We’re never going to agree about these things, are we? Every movie is a potent mix of subjective ingredients, some of which might appeal to us (why else would we go see these fluffy concoctions?), but the recipe could cause anybody a nasty dose of indigestion, nausea or worse, often for unpredictable reasons.
For example, The Madness of King George is a splendid movie by any standards, but at the time I saw it with my then wife it disagreed with her violently – to the extent that she had to leave the cinema. Why? Simply because her father was suffering similar symptoms and it was all too close to home.
This is a sample of my personal list of turkeys, movies that left a very nasty taste in my mouth. It’s not an exclusive list; there may well be very many more I have conveniently forgotten, not to mention those I have not seen, those I have conveniently forgotten and those I really shudder at the very thought of. In some cases it is hard to define why I disliked them so intensely, but a few notes are provided to give an illustration of my distaste.
It’s highly tempting to include the entire oeuvre of some actors – Jim Carrey springs to mind, and is far from alone – but given that some injustices may occur I thought it better to stick to individual movies. This also excludes whole families of remakes and sequels, which I would so love to incorporate as a genre. And indeed, anything with cloying sentimentality too.
However, please note that this is a different list to the worst made stinkers, the sort you would enter in the Golden Raspberry Awards (“the Razzies“) – try here for a few of those. The ones on my list are movies that, with the right cast and directors, should be at least half way decent, or certainly watchable. These are a few I really would not want to see again under any circumstances. In my estimation they insult the intelligence of the viewer and which deserve the key criterion: they are movies I would walk out of. Maybe it is the cynicism I most dislike, that studios would foist such horrible fare upon us, make us pay good money for so little?
I fully expect you will disagree with my selection, while at the same time compiling your own list. Indeed, I know that some people, bless them, love these confections. To these people I’d say keep them – just take them as far away from me as possible!! These are in no particular order, by the way:
- Vanilla Sky: Cruise is beyond awful, of course, but the whole concept cheats the audience and is thoroughly nasty and deeply unpleasant in every way. Consign to the nearest Bonfire of the Vanities without delay!
- Donny Darko: See above – another horrible movie I did not enjoy in the slightest. Nothing whatever in its favour, despite its cult success. Makes me shudder at the very thought.
- Moulin Rouge: mangles beautiful songs and substitutes empty glitz and glamour for a decent script and sensible content. I felt sorry for McGregor and Kidman, who are perfectly blameless; it’s Baz Luhrmann who should be thoroughly ashamed of himself.
- The Aviator: Leo DiCaprio, hopelessly miscast, acted off the screen everywhere – nothing whatever to be said in his favour. He turns what would otherwise be a mediocre movie into an outright disaster.
- The Royal Tenenbaums: great cast, but what on earth went wrong? A self-consciously quirky “comedy” that barely raises a titter is not new, but this is an embarrassing waste of great talent, served by an uninspiring script that uses the bizarre as a substitute for quality.
- Snakes on a Plane: not one of Samuel L Jackson‘s wiser choices, though he does well considering the appalling screenplay. This feels like 50s B-movie gone wrong. All around him there are awful special effects (eg. a man holding a rubber snake to his penis) and plank-like acting reminiscent of the Woodentops.
- Cabin in the Woods: my review (see link) says it all. Contemptible and cynical plagiarism. Nothing whatever to add to the genre.
- Gulliver’s Travels: Swift must be pirouetting in his grave. Truly the most awful adaptation of a great work of fiction ever to hit the big screen. Jack Black stinks!
- Caligula: thoroughly unpleasant and embarrassing movie for all concerned, conning those taking part and we viewers in equal measure. Added soft porn thanks to Bob Guccione increases the cringe factor. If you want to see quality product of the same period of history, try I, Claudius.
- The Jackal: the original Day of the Jackal is a masterpiece. This is a sad, cynical flop of a remake. Worse – it is sacrilege. There was no excuse whatever for making it. It should be excised from history, and preferably take the Hollywood remake of The Vanishing with it.