ReelThoughts: November 24, 2010

"The Great 2010 Turkey Hunt"

Commentary by James Berardinelli


I'm not calling this my "Worst Movies of 2010" list. There are two reasons for that. First, the term "worst" implies a level of objectivity of which I'm not capable. I equally avoid the term "greatest" unless discussing Mohammed Ali. Also, assembling a "worst of" list implies that I have seen everything eligible to be included on such a list. Not true. In fact, I have studiously attempted to avoid as many bad movies as possible. The presence of a baby in the house limits my movie-going opportunities, so why waste them? So, I humbly submit that the most appropriate name for this list might be "Berardinelli's Seven Least-Liked Movies of 2010." Or "Seven Movies I Wish I Hadn't Seen."

Why release this list in time for Thanksgiving? Possibly because everyone else puts these memos to the Razzie nominating committee out at the end of the year, so I'm trying to get a jump on them. Of course, I risk not including a December piece of coal in the stocking, but I'll take my chances. Why seven? Out of some perverse desire to be unconventional, because everyone else does five or ten. In the past, I have upon occasion compiled these lists without ranking them, but this year, I'm back to assigning numbers, because it's more fun that way. So, without further delay, here they are, presented in reverse order (with the head turkey coming in at #1).

#7: Life as We Know It: Ever since Knocked Up, I have wanted to give Katherine Heigl the benefit of the doubt. My patience has run out. Her latest failed attempt at making me care about her character has convinced me that her work for Judd Apatow was a fluke. Meanwhile, Josh Duhamel tries his best to make us believe anyone could fall in love with a lifeless mannequin, but that Herculean task would be beyond the capabilities of even the versatile Tom Hanks. The baby is cute but that's about the only good thing I can come up with for the positive side of the ledger. Life as We Know It bears a suspicious resemblance to what's in the diaper.

#6: Eat Pray Love: Maybe it's because I don't buy into the life philosophy espoused by this movie, but I found Eat Pray Love to be offensively self-indulgent. Occasionally, I'll leave a movie theater disgruntled about what I have seen, but it's rare for me to feel cheated out of hours of my life. That's the case here. I can't get the time back; it's gone forever, and my only recourse for restitution is to write some nasty things. A tiny bit of my life has been sacrificed in the service of watching an advertisement for a book that promotes a lifestyle I find distasteful.

#5: The Bounty Hunter: Jennifer Aniston keeps trying. And she keeps failing. It's a little sad to see the depths to which this once perky and popular actress has descended in a vain attempt to re-discover her audience. This action-oriented romantic comedy suffers from two significant problems: the action is boring and the love story is unromantic. The sad thing is, we know Aniston can act. She's just repeatedly chooses productions that require little effort, and she never gives more than the bare minimum.

#4: The Last Airbender: It's not true that I have never liked an M. Night Shyamalan movie. In fact, I have enjoyed several of his efforts, although I was among those unimpressed by his big breakthrough, The Sixth Sense. The Last Airbender marks the third consecutive awful effort from this director, who lost his way somewhere and can't seem to rediscover himself. Shyamalan has become a punch line and only he doesn't realize it. Many who saw The Last Airbender did so in spite of him and were disappointed by his interpretation of the source material. Adding insult to injury, the 3-D process used to rape the visuals of The Last Airbender does a disservice to an already shoddy screenplay and horrifically bad acting. The movie works better by removing the 3-D glasses and staring at a blurry image. At least then you're blissfully unaware of how bad things really are.

#3: MacGruber: I never found the two-minute skits on Saturday Night Live to be exceptionally funny (although I'll allow that the ones featuring Richard Dean Anderson were amusing), but nothing prepared me for how truly comedy-deprived this film would be. MacGruber is yet another example of a mediocre SNL character with no big-screen potential who is foisted upon an uncaring public to satisfy someone's ego. The only ones who think the jokes are funny are the writers. To those in the audience, SNL movies are, more often than not, exercises in tedium. MacGruber bombed at the box office because no one cared, and those who didn't see it were the lucky ones.

#2: Sex and the City 2: If I found the first Sex and the City movie to be annoying and vacuous, the sequel provoked a stronger negative reaction. Even the die-hards for whom this material was regurgitated were less than enthralled. The film revels in a culture of materialism and consumption that might have played well when Bill Clinton was in office but comes across as insulting in 2010. While the TV show managed to be sporadically clever and witty, neither quality is evident in this big screen adaption. Worse, the characters have been reduced to one-dimensional facsimiles of their TV counterparts - aging in body and ugly in soul.

#1: Skyline: Mid-way through Skyline, awareness dawned. Maybe Fox wasn't so unjustified in taking Alien vs. Predator: Requiem away from the Brothers Strause. Given full creative control with Skyline, they have proven beyond a doubt that they should never again be allowed to sit in a director's chair. They deserve their own room in the Ed Wood Hall of Fame, sandwiched between the Uwe Boll auditorium and the Friedberg/Seltzer ballroom. There's an argument that movies as bad as Skyline need to be seen to be believed, but that wouldn't be my advice. Bad movies can be fun; this one is torturous. A few minutes will test tolerance levels, especially if those minutes involve scenes of Eric Balfour's powerful, stirring performance as one of the last self-absorbed dunces in Los Angeles. Crown this as the Turkey King of 2010.


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