I don’t generally do a “worst of” list, as it seems to me pretty glaringly obvious that movies like THE PERFECT MAN and CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN 2 need no further kicking. I had to sit through them, but you didn’t.
Suffice it to say that it’s always best to avoid movies in which one of the following is a lead: Martin Lawrence, Hilary Duff, Eugene Levy, Queen Latifah, Jamie Kennedy, Jennifer Aniston, Winnie the Pooh, anyone named Wayans (It doesn’t matter that individually, some of these names have done decent stuff in the past – movies that STAR them nowadays all suck). To this fairly well-known list, 2005 brought another worthy addition — Tyler Perry, whose gospel/drag comedy pantos have a rabid following onstage, but I’ll be damned if I can understand why. Black audiences seem to have a soft spot for men dressing up as fat old women (see also Martin Lawrence). Anyway, the trailer for Perry’s new movie is out, and it looks exactly the same as DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN, which ranks as one of my least pleasant cinematic experiences of the year.
I do like to note the most overrated movies of the year, though. These are some.
Good Night, and Good Luck. Sometimes conservatives are right – critics will praise a movie purely because it agrees with their politics (see also The Contender). I could not bear the fucking smooth jazz that permeates this film, so it already had a strike against it. But I also don’t really see the drama. The movie never really implies that Edward R. Murrow is any danger of losing his job for criticizing McCarthy; demoted, perhaps, but not fired. And this idea that it’s oh so relevant today — look, it’s true that many major TV reporters have no balls, but do you honestly believe that if, say, Brian Williams were to criticize George W. Bush, his job would be in any danger whatsoever? The Dixie Chicks lost some airplay because of what they said, but they still made the cover of major magazines, and they still make a living singing. McCarthy made sure that lefty screenwriters COULD NEVER WORK AGAIN. Not the same thing.
Also I’m not a big David Strathairn fan.
Hustle and Flow. I’ll be the first to say the songs deserve Oscar nominations, but I really didn’t need to see a movie that’s all about the recording of those songs. Give me 8 MILE any day.
Crash. This movie bothers me more and more when I hear that people like offpat and my mom are watching it in England thinking it’s an honest representation of Los Angeles. To quote Dave White, “Were you on the fence about racism before you saw it?”
The 40-Year Old Virgin. And not just for the obvious close-to-home reasons. The more I think about it, the more I thoroughly dislike the fact that it celebrates abstinence before marriage.
Batman Begins. So close, and yet…Christopher Nolan cannot direct fight sequences, and Katie Holmes’ character is so wrong. Other than that, bravo, but those niggling things keep me from loving it.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The story’s just too familiar, and feels like it’s very consciously hitting all the beats. The kids couldn’t have gone into ONE room where nothing bad happened, just to throw us off a bit?
Kung-Fu Hustle. The kid with the runny nose, and the bit with kids pissing on another kid, are just so unpleasant that they keep me from loving the film the way I should.
High Tension (French-language, unrated version). “The twist” is a cheat that doesn’t really work unless you accept the whole movie as a lie. Other than that, it was cool.
Brokeback Mountain/Capote. Both well-made films, yet unlike a lot of reviewers, I didn’t make an emotional connection to either.
The Aristocrats. Funny as hell, yes. But as a film? The sound is worse than my car radio, and the cinematography would be shameful in a home movie, let alone a feature. Shoulda been a Comedy Central “Secret Stash” original, or maybe a Showtime special.
Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic. Don’t know quite what went wrong for me here; maybe too many reviewers spoiled the best jokes (but what can you do when you have to write 800 words about a concert film?). I like Sarah Silverman’s stuff normally, but here, most of the songs fell flat, and the comedy after a while was just repetitive to me. Yeah, yeah, nigger, chink, using racist words is so fuckin’ edgy, we get it. Move along.
Highly rated movies I haven’t seen yet: The Constant Gardener, Munich, Murderball, Cache, The Squid and the Whale.