Just as there are ten reasons every year why I have fallen in love with the movies all over again, there are – alas – ten other reasons while I feel the need for a swift and resolute divorce from the medium altogether.

 

2006 was certainly no exception.

 

Perhaps it is for that reason that allows me to have such an unyielding level of enjoyment making these lists.  I also consider them cautionary ones…for you – the reader.  It gives me no pleasure whatsoever to revisit films that robbed me of precious hours of daylight that I will never, ever get back.  Yet, I do get a sense of personal fulfillment in looking back at them here in my WORST FILMS of 2006 as a way of providing an emotional catharsis.  Making these lists gives me closure, not to mention that it allows for me to have a bully-like sense of empowerment.  I have the ability to continue to take shots at worthless little prey that deserves to be subjugated.  Metaphorically speaking, not only do I like kicking these films while they’re down, I also would not hold it against myself to spit upon their face.

 

Okay…back to reality.

 

2006 was a somewhat decent year at the movies.  However, for those readers out there that have accused me of “going soft” or "easy" with my reviews, I will be quick to point out that my average star rating for 2006 was 2.7, which means that – on the whole – 2006 was a somewhat mediocre year for me at the cineplexes.  Yes, I gave more glowing reviews to films – that rightfully deserved praise – in 2006 than I did in 2005, but the past year also saw me tear apart more horrendous films as well. 

 

As with previous list of the most monumentally worthless films of the year, my picks here reflect that witless comedies, redundant and needless remakes, wretchedly conceived fantasies and sci-fi films, and sequels dominate it.  Obviously, these genre films are what many of the suits in Hollywood desire:  Cheap, unintelligible, and easily digestible entertainment for the masses.  If anything, these films here are not palpable in the slightest. 

 

One last thing:  I feel no need at all to rank these films beyond my pick for the worst of the year.  Honestly...beyond the single most egregious one of 2006, I hate all of the other nine films all the same.

 

Okay, let's get this over with!  Here are my:

 

 
 

First on the list is 2006's most nauseatingly awful film, followed by nine other worthy candidates in random order:

 
 

 
     
 

BASIC INSTINCT 2

 
 

BASIC INSTINCT 2 is not a decent sequel to the modestly enjoyable 1992 original film.  It’s not an intriguing or exciting thriller.  It’s not a laughably entertaining or stimulating exploitation film.  Hell, it’s not even good soft-core.   Only people with an unyielding “risk addiction” will approach this film with a ten foot pole.  Sharon Stone returns as the nymphomaniac vixen with a heart for all things tawdry and hedonistic, and at least with her second go-around here she plays the part for the intentional camp value that it requires.  The really off-putting aspect of this film (amazingly, which was helmed by Michael Canton-Jones, who thrilled me with his masterful ROB ROY over a decade ago), is that the rest of the cast populate the film with a stoic seriousness.  The first BASIC INSTINCT film had a reckless – almost infectious – sense of wanton, over-the-top excess.  This film lurches by with a stunningly slow pace, a plot that takes itself way, way too seriously and a surprise payoff that should be readily identifiable to anyone with a brain in their heads.  Worst of all – there is an appalling lack of actual sex in the film, which should have been supplied in liberal dosages as to not induce the audience into a slumber.  Rule # 1 of kinky sex thrillersHave lots of sex scenes in them.  BASIC INSTINCT 2 is – no pun intended – utterly limp, flaccid, and dead on arrival.

 
 

THE BENCHWARMERS

 
 

THE BENCHWARMERS is a comedy void of laughs.  This film is – not surprisingly – straight from the lethargically unfunny filmmaking vaults of HAPPY MADISON, the production company of Adam Sandler.  “Happy” comes from HAPPY GILMORE, an early, wretched golf comedy starring Sandler.  “Madison” comes from Sandler’s first major comedy, BILLY MADISON, a film that was even more excruciatingly and annoyingly putrid.  THE BENCHWARMERS carries on its production company’s name with pride, continuing on its legacy of witless, juvenile, and insipid comedies that only 8-year-olds would chuckle at.  I guess that if you love jokes about passing gas, chronic saliva spewing, homosexual nymphomaniacs, children with speech impediments, drunk Puerto Ricans, eating snot, boys accosting other boys with animal excrement…then this your film.  For all others with a pulse and sense of decency…flee fast.

 
 

ULTRAVIOLET

 
 

ULTRAVIOLET is ultra-unbearable, mostly because it fostered in me feelings of unparalleled low self-worth and apathy that I never thought were possible.  Disposable entertainment has rarely been as disposable as this film where its main star – Mila Jovovich – once again jumps, kicks, summersaults, and machine-guns her way through unheard of numbers of faceless villains.  It tries to be a tough-as-nails and hyper-stylized martial arts, sci-fi epic ala THE MATRIX, but it only goes to prove that with a appalling script, wooden performances, and special effects that seem to be done on a level of begging viewers to cry for a refund, then you too can have a worst film of the year recipient.  It’s one thing when bad films at least go out of their way to acknowledge that they are worthless, but it’s a whole other can of beans when films like ULTRAVIOLET fail to be self-aware.  The film essentially plays like one of those third-rate X-BOX 360 games that never made it past the development stage.

 
 

THE MARINE

 
 

Unless you are Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and have a decent level of charisma and/or talent, no professional wrestler should ever – and I mean eeeeevvver – make a seque into feature films.  THE MARINE continues to proudly hold on to the disreputable legacy of studios thinking that we want to see our favourite wrestling entertainers parade around in even less intellectually stimulating fare.  John Cena’s performance in THE MARINE holds little hope for his future career in the movies, and the rest of the film surrounding him is just as mediocre and routine.  Like BASIC INSTINCT 2 – with its offensive lack of hard-core nudity and sexual debauchery – THE MARINE wants to be in the mould of one of those obsessive and gratuitously violent 1980’s action pictures and instead goes for PG-13 mayhem.  Huh?  PG-13?  As a result, the film is not even fun or enjoyable as an excessive and unapologetic descent into blood and carnage.  Not only that, but Robert Patrick – a decent actor – is shamefully terrible in his performance where he mugs the camera and is forced to utter throw away reference lines to his famous role in TERMINATOR. 

 
 

ERAGON

 

 

ERAGON is based on a book written by a 19-year-old, home-schooled kid.  It sure feels like it was penned by a younger child that watched far too much of George Lucas’ first STAR WARS film.  ERAGON is not shamefully awful, nor is it abusively lacking in good taste.   No, my main reason for its inclusion on my list of 2006's most negligible entertainments is primarily because it commits one great cinematic sin: It’s derivative to the point of being plagiaristic.  ERAGON feels like the unwanted love child of the first STAR WARS and LORD OF THE RINGS film and it’s startling similarity in terms of characters and story to 1977’s A NEW HOPE is staggering.  Granted,  Lucas himself appropriated bits and pieces from myths, legends, and past classic films to create his fantasy, but at least he fused all of the differing elements together to create a new cinematic mythology.  Lucas’ films paid heartfelt homage to the movies; ERAGON dishonors them by blatantly copying one film in particular.  When a fantasy like this spends nearly its entire running time repeating ideas, regurgitating themes and personas, and attempts to thrill and inspire audiences in the ways that other better, classic films have already done, then what is the point?  Beat's me.

 

 

LADY IN THE WATER

 
 

When M. Night Shyamalan released his Oscar nominated THE SIXTH SENSE in 1999 and later with two memorable and thrilling follow-ups – UNBREAKABLE and SIGNS (one of the best films of 2002) – I was absolutely sure that he was becoming the best young filmmaking talent to emerge since Steven Spielberg.  I now regret those initial hopes and thoughts.  Remarkably, Shyamalan’s hopelessly implausible THE VILLAGE made my list for one of 2004’s worst films and his follow-up to that film –the ridiculously self-absorbed “fairy tale- bedtime story”, LADY IN WATER – now makes an appearance here.  Shyamalan had established himself as such a daring, bold, and creative cinematic visionary, but now films like LADY IN THE WATER leaves a lot of people with stupefied looks on their faces.  The film’s script is bewildering and puzzlingly, characters engage in expositional diatribes that go on forever, and its inane story of Blue Worlds, narfs, scrunts, and tartutics is pure, juvenile drivel.  C’mon, Night, but where’s the magic, mysticism, and – most crucially – wit and intelligence here?  LADY IN THE WATER is a shameful and silly exercise in wrong headed filmmaking where its director is not to defeat his own creative folly.

 
 

THE LAKE HOUSE

 
 

Whoa!  The quintessentially stoic and wooden Keanu Reeves and his SPEED co-star star, Sandra Bullock, in a romance film that involves two people falling for one another while living in different times?  I would have loved to see this film be pitched in the developmental stage.  Actually, the cataclysmic problem with THE LAKE HOUSE is not really with its time traveling story, which involves the two stars communicating with one another through a magical, teleporting mailbox.  The film is not a failure in terms of the lead actors, who are able to generate some likable and decent chemistry despite the temporal nature of their love.  No, the most odious error the film makes is by telegraphing a would-be shocking plot twist and another big reveal with such a stunning predictability.  Also, the character played by Sandra Bullock is a complete fool who only facilitates and strengthens "The Idiot Plot Syndrome" that the film suffers from (you know, any film where the actions of one or more of the characters are explainable only because they are complete and absolute morons, or idiots.)  There is one moment in the film where it allows for everything that preceded it to come crashing down.  Because of its complete disregard for common logic (and I am not referring to the time travel elements), THE LAKE HOUSE commits a shameful act of making its viewers feel dumb.  When a film’s plot twist at the end is earth shattering in its inconsistency, then the film as a whole simply does not work under modest scrutiny.  I really like Reeves (I have always been a Keanu-Apologist) and Bullock, but they’re in a dog here. 

 
 

THE SENTINEL

 
 

THE SENTINEL is a thriller that has to leap over huge chasms of logic and – let’s face it – it simply is unable to.  The film is not rousing, not exciting, and definitely not thrilling.  Think of this film as an intellectually retarded FUGITIVE crossed inexplicably with IN THE LINE OF FIRE that has personas you really never give a damn about.   The main character – played by the usually dependable Michael Douglas – is an elder Secret Service man that is one the run from authorities when they think he is in on a conspiracy to kill the President.  Perhaps beyond the absurdity of seeing a old man easily escaping capture the way he does is the fact that Douglas’ character is fairly amoral in the film, which does not allow us to really care about whether he escapes or not.  His role is a patriotic one, but when it is established that he essentially bag-stabs the President in ways I will not mention here, then why give a damn about his capture anyway?  Not one single minute of THE SENTINEL is compelling or intense, and if one follows the "Law of Economy of Characters", then it is easy to see the outcome from a mile away.   In terms of doing a spectacular job of balancing disbelief with triteness, THE SENTINEL is a real standout.

 
 

THE FOUNTAIN

 
 

If someone were to tell me – a year or two ago – that two films directed by M. Night Shyamalan and Darren Aronofsky respectively would be on my WORST OF THE YEAR list, I would have mocked them mercilessly.  Who’s laughing now?  THE FOUNTAIN is, truth be told, too visually opulent and magnificent – not to mention fearsomely ambitious – to be simply labeled as an absolute failure.  Yet, the film left a real sour taste in my mouth.  It’s one of the more bizarre and polarizing experiences that I have had in a cinema.   The film is fiercely ambitious and has visuals that create an ethereal and haunting beauty.  Its multiple story threads wants to be profound and thought-provoking sci-fi like Kubrick’s 2001.  Instead, the film is the very epitome of esoteric and idiosyncratic filmmaking where its director lets his film spiral dangerously out of control with non-sensical stories that are awkwardly cobbled together and fail to enthrall in part or together as a whole.  Obviously, the film deals with interesting themes – how the quest for eternal life becomes obsessive for three couples in three time periods – but all of the threads lack any discernable level of coherence.  Instead, we get series of weighty, metaphysical melodramas told with the mind-numbing solemnity of a funeral wake.   THE FOUNTAIN was a long time in the coming for Aronofsky fans yearning for his next great film (it was his first film since the critically lauded REQUIEM FOR A DREAM from 2001).  I guess we all will still be waiting longer.

 
 

THE PINK PANTHER

 
 

Oy vey.  Yet another completely unnecessary remake.  If the Academy were to give out a Lifetime Achievement Award for “Most Completely Pointless and Redundant Remake of All-Time”, then surely THE PINK PANTHER would take it hands down.  Now, I have always appreciated Steve Martin.  He has been in some of the funniest films of all-time (I rank his performance in ALL OF ME to be one of the most hilarious, slap sick ones ever), not to mention that he is also a gifted screenwriter.  Yet, what demonic, Hollywood entity convinced him to remake a film that starred the immortal and irreplaceable Peter Sellers is beyond me.  Sellers was a genius and his portrayal of the monumentally dimwitted Inspector Clouseau is one of the most iconic of the silver screen.  I have no idea what Martin – a proven comic talent in his own right – thought he was doing in thinking he could catch lightning in a bottle twice.  PINK PANTHER dishonors one of our greatest past comic masterminds more that it pays homage to him.

 
     

 

Okay, the TEN WORST is complete...but I'm not done yet!  Here's a few more films that were not altogether bad enough to make the TEN WORST, but were disagreeable all the same.  Consider these:

 
 

CrAiGeR's NEGLIGIBLE FILMS OF 2006

 
 

FAILURE TO LAUNCH: A real failure of a romantic comedy in the sense that it wants us to root for a 35-year-old, rich loser that still lives at home and a woman whose job it is to make men fall in love with her so they will move out of their parent's house...after which she dumps their asses.  Why should we care about a heel and a whore falling in love?

 

ALL THE KING'S MEN: Multiple Oscar winning actors - as well as an award winning screenwriter - were not enough to make ALL THE KING'S MEN elevate itself beyond the level of dull and excruciatingly pompous pandering to the audience.  A cure for insomniacs and a real waste of all talent involved.

 

AMERICAN DREAMZ: The makers of one of the best films of 2002 - the delightful ABOUT A BOY - make a would-be uproarious black comedy that fails to have any of the key ingredients of the best satires: Scolding and dark laughs and a willingness to avoid political correctness.  As far as nail-biting satires go, this one does not scream...it barely whimpers.

 

BOBBY: Horrendously hokey and cliché-ridden melodrama about the doomed day of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination.  It wanted to be in the vein of Robert Altman; it was more attune with bad 1970's disaster films.

 

DAVE CHAPELLE'S BLOCK PARTY: Dave Chapelle is one funny man, but the cardinal blunder that this film makes is that it never delves into his thought-processes, nor does it investigate the nature of his comedy.  Instead, we get a lot of aimless and meandering vignettes and a whole lot of hip-hop concert footage.  Dat's whack!

 

FREEDOMLAND: Samuel L. Jackson and Julianne Moore star in this thriller that tries to have its finger on a pulse of provocative material but instead becomes a lifeless and inert thriller without a decent, satisfying payoff.

 

POSEIDON: Someone should have taken all prints of this remake of the 70's disaster flick out to sea and thrown them to the bottom of the ocean, because Wolfgang Peterson's film is a waterlogged mess of witless stock characters and routine action.  Hey...kind of like the original! 

 

THE PROTECTOR: If you want to see Tony Jaa break human limbs in every discernable manner possible, then rush out to see THE PROTECTOR.  If you want a charismatic protagonist with personality involved in a story that's not plain hooey...then keep looking. 

 

UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION: Kate Beckinsale continues her quest as the most miscast Vampire and unconvincing action heroine in modern movie history in this needless, bloodsucking sequel.

 

ANNAPOLIS: James Franco stars in a film that desperately wants to be this generation's AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMEN, but it instead becomes more of a navel-ISHTAR.

 

BEERFEST: Those madcap pranksters and crude mouthed members of Broken Lizard are back, but they still have not been able to make a film that fondly hearkens back to the hilarity they created in 2001's SUPER TROOPERS.

 

THE BLACK DAHLIA: Brian DePalma is truly one of the most stylish and evocative filmmakers of the last quarter century, but his BLACK DAHLIA is all substance without and decent story.

 

THE DA VINCI CODE: What!!??  Jesus actually lived, married, and had offspring and their future generations continue to the present day?  No, I am not spoiling anything for you that the advertising for this so-called "controversial" thriller did not already.  Far too preposterous and tedious to be taken too seriously.

 

MAN OF THE YEAR: Robin Williams is decent in this terribly uneven Barry Levinson film.  It's main problem is that it is a would-be acerbic political black comedy that suffers from cinematic personality disorder.

 

MARIE ANTOINETTE: Sophia Coppola - who has emerged as one of the best young filmmakers of her generation - seems a bit lost in the pomp and circumstance of her flashy, trendy, and pop-tune-laced biopic of the famous French monarch.  Her film seems to say to all of us, "Let them eat cake," without given us a really hearty, full-course full beforehand.

 

RV: Another Robin Williams turd where he leads his family on the "holiday road", while getting covered in septic tank doo-doo.  Was Chevy Chase not available?

 

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: Criminal misappropriation of proven comic talent headlines this witless, bloated, and childish visual effects fantasy/comedy.

 
     
  And finally, here's a dishonorable mention list of films that I felt were more disappointing than terrible.  Consider these:  
 

CrAiGeR's MISSED OPPORTUNITIES of 2006:

 
 

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA: Meryl Streep's deliciously volatile and unapologetically fierce performance as a magazine editor from h-e-double-hockey sticks is wasted somewhat in the film's formulaic and rigidly routine story. 

 

CLICK: Despite some well played dramatic beats in the third act, Adam Sandler is up to his old tricks as he tries to make his IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, but with bathroom humor jokes involving farting into David Haselhoff's face.  How dare he treat Germany biggest pop star like that!!!

 

FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS: Clint Eastwood is one of our most fiercely disciplined filmmakers, which is why his noble minded war film is surprisingly disjointed and narratively messy.  Eastwood's film is not negligible, only misguided.

 

THE GOOD GERMAN: Steven Soderbergh's lavish and meticulous crafted homage to 1940's war films and film noirs is absolutely gorgeous to look at, but its story and characters are at the mercy of its artifice.

 

LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN: A not-so-subtle Tarantinoian (is that a word?) thriller with some snappy dialogue and colorful personas, but a third act reveal that never surprises or pays off.  Oh...and it has a horrible title.

 

SCHOOL FOR SCOUNDRELS: Billy Bob Thronton and Jon "NAPOLEON DYNAMITE" Heder have fun with their roles in this revenge comedy, but it's main problem is that it lacks bite and dark laughs.

 

TRISTAN AND ISOLDE: Director Kevin Reynolds creates a dark and grungy mood to this classic period romance, but the two lead actors fail to create palpable chemistry.  James Franco is also a sullen, sulky bore.

 

WORLD TRADE CENTER: Like FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, this 9/11 drama has its heart in the right place, but under the guidance of Oliver Stone, it never hits a strong nerve the way the brilliant UNITED 93 did.

 

YOU, ME AND DUPREE: Even the comic wit and energy of Owen Wilson can't totally save this somewhat lackluster romantic comedy.

 

PAN'S LABYRINTH: A lush, bold, and hauntingly beautiful vision by Guillermo del Toro that was a bit too dark, sinister, and gratuitously violent for its own good.

 
 

 

 

 
     
 

  H O M E