We all love a bad movie. There are some movies out there like Battlefield Earth or Beyond The Valley of the Dolls that are so bad, so unbelievably silly, we just can’t look away. But this list isn’t about those kind of bad movies. This list is about movies that were supposed to be good. The criteria for my list is simple: Bad writing, bad concept, bad acting, bad production or bad judgement are all fair game. I’m looking for movies that spent a ton of money and came out with crap. I’m looking for embarrassing performances from reputable actors. I’m looking for movies I walked out of. I’m looking for career enders. So, without further explanation or ado … a list of some of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.
Soul Man (1986) This movie is about a man who undergoes “racial transformation” with tanning pills to qualify for a black-only scholarship at Harvard Law School. Yep. This movie was considered to be in poor taste even back in the 80’s when poor taste was a selling point. But a line was crossed. It made people uncomfortable to watch C. Thomas Howell in blackface. And it just wasn’t funny. C. Thomas Howell took all the fame he garnered from The Outsiders and Red Dawn and basically set it on fire. And watched it burn for the next twenty years.
Sex and the City 2 (2010) I was a fan of the HBO series. Not a huge fan. Just a normal fan. I never had watching parties or got drunk with girl friends while watching it. At least not on purpose. But I liked the show well enough to have felt betrayed by the craptastic sequel to the pretty awful first film. Sex and the City was supposed to be about single gals in the big city – what they wore, who they fucked, where they ate, and occasionally what they did for a living. It was great fun. But time is a tricky devil for a franchise centered around single women. Espically when those women reach their mid to late 30’s and they are still single. So, they did what you’d expect – they married off almost all of them. They gave babies to them. They had them quit their jobs. Maybe it made people comfortable to see Carrie married off or to see Miranda finally trade her job for a family. It’s just sad that they had a real opportunity to show a different side of women. They had a chance to be original but instead they opted for ordinary. And that karaoke scene was pure torture.
The Cell (2000) This movie stars Jennifer Lopez as a world renown child psychologist. Wait, it gets better. She has developed a new experimental technology that lets her enter the minds of comatose patients. Still with me? The FBI recruits her to enter the mind of a serial killer to find out where he has hidden his latest kidnap victim. If you can accept all of that, you are a better person that me. JLo spends a great deal of the movie in elaborate costumes, and occasionally smokes weed in her underwear. The always creepy and awesome Vincent D’Onofrio stars as the comatose serial killer. Who for some reason also happens to be trapped in a glass cell which is slowly filling with water. It’s bad. Really bad. Sure the movie is pretty, and the costumes are great, but it takes more than that to make a good movie. A believable plot is a good place to start.
Southland Tales (2006) Apparently I cannot stand Richard Kelly. He is responsible for this piece of poo as well as my all time least favorite film, Donnie Darko. But unlike Darko, this movie has little to no redeeming qualities. It’s a post-apocalyptic tale about porn stars and the second coming. It stars The Rock, and Sarah Michelle Gellar… as a porn star. And as exciting as that sounds in theory, the sad fact is that the plot makes no sense. Even on repeated viewings. Or attempted repeated viewings. I couldn’t do it twice. I could barely do it once.
Wicker Man (2006) Everyone knows I love me some Nic Cage. One of the things I like best about him is that he is awful and awesome in equal measure. He can do a movie so bad it’s laughable (like this one) and then do something great like Adaptation. The man is a mystery. But his work in the remake of Wicker Man is pretty much the worst thing he has ever, ever done.
What Dreams May Come (1998) When Robin Williams makes a stinker he really goes for it. While Bicentennial Man and Patch Adams are both worthy of this list, What Dreams May Come edges out the competition with its vast amount of pure pretension. I hated this movie. Like The Cell, this movie thinks it can forgo a plotline in lieu of really pretty scenery. Sorry. It doesn’t work that way. And like The Cell, it’s really confusing. Robin Williams has a family and they die. Mostly. Then once he and his wife are happy again, he dies. Mostly. He’s kind of alive in heaven and realizes he can control his surroundings with his mind. He then meets Cuba Gooding Jr. who serves as his mentor in heaven and teaches him how to get into other people’s dreams. Ugh. Just… ugh.
After Earth (2013) I wish Will Smith would stop producing movies for his kids to star in. They all suck, and they just make me mad at Will Smith. This movie was nothing more than a vehicle for him and his son. Did he learn nothing from The Karate Kid fiasco? Will, if you are reading this, please do us all a favor and stick to bitchen’ action movies that require you to appear shirtless for at least 10% of the running time. These movies you are making with your kids are just sad, man. What would Uncle Phil say about using fame to promote your kids? If they are talented they’ll do alright on their own. And, you kind of aren’t helping anyway.
Godfather 3 (1990) I like to pretend this movie doesn’t exist. Without it The Godfather franchise remains unsullied. The story is not up to par, and we don’t really get much of an explanation for why Michael Corleone has gone legit. He’s older and walks with a stoop, and I guess that’s supposed to show us that he’s human. Just what we want in a Godfather movie. Then to compound the bad ideas, Coppola cast his daughter Sophia as Michael Corleone’s daughter Mary. I’m not exaggerating when I say she ruined the entire film. She is horrible. She should stick to being behind the camera. There are numerous scenes of awkward conversation, and Diane Keaton is reduced to a bit part as a “the mother”. Kay deserved better. So, like I said. I like to pretend that this movie doesn’t even exist. It’s just better that way.
Honorable Mention: Glitter, Waterworld, Gili, White Chicks, everything ever from Tyler Perry, Catwoman, The Fantastic Four, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and The Twilight Saga movies