In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday that nears, it seemed only fitting that our minds turned to those films for which we are most unexpectedly grateful, those flops and duds, those bombs and turkeys rife with unintentional humor and renewed entertainment values. Now, we've pretty much stuck with the past decade or so with our picks; anything before that has either been done right by MST3K or is probably titled Showgirls.
With that said, please enjoy this Cinematical Seven responsibly, and do feel free to contribute your own personal favorite howlers of late in the comments below...
1. Twilight (2008)
Oh, dear God, I'm kidding. J/K!
1. I Know Who Killed Me (2007)
All tabloid embarrassments aside (its release coincided with her DUI arrest and prevented her from promoting it), this supposed thriller -- in which torture victim Lindsay Lohan claims to be someone other than the girl everyone thinks she is -- might've been the biggest dent in the starlet's career to date. For us, though, this ridiculous outing involving robotic prosthetic legs, stripper doppelgangers, and an explanation offered by Art Bell of all people is almost sublime in its awkwardness -- to the point where pay cable channel Starz openly embraced the film's reputation upon its broadcast premiere (see above). Its eight Razzie "wins" were a new record, surpassing (as it were) the likes of Showgirls and Battlefield Earth. We may not know who killed your career, but this is certainly a prime suspect.
2. Dreamcatcher (2003)
Yes, Virginia, there are such things as 's--t weasels'. If there's one thing that might keep me coming back to this Stephen King adaptation over the years as it makes the cable rounds, it won't be the cross between coming-of-age drama and alien invasion thriller, with some telepathy worked into the mix, but rather the ass-bursting extraterrestrials who put a damper on the backwoods outing of Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Damian Lewis, and Timothy Olyphant. And did I mention that said creatures grow up to resemble vaginas with teeth, perhaps even more so than anything in the film Teeth? I can't vouch for the novel, but I'm pretty sure all of this and Morgan Freeman's crazy eyebrows are entertaining in a manner lost on the page.
3. Lady in the Water (2006)
I'd like to think that any film critic is giving a film some sort of shake by merely sitting down and watching it from beginning to end, and I must admit that going into the press screening of this, my colleagues and I weren't terribly aware of what we might be in for, save for the mystic intrigue of the trailers and posters to date. However, as all but one of us sat together in the back row, it soon became collectively apparent that Shyamalan's fairy tale was going to leave us more tickled than terrified, and so we watched in moderately chatty awe of the hokum that unfolded before us on the screen -- the virtual glossary of Proper Nouns, the crucial scene of having a kid stare at cereal boxes, the casting of Shyamalan himself as a writer to be killed for writing the greatest novel ever. Truth be told, I will never forget as one colleague stood up, turned around, and quite literally banged his head on the back wall of the theater. And then the snobby film critic met his end. And we laughed some more. Film critics are among some of the most self-deprecating people I know, and if anything, we were impressed by how even that sequence went awry. Trust me, we can stand to be made the patsy on film, but if you're going to do it, do it right.
4. The Happening (2008)
For maybe twenty to thirty minutes, I think that this film delivers on its creepy premise with equally skilled execution, as a mysterious epidemic causes random bouts of mass suicide along the Eastern Seaboard. But soon after a police officer's handgun is passed along like the world's worst relay baton, the suspense begins to die a steady death as the true nature of the threat becomes apparent: M. Night Shyamalan. He's made what might've been a passable radio play, but instead asking for Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel to deliver awful performances and worse dialogue (standing yards away from a presumed massacre, Zooey's character utters the immortal line "We can't just stand here as uninvolved observers!"). However, if you hold out, there are at least three guaranteed treats in store: Wahlberg talking to a rubber plant, Spencer Breslin getting exactly what he deserves in the wake of Zoom, and a creepy old lady showing excessive concern as to just who is eyein' her lemon drink.
5. The Quiet (2006)
Struggling in equal measure to be both sleazy and serious, this tawdry indie drama sees a mute and deaf Camilla Belle sent off to live with her godparents -- one stays home in a doped-up haze (Edie Falco) not unlike what's witnessed in the house's frequently overlit and underfurnished rooms, and the other (Martin Donovan) is sleeping with their daughter (Elisha Cuthbert), who may soon put a permenant end to Daddy's shenanigans. So Falco's the one who gets naked (what?), and nothing really comes as much surprise, but even by those disappointed standards, you just try turning it off if you ever come across it. (No, seriously, I'd recommend it.)
6. Basic Instinct 2 (2006)
For the longest time, this sequel no one asked for went by the subtitle "Risk Addiction." Naturally, this all but led to a drinking game as a colleague and I watched the distinctly un-sultry proceedings unfold. Basic Instinct 2 is pretty much the type of tepid adult mystery than the first film was responsible for spawning throughout the '90s, and watching Sharon Stone attempt to vamp it up as she had sixteen years before is almost enough to make one wonder if we weren't too kind on its predecessor. I must admit, though: the very first footage I'd ever seen from the film was a collection of its sex scenes posted online, sped up and set to "Yakaty Sax." Put that on over a thousand screens and you might have something.
7. A Sound of Thunder (2005)
The troubled production and post-production of this Ray Bradbury adaptation is all too apparent in its final product, as shots of characters walking on the sidewalk look shoddy, though the mutant baboons created by an unfortunate space-time rift do look just about the best they could (so, um, here's to priorities). It's an interesting premise -- going on a safari to the past from the future, and how killing just a butterfly can muck things up quite a bit -- and you can almost see the passable B-movie in there shining through, almost enough to make one want to go back in time and make sure they got a chance to do it right. Whether or not time travel could make up for Ben Kingsley's hair, however, I'll never know.
Check out Moviefone's list of the Top 25 Biggest Box-Office Turkeys Ever