Monday, June 27, 2011

An Uncanny Attempt At Importance

I've now seen the three comic book movies that have so far been released this summer and, of the three, X-Men: First Class is the most entertaining (I rank Green Lantern second and Thor third). There is a lot to look to for X-Men's quality: the lead performances by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are very good; the movie doesn't bog down in exposition like so many others; some of the special effects, particularly the power of the evil mutant Azazel, are not as fake-looking as everything in Thor. It's a fun movie and that should be enough for a lot of movies, especially anything that comes out between Memorial Day and Labor Day. X-Men: First Class strives to be a bit more than just fun and its failure to do so makes it effectually worse than even Thor (can you tell I didn't like it?) when looked at on any level above pure escapism.

In his essay collection, Eating the Dinosaur, Chuck Klosterman discusses advertising strategy in a Mad Men world. He argues that we as viewers grasp the perfection of Don Draper's Kodak speech in the first season because we understand that advertising is not selling us a product, but rather our feelings about a product. That may not be something that people understood fifty years ago, but we buy something because we understand what intangibles a brand is selling and we want to be associated with that brand (his actual example in the book is Obama and Pepsi). I argue that we don't look for not-so-hidden themes in advertising, but in everything we watch. Maybe it's the advertising that conditioned us to do this, maybe it's the other way around, but it's why people immediately jumped at Avatar and its anti-imperialism message. Yes, that notion could not have been any more clear in that movie, but neither could the Lost Cause mythology have been any more clear in Gone With The Wind and it's only recently that I hear people discussing that.

We look for the hidden meaning in things that we watch and those who make what we watch know it. Again, this is most clear in advertising because it is usually something we are watching for free and they try to provide impetus for us to act, but it is of course true in movies or television. Cameron wanted us to think about the War in Iraq when he made Avatar, just like Lucas did in the Star Wars prequels. Similarly, a movie can be made devoid of hidden meaning so that viewers are encouraged to enjoy it only at face value (prime example: Gladiator). Movie makers have been doing this for a long time, to be sure, but the major discourse of these themes had been the purview of critics until blogs democratized that flow of thought. People like to deconstruct what they watch and so it is no coincidence when a movie tries to reveal a theme to make itself more interesting than it may be at face value. Enter: X-Men: First Class.

A mild spoiler warning for what comes after the jump.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #16, Daddy Day Camp

The future rocks. With six of these movies left to go and only the #1 movie (Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever) which I plan to watch last, on Netflix Watch Instantly, I've been trying to find these movies anywhere I can to quicken the process of having to wait for Netflix disk turnover. I regularly search the FIOS TV listings on-line and set my DVR accordingly and, sure enough, Daddy Day Camp was coming on Cartoon Network on Saturday evening. At the same time that I was getting on a plane to go to California. My hope is to finish the list by the end of July, so I didn't love the idea of having to lose ten days or so. But. The plane had satellite television service, which included Cartoon Network. I was reminded of the movie when put the station on to calm a crying baby and was informed that Daddy Day Camp was coming up next. I plugged in my earphones, settled down, and prepared to watch.

Now, it's quite possible that movies seem better than they should on a plane. Since one can assume that a better-than-average movie is, by definition, better than at least half of all movies, there is at least a 50% chance that a movie shown on a plane (or, I suppose, on a TV network carried on a plane) is going to be bad. I've watched Hitch and The Pacifier on a plane. Once, in a show of utter cruelty, a flight even tortured its confined passengers with Batman and Robin. Because there is this real chance that the movie is going to be bad, we may lower our expectations. Anything to get through the next couple of hours without having to talk to anyone, worrying about the sleeping person next to us having their head roll over onto our shoulders, or praying that everyone around us isn't just farting and hiding the sound under the engines.

When it comes to Daddy Day Camp, though, I don't think my expectations could be raised at all. The original Daddy Day Care had its funny moments, but it also starred Eddie Murphy, Jeff Garlin, and Steve Zahn, all capable of being funny. The sequel stars Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Brendan Fraser laughs at his movie choices), a guy who sort of looks like Jeff Garlin, and a guy who doesn't look at all like Steve Zahn. On top of that, it has one of the least original plots to come around since Shakespeare stole all of his work from Francis Bacon and Kit Marlowe. I felt like I needed to mention Shakespeare, Bacon, and Marlowe in this review. The three guys run a camp. It's dilapidated. Only losers go there. There's a camp next door with more resources and a take-no-prisoners owner. If the loser camp doesn't beat the awesome camp in some sort of contrived set of games, the loser camp will fold. I'm pretty sure this story was originally conceived in cave paintings 30,000 years ago. You know it's going to be slapstick. You know Gooding is going to disgrace himself, his family, and his species. You know there is going to be fart and/or poop humor (there's both). You couldn't possibly raise your expectations because this movie has "garbage" written all over it.

Then, something funny happens. The movie lives up to that expectation. It isn't better than you expect, but it isn't worse, either. It is exactly what I expected it to be and that, in some weird way, makes it not that bad. It is exactly what you think it is. It's not going to shock you with its badness, not going to make your jaw drop with its ineptitude. It is what you thought it was. Maybe I was apathetic because I was on a plane, praying that the baby next to me would go to sleep -- praying harder because she was mine -- but I really do think it was just boringly average compared to my expectation and that's just good enough for me not to savage it. And I still like Cuba Gooding, Jr. Somehow.


I was inspired to rethink this blog, so coming soon -- perhaps, Sunday -- will be a bit of a reboot. All pop culture, most likely all long-form essays. More promotion in social media. First up: why X-Men: First Class is both an entertaining movie and much more of a failure than the mostly unentertaining Thor.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Broken Record

Out of town for a bit. I did watch my 95th Worst of the Worst movie over the weekend -- on the plane, no less -- but I'll post the review tomorrow or Friday. Today, instead, I have to marvel in writing a little bit at a realization I had today.

We all know that technology has made certain things obsolete, especially when it comes to personal entertainment. I have a VCR, but I haven't hooked it up for at least three moves. Book stores are suffering because of Amazon and the idea of physical books may suffer even more as e-books become more and more popular. Of course, the rise of iPods and the inclusion of MP3 players in phones have made CDs less important, to the point that CDs now sit in a tiny, disorganized section at big box stores or book stores (for as long as they still exist). For the most part, the record store has gone the way of the video store. There are still a few here or there and the best of those is one I visited today, the Mecca of music stores, Amoeba Music in San Francisco.

I wanted to go because it's in the Haight, which is just a fun little area to walk around and people-watch (to see them try to recapture an era that quickly became a mockery of itself forty years ago), but also because it's a site to behold, as you can see in the pictures on the website. Thousands upon thousands of CDs, a good amount of vinyl, a nice video area with a huge foreign section. It would be fun to leaf through the rows of albums, seeing if I can find anything cool to pick up. I recognized that I could get anything through iTunes, but I grew up with record stores and I was pretty sure that I still valued the concept of holding a physical product in my hand. Sure, I've probably bought three physical CDs in the last two or three years (two Eminem albums and a special edition of the Ben Folds/Nick Hornby collaboration), but I was holding on to nostalgia, if nothing else.

So I began walking through the aisles, looking at the CDs and it hit me immediately. Immediately. There was absolutely no reason for me to ever buy another CD again. It wasn't some huge epiphany. It wasn't something I had to work out in my head. It was immediate and obvious. Anything I bought would be just as, if not more, expensive as/than anything I could buy on iTunes or Amazon MP3 and I'd just have to then take the disc home and load it into iTunes so I could get it into my phone. So instead of looking around to buy something, I treated the store like a museum. Took a picture of the Green Jello album. Flipped through the Ben Folds and They Might Be Giants stacks. Checked out Bon Iver at a listening station to see if I'd want to buy it on iTunes (verdict: yuck). I guess that's progress for you. I didn't lament not wanting to buy a CD because it would just seem more inconvenient than downloading the album. I just accepted it as a universal reality that buying CDs is done. And then I tweeted about it and put it on Facebook while I was standing there.

Epilogue: My quick-thinking wife actually pointed out a reason to buy a CD. Unlike a Best Buy or a Target, Amoeba had used CDs that they sold at a lower price. So, for example, I think I had Flood on cassette or a disc that I couldn't find, so we picked up a copy for $4, much cheaper than I can get it for on iTunes. I also grabbed a couple of used DVDs (the brilliant Korean film, Save the Green Planet, and the entire series of Da Ali G Show; $9.99 each!), so we did buy some stuff there.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #57, Godsend

Godsend is a horror movie that isn't scary, but that's true of a lot of movies that are bad, but not bad enough to be on this list (for instance, Saw). Visually, it's not bad. The acting isn't too bad, either. There's a kid actor in the main role who's so-so, but Greg Kinnear is always at least solid, Robert De Niro hasn't been in a good movie in a while but is never really bad, and even Rebecca Romijn-Stamos is fine and only slightly bad when she has to do any emotional scenes. The script itself is pretty lame, with too much exposition at points to move the poorly-paced story along. There are a good number of continuity errors, including a newspaper at the end that has a misspelling in the headline. But, yeah, for the most part the movie is merely less-than-average. What kills me is the plot.

Kinnear and Romijn-Stamos play the loving parents of a loving son (all set up lovingly in the opening scenes), but the son is killed in a horrible (read: too contrived) accident. After the funeral, they are approached by De Niro, who is a brilliant genetic scientist (and somehow Romijn-Stamos' freshman professor, even though she's a photographer). He has a way of cloning the boy and the parents agree to try it out. De Niro goes into this long explanation of the process, meant to confuse us into not thinking about it critically, and then the mother is impregnated when a pre-stem cell (?) is injected into an egg and then delivers the child after nine months. Everything is the same for the first eight years of the kid's life. Anyone who's read The Boys from Brazil knows that this is ridiculous. The original boy had died on the day after his eighth birthday and, sure enough, on the day after his eighth birthday, the new kid starts seeing visions of a dead child and turns evil. He gets all creepy and murder-y, showing up at weird times in dark rooms to shock his parents and then killing the school bully (a murder that the local police decide not to investigate, apparently). Then, there is a twist that is so implausible and so impossible scientifically in any sense of real life that I couldn't totally understand why or how said twist came to be. They probably just didn't explain it because the actors would have had too hard a time not laughing. Anyways, the kid is somehow possessed genetically (I think) and everyone's running around doing nothing to stop him, other than running into dark rooms that he scares them in. Kinnear gets hit by a blunt object hard enough to pass out in a burning room, but somehow shows up minutes later, just in time to stop an axe from chopping someone up. Finally, nothing happens at the end to resolve anything and everyone is essentially in the same place they were right before the climax.

The end.

Well, one of the ends. They had such a hard time wrapping up such a ridiculous plot that they actually shot five different endings. The other four are available on the DVD and I watched them, including the first with commentary from the writer and director. Sure enough, the director actually admits that none of the endings really worked, so they just went with the one that is least black and white because they couldn't figure out how to appropriately resolve the characters. At least the guy was honest.

I'm not sure that Godsend really belongs on this list, because it's just not poorly-made to the level of some of these other movies. But, on the list it is, making it the ninety-fourth that I've watched. Six left.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #11, Merci Docteur Rey!

Merci Docteur Rey! is the worst movie I have ever seen.

I hope that over these ninety reviews (I started out having seen three of the movies) over the last twenty or so months, you have seen that I've tried not to exaggerate the level of awfulness of any of these movies. I've written about how bad many of them have been, but I've saved any superlatives for a very select few. I'm often prone to hyperbole, but I take this seriously. I've loved bad movies my whole life, but I had never set out to expressly watch them like I have in this project, so I honestly want to leave this list with an understanding of where the different movies fall. So, let me state it again, so you can see where this one falls.

Merci Docteur Rey! is the worst movie I have ever seen.

It's not just the plot, about the son of an opera diva who is closeted and goes to meet an older man only to find out after witnessing the man's murder that he was his father and upon finding this runs to a psychiatrist who it turns out has died of a heart attack and is sitting in a chair Weekend-At-Bernie's-style and the guy then turns to the crazy patient at the time for therapy while he attempts to find the murderer on his own. It's not just the acting, which is almost the worst I've ever seen (you can't top Travolta in Battlefield Earth or Chris Klein in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li), even though it includes Dianne Wiest and freaking Vanessa Redgrave and Simon Callow. A lot of it is the direction, which is easily the worst I've ever seen with atrocious framing and editing. It's not just the music, which never fits the scene. It's not just the dialogue, which is partly in French and partly in English and wholly bulls***. It's not even the ending, which involves a completely unbelievable line and curtains closing while one of the characters inexplicably drops in on a cable, but then the movie isn't over and keeps going for a few minutes while I alternate between cursing and shaking my head. No, it's all of this and more. When you're up against Battlefield Earth and The Master of Disguise and 3 Strikes, you can't just be pretty bad in all aspects; you have to be horrendous in all of them. Success!

My watching experience went something like this: I watched the first five minutes and considered breaking the DVD in half -- I figured that since it got 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and only earned $19,500 in theaters, I may have had the only copy not owned by someone who made the movie, assuming they didn't already throw it away to deny any hand they had in it. I proceeded to watch a good portion of the movie while yelling, "What the f*** is this?!" every so often. I began to hold my head in my hands. I mocked every line. I rewound the ending with the curtain to make sure I saw it right. Finally, as the credits rolled, I fell back on the sofa, exhausted.

Battlefield Earth was a big budget sci-fi movie. The Master of Disguise was a slapstick kid's comedy starring a major comedian. Merci Docteur Rey! is a foreign-ish film with a budget that was probably less than Battlefield Earth's catering bill. It's really difficult to compare these three. They all failed in their own way and deserve recognition for being, in the first two movies' cases, an epic disappointment and the embodiment of negative entertainment value, respectively. But it is the third movie above that is so poorly conceived and executed that you question not just the existence of the movie, but the existence of everyone who had anything to do with this movie. You see on imdb that people who saw this movie at film festivals thought it was brilliant and realize that it is so perplexing that these people thought it was art and therefore needed to say it was brilliant in order to look like they understood it and you pity them and their sad inferiority-complex-having lives. Battlefield Earth and The Master of Disguise, as mainstream Hollywood movies, are more easily understood to be historically bad and more easily understood to have been reaching for some sort of brass ring of which they fall way, way short. You can talk about expectations and you can talk about prior knowledge of a movie and you can talk about being more upset with a Travolta or a Carvey when they put out dreck, but, no, none of that matters when the cold hard truth is staring you in the face.

Merci Docteur Rey! is the worst movie I have ever seen.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #52, The Bridge of San Luis Rey

On this list, there have been a number of movies with names attached to them that have belied the actual lack of quality of the movie. One would hope that Guy Ritchie could do better than Swept Away, that Ben Kingsley wouldn't show up in any of these, that Al Pacino would never have sunk to where he is now. Alas, big names attached to a movie do not a great movie make. But that seems nearly impossible when it comes to The Bridge of San Luis Rey. It's based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Thornton Wilder, the 23rd best American novel of the 20th century, according to Time. It stars Gabriel Byrne, Robert DeNiro, F. Murray Abraham, Harvey Keitel, and Kathy Bates. There's no way that it could be that bad, right?


It's really bad. Really, it's more boring than anything else (exacerbated by the fact that over the weekend, I saw two of the most extraordinarily un-boring movies of the past year, Super 8 and Black Swan). The story involves an incident in Peru where five people fell to their deaths when a bridge collapsed. A monk was watching and he investigates the lives of the deceased to see if it is mere coincidence or if God really has a plan. Since he is questioning God, the Inquisition tries him for heresy. The movie ends up being a procedural with flashbacks where we learn about the lives of the people who will eventually meet their demise -- with five or ten minutes left to go in the movie, which makes them luckier than the rest of us. I imagine the book is better paced than the movie, which is interminable. Whereas the book splits the stories up so you're following one person all the way through, the movie mixes everything together so you can't tell what is going on at any given point (if you even cared to know it, in the first place).

The boredom is bad, but the worst part of the movie is the fact that, given the source material and actors, the inexperienced director (who nobody has ever heard of) squandered her riches by being utterly lost. The timing is abysmal. Her script is written to be read, not spoken. Can you imagine Harvey Keitel delivering really stilted Skakespeare-esque lines? Please try hard not to. Worst of all is that line delivery. I don't like when English-speaking actors are asked to use accents to signify that they are speaking another language. This, of course, is worst when it's people in Rome speaking in British accents for some reason, but it goes for people with Spanish or German accents. Ridiculous. And yet, I may have learned to get over that with this movie. The director had the actors use no accent at all other than their own. So, you get a Peruvian court case where Gabriel Byrne has his Irish accent defending himself against DeNiro with his New York accent. Kathy Bates seems to be the only person who even tries, but that could be because she has no discernible accent.

I think, in watching this, I discovered that a great actor can make an entertaining movie from a mediocre one. Denzel Washington has made a career on this. But not even the best actor can make an entertaining movie from a really bad one. Those actors who make only good movies are apparently really talented at picking the right movie with the right script and right director. To paraphrase Wilder's last line, good cinema is solid ground and an actor's choice is the tenuous bridge that break at any moment, plunging us all to the depths of a bad movie.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #43, Darkness

Some movies like last night's King's Ransom are bad and could never have worked under any circumstances. Some movies like tonight's Darkness are bad and could have easily worked under different circumstances. But, alas, no. What could have been a pretty chilling horror movie was instead a confusing mess that had no thrill at all.

Darkness is your standard haunted house fare. Family moves into a house. Kid starts hearing weird things under the bed. Father goes insane. Teenage daughter is the only one who figures everything out. Et cetera. In this case, the father is played by Iain Glen (who I quite like as Jorah Mormont on Game of Thrones) and the daughter is played by Anna Paquin. So you have some acting talent, but they are asked to deliver nonsense. And I don't just mean that the lines are poorly written; they seriously often don't make any sense. It's just a bunch of words strung together that are supposed to convey some sort of plot about Satan worship, but don't make the viewer care at all. Speaking of Old Scratch, I'd like to revise one of the most famous lines in modern cinema. It is not true that the greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world he didn't exist The greatest trick the devil ever played was working his way into movie after movie even though that whole thing was pretty tired even by the time Sardo Numspa came after Chandler Jarrell.

But even the worst script in a horror movie can be saved by true scares, but this one has none of those. There are ghostly kids inhabiting the house, but they really just stand there and stare at people, which is about as scary as the Today Show audience. Every time someone is about to be killed, we instead get flashes of millisecond clips of weird images, which is about as scary as a kaleidoscope. At the end, the evil turns out to actually be darkness, so all of the killing occurs when the screen is pitch black, which is about as scary as turning your TV off. Which I could have easily done to escape the boredom. The director went for super artsy instead of super scary and missed. Could have been creepy, ended up with incoherence.

So, yeah, in the end it was all about Darkness, imprisoning me, all I could see, no absolute horror. So bored that I felt like I could not live, but I could not die, trapped in myself, images on the TV my holding cell. Maybe better off without my sight or hearing, too.

Ninety-one down, nine to go.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #4, King's Ransom

Oh, my God...

I squealed in ecstasy as I watched the first five or ten minutes of King's Ransom. Do you remember the first time you watched the first tracking shot of The Godfather or the opening chord and title scroll of Star Wars? It is mesmerizing to watch the object of pure beauty that comes from when a group of people -- director, writers, actors, musicians -- join together in the goal of making something perfect and then actually succeed. De Palma's savage gang meeting scene in The Untouchables, with David Mamet's classic baseball monologue and De Niro's cocky but menacing delivery. The chemistry between Shaw, Scheider, and Dreyfuss, as they sit around the table on the boat, captured so realistically by Spielberg. These and so many more of the greatest moments in cinematic history, almost a living symbiosis of talent aimed at putting on celluloid what nobody else has ever seen. And then, in 2005, directors and writers and actors and so on and so on got together and set out to make one of the worst movies the world had ever seen.

That has to be what happened, because it's the only way anyone could have made a movie this goddam bad.

No matter that Jeffrey Byrd only directed music videos and a couple of independent movies before tackling this project. No matter that Wayne Conley wrote for Keenan and Kel and Nick Cannon before turning his pen to this. No matter that Anthony Anderson has been in mostly bad movies or that Jay Mohr's film and TV career was never what you may have thought after Jerry Maguire or that Charlie Murphy somehow got an acting job. No matter any of this, because the mite that lives in the turd that was thrown at a slack-jawed petting zoo patron by a bored, malnourished monkey could see that everything was wrong with everything that was happening around King's Ransom.

The acting is so poorly timed that it looks like everyone was shown their line for two seconds upside-down and in Pig Latin and then asked to recite it back. The lines themselves are so poorly written that I almost paused the movie to look for more depth of narrative in Goodnight, Moon. The sound effects -- yes, sound effects -- that they play to emphasize what is supposed to pass for a joke -- and they are not funny, no matter how often Anderson fake laughs after his own delivery -- are so ubiquitous that I thought one of the sound editors had let their two-year-old loose because they just didn't care about what they are doing. Nothing in this movie works; towards being a good movie, that is. I could tell within the first five minutes that I was in for something epic. Sometimes, it's just that obvious. So many of these bad movies have been purely boring that it is a relief to see something so excruciatingly and offensively, well, bad.

It is in our nature to look for meaning in things that we don't understand. Lightning turns into a weapon hurled from Mount Olympus. Rainbows turn into a promise from God. A movie that does not work in any way on any level is rationalized as an attempt to satirize Hollywood by striving for perfect imperfection. Or maybe none of them gave a s***. Either way, I salute them. I enjoyed the destruction of all of their careers thoroughly.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #62, Serving Sara

This movie brings up a question I have about a profession I know very little about. Serving Sara is about a process server. I've seen on TV the usual bit about process servers where they walk up to someone, ask the person their name to confirm identity, and then give the person the papers. I have no reason not to believe this is how it works in real life. Sometimes, the process server has to pretend to be someone else to get close to the target. That seems a bit fishy, but I guess it could happen. I just assume that most process servers are straightforward and, perhaps, fairly apathetic, like Seth Rogen in Pineapple Express. In Serving Sara, however, the process servers do all kinds of wacky tricks to track their person down because everyone seems to know that papers are coming and don't want them. One of the characters even explains this in the beginning by saying something along the lines of, "Being served papers is never a good thing." But does it really get so wacky that it turns into a spy-like thing? Or that the people being served try even wackier things to evade the papers like constantly pretending to be other people or even hiding in the middle of monster truck rallies?

So, you can see how I was already a little put upon by the ins and outs of the process serving industry, as depicted in this movie, but there's not much else in the film to recommend it. First off -- let's get the elephant out of the room -- Serving Sara was written by the team that wrote Norbit and the upcoming The Zookeeper (slapstick comedy with animals talking to Kevin James). There's all you need to know about the script. The director is not as poor in the resume department, but his work here left me annoyed. So many of the scenes involve people talking to each other with close-ups as each character delivers their lines. The cuts back and forth and the close-ups kill any kind of chemistry the actors may have had. Of course, they had none, so it just left me to be annoyed with how choppy it felt.

The actors themselves are the "stars" of the awfulness in this movie. Elizabeth Hurley as the love interest just can not act. Fine straight person for Mike Myers, bad romantic comedy lead. Vinny Pastore is just not meant to be in comedies (or, frankly, play any role other than Big Pussy). Bruce Campbell is the king of cult films, but his style does not fit with a mainstream romantic comedy. Cedric the Entertainer has appeared on this list of bad movies a number of times and, while he doesn't have tons of screen time, his acting in this is about as bad as he's been in any of the other movies. His role strikes me as a desperate attempt someone made to add any kind of last-second humor into what they knew would be a desperately unfunny movie (this move was done most egregiously with the obviously added scenes of Wanda Sykes in Evan Almighty, which I can't believe didn't make this list). That brings us to the lead actor, Matthew Perry.

I'm not a Matthew Perry fan. In fact, I don't like any of the Friends actors except for Matt LeBlanc in Episodes and Lisa Kudrow in a very few roles. Perry is just way too smug for me and he's very smug in this movie, but he has a bigger problem. During the filming of Serving Sara, Perry had to take a break because he went to rehab for a painkiller addiction. And it is obvious that he had the problem when you watch the movie. The Matthew Perry of Serving Sara is the bloated, disinterested, rough-looking Matthew Perry of the tabloids. He just looks strung out. So no matter that his lines are written poorly or that the big oh-please-won't-you-please-laugh-at-our-movie scene involves him with his arm up a bull's ass while it has sex with a mechanical cow, Perry is unfunny because you're uneasy watching him. That was enough for me to dislike the movie.

But it didn't end there! The only thing worse than watching a bad movie with bad acting is when someone you like shows up and you just feel sorry for them and dirty for watching them debase themselves in a piece of garbage. That happened with The New Kid and Zooey Deschanel and it happened with Bless The Child with Jimmy Smits, but nothing tops Serving Sara because it wasn't just someone I like it was one of the most talented actors, period. Sure enough, Matthew Perry tries to find Bruce Campbell's mistress at one point and we discover that she is played by none other than Amy Adams. Let that sink in for a second. You're watching a movie that stars Matthew Perry, Elizabeth Hurley, Cedric the Entertainer, and Vincent Pastore, and here comes Amy Adams. Sure, it was her first big studio movie, so when people originally watched it, she was just some random chick, but I didn't watch it in 2002 (when I had better sense, apparently). No, I had to watch it after Adams had established herself as acting gold. It just made me feel dirty.

So the writing was bad, the direction was annoying, the acting was atrocious, and I felt uneasy. Good times! Like many movies on this list, though, the one thing stopping it from being truly horrendous was that it just got boring. It wasn't offensively bad throughout. By the end, I was staring at the clock, wondering why they hadn't wrapped up the plot yet, when I knew there were only seventeen or so minutes left. And then it was blessedly over! Eighty-nine movies down, eleven to go, and this one not a moment too soon.