Crappy New Year!
By Reagen Sulewski
January 20, 2004
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.
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.
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.
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
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.