Times of economic recession can sometimes produce brilliant art. The austerity of post-war Britain nurtured kitchen-sink dramas, The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and pop art. The privation of Germany in the 20s produced Bauhaus, expressionist cinema and the Neue Sachlichkeit art movement. But not always. There’s also shit: the Strictly Celebrities Dancing On Ice With The Talent Factor programmes that are about as stimulating as a bucket of cold vomit and twice as useless. Movie studios turn to formulas, such as making old TV shows into movies (usually fails), sequels to sequels, remakes and lacklustre star vehicles. 2010 produced more than its share of terrible films and here’s my top –or bottom – 10 of 2010...
Meet The Parents: Little Fockers
So painfully dreadful it made me cry. Another in the Meet The Parents series, it was seemingly intended as a comedy but with Ben Stiller, who is as funny as venereal warts, it was never going to rise above annoying. Barbra Streisand was as irritating as ever, while Dustin Hoffman and Harvey Keitel should have known better. The story, such as it is, revolves around a new drug that raises a boner without provoking a coronary - the upshot? Endless clumsy, vulgar and unfunny jokes about ‘getting it up’. So bad, it looks like Hollywood has finally cured that once great actor Robert De Niro of his genius.
A waste of time, money and energy (mainly from those who stayed awake to watch it). This picture began as a bad idea and got worse. Directed (ineptly) by Robert Schwentke, this seething bag of rancid offal stars the frequently terrible Bruce Willis assisted by Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and (wait for it) Helen Mirren. All play former CIA operatives well past their sell-by dates who are provoked out of retirement when they survive repeated bungled assassination attempts. Like its many rounds of ammo, this film misses the target. Would have been awful had it featured actors in their 20s but the presence of this lot made it truly depressing.
Yet another inappropriate movie that boasts an excellent cast, including Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Jim Broadbent and Jodie Whitaker. A film that masquerades as a comedy in the vein of Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, there are more giggles to be had at 7am in your local slaughterhouse, as Murphy – with only hours to pay back an unexplained debt to villain Gleeson – frantically dashes all over the place to little purpose. An implausible and insincere car crash of a movie, it had me groaning out loud with embarrassment.
Sex And The City 2
To be fair, I was never going to like this: the vulgar, undignified, vacuous TV show from which it spewed gave women a bad name. If such a show had been made about men, it would never have seen the light of day. But this vacant shocker, starring Sarah Jessica Parker and set in Abu Dhabi, plunged to unexplored levels of kak by asserting its twisted idea of feminism with all the cultural sensitivity of Hitler’s march on Poland. Films like this make me wish I’d stayed working in the frozen food factory.
Clash Of The Titans
There’s not enough make-up, armour or facial hair to hide the overwhelming shame actors like Liam Neeson, Sam Worthington, Ralph Fiennes and Mads Mikkelsen should feel for putting their names to such a massive waste of time. Directed by Louis Leterrier, there was not one redeeming feature - the special effects were not special, the script might have been written by an illiterate salmon and, to add insult to injury, it was pointlessly delivered in 3D so you had to pay extra to see a movie that looked the same with glasses on or off. Never have I heard a whole cinema sigh in unison so often and so loudly as in the press screening of this. We left in silence.
To be fair, ‘utter shite’ was written all over it from the get go. Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis – indeed, all the kakstars of the 80s – line up with a new generation of cringe monkeys, including Jaet Li, Jason Statham and Steve Austin in a film which actually has the cojones to imply that mercenaries – you know, the kind of people who earn money from dictators for murdering unarmed villagers – are actually a bunch of big-hearted, fun guys. As Barney Ross (Stallone says) "If the money's right, we don't care where the job is." Nice.
Most foreign language films released to English-speaking audiences tend to be pretty good because (a) they have to be of a certain quality to persuade audiences to read subtitles for a couple of hours and, (b) many have been seen at film festivals where they have already gone through a rigid selection process. But there are always exceptions. One such is Confucius. On the face of it, an appealing and humongous epic about the life of Confucius covering his transformation from accountant to philosopher and sage. But in reality this yawning great state-authorised history lesson features an inept musical score, a hammy lead performance from Chow Yun Fat and incredibly lame set pieces. One low point sees our hero dreaming up fortune cookie quotes while sitting atop a mountain on a pink fluffy cloud!
A lot of people loved this but I thought it was a bag of nonsense. It’s a classic case of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Granted, it’s a brave film in which Leonardo DiCaprio plays a man who has perfected the art of breaking into people's dreams and stealing ideas. Within those dreams are different levels of dreams (and dreams within dreams), all of which gives rise to the question of what’s real and what is not. All very laudable but, to be honest, I didn’t give a monkey’s because all the elaborate plotting was drowned out by a barrage of technically brilliant but thoroughly unnecessary special effects. It bored me to within an inch of my life. Yes, the performances are good (especially Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt) but it’s basically a big action movie with car chases, shoot-outs and fisticuffs shrouded in pure convolution to allow some to call this an intelligent movie for fear of looking thick.
Actually not grown up, or funny, or accomplished. Starring the riotously unfunny Adam Sandler, this gruesomely un-amusing ‘comedy’ tells of an ex-basketball team who, 30 years after they played together, go to the funeral of their former coach. Entrusted with his ashes, the boys take their families off to their old summer-getaway and a weekend of ‘outrageous comedy’. Cue bare arses, pissing in public, pratfalls, crotch hits, kids shitting themselves, squirting breast milk, Grandma’s infected big toe, coach’s ashes blown over a bucket of KFC and on and on and f***ing ON! Yet another cringe-worthy attempt to make light of the middle-aged man who is still mystified by the challenges of adulthood.
Why anyone would ever want to make a film out of one of the worst TV shows ever to come out of the US beats me. Starring Liam Neeson (whose name is fast becoming a byword for dire movies) and directed by Joe Carnahan (the man responsible for the similarly appalling Narc and Smokin Aces), it is one of the loudest and most ludicrous films of all time. Neeson is the cigar-chomping Hannibal Smith, leader of a gang of three good American soldiers in Iraq who are framed for a counterfeiting crime that, of course, they didn't commit. So they bust out the stockade and set off to prove their innocence - or something. I can honestly say that I have never been so bored. I must have looked at my watch on 150 occasiuons during its two-hour running time.
Can you think of worse? Do you disagree? Leave a comment below...
- Top 10 films of 2010
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