Turn Off Your Brain: Worst Films of 2009
It’s time once again to name the worst movies I had the misfortune of sitting through in 2009.1 There might be worse out there, but these are the ones I’ve seen. Enjoy, my friends, The Scott Condella shit-plate special. After all, I did this for you. Also, as a special gift, one of the entries will include multiple movies. 2
10. Fast and Furious (d. Justin Lin)
I learned many things this year. One of them was that the word ”the” no longer has any meaning. The makers of 4 Fast 4 Furious 4 Ever decided it was time to trim the fat off the title and give the fans of the franchise another go around in the old clunker.
The main selling point of the franchise has always been a solid story and deep character development…I’m just kidding. The point of these movies has always been loud shiny things going fast. The Diesel and The Walker are back behind the wheel because both of their careers have gone off the tracks and they need to rebuild their engines. Other members of the original cast are back as well, the cardboard cutout representing Jordana Brewster and the manlier-than-Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez. The story this time centers around gas thieves.
This film manages to glamorize the world of illegal street racing even more than the first three. So if I race cars really fast, I can go to parties with crazy hot girls making out with each other and I can drink and do drugs with zero consequences? Sounds like a blast, what could go wrong? You might run afoul a businessman who means business, that’s what.
There are twists and turns during the movie. So the guy The Diesel and The Walker have been dealing with isn’t who he says he is? WHAAAA? Next thing you’re going to tell me is that in a movie full of car chases, the best and most exciting chase is a foot pursuit. Crazy!
I will tell you there is a part at the end that actually had my attention. I was sitting up in the chair, ready for the movie to finally get going and do something interesting when the end credits rolled and left me sitting there like a dog whose owners are leaving it at the vet. ”Hey, you, get back here!” I yelled at the screen, but — alas! — it was gone, and with it my hopes that the movie would be redeemed.
I should point out that I’ve only seen the original, so a lot of the story threads and plotting might have been lost on me having not seen the second or third movie. It falls at Number Ten because it isn’t terrible to sit though, it’s not too long and doesn’t require much of you, it’s just a very hollow movie and one that I don’t feel is worth the time to watch.
9. Angels and Demons (d. Ron Howard)
Akiva Goldsman and Ron Howard. Is there a more terrifying duo currently working in film today? By themselves they aren’t particularly threatening, but when they join forces not even Tom Hanks can stop them from turning out a horrible movie.
Hanks is back as Robert Langdon, an expert in ancient artifacts and languages. He is once again called upon to help solve a case involving a religious sect bent on controlling the Catholic Church. It is astounding to see Hanks cruise along on autopilot, grabbing as much cash as he can before bolting out the door. The film also suffers from some of the same traps that most conspiracy thrillers do, and that’s the Lets call in the expert to help and then offer him as little assistance as possible and no information” plot. I lost track of how many times Hanks said, ”Hey, help me here. After all, you called me.” Ewan McGregor stars as a way too nice priest and Stellan Skarsgard plays a way too shady police chief. Gee, I wonder if things aren’t as they seem. The Illuminati must murder five cardinals in very theatrical ways, because if they don’t… someone will blow something up with volatile dark matter…for some reason… and a mysterious assassin will kill…someone, but not Langdon. Come on people, we have a franchise to think about here.
Angels and Demons is slightly better than The Da Vinci Code, but that’s like getting hit in the head and the nuts and saying ”the head shot hurt less.” The blame for the two films doesn’t fall just on the shoulders of Hanks, Howard and Goldsman; some of the blame goes to Dan Brown for writing the books the films are based on.
Let us not forget that Hanks, Howard and Goldsman are Oscar winners. The best parts of the movie are the Italian locations they used in the movie. Seeing the historical buildings and churches made me feel sad that such a movie was being shot there. The Lost Symbol is set to be released in 2012 as the Langdon trilogy capper, and I’m curious to see who they get this time to hire him and then when he arrives tell him, ”We don’t need your help, big shot.” When you need help and want to hire an expert, but you don’t want him to help you.. Robert Langdon will be there.
8. Terminator Salvation (d. McG)
”This is John Conner. Some of you know me. Some of you don’t. I’m here to tell you that the machines are coming. There isn’t much we can do to stop them. I know some of you are scared. It’s true. This won’t be easy. This will test every ounce of willpower you have. The battle will be fierce. The enemy will be unyielding. There will be casualties. There will be sadness. In the face of adversity you must rise up and defeat this robotic plague. We’ve all seen what these things are capable of. Unlike a human enemy. This threat has no real weakness. No real failing. You will need to be tough. You will need to be focused. You will need leadership and guidance.
”I, however, cannot be that leader. You understand that I am the chosen one. He who was born to help the humans defeat the machines. I really wish I could help. I am pretty tied up here at the base at the moment. If I didn’t have all this paperwork I would be out there fighting along side you. It’s just. The bosses in the sub need these reports asap. Have no fear. I will be out there with you in spirit. I will be there to give you motivational speeches. Not in person, mind you. On your radio. I am sending you a support troop. She is a valued leader and fighter. One of our best. She does tend to fall in love very easily. So try to keep her away from men with a good heart.
”Try not to do anything that would jeopardize our mission. Try not to do anything that would force me to come out there and find anyone. Like if my teenage father gets kidnapped. Like I said before. Tied up here. I have faith that you will be able to handle this yourselves. If you need further guidance. I will let you listen to the tapes my mother made for me before I was born. Heavy stuff. She did get put into a mental institution. So take her words with a grain of salt. I just noticed that I am way more studly and my wife is way hotter then when we got locked into that military bunker. My mom never made mention of those changes on the tapes. Now I must go back and listen to them again. A packed day just got worse. I hope you receive this message in time. Remember. Don’t make me come out there. If I have to come out there I know I will get impaled by a machine who wore the skin of a robot I once called friend. Then I’ll need to get a new heart from a very nice robot looking for a second shot at redemption. I just received word that the boss’s sub was blown up. No more reports. I’m taking the day off.
“John Conner out.”
7. Halloween II (d. Rob Zombie)
Zombie’s Halloween remake is one of my most hated movies of all time. One of the few I’ve had the displeasure of sitting through that actually insulted me. That was what was going through my mind as I sat down and braced for H2.
The film starts off as a remake of the original Halloween II. Laurie Strode has been taken to the hospital following the events of the first movie. Where she goes Michael will follow. This part of the movie is actually somewhat intense as Michael stalks Laurie through the hospital. The usual Zombie touches tarnish some of the hospital scene, especially when Michael could have easily caught Laurie but instead chose to stab a nurse 41 times in the head. The scene is dark, ominous and claustrophobic which led me to wonder, ”Has Zombie finally listened to his detractors?” Of course not. The hospital scene was all a dream. Son of a bitch!
It seems that Zombie blew whatever talent he had making that one fifteen minute scene because what follows is so painfully boring that you almost wish you could kick Michael in the balls just to get him pissed enough to kill somebody. He spends most of the movie maskless, wandering the wilderness with the ghost of his dead mother and her white horse. When he finally does make it back to Haddonfield he dispatches Laurie’s friends so quickly and easily it’s a wonder they didn’t die when it rained too hard. Zombie has never been one to write deep characters and this time he writes them to be so repulsive that when they are killed off nobody gives a damn. I suppose that is Zombie’s way of making movies: line ‘em up and hack ‘em up. Zombie must really hate the character of Dr. Loomis sincehe made him such an egotistical prick this time around. He serves no real puropse in this movie; he shows up to talk up his book, be a dick, talk up his book some more and confront Michael at the end.
Then there’s the awesome ”twist” at the end of the movie that would make M. Night say ”Oh, come on.” I expected to be much harsher on this movie when I watched it but the worst thing about it is the fact that it is extremely boring. Zombie shows no real ability and if this was indeed his most terrifying vision of the Halloween series perhaps horror just isn’t his thing.
6. Couples Retreat (d. Peter Billingsley)
Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau made Swingers. That statement is the best thing I can say about Couples Retreat, the latest in a long string of unfunny ”romantic” comedies that come out in the fall and do great at the box office. The storyline is typical: ”We need a break from the kids and everyday life. Hey let’s go to this wacky resort and meet some colorful people!” The cast is solid on paper, but with the material given it’s not surprising that Vaughn and Favreau, along with Jason Bateman, are humming along on autopilot. Jean Reno has the best role in the movie, and really the only laughs as well, but he’s in two scenes that only add up to about twenty minutes.
Favreau’s character runs around the whole movie like a 14-year old boy on spring break. There is a cringeworthy scene of him attempting to jerk off to a resort flyer that would make one-celled organisms recoil in terror. Jason Bateman plays a guy named Jason (what brilliant casting!) who is trying to make a baby with Kristen Bell. They think that going on a romantic getaway will get the baby juices flowing, and they invite all their friends along to share the joy. When they get to the retreat, while Favreau is humping air, they find out that this place isn’t what it seems. They must all attend ”counseling,” which of course sets up the rest of the movie because according to movies, couples that get counseling find out they really aren’t all that compatible. Bateman and Bell have a fight, Favreau wants to run off and cheat on his wife with college girls, and Vaughn pouts and whines. Imagine sitting through two hours of this madness.
When I watched this I was feeling down about being single for yet another year. I sat there as the minutes ticked by, waiting for the funny that was never going to arrive. An hour into the dreck, I was struck by a bolt of lighting. ”I’m not in a relationship. Why the hell am I watching this?” Lightning bolt #2 struck as the movie ended: ”If this is what happens in a relationship, maybe being single isn’t so bad after all.”
5. Jennifer’s Body (d. Karyn Kusama) and Sorority Row (d. Stewart Hendler)
A twin bill of terror!
Horror movies have always treated women like crap. Women always seem to be the ones who get killed off worse than any man. The male victim gets stabbed once, while the female gets stabbed multiple times, sometimes impaled, sometimes raped. Being a woman in a horror movies is rough. Watching horror movies with nothing but women is just plain unbearable.
Jennifer’s Body tries to be a female empowerment tale, while Sorority Row says, ”Let’s kill these bitches!”
Jennifer’s Body features Megan Fox as a hot cheerleader who attends a concert with her dorky best friend, Amanda Seyfried. (We know she’s dorky and unpopular because she wears glasses.) The band they are watching is comprised of Satan worshipers and they sacrifice Jennifer to the devil to please him, or some such nonsense, only to have her return as a man-eating super biatch. Diablo Cody’s sharp dialogue (try saying that with a straight face) falls flat here as most of the lines are spit out rather than spoken. I enjoyed watching Megan Fox T&A her way around but that’s only because I’m very superficial; plus, she’s hot. Apparently female empowerment means eating the faces of all men because a group of them wronged you, but not going after those responsible in the first place.
Sorority Row is a slasher film that is heavy on the morons and light on the give a damn. Hot sorority girls play on prank on a dorky not-hot guy by making him think he killed one of them during a make out session. HAHAHA! ugly boys are sooooooo stupid lol. In the process of the prank he accidently kills her for reals…or does he? Thus starts the long slow journey through the woods of red herrings and annoying characters that made me want to reach in, grab the killer’s tire-iron-with-a-knife-attached and kill the broads myself. ”A killers chasing me, let’s go outside into the pool area even though I can’t see what’s out there.” A bunch of lame kills and bad makeup effects lead to one of the most needlessly confusing final half hours ever. I wish I could have paused the movie just to take roll call of who the frick was still alive.
These two ”horror” films really made me appreciate the greatness of Paranormal Activity, Trick R Treat and The Children.
4. Watchmen (d. Zack Snyder)
This is going to be noir. You can tell by the voiceover. I’m staring up at the flickering images on the massive screen. My eyelids heavy, like they have ten ton weights hanging off of them. Trying to remember the last time I was this bored watching a movie. In the seats below me a whore moans. How do I know she’s a whore? This is hard boiled noir, every woman is a whore. Perhaps she is moaning in pleasure because of a lover, or perhaps because a giant blue cock just flashed on the screen. I should investigate that later. I’m still waiting for the Comedian to tell a joke. He just raped a woman. That’s not funny. Maybe his name is ironic.
The guy doing this voiceover is pretty good. He seems to be the only person in this movie worth paying attention to. The blue cock just said he feels he has no place in this world, yet he still feels the need to mess it up. What a chump. The black haired whore is pretty hot. I’ll have to look her up on the Internet when I get home. If I ever get home. This movie seems to have no ending. The guy dressed like a third rate Batman is a pretty big loser. I’ll have to laugh at him later after I investigate that moaning whore. This movie is starting to become painful. The tears are rolling down my cheeks like boulders off a cliff. Inkblot face just killed a child pedophile with a butcher knife. That was pretty cool. Blue cock is talking again. This time it doesn’t seem as if he’ll stop. The genius crusader is droning on about how smart he is. Something is fishy about him. Perhaps it’s the blonde hair.
I check my watch and see that the seconds are becoming months. The minutes becoming years. I wouldn’t be surprised if this movie killed the sun. The black haired whore is naked. The movie grabs my attention for the first time since the opening credits. I am pleased. Third rate Batman shows his bare ass. I am no longer pleased. The black haired whore went to Mars to talk with blue cock. He just wrecked his big machine. Mars seems happy; it’s smiling. Third rate Batman and inkblot face are teaming up to stop genius crusader. There is enough tension in the room to fill a shot glass. Come to think of it, that’s not a whole lot. They are about to stop the genius crusader’s plan, but blue cock steps in. Thought he didn’t care about the world any longer. Perhaps a change of heart?
This is where I would say spoiler alert if I wasn’t trapped inside my own head. The genius crusader’s plan works and now inkblot face is going to blow the lid off it and tell the world who is behind it. I thought he didn’t care. I like him. It’s good to see the good guys will win after all… At least now the movie can end and I can escape from this nightmare. Black haired whore is taking third rate Batman home to have dinner with mom. Why is this still on? That fat comic nerd just spilled chili all over his smiley face shirt. Is that a metaphor? A journal? Oh great, now this movie will be made into a book. I hope it’s better than the movie.
3. Twilight: New Moon (d. Chris Weitz)
What? This isn’t higher on the list? I know, it’s quite shocking to me as well. I really wanted to hate this movie. However, I just can’t bring myself to completely damn a film that is as entertaining as this was. Is it horribly made? Yes. Is it sloppily written? Of course. Is the acting atrocious and the CGI cartoonish? Double Hell Yes. Unlike the two entries that will follow, New Moon wasn’t a trial to sit through and to me it almost seemed to border on parody.
The film starts with a birthday party for Bella with all her vampire pals at their luxurious estate. While opening a gift she suffers from the worst papercut in recorded history; this sucker bleeds like she got shot with a harpoon. The sight of blood sends one of the vampires into a rage, and he lunges at Bella. Edward, being the great protector, shoves Bella out of the way, into a table and then into the wall. Apparently broken bones and punctured lungs are far better than a gushing papercut. That near bloodsucking causes Edward to whine about how he’s put her in danger and being together isn’t possible. He jets off to Italy to meet a secret sect of vampires, leaving Bella behind. Enter Team Jacob. Now that Edward’s out of the picture, Jacob can oil up and chop wood to try and win Bella’s heart. He wants to protect Bella from the big bad vampires. Why is this bitch written to be so freaking helpless? Are there actually women out there that feel they need to be protected from the wind? The entire first two movies have been about this stupid chick getting herself into trouble and then needing to be rescued by somebody. Princess Peach thinks this broad needs to nut up.
Bella is depressed because Edward its gone, and starts doing death-defying acts to feel alive. All this manages to do is bring out the werewolves and other vampires to save her ass all the time. Seriously, couldn’t someone just stand up and say, ”I’m not saving that nutjob one more time. Let her fall off the cliff?” Jacob apparently isn’t enough to fill Edward’s fangs, so she’s off to Italy to find him. When she and the other Cullen vampires arrive in Italy they meet the head vampire clan, and Bella gets into trouble. (YAWN.) Dakota Fanning and Michael Sheen appear as members of the main clan and have about five minutes o’ screen time — thanks for coming out guys!
They all come back to the States no worse for wear. Oh Noes Edward, Jacob has moved in on your woman. Now it’s a triangle of moody whining and ”I’m better than you” posing. If you do watch this film, be sure to brace yourself because it ends suddenly. I almost got whiplash when the thing ended.
The reason I thought his film is a parody of the books is because some of the scenes are so over the top and laughable, it seems as if the filmmakers knew this material was garbage so they decided to have some fun. There is a scene in which Bella and Jacob go see an R rated movie, and it’s quite a big deal because they are underage. SCANDAL! What are we teaching our preteens these days? This type of behavior is unacceptable. Next thing you know we’ll be telling them that vampires and werewolves aren’t dangerous. That they are actually quite nice if you are a helpless damsel who voluntarily gets into trouble only to get her ass rescued. Leave it to a man to write a woman character like that.
2. District 9 (d. Neill Blomkamp)
There is no way around it. This movie has split personality disorder. It starts off as a faux documentary about aliens who landed in South Africa 20 years ago, who were put into a slum and treated like second class citizens. It ends as a shoot-em-up action movie.
In the film, ”District 9” is where the aliens are being kept. It’s basically a slum and there is a fence around it to keep the aliens inside and under control. Meanwhile the big bad corporation is doing experiments on the aliens and their weaponry to understand it, and of course, use the weapons from themselves. During a cleanup of District 9 one of the officers gets sprayed with some alien slop and starts to show signs of becoming an alien. The aliens are referred to as ”Prawns” because they look like big walking shrimp. The lead character is so damn unlikable that it really doesn’t matter that he’s becoming a prawn.
The corporation wants to get their hands on the mutating officer so they can get a vile of alien goo that resides in the alien cannon which is now his hand. The goo is also fuel for the spaceship the aliens crashed all those years ago. While on the run the officer becomes friends with a Prawn who tells him he can return him to human form if he helps him steal back the fluid that the corporation is in possession of. They break in. Get the fluid. The prawn tells the officer ”tough break” and says he can’t return him to normal because of how humans have treated aliens.
It’s this point at which the message of the film hits you like a sledgehammer to the nuts. ”See, you treat people badly and they won’t help you when you start to turn into a shrimp.” I know all sci-fi films have messages, most of them are political. My problem wasn’t with the message, it was the way it was presented. The makers try telling the story as a documentary, and that might have worked had they stuck with it. Instead they launch off into a alien action flick that boils down to the hero saving the day out of guilt. Oh, and once again the humans, and mainly corporations, are painted as demons whose only thoughts are of money or power.
I put District 9 at the number two spot because I found it to be extremely hard to even sit through. I was bored throughout and the way the movie was made, it was impossible for me to connect to it in any emotional way. I think if they would have played it a little lighter it might not have been so bad. In the end it’s a boring, uninvolving, humorless waste.
1. 2012 (d. Roland Emmerich)
If this is how the world ends, kill me now. This movie was a nightmare. A giant lumbering creature that could not be defeated. It is like the last boss of a video game that is 100 stories high, moves like a glacier and still takes two and a half hours to kill. Emmerich has again decided he wants to destroy the world. This time he’s employing the Mayan prediction that the world will end in 2012.
John Cusack is your everyday family man. He loves his family and wants the best for them. Then the unthinkable happens: he must save them from the end of the world. The movie is flawed right from the start. If the world is ending, why doesn’t it all get destroyed right away? Why does it fall apart in sections, giving people time to attempt an escape? “How does one even escape the end of the world?” you ask. Well, you take a plane, a car or a boat. You know, whatever’s lying around.
The governments of the world have thought ahead and prepared for this situation. They have built large arks to fit two of every animal, artifacts and some people. Of course, they didn’t build them big enough to fit everyone on the arks, just the ones who paid to get on. Why not build more arks to save as many people as possible? Because then the government couldn’t be the bad guy and Roland would have no movie. John Cusack leads his family and a few others through the crumbling earth to try and get on one of these arks. There is a stone-dumb subplot in which the ”arks” are thought to be alien spaceships. UGH!
There is nothing in this movie you haven’t seen before. The effects are atrocious, except for the battleship crashing into Washington, D.C. The storyline is a joke. Why can’t the world end in these movies? It always stops just shy so there is a place for the survivors to go. In this case Africa is the only continent that didn’t receive any damage because the earth plates lifted it above the water. My head hurts just from thinking about it.
I cannot recommend sitting through this movie, ever. Of course if you haven’t already, chances are you won’t. It is two and a half hours long, and at least an hour of that could be cut out and have no effect on the film (Woody Harrelson, I’m looking at you). The only thing they had to get right to make this movie watchable was the effects, and they failed miserably at that. 2012 is almost the exact same movie as The Day After Tomorrow, just with a bit more padding and less interesting characters and situations.
Some will tell you that the only way to enjoy a movie like this is to ”turn off your brain and enjoy.” Do so at your own peril, because if you do that and watch 2012, your brain may not be there when you are done.
Edited by Matt Schneider.
- See the Worst of 2008 here. ↩
- Some of you may expect Avatar to top this list, and with good reason. However, because I don’t view Avatar as an actual movie, I couldn’t include it. When I walked out of my Avatar showing I felt as if I’d just seen a three hour infomercial on how great James Cameron thinks he is, and how we should all worship him for creating new CGI technology. It’s just an ad for how things in movies might look in the future. There is no story, the acting is terrible and the writing is nonexistent. I feel like I could have watched Avatar as a slideshow and gotten just as much out of it. ↩