As curator of Film.com's wildly successful Internet column "Eric's Bad Movies" -- read by hundreds of billions of people every single week for the last 45 years -- it is my duty to scour the garbage bins of moviedom to find the worst offerings from previous years. But I also like to keep myself abreast of the current trends in awfulness. It isn't hard: a lot of new movies that come out are very bad! I don't know if you knew that.
In terms of bad movies, 2012 was no worse (or better) than the average year. Which is to say, compiling a list of 10 excruciating cinematic ordeals was not difficult, except insofar as the list had to be whittled down.
Eric D. Snider's Worst Movies of 2012
10. "Act of Valor."
You know what would be great? A documentary about the amazing soldiers who comprise the Navy SEALs. You know what would be almost unbearable? A fictional movie about fictional SEALs, with a generic Jack Bauer plot and cheesy dialogue, acted out by people who are SEALs in real life but who can't act. It's about as disastrous as it would be if you sent a troupe of actors to rescue a kidnapped CIA operative.
Look, Paul W.S. Anderson. If you don't feel like making a fifth "Resident Evil" movie, that's OK. Nobody's forcing you. (Or maybe somebody is. I don't know what your contract with Sony is like.) But when you spit out a 95-minute rehash that starts with 15 minutes of credits, recap, and simulation -- all before the story actually begins -- it's insulting and lazy. If you're not going to put any effort into it, why bother? (Special citation: Sienna Guillory, whose acting is so comically bad I suspect it may actually be a parody.)
Sean Penn plays an aging Goth rocker along the lines of Robert Smith who goes in search of the Nazi war criminal who eluded his father. Sorry if that description makes it sound like an interesting movie! That is not the case. It's pointless, meandering, self-consciously quirky, and Penn's character voice is like fingernails on the chalkboard of my soul.
Watching this half-baked, under-thought, woefully desperate adaptation of the cult classic TV show, one gets the impression that it's an inside joke -- that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp never intended for it to be seen by anyone other than themselves and their friends. According to the box office, they pretty much got their wish. We love you, Tim and Johnny, but you need to see other people.
Tyler Perry is a lot of things: writer, director, actor, producer, millionaire, female impersonator, Oprah's best friend, owner of Atlanta. One thing he is not, as it turns out, is an action star. Directed by Rob Cohen with his usual flair for incoherence, this shameless attempt to launch a new franchise confirms our long-held suspicion that Tyler Perry is drawn to bad scripts whether he wrote them or not. (Special citation: Matthew Fox, now made entirely of veins, as the over-the-top insane villain.)
Amanda Seyfried believes her sister has been kidnapped in this ludicrous, anti-climactic, un-thrilling thriller that feels like a stretched-out episode of "Law & Order: SVU" -- except that you had to leave your house and pay money to see "Gone," whereas "SVU" is on TV thirty times a day for free. (Special citation: Wes Bentley's supporting performance as a soup-fetching police detective. It's almost worth watching the movie just to marvel at his peculiarity.)
4. "Project X."
The astonishing thing about this rancid, pointless comedy about teens throwing a wild house party is that it was NOT, in fact, written and directed by actual 17-year-old douchebags. Watching it, you think: Wow, it is pretty impressive that some genitalia-obsessed 17-year-old douchebags managed to get all this film equipment and make a movie, even a loathsome one! But then it turns out that no, this was written and directed and produced by grown-ups, albeit grown-ups who lazily slapped together a script-less, witless, puerile disaster. Then it feels sad and icky.
Speaking of lazy found-footage movies made by crass opportunists with no imagination or talent, "The Devil Inside"! It's about exorcisms. It isn't scary or original. At the part of the movie where there is supposed to be a conclusion to the story, there is instead a cop-out: "That's where the tape suddenly ran out! OOoooh, spooky!" No, sir. Not spooky. Lazy. LAZY! If you can't think of a good way to end your story, don't make a movie (or, if you're Peter Jackson, split it into three movies).
You start with an old but reliable premise: a young man and woman move into a new house, where they notice strange phenomena. And ... that's where you stop, too, I guess. "The Apparition" reportedly had an interesting angle to it at some point, but all traces of it were removed from the final cut, focusing instead on scene after scene of Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan emoting vacantly like stoned CW Network actors doing a high school version of "Poltergeist" after suffering head injuries. It's as if Warner Bros. wanted to release a horror film that was as inane, useless, incompetent and insulting as possible. Well, kudos on that, I suppose.
You had your chance, Adam Sandler. For heaven's sake, you had dozens of chances. In a year of lazy, sloppy, we'll-poop-this-out-in-a-weekend-and-you-idiots-will-pay-money-for-it comedies, "That's My Boy" takes the prize for putridness. As usual, Sandler plays an aggressive idiot with an annoying fake voice who shows up to disrupt someone's life, and as usual the message of the film turns out to be that everyone needs to act more like the aggressive idiot. But this time, the jokes are especially cheap (Horny grandma! Fat stripper!), the story especially tacky, the performances especially phoned in. You had your chance, Sandler. You're done. See you in comedy hell, you tired, cynical hack.
Also check out: The 10 Worst Movies of 2012 on NextMovie
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