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I don't want to spoil the movie, but I also don't want you to have to see the movie, so here is the ending.
February 18, 2010 11:54 AM   Subscribe

In 2008, Gabe Delahaye, senior editor of Videogum (previously), began the Hunt for the Worst Movie of All Time. From A.I. to Zardoz, over 70 films have so far been surveyed, including Crash, Caligula (nsfw), Kangaroo Jack, Gigli, The Notebook, and Closer.

Suggestions for movies come from readers, so some inclusions, like The Fountain and Funny Games, are judged less harshly than the title implies. (The current 'rules' for nomination are here, including "No Robin Williams movies" and "cannot be Glitter").
posted by rollick (140 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
These people seem to have no sense of how bad movies can actually get. They get much, much worse than any of the movies mentioned here. I mean, some of these movies are actually pretty good, and they're all at least fundamentally competent (except maybe Zardoz).
posted by mr_roboto at 11:57 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure MeFi has linked to this as well. Gabe (the deader-eyed one of the two) is hilar.
posted by DU at 12:00 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm usually perfectly able to accept that people have different tastes and that while I love some work of art other people may not. For some reason, when it comes to The Fountain, this breaks down and I turn into a frothing lunatic (slight hyperbole) when people criticize it. I absolutely love this movie and it would be a serious contender for the top spot on my favorite movies of the 00s.

Also, yeah... most of the movies I've seen on that list aren't that bad at all. They aren't any good (The Fountain excepted) but they certainly don't deserve inclusion in a list of "worst movies of all time."
posted by Kattullus at 12:01 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


What, no Starcrash? Is there a rule against movies containing more than a certain amount of Hoff?
posted by majick at 12:04 PM on February 18, 2010


I would just like to say that I was the person who suggested Hanging Up and I got a lovely e-card as a 'thank you'.

I warned Gabe that it was the movie that killed Walter Matthau. I was not kidding.
posted by Alison at 12:06 PM on February 18, 2010


AGREED
posted by bam at 12:07 PM on February 18, 2010


For a second I thought they were going to be dissing Cronenberg's Crash. *phew* There would have been e-rage.
posted by Theta States at 12:08 PM on February 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is a Beast Top 50 Most Loathsome People exercise in snark, rather than a genuine attempt to catalogue awful cinema.
posted by fatbird at 12:08 PM on February 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Videogum's writing tone is usually saturated with ironic hyperbole, so I don't think the conceit should be taken at face value. I think most of the reviews have a couple of insightful cracks (like the end of the Closer one) and enough entertainment value to forgive the over the top snark approach.
posted by rollick at 12:10 PM on February 18, 2010


The Fountain was a 50/50 film. 50% of people who saw it loved it and the other 50% hated it. That's not the mark of a bad film.
posted by PenDevil at 12:11 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


None of those movies are bad. Some of them are even quite good. The clue is that you've actually heard of them.

I'm sure there are hundreds of awful movies that just disappear down the memory hole, but the ones I remember are sequels. Highlander 2 & Hellraiser 2 are (to me) the stand-out all-time worst movies.
posted by mr. strange at 12:11 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


For a second I thought they were going to be dissing Cronenberg's Crash. *phew* There would have been e-rage.

Ditto.
posted by brundlefly at 12:11 PM on February 18, 2010


These people seem to have no sense of how bad movies can actually get. They get much, much worse than any of the movies mentioned here. I mean, some of these movies are actually pretty good ...

This - they're really not even in the ballpark ...
posted by ryanshepard at 12:12 PM on February 18, 2010


Awesome! I love Videogum -- I think Gabe is one of the best bloggers out there. His writing is consistently hilarious and insightful.

They get much, much worse than any of the movies mentioned here. I mean, some of these movies are actually pretty good, and they're all at least fundamentally competent (except maybe Zardoz).

I think this depends on your interpretation of the word "worst:" Yes, there are many, many movies that are less technically competent than, say, Crash, but few are as aggravatingly pretentious and moronic. It might be the worst, most infuriating movie I've ever seen (and yes, I've seen most of Uwe Boll's movies), and Gabe's takedown of the movie is spot-on.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 12:13 PM on February 18, 2010


Master of Disguise
posted by stenseng at 12:13 PM on February 18, 2010


mr. strange: A sequel to Highlander? I'm sure you're joking. No such film exists. No. such. film. exists.
posted by PenDevil at 12:15 PM on February 18, 2010 [11 favorites]


I think this is a bad path for writers to go down. As Michael Medved has demonstrated, there is a straight line between hating films and actually fearing them.

Writers rarely impress me with their snark. I'm more impressed by the champion of the underdog, and the people who find value in artistic efforts that others dismiss or despise. There are few things harder to express in print than honest appreciation.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:15 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I started to suggest the "Citizen Kane" of bad movies to them but the movie must have at least one A or B-list star in it? Whatever.
posted by hecho de la basura at 12:18 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Videogum's writing tone is usually saturated with ironic hyperbole, so I don't think the conceit should be taken at face value.

But this is exactly the problem with the whole piece: Caligula really was a genuinely awful film, one where all prints should be rounded up and used as the pyre on which the entire production staff and studio heads should be burnt alive.

If the premise is skewering movies with a significant constituency, that's a great premise, but you need to actually limit yourself to movies with a significant constituency.
posted by fatbird at 12:18 PM on February 18, 2010


I really hope this thread turns into a referendum on the Fountain -- it's one of my favorite movies.
posted by gagglezoomer at 12:19 PM on February 18, 2010


The Fountain was a 50/50 film. 50% of people who saw it loved it and the other 50% hated it. That's not the mark of a bad film.

I so agree with this. True brilliance is polarizing.
posted by hermitosis at 12:20 PM on February 18, 2010


The rules they have set up really wreck the whole concept of 'Worst Movie of ALL TIME.' It's like trying to kill yourself with a novelty foam cowboy hat: fun, but generally unsuccessful.

When it comes to bad movies, you start with Manos (for beginners), move to The Room, and progress to Tales from the Quadead Zone, and then you're ready to look for 'the worst of all time.'
posted by chambers at 12:20 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I so agree with this. True brilliance is polarizing.

Save that thought for the next Sarah Palin thread...
posted by mazola at 12:21 PM on February 18, 2010


The worst movie ever was so bad...
the crew left the premier before it ended,
when the lead actor left mid-shoot they kept his scenes and shot the rest with someone else,
the trailer itself is nearly unwatchable,
my friends and I wanted to see it for months, but couldn't make it halfway through.
posted by Monstrous Moonshine at 12:22 PM on February 18, 2010 [14 favorites]


If there are hunky actors in it, they are not bad movies -- you just watch on mute and sub in your own steamy dialogue of said actors hitting on you. I tell ya, no one knows how to have fun any more...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 12:22 PM on February 18, 2010


The Fountain was a 50/50 film. 50% of people who saw it loved it and the other 50% hated it. That's not the mark of a bad film.

I didn't hate it or love it. I thought that it was an interesting exercise but didn't really hold together.
posted by octothorpe at 12:23 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Manos: The Hands of Fate is not on this list.

It is therefore invalid.
posted by valkyryn at 12:26 PM on February 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


mr. strange: "Highlander 2 & Hellraiser 2 are (to me) the stand-out all-time worst movies."

At the end of Highlander 2, as we headed up the aisle towards the theater exit, a complete stranger and I made eye contact and we began ruefully chuckling together.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:30 PM on February 18, 2010


The worst movie ever was so bad...
the crew left the premier before it ended,
when the lead actor left mid-shoot they kept his scenes and shot the rest with someone else,
the trailer itself is nearly unwatchable,
my friends and I wanted to see it for months, but couldn't make it halfway through.


Holy moly. Holy. MOLY. That movie sounds amazing. Like, After Last Season amazing.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:32 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd like to salute him for calling it "The hunt for the worst movie of all time" rather than "Worst. Movie. Of. All. Time."
posted by rhymer at 12:34 PM on February 18, 2010


The archive there is kind of clunky, so for reference here is the full list:

BATTLEFIELD EARTH
BABY GENIUSES
THE FOUNTAIN
I AM SAM
ALEXANDER
THE NUMBER 23
I KNOW WHO KILLED ME
SOUTHLAND TALES
LADY IN THE WATER
MR. BROOKS
HUDSON HAWK
K-PAX
CRASH
ZARDOZ
THE WICKER MAN
JOHNNY MNEMONIC
POWDER
GIGLI
SPANGLISH
DRIVEN
BOONDOCK SAINTS
ULTRAVIOLET
THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH
THE FAMILY STONE
PERFECT
SMART PEOPLE
LOST IN SPACE
DAN IN REAL LIFE
MAN OF THE YEAR
ELIZABETHTOWN
THE BLACK DAHLIA
WHAT DREAMS MAY COME
S1M0NE
A.I.
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
HAVOC
KANGAROO JACK
BULWORTH
BALLISTIC: ECKS VS. SEVER
THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT
PAY IT FORWARD
DREAMCATCHER
THE LAST KISS
BICENTENNIAL MAN
AUGUST RUSH
CRANK
MARGOT AT THE WEDDING
DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN
REIGN OVER ME
MAX PAYNE
MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS
HANGING UP
THE FORGOTTEN
RACHEL GETTING MARRIED
CALIGULA
BEOWULF
LE DIVORCE
THE ROAD TO WELLVILLE
THE LAKE HOUSE
CLOSER
IN THE LAND OF THE WOMEN
FUNNY GAMES
GONE IN 60 SECONDS
HONEY
GEORGIA RULE
GRAN TORINO
ARMAGEDDON
SERENDIPITY
DOMINO
CITY OF ANGELS
THE NOTEBOOK
THE 6TH DAY
BLINDNESS
HOPE FLOATS

posted by rollick at 12:36 PM on February 18, 2010 [14 favorites]


The worst movie ever was so bad... the trailer itself is nearly unwatchable,

Unwatchable?! It's brilliant! It's fucking amazing! It actually has a narrator narrating the trailer for you--not narrating the movie, but narrating the trailer itself:
The movie also describes Claire's journey to discover how to have quality relationships.... This leads her to have a major conversation with her friend Colleen, and during that conversation she has a major breakthrough.
posted by fatbird at 12:37 PM on February 18, 2010


I'm pretty sure MeFi has linked to this as well. Gabe (the deader-eyed one of the two) is hilar.

Seems like they're copying pretting liberally from this.
posted by squarehead at 12:38 PM on February 18, 2010


1. It cannot be intentionally horrible.
2. It must have at least one A- or B-list movie star in it. (No "outsider art.")
3. It cannot be Glitter. (Or Crossroads.)
4. It has to have had a theatrical release.
5. It must be available on Netflix.
6. No matter how bad the movie, it cannot be based on a popular superhero.
7. No musicals.
8. No Robin Williams movies (Note: In a lead role. Supporting roles will be considered on a case by case basis)
9. Only one Nicolas Cage movie per "round."
10. No children's movies.
11. Gabe is the boss.


And that's why you'll find none of MST3K's greatest hits in here. It's a really funny column, not as good as Gabe's Thirtysomething recaps but the point of it really isn't to find the actual objective worst movie of all time.

fatbird: "But this is exactly the problem with the whole piece: Caligula really was a genuinely awful film, one where all prints should be rounded up and used as the pyre on which the entire production staff and studio heads should be burnt alive. "

From the Caligula piece: I wish I had lost every copy in existence.

He agrees with you.
posted by minifigs at 12:40 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


(looking for Chasing Amy)

Okay, found it.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:41 PM on February 18, 2010


the trailer itself is nearly unwatchable

"By the way, two different actors play Winston in the finished movie -- but more about that when you watch the movie"

oh man, if he narrates the film itself as well, I'd almost want to see it
posted by rollick at 12:41 PM on February 18, 2010


Robocop 3 is worse than any of the Highlander or Hellraiser sequels. It's also less entertaining than either Manos or that trailer for The Room.
posted by ecurtz at 12:42 PM on February 18, 2010


I didn't hate it or love it. I thought that it was an interesting exercise but didn't really hold together.

My feelings are similar, though I would have said "admirably ambitious" rather than "interesting". The thing about Aronofsky is that the man has no shortage of ambition....
posted by mr_roboto at 12:42 PM on February 18, 2010


Following those guidelines, I think The Never Ending Story III counts. Apparently it was released on October 27, 1994 in Germany, even though it is an English language film. Jack Black plays a significant role (and I don't know how it's classified as one of his top 10 best roles). I'm pretty sure it's not a children's movie, but it really is aweful. Melody Kay looks straight into the camera a number of times, and Falkor has a lisp. There don't seem to be many clips, for whatever reason, but here is Melody singing a song, and a hack-job of redubbing Rocky Balboa as Falkor. Oh right, they don't have the same Balthazar, either. And one of those rock guys sings Born to be Wild for no reason whatsoever, while riding a rock tricycle. And if you haven't seen this atrocity, I think Netflix has it (I'm not a member, but I found that page with Google).

It's like trying to kill yourself with a novelty foam cowboy hat: fun, but generally unsuccessful.

Unsuccessful? There are ways, my friend. There are ways.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:44 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've said this before as well, if you're actually going to look for bad films, you have to delve into the world of DVD-only releases and regional films. You also have to be willing to work your way back in time to find the really amazingly awful stuff. Nothing on his list compares to Blood Gnome, for instance.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:46 PM on February 18, 2010


oh man, if he narrates the film itself as well, I'd almost want to see it

No such luck; he just prefaces the movie with a similar statement, since Winston's hair, height and demeanor seem so inconsistent.
posted by Monstrous Moonshine at 12:46 PM on February 18, 2010


I've only seen one of these: BULWORTH. Sure enough, it was really bad -- memorably bad -- so bad you had to wonder how it got made. I'm sure it's not literally one of the 70 worst movies ever made by anyone in the history of film, but we should take this in the spirit of the "Sexiest Men/Women Alive." No one literally thinks the authors of those lists went out and found the absolute sexiest people alive, especially since that would be impossibly subjective -- they're just fun lists of outstandingly sexy people. This is a fun list of outstandingly bad movies.

If we have to literally rationalize it, we could say the fact that these are reasonably famous movies that were seen by a lot of people actually makes them worse. If no one sees a bad movie, it's not so bad -- at least no one wasted their time watching it. (If a tree falls in the forest, etc.)
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:48 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, what other people who actually clicked the link said.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:49 PM on February 18, 2010


When it comes to bad movies, you start with Manos (for beginners), move to The Room, and progress to Tales from the Quadead Zone, and then you're ready to look for 'the worst of all time.'

Considering I've seen the first two of those in that exact order, I guess I know what I have to watch this weekend. Here's hoping it has an MST3K/Rifftrax commentary like the others.
posted by a.steele at 12:49 PM on February 18, 2010


From the Caligula piece: I wish I had lost every copy in existence.

He agrees with you.


I realize that. My point is that he's mixing genuinely awful movies and movies that are arguably really good but have aspects that are snark-able. I'm not sure if the point is that they're all really bad, bad movies, or if he's just working the fact that every film has parts of it that are snarkworthy. Either point is a good basis for a piece, but mixing the two up defeats the whole purpose.
posted by fatbird at 12:49 PM on February 18, 2010


The worst movie ever was so bad...

That trailer is brilliant.

Also, I think that the production company's website copy was written by that narrator.
Phosphorus Alights is an entertainment production company. The company makes entertainment products, which uplift its consumers: movies, video products (DVD's, VHS's), CDs, television programs, books, and so forth. The film and video products are made by Phosphorus Alights, the music products by Phosphorus Alights Music, and the books by Phosphorus Alights Publishing.

This web site is designed for you, the visitor, so you can learn how our company functions, learn about our products, and discover what's involved in becoming a participant in one of our projects. Please enjoy our site; and please contact us with any comments you might have.

posted by brundlefly at 12:51 PM on February 18, 2010


I could have sworn I'd written about it here before, but the absolute worst film I've ever seen is a crappy little shit from 1999 called Starry Night, the premise of which is that, because Van Gogh wasn't appreciated in his own time, the flowers of Pasadena, CA use their magical flower powers to bring him back to life in Pasadena, CA (Rose Parade! Get it!) where he speaks English with a fake Dutch-ish accent for no reason and steals an original Van Gogh from a museum to deface it because 'it always needed a yellow hat' and falls in love with a newswoman who loves him too after he proves that he's really a crazy person reincarnated by flowers and then he has to go to court because he stole and defaced a famous painting and to prove his innocence he takes the entire courtroom on a lengthy montage across Europe trying to remember in which church he hid a bunch of sketches a hundred years ago to prove that he's really Van Gogh and then at the end he has realized his full potential and walks into the sea and the sad newswoman finds his yellow hat drifting on the waves and I am really not at all making this up just look at the goddam cover
posted by shakespeherian at 12:52 PM on February 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I can't believe he kept searching after Southland Tales. He'll be hard pressed to find something worse than that that meets his criteria. awful awful film.

however, may I humbly nominate My Name Is Bruce? As a huge Bruce Campbell fan, I couldn't even make it to his first appearance in the film. I turned it off about 10 minutes in.
posted by shmegegge at 12:52 PM on February 18, 2010


Can't Daredevil hasn't been mentioned yet.
posted by brundlefly at 1:00 PM on February 18, 2010


Er... can't believe... Sorry about that.
posted by brundlefly at 1:05 PM on February 18, 2010


they're all at least fundamentally competent (except maybe Zardoz).

ARRRRRRRRRRGGGH XENOPHOBE SMASH!

Zardoz is actually a pretty good movie about posthumans after the singularity, trapped by the devices that made them what they are but that they don't fully understand, working to undo their own immortality with the only tools they have available: savages and time.

It's just unfortunately wrapped up in a bunch of early-70's hippy-dippy psychedelia that seems very dated. Especially the part where they lick Seannery's magic sweat from him.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:07 PM on February 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also, Red Zone Cuba.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:07 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


That trailer is brilliant.

I love how he interjects several times during the trailer. By the way, Winston is played by two people. By the way, we open the movie with four scientists from the 1800s.

It's got story for men and women! The man challenges the fundamental principles of medicine, and the woman learns how to better relate to the man!
posted by graventy at 1:12 PM on February 18, 2010


I nominated Simon Birch, and feel confident that doing so has fulfilled my boy-scout/Buckminster Fulleresque duty to do something good for humanity every day. If you liked John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, you will leave this movie in the full confidence that you were wrong about the book from the start.

Also, to filthy light thief: all the Neverending Story movies were filmed in Germany + produced by Germans; in Berlin, so I hear, you can go visit the enormous robotic phallus-dragon of Neverending Story I. I've never seen III, though, and I'm more than willing to believe that it's the worst movie of all time (next to Simon Birch).
posted by Valet at 1:15 PM on February 18, 2010


Heh. Dude hated Serendipity for nearly exactly the same reasons the SO and I hated it. And we like Rom-Coms!
posted by clvrmnky at 1:16 PM on February 18, 2010


Can anyone tell me if "Xtracurricular" is on Netflix? It's a terrible movie, but also one I vastly enjoyed when sitting with friends mocking it.

(A bunch of guys in Texas doing a heterosexualized version of the anime movie Project A-Ko, the whole thing apparently edited in Final Cut (not even Final Cut Pro), and yet with a bit of silliness that makes it almost endearing despite being terrible.)
posted by mephron at 1:19 PM on February 18, 2010


I love Gabe and Videogum (where you should be going eva ree day) and I love this series.

The only thing I find fault with is the style of the takedowns. You could do this with literally any movie.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:20 PM on February 18, 2010


For those of you scratching your heads at the lack of Manos, here are the rules that this particular torture journey is following:

1. It cannot be intentionally horrible.
2. It must have at least one A- or B-list movie star in it. (No "outsider art.")
3. It cannot be Glitter. (Or Crossroads.)
4. It has to have had a theatrical release.
5. It must be available on Netflix.
6. No matter how bad the movie, it cannot be based on a popular superhero.
7. No musicals.
8. No Robin Williams movies (Note: In a lead role. Supporting roles will be considered on a case by case basis)
9. Only one Nicolas Cage movie per "round."
10. No children's movies.
11. Gabe is the boss.

Theatrical release and the A- or B-list movie star requirements keep it pretty Hollywood.
posted by Alison at 1:21 PM on February 18, 2010


Yikes, already posted. Should have previewed.
posted by Alison at 1:22 PM on February 18, 2010


Oh God, he just nailed my feeling about this motherfucker:

"[Jerry O'Connell] is absolutely the worst ever. He's like a fake-tanned "acting" robot who's switch has been turned to "on/annoying" and then snapped off. Except that he can't act (his being annoying range is impressive, though). And you start to get the sense while watching this movie that this is just actually the way that he is, all the time. A cipher. A monster. Good luck, babies. Daddy is a nightmare."
posted by lattiboy at 1:23 PM on February 18, 2010


Also I loved The Fountain as a graphic novel and found it silly and pretentious (in a bad way) as a film. It's possible that without all the studio troubles and budget scaledowns that it might have been brilliant, but it also might have been another Southland Tales.



(Side gripe: if cancer is a living thing, then wouldnt the Tree of Life stuff just have made it healthier cancer too?)
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:24 PM on February 18, 2010


brundlefly:

Can't have Daredevil because it's based on a reasonably popular superhero (as per the rules).
Plus, would I be embarrassing myself if I said that I liked it? I also liked the Ang Lee Hulk.

I can't believe he kept searching after Southland Tales. He'll be hard pressed to find something worse than that that meets his criteria. awful awful film.

Man, I don't know. There's something about that movie that I think is brilliant. Like, it's so fucking ridiculous and over the top, so ambitious yet such a failure but at the same time completely aware that it is a failure. It's like the whole movie is a big joke to itself and on the audience, but not in a mean way. I kind of love it.
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:40 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Fountain was a 50/50 film. 50% of people who saw it loved it and the other 50% hated it. That's not the mark of a bad film.

Agreed.

But I can't agree about Zardoz: it may not be competent, and by any agreed-upon standard it is not good but it is so fascinatingly... I can't find the word for it... it's just... off... that I can't classify it as bad.
I wasn't high when I was watching it but when I think back to watching it, it feels like I was.
It's a train wreck, but in such an "off" way that its art.

(And it's not in a familiar "so bad it's good" category way either; it's too off for me to give the MST3K treatment.

Also, this list is meaningless until it has Mamma Mia on it. And I say this as a guy who is Meryl Streep-adoring, ABBA -oving, and musical-tolerating.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:41 PM on February 18, 2010


Considering I've seen the first two of those in that exact order, I guess I know what I have to watch this weekend. Here's hoping it has an MST3K/Rifftrax commentary like the others.

Finding a copy of Tales from the Quadead Zone used to be feat in itself, but you can get it here. Shot on what appears to be 3/4" video in in the 80's in Chicago, and has a whole Wesley-Willis-Scary-Story-Time vibe about it.

The thing is, it's the second film that Chester N. Turner made. The first, Black Devil Doll From Hell, is somewhat more coherent, but it's disturbing and as badly made as Quadead Zone. Warning: Black Devil Doll From Hell contains, no, features, a woman being raped by a ventriloquist puppet. A remake exists, but ignore it, it's not worth anyone's time, and it's more of an inspired-by than a remake.
posted by chambers at 1:53 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]



Oh God, he just nailed my feeling about this motherfucker:

"[Jerry O'Connell] is absolutely the worst ever... A cipher. A monster. Good luck, babies. Daddy is a nightmare."


A friend of a friend of mine worked on a show O'Connell was a regular on in L.A. and when we visited him, we met him on the set, and though he was incredibly friendly to us as visiting Chicagoans on a Hollywood trip, this was exactly my feeling about him -- like the asshole characters he often plays is the version of him I'd rather know. I never asked my friend's friend what his thoughts were because I didn't know him well enough to trash his co-worker, no matter if the guy was a biggish-time star.

I later decided that it was because acting and being in that industry for so long has to totally mess with your head and that the evilness under the surface must just be my thoroughly simple Midwestern upbringing reacting to a personality type of which I was not familiar and messing with my intuition. (I think this reassessment was because he ended up with Rebecca Romijn, so you shouldn't think I was really thinking about this at particularly deep level, despite my word choice.)

Anyway, my friend's friend is now my friend and I asked him on a recent visit about what he thought of his former star when he showed up on the TV at the bar. Let's just say I learned once again that you should always trust your intuition.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:55 PM on February 18, 2010


Man, I don't know. There's something about that movie that I think is brilliant.

ah, it must be the part where they needed to give you the backstory so they just stuck the crappy penciled-in storyboards from the prequel they never made on the screen.
posted by shmegegge at 1:57 PM on February 18, 2010


For a second I thought they were going to be dissing Cronenberg's Crash. *phew* There would have been e-rage.

Sorry, I'll diss Crash (1996). I'm a fan both of Cronenberg and Ballard, but they are both masters of a sense of detachment, and the movie goes into detachment overload. Hard to stay awake through. Later Cronenberg loses me, but I liked everything from The Brood to Naked Lunch.

More contrarianism:

I really liked Zardoz. My friends have mentioned the unpopularity of this sentiment to me. Yes, much of it is pretty silly, but the silly parts are very entertaining, and there are moments of brilliance. John Boorman is director willing to take bizarre risks in his vision (like Ken Russell). Also, I have a bias much in favor of spacey 70's art-direction, Charlotte Rampling, and the slow movement of Beethoven's 7th. I have watched Zardoz many times.

Also: I like Gabe's critiques. He is funny.
posted by ovvl at 2:09 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Am I missing the rule that only one M. Night movie can be on that list? Because I can't believe Signs is missing.
posted by newmoistness at 2:11 PM on February 18, 2010


The Fountain was a 50/50 film. 50% of people who saw it loved it and the other 50% hated it. That's not the mark of a bad film.

Of course, the problem is that this is a pretty low-resolution judgment. It's not necessarily the mark of a good film, either, if it's even true.

I thought its sentimentality was its biggest weakness. In lieu of real substance and insight into the characters, we were given cardboard cutouts. I guess the epic scope of the movie and the plentiful scenes in which someone is crying or emoting effusively in some other way were meant to fill the gap, but to me it all felt like a diversion to make the audience forget that the whole movie revolved around a narrative that, along with its characters, was only affecting because the movie told us it ought to be.

The really high level concept might have made for a great film if it were an hour shorter and had glitz that supported a strong set of characters, instead of glitz that made up for their absence.

(I've got to say that "bald pre-cog in Holocaust pajamas" made me laugh for a long time.)
posted by invitapriore at 2:11 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wasn't high when I was watching it but when I think back to watching it, it feels like I was.

Wow, that is a perfect description of the way I felt when watching Zardoz. What a weird movie. I like ROU_Xenophobe's explanation and will try to watch it again witht hat in mind, but honestly the whole first viewing went by in a blur while THE PENIS IS EVIL resonated in my brain.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:14 PM on February 18, 2010


Indecent Proposal was truly awful, despite the presence of Robert Redford, Woody Harrelson, and Demi Moore. Or maybe it was even more awful because these are otherwise good actors who generally take good roles was. Anyway, I'm Still Bitter About It years later, and no, time hasn't salved the hurt one iota.

Ishtar was also reprehensibly bad, and remains a blot on both the careers of both Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty.

Gabe's criteria are too restrictive for my tastes, but if he's going to lay out that particular set of rules, he needs to sample those two titles and report back to the class.
posted by mosk at 2:14 PM on February 18, 2010


Can't have Daredevil because it's based on a reasonably popular superhero (as per the rules).

Yeah, hadn't read the rules when I posted that.

Plus, would I be embarrassing myself if I said that I liked it? I also liked the Ang Lee Hulk.

You and I are in a distinct minority in liking Lee's Hulk. Really interesting movie. Daredevil, on the other hand, had me laughing throughout. For the wrong reasons, that is.

Man, I don't know. There's something about that [Southland Tales] that I think is brilliant. Like, it's so fucking ridiculous and over the top, so ambitious yet such a failure but at the same time completely aware that it is a failure. It's like the whole movie is a big joke to itself and on the audience, but not in a mean way. I kind of love it.

I enjoyed Southland Tales as well. It's a total mess, but it's a lovable mess.
posted by brundlefly at 2:25 PM on February 18, 2010


OK people, "The Empiricist" clearly needs its own FPP. Who wants to take this one?
posted by jbickers at 2:27 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


My next AskMe: I think I may be a rationalist. But I want to be invited to movie night. What should I do?
posted by darksasami at 2:55 PM on February 18, 2010


Highlander 2

There was never any such movie! you shut your filthy mouth!

Spoiler alert: the worst movie ever made was Batman and Robin. Despite having a complete cast of A list stars, an unbelievable budget, and an fantastic pedigree, it managed to be so bad, and alienate so many fans that it killed the franchise so hard, the only way to do anything else with it was to perform a complete reboot.

I've seen movies that were bad through indifference, lack of money, lack of talent, or internal conflicts. I've never seen a movie that was so blessed with everything to make it right, crater so unbelievably hard.
posted by quin at 2:59 PM on February 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


Also: Hudson Hawk? I must have seen a different version than every one else who has ever reviewed this film, because the one I saw was absurd and hilarious.

Southland Tales was just too weird to be hated.

Max Payne, too pretty to look at to suck (plus the use of the drug induced angels was more clever than people give it credit for).

Ultraviolet? It's essentially a Milla jovovich remake of Equilibrium, what's not to like?

I'm telling you; Batman and Robin.
posted by quin at 3:06 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't believe he kept searching after Southland Tales. He'll be hard pressed to find something worse than that that meets his criteria. awful awful film.

No you see Southland Tales is actually a race to get your body chemistry in line with Richard Kelly's before Justin Timberlake lip-syncs with a bunch of showgirls in the same place you used to play Skeeball with your Aunt Dorian.
posted by The Whelk at 3:16 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hudson Hawk has a bad rep because it flopped, and it flopped because it was marketed so poorly. It was advertised as a kick-ass action film, which it is... er... not. At all.
posted by brundlefly at 3:18 PM on February 18, 2010


"No Robin Williams movies"

Well that right there...
Excluding Robin Williams movies from a list like this is like looking for the worlds worst creatures, but - no mammals.
I mean I saw over 25 minutes of 'Being Human.'
posted by Smedleyman at 3:22 PM on February 18, 2010


jbickers: OK people, "The Empiricist" clearly needs its own FPP. Who wants to take this one?

In case anyone wants to, the theory Antoine Béchamp famously championed is pleomorphism.
posted by Kattullus at 3:58 PM on February 18, 2010


For those of you scratching your heads at the lack of Manos, here are the rules that this particular torture journey is following:

His list strikes me as inexcusably lazy, and means he's simply picking at low-hanging fruit for the sake of demonstrating his skills at snark. If you're going to be a critic, being an incurious and lazy heckler doesn't precisely put you in a terrific position to shit on other people's work.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:02 PM on February 18, 2010


How sad is it that the only one of these movies I've seen is DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN? I don't know if I should be proud or ashamed.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 4:09 PM on February 18, 2010


Okay, so this is the director. The website is funny ha ha at first, but then it becomes sad and tragic, the more you read.
posted by Kattullus at 4:21 PM on February 18, 2010


And here's a review of Fred Riskin's artwork that's mentioned in his bio on the Phosphorus Alights site. It's also weird.
posted by Kattullus at 4:28 PM on February 18, 2010


well there has been a wealth of real bad movies mentioned on Mefi recently, both here and in the torgo thread. thanks for the suggestions, my er, download assistant is running red hot. so thanks everyone for all the suggestions. i love bad movies, am an ed wood man myself.

The torgo thread was fascinating - i have just recently obtained and watched Manos (twice) as i could not take my eyes off the thing. i also then watched Hotel Torg, the doc, and read the articles here. Currently Manos is getting my vote for worst, but clearly it doesnt fit wth this guys rules for his list.

so just wanted to say thanks for all the bad movies.

also, a couple of my favourites: ultra warrior, Killer Clowns from Outer Space. have watched that Salo, it was just terrible, but strangely reminded me of La Dolce Vita in that it seemed to be an attack on the rich and powerful of italy.

also also, if anyone knows where there is ed wood stuff about, MeMail me please!!
posted by marienbad at 4:36 PM on February 18, 2010


I liked A.I. A lot. There I said it.

Some overlooked films that should have made this list:

See No Evil
Envy
Doogle
Date Movie
Garfield
Any of the weird new Dr. Suess movies.
posted by mmmbacon at 4:41 PM on February 18, 2010


A.I is great, it's so bleak. The gauzy production design is misdirection.
posted by The Whelk at 4:47 PM on February 18, 2010


The Road to Wellville is worth it just for Miles O'Brien jerking off.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:58 PM on February 18, 2010


Valet - thanks for the info. I read the wiki about The Neverending Story, er Die unendliche Geschichte, but didn't read much about the movies being made in Germany.

OK, how about Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe? Is Jesse "The Body" Ventura a B-list actor? Oh, it does have an odd cameo by James Belushi. And it isn't strictly based on a comic book, but thanks to the wiki article, I now know a chunk of the "plot" was based on elements from (or rather similar to) the DC Universe (like the anti-life equation and the mother box, er "answer box"). However it worked out, it's pretty awful.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:59 PM on February 18, 2010


Astro Zombie: "His list strikes me as inexcusably lazy, and means he's simply picking at low-hanging fruit for the sake of demonstrating his skills at snark. If you're going to be a critic, being an incurious and lazy heckler doesn't precisely put you in a terrific position to shit on other people's work."

The list strikes me as a way of making sure that whatever film he takes on will have been seen by most of his audience or they'll at least be aware of it. If you've never heard of Manos before then no snarky description is going to do it justice.

As well as all that, a large part of Videogum's "mission" is pricking celebrity egos; Gabe's devoted a lot of posts to insightful, but very snarky takedowns of Gwyneth Paltrow, Jay Leno etc. The weekly column "Hey What's Up With Topher Grace?" is probably the purest expression of this. If Gwyneth Paltrow or Tom Cruise was in Manos or whatever B-Movie you personally think is the worst of all time, he would cover it.

Wow, this thread really lit up the "someone is being wrong on the internet" signal for me, I need to reset my priorities.
posted by minifigs at 5:03 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


"My next AskMe: I think I may be a rationalist. But I want to be invited to movie night. What should I do?
posted by darksasami at 2:55 PM on February 18 [+] [!] "

those links are amazing. he doesnt believe gene theory?

and from the movie night link:

Working for phosphorus

Greetings,

When Warren and Fred formed Phosphorus Alights, they had the intention it would become a film making cooperative: an community of like-minded people who made movies; eventually having sufficient members, that few, if any, non-members would be needed to fully cast and crew each movie. They welcome anyone who has the following orientations to become a member:

(i) Is personally committed to make worthy movies.
(ii) Is an actor, or is willing to be a member of the crew. *(There are crew positions that don't require previous movie experience; just be a hard worker, and have a desire to learn.)*

wow. *sends CV* ;)
posted by marienbad at 5:16 PM on February 18, 2010


Did someone say Pluto Nash? What a wonderful opportunity to retread this link. Wow, this makes me laugh every time I see it.
posted by A-Train at 5:23 PM on February 18, 2010


I suggested Domino for the hunt and he finally slapped it around a bit a couple of weeks ago. The list is not about useful film criticism. It is about making fun of a few hollywood movies. Gabe's writing is always hilarious and Videogum (which I came to through the hunt) is generally a great read all day long.
posted by damehex at 5:24 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The list above contains some odd happenstance pairings that reveal the scattershot nature of the whole enterprise:

CRANK
MARGOT AT THE WEDDING

THE FORGOTTEN
RACHEL GETTING MARRIED

FUNNY GAMES
GONE IN 60 SECONDS


These are all arguably bad movies in their own way, but definitely not in the same way. I know people who dig on Crank (It's Speed with a bald English bloke as the bus!!") who would run a mile in tight shoes to avoid MatW and vice versa. I think Funny Games fans would have a hard time dealing with Gone in 60 Seconds, where the kind of people who rush out to see Gone in 60 Seconds would be rendered weeping and catatonic by Funny Games. Who dislikes all of these movies (besides my mother)?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:33 PM on February 18, 2010


"I know people who dig on Crank (It's Speed with a bald English bloke as the bus!!")"

the bus??? this i gotta see
posted by marienbad at 5:38 PM on February 18, 2010


I like both Crank and Gone in 60 Seconds. They're great "it's 4pm on Saturday and I don't want to watch timbersport" movies.

But, who am I kidding. On some level, I always want to watch timbersport.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 5:42 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Their recap of Closer is so lazy that I surprised they can muster that much superiority. You could mock pretty much any drama by saying, "Blah, blah, people talking about their feelings, blah," but it doesn't make your opinion relevant or intelligent.

Here's a quote from the article in question:

"It's another case of miserable people being miserable in your face for two hours. Which I guess reflects something about the human condition or whatever. It's just a really boring and annoying reflection. 'Well, sometimes life is boring and annoying.' True enough! But it is also short. Enough of this thing."


All I get from this is that the writer is a) easily bored and b) not interested in other people or their problems. Sounds like someone I want to hear more from!
posted by hermitosis at 5:46 PM on February 18, 2010


A.I. is awesome - highly underrated and strange.

I'm also quite used to seeing it on worst-of lists, though, so whateeeeeeeeevs.

On a tangential note, those either for or against A.I. are warmly invited to read this entertaining article by Ian Watson, one of the writers behind the film, revealing a little bit of the process behind its making and a whole lot of the charming neuroses of the late, great Stanley Kubrick.

As far as bad movies to nominate for Gabe go, I suggest Agent Cody Banks 2, even just based on this deeply bizarre scene alone. She's The Man is also excruciating, as is Raise Your Voice, as is High Tension, but perhaps most trollishly of all, I'll declare that Caché was not very good at all.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:54 PM on February 18, 2010


There was a Torgo thread? You mean, a thread after my namesake (it was taken when I signed up, and seems to be inactive, dammit)?! Where? For the love of god, where?

After reading through the thread, a couple of things: 1) Highlander 3 is actually worse than 2, which is the norm. The thing that's amazing about it, though, is that the plot is almost exactly the same as the first, good, Highlander. Not only that, but you have Mario Van Peebles trying to be Clancy Brown, right down to the growly voice. It's truly painful to watch.

And there is something about the Southland Tales... It's gotta be wrapped up in the acting, I think. Everyone in the film is acting at soap opera level, and it's clearly got to be a choice to have done so. Even Dwayne Johnson can act better than he did in the film. Sarah Michelle Gellar can definitely act better than that. The only one in the film who isn't soaping it up is Justin Timberlake, and if I could force myself to watch it another dozen times (or just find the graphic novel tie-in) I'm sure I could figure it out. Mind you, I didn't hate it, I just don't know if I can watch it again. It's like eating cotton candy laced with fiberglass insulation. So sweet, but you know it's bad for you. But it's so sweet!
posted by Ghidorah at 6:26 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


On preview (I know there's a reason to use that button), I agree with Sticherbeast. A.I. was pretty amazing. There are scene's in the film, moments that cling to you, like Jude Law's "I am, I was," and at least a half-dozen moments of pure cinematic gold. I just wish they'd ended it with the first ending. It always seemed to me that trapped at the bottom of the ocean, staring forever at your just-out-of-reach-goal, but believing you'd achieved it, that seemed like Kubrick. The second, "happy" ending just smacked of Speilberg, for some reason, and cooled my opinion of the film.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:30 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


A.I is great, it's so bleak. The gauzy production design is misdirection.

Did you think that misdirection served the movie? I'm honestly curious, because I always understood the production values of that movie as Default Spielberg, but it's been a long time since I saw it.
posted by invitapriore at 6:34 PM on February 18, 2010


I just emailed my nominations for Illuminata and Meet Joe Black, which are two of the worst movies I've ever seen in theatres.

I mean, a really terrible movie still has some enjoyment in it, but I think this guy has a point in only dealing in Hollywood-type movies. If I see a low-budget movie that sucks, no surprise. But when Hollywood is willing to invest its stars and capital into something truly unwatchable.... well that's a new level of sin.

*trying to remember titles of bullshit mid-90s ensemble dramas now*
posted by palindromic at 6:35 PM on February 18, 2010


Seconding Ghidorah, I was like, "that's the saddest fucking thing ever," at ending one of A.I., and then it really went down a couple of pegs at ending #2. However, ending #2 was still not all sweetness and light–there was some genuine tragedy, like the end of humanity, for instance–which helped me keep my lunch down somewhat.
posted by Mister_A at 6:47 PM on February 18, 2010


Did you think that misdirection served the movie? I'm honestly curious, because I always understood the production values of that movie as Default Spielberg, but it's been a long time since I saw it.

Re watching really helps, and you're always going "Does Spielberg know he's misdirecting here?" cause the subtext (and later, text) is so fucking creepy that you want to think it's all intended. I think it is, only cause Spielberg had a later career acknowledge of his early movies as children's fables - Tim Krieder can sum it up better than I can but considering the close collaboration between Spielberg and Kubrick at the end, I tend toward the idea that all the gauzy fuzzy stuff is deliberate misdirection. Kreider thinks the gauzy tones is more Spiekberg's reflexes getting into a creepy story ( which makes a beautiful frisson) but I'm more inclined to think it was deliberate - but without talking to the man you cannot be sure, of course.
posted by The Whelk at 6:58 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm also quite used to seeing it on worst-of lists, though,

I can tell you what placed it there for me; after what felt like an eternity, we have some measure of closure with the copter sinking into the water and then we see:

"Two thousand years later" and everyone collectively groaned (at least, that's what it felt like, it could have just been all the voices in my head...)
posted by quin at 7:04 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


All I get from this is that the writer is a) easily bored and b) not interested in other people or their problems. Sounds like someone I want to hear more from!

Indeed. I love it when a film critic tees off on a lousy movie, but this whole series is pretty toothless and strikes me as material rejected by Cracked or Something Awful.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:05 PM on February 18, 2010


The list strikes me as a way of making sure that whatever film he takes on will have been seen by most of his audience or they'll at least be aware of it. If you've never heard of Manos before then no snarky description is going to do it justice.

I have no interest in writing that provides no new information, and only exists to reinforce the audience's contempt. I read film reviews to find out about films I don't know, not films I already know I hate, so I can pat the reviewer on the back for being especially clever about expressing his contempt.

I'm sorry, but this sort of thing is really running me the wrong way lately. There's a lot of uncelebrated good work out there, and a lot of unexamined bad work, and this still strikes me as low-hanging fruit.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:08 PM on February 18, 2010


The gauzy production design is misdirection.

And the terrible terrible Robin Williams-as-cartoon-himself? Was that misdirection too?

Come to think of it, A.I. is disqualified from this list.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:28 PM on February 18, 2010


And the terrible terrible Robin Williams-as-cartoon-himself? Was that misdirection too?

Yes, actually. His character is the embodiment of a Clippy-type software cartoon that is nowhere near as wise or as all-knowing as the mechas think he is - he's just a piece of AI, just as they are pieces of AI.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:42 PM on February 18, 2010


Or in another way, David is totally enraptured by Clippy-Dr. Know while Gigalo Joe has to tell him "that's just an example of her" but David refuses to believe it. It *has* to be real.
posted by The Whelk at 9:47 PM on February 18, 2010


David is seriously depressing. Everything after he gets dumped in the woods in from David's point of view, which is obsessed, naive, and pointless. If you create something that HAS TO LOVE YOU NO MATTER WHAT you have a responsibility for it, a responsibility we see Monica (and the rest of the world) abandoning. Long after humankind is gone the Mechas still wonder about their creators and David is still fixated on his Mommy, unable to move past, unable to grow, locked forever in a state that was given to him by a woman who just wanted some peace and comfort and was then horrified by what she did (Frankenstein!). David's "perfect day" is a perverse corruption of his life with the family, all the bad events made wonderful, without any rivals or problems, the narration is for David, locked in his fairy tale programing of perfect days while unspeakable machines unearth the fossils of humanity. David is content.
posted by The Whelk at 9:58 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Even the super-future space Mechas try to explain the difference between fantasy and reality to David, but he refuses to listen.
posted by The Whelk at 9:59 PM on February 18, 2010


Yeah, what Whelk said, too. What I take from that scene is how David's "childlike" love and credulity aren't even so much childlike as they are inflexible, hardwired simulations of childlike love and credulity.

AI reminds me of an episode from the book The Mind's I. In one chapter, a man must beat to "death" a furry, catlike robot which emits pained, sympathetic mewls and shrieks - it causes the man distress because we do not like to hurt cute things that cry out in pain, yet it is no less a simulation than if the robot were a cube and emitted beeps and boops. The movie explores this idea in depth - to what extent does creepy, artificial David's hardwired need for Mommy make him human? Or, if not human, a sympathetic...thing? How much do we project our own feelings onto the simulations that David has been designed to produce? In the Flesh Fair sequence, when David cries for his life, one of the audience members screams, shouting that mecha don't cry for their lives. Well - one just did, lady. But, to her, since it was the body of a child doing something that "only" real children do, she "fell for it" and let her emotions take hold. Was she right or wrong? What does it mean that David is neither a real boy nor simply a toaster?

As for the ending, among other things, it asks: if these mechas were to continue living long after the last human had died, how would these mechas interact with one another afterwards? Would they know - or simulate - compassion, and try to give poor David what he finally wants after so many millennia? To what extent is the simulation the same thing as the real thing? And this story - what if robots told fairy tales to one another? Kingsley's narration only makes sense if he is telling a story by and for mechas.

Just because it has Spielberg's name and directorial stamp on it, it does not mean that AI must be dealt with in the same way we would ET, where the story is direct. I think that people are so prepped into the idea of what a Spielberg movie "is" - direct and sentimental - that when they encounter a Spielberg movie that is neither direct nor sentimental, it just comes off to some as a bad Spielberg movie, and not as a movie with its own peculiar identity.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:02 PM on February 18, 2010


Considering the Big Moon from E.T appearing as a menace in A.I, one could almost see it as a rebuke, that is keeping someone/thing perfectly naive and innocent and loving and childlike is a sadistic, cause if they, like the Mechas do, live forever, then you takes care of them forever despite having made them to be taken care of, which is why Monica's abandonment is so cruel. David will never learn to survive on his own, he wasn't made that way.
posted by The Whelk at 10:07 PM on February 18, 2010


can;t take of them forever*
posted by The Whelk at 10:07 PM on February 18, 2010


I mean, a really terrible movie still has some enjoyment in it

Boondock Saints????

I mean that a terrible movie can have A LOT of enjoyment in it. I rewatched that show just a few months ago, and forgot how much fun it is to watch uber-caricatured bad guys get righteously shit-kicked by uber-stated disciples of some righteous old-man-Christ packin' heat!

Really, if this list isn't up for the fun of this kind of fantasy, then I'm nominating Batman (the baleful one, in which Batman can't actually talk, or find any moral fibre without the violent promptings of ...) for that list.
posted by kneecapped at 10:11 PM on February 18, 2010


Considering the Big Moon from E.T appearing as a menace in A.I, one could almost see it as a rebuke, that is keeping someone/thing perfectly naive and innocent and loving and childlike is a sadistic, cause if they, like the Mechas do, live forever, then you takes care of them forever despite having made them to be taken care of, which is why Monica's abandonment is so cruel. David will never learn to survive on his own, he wasn't made that way.

This is a good point. When Mommy abandons David in the woods rather than have him destroyed, it's such a phenomenally cruel act. She dooms an entity to millennia of suffering rather than deal with the reality that she cannot love David as he loves her; that she cannot love David as a real child; that she cannot destroy something that looks like a child, loves her, and addresses her as Mommy. It's a human but selfish choice - she's as bound to her programming as David is, in her refusal to kill something that looks like a child, even though the alternative causes much more suffering for him. David is treated as a toy to be discarded when the toy is no longer fun.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:12 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


And the original short story "Supertoys Last All Summer Long" has the Supertoy David contemplating what will happen once the real boy shows up.
posted by The Whelk at 10:14 PM on February 18, 2010


"Supertoys Last All Summer Long" is available on Wired.
posted by Kattullus at 10:16 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's also an interesting tonal shift, the first section of the movie, we're made to sympathize with Monica - she's on edge, her husband is cool and her child is sick and she's given this thing which creeps her the fuck out and follows her in the bathroom and acts like a parody of an adorable child - once she leaves him he switch to David's POV, which is much less complicated, with everything right on the surface and there is narration, and we only have every other person in the movie(even Teddy!) trying to tell David to stop and he refuses, with his inhumane childishness, at every turn.
posted by The Whelk at 10:18 PM on February 18, 2010


That Tim Krieder essay is very good, by the way. Sums it up nicely, especially with regard to how willfully hollow the ending is.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:23 PM on February 18, 2010


Yeah, I'm with the Whelk about A.I. It came off as so deliberately off putting to me that I really consider it a masterpiece as an uncomfortable film. that he pulled off that level of discomfort with high production values, cg and sappy trite cartoony child behavior is further testament to his abilities. It took me a long time to realize what I'd watched, but when you get to its core, it's a marvelously made film.

one way I like to think about it is that, though David is clearly the central figure of the film, it's kind of the story of his creator's emotional state. The film isn't about robots, or technology. At least, not entirely. The film, to my mind, is also about Professor Hobby's idea of a child's love. What we see in David is pretty obviously not a child's love for anything. it's a series of if>then statements. If see mother, then smile. If scolded, then apologize. etc... his behavior when things don't fit his programming (dragging the real child into the pool and holding him there when bullied) shows he's not really given an ability to reason so much as just a very complex series of conditional responses. He's the product of the kind of person who would say "let's give people a fake child to love them," which the movie seems to implicate is the kind of person who maybe doesn't have such a great grasp on the actual concept of love. note Hobby's complete misunderstanding of David's return to the corporate HQ, and shock at David's reaction.

I've really come to see the film as a kind of meditation on what we seek out in our lives when we miss vital human connection. both on a personal scale and on a societal one. from the parents who are devastated at their sick kid's disease and in their grief take David. from the doc who created him in the first place. the people who revel in the destruction of robots, the people who use them to fuck.

it's just so very hard to say that kind of thing and get it across without actually making people uncomfortable, and without resorting to the kind of expository shortcut that Kubrick didn't really do. and neither does Spielberg for that matter. it's not easy to say "look at the lengths we go to satisfy our needs, and how splendidly we can fail to satisfy them."
posted by shmegegge at 11:11 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Empire, UK film magazine, also recently released a list of the 50 worst movie as voted on by its readers. It goes from Spider-Man 3 at 50 through to, well I won't say exactly what but let's just note that its an even worse superhero movie.
posted by the_chap at 12:25 AM on February 19, 2010


Some thoughts-

Crank is a fantastic movie, and the negative comment "It's like Speed only with a bald english guy as the bus!!" is exactly how I RECOMMEND the movie. (Only I say Turkish is the bus). That being said, Crank 2 was absolute shit.

Re: The Highlander "Sequels"-- clearly, there can be only one.

Daredevil is a film that if you have seen, or haven't seen, you should rewatch or watch. However, I will do you the favor of recommending that you may wish to fast forward to any scene involving Colin Farrell. You're welcome. HE IS AMAZING IN THIS FILM. People often say that a villain makes a comic book film. Bullseye makes Daredevil. Every scene he is in is purely insane WTF magic. The lines, the delivery, the look on his face. All magic. Farrell might suck when he plays a boring lead, but DAMN does his Bullseye kill me with magic laughs. "I MISSED! I NEVER MISS!"

Batman and Robin is so startlingly bad that it makes Brett Ratner's X-Men 3 look like a work of pure genius. The decision-making process for everything in that film makes Magneto picking up the Golden Gate bridge and floating it to Alcatraz seem SUBTLE AND WELL PLANNED.
posted by haveanicesummer at 5:09 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was at my recommendation that my friends and I went to see Batman and Robin. We knew it was going to suck, but we weren't prepared. It took years before the shame died down, and even then, if I were to suggest a movie, it was met with a snide, "Oh, yeah? You think we should see this movie? Didn't you say we should watch Batman and Robin?" Much derisive laughter would ensue.

My college newspaper movie co-reviewer and I gave out the Bat Nipple to really, really bad movies. I believe the Razzie should be retired, since the Bat Nipple is really all you need to say.

Roland Emmerich: Did you like my movie? I worked really hard on 2012, and I hope it was as moving for---

Me: Bat Nipple.

Roland Emmerich: I understand. I will cease making films. You are right.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:23 AM on February 19, 2010


"To the Bat Nipple, Robin!" -excerpted dialogue from the unproduced spinoff Look Who's Batman and Robin, Too!
posted by haveanicesummer at 6:03 AM on February 19, 2010


No more shit talking about Zardoz. The movie rules.
posted by Liquidwolf at 6:43 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyone sticking up for Zardoz should watch it with Boorman's commentary; for about two thirds of the film he does his best to defend his misguided (albeit ambitious) artistic decisions and then gives up and admits that he is now embarrassed by all the "hubris" (his exact word) on display.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:26 AM on February 19, 2010


I'll take on anyone who disses Southland Tales and Zardoz. Why is ambitious craziness so derided in film these days?
posted by Snyder at 9:17 AM on February 19, 2010


They're still big, it's the freaks that got small.
posted by The Whelk at 9:20 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyone sticking up for Zardoz should watch it with Boorman's commentary

Yyyyeah.

I don't so much defend the film -- this is the movie where everyone gangs up on Seannery to lick the magic sweat from his leather diaper -- as I defend its basic plotline. The movie is sort of a weird pile of nonsense layered on top of a plotline thirty or forty years ahead of its time -- the plotline itself has elements that Stross and MacLeod hit pretty hard, and it has even stronger similarities to Schroeder's Ventus and Virga books.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:57 AM on February 19, 2010


The main thing about AI is that the first parts of the movie show you pretty clearly that David and Gigolo Joe and the other robots are just toasters programmed for some degree of self-preservation.

But after that... who cares? So what if someone ties a toaster down and blows it up? If the toaster isn't useful for toasting anymore, you might as well get some entertainment out of it before you recycle it. Who cares if a toaster achieves the goal that was set for it, unless that's your goal too?

And then the ways it lurches back and forth between David as toaster and David as object of pity are even more crassly manipulative. I can see how people see some more darkness under it, but it isn't there, because nothing bad can happen to David any more than something bad can happen to a tree-based chess algorithm. Leaving it alone in the woods doesn't doom it to any kind of suffering. David can't suffer any more than a rock can suffer, and leaving it alone in the woods has no more moral consequence than leaving a rock or any other inanimate object in the woods, except maybe for littering.

The other thing is that it has a character say, without any hint of irony, "I'm sorry I never told you about the world." Do not want.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:28 AM on February 19, 2010


(about the only thing interesting about AI is how, in concert with War of the Worlds, it gives a pretty depressing and chilling view of what Spielberg thinks about fatherhood -- children are these pathetic bundles of incoherent need and screaming victimhood that continually destroy your plans and even your plans to save them from themselves, and the entire world is essentially a giant conspiracy to rape and murder them at you)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:33 AM on February 19, 2010


I have a couple of points in defense of Batman and Robin. Don't get me wrong, it was a truly terrible film, but it just so happened that I watched it at the cinema in a fairly altered state of mind. As a result a couple of things about the visual storytelling stuck with me.

First, from the very first shot of Alfred, I had the impression that his face was subtly melting and decaying, and this became more pronounced with every scene. It was therefore clear that he was seriously ill, which was a nice bit of a subtlety from the filmmakers/make-up artists.

A second related point is that Alicia Silverstone looked like golden rays of sunshine when she first appeared, so it was clear that her presence would lead to Alfred's rejuvenation.

Third, I quite liked the visual joke that Batman pays for Poison Ivy with his 'Batman Forever' credit card, since the profit of that film really was paying for this film.

Fourth, for a film that is ostensibly about female equality, at the very end a black female scientist, and an asian male scientist have to be saved (I have an image in my head of them hanging perilously from something). The take home theme of the movie for me was thus that the white male elite is willing to tolerate female equality so long as race supremacy is maintained. Pretty controversial stuff I think you'll agree.

I remember almost nothing else about the film. But Arnold Schwarzenegger can do no wrong and didn't his frozen wife look amazing or something?
posted by leibniz at 12:09 PM on February 19, 2010


Alicia Silverstone looked like golden rays of sunshine

quite liked the visual joke that Batman pays for Poison Ivy with his 'Batman Forever' credit card

Arnold Schwarzenegger can do no wrong


Are you trying to kill all of us?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:12 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man

sorry I'm late, but it's ok; you can call off the search.

honest to god I thought my watch had stopped. I kept sighing with irritation, but nobody shushed me. when the lights came up, I knew why.
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:03 PM on February 19, 2010


Did I just miss The Happening on this list?

It has to be there, right?

Wahlberg's wide-eyed "Gosh, you think it could be the trees?" simpleminded Teacher Guy routine was SO annoying I was clenching my teeth every time he spoke. And the couple that made it through the movie were not the smartest, or the toughest, or in any way fit to be the sole survivors.

Added on to that, the "menace" of wind rustling through the leaves and the whole side story of the wife and husband not being fully committed to each other because she went out to dinner with some guy but somehow that all falls apart once they are NEARLY SAVAGED BY TREES so that she is pregnant by the film's ending...I have to search the list again.

It's on the list, right???
posted by misha at 1:03 PM on February 21, 2010


I'm quite tickled that this thread comes only a couple days after this.

"Starcrash" is awesome. "AI" still makes me reel, and I'm with quin when that "two thousand years" voice intoned in the theater.

That's it, "Zardoz" is going on my Netflix queue.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:43 PM on February 21, 2010


Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man

Are you kidding me? That movie has the line "I can't believe you shot me, you shit-bird!"

And no movie that introduced a phrase into my vocabulary that I still use regularly nearly 20 years later can be hated.

At least not by me anyhow. My pets, on the other hand, who are typically on the receiving end of the expression might feel you are correct in your assessment.
posted by quin at 7:58 AM on February 22, 2010


Just saw Zardoz for the first time based on some of the comments in this thread. Definitely ahead of its time and a lot more, well, relevant today.

Replace the trippy, low-budget psychedelic effects with CG and the crystal technology with Jonathan Ives-inspired industrial design. Replace Sean Connery's aging physique with Gerard Butler's. Portray "Brutal" society as less post-apocalyptic and show how complex it probably actually was (the poor extras all seemed to have warm, decently-fitting clothes, after all).

Seriously, just think of the Eternals as Davos-conference-kids sporting iRings and unwilling get their hands dirty enough to fix their own engines of production. We're halfway to 2293 already.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:05 AM on March 7, 2010


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