A Beleaguered Critic Gets Even
When your job is to review movies, you can’t just bolt out of the theater as soon as you can tell that a film is a turkey. No, you have to sit there and endure the dumb dialogue, the horrible editing, the offensive stereotyping, the implausible plot twists and the awful performances from start to finish. Fortunately, at the end of the year, I am afforded this opportunity to even the score by venting on those high crimes against cinema which tended to test my patience.
1. Who’s Your Caddy?
When a new, black-owned Hollywood studio bills itself as being dedicated to making wholesome family films presenting positive portrayals of African-Americans, excuse me for expecting more of the company’s much ballyhooed introductory release than Who’s Your Caddy? The most degrading, minstrel coon show since Soul Plane, this relentlessly-crass exercise in self-hatred is little more than a non-stop attempt to portray black folks in the worst possible light.
From its demeaning dialogue sprinkled with the N-word, the S-word and the P-word, to yet another brother romping around in a skirt, to a sister female proudly referring to herself as a “queen b*tch,” to the celebration of drug abuse, indiscriminate sex and conspicuous consumption, one can only cringe when wondering what quality of fare might be next on Our Stories Films’ agenda. Regardless, its disgraceful debut release was an easy pick as the worst of the worst of the year.
2. License to Wed
Every skit flops in this groan-inducing Robin Williams vehicle where he plays an annoying man of the cloth. Believe it or not, this star vehicle is even worse than Man of the Year, which made my 10 Worst List for 2006.
Who knows whether Williams has lost his talent entirely or has merely lowered his standards to foist as many take-the-money-and-run ripoffs on the public as possible till his fans catch on? Regardless, this picture is so pathetic that an uncredited Wanda Sykes is funnier in a quickie cameo than its star is during his 90 minutes of screen time.
Looks like Robin Williams has replaced Cuba Gooding, Jr. as the kiss of death on the set of any comedy.
3. Daddy Day Camp
Speaking of Cuba Gooding, Jr., he made a persuasive case to keep his crown as the perennial “King of the Bomb” with this sorry sequel to Daddy Day Care. I’m not going to bring up all his bad movies. The problem this time starts with his presuming to fill the shoes of Eddie Murphy, who opted not to reprise the lead role of Charlie Hinton.
It doesn’t help that Cuba has no sense of comedic timing and that he’s only further crippled by an abysmal script consisting of a series of disconnected sketches featuring misbehaving little monsters who keep him up to his eyeballs in feces, cooties, bus crashes, flatulence, projectile vomit, poison ivy, swift kicks to the crotch, urine balloons and wedgies. An utterly predictable, unfunny, infantile test of patience and waste of ninety minutes of my life I can never get back.
Whatever happened to the once-promising who won an Oscar for shouting “Show me the money?” Show me the exit!
4. I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Adam Sandler and Kevin James ought to be ashamed to be associated with the cinematic equivalent of gay bashing. Not only are homosexuals repeatedly referred to by such slurs as “faggots,” “queers,” and “fruits,” but this relentlessly hateful and superficial enterprise seizes on any excuse to equate homosexuality with effeminacy and with certain superficial stereotypical tastes and traits.
When not trashing gays, the film goes after Asians with impunity, by associating them with thick accents and thick eyeglasses, and by portraying this ethnic group’s females as subservient sex objects. Overall, this flick is so evilly executed that it deserves to be dismissed as a deliberately meanspirited indulgence in intolerance.
5. Code Name: The Cleaner
This movie was one of those pump-and-dump productions which puts all the best jokes in the trailers, hoping to milk the most it can opening weekend before word of mouth spreads. So, if you caught the commercial where Cedric the Entertainer explains his wearing clogs and lederhosen with “Haven’t you heard of Dutch chocolate?” before yodeling “Ricola!” then you’re already familiar with the film’s funniest scene.
Less amusing is the endlessly demeaning dialogue, like when Jake declines a job offer as an FBI Agent, opting to remain a janitor because “Somebody needs to keep this place clean. That’s what I do.” Just as bad is Niecy Nash as a harridan heard complaining “A sister’s not happy if her hair’s nappy,”
Made we want to set myself on fire in protest, like a Buddhist monk.
6. Perfect Stranger
Not even the screen chemistry of Halle Berry and Bruce Willis could save this pretentious whodunit with an infuriatingly convoluted plot patently unfair to its audience. Be forewarned that that the movie offers next to no clues to unraveling its mystery before hastily divulging the solution during the denouement almost as an afterthought.
The film’s fatal flaw is that the overplotted production introduces too many characters, especially given that virtually every one of them might be a suspect. Laced with an abundance of rather obvious red herrings, the twists and turns actually could have been laughable, had the picture been packaged as a deliberately mediocre, tongue-in-cheek homage to bad detective flicks of a bygone era.
Your low expectations of this lost cause will be richly rewarded.
7. Because I Said So
Diane Keaton is still relying on that ever less-endearing assortment of addlepated antics which won her an Academy Award for Annie Hall back in 1978. Now that she’s in her sixties, that girlish flustered act is wearing a bit thin. And having her parade around in panties and crinoline party skirts isn’t fooling anybody into thinking she’s a teenager, either.
This May-December romantic comedy might have worked were it not for Keaton’s infuriating dumbing herself down and mugging for the camera in a desperate attempt to prove she’s terminally-cute in a pre-feminism sort of way.
Unfortunately, she was only encouraged by the Oscar nomination she landed in 2004 for Something’s Gotta’ Give, where she played a post-menopausal playwright opposite the ever-impish Jack Nicholson.
But best to avoid this cliche-ridden rip-off of that relatively-pleasant romp. Why? Because I said so.
8. Kickin’ It Old Skool
Jamie Kennedy stars in this fish-out-of-water comedy about middle-aged man who emerges from a 20-year coma still having a boy’s brain after landing on his head while breakdancing as an adolescent. The story revolves around his tracking down the three other members of his pre-teen posse, The Funky Fresh Boys, to see if they’re ready to resume their routines.
Truly an equal opportunity offender, the dialogue repeatedly resorts to ethnic, gender and other assorted slurs, whether referring to blacks by the N-word repeatedly; calling Asians gooks, geisha girls or egg rolls; calling females bitches, hos or pink sushi, calling gays homo, calling the mentally-challenged retarded, or associating Jews with several stereotypes.
Not one scene of this disgusting shocksploit is either entertaining or funny, proof being its failure to elicit even one laugh out of anyone at the screening this critic attended. Another negative is the picture’s profusion of prominent placement ads for Pepsi, Nike, Apple, Pop Rocks, etcetera, and equally-distracting cameos by David Hasselhoff, Erik Estrada, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Emmanuelle “Webster” Lewis who has my permission to return to obscurity after embarrassing himself by calling a woman a “ho” before slapping her right on the rump.
9. I Think I Love My Wife
Can a seemingly-irresistible seductress tempt a happily-married man to break his marriage vows? That was the driving question behind Chloe in the Afternoon, Eric Rohmer’s thought-provoking morality play exploring infidelity. This adaptation was directed by its star Chris Rock, who also overhauled the script into a barely-recognizable, formulaic sitcom.
Forget about the palpable tension created in the original by the protagonist’s predicament, since this transparent tale takes his cues from its spoiler of a title. So, everybody knows from the beginning which of the ladies in this love triangle will ultimately prevail.
Worse is the fact that the picture isn’t funny and consists mostly of vaguely familiar scenes borrowed from a variety of popular screen adventures. This ripoff even has the nerve to recreate the seduction from The Graduate, complete with the famous silhouette of the raised leg featured in that classic’s poster. In sum, an uncreative, unoriginal exercise in the obvious.
I think I hated this movie.
10. Reign over Me
This relentlessly depressing buddy flick focuses on the toll that 9-11 has taken on a defrocked dentist, played by Adam Sandler, whose wife and three daughters died on an airplane that fateful day. The movie begs to be appreciated as a cerebral, character-driven meditation on the psyche of America in the aftermath of the terror attacks, but it resorts far too frequently to the staples of the Sandler formula to be considered of any more substance or consequence than The Waterboy, Happy Gilmore or even Billy Madison.
Instead of relying on a protagonist’s mental retardation to rationalize his familiar lowbrow brand of humor, he exploits a tragedy to free his character to launch politically-incorrect bile in the direction of Latinos, gays and any other easy targets unfortunate enough to cross his path. Just a meanspirited, frivolous, brutally-dull, pretentious indulgence in bigotry and sophomoric behavior in the name of Al-Qaeda.
Are We Done Yet?
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