Want to know a dirty little secret?
Contrary to what you've heard recently, critics hate writing bad reviews.
No, they're not fun to write; they're exhausting. No, they're not less work than a good review; they're more difficult. And when you love movies -- which you better, as a critic -- you don't sit down in the dark before a film and think, "Boy, I hope the next two hours of my life will be wasted." But every movie is not, in fact, good -- and these were the high marks among the low points in 2007, from one critic's highly subjective perspective.
1. The Heartbreak Kid
Racist, sexist, misogynist -- and, even worse, not funny. The Farrelly Brothers proved their "King Midas in reverse" touch by turning a classic piece of comedy gold into a lump of trash. The only possible bright side comes in the fact that the Farrelly's status as box-office kings has now been tarnished, hopefully hastening their slide to straight-to-video film making.
2. Charlie Wilson's War
A brilliant demonstration of how Hollywood can take a true story of history and politics and remove all the truth, history and politics from it. Charlie Wilson's War turns the illegal covert funding of fanatics -- fanatics we're still dealing with -- into a wacky escapade with no consequences whatsoever. I can't wait for the invasion-of-Iraq comedies!
Tedious and interminable, pretentious and idiotic, Bruno Dumont's dim, grim saga of the uncontemplated lives of the residents in a small town in France is what people mean when they say "I hate foreign films." They really don't -- they just hate sloppy, self-righteous bores like this.
This! Is! Tedium! With an endless parade of execution sequences -- not fights -- 300 managed to be frantic and immobile. I blame Frank Miller -- a over-hyped, myopic 'visionary' whose work is too one-dimensional even for comics.
5. Into the Wild
Sean Penn's adaptation of the best-selling book tried to turn a suicide note into a declaration of victory. Not only is the film shot like the world's most self-important Mountain Dew commercial, but any sympathy you might have for the real Christopher McCandless is undercut by your dislike for the shallow, smug walking symbol he becomes in Penn's script.
6. In the Valley of Elah
Lazy, simplistic and driven by a series of phony coincidences, In the Valley of Elah again demonstrates that there's nothing Hollywood does better than ruin a compelling true story with cliché execution.
Less than meets the eye. No, I don't expect a film called Transformers to be high art, but I can ask it to be competently-crafted entertainment -- and Michael Bay's decision to go with the tiresome, insipid, dull screenplay by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman dashed those hopes.
8. Spider-Man III
Another great example of what happens when shaping the marketing plan becomes more important than writing the movie. I love Spider-Man II unabashedly, but this over-stuffed, lazy mess actually made me doubt Sam Raimi's passion and judgment for the first time in 26 years.
9. Because I Said So
Shrill and miserable and achingly predictable, Because I Said So represents an interesting philosophical question: When the bad comedies being made for female ticket buyers are just as empty and shabby and stupid as the bad comedies being made for male ticket buyers, is that some kind of perverse equality?
10. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
Racist, sexist and homophobic -- and, even worse, not funny. And if I'm repeating myself, hey -- so's Hollywood.
"Why would you make a documentary about these people?" : Crazy Love
"Do-Do-Do-Don't Believe the Hype" Award for fair-to-good but wildly over-praised films: Juno, Atonement
Less Stupid and Sexist, but Still Bad: Good Luck Chuck
Creepy Stalking is Not Funny: License to Wed
Fantastic Failure: Southland Tales
Thank God That's Over With: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
"Who Greenlit This?": Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters
Most Pious Pile of Junk: Evan Almighty