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The following eleven films are not the worst films of the year. Well, a few of them are. One, at least, may be one of the best films of the year. No matter. What these eleven films do have in common is that every single one of them pissed me off in one way or another. Some looked promising and disappointed me, others turned out to be even more terrible than I'd imagined. So, in the spirit of Christmas (I should clarify: a Christmas week in which I've been sick and, as a result, in a terrible mood), here are the top eleven films of 2011 that pissed me off.
(Next week, when I'm hopefully feeling better and in a better mood, I'll write something about the movies that tickled my fancy, or whatever. But, for now, you get this. My apologies.)
11. 'Tower Heist': My 'Tower Heist' anger took the form of a slow burn. After leaving the theater, I remember thinking, That was OK. I guess? The more I thought about 'Tower Heist,' the angrier I would get. Because 'Tower Heist' should have been a good movie. The "heist" that is mentioned in the title should have made sense. But it doesn't -- at all. Confusing plot points that we assume will be explained are never explained, other than, "It worked!" What worked? How did that work?
And we should still be talking about the resurgence of Eddie Murphy, but for many reasons, we're not. And we never will. This was his time; this really was his comeback. We were all waiting for him with open arms, "Come on, Eddie, it's time. We miss you." Eddie answered back, "No thanks, I'll pass."
10. 'Sanctum': When I worked for Movieline, I wrote an entire post about how the lead character in 'Sanctum' wasn't a hero but, rather, a deranged serial killer. (If you do click through, ignore the Movieline byline. They're having issues as of this moment. I swear, I did write that.) Because over the course of this movie about a flooded underground cavern, we're told that the lead character, Frank McGuire, is an expert and certainly knows what he's doing. But then he's responsible for death after death after death, going as far as to purposely drown injured characters as some sort of mercy killing -- but he just seemed to enjoy it all too much. Perhaps I'm overreacting, but there's only so long that I'd be following Frank's leadership before speaking up. "You know, Frank, I think I'll find my own way out. Thanks."
9. 'The Tree of Life': OK, look: 'The Tree of Life' is an immensely interesting film that deserves all the praise it's getting this awards season. Having said that! The scenes with Sean Penn were infuriating. (And apparently he agrees.) First of all, there's no way that that young Jack grows up to look like Sean Penn. They look nothing alike. Honestly, I think young Jack is already about the same height as Sean Penn, which led me to concoct crazy excuses like, "Well, maybe he started smoking and it stunted his growth?" Maybe!
I could even excuse that, but the timeline just drove me bonkers. From everything that I could tell, the Sean Penn scenes took place in the present. The scenes of his younger self as a, let's say, twelve-year-old, took place in the mid-1950s. Penn was born in 1960. Anytime that I bring this up, I'm met with, "Well, it's Malick, so it doesn't matter." Well, yes, it does matter because every scene with Sean Penn took me completely out of what was otherwise a beautiful movie. (Or as Matt Patches from Hollywood.com calls it, "a poem.")
8. 'Cars 2': I knew 'Cars 2' wasn't going to be a repeat of Pixar's absolutely wonderful 'Toy Story 3' from the year before. I knew that! But I was not expecting almost two hours of Larry the Cable Guy. There really should be a warning sticker on every poster and Blu-ray for 'Cars 2' that reads, "This is a Larry the Cable Guy Movie. If you like Larry the Cable Guy, you will most likely enjoy this movie. If you don't like Larry the Cable Guy, chances are you should pass on this movie and watch anything else instead."
7. 'The Hangover Part II': Like the rest of the planet, I found the original 'Hangover' quite hilarious. It was an R-rated comedy that earned every inch of its restricted rating, and we loved it for that. Then, along came 'The Hangover Part II,' which is exactly like the original 'Hangover,' except that it's not a good movie.
This was a cash grab and that's disappointing. No effort was put into giving this sequel an original story. The thing is, the main characters from 'The Hangover' are a likable bunch. We want to spend time with them. We want to see what crazy hi-jinks these rapscallions get themselves into next. We did not want to see the same exact plot that we all saw in 2009.
6. 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows': Guns! Boy, Sherlock Holmes and company sure found themselves a new love of guns. And explosions! Yeah, when watching a Sherlock Holmes movie, the viewer certainly isn't going to want to be bogged down with any kind of silly mystery to solve. No: guns and explosions! Seriously, after the fantastic first movie, what a complete waste.
5. 'The Three Musketeers': Upon leaving the theater, I referred to 'The Three Musketeers' as "The stupidest fucking movie I've ever seen." It's not wise to make brash and quick declarations like that, because there are a lot of stupid movies out there. But, man, I really don't think I was too far off on this one. These are interesting characters! Good lord, why was there a need to have them do battle on a pirate ship with big balloon attached to it? I tried to keep movies that were obviously going to be bad off of this list because, really, what's the point? It takes a special breed of film that I know full well is going to be terrible to still somehow piss me off. So, congrats, 'The Three Musketeers!' Oh, speaking of movies that I knew would be bad...
4. 'Jack and Jill': This movie didn't piss me off for the reasons that you might think. 'Jack and Jill' is every bit as bad as I expected it to be. It did not exceed my expectations with its awfulness. What it did do was force me to take a long, hard look at Adam Sandler -- an actor whom I believe to be quite talented. And it pisses me off that he's given up. In a way, I get it. Every time Sandler has attempted to challenge himself -- 'Punch Drunk Love,' 'Reign Over Me' -- his efforts have been met with a collective shrug at the box office. So, yeah, Sandler has reached the point where he's thinking, Why bother?
When I interviewed Emily Watson, the subject turned to 'Punch Drunk Love' and her eyes lit up. This is an Academy Award nominated actress who absolutely loved working with Sandler and was impressed by his work ethic and his determination to challenge himself. Sadly, this Adam Sandler does not exist any longer.
3. 'The Sitter': On the day I was supposed to write about 'The Sitter,' I was told by my editor that I had to write about 'New Year's Eve' instead. And 'New Year's Eve is terrible, but I knew it would be terrible. And I was slightly annoyed by its length, but I certainly wasn't angry. I was angry after 'The Sitter.'
There's a scene in 'The Sitter' in which Jonah Hill's character explains to one of the kids he's babysitting, Slater, that it's OK to be gay. Fair enough! But, only minutes before, you've got a scene inside the lair of the evil villain, played by Sam Rockwell (yes, a movie about a babysitter has an evil villain), that hits pretty much every single gay stereotype that exists. So, yes, Slater, it's OK to be gay -- as long as we can make fun of you later.
2. 'Green Lantern': When I used to read comic books, Green Lantern was my second favorite DC superhero, just behind The Flash. (Also, those two were best friends!) I was never a huge 'Superfriends' fan because I thought the stories were too silly and the small number of superheroes involved was a limitation. (Aquaman? Why was he always involved?) That is, except for 'Challenge of the Superfriends,' which featured The Flash and Green Lantern. Because of this, I religiously watched 'Challenge of the Superfriends.'
So, yes, I was quite excited about a big screen adaptation. And there's a really cool Green Lantern story lurking out there, somewhere -- but, my God, this sure wasn't it. Everything is wrong with this movie: from the casting to the story to the CGI costume. Everything. I know that the whole Green Lantern Corp. storyline has a big following, but, if other than finding the power ring, that aspect was left for another story and we were allowed to actually get to know Hal Jordan ... I digress. It's a lost cause. But, as I sit here, I know that there will never be another Green Lantern movie because this one was botched so terribly, and that is infuriating.
1. 'Sucker Punch': I loath this movie with the intensity of one thousand suns. I once described it for Vanity Fair as an "amazing spectacle of bullshit." And it is. Did you see 'Sucker Punch'? I mean, the trailers were so cool! (This, folks, is why I haven't trusted a trailer since 1999, when I was fooled by 'The Phantom Menace.') It's about an abused girl who is in the process of getting a lobotomy, only to "escape" and seek revenge on those who abused her. But that's not really what happens and the ending is telegraphed long before your eyes start bleeding from the nonsense on screen. But, hey, it's empowering to women -- even though it's 100 percent the opposite of that. Also, there are giant bazooka-firing ogre-samurais and World War I–era German zombie soldiers. Sure, whatever. Thanks, Zack Snyder, looking forward to 'Man of Steel.'
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[Photo: Warner Bros.]
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