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Worst Movies Ever


Cutthroat Island

The movie most noted for providing a breast stand-in for Geena Davis, then blowing it by later showing her real breasts. You know, pirate movies can still be made. They just have to be made by somebody who understands the difference between noble heroism and pointless action.

Dune (David Lynch)

How you can take one of the great openings in sci-fi literature and replace it with a completely boring year -- ok, ten minutes -- of a scene that doesn't exist in the book is beyond me. But not beyond David Lynch. This all-climax version of the story shows a director who couldn't care less about communicating with the audience and a writer who doesn't understand that climaxes only work if they have been set up in such a way that the audience understands, believes in, and cares about what's at stake for the characters. If it weren't for Starship Troopers, this would be the worst sci-fi movie ever made.

Fantum Mennis (Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace)

Once upon a time, George Lucas knew how to write likeable characters. You know, funny, charming, goofy? This one commits the unpardonable sin of being stodgy and dull, with embarrassing dialogue. Poor Jake Lloyd! Poor Liam Neeson! Forced to say those deadly lines! And the racism/colonialism inherent in the character of Jar-Jar -- what was he thinking? Didn't anybody with a brain see this movie before it was released? And it was so needless -- all Lucas had to do was show Jar-Jar's people as being beautiful and noble underwater.  But no, the mayor had to be a complete buffoon. And when these people bravely stood against the evil army, were they even then given a chance to shine? Not at all. As soon as their protective bubble popped, they ran away ... and as they did, the director filmed it to make fun of them. Just because they're a made-up race doesn't change the fact that the film -- not the characters in the film, but the film itself -- thinks they're funny and cowardly and stupid and oafish because they aren't human! That's why this film crosses the line from being merely bad to being offensively bad.

Fountainhead

I read the novel Fountainhead when I was young enough to buy into the melodrama. But to hear serious actors having to say those lines -- well, this movie is an object lesson for those who want to tell stories with a "message." Howlingly bad from beginning to end.

Heaven's Gate

My wife and I rented this because, after all the hooplah, surely it isn't that bad, we thought. Guess what? This is Silverado without wit, without self-restraint, and without any interest in whether the audience cares or even understands. Filmmaking out of control. If you ever have insomnia ...

Home for the Holidays

Obviously written by somebody who hadn't grown up enough to stop resenting their parents. With heroes so repulsive that you keep wishing they'd get run over by a truck just to spare their poor families any more pain. The film absolutely hates every responsible grown-up in the story. But in fact, these people do nothing wrong. It is the Holly Hunter character and the Robert Downey Jr. character who are awful -- judgmental, brutally unkind, childish, stupid. The film is especially savage toward the sister who is keeping the family together. If the movie were being ironic -- if it were showing us that the storyteller knew how awful the Hunter and Downey characters are -- then it might have been funny. But no, this film has no idea what subtlety is. Or what humor is, either. This film is even less funny than Spaceballs, and I never thought that was possible. Fortunately, as long as hateful films like this are also badly written and made, they do little harm.

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

Long before John Hughes and Christopher Columbus, this movie showed how tedious and unfunny overproduced and stupidly written comedy could be. Here's a clue: Comedy is only funny if we care, and to care we have to like somebody.

The Money Pit and Mouse Hunt

These are the same movie, really: An attempt to make us laugh with Rube Goldberg special effects. Folks, in order to laugh we have to care and we have to believe. These films both fail -- utterly -- because they meet neither criterion. The sad thing is that if there had actually been characters written in either film, the premise would have worked. Oops.

North

Rob Reiner has made good movies. He knows what they look like. So how come nobody noticed that this script had no funny moments in it? The cast tried, but they couldn't pull a single laugh out of this. Not even Bruce Willis in a bunny suit -- because we had already seen that one in all the ads, and he doesn't do anything funny in it. There was not one moment in this film that gave me even a hint as to why anyone ever wanted to make it. Unless they just hated their parents and, as with Home for the Holidays, didn't care if they actually had a story to tell, as long as they could spew bile on families.

Starship Troopers

This film is dumb in every way it could have been dumb. I keep hearing, "No, it's a satire," but a satire of what? To whom was it funny? What was it satirizing? War? War films? War hype? Bushwa. This film was out of control from the start. It could only have appealed to totally uncritical twelve-year-olds and to people who watch sci-fi only for the special effects -- but this film was rated R because of two completely unnecessary breast shots, thus barring its primary audience from the theaters. Other ways it was dumb? No military ever acted like this. No training program ever functioned like this. They speak Spanish in Argentina. At the beginning of the film, it takes half a dozen humans to bring down one alien. At the end, using the same weapons, a couple of humans are able to hold off a whole slew of aliens. At the fortress, the aliens only get over the wall now and then, one at a time. But by the rules already shown to us, they could have piled up on top of each other and swarmed the base in seconds. Phony phony. And ... the brain bug. I wanted to cry, it was so lame. I'd have to see it again to list all the other dumb, dumb things that make it fall apart ... but the dumbest was: Who cared? There was nobody in this film that I didn't want to see die, for bad acting if nothing else. So how could anything work, when there's no one to root for?

Toys

Excruciatingly self-righteous and unfunny. No wonder the promos had Robin Williams standing in a field of grass, ad-libbing. If we'd actually seen footage from the movie we would have killed ourselves rather than go watch this thing. This is so bad it makes North look like Shakespeare.

Yentl

The joke is that this turkey got the Golden Globe for best comedy/musical over The Big Chill and Trading Places. Barbra Streisand is piling up a record as the worst, most selfish director of all time. Knowing she is directing, all those loving shots of her face (especially long sequences of her reacting to the other actors when it's their scene) come across as pure vanity -- misplaced vanity at that. Once she was less powerful and therefore able to share a screen with somebody else. If she directed herself in Funny Girl today, you'd never know what Omar Sharif looked like. Worst of all, in this movie, however, is the fact that it's simply a bad musical. The songs are all completely extraneous. They don't advance the story; they don't carry climaxes. They just set mood and comment on what's already happened. That doesn't work, folks. Not since Oklahoma! In the mid-1940s. If you're going to blow a lot of studio money on a musical, try at least to find out what a musical is and how it works, first.


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