Oh, the Humanity!

Rotten Tomatoes just unveiled a “Worst of the Worst” list, counting down the 100 most poorly reviewed movies of the decade (and thus the new century).  If you enjoy your contemporary Hollywood filmmaking best when it’s in full-on Hindenburg mode, then your Netflix queue just got some good news on the collapsing gasbag front.  Let’s get to it, shall we, with a few highlights.   

#99: Glitter (2001) It seems impossible that there are actually 98 movies with worse reviews than Glitter, a movie so spectacularly bad that it allegedly drove Mariah Carey insane.  Surprising as well in that it’s no worse than Coyote Ugly (2000), which didn’t make the list despite also encouraging tweener girls to dream of making it big in pop-world, except in that case by reconciling the virgin/whore dynamic of sensitive singer-songwriter by day and drunk-wrangling dominatrix by night.  Kind of like Angel (1984) but with no sense of irony. 

#91: Surviving Christmas (2004):  There are 3 Christmas comedies in the top 100 “worst of the worst,” demonstrating that the market can only bear a limited number of comically stressed men falling off the roof as they attempt to string up X-mass lights.     

#89 Basic Instinct 2 (2006):  The best thing about this film is the one-sheet, which features a woman about to uncross her legs and flash her vagina for a millisecond or two.  This proved to be a very popular reveal in the original, and so the producers are making an explicit vow here to repeat this thrill from 14 years earlier--even though young Hollywood’s penchant for flashing the “power muff” has made such fleeting exhibitionism somewhat irrelevant.  Weirdly, this scene became notorious in the first film because people thought they were accidentally seeing something they shouldn’t see, like the "ghost" in Three Men and a Baby, when of course they were meant to see it--and so now the sequel promises you will see what you thought you shouldn’t have seen in the first place, which should make seeing it again wholly uninteresting—but I can’t say for sure as I haven’t seen it--the second one, not the first, which I did see, albeit briefly.

#88: Kaena: The Prophecy (2004):  This film looked at first like it might rocket to the top of the rental queue as an opportunity to repeat the epic hokum of Roland Emmerich’s prehistoric prison-riot/man vs. saber tooth cat film from last year, 10,000 BC—but it turns out Kaena is animated.  So who has time for that?  As Raquel Welch taught us years ago with her mammoth-fur bikini and stone-age depilatory regime, stone-age crap is only interesting if it's live action stone-age crap. 

#79:  The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002) It is safe to say now that Pluto Nash qualifies as canonically bad, in the pantheon of legendary awfulness—all the more sweet in that it cost a ton of money and relegated Murphy once and for all to wearing fat suits and/or talking to hamsters. 

#74:  Envy (2004):  Saw this on cable one night—Jack Black and Ben Stiller as best buds who have a falling out when Black gets rich on a spray that makes dog crap vaporize.   It wasn’t great, but still has to be better than anything with Dane Cook in it.  It also is hard to believe on the scatological comedy front that Envy got a worse reception than Mr. Woodcock. 

#73:  Gigli (2003):  Really expected this to be in the top 10.  Any film promoted as the indexical record of two celebrities falling in love is ripe for populist revolt, so good job America.
#67: The Hottie and Nottie (2008):  Paris Hilton promoted this bomb by saying the movie was on the side of the “nottie” and not the “hottie”—as if that were some astounding reversal of generic logic.  But it does suggest a more interesting project for Hilton, perhaps with Todd Solondz at the helm: hottie abuses nottie for 18 years as they grow up together in rust-belt town.  Hottie moves to Hollywood and becomes a big celebrity.  Nottie moves to Toledo and gets addicted to Percocet and Access Hollywood.  (Kudos, in this regard, to Eddie Murphy’s Norbit, which does have the courage to portray the thin sexy girl as the heroine and the morbidly obese nag as the villain).   

#64: Corky Romano (2001):  The last I saw Chris Kattan he was making a supposedly spontaneous cameo on Sunset Tan.  I guess he was there to get a tan—perhaps in anticipation of taking a meeting about bringing his feral apple-eating character to the big screen.  

#48: Bloodrayne (2006) Apparently director Uwe Boll got in trouble with this film for hiring prostitutes at 150 Euros each to appear in a scene with Meatloaf (seen above in full loaf mode).  But what exactly is the outrage here?  Is it taking working girls away from their careers in legitimate prostitution? Is appearing with Meatloaf more degrading than turning tricks in a back alley in Bucharest?  Is 150 Euros a bad wage to have Uwe Boll tell you to amp up the libertine decadence for the day?  I want to be outraged here, but I don’t really see a downside, except perhaps for the aspiring extras who would have had sex with Bloodrayne’s crew for free in order to get their collective feet in the industry’s door.      

#43: House of the Dead (2003):  Uwe Boll again in one of four, count ‘em four appearances in the worst 100.  Clearly a director to continue watching for future celluloid atrocities.  Anyone seen 1968 Tunnel Rats? 

#30: Fear Dot Com (2002):  Stories of radio and/or television killing you were big in the last century, especially when people still didn’t really understand how voices or images got into those little boxes from so far way.  There have been many attempts to turn new media technologies into terrifying monsters, but so far none of them have really worked very well.  The Ring is still arguably the best and it’s about nothing more complicated than a telephone and videotape. 

#27: Battlefield Earth (2000):  The absence of any talent in this project allowed us all, by the grace of Xenu, to escape a mass conversion to Scientology.   The ball is now in Tom Cruise’s court to find the proper vehicle for bringing Hubbard’s anti-Freudian Freudianism to the masses.  Yeah, that’s the reactive mind speaking, but so what? If being “clear” is so great, how does it still allow someone to appear in Valkyrie? 

#22: Disaster Movie (2008)/#21: Epic Movie (2007):  Seems a bit unfair to categorize these two as “movies.”  Granted, they might be two of the worst mall babysitting strategies of all time, right next to leaving your kids with the mumbling cutter by the men’s room or letting them run around Crate and Barrel after eating a brace of Pixie Stix—but to call them movies is a bit of a stretch. 

#10: Witless Protection (2008): With Jim Varney gone, Larry the Cable Guy had the chance to corner the redneck comedy market—but so far he has done nothing that even comes close to the elegant cornponery of Ernest Scared Stupid.  Plus Varney launched his career doing milk commercials, which is much more impressive than simply moving horizontally from stand-up comedy to vaguely narrativized stand-up comedy—both of which are destined to sop up the same overnight hours on Comedy Central anyway.

#1: Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002):  If this movie does in fact exist, which I doubt, it looks to be amazing. Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu…explosions….nanobot assassins.  Keeping my fingers crossed for a speedy arrival in the mailbox, assuming this honor as the absolute "worst of the worst" doesn’t make the one forelorn copy floating through the Netflix universe into a rare and precious artifact.  

See you next decade!

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