Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #29, Bless The Child

I am not surprised in the least that Larry the Cable Guy had three films on this list, nor that Carmen Electra had six or seven and Eddie Griffin had what seems like seventy. I am surprised that Bless The Child marks the second film on the list for Rufus Sewell and even somewhat surprised that it marks the first for Jimmy Smits. Smits has come to be regarded as one of our finer actors, always likable, and that is no different here. Unfortunately, both of these actors star in this movie with Kim Basinger, who is awful.

Basinger won an Oscar and was a can't-miss star at one time, but she has completely fallen apart. What's the last relevant movie in which she appeared? Judging by her imdb profile, it's either as Eminem's mother in 8 Mile in 2002, or all the way back to 1997 for her Oscar-winning performance in L.A. Confidential. Maybe she's just out of practice? She overacts in this film like an amateur. Not that even a good performance from her would save this garbage.

Basinger stars as a woman who takes on her infant niece from her dope-addict sister. Six years later, the girl has something special to her. Kids her age are being kidnapped and murdered. The mother shows back up with Rufus Sewell -- playing a self-help guru -- in tow and takes the girl. We find out quickly that they are taking her for a Satanist cult. Smits plays a cop who used to want to be a priest and he recognizes the Satanic aspects of the cult. Murder, hunt, chase, blah, blah, blah. It's all just really boring, and that's saying something because it turns out the whole thing really is about Satan. There's all kinds of supernatural crap with demons flying around and messengers of God showing up. Satan himself even shows up at the very end (and does nothing but sit in a chair for two seconds!).

So, whatever, it's a total B-movie. Bad acting, awful special effects, worse camera work. It should be hilarious, but it's not. Just boring.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #61, Good Luck Chuck

There is a lot about this movie that absolutely confuses me. Most of all, how there is not one good thing about it but it is still not offensively bad. By offensively bad, I mean to the level that you get angry or that it causes physical pain, like other movies on this list have. Instead, Good Luck Chuck flits between boring and eye-roll-inducing. Another thing about this movie that confuses me is more of a general brain-freeze about why anyone likes Dane Cook in any way. I mean, why he's put in movies, why people give him one red cent, why people don't run screaming whenever the concept of him comes to mind. Therein may lie the answer to my first question; maybe the movie isn't so bad because I can't hate it any more than I hate him. His presence sets expectations so low that no amount of awfulness could make this movie as bad as, say, the often funny Dana Carvey in Master of Disguise or 3 Strikes by DJ Pooh, the director of the great Friday.

Other than Cook's presence out-sucking the rest of the movie, the rest of the movie is bad in its own right. The writing is just one-liner after gross-out joke after slapstick gag, with all falling flatter than a manhole cover that I'd gladly pry open to dump every copy of this DVD into the sewers where they belong. There is also a lot of sex and maybe more naked breasts than any movie I can remember that came out since like 1982. Animal House thinks there were too many boobs in this movie (and I'm not even counting Cook and his co-stars, ha-ha!). There is a fairly graphic montage that involves Cook having sex with dozens of women. Yay!

Cook plays a guy who is cursed and every woman he sleeps with gets married to the next person they meet. Other than being the story of my college relationships, it's romantic comedy boilerplate. Women chase after him, wanting to sleep with him so they can meet their true love, until he finds the girl of his dreams and doesn't want to lose her. The girl of his dreams is played by Jessica Alba, who is very easy to look at but not very easy to watch act. Of course, to be fair, she's only playing off of Dane Cook and the guy who played Lonny in the first few seasons of 30 Rock, so there's not much to work with there. I keep Cook stinks, but it's true. His acting is awful and he lacks chemistry with every object, living or not, with whom he shares the screen.

Do people like Dane Cook because he sounds sort of like John Corbett and everyone likes John Corbett? Do people like him because MySpace drove you so batty that you had no other choice? Do people like him because it's easier to just give in? I'll never understand.

On a side note, this movie being one of the bigger movies on the list, I got it from Netflix in Blu-Ray. Blu-Ray enhances everything on the screen, which is fantastic for gorgeous movies like 127 Hours. It also enhances jerky camera movements -- such as in the pretty funny Cyrus -- which can be annoying. It also makes bad movies look as clear as real life, which is exceptionally disturbing. It makes me pray, in a sick way, that someone decides to release Battlefield Earth in Blu-Ray.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Going Back

Tonight, as I'm sure everyone has marked on their calendar, is the first anniversary of the airing of the Lost series finale. In going back and thinking about it -- and in rewatching The Wire, which I hadn't seen since before Lost ended -- I'm realizing that The Wire, while better than Lost, is not as better as I would have thought. That's not to diminish the hands-down greatest show ever to air, but to say that Lost is way, way up there. It wasn't just a fun (read: confounding) mystery; it was a really good show. Anyway, I saw this video for the first time today and thought it was pretty cool. Someone took the last minute or so of the final episode and put it against the first minute or so of the pilot played backwards. Nice job by the director and the editor. Fun when you can find little things like this that make something really good that much better.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #3, Pinocchio

One has to imagine that during a great and prolonged tragedy, those suffering just shut down mentally. When things are so bad for so long, the mind understands that there is nothing better coming along and that it can only get but so much worse, so everything goes numb. There can still be hope, but it's mostly all about just making it through, surviving.

This is what it's like to watch Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio.

Well, it's unfair to say that Benigni's Pinocchio is so awful, not in how he intended it to be. It is in Italian and produced as if it is a stage play, with intentional overacting. I watched a bit of the Italian version with subtitles and it comes off as very foreign. It's not made with American sensibilities, so who are we to say it's bad. In fact, it won a number of awards in Italy. Yes, it's bizarre that Benigni is playing a little boy, but it's no weirder -- if you look at it as a stage adaptation -- than Sandy Duncan playing Peter Pan at an advanced age.

No, the Pinocchio that is ranked by Rotten Tomatoes as the third-worst movie of the first decade of the twenty-first century is the English dubbed version. It was dubbed with recognizable English-speaking actors and released in theaters here, so it's okay to apply American sensibilities. So, it turns out not to be Benigni's fault, but the Miramax people who decided to bring it over here and turn it into one of the handful of worst movies I've ever seen.

Benigni playing a little boy puppet? Weird. Benigni playing it with Breckin Meyers' voice? Nearly unwatchable. It's not just the strange choice in voices, but the way that the English speakers read the Italian translation almost literally, making the dialogue choppy. Plus, it just sounds read, not spoken, giving the entire movie a disjointed feel. And Eddie Griffin shows up in another on of these bad movies, as he and Cheech Marin play a couple of crooks. But more than anything, really, Breckin Meyers speaking for Roberto Benigni playing a little boy.

The whole thing was weird, with the puppet prancing around and getting into stupid problem after stupid problem. The cricket special effect is awful, as is the one for the nose growing. Gepetto has a ridiculous toupee and the related humor falls flat. People exclaim way too many things for the sake of exclaiming them. There is a lot of licking of lollipops, with the licking sounds being disgusting and distracting. It's a mess, enough of one that it destroyed Benigni's career in the United States even though he was coming off a Best Actor Oscar for one of the great movies of our time.

Yet, I found myself after a while watching it and thinking, this isn't so bad. It's weird and stupid, but it doesn't belong this high up on the list. But then, Pinocchio talked to a donkey and pet its face as it died and kissed it and tried to get it to lick a lollipop, and I thought to myself: "What is this crap that I'm watching?!" Indeed, the movie had been so bad throughout that no one part felt worse than any other and it all just felt average. It was a coping mechanism for getting through the atrocity of this movie. Benigni's greatest film triumph, La Vita e Bella, was about a man doing what he could to keep hopes up in the face of unspeakable tragedy. Damn, I could have used him when I was watching this.

Friday, May 20, 2011

TV Recommendation

Good lord, I've done this a thousand times, but I mean it. Parks and Recreation is on Netflix Watch Instantly. If you have never seen it, do it. Now. Mad Men is the only show currently airing that is as consistently great, episode to episode.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #31, The Covenant

Not every movie begs for a lot of language to review them. This one is just bad. It's a CW-ish movie about teen warlocks who fight each other and date women and stuff. I like Jessica Lucas (Cloverfield, 90210) and you have to love Taylor Kitsch (Riggins from FNL), but nobody in this one is really any good. Bad acting delivering a lazy script that is way overdirected and involves really awful CGI. There's the movie in one sentence.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #67, The Hottie And The Nottie

There are not many fundamentally worse movies than the ones that deal with a man who falls in love with a seemingly unattractive woman because he sees her inner beauty. The man never actually falls in love with the woman until she's had some sort of makeover, making her actually beautiful. Stupid and insulting.

But there's a lot more stupid and insulting about The Hottie and the Nottie than just the plot, though it is probably the worst of the "inner beauty" movies. For one thing, the unattractiveness of the woman is quite extreme. She has moles, a unibrow, mangled teeth, an infected toenail, and boogers dangling out of her nose. Everyone think she's hideous and she's never kissed anyone. But the main character falls in love with her! After she has major skin treatments, her teeth are fixed, her mole is removed, and her hair grows in with Rogaine.

The movie is probably most famous for starring Paris Hilton, but even she isn't the most stupid and insulting thing about it. Yes, she is an awful actress. All of her lines are delivered with a smiling apathy and the movie is more concerned with showing her running in a bathing suit in slow motion, but she's not the worst part of the movie. That's how bad it is. The worst part is the constant ineptitude displayed by almost all involved. The script looks to have been strung together by fifty people who each wrote a few sentences at the beginning of a Nyquil sleep. The direction was quite possibly undertaken by a chimpanzee. It's not all bad, though; there are constant sound effects to highlight the "jokes"!

The two romantic leads, Christine Lakin and Joel Moore, are likable enough and that's what keeps this movie from challenging Battlefield Earth for worst ever. Once the bad makeup is off, Lakin is as cute and smart as you'd want from a romantic comedy. Moore does yeoman's work all along with the Nyquil-inspired arrangement of letters that he was given to read. Because the two are okay, the end of the movie ends up being pretty boring, which is an improvement. Boring isn't bad enough. It needs to be actively bad to get into that "worst ever" conversation.

On a side note, Moore is one lucky guy. He stars in this movie, which by all rights should have destroyed his movie career. It's estimated that each showing of The Hottie and the Nottie in theaters averaged five viewers. One year later, Avatar comes out, with him as Sam Worthington's sidekick. His bad movie doesn't get seen by too many people and his good movie gets seen by everyone. Jackpot, bullet dodged.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


If you haven't yet seen the article of the day, I have it for you. It is so deliciously subversive, taking a twisted look at the biggest news story of the last two years and doing it in such a subtle way that you can laugh without realizing what they are doing. Plus, the comments are pretty funny.

So, as set up, here is the original article from The New York Times announcing bin Laden's death.

And here is the article of the day, as the head of a great and powerful nation announces that the leader of their enemy is finally dead.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Read This

It's the rare news story that can make you tear up. The two that jump to mind immediately are Gene Weingarten's Pulitzer-winning piece about people who have forgotten their children in cars and the New Yorker piece about the man who was wrongfully executed. Both are very, very sad.

Here's a third, but it's not sad. It made me tear up because it's beautiful. It's a very short read and I highly recommend it -- a piece from the Washington Post about one connection forged by the random destruction of the Alabama tornado.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Thor: Alien of Thunder

I don't think it's unusual to see a summer blockbuster-type of movie and be entertained and then nitpick it to hell after you leave the theater. My problem with Thor is that I thought it was just okay, at best, and then I nitpicked it until I think it's garbage. The love story plot is simply pathetic. The CGI in Asgard is just too much; it looks really fake. The major battle at the end is so weak that it makes the battle at the end of Iron Man 2 look good. Yes, there are a couple of decent parts, good comic relief, but that's overshadowed by what I thought was the unwatchable nature of almost every scene that doesn't happen on Earth.

But my biggest problem with the movie has nothing to do with the plot or look or acting (which, granted, wasn't so bad). My problem is in the way the movie kowtowed to the religious right. Odin, Thor, Loki, and company are gods. They are Norse gods. It's the mythology, no different in the comic. Shoot, the video game of the movie is even called Thor: God of Thunder. In the movie, though? Nope. The movie makes it very, very clear that they are not gods in any way, shape, or form. They are called warriors in the voiceover at the beginning, warriors who came to our world to defend us from evil. At one point, a character tells us that they are essentially aliens, beings from another realm who may have been mistaken for deities by a primitive people. I'm not kidding. The script comes just short of having a character turn to the camera and say, "Hey, please don't protest us for saying that there's more than one god!" There's a lot I didn't like about the movie, but I admit it's a necessary evil to set up for The Avengers next year. This kowtowing, however, is unforgivable to me.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


  • The Monologue:
    • It seems like three senators may have seen fake bin Laden pictures and thought they were the real thing. They also told me that Microsoft will pay me $1 for everybody to whom I forward an e-mail.
    • Gary Williams is retiring and Gus Johnson is leaving CBS. Great day to be a college basketball fan!
    • It's quite possible that Dos Equis' douchebag "Most Interesting Man in the World" is the only person who knows what Cinco de Mayo actually signifies which, therefore, makes him less interesting.
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • I do think Parks and Recreation is the best comedy on network TV, but Community broke off another epic episode tonight with its follow-up to last year's great paintball episode. The spoof of westerns, from the new theme song to Troy wearing Cleavon Little's outfit, was strong. Any Lost fan, though, has to have loved Josh Holloway's part, including his nickname that he dropped on Alison Brie at the end. And speaking of Alison Brie, she totally stole the show.
    • "Birthdays were invented by Hallmark to sell cards." How many more of these do we need before we can get a Ron Swanson Quote-a-Day calendar?
    • I couldn't be more in favor of gay marriage, but Grey's got way preachy about it tonight. Bailey's line implying God is in favor of same-sex marriage is bound to have gotten a few people riled up.
  • Random Music Video:
    • He's a moron and this is a weird-ass video, but the man is a musical genius.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #45, My Baby's Daddy

Here's a quick synopsis worthy of a review. Anthony Anderson, Eddie Griffin, and Michael Imperioli are best friends from birth who all get their girlfriends pregnant at the same time. They all have to deal with life issues while learning about being fathers. The babies actually are not consistent players in the movie, just coming in here and there for comic relief. Plus, they're like a year old for almost the entire movie, other than a quick poop and pee joke early on. The plot makes no sense and the idea of having Eddie Griffin play a nerd makes even less sense. It's just stupid and disorganized.

So, to give you a sense of how coherent this movie is, here is a quick synopsis worthy of the movie.

Three guys are friends, but babies poop and pee in their faces and one girl is obnoxious to them. Birthing class and Asian stereotypes galore, plus white rappers talk like black people until they go to the Apollo and get in trouble. Babies crawl and slide down laundry chute and then crawl out the door to sit on couch and hang out. Marriage proposals, hey, isn't that Naomi from Lost, baby mama is a lesbian, jogging suits and baby carriers. Laughter to signify friendship.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Spent a lot of time today just reading people's thoughts on blogs, seeing how my own thoughts fit in. I think this news is a big deal, like really big. The Fix tweeted last night asking how many stories in the past decade have been bigger this one. I agree with him on 9/11, Katrina, and the 2008 election, but other than that? May not be a bigger one. I feel weird celebrating someone's death, but it doesn't feel wrong in this case.

Along those lines, there have been some quotations that have been very popular today. I'll print them both below -- you may have seen them in countless tweets and Facebook statuses -- along with a third that has something in common with the first two. You see, none of them are actually real.

“I’ve never wished a man dead. But, I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.” – Mark Twain

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." -- Abraham Lincoln

I've Been Here For Years

I was going to write a bad movie review, but you'll have to wait until tomorrow. As I was getting ready to write it, the news of a press conference broke out, followed by a great Twitter night. Tweet of the night was from Patton Oswalt: "No matter how collected Obama is during his speech, he's hearing LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out" blasting in his head."