1. Cover – You’ll swear this movie was made fifteen years ago. And not just because Lou Gossett, Jr. is playing a no nonsense detective. But don’t get the wrong idea, it isn’t your typical mystery. It’s more your typical plodding drama bookended by a mystery where the only thing in question isn’t who or how, but why. And that is answered, at least to the audience, within twenty minutes. Or, if you were paying attention, in the commercials.
Obviously, you didn’t see it, so I suppose I’ll have to explain: The “cover” in question is the heterosexuality of just about every male character in this movie. Bill Duke has created a world where not only is every black man sleeping with at least one other black man, but wherein every black woman is devastatingly shocked by it, even if they had no relationship with him whatsoever.
Worse than that though, is the idea that we as an audience are supposed to be devastatingly shocked as well when the movie decides it’s time to reveal this to us. It’s shot as if the scene was intended to be talked about for months afterwards, to become iconic like the end of The Crying Game. But there is just no way for someone who managed to stay awake for any three of the preceding forty-five minutes to not already know. And when a movie is built so singularly around one moment like that, it can’t help but suffer the same fate when that scene falls flat.
Reason to watch it anyway: There is a moment in a restaurant towards the end where a character reveals to someone he slept with that he has HIV and is subsequently pushed up against a wall and threatened. And throughout this terribly dramatic conversation in hushed tones, he has a butter knife held to his throat by the guy he tells. I kind of have no idea what they were saying to each other during this scene as I was laughing too much. But I can rest assured it was the most clichéd dialog I ever would have heard as that is all there is in Cover.
2. Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden? – On his show, 30 Days, Morgan Spurlock was going to spend 30 days in jail. Never mind that there is obviously no way to truly experience such a thing with cameras and special protection (stated or otherwise), but 24 days in, he says that because most sentences are commuted by 20%, that he’s done and he’s going home. So when at the end of this movie he comes to the edge of the Taliban controlled sector of what is referred to as Pakistan, and says “It’s not worth it” in the most overdramatic way you could possibly imagine, it shouldn’t be a surprise. I mean, of course he’s not going in there. No one should. But to make it seem like he’s taking a stand by not completing the mission he set forth to accomplish by making the movie is one of the worst things you will ever see on screen.
5. College Road Trip – You will never feel sorrier for Martin Lawrence. It’s never been more clear that he has been funny in things and that despite all the Blue Streaks and National Securitys he’s done, he had never done anything completely worthless. Those days are over now. And it doesn’t seem like he could have done anything about it. He is trapped in one of the most banal tween comedies there’s ever been. And there have been a lot.
His true captor though, is Raven-Symoné, the epitome of child actor ego. There is never a time when she is onscreen that you don’t see her acting, and worse, see her knowing she’s a star. There is a scene where she and Martin Lawrence run through a hotel chasing a pet pig (that’s right, a little brother and his pig stow away for the trip, how else are things supposed to go wrong?) and she is flailing her arms so wildly you’ll swear she’s doing a parody of movie where a girl and her father chase a pig through a hotel. She isn’t.
Reason to watch it anyway: If you’ve figured out a way to punch people through your television, then I can’t encourage you to watch this movie enough. Because there is no way even the most benevolent person could watch Raven-Symoné and be able to fight that impulse.
6. My Blueberry Nights – This movie would have been a stupid and pseudo-poetic mess anyway, no matter who was in the lead, but casting Norah Jones seems like it might have been one of those personal challenges Wong Kar Wai decided to immerse himself in. Like what an incredible director he must be if he could coax a charismatic performance out of someone so obviously uncomfortable being in front of the camera even when she’s doing something she’s good at. I hope he realizes he failed. If he doesn’t, he should watch the scene she and Jude Law have together when they’re laying down looking up at the stars because even Jude Law looks frustrated with how things are going.
Also, what a dumb title. Dumber with context than without, which is fairly amazing, because it’s pretty dumb to begin with.
Reason to watch it anyway: Cat Power shows up as Jude Law’s ex-girlfriend and it’s the least annoying thing she’s ever done.
7. 88 Minutes – “They found physical evidence that implicates you.” It’s blandly delivered generic dialogue like this that could turn 88 Minutes into some sort of cult movie in a few years. It’s fascinating to watch all these actors who you know have better judgment than this maneuver their way through such a nonsensical story. Everyone has to behave in such baffling ways in order for everything to work out the way it’s supposed to at the end (and I’m still not convinced it makes any sense) that even if you can’t figure out who the killer is you can’t possibly care. When Al Pacino incredulously asks if the police think he’s been firing bullets at himself, you really have to consider whether or not the movie has the reckless abandon for logic to have him do just that
Reason to watch it anyway: I think Alicia Witt might have been refusing to play her character as the red herring she was so clearly supposed to be. I hope it was deliberate on her part anyway, but the rest of everything is so bad, it’s difficult to give anyone credit for doing anything on purpose.
8. 10,000 BC – By far the most lucrative movie on this list, it’s easy to see how it would appeal to an audience. A perfect excuse for less talk, more action. But that’s not how it goes at all. They talk a lot for a prehistoric non-communicative people. In pretty good English and about really boring and tired topics too. And when the action comes, it’s in the form of a sabretooth tiger that luckily doesn’t want to eat the hero, but later might want to save him by eating someone else.
No one ever accused Roland Emmerich of making thoughtful or meaningful movies. But even The Day After Tomorrow coaxed some applause from otherwise cynical moviegoers. But 10,000 B.C. takes all the awful things about his movies and multiplies them exponentially without ever providing you with any of the (albeit transparently manipulated) crowd-pleasing moments that generally work to offset them.
No one has ever seemed more desperate to be relevant. Half the jokes made are followed by a look to the camera, as if to tell us a joke was just made. Which I suppose should be appreciated, because it’s difficult to tell otherwise.
It isn’t. And neither is the 127 minute run time. Uwe Boll has found new ways to be terrible without losing any of what made him what he is in the first place. It’s fairly admirable, really. There are ridiculously long battle scenes in this and they aren’t even terribly incompetent (although there are a few times where extras are clearly missing each other by way too much), they’re just… boring. There’s also magic that doesn’t amount to much of anything, a villain whose motives are hopelessly unclear, characters that serve absolutely no purpose and yet take up plenty of screentime, and a third act reversal that really feels like it was made up on the day of shooting. You’ve done it again, Uwe Boll. Please, keep it coming.
Reason to watch it anyway: You shouldn’t really need encouragement, but if you do: Ray Liotta’s villainous laugh is always fantastic and in this he gets to do it countless times. LeeLee Sobieski spends the whole movie preparing to do one thing at the end that basically amounts to a three second stall of the enemy. Ray Liotta binds Jason Statham with magic books. And Matthew Lillard, in the middle of one of the worst offenses to acting ever recorded, does an actually amazing job of a man who knows he has no chance in a sword fight but is fighting for his life anyway.
Tyler Perry’s Meet The Browns – This entire movie appears to have been the equivalent of an elongated webisode prequel to Madea Goes To Jail. And it’s even less exciting than that sounds.
Charlie Bartlett – I think I have a problem with Anton Yelchin. But that can’t be the only reason this is awful. Robert Downey, Jr., three DeGrassi cast members and a really good performance from Tyler Hilton couldn’t make this watchable.
Vantage Point – If you’re going to show me the same story 8 times, you should maybe make sure it makes sense first.
Sukiaki Western Django – Yes, Quentin Tarantino is a terrible actor, but that doesn’t mean everyone else needs to sink to his level. He’s still going to be terrible.