Crappy New Year!

By Reagen Sulewski

January 20, 2004

The Envy cast looks on in horror as dailies are screened.

Ah, the New Year, with promises of a fresh start and all that entails. And yet, instinctively we know that each year is only marginally different from the last and in some cases, worse. Nowhere is this truer than in the movies, where hundreds of new movies appear each year, with Sturgeon's Law (90% of everything is crap) nowhere more applicable. It's a perverse part of that film going optimism that makes us think thoughts like, "I love Dr. Seuss and Mike Myers is funny, so The Cat in the Hat should make a great movie” or, "Wild Wild West is gonna be so much fun, I like anything Will Smith does." Surely we have better radar than that by now (then again, I know someone that purchased Kangaroo Jack, Rollerball and 2 Fast 2 Furious on DVD. Can you conceive of a situation where you would want to see any of these movies again aside from some sort of bizarre masochistic ritual?). So I present to you my top 12 Least Anticipated Films of 2004, films that we should know better about by now and hold nothing of interest. You'd have to pay me to set foot in a theater that has these films playing, and even then we're talking serious bucks.

12) Twisted

I think Ashley Judd made one movie five years ago and they just keep releasing it under different titles. Don't get me wrong, it's great that actresses are finally getting lead roles in situations that aren't necessarily specific to them being a woman, but I think I've seen enough serial killer/procedurals to last me a lifetime, especially given the epidemic of CSI/L&O shows on TV now. By the trailer, we're clearly supposed to be wondering what the big twist is regarding the identity of the killer, so let me save you some time; it's going to be so random with so many red herrings that it'll be completely arbitrary and a cheat, like a magician performing his act with a blindfolded audience.

11) The Whole Ten Yards

I liked the first film a lot; it's the lone good Matthew Perry film, with inspired lunacy throughout and one of the best tuitous nude scenes in film history. When actors are having as much fun as they clearly were here, it rubs off on the audience and you can't help but enjoy yourself. There's a fine line that can be crossed, though, and it seems like they have, as the whole thing's steering into "We're Out of Ideas - Please Laugh at My Manic Flailing" land. “The firing must cease??” Sure, Matthew, right after the sucking does.

10) Against the Ropes

That is, assuming it doesn't get bumped to 2005. This was supposed to get released back in spring of 2003, and its appearance almost one year later in a cinematic dead time doesn't bode well. So it's basically a female Jerry Maguire but without the Cameron Crowe charm, which makes it a big 'ol pass for me. On the other hand, because it was made so long ago, it's a glimpse back to before Meg Ryan butchered her face with the “trout lips” look.

9) New York Minute

I know there's a lot of you out there who have this “thing” about the Olsen Twins, but let's just drop it, OK? It's by turns equally creepy and unfunny... and they're not even that attractive. We've seen these two in the spotlight virtually their entire lives, as if they were some bizarre "Truman Show-esque" experiment in rearing a child and I personally don't feel comfortable contributing anything towards its furtherance. I mean, does anyone know if they can act, or have they just made their career by staying the spotlight and with a jillion STV releases? The whole thing's just far too disturbing to me.

8) Shrek 2

OK, so here's where I lose a lot of you. Now, even if I wasn't tired of Mike Myers' fake Scottish accent (I swear, if I end up retroactively hating So I Married an Axe Murderer, there will be hell to pay), the original Shrek just would not do it for me, with its hypocritical message (It's OK to be different looking... as long as you're not short), wasted premise (hey, they're fairy tale characters! Now laugh, you monkeys!) and frat-level jokes, so pardon me if I don't signup for another round of it, when it looks as if they're going to be essentially copying Meet the Parents but in a more annoying manner. Of course, this movie is going to be a huge hit leave me to sulk in my little corner railing against the idiocy of everyone else. Sigh.

7) Catwoman

If it weren't bad enough that Halle Berry gave her most valiant effort to sink both X-Men films with her sleepwalking performance as Storm, now she's going to ruin Catwoman. This after complaining that there just weren't enough good parts for women and she was reduced to taking these comic-book based roles. Hey, we can tell when you're not into the role, so just don't even put us through it, OK? Further ominous signs: that laughable costume that looks like it designed by Frederick's of Hollywood, and the fact that it's being directed by a French visual effects “wizard” with one name. Oh yeah, and it co-stars Sharon Stone. I'll pass.

6) Envy

For all the considerable talent that Ben Stiller has, it seems to result in about a 3:1 ratio of crap:genius. Adding Jack Black isn't going to help, as he's just as bad in that department (Tenacious D notwithstanding). Combining the two in one film leads to either the possibility of genius or ultimate suck, like a triple-low biorhythm. Since the plot revolves around a device that vaporizes dog poop, I'll leave you to decide which of those outcomes we're heading for.

5) Scooby-Doo 2

I suppose irredeemable sucking didn't stop a Tomb Raider sequel so there should be no shock that we're facing a second edition here. On the other hand, we are talking about a sequel to a film based on one of the worst cartoons to ever last more than two seasons and in which every. single. episode. was. the. same! What can possibly be left to explore here? I mean, do you think Shaggy will say "Zoinks" in a brave, boundary expanding new way? Will Fred's ascot be a new fashion style for the ages? Will Daphne wear a skimpy outfit? OK, so there's one redeeming feature. I skipped the first one so unless this sequel features a scene in which Daphne and Velma explore a new level in their friendship, you won't find me in the theater for this follow-up.

4) Garfield: The Movie

Continuing the theme of disturbing CGI character-based movies, we have the Garfield movie, which I might have been more excited about in 1987, when Garfield the comic strip was still funny. At some point in the last 15 years, though, Jim Davis completely ran out of ideas and it's just been hundreds of strips about Mondays and lasagna. Heady stuff, that's for sure. Right now, it's about as appealing as a Family Circus movie, and I hope I haven't just given anyone any ideas. Somehow they managed to rope in Bill Murray as the voice of the tabby but we're also left with Breckin Meyer (a designated charisma-free zone) as the loser-bachelor Jon (at least they got that part right) and the so, so pretty but so, so vapid Jennifer Love Hewitt as Liz the veterinarian. I'm not expecting much more than Cats & Dogs or Good Boy! with a brand name.

3) The Phantom of the Opera

Joel Schumacher. Does a musical. An Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. I'm so passing.

2) Yu-Gi-Oh!

I have to wonder if there's really going to be nostalgia for these card collecting shows and movies when the pre-teens of today grow up. It doesn't seem possible to me, as the shows are basically extended ads for cards and tutorials on how to play them. And it's not like the cards will even have a lasting value like baseball cards. Somewhere a Japanese businessman is naked and rolling in baby oil while he rubs on himself the money he made selling these pieces of laminated cardboard to eight-year-olds as he plans their obsolescence in favor of the next allowance-sucking fad. Yay naked consumerism! In some ways it works against them, as I can't imagine someone shelling out money for a DVD set of these under any possible circumstance the same way as, say, the Macross series.

1) Son of the Mask

And the "Kangaroo Jack Award" for the film most likely to make me despair for the future of the species goes to... Come on, people! Is this really the kind of entertainment you want to be our legacy? The first Mask was a nice, slight bit entertainment that cemented Jim Carrey as a star and gave us Cameron Diaz, but is anyone expecting anything from this movie? CGI babies are never funny. Never ever, you hear me? And then there's the aggressively unfunny Jamie Kennedy, who can be fine in supporting roles (Scream, Enemy of the State) but in the center stage takes on a kind of David Arquette-like persona than just makes you want to make him eat his teeth. I'm just surprised this thing doesn't have the baby beating up Joe Pesci.



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