The most terrible year in years?

Aaron AllenThe Daily Utah Chronicle

We movie critics are accused of many things–being out of touch with mainstream America, having sticks shoved up our posteriors, lighting up the theater with our little glowing pens–but most often we’re accused of having a really awesome job. In response, the common movie critic says something like, “Oh, but we have to suffer through 10 crappy movies for every one great movie,” in a tone that suggests our job really isn’t as awesome as you think.Did we fool you? Because we just say that to make you feel better about your lousy, nine-to-five desk job. Being a movie critic rocks–and writing about truly bad movies is more fun than watching a bear ride a motorcycle. And we love watching bears ride motorcycles.

1. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning”Guess how Leatherface came into possession of his infamous chainsaw? You ready? You really want to know? OK, brace yourself for it: He killed his boss and then found the chainsaw on a table. Whoa. That redefines everything I thought I knew about this guy.

2. “Madea’s Family Reunion”Just to give you an idea of how tone deaf this movie is, there’s a scene in which a rich, abusive husband played by Blair Underwood threatens to kill his wife–immediately followed by a scene in which a crotchety old man straight from the school of Eddie Murphy rips a fart.That hissing sound you hear is all the dramatic credibility leaking out of this movie. Or it could be a fart.

3. “Manderlay”Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier thinks he can assemble a bunch of actors on an empty sound stage and say something penetrating about us hypocritical Americans and our shameful history of slavery.Hey, Lars, your message would be more palatable if your movie wasn’t, oh, I don’t know, boring, blunt-nosed and completely ignorant. What a dope.

4. “The Covenant”Or, as I like to call it, “When Magical Abercrombie and Fitch Mannequins Attack.” It’s notable for teaching us the valuable lesson of never riding a bullet bike when you’re an angry teenager because you will always crash. This is such an important lesson that it’s also taught in my No. 5 movie…

5. “Crossover”A street-ball-playing African-American teen gets real mad and–no, don’t do it!–hops on his bullet bike.This movie is laughable in so many ways: the clichd dialogue, the way a dinner scene is edited so that a plate of food simply disappears (presto!). But the biggest joke is nice guy Wayne Brady playing a coldhearted sports agent.

6. “Date Movie”The title is ironic because the movie is automatic date repellent. If a guy or a girl insists on watching this disgusting parade of unfunny spoofs on romantic comedies with you, consider him or her un-datable and then push this sad person off a cliff or something high up.

7. “Night Watch”Reason Number 4,682 That It’s Depressing to Live in Russia: “Night Watch” is the kind of movie that plays in your movie theater. This Russian import plays like someone put “The Matrix,” “Underworld” and “Lord of the Rings” in a blender and hit “crapp.”

8. “Stay Alive”Here’s a movie made for video gamers who are so insulated from the real world that they actually believe important things happen within their intimate circle of friends–like getting their hands on a haunted video game that kills you for real if you die in the game. Snap out of it, gamers. No one will care if you die.

9. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”Yeah, hate me for this one. Go ahead. I know it grossed, like, $5 ka-jillion at the box office and swashbuckled its way into the hearts of just about everyone across the world–but I still believe it’s a noisy, senseless, shapeless, clumsy behemoth of too-much-ness in search of a story that isn’t simply “let’s fetch this from there and then go here and do this.” It’s like riding an amusement park ride that won’t stop.

10. “The Da Vinci Code”Proof that there’s nothing urgent or interesting about people standing around talking breathlessly. Wait, were there actually people in this movie or just mouths that spat out plot [email protected]

Chris BellamyThe Daily Utah Chronicle

There weren’t nearly as many train wrecks this year as some of the past few years, though that’s not to say it was a good year for movies–it wasn’t. It was, in fact, an uncommonly average year. It seemed like everything was hovering somewhere in the realm of mediocrity. There were no disasters on the level of “Alexander” or “The Village”–but in terms of quantity, 2006 was as bad as it gets.

1. Three of the worst movies I’ve ever seen: “Ultraviolet,” “BloodRayne,” “Date Movie” There are times when one regrets the decision to review movies for money–because sometimes you’re forced to see movies like these. Of the three, I can’t think of a single good thing to say about any of them. Kurt Wimmer, Uwe Boll and Aaron Seltzer, respectively, should all be arrested.

2. Bad horror movies: “Silent Hill,” “An American Haunting,” “Saw III”Every year we’re subjected to a glut of bad horror movies that keep getting made because they have a built-in audience–and every year I end up seeing them. I’ll make it a New Year’s resolution to avoid them in 2007.

3. “Basic Instinct 2″Its distinguished place in pop-culture history notwithstanding, the original “Basic Instinct” wasn’t a very good movie to begin with. But this unnecessary sequel–which came out long after everyone had forgotten or disregarded the original–is the worst sequel since “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.” It’s not campy good–it’s campy bad. It goes way beyond unintentional comedy and becomes so embarrassingly bad and overwrought, you can’t even laugh at it–you just have to grin and bear it?or just walk out of the theater.And no Michael Douglas cameo? Lame.

4. “Home of the Brave”As a fellow film critic remarked as the closing credits rolled, “So much for subtlety.” Irwin Winkler’s “Home of the Brave” is meant to be an examination of the effects of the Iraq War on American soldiers, but it regresses into such silly melodrama that I wound up, unfortunately, laughing at these American soldiers–and at the same time feeling pity for the actors involved. Think “The Deer Hunter” if it had been made by the Disney Channel.

5. “Dear Wendy”/”Manderlay”There was a time when I thought Lars von Trier had something to say. That time has passed. On the heels of the mind-numbingly unintelligent “Dogville” came “Manderlay, “the second of his “USA: Land of Opportunity” trilogy.Do you get it? Land of opportunity? Do you see the irony there? Isn’t it clever?And then there was “Dear Wendy,” directed by Thomas Vinterberg but penned by von Trier. Like “Dogville,” both of these 2006 entries feature the kind of shallow, ignorant, over-obvious political critique that makes Sean Hannity seem sensible by comparison.

6. “The Last Kiss”Every moment, every second, every contrivance of “The Last Kiss” was infuriating. In its mopey, self-aware examination of “growing up,” the film (a remake of a 2002 Italian movie) features an entire cast of half-developed characters and half-baked sub-plots, and culminates in a “dramatic finale” that is excruciating in its phony contrivance.

7. “The Groomsmen”Someone needs to tell Edward Burns to stop directing movies. And stop writing in general. Really. Just stop, Ed. Like the Zach Braff-starrer we just discussed, “The Groomsmen” is also about the time-honored tradition of immature men deciding whether or not they want to actually grow up. In telling a story of a group of old friends who re-unite for one guy’s wedding, Burns doesn’t waste a single hackneyed clich. Yes, there’s even the sub-plot about “getting the band back together.” No, I’m not kidding.

8. “The Pink Panther”Steve Martin is not even a pimple on Peter Sellers’ ass.

9. “The Sentinel”/”Firewall”Michael Douglas and Harrison Ford return to the types of roles that made them famous, and as it turns out, you can’t go home again. At least not when the scripts and characters are this
idiotic. Couldn’t studios hire a script doctor who specializes in logic and common sense, just to make sure nonsensical crap like this doesn’t make it to theaters? Is it that much to ask?In one scene of “Firewall,” the bad guys have kidnapped Harrison Ford’s entire family. How does he find out where they are? By using the tracking device on the family dog’s collar–you read that right. The bad guys not only kidnapped the family, but the dog as well. And the dog just happened to have a tracking device on him. Because that makes perfect sense.

10. “Winter Passing”Looking for a movie with characters that don’t make any sense? Bad symbolism? An embarrassingly one-note performance by Ed Harris? Then this is your ticket! Why didn’t this go direct to video again? Does anyone have an answer for me?

11. “X-Men: The Last Stand”After two strong films from Bryan Singer, Brett Ratner took over the X-Men franchise and shot it to hell. How did he accomplish this? By adding approximately 400 new characters and giving them exactly one scene each. By setting up a good vs. bad conflict that made absolutely no sense, but which set up an action-packed third act because?well, the good guys and bad guys have to fight each other, even though they’re basically on the exact same side of this particular debate. The more you think about “The Last Stand,” the more holes you can find in the plot. But at least they killed off [email protected]