Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The 10 Worst Films of 2008

by Kam Williams

Headline: Kam Takes Revenge

Even more fun than fondly looking back on the best films of the year, is the opportunity to compile a list of the worst of the worst. There’s no common theme running through these entries, except that they’re each 100% godawful.
As for indivual performances, it feels strange not to have a flick from either Cuba Gooding, Jr. or Robin Williams to slam, with those perennial bottom-feeders replaced by a couple of A-list newcomers in Mike Myers and Al Pacino.
However, kudos to Katt Williams for picking up where Stepin’ Fethcit left off in First Sunday, this year’s winner.

1. First Sunday

When a movie resuscitates this many offensive African-American stereotypes, you half expect somebody to be passing out watermelons and barbecuing ribs right in the lobby of the theater. I had problems with virtually every aspect of this modern minstrel show, starting with its plot’s revolving around a couple of crooks (Ice Cube and Tracy Morgan) robbing a church.
Just as bad is Katt Williams’ character, a buffoon given to blurting out inane non-sequiturs whose only apparent purpose is to make the audience laugh out loud. He plays a cowardly coon who feints when scared and who repeatedly employs malapropisms, such as confusing “affecting” with “infecting.”
In sum, if you enjoy laughing at the sight of a black man in a dress, at offensive jokes about nappy hair (“Your hair looks like an S.O.S. pad!’), and at black folks pretending to be mildly retarded, you’re apt to find this flick hilarious.
A cringe-inducing, cinematic tribute to the Golden Age of Minstrelsy!

2. An American Carol

This transparent spoof takes cheap potshots at Michael Moore, ostensibly for the amusement of arch conservatives. The plot is very loosely based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, except that here Scrooge (aka Michael) hates the Fourth of July holiday instead of Christmas. The simplistic premise has him not merely being un-American but the unwitting dupe of a cell of radical Islamists planning to blow up Madison Square Garden.
Along the way, ACLU attorneys are depicted as zombies who deserve to be shot on sight, student demonstrators are demonized for exercising their First Amendment rights, and Moore is repeatedly ridiculed for being a traitor who doesn’t support the troops. Less a legit satire than a scary soap box in service of a right-wing agenda. A dead giveaway is the cast which boasts a bevy of Republican apologists like Bill O’Reilly who takes delight in slapping Mr. Moore right in the face here.
Challenging authority as unpatriotic? Bah, humbug!

3. What Up?

Tyrone (Kadeem Hardison) and Jerome (Godfrey Danchimah, Jr.) are jive janitors with not much ambition beyond getting “a Hummer and some honeys.”
These irritating nitwits think their ship has finally come in the day they find a briefcase with $100,000. Thinking themselves now rich enough to retire, they immediately quit their jobs, but quickly blow the loot on a flashy car and “bitches.”
Only after their new auto is carjacked and they’re down to their last $2.14 do they learn that the money belonged to the Mafia and that a vicious mobster named Mr. Spaghetti (Sonny Bermudez) is hot on their trail. What to do? What to do? The best ideas they can come up with is to rob a black-owned bank and to try to sell soiled panties for $500 by passing them off as stained with Hale Berry’s booty juice? No, I am not making this up.
An insult to the intelligence about a couple of shiftless fools who resurrect every ugly stereotype about blacks while spouting ebonics-laden dialogue reminiscent of Amos & Andy. Makes Soul Plane look like The Great Debaters.

4. Meet Dave

This Eddie Murphy flop borrowed its basic premise from The Brother from Another Planet, but conveniently ignored every one of that classic’s cerebral aspects. The dumbing down is no surprise since it was directed by Brian Robbins who also collaborated with Mr. Murphy on the equally-brainless Norbit.

The film features mostly asinine slapstick, the sort of infantile poop and fart fare designed to keep a four year-old in stitches. Besides Brother from Another Planet, Meet Dave shamelessly steals bits made famous by other films, such as In and Out’s coming out scene (“I’m Dave Ming!” instead of “I’m gay!”), and Chris Rock’s unsuccessful hail of a taxi from Down to Earth (“What, an alien can’t get a cab in this town?” instead of “I’m a black man again!”)
All in all, this unoriginal, derivative disaster is the worst sci-fi comedy since, well, since Eddie Murphy made The Adventures of Pluto Nash.

5. Swing Vote

Kevin Costner stars in this dud as an unemployed slob whose tie-breaking vote is about to decide the presidential election. Even if you’re willing to swallow that idiotic premise, this infuriating film ends on a cliffhanger leaving, as if setting us up for a sequel. What a cinematic slap in the face!
On second thought, maybe there was a winner here, corporate America, judging by the omnipresence of product placements for everything from Budweiser to MTV to Old Spice to UPS to Monopoly to Pepsi to Chevrolet to Newsweek to Motts to Ritz Crackers to Quaker Oats to Verizon Fios. A movie which amounts to little more than a series of sales pitches. Next time, would you mind including an ending, if you’re going to ask us to sit through two hours of commercials?

6. The Love Guru

Anyone familiar with Mike Myers’ work knows that he’s a comedic genius quite capable of keeping you in hysterics. That impressive track record makes this offering all the more disappointing, for The Love Guru barely registers a blip on the audience laff-o-meter over the course of its patience-testing, 90-minute duration.
In 25 words or less, the story revolves around an orphan raised in an Indian ashram who moves to the U.S. hoping to replace Deepak Chopra as America’s #1 self help guru and thereby earn an invite to appear on Oprah. The movie looks like someone threw a bunch of bull substance at the screen to see what sticks. Nothing does, trust me.
It’s might not be Myers’ best performance of his career, but it’s certainly his worst.

7. Changeling

When a movie opens with an assurance that what you’re about to watch is
“A True Story” you certainly expect to see a historical drama far more credible than this patently-absurd saga strictly for the very gullible. The point of departure is 1928, which is when we are introduced to Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie), a single-mom whose nine year-old son (Gattlin Griffith) vanishes without a trace.
Several months later the LAPD seem to have solved the mystery, as they announce that the boy’s been found alive and well. However, Christine’s hopes are soon dashed when she sees that the child is an impostor (Devon Conti).
This is where the movie starts to make no sense, since we’re led to believe that Christine took custody of the perfect stranger anyhow.
Have you ever met a mother who couldn’t identify her own kid? Me either.
Doesn’t pass the smell test.

8. Street Kings

It’s never a good sign when an action thriller makes you laugh out loud at dialogue intended to be taken seriously. But this is exactly the reaction periodically elicited by Street Kings, a grisly shoot ‘em up loosely based on a crime yarn by James Ellroy.
The film is a disaster for several simple reasons: a preposterous premise, less credible plot twists, gratuitous violence, a plethora of ethnic slurs, an absence of likable characters plus another wooden performance from Keanu Reeves, an actor ill-suited for roles calling for an emotional range. When you have trouble reading the hero’s motivations at every turn, the result is a humorous headscratcher like this unmitigated mess.

9. Be Kind, Rewind

Who would ever think that the teaming of Jack Black and Mos Def in a sitcom could be so disastrous? However, they were utterly abandoned by a rudderless script despite a promising premise about a couple of amateur filmmakers who decide to remake a number of screen classics. Sadly, nothing can save this overambitious enterprise embarked upon by blithering idiots, full of sound and fury but signifying nothing.

10. 88 Minutes

Patently preposterous at every turn, this unintentionally funny murder mystery is more action-packed than the average Bugs Bunny-Road Runner hour, and features cartoon physics which is about as credible. A comical crime thriller where you’re likely to find yourself laughing too hard to solve the whodunit.
Al Pacino should let a bomb-sniffing dog check out his scripts in the future.


Bangkok Dangerous


Funny Games

Gran Torino



Lakeview Terrace

Nora’s Hair Salon 2

Role Models

Step Brothers

Three Can Play That Game


You Don't Mess with the Zohan

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