Rewinding 2007: The Bottom 10

December 27, 2008
A thought by James Berardinelli

People ask if it's fun compiling a Bottom 10 list. Yes and no. It's not fun being reminded of the year's dregs but it is fun getting in a parting shot at them. All Bottom 10 lists must be taken with a king-sized grain of rock salt. For major outlets, there's a lot of politics involved. Anyone who puts Pirates 3 on their Bottom 10 list is doing it not because it's really one of the worst movies of 2007 but because it was perceived by the general public as a disappointment. Major publications want to list films that everyone has heard of not obscure titles that came and went in a week. For other sources, the productions are usually drawn from an incomplete roster. When I assemble a list of movies I plan to review over the course of the next week/month/whatever, I try my best to include everything that could be considered "good" or "prestigious." Often, if a film has horrible buzz or isn't being screened for critics or just looks abominable, I may skip it (unless the roster is so thin – like in January – that I need to have something to write about). Obviously, if I don't see something, it can't appear on an end-of-the-year list. It's much more likely that I will miss titles that could be relegated to the Bottom 10 than the Top 10. So, for what it's worth, here is my Bottom 10 of 2007 (or, more accurately, the Worst 10 Movies I Saw in 2007). As is my fashion, I do these in reverse order, with the "worst worst" appearing at #1.

#10: License to Wed: There was a time when Robin Williams was drop-dead funny, but with each passing year that seems to be longer and longer ago. Then he got off the booze and drugs. Now, he's just a desperate middle-aged man trying to make people laugh, but the fuel's exhausted and the chamber's empty. However, nothing he has done to date has been as cringe-worth as this "comedy." Even Patch Adams wasn't so painful. In fact, put a couple of those cancer kids in Licence to Wed and it might improve the production. This is the first movie that has made me consider whether it's time for Williams to retire. He's looking more and more like the star athlete who has decided to keep playing until his arms and legs fall off.

#9: Primeval: Speaking of losing arms and legs... Going into Primeval, I was ready to get into the spirit of things. I watched a few Discovery Channel specials with dumb TV show hosts who swim with the crocs (and will probably get eaten some day – serves them right). The problem is, somewhere along the way, Primeval loses the monster movie angle and morphs into another picture - something about revolutions and genocide. The crocodile, perhaps pissed that he's being overlooked, tries to draw attention back to himself by eating a few people, but the damage has already been done. Imagine a marriage of Hotel Rwanda and Godzilla and you have a pretty good idea of the pleasures offered here.

#8: Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem: Are these the same aliens and predators that used to have their own individual franchises and, when directed by the likes of Ridley Scott, James Cameron, and John McTiernan, were actually dangerous? To call them a "shadow" of their old selves is to understate matters (even considering how weak those old selves got in things like Predator 2 and Alien: Resurrection). Of course, "shadow" is an appropriate term for this murky excuse for a motion picture because everything is so dark that shadows are the only things that can be seen. For those who love bad dialogue spoken into the darkness, the movie has more than its share of classic moments. If you close your eyes, you'll get roughly the same amount of visual information as if you keep them open.

#7: Revolver: Must be the Kabbalah. This Guy's first two movies were pretty cool in a bang bang sort of way. Then he married an over-the-hill Madonna and it all went to hell. Swept Away was almost unforgivable (especially considering how it raped its source material), but Revolver proves without a shadow of a doubt that either Matthew Vaughn was the real talent behind Ritchie or his new religion (and/or wife) has sucked him dry. Arguably the most muddled gangster movie of all time, this one had me praying for God to intervene and end my suffering before the halfway mark. If this is intended as divine punishment, it is amazingly effective. I never saw it coming and, halfway through, I desperately wanted to repent of a life spent watching movies like this one.

#6: Hannibal Rising: This movie teeters on the brink of being so bad that it's good. It's possible to have a lot of fun with it and it delivers one unintentional laugh after another. In the end, however, it's just too dumb and preposterous to avoid this list. We all had a good time howling our way through the press screening, though. Consider how far this series has fallen in just four installments. Really, they should have stopped after one. I'm expecting the next sequel to be called Hannibal versus Michael Myers. Thomas Harris, who seemingly has no shame, is probably already writing the novel.

#5: Kickin' It Old Skool: After seeing this, I felt pummeled and kicked, although I don't know if the punishment was old school, new school, or something in between. I guess all the laughs from Kickin' It Old School ended up in Hannibal, because they're not here. This movie challenges Epic Movie (see #4) as the most unfunny comedy of the year. If you want an example of the film's cleverness, look at the way the title is spelled. That's about as good as it gets. In the original review, I wrote something about Kickin' It Old Skool making the old Dudley Moore/Kirk Cameron movie Like Father Like Son seem enjoyable by comparison. Need I say more?

#4: Epic Movie: The only thing "epic" about this movie is its badness. I was warned about this film beforehand, but I held out a vain hope that there might be some laughs in there somewhere. And a few of the twelve-year olds in the audience giggled. Once or twice. Or maybe that was my imagination.

#3: I Know Who Killed Me: Here's one thing I don't understand. Lindsay Lohan has been photographed by the paparazzi wearing no underwear and in sheer tops. She has shown the entire world just about everything she has to offer. A Playboy spread would be a step in the direction of class and modesty. But when it comes to playing the role of a stripper in a movie, she won't take her clothing off. Does that make any sense? As it is, there's nothing here unless you're doing a sociological study on how a once promising young actress has thrown away all her talent. At least this represents rock bottom. Short of appearing in a porn movie, it's hard to imagine her doing anything worse. Then again, maybe I'm underestimating her...

#2: Norbit: Karma in action. According to all of my sources in Hollywood, Eddie Murphy is not a nice man. Ask the Spice Girl he impregnated if you want confirmation. At any rate, early this year, it seemed a lock that Mr. Murphy would run away with the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his work in Dreamgirls, but something happened on the way to the coronation. Norbit - a stupid, unfunny, painful "comedy" - was released into theaters. Academy voters were not amused. Although there's no proof, it is widely suspected that Norbit torpedoed Murphy's Oscar. Don't believe me? Sit through this shipwreck and you'll have no doubts afterward. There is, however, one individual who believes Norbit is the best movie of 2007: Alan Arkin.

#1: Captivity: Trapped alone in a dark room with nowhere to hide from the seemingly endless torture... Is this Captivity or the experience of watching it? Easily the worst movie in several years, this is one of those rare movies that left me feeling unclean. Movies almost never offend me but this one did, not only because of its misogyny but because it intentionally blurred Elisha Cuthbert's nude scene, depriving us of ten seconds of potentially watchable footage. I have written that Captivity is in Freddy Got Fingered territory, but there's one difference I can think of. Freddy has a single, fleeting moment of near-genius. Captivity can't claim anything close.