The Bottom 10...
Yes, this was tough...picking my top 15 with 5 honorable mentions was tougher, but this was tough! I will admit it was made easier by keeping tabs in my movie spreadsheet. 122 flicks on the year was the final tally. Pretty impressive, but 40+ short of my record, last year. Parenthood will do that to you and it is well worth the trade.
#9: Fair Game
2 of 5 Horns
This was meant to be a political thriller, but I couldn't follow the politics and I certainly wasn't thrilled. Don't get me wrong, I certainly understood the politics of it, but I just never came to care about it. I was more entertained by Valerie Plame Wilson's entry on Wikipedia than I was by this film. Naomi Watts and Sean Penn starred and Penn was watchable at times while poor editing left me unsympathetic to Watt's take on the outed CIA agent. Doug Liman showed promise early in his career with Swingers and Go, but as of late, I'll leave him before I take him (see also, JUMPER).
This was my highest rated bottom-10 film. There were others rated lower, but I think that this made the list because of how personal this felt, given that Meet the Parents is one of my family favorites. This film is a sham that is completely devoid of heart and soul. I loved Meet the Parents, I liked Meet the Fockers, and now we are given something that barely resembles anything enjoyable from this series. It got a 3 of 5 only for the few decent laughs that were in there (the rest was mostly potty-humor) and a few scenes of scantily clad Jessica Alba. Ms. Alba in her underthings will add one horn to any film :-)
#5: The Tourist
2.5 of 5 Horns
The tourist represents everything that is wrong with Hollywood today. It is often assumed that stars = success. That is not the case in many instances and it is more fair to say stars + story = success. The startling lack of strength that star power can carry when there is no substance is exemplified here. I am not a huge Angelina Jolie fan but for my money, she can perform admirably under the right set of circumstances. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, while not a favorite of mine (see also, my comments on Doug Liman above), is an example of her decent action chops. The first Tomb Raider was as well. Johnny Depp is usually a gem, regardless of the role. He was flat boring here. Sorry Johnny. This movie had no intelligible plot or at least nothing resembling a story that drew even a sliver of interest. Blah.
In retrospect, I may have graded this a bit lower than 2.5, but the first half to two-thirds was fairly compelling. The film was shot in the style of a documentary, following a preacher out on what he says will be his last exorcism, as he debunks the practice for he has forsaken his belief in god and religion. With a decent first half, the back end was absolute garbino. I have read that there are those that loved this ending...so creative, so unique...I disagree. This movie didn't end, we just ran out of found footage. It was like eating a tasty steak only to find out on the last bite that the meat was bad...better head for the bowl!
#3: The Wolfman
2.5 of 5 Horns
Again, in retrospect, I would have gone lower for this, perhaps a 1.5 or 2 at best. This was a movie plagued by production problems, re-writes, re-shoots, etc. With Hopkins and Del Toro, you would have figured something decent here, but Joe Johnston couldn't pull it off. They wanted to go dark, but Johnston's past is a bit too kid-friendly to take a jump into the deep darkness of adult horror fare. Johnston's past includes Jumanji, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, The Rocketeer, and more...all a bit off of the mark for this kind of a go. Maybe next time, in say 2030 or 2040, they will get it right. This was just plain ol' bad!
1.5 of 5 Horns
I loved the trailer for this movie. Absolutely loved it! What I eventually figured out was that I didn't like the trailer or like this movie in the least. What happened was that I instead really liked the song Psycho Killer by The Talking Heads, featured in the trailer. Katherine Heigl seems so whiny in everything she appears, I think especially in Knocked Up, a film I liked for everything that wasn't her. Ashton Kutcher is Ashton Kutcher. I think he will eventually find some kind of a stride and be watchable outside of the Dude, Where's My Car type of flick, but for now, he just doesn't have it. Stick to Punk'd and I will hold out judgment at least until No Strings Attached, which again, looks not terrible. Hey, Natalie Portman (your new...Swan...Queen) is the gal pal better-half of this flick. See how easy it was to talk about anything but Killers? Tom Selleck's moustache and Rob Riggle's comedic aura couldn't save this stinker...avoid at all costs.
#1: The Last Airbender
2 of 5 Horns
My 2011 is off to a rough start as my only film to date has been Season of the Witch, the Nic Cage & Ron Perlman period action-fantasy flick. It is not nearly the awful flick that the reviews have been saying, but it is certainly no gem. Made with mid-range production values, the story was watchable and the acting bearable, including Cage. I think he has had a rough road for the last few years and his street-cred is badly damaged. You may have noticed he is all over the place as of late? Remember last year when he declared bankruptcy? A guy's gotta eat! 2.5 of 5 horns for Season of the Witch.
Until next time, take care....keep an eye out for that best-of list, coming soon. Also, I am going to try and catch Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. If so, I will definitely post a review.
The Reel Rhino