We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
For every unique film that reminds us of our movie-going love, there’s always one that reminds us otherwise. For every gem like The Artist, there are parades of sucktitude like Jack and Jill. For every surprise like Monte Carlo, there’s journeys into hell like Glee: The 3D Concert Movie.
As we get hooked on the golden hoopla with Oscar’s new batch of nominations let us not forget the titles stinking up the bottom of the garbage bin that is the worst movies of 2011.
And now, on to the list …
7. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (3/10)
Recap: A young New York boy (Thomas Horn) seeks to solve the mystery of a blank key left behind by his father (Tom Hanks) who died on 9/11. Directed by Stephen Daldry (The Reader), and starring some kid who dominated “Kids Week!” on “Jeopardy!”, Tom Hanks, and the magic mom from The Blind Side. Adapted by Eric Roth, from some apparently good book of the same title; Roth also scribed the distressingly similar Forrest Gump and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Reason: Of all the movies dumped onto the busy award season, or at least hoping to get shout-outs in “Best Of” yearly lists, Extremely Loud is the one whose intentions backfire the hardest, and to the embarrassing point of which Bucky Larson: Born to Be A Star is less despicable. In comparison, this manipulative “we are NY” tear-squeezer is more offensive than Bucky Larson, the Nick Swardson-led comedy co-written by Adam Sandler, which featured hundreds of buck teeth punchlines and the usage of a straw condom. And while we’re at it, Bucky is a more likable character than Horn’s insufferable Oskar. At least Bucky offers no challenge as whether to like him – he is meant to be laughed at the entire time, whereas we’re supposed to embrace Tambourine Boy with wet eyes and the biggest hug we’ve given a movie that sucker-punches right back since a Nicholas Sparks film. Thus, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close must be the kick-off to this Top 7. At least Tom Hanks’ ghost doesn’t rap at the end of the movie.
6. Zookeeper (3/10)
Recap: After a friendly zookeeper (Kevin James) threatens to leave his job in order to impress his dream lady, a group of zoo animals break their code of silence to help him nab his mate. This useless comedy is directed by Frank Coraci (visionary behind James’ previous Paul Blart: Mall Cop,) and features the wasted voice talents of Cher, Sylvester Stallone, Judd Apatow, Nick Nolte, and more. Adam Sandler voices a monkey in this film that required five writers to reach its full terrible potential.
Reason: Some critics tried to shrug off Zookeeper as harmless family fare, but overlooked that this movie is essentially the Injustice League of components that sometimes make multiplex journeys really evil – talking animals, shameless product placement, and Kevin James. Thankfully, Zookeeper is more dull than it is obnoxious, but more sad than it is funny. It eventually denigrates itself to being a dumb romantic comedy where a fat idiot gets useless advice from clueless talking animals. The fart joke quota is low. It is yet to be determined as to whether this is truly worse than Paul Blart: Mall Cop, but Zookeeper is guilty of wasting once-in-a-lifetime voice casting, and then making a Nick Nolte gorilla say, “Is T.G.I.Friday’s as great as it looks?”
5. Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (2/10)
Recap: After his son (Brandon T. Jackson) witnesses a murder, FBI agent Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence) sends his son to the Georgia Girls School for Arts. There, they disguise themselves as two women, whilst trying to find evidence related to the murder case. This is the third film in the “Big Momma” saga, which was likely named “Big Momma Ultimatum” during its shooting stages.
Reason: America’s love affair with overweight transvestites descends to miserable levels with Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, a movie that lacks so much humor it can’t even be laughed at. Comedic elements that might have been “outrageous” in something gender bending like Mrs. Doubtfire are completely vanilla here; all gags are easily expected. The lack of satisfaction that this movie offers (on the poster, it looks like something I’ve had a nightmare about) can only be described as super size. It’s the kind of popcorn movie that has you hoping a rogue kernel will choke you midway through the film, giving you a good excuse to ditch the flick and never return. Because you’re dead.
4. Abduction (2/10)
Recap: A high school kid (Taylor Lautner) sets out to uncover the truth about his life after finding his baby photo on a missing persons website. He soon realizes that his parents are not who they seem, and that he’s being sought after by an international terrorist (Michael Nyqvist) and the CIA. The first lead performance from meat-slab Lautner, hoping to escape the eclipse of the Twilight saga, embarrassingly directed by John Singleton.
Reason: Lautner’s just made another piece of effeminate fantasy (like … Twilight), and one that wholly deserves to be on this list. Not just because it features the original Michael Blomqvist telling Taylor that he’ll kill all his Facebook friends, but because it’s an entire misfire of a breakout, like when thieves run into windows thinking they are automatic doors. Lautner fails to distract us with his muscles from his bad acting skills, and the extremely lame action sequences show he’s more likely to hurt himself than get hurt (as when he slides down an escalator roof at Pirates Stadium). The action movie has shot a lot of blanks this year, from Cowboys & Aliens to Killer Elite, but this dumb muscle starring-vehicle Abduction is the genre’s weakest moment.
3. The Roommate (1/10)
Recap: A young woman (Minka Kelly) embarks into the college world and discovers that her roommate (Leighton Meester) may not be as sweet as she seems. Leighton Meester proves this when she kills a cat named “Cuddles” by putting it in a dryer machine.
Reason: Hollywood can’t get cat fights right (no disrespect to Cuddles, RIP). Remember that movie with Beyonce and that pencil-thin woman fighting over Idris Elba, Obsessed? That movie was better than the similar Roommate, and Obsessed only has a YouTube video-length amount of material worth watching. The Roommate is disappointing even on the lowest of levels. Partially crippled by its “no boobs” PG-13 rating, which probably reigned in a decent amount of young girls who have never seen an actual dorm room, Roommate dishes out a dull amount of failed jump scares, and weak moments of shadiness from the creepy roommate to the other. It doesn’t build any tension with its story, but sponsors the idea of being judgmental over reaching out. This irresponsible movie doesn’t even tell girls what to properly do if their roommate actually has a dangerous mental condition. Plus, Meester is about as scary as a sleeping puppy. In movie math, that means The Roommate will only scare those who really love cats.
2. Jack and Jill (1/10)
Recap: A TV commercial director (Adam Sandler) attempts to use his visiting twin sister (Adam Sandler) to convince Al Pacino to star in a commercial. Released the same year as the meta-titled Just Go With It, also directed by Dennis Dugan and starring Adam Sandler.
Reason: Sure, The Artist and Hugo are great or whatever, yadda Uggie blah blah Georges Melies yadda, but 2011’s most meta movie is Adam Sandler’s insulting Jack and Jill. Another movie in which the former comedy superstar wears over-sized t-shirts and forces you to watch him have fun on a paid vacation, Sandler passive aggressively states to his current career status with audiences by disguising it as a stupid bimbo tranny movie. Playing himself with a different job, Sandler has become a shill for product placement (it’s worse here than in Zookeeper), and his new character Jill is a dumbed-down version of himself who entertains kids. Jack and Jill is an obvious smiling middle-finger to its audience members, as it puts its laziness on parade while Sandler and family go on vacation, name-drops a ton of brands, and makes Al Pacino’s currently dark career even bleaker. Even the film’s obligatory moment of understanding between the two title characters is in gibberish.
1. Glee: The 3D Concert Movie (1/10)
Recap: A concert movie for the TV show “Glee,” mixed with real testimonials by people whose lives are changed by the popular series.
Reason: Long before John Hawkes forced me to sleep with the lights on after his spooky turn in Martha Marcy May Marlene, a different type of cult-y nightmare haunted me. Of course, it was the “Glee” movie, a full-length feature film in 3D that presented a sufferable TV show as a way of life preached by TV characters, yet followed by millions who feel like they’re all outcasts. (It really put the whole “cup of punch” imagery associated with “Glee” into perspective.) Even Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, which is critically overlooked, has less of a shallow spirit (and offers followers better 3D). This concert movie just stinks of inevitable mass-suicides and more reasons to hate the iShuffle generation. More covers of the same songs. And as I ingeniously wrote in my review for the movie, “I used to wish L. Ron Hubbard would come back as a zombie and tell his ‘followers’ that he was just joking, ruining their faith. Now I just can’t wait for ‘Glee’ to be canceled.”