2008 was not a great year for movies–not as good as last year, for instance, when we got three outstanding comedies from Judd Apatow & co. (”Knocked Up,” “Superbad,” and “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story”), one of the best Coen Brothers pictures ever (”No Country for Old Men”)–well, if I don’t stop here, I’ll end up listing my entire Top Ten for 2007. But 2008 wasn’t nearly as much fun as the year before.
However, like every year, it had plenty of beyond-clunkers–stuff that was so bad, it deserves special attention.
Now, before I list these, I think it’s only right to say that I think I appreciate just how difficult, time-consuming, attention-sapping and expensive it is to make a movie. Anybody who gets that job done, my hat’s off to you. With this list, I’m just saying that something went wrong somewhere. I’ve always figured that most movie misfires are because so much of the work gets decided by committee, but that’s just my guess.
In any case, here are my Bottom Ten Movies for 2008:
10. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Directed by the otherwise great David Fincher, who made the scary “Se7en” and last year’s Top Ten suspense thriller “Zodiac.” Formula for this picture: Take “Forrest Gump,” suck all the fun out of it, make sure nothing happens except a lot of talking. Equals Benjamin Button.
9. Funny Games. A dull document of domestic mental torture, and I mean that literally. This movie is supposed to be some sort of “scathing indictment” of… something. Ugh.
8. Snow Angels. Stereotypical nonsense about small towns and grief. Like watching paint dry, only not as exciting.
7. The Strangers. Horror pic gone off the rails in the last twenty minutes. Excellent reminder of why producers insist on somewhat happy endings.
6. George Romero’s Diary of the Dead. Nothing fails quite like a poorly executed message picture. Case in point.
5. College. Comedy criminally short on laughs.
4. Rachel Getting Married. Arthouse darling of the critics, but those of us who go to movies to be entertained will be bored at this silly, multi-culti document of a dysfunctional family intercut with interminable footage of a wedding.
3. Poultrygeist. Probably didn’t even play beyond a few friends-of-Troma houses here and there. Lloyd Kaufman and Troma have done some great, funny, interesting, silly things over the years. (They bought Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s “Cannibal! The Musical” years ago, for instance, long before South Park.) But Poultrygeist is just junk.
2. Zombie Strippers. It’s so low-budget and so indie that nobody else will bother listing it in their worst of the year, even though it was. But it could have been hilarious and inspired, and if it had been, it would have been in the Top Ten. Therefore, it’s eligible to be mentioned in the Bottom Ten. Sez me.
1. Blindness. Worst picture of the year, bar none. So visually wrecked it is at times literally unwatchable. Oh, and it doesn’t make any sense, either. And, yet again, it’s a message picture, warning us of our folly in… umm, fighting terrorism the way we do? Going to Iraq? Being consumers? Voting for George W. Bush? There’s a little of all that in there… I think. Except none of it works. An utter embarrassment. Give me my money back. Hell, give me everybody’s money back.
Dishonorable Mention: Be Kind Rewind, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Love Guru.
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