10 Summers, 20 Magnificently Stupid Movies

24 Jun

 peeing

June 23rd, 2009

Well, it’s finally here. Michael Bay’s Transformers: Louder, Dumber and more Racist has hit the multiplexes and every male between 10 and 24 has penciled it into his agenda right between “get a Slurpee and some Chalupas” and “play X-Box”. The best hope at this point is that it will be ‘good-bad’,  like the glorious Highlander II: The Quickening.

However, the critics haven’t been nice at all, and if the picture they paint is accurate, nor should they. When Roger Ebert identifies the best scene in your movie as involving “a dog-like robot humping the leg of the heroine” and calls the rest of it “a horrible experience of unbearable length” it’s probably safe to say there are problems. And Roger liked the first movie! The best of these reviews is over at i09 and gives me hope that it will be memorable even if it isn’t good.

Stupidity has always been a part of the summer popcorn experience, but as the years have gone by the tolerance for dumb and the eagerness of filmmakers to provide it has increased to a ridiculous level. So, in honor of possibly the latest and greatest example of the doltish summer blockbuster, I bring you 20 of the stupidest movies of the last ten summers; two for each year. A little brainless entertainment never hurt anyone, but the following films take it way beyond ‘a little’. These are movies so  perfectly tuned in their idiocy that it boggles the mind to consider most were ever made. There are few here that could have been something, but along the way were ingested by the Hollywood studio beast and far more were just abominations from the moment of their conception. I honestly haven’t seen a number of the movies on this list, but based upon their reception and the words of trusted others, I feel confident in their placement. Afterall, it isn’t likely White Chicks is a diamond in the rough. Without further ado, a walk down moron lane…

 

Summer 1999- Inspector Gadget/ Wild, Wild West

1999

Its quite likely that when someone tries to recall the dumbest movie of 99’s summer, they might find Phantom Menace on their lips. This is just plain inaccurate. While I can understand the sentiment, Lucas’ movie suffered from extreme overhype and a general cluelessness on the part of its creator, not from low brain functions. Granted, Jar Jar Binks looked poised to topple the franchise, but not even he can compete with the levels of inanity that are displayed in Wild Wild West and Inspector Gadget. Both movies adapted from dubiously ‘popular’ tv shows that sported wierd premises, neither one seems to understand at all why these ideas would make good movies. Gadget at least tries for a satirical tone, but messes it all up with a mugging Matthew Broderick, gallons of cgi and an intensely irritating sense of slapstick.

West was dead on arrival and so off base from the world of Earthling entertainment that it feels like it was beamed down from some other planet where everyone is nurtured on re-runs of Gunsmoke and Amos and Andy. When the corny interplay between Smith and Kline becomes unbearable, around the 15 minute mark, the movie throws in a giant mechanical spider. And that doesn’t work either. The best thing about Wild, Wild Waste? It shut down the Big Willy Style for four years and his rap career indefinitely. Smith went off to do Ali, and Kline to do nothing.

Summer 2000 Battlefield Earth/Coyote Ugly

2000

For my money, 2000 was one of the worst movie summers ever. There weren’t many big event pictures to begin with, and so many of them ended up being disappointments; Perfect Storm and The Patriot I’m looking at you. There were scads of terrible movies including Mission Impossible 2, The Cell and Gone In Sixty Seconds. But this spot is reserved for two movies that should never ever, ever been made in the first place. Trying to adapt L Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth with two Scientologists at the helm should have been a warning sign from the start. I appreciate that Travolta was passionate about getting it made, but he should have tried electrocuting some of those Thetans in his cranium and actually considered what he was doing. A movie legendary in its awfulness, Earth sports bad costumes, bad fx, bad storytelling, bad writing and all of it combine to transcend bad and fly into the stratosphere of “Whaaa???” For those that think Scientology doesn’t hold power, think again. It got this heap made.

As for Coyote Ugly, wow, what a great idea! A PG-13 girl’s empowerment bonding flick about ladies that work at a skeeved out theme bar, and dance on tabletops while spitting liqour into lighters. Having never actually seen Coyote Ugly, I can’t comment on how it all comes together but I have to wonder who they were marketing this to. Obviously, it seems like the male demographic would be most interested, yet the trailers made it look like  The Babysitter’s Club with thongs.

Summer 2001- The Bubble Boy, Pearl Harbor

2001 

I can understand the reasoning behind making The Bubble Boy. It actually seems like a potentially ingenious idea precisely because it is so dumb– a guy goes looking for adventure but due to his immune deficiency he has to take his bubble with him. In order for that to work, a director would really have to tap into their inner crazy and something special could result. Of course it didnt, and this lame duck comedy is actually far more bizarre and far more brain-numbing than its premise. Good thing for Jake, everyone would be paying attention to Darko within a year and not this.

Placing for the first time on the list, but not the last, is The Duke of Dumb himself, Michael Bay. Pearl Harbor? As an action love story with Ben Affleck and Josh Harnett as the two points of the triangle that want to intersect with Kate Beckinsale? Riiiiiigghht. And Bay makes it far more cloying, insulting and soul-destroying than it ever needed to be. This might actually be his greatest travesty, and I say that as someone who has watched the entirety of Armageddon.

Summer 2002- Master of Disguise, The Adventures of Pluto Nash

2002

I was unfortunately teaching at a kid’s camp the year after this movie hit, and one of my fellow counselers wanted to show the little tykes a ‘funny’ movie and they queued this one up. Wow. Just wow. Dana Carvey, if you were ever, ever funny, this film not only got your liscense revoked but God probably considered going back and retroactively erasing you from the entertainment landscape. Since this movie took care of that from here on out, I guess He decided to let you keep your glory days. The creepy turtle character? Not funny, not clever, and not appealing.

Eddie, not to be outdone by a fellow SNL alumn, went and made Pluto Nash this same year. I’ve actually seen  this on TBS, and it  feels ‘off”. The premise of Murphy running a nightclub on the moon isn’t terribly wrong-headed in and of itself, but each and every scene has no concept of the one that came before it. Its surreally like watching “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” where each actor walks in, oblivious of the context and just starts talking.  A precursor to the extended downfall of Mr. Eddie Murphy.

 

Summer 2003- League of Extraordinary Gentleman, Bad Boys 2

2003

 I was really looking forward to the adaptation of Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. When it was released, it was competing against what looked to be a screwball, dumbhouse pirate movie that turned out to not only be worthwhile but the surprise smash of the summer. League on the otherhand, was a woeful abomination. This should have been good! There is no logical reason for how pathetic it ends up being. Too many cooks in the kitchen for sure, and too many egos as well. The addition, extraction and alteration of characters as well as the basic storyline robbed the energy and imagination the graphic novel posessed and a hack and slash editing/directing job did the rest. To think, this was the last Sean Connery performance we ever got.

Bad Boys 2 marked the return of Michael Bay, out to make his masterpiece of misogyny, mayhem and monotony. I know people who absolutely love BB2 and its over-the-top violence, cheerful sexism, and racist undertones.They usually don’t see it that way, favoring the action and ignoring the rest. However, I find it hard to ignore, and the two leads aren’t doing much to cover up how shallow and thin the whole ordeal is. I will give you that it has awesome and excellent vehicular destruction, but since when is that really the mark of a good film? To its credit, its probably less offensive than everything Bay did since The Rock.

Summer 2004-Cat Woman, White Chicks

2004

 Not wanting to be outdone in the bad movie department, 2004 released some astonishing stinkers to the cinema. It was so bad, that one of my targeted films, Van Helsing, had to be sacked from the list in favor of the far more repugnant Cat Woman. I caught about ten minutes of this on television one afternoon and to call it rancid is an understatement. It’s also amusing to even consider. With Batman only a year away from a successful reboot, someone decides to make a Catwoman movie that has no real ties to the DC character, that gives the character a ridiculously fetishized outfit and then hands it off to a un-proven French director with no knack for telling a story. This could have been Sci-Fi Channel’s The Catwoman and no one would have batted an eye–or a paw.

 White Chicks is the first, but not the last, Wayans Brothers movie on the list. It is incredibly creepy to think about in conception. Two big black guys go undercover as white ditzy blondes. Maybe at some level, there was a reverse-racist satire at play here, and the Wayans really had something brilliant planned. Wait–no, I really doubt that. Instead you have the two bros dressed up in Planet of the Apes ‘white-face’, going through all the women disguised as men routines that Some Like It Hot trotted out some 50 years ago. But wait, they are also black! Don’t forget that! This is a movie that everyone is aware of , but I imagine very few have seen. I haven’t and I plan to keep it that way.

Summer 2005- Stealth, Supercross: The Movie

2004

2005 played it pretty safe and there wasn’t anything glaringly dopey on the roster, but these two action films were the epitome of “who cares?” and “who wrote this?”. Stealth comes off as a two-bit hackjob written in a hurry and then rushed into production while its stars were still relevant and before someone else made a similar movie , which was not a danger. The sentient stealth fighter at the story’s heart is like something out of a cheap cable movie. But Rob Cohen’s little disaster doesn’t have any wit or style about it. Thats what really makes this a tragedy; a perfectly dumb plot and no resources to carry it over the line into something entertaining.

Supercross: The Movie seems like it was trying to revive the 20 year old genre of BMX movies. C’mon guys, let it go. Rad and all those of its ilk are in the past and belong there. This was unseen by me, and I imagine a good percentage of the rest of the world. Where is the point of entry for your average moviegoer? In a summer with alien invasions, Jedi Battles, Batman and the living dead someone is actually going to a movie about BMX racing. Let me tell you, everyone interested in seeing that isn’t at the theater, they are out actually biking because it’s summer and it’s warm and riding bikes is better than watching others ride them.

Summer 2006-The Wicker Man, Little Man

2006

No doubt about it, this summer, stupidity was a guy thing. There were numerous bad big-budget tentpole movies like X3: The Last Stand and  Lady in the Water but surreal and horrendous never have better company than Little Man and Wicker Man. Based off the original 1970’s thriller, which was an odd duck itself, The Wicker Man made a right mess of every possible turn its story takes. Nic Cage is a cop who goes to an island where primarily women rule, and he’s looking for a little girl that might be his daughter. There are many extraneous scenes and plodding mystery, but in the last twenty minutes the movie becomes gloriously unhinged. Cage, dressed in a bear suit, literally spin-kicks one girl into a wall and then sucker punches two more, all of this leading up to a scene where he is adorned with a crown of bees and then burned to death. Yea, I ruined the ending. Actually, it wasn’t me. The filmmakers ruined the ending.

Little Man is the second entry from the Wayan’s Bros. May I just say it seems very odd and unfortunate that men like Terry Gilliam strive and fight to make one movie over the course of ten years and these guys made White Chicks and still found someone out there that would greenlight this. They have an incredible ability for picking the oddest and most unsavory concepts. The hideous man-baby isn’t funny in an absurd way, and the structure of the film seems incomprehensible. What could this possibly be about, where could it go, how do they pull it off without alienating everyone watching? Since Im guessing not many were watching, that probably wasn’t a problem.

 

Summer 2007- I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Bratz: The Movie 

2007 

This has been talked about for years, originally with Will Smith and Adam Sandler. When Big Willy started rehabilitating his image into something that wouldn’t go the way of the Martin Lawrence, the producers jumped in and decided that Smith’s Hitch co-star Kevin James would be a suitable replacement. Ha! The very idea here is rather insulting and transparent; if we make the film seem like it is about acceptance and tolerance, than we have liscense to tell as many gay jokes as we can cram in there and Sandler and James can act like idiots and we can still be seen as relevant. One problem, word of mouth. This did decent business at first but it wasn’t long before this house of cards toppled as it was meant to.

Bratz! The Movie. So brilliant, really. Toys as movies. Transformers did it, so why not Bratz?  Because trying to actually pull together a coherent story based around sassy urban dolls is about as viable as deciding to go ahead and make Playdoh! The Movie. This looked wretched and people stayed far away, which is undoubtedly a good thing. Reviews identified it as being as vapid as expected.  It’s really a shame, since there is a lack of good entertainment for young girls. Bratz is just one more for the junk heap.

Summer 2008- The Love Guru, Meet Dave

2008

Ho, ho! Here we are again! Eddie Murphy and another star of Wayne’s World, running the summer into the ground. Unfortunately there wasn’t another Shrek movie to keep these two busy so they went out and located the most unlikely and unlikable scripts they could find, and then convinced someone to make them into movies. I saw neither of these, but they still inflicted pain because I sat through the trailers multiple, multiple times and they were so excruciating that it doesn’t matter I wasn’t there for all 90 minutes. Murphy and Meyers are talented,  funny and charming. And if I keep repeating that mantra over and over and over again, and if all of you at home start clapping your hands and believe, maybe they will start actually utilizing those traits in their future films.Uggh.

Well, the big dumb robots are calling. Til tomorrow. Until then I leave you with this ode to the original Transformers:

donuts

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3 Responses to “10 Summers, 20 Magnificently Stupid Movies”

  1. The Great Fatsby June 25, 2009 at 7:09 pm #

    And what of Norbit in 2007?

    • ccc June 30, 2009 at 7:49 pm #

      I believe Norbit came out in January, therefore, not a summer film.

  2. Mr. Capone August 30, 2009 at 9:21 pm #

    How did it cost to start up this blog…I want to start my own.

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