The 10 worst films of the year
Audiences were punished with this dishonorable group of films
By Michael Ventre
Updated: 12:13 p.m. ET Dec. 21, 2004
Awards season is upon us. Hollywood will soon begin handing out nominations and trophies to some of the finest movies released in 2004. Lavish praise will be dispensed. Acceptance speeches will drone on. Many will be thanked. Champagne will be consumed by the vat.
But bad movies matter, too. They cost just as much money to make, sometimes more. They often star some of the biggest names in the business. They open with great fanfare, although they usually close quietly and without fuss.
They deserve our respect. Well, maybe not respect exactly, but certainly they deserve some sort of recognition. After all, it isn’t easy to make movies as bad as these. It takes a special knack.
Here is a list of the 10 worst pictures from 2004. This was compiled after taking a highly unscientific survey of academics, cinema historians, casual movie-goers, fast-food cashiers, bus drivers, mental patients and slobbering morons. The margin of error in the poll was plus or minus a lot:
1. “The Chronicles of Riddick.”
Vin Diesel plays an escaped convict who is the last hope for the human race before it is annihilated. Why bother? If a picture like this can get made, humanity doesn’t stand a chance. “Riddick” is one of those projects whereby the producers figure if they can just create a lot of cool special-effects it will make up for a lame-brained story and lifeless characters. This isn’t a movie, it’s a video game, and they would have been better off opening the script with “Game Over” rather than “Fade In.”
It’s hard not to like a movie in which Halle Berry struts around in a black, skin-tight latex cat suit. But these producers managed to pull it off. Disappointed comic book enthusiasts were cat-atonic afterward and practically clawed their way out of the theater. Perhaps the biggest victim of this cat-astrophe was Sharon Stone, who plays a dastardly evil-doer. “Catwoman” is far less than purr-fect. In fact, it’s more akin to something that one would scoop out of kitty litter.
3. “The Stepford Wives.”
There was an old “Saturday Night Live” character named Leonard Pinth-Garnell, played by Dan Aykroyd, who hosted a show about bad theater, and I couldn’t help but think of him while watching this. Leonard would clap his hands together and in a snooty voice say something like, “Terrible. Awful. Couldn’t be worse.” This remake of the 1975 thriller would get Leonard’s highest, er, lowest praise. It’s completely uninvolving and fails on every level. As Leonard might have put it, this is staggeringly atrocious.
4. “The Whole Ten Yards.”
Bruce Willis was really good in “Die Hard.” Matthew Perry wasn’t bad in “Friends.” But then there’s this. A sequel to the blisteringly unfunny, “The Whole Nine Yards,” this is the latest entry in a new genre known as the disaster comedy. It’s not a disaster movie like “The Poseidon Adventure” with laughs. Rather, the disaster part refers to the utter destruction of comedy as we know it via an unrelenting stream of anemic gags and pratfalls. The joke is on anyone who paid money to see it.
5. “Resident Evil: Apocalypse.”
Milla Jovovich stars in this stupefyingly dreadful zombie sequel that is based on — you guessed it — video games. Jeepers, how could they mess this up given the highbrow source material? Well, they managed. The original had a little humor. This has no redeeming value whatsoever. To think of all the celluloid that died so that this overproduced nonsense could be created. If you really want to get scared out of your wits by zombie terror, you should have hung around theater lobbies while audiences filed out.
All you need to know is that Mel Gibson’s former hair stylist, Paul Abascal, directed it. He should have taken his scissors to this film. “Paparazzi” is a cheesy revenge yarn about a movie star who tries to do great bodily harm to some celebrity photographers who have put his family in peril. You just know that Mel, one of the producers on the film, got sick and tired of photographers and decided to lash back. If he still wants to make them pay, he should make them sit through this.
Don’t be confused. This is not the crack thriller with Tom Cruise playing the hired killer in the back of Jamie Foxx’s cab. This is a “buddy” “comedy” starring SNL’s Jimmy Fallon and Queen Latifah. He plays a cop, she plays a cabbie, they clash, then they drive through the city at high speeds. If you got into a cab yourself, did not put on a seat belt, had a maniac for a driver, and you both crashed head first into the side of a building, the experience would still be funnier than this movie.
8. “Surviving Christmas.”
It pains me to include this, because I like James Gandolfini and I like Christmas. But the rotting corpse of Big Pussy Bompensiero is a gigglefest compared to this. I couldn’t put it much better than Jessica Winter of the Village Voice: “This ghastly comedy emits the subliminal whine of a sucking chest wound.” Ben Affleck did not have a good year, but forget “Gigli” and the whole J-Lo circus: this was his career nadir. It can only go skyward from here. Unless, of course, they sign him to make “Surviving Christmas 2.”
This really had all the earmarks of a winner. It starred Jack Black and Ben Stiller, two comic heavyweights. The director was Barry Levinson, an Oscar winner. It had strong supporting players like Christopher Walken and Rachel Weisz. But the story was about two friends, one of whom becomes rich with an invention that causes feces to vanish into thin air while the other becomes jealous. I know what you’re thinking, but as far as I know, they haven’t invented something that eliminates the smell from stinker comedies. After seeing “Envy,” you’ll agree that scientists should accelerate their efforts.
10. “Christmas with the Kranks.”
Starring Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Aykroyd, this is achingly horrid and bereft of even the slightest reason to chuckle. Allen and Curtis are the Kranks, who are harassed by their neighbors into conforming when it comes to Christmas decorations. Allen and Curtis are over-the-top and highly irritating, the neighborhood posse is creepy, and flimsy attempts at sentimentality are insulting. A lot of people get depressed over the holidays. I believe one of the major causes is movies like “Christmas with the Kranks.”
Dishonorable mentions: “Van Helsing,” “Dodgeball,” “Napoleon Dynamite,” “The Village,” “Dogville,” “The Alamo,” “Saw,” “New York Minute,” “A Very Long Engagement,” “The Butterfly Effect” and “Garfield.”
© 2004 MSNBC Interactive