Do you know whatís so ironic about making these lists of the TEN WORST FILMS of the year?

The fact that I had to painfully endure these films the first time and lose several hours of my life in the process, but afterwards I have the pleasure of making a mockery of them in my initial reviews and then - with my TEN WORST lists - I get to cathartically lash out at them once more. 

And...boy...does it ever feel satisfying.

2007 was, to be frank, a very fine year overall for movies.  I saw and gave more glowing four star reviews to films than I ever have before as a critic.  Because I seem to have been in a much more forgiving mood to 2007's crop of movies, I will found honing down a list of the TEN BEST to be a real frustrating and laborious choir.

Fortunately, I am finding no difficultly whatsoever in making my list of the ten most nauseatingly putrid films of the last twelve months.

Like the great entertainments of the year, there were also a handful of teeth-gratingly awful entries.  I gave nearly as many one star reviews to films as four-star and - as luck would have it - I even managed to see one movie that more-than-easily garnered my dreaded, finger-waving, and shameful zero star grade.  Of course, it should come of no surprise that my only zero star film made the dishonorable placing of being my worst film of 2007.  Yet, donít let that fool you: There were still a relative smorgasbord of witless, puerile, and intellectually bankrupted movies to be had.  2007, as with any other year, can be highlighted as a period of notable and stunning mediocrity.

Before I unveil my list, I will be quick to point out - as I do every year - that I feel no need at all to rank my TEN WORST films in any order after the number one worst entry.  Categorizing the remaining nine films seems redundant and too time consuming: They are all equally noteworthy for their fearsome low worth.  It is interesting, in hindsight, to look at the genres covered in my list.  Out of the ten listed, four are comedies (2007 had an embarrassing number of low-grade, would-be laugh fests), three are action films (these three are stupendously bad), one prequel (sometimes no a sure-fire idea, especially when you cast a bad actor to play a part that has been made immortal by another famous one), one kinky sex thriller (2006's worst film was one), and finally one action thriller that bends logic in incredulous ways.

Okay, enough from me.  Let this walk of shame commence. 

Here are my...

 

 
  First on the list is 2007's worst reason to enter a theatre, followed by nine other worthy candidates in random order:  
 

 
     
 

NORBIT

 
 

NORBIT, to be as specific as possible, is an utter travesty.  I have never had an easier time listing a film as a yearís lowest offering.  I am not sure what is all the more shameful and damning: That people were suckered and hoodwinked into paying money to see this monumental fiasco or that star and co-writer Eddie Murphy felt that this film was worth your time and effort to see.  I have also been quick to mention that for a film to be granted zero stars it has to accommodate two criteria: (1) It has to be an utterly failure artistically and (2) it has to contain material of a reprehensible and morally deplorable flavor.  Alas, NORBIT more than easily achieves both.  Now, there is no doubt that Rick Bakerís astoundingly realistic make up - to make Murphy look like a chronically obese woman - is Oscar caliber, but itís the character and detestably offensive performance that Murphy gives under the makeup that all by destroys Bakerís work.  The woman, Rasputia, is one of many horribly offensive stereotypes that Murphy thinks is uproarious.  He also dons makeup and plays one of the most egregiously bad Asian characters in many a moon (funny, but if a white man in black face is considered racially intolerably, than why is a black man playing up to bad racial stereotypes any less offensive?).  The fact that this film manages to make fun of the horribly overweight, Asians, and orphans to inane levels is astonishing.  Watching NORBIT is akin to time traveling back to some sort of Vaudevillian act without any morsel of respect to ethnicities.  Consistently offensive, horribly crude and putrid, NORBIT does an amazingly effective job of not having one redeeming quality.

 
 

SHOOT 'EM UP

 
 

Oh boy, if NORBIT did not exist, then I am quite sure that the lame-brained, incredibly overwrought, and headache inducing SHOOT ĎEM UP would have been the worst film of 2007.  After sitting through this film's categorical disregard to decency, I was left with my a sensation that SHOOT ĎEM UP robbed me of my soul.  Itís the kind of mindlessly dumb action spectacle that urges you to rush out of the theatre after viewing it for some clean, fresh air and sunshine.  I wrote in my initial review how much the film left a really bad taste in my mouth: I have rarely sat through action film - ever the worst kinds - and had them make me feel empty and worthless.  I have heard the term "gun porn" been used to describe the film, which is apt, I guess, but SHOOT ĎEM UP tries to hide its genuine lack of decorum in a maelstrom of blood, bullets, and gravity defying stunts.  Yes, the film does have ingenuity (it manages to make a carrot an effective murder weapon), but the terrible sin that this film commits at every turn is the way itís so rigidly self-aware, not to mention that itís essentially a two minute action trailer stretched to 86 minutes and has Oscar-nominated talent on board for the ride (if you thought the likes of Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti could never be wasted in a film, then this is my rebuttal to you).  Trust me, SHOOT ĎEM UP is 86 minutes too long.

 
 

I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY

 
 

I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY is yet another in an ever-growing list of remarkably low-rent Adam Sandler comedies that aspires - and achieves - a level of Herculean stupidity and head shaking offensiveness.  This has to be one of the most hypocritical films that I have seen since I have started writing reviews.  In case you are not aware of the filmís plot (I use that term loosely) then I will mention it to you:  Two firefighters (Sandler, never once funny here, and Kevin James, usually likeable, but not here) marry one another and fake being homosexuals.  Why?  Well it seems that one of them - after his wife died suddenly - forgot to take care of the legal red tape on his life insurance, so if he were to die then his cut little kiddies would get nothing.  So, the two act gay, get married, are able to secure decorum in their life insurance policies, and - presto - problem solved.  Yet, the filmís big problem is that itís equal parts offensive and vulgar and comically dead on arrival.  Worst of all, this is a film that desperately yearns to speak out for gay rights (a final courtroom scene at the end is as condescending of a moment as youíll find in a film this year) while churning up jokes and pratfalls that berate gays all the way through it.  Even more astonishing is that the screenplay credits the great Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor (who made SIDEWAYS, one of 2004's best films).  The only logical answer for their participation must be that Sandler and the producers forced them at gunpoint to make this comedy as worthless as possible.

 
 

HANNIBAL RISING

 
 

HANNIBAL RISING is absolutely proof-positive that Hollywood canít decipher when a concept for a film is genuinely unnecessary and needless.  Consider Hannibal Lector, one of the cinema's greatest and most evocative villains, as played in an immortal and legendary performance numerous times by Sir Anthony Hopkins.  Whatís very clear after watching not only the great Hannibal films (THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and RED DRAGON), but even the uninspired ones (HANNIBAL) is that Hopkins is utterly irreplaceable in the iconic role.  What made Lector so terrifying and deliciously evil was the way Hopkins made the persona literate, cunning, and wonderfully well-spoken. There was an implied menace and uneasy creepiness to this creature and always a haunting mystery.  The complete and utter failure of HANNIBAL RISING - a prequel to the whole Hannibal film franchise - is that it attempts to de-mystify the shadowy figure and give reasons for his future cannibalistic cravings.  What the film easily distills is that (a) audiences neither need nor want reasons or motivations for Lectorís vileness explained (that ruins the mystique of the character and (b) and seeing a Lector film without Hopkins is a misappropriation of time.  Whatís truly distasteful is that this prequel tries to humanize the monster and make him a pseudo-hero (I guess cannibalism is only "okay" if you do it to avenge you infant sisterís life, also a victim of cannibalism, and if your targets are Nazis).  Young Hannibal is played in a performance of such obnoxious mimicry by the young Gaspard Ulliel that you feel like you're often watching a spoof of HANNIBAL films, which is not the intended effect.  The screenplay does not help either, especially when it forces young Hannibal to utter the insanely funny line, "But they ate my little sister" when someone begs him to stop his murdering spree.  Yikes!  Now that line is scary.

 
 

WILD HOGS

 
 

WILD HOGS is about as entertaining and funny as smelly road kill and it is made even more unwatchable if one considers the talent that permeates it.  How can a film with the likes of John Travolta, William H. Macy, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, Marisa Tomei, and Ray Liotta go so horribly afoul?  Maybe at the pitch meetings the film felt funny:  Letís get a relative whoís who of aging Hollywood stars and put them in a road movie where they try to be middle-aged, out of their element, Harley Davidson-riding road hogs.  In a film that could have approached a level of slyness and intelligence with the material that CITY SLICKERS did years ago (both essentially contain the same story elements), WILD HOGS bogs down the material in a slew of dumb and tasteless jokes about sex-starved homosexual cops, a range of bodily fluids, and predicable and ham-invested pratfalls.  Instead of being whimsical and earnest with the material and presenting its characters with some plausible three-dimensionality, WILD HOGS feels more comfortable with jokes about perverts, mosquito dung, jugular eating crows, human pee-pee and poo-poo, and all other types of juvenile gags that will only appeal to pre-pubescent children.  Again, considering whoís involved and what it could have been, the film is depressing, sad, and a huge letdown of comic proportions.

 
 

THE BROTHERS SOLOMON

 
 

I am not really sure what the biggest failing of THE BROTHERS SOLOMON is: Could it be that it thinks itís side-splittingly funny when it never achieves more than a couple of immature giggles or that it attempts to resurrect the ever-so-dormant career of Lee "The Fall Guy" Majors.  Thankfully, Majors is given a fair amount of mercy in this sham, seeing as he has to play is bit part on a hospital bed unconscious for most of its 91 minutes.  Now, I like the performers in the film (Will Forte has been very humorous on SNL, as well as Kristen Wiig, who was remarkably droll and scheming as a TV executive in KNOCKED UP, and Will Arnet gave one of the funniest performances in recent sitcom memory on ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT), but THE BROTHERS SOLOMON is a miraculous achievement in making an audience dead silent while watching it, which is the ultimate kiss of death for a comedy.  The film could have at least inspired a level of silly empathy for its two luckless and hapless main characters, but instead of coming across as dimwits with hearts of gold they sort of come across as creepy perverts.  Filled with readily forgettable characters, a moronically conceived story, and mournfully crafted jokes and gags, THE BROTHERS SOLOMON is a waste on all levels.

 
 

WAR

 
 

WAR is an action film that is the equivalent to having a someone promise you the best sex of your life and then they walk out of the bedroom without even getting undressed.  The film was robustly marketed as a balls-to-the-wall action opus staring Jason Statham (one of the masters of being in logic defying, but humorously contrived and entertaining, action films) and Jet Li (a martial arts star that needs little embellishment).  Going into WAR one would expect a lot of martial arts mayhem and spectacle between the two.  Regrettable, the film displays its insatiable ineptitude by not having the two stars really go at it, not to mention that it contains a plot twist of hair raising implausibility and shocking inanity.  What I hated about the film is that itís a con job: It makes us think that it will be a grand and euphorically silly action vehicle for Statham and Li fans (which itís not) and that it thinks itís a lot smarter than viewers with its story (which has plot developments that, for anyone with a brain in their head, can be spotted a mile away).  By sacrificing bombastic action and merry bravado with its two leads for a snailís paced story with no intrigue, WAR is a disreputable tease.

 
 

PERFECT STRANGER

 
 

No worst list of the year would dare to be complete without a erotic and sinful sex thriller that lacks (a) hearty eroticism and joyful gratuitousness and (b) thrills and tension in its underlying murder-mystery storyline.  Whatís most disgraceful about PERFECT STRANGER is that it hopelessly tries to shock and titillate audiences at the same time.  All it does, however, is promote a seriously amount of listlessness in filmgoers.  Erotic mystery-thrillers need to be sexy and raunchy alongside being evocatively enticing and involving with its story.  This film foregoes those much-needed characteristics and instead crafts characters, motivations, and a third act plot twist that made me feel stupid.  There is a arresting amount of inherent silliness and unintended camp appeal to PERFECT STRANGER, and Halle Berry gives her least credible and overly emotive performance in a long time (she has no real clue the type of role she is playing here) and Bruce Willis plays his part with the subtlety of a circus geek.  PERFECT STRANGER is the embodiment of a bait Ďn switch: It promises many things, but fails to own up.

 
 

SOUTHLAND TALES  <

 
 

 

Richard Kellyís long-awaited follow-up to his masterfully inventive and innovative DONNIE DARKO is simply a disaster of epic proportions.  The film received unanimous booing when a very rough, near three hour cut of it premiered at the 2005 Cannes Film festival, which prompted Kelly to re-edit the film, trim 20 minutes from its running time, and polish up some of the effects.  Having never seen the original, universally loathed 2005 cut, I canít comment too much as to whether or not Kelly made any substantial improvements, but this ďnewĒ final cut is undeniably a travesty and waste of filmmaking resources and talent.  Self-described by Kelly as Ė get this Ė a political satire, a comedy, a science fiction action film, a post-apocalyptic alternate future film, a musical, and a probing work that yearns to get people to respond to Patriot Act, post-911 policies and how civil liberties are lost with increasingly tight homeland security.  It also has, among other things, a former action film star, an ex-porn actress, a mad German engineer, a group of female neo-Marxist terrorists, twin brothers that may or may not be twins, wormholes that lead to inter-dimensional universes, and the end of days.  One thing is clear:  SOUTHLAND TALES may have a lot it wants to say, but never once did I understand what that was.  Itís a convoluted, disorganized, and maddeningly unfocused mess that just may be the single worst follow-up effort from a great film.  For Kelly to go from DONNIE DARKO to this is startling.  < Added to list on March 18, 2008

 
 

TRANSFORMERS

 
 

Gee whiz, did I ever get tons of flack for my scathing review of TRANSFORMERS this summer from die hard fans and rapid Michael Bay apologists.  I have nothing to apologize for.  The film, based on the hugely famous and cherished 1980's toy line, is critic proof for those frenzied TRANY-worshippers, and especially for those that canít enough of the type of massive, big-budget, explosion-a-second action spectacle that Bay can competently offer time and time again.  For the agnostic TRANSFORMER appreciator, the film is yet another one of those soulless, bloated, and childishly written Bayian entertainments whose only real redeeming quality is that its as glossy, shinny, consummately filmed as an MTV music video.  The Transformers themselves are marvels of CGI creation, to be sure, and no one blows crap up as obstreperously as Bay, but the human characters are bland, lifeless, and one dimensional, the dialogue and military cover-up plot is on full, Idiot-Plot auto pilot, and the direction by Bay is done in that annoyingly fast paced and erratic styled that seems tailored for viewers with attention-deficit disorder.  In short, TRANSFORMERS is like a big sprawling toy commercial...all style and no substance...populated by staggeringly dumb characters, an ever lamer story, and an ever more speechlessly silly message: Even if extra-terrestrial giant robots come to earth, wreak havoc, fight each other and cause more damage to American cities than ten 9/11's combined, humans can still peacefully coexists with them.  Awwwww.

 
 

 

 
  Wow...that felt good.  My 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 2007

 
 

NATIONAL TREASURE - BOOK OF SECRETS: The sequel to the laughingly, head-shakingly silly and reality defying Nicolas Cage treasure hunting thriller adds even more of the same.

 

BECAUSE I SAID SO: The usually spirited and plucky Diane Keaton gives one of her most annoying performances in this horribly contrived romantic comedy.

 

THE BUCKET LIST: Not even the fiercely talented likes of Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson can save this horrendously manipulative and shameless contrived dramady about two terminally ill men looking to go out with some style.

 

EVAN ALMIGHTY: All of the film's much publicized $200 million budget and the presence of Steve Carrel could not save this blockbuster dud.

 

GOOD LUCK CHUCK:  The supremely irritating on-screen presence of Dane Cook makes the horrid laughs in GOOD LUCK CHUCK even more painful to sit through.

 

THE NUMBER 23Jim Carrey slums his way through this thriller that parades around from one befuddling plot development to the next.

 

PATHFINDER: Dreary, dark, and downright murky action/adventure that emerges as a poor man's APOCALYPTO.

 

THE ASTRONAUT FARMERA decent performance by Billy Bob Thornton can't hide this film's complete absurdity.

 

BLADES OF GLORYWill Ferrell and Jon Heder try a bit too hard to make the jokes zing in this lackluster comedy about the first men's paired figure skating duo; funny concept that never achieves high hilarity.

 

FRED CLAUS: Even the amazing riffs and spunky one-liners from the hilarious Vince Vaughn can't save this half-baked Christmas film.

 

GHOST RIDER: One of the weaker comic book adaptations as of late with clunky storytelling and wooden performances.

 

HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIXSigh.  This fifth film in the hugely popular HARRY POTTER franchise chugs away with repetitive story threads and a lack of forward momentum.

 

I'M NOT THEREMuddled and incoherently cobbled together experimental biopic by Todd Haynes about Bob Dylan; deserves points for an inventive style and its deconstruction of the genre, but ultimately the film as a whole fails to keep its divergent pieces together.

 

MR. BROOKS:  The implausibly miscast Kevin Costner plays a serial killer.  It never works the way it wants to...and Costner as a serial killer?  Huh?

 

OCEAN'S THIRTEENCompletely unnecessary third film, which follows a second film that was equally unnecessary.  It also bogs Al Pacino down with a lackluster villain role, and the great actor has rarely looked as stiff as he does here.

 

PREMONITION: This Sandra Bullock reality-bending and time traveling romantic drama concludes itself on a largely unsatisfying note.

 

REIGN OVER MEAn Adam Sandler post-9/11 drama.  Ouch.  Okay, the performances are great, but the usage of a past tragedy seems needlessly uncalled for here.

 

RUSH HOUR 3The weakest in the moderately enjoyable RUSH HOUR TRILOGY.  The action and jokes grow stale and sloppy.

 

SHOOTER: Antione Fuqua's FIRST BLOOD clone works as RAMBO-lite for the Bush generation, but it's weak when it sermonizes to audience members.

 

SMOKIN' ACESJoe Carnahan's disappointing follow-up to his great NARC; it's a violent and vulgar action film stuffed with too many characters and a over-the-top third act.

 

STARDUSTRobert De Niro is an absolute hoot as a cross dressing pirate here, but STARDUST is a fantasy that lacks imagination and spirit.

 

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET  Immersing and mesmerizing art direction and cinematography overwhelms an undeveloped story and listless musical numbers in Tim Burton's dark and macabre musical.  Too much eye candy and not enough genuine emotional content.

 

TMNTRedundant and disenchanting CGI animated film about the famous heroes in a half shell proves that these characters peaked in popularity in the 80's.

 

YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTHFrancis Ford Coppola's long overdo return to the director's chair results in a film that's a visual feast for the eyes, but an absolutely maddening experience with its dramatically impenetrable storyline and monumentally sluggish story pacing.

 
     
  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 2007

 
 

3:10 TO YUMA: A dream Western for enthusiasts, considering Christian Bale's and Russell Crowe's participation, but it overlooks its shadowy and conflicted characters and themes with its sluggish plot and a cop out ending.

 

THE BRAVE ONE Charles Bronson, DEATH WISH-inspired revenge thriller has great performances by Jodie Foster and Terrance Howard, but the story is too predictably manipulative.

 

FREEDOM WRITERS: Hilary Swank stars in this true-life, inner city high school melodrama that unfolds as routinely as any other inspirational, true life inner city high school melodrama.

 

THE GOLDEN COMPASS:  Visually breathtaking fantasy with a standout performance by newcomer Dakota-Blue Richards is marred by a story that is undeveloped and ends too abruptly.

 

GRINDHOUSE - DEATH PROOF: Second entry in the GRINDHOUSE exploitation-themed double feature is helmed by Quentin Tarantino, but its too talky and slow moving and a bit too polished when considering the film's intended effect.

 

LIVE FREE OR DIE HARDRousing and action packed fourth film in the DIE HARD QUADRILOGY, but this PG-13 film feels disingenuous to the series' R-rated roots.  The muffling of McClane's trademark line at the end was unforgivable.

 

THE MIST: Yet another film by Frank Darabont adapted from Steven King source material.  Well written characters and tense interplay is punctuated by repetitive monster mayhem.

 

NEXT: Another is a slew of Philip K. Dick adaptations, but this Nicolas Cage sci-fi vehicle does not take its crafty and ingenious premise very far.

 

SPIDER-MAN 3After the greatness of SPIDER-MAN 2 comes this third disappointing entry, which sacrifices story and character with too many villains.

 

WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY: John C. Reilly is undoubtedly hilarious in this fake musical biopic, but the film's attempts at being a farce, an AIRPLANE!-style spoof, and a satire seems to lack coherence.

 

RENDITIONA would-be intoxicating and invigorating post-9/11 thriller, but its handling of the underlining themes of human rights is cobbled together with a cookie-cutter, TV movie of the week simplicity.

 
 

 

 
 
     
 

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