As a professional critic, I am well aware that many people consider my profession to be a den of fatuous, narcissistic, flinty-hearted bloviating trolls, grown fat and sassy off the succulent flesh of others' failure. To which I say: Fair enough, but a big steaming bowl of schadenfreude can be oh-so-delicious. While I would damn sure rather be sitting through a good movie any day, there is something savory about a truly awful movie, one you can really sink your critical fangs into. So as it's my duty to turn my pain into your pleasure, let's take a not-so-loving look back at the absolute worst films 2010 had to offer.
Anything starring Kristen Bell, Katherine Heigl or Ashton Kutcher
Seriously, take your pick, as each of the above stars dropped multiple bombs this year, two of which had the great misfortune of featuring Josh Duhamel, the actor for people who hate acting. His When in Rome co-star Kristen, the Belle of Huntington Woods, wasn't just terrible in rom-coms but also stunk up the screen in the musical disaster Burlesque. Ashton Kutcher managed to step away from Twitter long enough to star in the misbegotten sapfest Valentine's Day, then scored a bad movie whammy by starring alongside the blond bane of chick flicks, Katherine Heigl, in Killers, a flick the studio nearly tried to assassinate before it opened.
Every now and then Hollywood picks a theme and just beats it to death, be it volcanos, alien invasions or mutant sharks, and this year someone picked up a copy of Bullfinch's and gave us bullcrap in return. The Clash of the Titans remake was a blurry, chaotic bore, rendered ugly by layers of "cool" grunge, bad acting and absolutely pointless 3-D trickery. Worse, cardboard leading man Sam Worthington couldn't hold Harry Hamlin's shiny sword, continuing his bland assault on showbiz. Yet he looked legendary next to Logan Lerman, the alleged "lead" of the appallingly dull Harry Potter knockoff with the tongue numbing title: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. It takes longer to say the name than to forget all about the ancient Greek shenanigans of this PG teen actioner that washed out in a saggy muddle of special effects and senseless set pieces. The only thing remotely memorable was the sight of Pierce Brosnan as half-horse Centaur, an image that will turn you to stone faster than Uma Thurman as Medusa.
When not busy globetrotting to trouble spots, home-wrecking and hoarding third-world babies, Angelina Jolie makes a lot of noisy, mediocre action flicks. Kind of a weird choice for a pacifist, yet we're continually treated to Angie flailing her scrawny No. 2 pencil arms and taking out waves of massive heavily armed thugs. She was back at it in 2010, slinging bullets in the implausible, enjoyably silly Salt, and the tedious bad trip The Tourist. Never mind that with her bony frame, outsized jaw and insanely pillowy lips, she looks like a Bratz doll with Kung Fu grip.
The studios are so desperate to squeeze cash out of mommy and daddy's pockets they keep bleeding the nostalgia vein dry, looking for any cartoon with vague name recognition. Thus, Marmaduke, an inexplicable attempt to make "hip" a dreary comic strip which is only read by shut-ins with replacement hips. They haven't yet built a pooper scooper large enough to handle the titanic waste left by this dog, which at last allowed Owen Wilson the chance to really phone in a role. Equally frightening was Yogi Bear, which packed a picnic basket full of pleasant childhood memories, marched it into the woods and mauled it beyond recognition like that poor idiot in Grizzly Man.
Horror movies pretty much just stopped trying this year, with uninspired remakes and messy reruns, like Saw 3-D, Hatchet 2 and A Nightmare on Elm Street. The bottom of the barrel was scraped by the torture porn-scary-hillbilly-revenge extravaganza I Spit on Your Grave remake, which was creepily effective, yet sported a 30-minute rape sequence, the line "show me your teeth, show pony" and achieved the artistic heights of a dude getting a shotgun shoved in his rectum!
What a drag
Look, it's one thing to make a movie for gals, it's another to try and actively chase the straight guys out of the theater. Sex and the City 2 started with a white-robed Liza Minnelli crooning at a swan-themed, same-sex wedding, and then somehow only got gayer from there. Yet Sarah Jessica and her menopausal coffeeklatchers looked positively butch next to the tired hoofers in Burlesque. Somehow, with the ghost of Cher haunting the joint, this idiotic stripper soap made Christina Aguilera about as sexy as a soccer-mom pole-dance class at Curves.
You may have heard, but not believed it, but let me assure you, that yes, The Last Airbender was that shitty. M. Knight Shaymalan delivered a fatal, flying martial arts fireball to not only the audience but, hopefully, his career.