If you were lucky enough to miss these duds, you saved some dough

By A Contributor

2011 was not a top flite movie year. It wasn’t the worst year of the new century for new releases. But it contained few first-rate Hollywood films (so be prepared not to recognize the titles of some of the movies nominated for awards over the next few months).

On the other hand, it did contain some pretty bad movies. Oh, the list of the worst movies of 2011 isn’t studded with the remarkably painful failures that one sometimes sees. But during the year there were a lot of bad movies seen by a lot of moviegoers.

Here is my list of some of the weakest “general release” movies of last year.

One of my least favorites was “The Eagle,” a vaguely homoerotic costume picture about a Roman army officer trekking all the way up Scotland to retrieve a standard (a sort of regimental battle flag) from warrior Picts. It starred Channing Tatum, in a Legionnaire’s leather skirt.

The Blacksploitation movies of the year were predictably formulaic. “Big Mama’s House III: Like Father Like Son” got Martin Lawrence back into a fat suit and a dress and then contrasted him with a dorm full of scantily clad coeds. “Madea’s Big Happy Family” put Tyler Perry back into a fat suit and a dress and then had him drive through the lobby of a fast food restaurant, though that had nothing to do with the soap opera plot. And then “Jumping the Broom” was a soap opera about the working class relations of a groom mingling with the supposedly wealthier relations of a bride.

“Hall Pass” had Owen Wilson as a mindless middle-class fellow whose wife gave him a week to try to date other women. It mentions its own title so many times that it seems to me the video could become the basis for a drinking game. Kevin James is the title character in “Zookeeper,” an utterly routine movie about a guy who gets dating help from animals, if such a thing is imaginable. The worst of the three was Adam Sandler’s “Jack and Jill” which puts its star in a fat suit and a dress and then has Al Pacino (playing himself) attracted to him. Oi!

Bad social consciousness pictures included the anti-developers “Rum Diary” (in which Johnny Depp again played drunken journalist Hunter S. Thompson), anti-wealth “In Time” (in which money was represented by longevity), anti-military “Apollo 18” (a “Blair Witch Project” on the moon), and the anti-human “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (which shows what we all did to deserve the world Charleton Heston found in the original movie). Awful stuff.

These big noise, action spectaculars were similarly loathsome: the over-explanatory “Green Lantern,” the horribly misshapen “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” which contains none of the redeeming features of the earlier films in the series, and the unintentionally comic “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” made without Megan Fox and, again, without a helmet for Rocky the flying Duhamel. This last was bad, long, and really loud.

The writers of “The Smurfs” decided just to borrow much of the story from “Enchanted.” The writers of “Warriors” decided just to borrow almost all of the story (and none of the warmth)  from “Rocky.” The producers of “Immortals” wished they’d thought to remake “Clash of the Titans” using the silly costumes and cartoonish behavior from “300,” but they were just a little too late.

And yet I still think the worst movie I saw last year was Garry Marshall’s “New Year’s Eve,” a series of underdeveloped and intercut romantic stories set in New York on December 31. The average episode of “The Love Boat” was better written, funnier, and more entertaining while doing EXACTLY the same thing. Was “The Love Boat” “appointment TV”?

I hope you were lucky enough to miss these movies. Think of all the money you saved.

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