Sometimes, it's almost more fun examining the Bottom 10 than the Top 10. So here, in reverse order (best of the worst to worst of the worst, with #1 being the worst), are the least watchable films of 1997. (Actually, I've cheated -- there are 11 films here.)
10. (Tie). Red Corner: Richard Gere decided to apply his Hollywood clout to make a movie that criticizes Red China's legal system. Two problems: he used a corny, badly-written script, and he chose to appear in front of the camera. No amount of righteous indignation could disguise such an embarrassing display of hammy acting.
10. (Tie). Mr. Magoo: Based on the '60s cartoon of the same name, this movie defines the term "unfunny". Despite endless attempts at lame, physical humor, Mr. Magoo manages the difficult feat of never once being funny, intentionally or unintentionally. This isn't just one of the worst films of the year, it's one of the most boring.
9. Masterminds: Patrick Stewart must have needed the money. How else is it possible to explain his appearance in this idiotic amalgamation of Toy Soldiers and Die Hard. In fact, Stewart is the only one in this film who isn't painful to watch, but, even if he was in every scene (which he certainly isn't), it wouldn't be enough to redeem this loser.
8. Jungle 2 Jungle: Last year, Little Indian, Big City, a dumb French comedy about a "jungle boy" coming to live with his father in Paris, made the Bottom 10. Disney, apparently oblivious to how bad the movie was, quickly remade it, with a change of venue and actors (Tim Allen took over as Dad). Predictably, the result isn't much better. The film has one of those screenplays that makes you wonder whether many Hollywood writers graduated from high school.
7. The Beautician and the Beast: Fran Drescher in a big-screen romantic comedy. The voice alone makes you wonder if she was supposed to be Beauty or the Beast. This would have been the most irritating movie of the year if it hadn't been for...
6. McHale's Navy: This is arguably the worst big-screen TV show remake not only of the year, but of all time. Starring the usually obnoxious Tom Arnold at his worst, this film has nothing to recommend it, even to fans of the original series. Hollywood retreads don't sink any lower than this one.
5. Wishmaster: A painfully bad reworking of "The Monkey's Paw", Wishmaster attempted to cash in on the new popularity of horror movies, even going so far as hype Wes Craven's minimal involvement. Not even the best ad campaign in the world could save this unimaginative gore-fest. This is the kind of motion picture that reminds one why the slasher genre died out.
4. Meet Wally Sparks: Given the right project, Rodney Dangerfield can be a very funny man. Meet Wally Sparks, a sophomoric, laughless comedy, is not the right project. Dangerfield's signature line is that he doesn't get any respect, and, at least for doing this particular movie, he doesn't deserve any.
3. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation: In some ways, it's hard to believe that this lifeless exercise in martial arts tedium isn't the worst movie of the year. The film replaces plot and characters with repetitive, pointless action sequences. It might have been moderately amusing if hadn't been so boring.
2. The Pest: I'm sure someone found this film appealing, but not me. Aside from featuring the worst performance this side of a Pauly Shore movie, The Pest's stupid mix of failed comedy and incoherent plotting marks it as one of the few films I have labeled as "unwatchable."
1. The Year of the Horse: Possibly the worst documentary ever made, The Year of the Horse is director Jim Jarmusch's homage to Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Be warned: unless you're a rabid fan of the band, this movie is likely to either drive you from the theater or put you to sleep. It's badly filmed, doesn't offer any interesting insights, and succeeds in reducing Young's passionate performances to muddled rubbish.
© 1998 James Berardinelli