Overwhelmed by so many putrid pictures in 2001, I could only muster seven films for my Top Ten list, and my worst list became so unwieldy it had to be categorized as follows:
|MISOGYNISTS 'R' US|
This was most repulsive trend in 2001: Movies about shallow, tactless guys who get the girl in the end with insincere apologies for being pigs. The genre is nothing new, but it does seem to be getting worse.
Witness (or better yet, don't) the idiotic, contrived, ineptly directed battle-of-the-sexes burlesque "Saving Silverman." The worst movie of the year, it's about two slackers (Jack Black and Steve Zahn at their most obnoxiously schtick-ish) trying to save a whipped buddy (the eternally irritating Jason Biggs) from marrying his harpy girlfriend (Amanda Peet). The very concept demands such utterly worthless characters that you can't help but hate them all and the movie is arduous, unoriginal and totally devoid of laughs to boot. Biggs has now starred in the year's worst picture two years running (in 2000 it was "Loser"). Can't someone stop him?
Other insultingly bad movies with women-haters or commitment-phobics as heroes: The sewer-spawn, last-bachelor-standing comedy "Tomcats," in which every female is a half-witted bisexual Barbie; the sloppy, hypocritically sanctimonious "Shallow Hal," in which superficial Jack Black (again) is considered a reformed jerk because he doesn't mind a fat girlfriend; and "The Brothers," which speaks for itself with the line, "You know fellas, I've realized something here tonight. Maybe women aren't the problem. Maybe it's us."
"Kiss of the Dragon": Kung-fu flicks this pea-brained and badly acted used to star Jean-Claude Van Damme. Now Hong Kong's Jet Li does the embarrassing honors himself.
"Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles": This obscenely contrived sequel follows Mick Dundee (Australian import Paul Hogan) to L.A. where he meanders through a string of trite SoCal culture clichés. A lifeless, asinine, staggeringly inept disaster.
"The Musketeer": The French story of the Three Musketeers re-envisioned in Hollywood as a post-Hong Kong actioner. The truth of its utter lack of ambition is betrayed in the casting of wooden, charmlessly handsome, totally generic Justin Chambers in the title role of D'Artagnan.
"Pavilion of Women": A miserable upper-caste Chinese wife (Lou Yan) has an affair with an American priest (Willem Dafoe) in this never-ending disaster of bloodless yet schmaltzy melodramatic clichés.
"Series 7": This extreme "what-if" satire of reality TV is nothing but unwatchable "Cops"-style footage from a fictitious show that picks irritating Americans at random to kill each other. Just as tasteless, pointless and dull as actual reality programming, but with a smug sense of judgmental parody.
"Too Much Sleep": A lazy 24-year-old security guard spends all of this fatiguingly mundane snoozer searching half-heatedly for his missing gun. Flavorless actors, characters and dialogue are apparently supposed to be a commentary on apathetic suburban malaise, but they're just boring.
|JUST PLAIN IDIOTS|
"Corky Romano": The infuriatingly shrill and histrionic Chris Kattan nancies his way through a lobotomized plot about the nitwit son of a mobster going undercover in the FBI. Why are "Saturday Night Live" stars less discriminating when picking movie scripts than zoo monkeys are when eating their own feces?
"Freddy Got Fingered": MTV gross-out comic Tom Green wrote, directed and stars in this lose collection of self-indulgent, sub-par, stomach-turning bits involving bloody umbilical cords, animal carcasses and more. Absolute torture.
"Joe Dirt": Nothing but a string of tediously inept skit-style set pieces featuring David Spade as an inbred nitwit searching for his white trash parents. See comment above about "SNL" alumni.
"Joe Somebody": An anonymous cubicle drone (Tim Allen) wants to beat up the office bully, but learns that brawn isn't as important as heart. Inept, uninspired, immature, mechanical, cliche-driven, stale, insultingly predictable drivel.
"Along Came A Spider": A hole-riddled "genius" criminal vs. brooding cop (Morgan Freeman) thriller without a stitch of common sense or credibility.
"Double Take": An action-comedy that's deadly short on both action and comedy, featuring an unnecessarily complex conspiracy discovered by investment banker Orlando Jones and loud-mouthed, ghetto-schtick FBI agent Eddie Griffin.
"The Wedding Planner": A saccharinely half-witted, cutesy-poo, allegedly romantic alleged comedy with Jennifer Lopez as a lonely wedding coordinator falling for a client groom-to-be. Lopez twitters through the picture with such a counterfeit Tinkerbell twinkle she comes off like a porn star trying to go legit.
"Head Over Heels": Monica Potter falls for phenomenally flavorless Freddie Prinze Jr., then begins to suspect him of a murder. A sloppy, embarrassing, uncomfortably risqué screwball stalker comedy with an unforgivably idiotic ending involving diamond smuggling Russian mob kidnappers.
It's hardly worth while distinguishing the worst horror movies from each other, but the ineptly directed and insultingly imbecilic "Thirteen Ghosts" is a spectacular waste of cool effects and sets; "Soul Survivors" is a pathetic parade of standard-issue jumps and frights that can't raise a single goosebump; "Jeepers Creepers" has arguably the most asinine gimmick in the history of fright flicks (a demon chases the world's dumbest teenagers while ominously whistling the 1930s title tune); and "The Forsaken" is a glossy, gory, half-heartedly hip and totally banal attempt to remake the 1980s teen vampire flick "The Lost Boys" for the "Coyote Ugly" generation.
|BIG BUDGET, GOING NOWHERE|
And finally, the flicks that blew the most money on making unimaginative, unwatchable rubbish were "The Mummy Returns," which is everything that gives sequels a bad name (pathetically contrived story, schticky dialogue, cardboard acting, lame effects) and "Swordfish," a lobotomized imitation of a John Woo actioner starring John Travolta as a greasy rogue government agent who chews scenery and causes debris-filled explosions during slow-motion shoot-outs.
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.