The Worst Films of 2011

I like watching bad movies. I actively seek them out actually. Ed Wood and Uwe Boll are two of my favorite directors because they're so terrible that they fascinate me (you haven't seen bad until you've seen Glen or Glenda). But there's a difference between being awfully good and just plain awful. The 10 movies on this list are in the latter category and they represent the foulest, most unpleasant, unwatchable pieces of trash to be released this year. Aside from perhaps a couple moments of unintentional hilarity, these movies offer none of the charm of a movie that's so bad it's good. They are instead depressing wastes of time and if you watch any of them, you're subjecting yourself to the worst cinematic torture of the year. You've been warned.

Note: Click on the title to read my full review.

10. Bad Teacher—There were a handful of movies that deserved this spot on my list. Some that didn’t make it actually received a lower score than this film, but the more I thought about Bad Teacher after watching and writing about it, the more disgusted I became. Its cruel, heartless and humorless existence just can’t go unnoticed, which is precisely why I shoved some other movies aside to put it here. Let me know if I’m moving too fast for you here, but the plot revolves around a teacher, played by Cameron Diaz, as she treats people horribly, screws them over, steals from them and manipulates them while raising enough money to get a boob job. I know what you’re thinking: “Slow down there tiger!” I know it hurts to think about it (mainly about how such a stupid idea could be greenlit into production in the first place), but there it is. For perhaps the longest hour and a half I had this year, I watched Diaz act opposite type. Rather than the cute sweetheart we’ve come to know and love, she plays an awful human being, one that is either too self obsessed to notice the horrible way she treats those around her or one that simply doesn’t care. I suppose that’s the shtick, that Diaz gets to be mean (as suggested by the title), but it’s shtick without comedic worth. It’s not funny enough to overlook and the script provides no arc for which to provide some type of end-of-movie redemption. There were lots of bad movies that came out this year, but none were as wrongheaded and morally empty as Bad Teacher.

9. Zookeeper—By far the most unbearable of all the children’s films released this year (though to be fair, I didn’t see Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked), Zookeeper was a chore to sit through. It’s juvenile, senseless and joylessly goofy. It’s the type of movie that kids will probably love while parents sit there and become dumber. A movie targeted at kids isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but Zookeeper is surprisingly offensive and sometimes inappropriate for children. It has traces of sexism and homophobia in certain scenes that come out of nowhere and is bound to make the parents’ jaws drop to the floor. More offensive than hateful speech and playing up verbal abuse as funny, however, is just how ridiculous and desperate the movie is, as evidenced by its egregious slapstick and gross-out humor. As I said in my review, “In the first ten minutes alone, you’ll see Kevin James fall over at least three times, break a tree limb that can’t carry his weight, get shot twice with porcupine quills and get splashed in the face with a lioness’s saliva.” If that sounds like a good time to you, you’re probably seven. Zookeeper is an embarrassing waste of time.

8. I Am Number Four—I considered simply copying and pasting my review for I Am Number Four here because, after reading it again, I think it did an adequate job of explaining everything that was wrong with this turd, but that would be lazy and I’d like to at least put more effort into this write-up than the makers of this thing did into their movie. Like a few other movies on this list (there’s a trend popping up and it’s ugly), I Am Number Four is whiny, needy and annoying. The characters (and demographically, the audience) have attitudes where they think they’re too cool for school, yet they’re still emotionally distraught over everything. This hipster attitude even translates to the editing and camerawork, like in an early shot were someone back flips a jet ski…in slow motion. For the longest time, nothing happens in I Am Number Four and the villains who are out to kill Number Four, played blandly by Alex Pettyfer (who will pop up again later on this list), are hardly a threat. They are barely present for the majority of the movie and exist almost solely in random interjections to show that they are indeed searching for Number Four, though if Four's warrior guardian’s protection protocol (to keep pictures of Number Four off the Internet) is any indication, their search consists of using Google and nothing else. I Am Number Four is laughably bad no matter how you look at it. It was the first movie of the year I suspected would be on my "worst of" list. It turns out I was right.

7. Something Borrowed—It’s really no surprise these days when a romantic comedy is bad. Out of perhaps all genres, it’s the one that caters to the lowest common denominator and seemingly goes to great lengths to be redundant. When was the last time we saw one that was original? (500) Days of Summer? If so, that was over two years ago and even the best recent examples of the genre, like The Switch and Friends with Benefits, are of arguable quality. It’s a genre with little imagination, scarce humor, and blissful ignorance, which leads me to Something Borrowed, the worst romantic comedy of the year. The story follows Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin), who is in love with Dex (Colin Egglesfield). The catch is that Dex is engaged to Rachel’s best friend, Darcy (Kate Hudson). Wackiness ensues, including a dance montage that I now want to punch myself in the face for remembering. The pain of such a blow is tame compared to the pain associated with watching this movie. The characters are all rotten people—if they aren’t self centered tramps or manipulative jerks, they’re whiny, “pity me” annoyances—and they meander through a trite screenplay that would look lowbrow alongside those stupid tween dramas on ABC Family or the CW. John Krasinski retains his likable charm, but any goodwill the rest of the cast had built up in past endeavors (which wasn’t much to begin with) is gone. Something Borrowed is trash.

6. Your Highness—Penis. If that just made you laugh, Your Highness was probably your funniest movie of the year. If you’re above the age of 12, however, it was likely one of the most unwatchable pieces of garbage to be put in front of your eyes in quite a while. It was immature, poorly written, outrageously stupid and, most importantly, entirely unfunny. Masturbation, a penis necklace and all kinds of other sexual perversions were used as jokes in a movie without a single laugh to be found. What depresses the most about Your Highness, however, isn’t its puerile sense of humor or its vapid idiocy, but the fact that it rounded up such an impressive cast. The always annoying and rarely funny Danny McBride notwithstanding, the film stars James Franco, the effervescent Zooey Deschanel and Natalie Portman, who had just won an Oscar for her brilliant performance in one of last year’s best films, Black Swan. While you can’t blame them for wanting to be in a movie where they could act as goofy as possible, it doesn’t change how atrocious it is. It’s a movie I didn’t review this year and I try not to include movies on my end of year lists I didn’t review, but Your Highness was too terrible to pass by unharmed.

5. Abduction—There hasn’t been a more lifeless, dull, incompetent thriller than Abduction in years. It’s like watching Twilight sans the romance, which should come as no surprise since the film is built for that crowd. Director John Singleton, the man responsible for Boyz in the Hood and Four Brothers, tarnishes his name in one fell swoop. Never mind the ill advised Shaft remake and redundant 2 Fast 2 Furious. Abduction makes those look like masterpieces. The story has something to do with a kid who suddenly finds himself wrapped up in a conflict between the American government and a Serbian terrorist named Kozlow after seeing himself on a missing person’s site. This leads to the revelation that the people he has lived with his entire life aren’t actually his parents, but rather spies who have vowed to protect him. What follows is one of the more inane stories to be told this year. As the Rotten Tomatoes page says, Abduction is a movie that “not even a veteran lead actor could save, let alone Taylor Lautner” and they couldn’t be more right. Lautner has a sculpted body, some surprising fighting skills and close to no acting talent. Dating all the way back to The Adventures of Sharkboy & Lavagirl, Lautner hasn’t once done anything interesting in a role, but this is the first time he was needed to carry a movie and he fails miserably. Tack onto that the poor direction, amateurish editing that can’t even sync up the sound to the action onscreen and distracting extras that stare at Lautner as he walks through the Pittsburgh Pirates stadium and you have a movie that isn’t worth a one dollar rental at Redbox.

4. Beastly—Alex Pettyfer is boring, plain and simple. I hate to trash on him too much (despite the zing in my initial review about his acting skills matching the word “suck” written over his left eye in the film) because I’m sure he’s a nice kid—he seems like one at least—but he doesn’t have the charisma, allure or talent to be a leading man. If that point wasn’t made clear enough in one of the other worst movies of the year, I Am Number Four, it certainly was here. Within weeks of each other, Pettyfer had already reserved two spots on this worst of the year list and out of the two, Beastly is by far the worst. It’s yet another angsty, “pity me” tween film where the characters piss and moan about their problems, even when they are self inflicted. Isn’t the Twilight series (more on that in a moment) enough to satiate that small demographic of young teenagers who have never truly experienced life and love? Must we really be subjected to this tripe as well? Apparently so, but even with that, there is one positive in Beastly: Neil Patrick Harris. Even when he’s wasting his time starring in movies like The Smurfs and this, he manages to charm. Like I said in my review, if this movie does anything, it proves that no matter what garbage he’s starring in, Neil Patrick Harris is awesome. But take that one shining light and compare it to the unwatchable mess it’s in and the scales clearly weigh heavily to one side. Beastly is horrible.

3. Breaking Dawn Part 1—Is it even worth it to trash the Twilight series further? People are so strongly divided on the franchise that there’s nothing I can do to persuade Twi-hards to wise up and watch something better. The more power to them I say, but it’s just so frustrating to hear people talk about how amazing the movies are when in reality they’re nothing more than pre-teen nonsense. It reminds me of high school, when everyone thought that if they didn’t get that one guy or girl they were crushing on, it was the end of the world. It reminds me of those nights when my friends and I would stay up late and talk about how we just couldn’t live without this girl or that girl. But then I grew up. Twilight fans evidently haven’t. They still revel in the soapy, overdramatic drivel this franchise conjures up with every installment and, frankly, it’s kind of sad. With so many wonderful romances out there to watch, why would anyone want to waste their time on this? It’s a question with no answer, but in response to my initial question, no, it’s not worth it to trash this series even further. Let me just put it this way. Many people thought the franchise couldn’t go any lower after the second installment, New Moon. Those same people will suddenly have fond memories of it after watching Breaking Dawn Part 1.

2. Shark Night—I suppose the official title for this film is Shark Night 3D, but no matter how you watch this movie, you’re going to wish you weren’t. Shark Night is the most idiotic, poorly executed, nonsensical piece of garbage on this entire list and considering the movie that follows (that this beats solely because it’s so ill conceived as to be somewhat amusing), that’s really saying something. The film stars a bunch of D list actors as they take a trip to a remote lake house for the weekend. While there, they find out that sharks are in the lake and have a hunger for young teenage flesh. That’s right. Sharks are in the lake. How did they get there you might ask? Well, without ruining it (as if it matters), it has to do with the popularity of Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. I’ve seen movies where characters have dumb motives, but boy does this take the cake. To make matters worse, the characters continually go back in the water through the laziest and most contrived screenwriting means possible, even as they watch their friends get all eaten up. I know this is only a short paragraph describing the movie, but if it hasn’t convinced you to not watch Shark Night, nothing will, so have at it.

1. Jack and Jill—As I stated in my review, Adam Sandler isn’t a bad actor. Quite the contrary, he can be  amazing in movies that allow him to be. Although the movie wasn’t a critical darling overall, his performance in Reign Over Me convinced lots of people that he wasn’t just a goofy face and silly voice. This is why I beg the question: Why does Sandler star in crap like Jack and Jill? The premise is that he plays his own sister and, as you might expect, it’s empty, dull, stupid and horribly unfunny. In a not-so-quick 90 minutes, Sandler destroys any credibility he may have had left after last year’s terrible (but still better than this) Grown Ups. It’s like watching a stand-up comic flail about onstage in a desperate attempt to gather laughs, because if this movie isn’t a clear sign of desperation, what is? This isn’t funny, clever, unique, or heartfelt in any way. It’s a turd, a bane on film, an excuse for Sandler’s haters to keep hating him, and who can blame them? I want to like Sandler because I’ve seen him do better things and I know he’s capable of so much more, but if even he can’t realize his potential, does it even matter? He seems content to star in this brain deadening tripe. Jack and Jill is easily the worst movie of the year and the worst film in Sandler’s filmography. And if you've seen some of his other bombs, you should have an idea of just how bad this thing is.