Tuesday, January 3, 2012

review | The Scorniest Movies of 2011

TAYLOR MADE | Is it just Jasper, or was 2011 kind of a humdrum year for movies? A big chunk of the critical-yowza/awards-bait stuff left me feeling anywhere from slightly chilly (The Artist, Hugo, Martha Marcy May Marlene) to bitterly frigid (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Tree of Fucking Life). Titles I desperately wanted to love (Attack the Block, Beginners, Midnight in Paris, Super 8) I mostly just liked. And perhaps most damning of all: If I had seen the trailer for Jack and Jill last January, I would’ve immediately pegged it for one of the year’s very very very worst... and yet here I am, counting the crummiest movies of 2011, and it’s totally off my radar. Yikes. For my (woefully misspent) money, the baddest blips of the past 12 months encompass aliens, vampires, celebrity revelry, and Taylor Lautner — clearly popScorn’s Man of the Year — times two. —Jasper

5. Battle Los Angeles
Anonymous alien invaders obliterate the California coast. (Actually, very little of this film takes place in Los Angeles, but I guess Battle Santa Monica doesn’t sound dire enough.) A ragtag team of Marines attempts to fight back. No one, nowhere, nothing is safe… except for agonizing war-movie clich├ęs old (Aaron Eckhart’s months-from-retirement commanding officer) and new (the chaotic visual nonsense [or “Bayfication,” if you will] of the combat sequences). Drab, dull and not even momentarily rousing, Battle Los Angeles commits the most unforgivable sin an apocalyptic sci-fi thriller can: It makes the end of the world something to sleep through.

Click here for the movie review.

4. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1
Four down, one to go. In the first chunk of the final installment of the Twilight “saga,” vapid tween-lit power couple Edward (Robert Pattinson), a sparkly vampire, and Bella (Kristen Stewart), a moony doormat, defy the dire objections of glowering wolfboy Jacob (Taylor Lautner) by getting married and having a baby. It’s basically a 118-minute movie centered around a pair of developments barely interesting enough to be Facebook status updates. As a supernatural YA romance mired in churchy metaphors, Twilight is laughably earnest and easy to shrug off. But what’s especially gross about this particular chapter is the honeymoon stuff, wherein virginal Bella discovers that abusive sex really puts the bacon bits on her potato boat. Yuck.

Click here for part one of the Scorncast.
Click here for part two of the Scorncast.
Click here for the trailer review.

3. New Year’s Eve
Garry Marshall’s bullshit holiday dramedy — from the same studio bootyhole that crapped out last year’s Valentine’s Day — assembles a solid assortment of stars (including Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Halle Berry), then haphazardly strands them in gloppy sentiment, labored farce, and meaningless story revelations. It plays like an extended Very Special Episode of some horrifically bad sitcom. In the only moment that doesn’t feel totally phony, Efron (as a Casanova bike messenger prone to awkward dude/bro/playa-speak) accidentally gets a piece of Times Square confetti in his mouth, spits it out, and carries on with the scene. That tiny bit of foil gives the realest performance in the film.

Click here for the Scorncast.
Click here for the trailer review.

2. I Am Number Four
Doomed right from the start, I Am Number Four is based on a book co-written by noted asshat James Frey — using the hilariously hipster/goth pseudonym “Pittacus Lore” — and released by Frey’s new Manhattan publishing firm, a pseudo-sweatshop that essentially rounds up promising young writers and pays them very little money to anonymously dream up the next teen sensation. This succintly explains why Number Four is essentially Twilight with a hunky alien instead of a dashing vampire. (You may notice a dash of preoccupation in this list.) Pretty pretty Alex Pettyfer plays the titular digit, a refugee from the planet Lorien who hides out in suburbia to escape the clutches evil intergalactic bounty hunters because whatever. He quickly falls in love with one of the cheerleaders from Glee, whispers romantic drivel like: “We don’t love like the humans. With us, it’s forever,” and survives several big sci-fi explosions. I was not happy about any of these developments.

Click here for the movie review.

1. Abduction
Here’s what I think happened: Abduction was mystically willed into existence by the thunderous squee of the tween-girl collective the very first time Taylor Lautner popped off his shirt in 2009’s The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Meanwhile, in a tiny fishing village in the imaginary land of Yemenistan, a wizened seer felt a bitter chill, and he immediately grasped for a charcoal stick and a yellowing sheet of parchament on which to transcribe the sinister prophecy that had just seized his being. “Wolf boy with hard stomach muscles soon to get lead role in action flick,” he wrote. “Good thing I die soon.” And so Abduction gestated in the cinematic ether for two years, malnourished from a perilous diet of cheese fries, Justin Bieber MP3s, Silly Bandz, and pitiful text-message grammar. It became self-aware. Paranoid. Depressed. Fixated on evading its fate as a throwaway star(?) vehicle. “YE GODS!” it wailed. “DELIVER ME FROM ETERNITY IN THE $5 WAL-MART DUMP BIN!” And lo, it suddenly disgorged into multiplexes everywhere with the juicy ruckus of a wet fart. And it was unacceptable. So so unacceptable, you guys. There’s not even an abduction in this movie. Or, long story short: FUCK YOU, SQUEE.

Click here for the Scorncast.

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