Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Worst Films of 2006

During my time as a critic I've probably averaged seeing 250 films per year in theaters. The last couple years that number has topped 300. 2006 may be the year that broke me. There's only so much tolerance a person can have for cinematic crap, especially when the studios serve up a steady diet of horror films that revel in ugliness and misery.

1. HOSTEL (Eli Roth, 2006)

Setting a contemptible standard for horror in 2006 (and presumably 2007), Eli Roth's HOSTEL upped the ante in on-screen depiction of fetishized violence. This is a vile exploitation film, and a poorly-made one, that’s half softcore porn and half horror porn. HOSTEL is a showcase for bare breasts, the most depraved acts of torture (represented and implied), and nothing else. There’s really no story. What Roth stitches together amounts to little more than a poorly told urban legend in which key moments occur off-screen. The leering misogyny and orgasmic joy in watching torture make this an unpleasant viewing experience of the highest order (and I don’t mean that as a compliment). Roth appears to be trying his hand at Asian extreme cinema, but for all the shock value and blood in superior films like OLDBOY and AUDITION, they operate in moral universes and contain the filmmaking prowess that Roth lacks.

2. SHADOWBOXER (Lee Daniels, 2005)

As a rule I don't walk out of films. I nearly broke it for this one. Where does one begin with what's wrong with SHADOWBOXER? Cuba Gooding Jr. and Helen Mirren play assassins and lovers. She has terminal cancer. He is her adopted son. The centerpiece of the fascinating weirdness and awfulness that is SHADOWBOXER comes in an outdoor sex scene crosscut with Gooding Jr.'s memories of his father abusing him and Mirren killing dear old dad. And then Cuba pulls out a gun and blows her brains out during the act--not a euphemism--as a mercy killing to alleviate the ravages of cancer. What the...?

3. JACKASS NUMBER TWO (Jeff Tremaine, 2006)

I admit it. I don't get it. I don't think it's funny watching these bozos risk life and limb doing their stupid stunts. The JACKASS sequel is less objectionable than the original in that fewer strangers suffer the consequences of Johnny Knoxville and crew's pranks. JACKASS NUMBER TWO is a better film than the original, so it lands at number three rather than its predecessor's number two finish.

4. BARNYARD (Steve Oedekerk, 2006) and DOOGAL (Dave Borthwick, Jean Duval, and Frank Passingham, 2006)

2006 produced a glut of computer animated movies with talking animals, so it's only fair that two of the worst animated films I've ever seen came out last year. BARNYARD and DOOGAL featured shoddy animation and overcompensated for lack of wit with attitude. BARNYARD made the tiny mistake of giving the male cows udders. Dubbed for its American release, the celebrity voices in DOOGAL weren't synced with the characters' lips. Parents might get tired of the kids watching the same Disney movies over and over, but if these are the alternatives, stick with the tried and true winners.

5. UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION (Len Wiseman, 2006)

Vampires and werewolves fight; we lose. Although not a video game movie in its conception, UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION is one in execution. It's little more than fight scenes functioning as level-completing that lead to big bosses who must be defeated to advance to more elaborate battles and more powerful foes. UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION is what an Uwe Boll movie would look like if Sony's money were behind it rather than German financiers and if it lacked any unintended laughs. At least Uwe Boll makes his incompetence occasionally entertaining.

6. PHAT GIRLZ (Nnegest Likké, 2006)

PHAT GIRLZ asks us to look for inner beauty, so maybe that's why this film looks like it was made with a camcorder shooting through a screen door. Likewise, Mo'Nique's main character has an annoying personality that's as responsible for keeping her from getting a man as much as she attributes it to her appearance. In a gender reversal, PHAT GIRLZ does for male African doctors what teen sex comedies have done for female foreign exchange students.

7. SEE NO EVIL (Gregory Dark 2006)

WWE wrestler Kane slaughters the juvenile delinquent teens doing community service in a boarded-up hotel in SEE NO EVIL. Oh joy. Other than the money wasted on the ticket, the audience has nothing to fear, just a bunch of butchery to observe. The characters don't seem all that frightened either. Upon entering a room with bloody hundreds glued to the wall, one teen marvels at all the money, overlooking that it's caked in blood and, oh yeah, there's a table with jars of eyeballs in there too. No shortage of nasty horror movies existed last year. This was one of the worst.

8. GRANDMA'S BOY (Nicholaus Goossen, 2006)

GRANDMA’S BOY is what would result if Adam Sandler and his high profile co-stars bailed on a movie and the understudies took over. A terminally unfunny story of arrested adolescence, GRANDMA’S BOY reeks of stale ideas and desperation. Comprised of what might as well be discarded jokes from Sandler vehicles—his production company made the film—GRANDMA’S BOY mucks around with drug humor, non sequiturs, and a paralyzing terror and disgust of old age.

9. BLOODRAYNE (Uwe Boll, 2005)

What would a worst of the year list be without an Uwe Boll film? The inept German director's most recent film adaptation of a video game is a disappointment because it's not as hilariously bad as his other efforts. No, Boll hasn't improved as a filmmaker. BLOODRAYNE is bad in a mundane way. What kind of fun is that?

10. BASIC INSTINCT 2 (Michael Caton-Jones, 2006)

Fourteen years after BASIC INSTINCT was released, its sequel arrived to an indifferent nation. Promising cheap thrills and controversy, BASIC INSTINCT 2 delivered the cure for insomnia. Containing less sizzle than a frozen steak in a cast iron skillet on an unplugged oven, the only passion this erotic thriller will arouse is from camp classic seekers.


  1. Oh, I see: you're too good for Jackass: Number Two, but not too good to wear the shoes they sent you, is that it?

    All kidding aside, I used to feel the same way you do about Jackass, but then I started to see the beauty of the stunt work, and did my best to tolerate the other stuff. Now I love Jackass. Yep, Big Brother got to me, just like they got to the guy in 1984.

  2. Can't say that the shoes bought a positive review then, can you? :)