dull and incoherent movie about extra-sensory powers and those studying them. The cast includes Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy, Toby Jones and Joely Richardson. Someone must have a safety deposit box full of blackmail material to make them do a movie this bad, or perhaps there were severe gambling debts that needed to be paid off. One thing is certain, no one was attracted to this project because of the script.

The Hobbit – What is there left to say? Bloated, overlong and utterly unnecessary, a two and a half hour film of the slight “Hobbit” that is only ONE-THIRD of the finished project is more about feeding the fans and taking their money. While I still have to endure two more installments it will be amusing to hear the Tolkienites gush when the “extended editions” come out on DVD… just so long as I don’t have to watch them.

Les Miserables – I love musicals, but never saw this on stage. Enduring the awful “Miss Saigon” (by the same team) was bad enough. Now this lumbering mess will thrill its fans, but let’s note that the music is undistinguished (and indistinguishable) and that an undergraduate film student could have done a better job of direction than simply giving us closeups of the actors screeching their songs at the camera.
And now on to next year….

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  1. I appreciate your inclusion of "Les Miserables" as one of the worst movies of 2012. I did see the stage show although I regretted doing so about half way through the performance. After that experience, I have no interest in the movie.

  2. What, no Total Recall? Surely that was one of the worst films of 2012. I am also surprised that you make no mention of Prometheus either. And to be honest, I would but The Dark Knight Rises on the "list of biggest disappointments" as well.

    1. We obviously have different tastes. I thought "Total Recall" was a serviceable B movie and "Dark Knight Rises" was on my ten BEST list. As for "Prometheus" I am waiting for the opportunity to see it again away from the hype surrounding its release. I thought there were some interesting things there as well as some problems and so it's still up in the air for me.

  3. Personally, I think The Hobbit isn't a movie. It's a Walk Around in Middle Earth and Meet Some People 3D experience. I went to see it hesitatingly and mainly because (as a blogger on this site, and all) I could not NOT see it, and I can't say that I hated it. Can't say that I that I passionately loved it either, but it gave me a few laughs, and it didn't feel looooooong to me (though when they got to Radagast, I thought: that's one piece of exposition too many now). Then again, I truly think it is the only 2012 I managed to catch … and I used to be such an avid movie goer. :S – I shall get some DVDs out from your best-of list, though! Have heard many good things about Cloud Atlas.

  4. Yes it was a bit weird seeing his face look completely different. Although people with brown eyes always look a bit unusual with blue contacts. perhaps if his eyes were the same colour the face make up wouldn't have looked so weird.

      1. I thought the make-up he was wearing in the film was a bit strange – I know they were trying to make him look a bit more like Bruce Willis so you'd believe that he was the younger version, but it didn't really work.

  5. Only ones of these I've seen are Looper and The Hobbit. On Looper, I hadn't read anything about it before I went in so was pleasantly surprised. It was a good change from the usual time-travel plots, and not that badly done.

    On The Hobbit. I don't think anyone would argue that the main purpose of it being a trilogy is as a money-spinner, I doubt it even Peter Jackson could argue that with a straight face. There were a lot of bits in it that felt like unnecessary fillers, and a few bits that over-cooked the SFX a bit (like the Goblin Kingdom) but overall it wasn't a bad movie once you understand that Jackson & Del Toro had to bulk it out somehow to satisfy the bean-counters who wanted a trilogy.

    (Having said that, I'd be slightly biased towards the Hobbit as I was in New Zealand on honeymoon and did a few LOTR tours, including Hobbiton…)

  6. These are all films I purposely avoided, so thanks for confirming that my instincts were correct. I agree with your placement of "Django Unchained" on your 10 Best Films list. BTW I enjoyed "Jar Jar Binks Must Die." A great collection.

    1. Thanks for the plug for my last book. 🙂 My first novel — "Shh! It's a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood, and the Bartender's Guide" — is coming out next week.

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