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BoD: Worst films of the aughts


By Brent Williamson

Brent Williamson is the guy who’s watched more bad films for WEEKEND than anybody else. So he’s very equipped to tell you what was so horrible about the following films.

The bad movie is truly an art form. Sometimes a movie is just so unintentionally horrible that we can’t help but laugh and love it. Sometimes the filmmakers even embrace this awfulness, and take it to extremes, producing incredibly enjoyable and awful films, or “Good” Bad Movies.

Other times, films are just so unbearably heinous that no one would ever want to watch them, regardless of inebriation or poor taste. These or the “Bad” Bad Movies.

And here I am to tell you which is which from the past decade, with a few honorable mentions thrown in for good measure.

Worst Bad Movies:
These are movies that were intended to succeed, but failed miserably. Sure, there are lots of direct-to-DVD’ers or movies with Larry the Cable Guy, I could have thrown in here, but we’re going to stick with legitimate theatrical releases, that stand out as true stinkers.

“Land of the Lost” (2009) –  I’m sorry Will Ferrell, but the days of “Anchorman” are long behind you. You are officially the most overpaid actor in Hollywood (according to Forbes) and it’s your own fault. The studios give you too much freedom on your movies, and the result is "Land of the Lost." An hour and forty minutes of Will Ferrell’s ad-libbing that might be funny to him, but not anyone else. Bad plot, bad dialogue, and pointless unfunny jokes make this movie absolutely torturous.  

“Babylon A.D.” (2008) –  What looked like a cool, gritty, dystopian future movie turned out to be a lot of nothing. Literally. I watched it, and I still can’t remember what it was a bout. Something about a girl, but she was Jesus… whatever. High hopes going in, but I’ve never seen a movie with more effects and less plot. Utterly bewildering how no matter how much the characters seemed to talk and move around, nothing seemed to happen.

“Master of Disguise” (2002) – The movie that spawned the most annoying catch phrases that your little brother wouldn’t stop running around the house screaming was Master of Disguise, starring Dana Carvey.  Basically a big excuse for Carvey to show off how many bad impressions he can do.

“Street Fighter: Legend of Chun-Li” (2009) – I didn’t think anything could be worse than the 1990’s Street Fighter movie, starring Jean-Claude VanDamme. But where that movie was fun, campy, and over the top, this one is gritty, with no flashy costumes, and utterly joyless. Bad dialogue, bad acting, and for a movie called Street Fighter, there was surprisingly little street fighting (and what there was ended up being pretty poor indeed.) Curse you, Kristen Kruek. You ruined “Smallville,” and now you’ve ruined Street Fighter.

“Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever” (2002) – Brainless action film with Antonio Banderas and Lucy Lui. Plot holes galore, and not a redeeming quality in sight. There aren’t enough big explosions in the world to save this one. I’m pretty certain they both fired their agents after this debacle.  

“From Justin to Kelly” (2003) – Remember that? After “American Idol,” people wanted to see more of the winner and runner-up from the fist season. So they made a musical comedy together. (Hint: “American Idol” isn’t an acting competition.) Voted the Worst Musical Ever Made, and given the coveted Golden Raspberry award, it lasted six weeks in theaters with some chains not even bothering to show it, followed by a quick rush to VHS and DVD, which proceeded to sit in bargain bins until doomsday.

“Glitter” (2001) – Mariah Carrey made a movie. And the world said, “Eeww.” From what I can tell, this film was made mostly to prop up the release of its soundtrack. It also introduced the world to one of the worst actresses legitimate film had ever seen.

“Gigli” (2003) – And if “Glitter” was bad, it pales in comparison with Gigli, starring Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck. For two stars who were engaged at the time, they had worse chemistry than a freshman science class. It is the only movie EVER to win the Golden Raspberry for Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Actor, Worst Actress, and Worst Screenplay, winning the bad movie equivalent of an Oscar Grand Slam.   

“Battlefield Earth” (2002)
– Ah, yes. The John Travolta film adapting the novel that is the basis for the Scientology religion. Roger Ebert describes it as “something historic, a film that for decades to come will be the punch line of jokes about bad movies.” Plagued with bad reviews, embezzlement schemes, a poor plot, bad acting, and ridiculous costumes and makeup, this is truly my favorite bad movie on the “worst-of” list.

Parody Movies: “Scary Movie,” “Date Movie,” “Epic Movie,” “Meet the Spartans,” “Disaster Movie,” “Superhero Movie,” “An American Carol” – you get the point.

This decade saw an unfortunate rise in an entire genre of bad movies: the parody films. I don’t even consider them to be true “movies” but due to the sheer amount of awful celluloid they represent, they have forced themselves to the top of my list. They have no plot; they make bad outdated pop culture references, and are mostly a collection of bad jokes written by cheap hacks. 

Rumor has it that the writers have a big board of subjects and topics, and throw darts at it blindfolded to decide what to joke about. Unwatchable, yet passionately loved by a small segment of 12-15 year-olds, these movies truly represent the ultimate downfall of filmmaking. Thank goodness they are all universally panned by critics and most audiences, or I would have lost my faith in humanity altogether.
Best Bad Movies: These movies are the ones that suck so bad, we love to see them. We invite our friends over, play drinking games, and just laugh at how ridiculous they are. This the cream of the bad movie crop, the ones that seemed to tickle our funny bone in the worst way.

“Dragonball Z” (2009) – An adaptation of the TV show adaptation of a manga. Hilariously bad acting, costumes, dialogue, and action, this exquisitely crafted film is like a fine wine for lovers of bad movies. Best watched at midnight in a theater full of dressed-up fanboys who aren’t reluctant to yell jokes at the screen, and it provides no shortage of comedic material.

“Rollerball” (2002) – Chris Klein, LL Cool J, and Rebecca Romijn put on rollerblades and smack some people around in this laughable movie about the deadly sport of Rollerball. Filled with laugh-out-loud dialogue, over-the-top fights, and campiness galore, this is just plain guilty fun.

“Snakes on a Plane:” (2006) – I’ll admit it; I went to the midnight showing of this one. What started out as another low-budget horror film titled “Pacific Air Flight 121”; Samuel L. Jackson threatened to drop out of the film if they didn’t change the name back to “Snakes on a Plane”. Jackson’s move proved to be genius, sparking a huge viral marketing campaign with songs, parody films, and games.

The combination of the absurd title and the involvement of Jackson led to such a large response that New Line embraced the outlandish nature of the movie, cranked the film to an R-rating, and went back to re-film some sequences, adding more gore, bad dialogue, and by popular demand, inserting a very specific line for Sam Jackson: “I have had it with these mother****ing snakes on this mother****ing plane!” A perfect example of a movie embracing its awful nature, “Snakes on a Plane” is the pinnacle of the bad movie pyramid.  
Most Disappointing Horrible Mentions: These films stand out by the sheer disparity of the high expectations of audiences, the large investments of the studios, and the incredibly poor products they produced, sparking anger and outrage like no other bad movies can.

“Wolverine” (2009) –  After a fairly successful X-Men franchise, who would have thought that the spin-off would have been so boring? The plot didn’t make much sense, and proved that a mysterious character is much more interesting when you don’t try to explain away all their mystery.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” (2006) and “At World’s End” (2007)
– They may have had some of the largest box-office hauls of all time, but the two “Pirates” sequels turned a fun and enjoyable film into a mess of overcomplicated plotlines, unnecessary effects, and far too much Orlando Bloom. Not even Johnny Depp could save these.

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (2008) – From the CGI gophers at the beginning of the film, audiences knew they were in trouble. Once again, George Lucas does his best to ruin a treasured childhood memory. What WASN’T wrong with this film? It practically had a checklist of movie-don’ts: Shia LaBeouf? Check. Aliens? Check. Annoying CGI creatures? Check. Couple all that with a phoned in performance from Harrison Ford, and the sneaking suspicion that director Steven Spielberg never even showed up on set, this movie coined a new term for the exact moment when a film franchise “jumps the shark”: “Nuking the fridge.”

“Transformers Revenge of the Fallen” (2009)
– Ouch. All that money spent on giant CGI robots and Michael Bay’s terrible camera work never even stops to let us admire them. Once again, Shia LaBeouf appears on my list, drawing valuable screen time from his more talented co-star, Optimus Prime. Bay showers us with spinning cameras that stay too close to their out-of-focus subjects, tortures us with endless shots of the military technology he loves so much, and ruins a salvageable plot with poorly rehashed jokes from the first movie.  Add in a pair of racist mini-cars, and it’s hard to imagine how this movie could have been screwed up any worse.

“Spider-Man 3” (2007)
– And then there was “3.” “Spider-Man 3” took what was potentially the most lucrative movie franchise in history, and ran it into the ground like a plane full of snakes. Notable for Kirsten’s Dunst whining about how hard her life is, Tobey Maguire turning into emo Spider-Man and having a 1970’s dance scene, more plot holes than a Swiss cheese documentary, and so many villains you need Wikipedia just to keep up, this movie angered every fan of Spider-Man in the 107 countries it showed in. A textbook example of how NOT to make a sequel.

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