Top 10 Stinkers of the Decade

Top 10 Rupert de 31 Dec 2009 - 14:43

What are the worst films of the past ten years that are best forgotten? Here are Rupert's suggestions...

A quick note on my rational for this: firstly, only one film per franchise and these films either had to have a full release or been so over the top and stupidly bad that they got pulled. B-movies like Ballistic: Ecks vs. Server or Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 don’t count. Also, I’ve tried to be objective, and this isn’t a list of the biggest disappointments of the decade (though that would be a good list). These are, pure and simple, the films so bad that watching them is actually like pulling teeth. Enjoy, and feel free to add your own in the comments.

10. Catwoman (2004)

Poor old Halle Berry. In 2004 her career was on a sky-high trajectory. She had a Best Actress Oscar (for Monsters Ball) in the bag, was seen as one of the sexiest women in the world, had a couple of genuine blockbusters under her belt (X-Men franchise and Die Another Day) and had just been offered $12.5m to headline her own big-name superhero movie.

The result? Without doubt, the worst comic book adaptation of the decade, and arguably of all time. She then tried her best to commit career suicide by personally accepting her Worst Actress Razzie and blasting Warner Brothers in her speech. The result? While her superstar status remains, her industry credibility and box office bankability has nosedived.

9. Disaster Movie (2008)

Never has a film’s title been so apt. Lords of the parody hack-job, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (whose previous ‘credits’ include Scary Movie, Date Movie, Epic Movie and Meet The Spartans) would be right up there if anyone compiled a Worst Creative Output of the Decade list. And, despite their incredibly tough self-made field, Disaster Movie probably just squeezes it as the worst offering of all.

I tried to not include any of these multi-parodies in the list, but Disaster Movie was just such…well…a disaster, I had to. Can all the idiots who still flock to the cinema to watch this crap please come to the front now so the rest of us can beat you? Much obliged. 

8. Fat Slags (2004)

Fat Slags, adapted from the Viz comic strip of the same name, (thankfully) pretty much disappeared without a trace upon release, which often leads to it being left off these Worst Of retrospectives. You can’t escape the all-seeing eye of Den Of Geek, though, so Fat Slags is being thoroughly named and shamed.

It’s the kind of film where the ignominy of being involved is visibly imprinted on every cast member’s face – especially Richard Dreyfuss’, who probably sacked his agent afterwards. It was so bad, in fact, that the strip’s original creator said that he would drop the Slags from Viz Magazine entirely. A statement he then retracted as a misquote.

Due to its near-unparalleled shitness, Fat Slags is quite hard to find on DVD nowadays, but some kind soul has uploaded it on YouTube if you ever want to laugh at how truly awful it is. I bet you give up after five minutes.

7. The Adventures Of Pluto Nash (2003)

Okay, so it was an absolute given that at least one Eddie Murphy movie would turn up in this list. The only question was which one and how high it would chart.

In fact, every single one of his star vehicles in the Noughties has been an absolute stinker. Let’s look at the evidence: Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps, Dr. Dolittle 2, Showtime, I Spy, Daddy Day Care, The Haunted Mansion, Norbit, Meet Dave and Imagine That. Yikes! I think it’s fair to say then that Murphy has very little shame when it comes to peddling pure trash for a paycheque.

But even Just-Gimme-The-Reddies Eddie had to distance himself from the abysmal sci-fi ‘comedy’ Pluto Nash, refusing to do any sort of promotional tour for this $120m super-flop, which, apparently, accrued the biggest financial loss of any film, ever, even with inflation taken into account. It also has one of the most ludicrous tag lines of all time in: "Somewhere between Earth and Uranus, you'll find Pluto Nash", which just sounds like everyone involved had given up.

All I can say is that Murphy’s damn lucky he’d already got the Shrek gig…

6. White Chicks (2004)

I’ve tried to stay objective while ordering this list; my own personal Worst Ofs would be full of pet hate films. That’s why Ocean’s Twelve isn’t on here, for example (some people think it’s a good romp, apparently). But there was one movie I just couldn’t leave out, White Chicks.

Oh how I loathe this film. ‘Loathe’ probably isn’t a strong enough word to convey my utter contempt. ‘Despise’ fits better.

For some reason, one beyond the realms of science or rational reasoning to comprehend, White Chicks took a cool $120m at the box office. Seriously, WTF? Did people wake up and have a brain tumour for breakfast or something? Sometimes you actually start to lose faith in humanity.

Everyone who went to the cinema or, even worse, owns this steaming mess on DVD can instantly queue jump all the Disaster Movie people waiting in line for their beating. You deserve what’s coming to you. 

5. I Know Who Killed Me (2007)

The award for Biggest Public Train Wreck of the Decade would be a close run thing. Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Jordan – all of them strong contenders for the hotly-contested title. But Lindsay Lohan’s dramatic decent from Disney tweeny-poppet to drug-addled lesbian eclipses all others, with 2007’s I Know Who Killed Me the final death knell of her credibility.

A sort of pseudo-surrealist, soft-core gore porn travesty against cinema, I Know Who Killed Me blitzkriegs the viewer with the most condescendingly obvious visual imagery imaginable.

The film set a new record at the Golden Raspberry Awards in 2008, clocking up an unprecedented eight ‘wins’. Lohan tied with herself for Worst Actress and bagged a duel award for Worst On-Screen Couple. She had checked herself into rehab during production and got arrested for driving under the influence just prior to the film’s release, which was, basically, like a red rag to a bull for all Hollywood gossipmongers, who promptly whipped up an anti-LiLo media frenzy. Poor lass. Truly terrible film, though.

4. Gigli (2003)

In 2003 Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez were, quite possibly, the biggest stars in the world. The ridiculously portmanteau-d ‘supercouple’ Bennifer were everywhere. It was all ‘Bennifer this, Bennifer that’. I live in England and it was tedious enough. In America it must have been insufferable. No wonder then that they suffered perhaps the most vicious media backlash of all time after bonafide cinematic H-bomb, Gigli detonated.

This film was so derided it got pulled from screens after only three weeks on release. Doing a ‘gigli’ entered into the common lexicon. And two of the planet’s most nauseating uber-stars’ careers dropped stone cold dead overnight.

Lopez never recovered, while Affleck has tried his best to claw back some credibility. He’ll never get another big name gig, though. Even the entirely blameless indie director Kevin Smith nearly got swallowed up in the Gigli fallout. His Bennifer-staring Jersey Girl, due for release that year, got pulled with the studio demanding Lopez’s character’s near-total removal. The irony being that Miramax had originally demanded Smith, a long-time friend of Affleck, write Lopez a part in the first place to cash-in on their hype.

Such is the film’s infamy, coupled with that three-week release, that very few people have actually seen Gigli. It was just instantly labelled one of the worst films ever and given a through kicking from all angles.

It is, admittedly, an absolute stinker, but I think it was more the collective public repulsion with the whole Bennifer thing that really fuelled the fires of contempt. They had become insufferably overexposed, and Gigli was their Ozymandias moment. And with the inclusion of Lopez’s immortal "It’s turkey time. Gobble, gobble" line into the final edit, maybe the production team were in on it too. I mean, how stupid can you get?

In keeping with this article’s Razzie theme (funny that), Gigli also holds the dubious honour of being the only film to take home the Razzie Grand Slam of Worst Film, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay.

3. Alone in The Dark (2005)

Into the top three then, and a quick entry, stage right for Uwe Boll. Oh my days, has there ever been a bigger hack than Uwe Boll? The man is a walking disaster zone.

The videogame adaptation had never been taken very seriously, thanks mainly to Mr Boll. House Of The Dead, Bloodrayne, Dungeon Siege, Postal, Far Cry, all perfectly good games ruined by his ‘talents’. Alone In The Dark takes the biscuit, though, and is probably the most unwatchable of his tragic oeuvre. 

Starring a real schlock triumvirate of Christian Slater, Tara Reid and Stephen Dorff, the acting’s amazingly bad, but still the best thing about this film.

It’s like the game’s avatars were highjacked from a Playstation and pressganged into performing. Meanwhile, the cinematography has been described as like ‘a camcorder taped onto a skateboard and pushed forward until it hits a wall’. And all of this set to a grating heavy metal soundtrack that makes you want to tear off your own ears.

It is an eternal mystery to me how Boll managed to keep securing funding, until I found out he utilises a German tax loop-hole that allows companies to write off arts investment against tax payments, as long as the films lose money. So there we go, Uwe Boll is apparently a director that intentionally makes movies as bad as he can. And if that sounds like something out of The Producers, well, that’s because it is… just in real life.

However, I do have a certain respect for the man after he challenged a load of journalists that had been badmouthing him to a boxing match, under the pretence that it was a publicity stunt, only to give them a whopping. At least his actors aren’t the only patsies then.

2. Swept Away (2002)

Madonna + Guy Ritchie + camera = one of the worst films ever. Sums it up pretty well. There have been a number of insufferable couples, romantic or creative, on this list, but none more annoying than Look!-I’m-A-MILF Madge and Mockney Guy, the Boarding School Gangster. Even Bennifer gave us the emotional payoff of seeing their relationship implode in public during the aftermath of Gigli. These two hung around for another six years smugging it up by pretending to be Old English gentry in flat caps, tweed jackets and wellies.

After plying his trade making stylish, but lightweight, London mobster movies and marrying the Queen of Pop, Ritchie had the world at his feet. Surely, with Madge’s connections he would get some big time Hollywood gigs? Wrong! Alpha female Madonna browbeat him into re-making an Italian film from the 70s about sexual violence, degradation and misogyny… as a comedy! Hilarious!

The unabashed vanity of this project is inconceivable. Ritchie had no experience with either comedy or drama. His work was exclusively about geezers with shooters and nicknames like Big Chris – snazzy, pop culture escapism, in effect. Madonna, on the other hand, is just a terrible actress. Everybody knew that. Even Guy himself must have thought ‘what am I doing?’ Ruining your career, that’s what.

Madonna, of course, took it in her stride. She’d been slated before, loads of times. This won her a fourth Worst Actress Razzie (she picked up Worst Supporting Actress that year for Die Another Day, too). But she was still pop royalty. Ritchie was the one who carried the can.

His next film, Revolver, was a dead duck, but he managed to regain some credibility with last year’s RocknRolla. He’s finally got the sort of glossy Hollywood blockbuster he should have been making all this time with Sherlock Holmes (which, interestingly, has not been marketed as a ‘Guy Ritchie Film’ due to Swept Away’s residing legacy Stateside). And with the success of that, his career may just be heading northwards again...

1. Battlefield Earth (2000)

Before I start, I’d like to say how much harder it was compiling this list compared to its Best Of companion piece. While there will undoubtedly be films that you think are missing from both lists, there sure were a lot more stinkers to fit in than winners. And the stinkers list is much more emphatic and competitive than the Best Of.

This leads me to believe that perhaps the Noughties were the worst decade of all time for cinema in general. Just look at the evidence above. Yeah, it ain’t looking too good, hey? But I digress.

Anyway, it’s been a hellava ride, but here we are, numero uno, the big enchilada, the Worst Film of the Decade. And it really is a cast iron tank, Battlefield Earth.

This movie can only be described as an absolute mare in every respect. The greatest vanity project in the history of cinema by a mile. John Travolta spent 18 years trying to get Battlefield Earth made, then spat millions up the wall on the most colossal piece of garbage you could ever imagine.

Based on L. Ron Hubbard’s thousand-page homage to hokey 50s sci-fi, Battlefield Earth looked bad on paper but unremittingly ridiculous when committed to celluloid. And Travolta, too old to play the central hero of Jonnie Goodboy Tyler but too conceited to take a supporting role in his ‘opus’, demanded the narrative be shifted towards the main villain, Terl, a nine-foot-tall Psychlo.

Now, I’m not exactly an expert on narrative structure, but I do know that having an antagonist for your protagonist in a popcorn flick is always going to be a problem. Turn that character into a giant alien and you’ve got a disaster.

What else? Well there were the Scientology smears. Hubbard founded the creepy cult and Travolta is one of its highest profile followers. Travolta tried to distance the film from the Scientology angle, but no one was buying it. Battlefield Earth became ‘that Scientology film’ and the fact it was completely pony only added to its bad buzz. Interestingly, that other celebrity Scientologist, Tom Cruise, refused to have anything to do with the film – smart man.

I could go on, but I think you get the gist. Battlefield Earth is such a turkey because it retains no sense of its own turkey-ness. Travolta genuinely thought he had a rival to Star Wars on his hands, and refused to listen when people said it was a disaster waiting to happen. He blindly persevered, driven by nothing but vanity, and produced a film that will always be considered amongst the worst of all time.

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