The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Get ready for the suckage. Every year brings its fair share of crap, and 2011 was no different. I did some suffering this year, y'all. The list you are about to read is packed with movies I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy. Well, maybe...

Please keep in mind that I did not see a couple of the year's most infamous movies because I either chose to skip them (Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star) or because they didn't open in my market (The Human Centipede 2). Also, I am not including small, obscure movies that most people have never heard of, which means that Hard Breakers and the appropriately-named Atrocious dodged a bullet. It's more fun to pick on the big boys anyway.

So here you go: my picks for the 10 Worst Films of 2011:

10. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (dir. Rob Marshall) - I wasn't a fan of this series to begin with, but whatever merits it may have had were exhausted after the first installment. Here's the fourth, which treads no new ground whatsoever. Johnny Depp is, by now, simply phoning in his performance as Capt. Jack Sparrow, having turned him from an amusingly offbeat character into a complete bore. Long, repetitive, and excruciatingly slow, On Stranger Tides will hopefully be the last we see of Capt. Jack.

9. Your Highness (dir. David Gordon Green) - I don't smoke weed. Even if I did, I doubt I'd find this medieval stoner comedy to be even remotely funny. Besides wasting the talents of Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, and Zooey Deschanel, Your Highness represents a tragic downfall for director David Gordon Green, who started off his career making intelligent, inventive arthouse flicks like George Washington and All the Real Girls. I'd rather listen to a pothead regale me with stories of touring with Phish for two hours than sit through this pathetic comedy a second time.

8. Season of the Witch (dir. Dominic Sena) - It's official: Nicolas Cage will appear in literally anything. (See also #3.) This bizarre 14th century adventure feels like it was shot as a comedy, then re-edited to make it play like a horror film. That's how inconsistent the tone is. I mean, one character is named Debelzaq (pronounced “da ball sack”) for crying out loud. This is saying nothing of the moment when co-star Ron Perlman headbutts a demon - twice. I'd be okay with such nonsense if Season of the Witch was campy-bad, but it's not. It's just bad.

7. The Beaver (dir. Jodie Foster) - It's amazing that Summit Entertainment would buy and release this Mel Gibson-toplined drama considering the unconscionable amounts of racism and anti-Semitism he's spewed into the universe. It's even more amazing that they'd buy and release something this awful. Gibson plays a family man who has a nervous breakdown and subsequently begins communicating with those around him via a hand puppet. That sounds like the recipe for a dark comedy, but The Beaver insists on taking the conceit seriously, which is the kiss of death. The movie comes off as trite, cloying, and insulting to those who actually do suffer from mental illness. Plus, the gimmick gets annoying super-fast.

6. Red State (dir. Kevin Smith) - Throughout his career, Kevin Smith has shown a penchant for creating identifiable characters and crafting smart, witty dialogue. For his first foray into horror, he seems to have decided to completely abandon those gifts. Talky where it should be suspenseful, and dopey where it should be insightful, Red State starts off as a bashing of extreme religious fundamentalism before getting sidetracked into the realm of generic shoot-em-ups. The most egregious offense, though, is that Smith builds to a climax, then refuses to show it, having a character deliver a 10-minute explanation of it instead. Talk about stopping the action cold! I've had arguments about this movie with people who proclaim it to be “daring” and “rule breaking.” To that, I say: Bullshit. This is unfocused filmmaking and poor writing, plain and simple. And I say that as a longtime, diehard Kevin Smith fan.

5. Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (dir. John Whitesell) - Did we need a third Big Momma movie? No. Did we need one where Martin Lawrence's son (played by Brandon T. Jackson) also dresses up as an overweight woman and engages in fourth-rate physical comedy? No again. Should you ever subject yourself to this inane and idiotic movie for any reason? Hell to the no!

4. The Roommate (dir. Christian E. Christiansen) - Remember Single White Female? That was an intense movie, wasn't it? The makers of The Roommate remember it too. In fact, they remember it so well that they completely rip it off, point by point. And instead of getting talented actresses like Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh, they've gone the bargain basement route to get the personality-free Leighton Meester and the attractive-but-bland Minka Kelly. The storytelling is completely robotic, offering no scares but several unintentional laughs.

3. Drive Angry (dir. Patrick Lussier) - Hey, it's Nic Cage again! This time, he stars in a movie that attempts to capture the Grindhouse spirit, and utterly fails. After escaping from Hell (i.e. a theater presumably showing a double feature of this movie and Season of the Witch), Cage tries to rescue his kidnapped granddaughter from the devil. Loud, violent, insipid, and extremely unpleasant, Drive Angry blessedly tanked at the box office, meaning that few people had to endure its hellish wretchedness.

2. Battle: Los Angeles (dir. Jonathan Liebesman) - We all know a guy who is obsessed with military firepower and who spends way too much time playing first-person shooters on XBox 360. Battle: Los Angeles is a movie for that guy and others like him. Aliens attack in the first 15 minutes; the next 80 are devoted to shaky camera work, rapid-fire editing, gunshots and explosions in ear-splitting surround sound, dialogue screamed by the actors, and debris flying through the air. There's no plot to follow, and there are no characters to invest in. It's one big, long battle sequence. An empty, soulless, headache-inducing movie.

And my choice for the Worst Film of 2011 is:

Jack and Jill
1. Jack and Jill (dir. Dennis Dugan) - Adam Sandler hates you. Seriously, he does. You've made him rich and successful, but he doesn't respect you for all you've given him. Why else would he make such a, wait...make that quarter-assed comedy? Playing his own twin sister, Sandler doesn't even try to be plausible as a woman. Instead, he trots out the same old shtick from all his pictures: fat jokes, gay jokes, bodily fluid jokes, etc. The “highlight” comes when Jill eats Mexican food and gets a scorching case of diarrhea. This is what Jack and Jill thinks will make you laugh: Adam Sandler, in a dress, pooping himself. It is one of the worst, most bankrupt movies to be released by a major studio in years. Worse than Showgirls, worse than Catwoman, worse than Ishtar.

Runners-up (in no particular order): Hobo with a Shotgun, No Strings Attached, Fast Five, The Rite, I Want Your Money, Arthur, Take Me Home Tonight, Dream House, and The Ward.

Those are my picks for the year's worst movies. I hope you saw none of them.

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