Worst Films of 2004
In Shroom's previous thread, about the year's best films, I made some suggestions for the year's worst, and started a whole conversation. I thought, why not carry it over into its own post, where I give some cause behind my nominations for Year's Worst Film, and see what everyone else thinks? So, here you go...
Day After Tomorrow
Not exactly a horrible movie, but not at all entertaining, and thoroughly ridiculous. I know that global warming is a real phenomenon, but unfortunately, the truth about it isn't particularly cinematic. So, Roland dresses it up with his usual disaster movie tedium - families splitting apart and reuniting, brave scientists accepting their grim fate with honor, near-fatal accidents and fortunate coincidences and on and on. It's supposed to be thrilling, I suppose, but it's all pretty dull, and the proceedings become so ludicrous (for one, Jake Gyllenhaal outruns frost, which is quite difficult to do...almost as difficult as outrunning the sun, which James Bond managed in Die Another Day) that's it's impossible to invest in anything that happens.
#5 - Secret Window
What the hell happened here? This was directed by the same guy that made Stir of Echoes, which is a great, underappreciated little horror film that had the unfortunate timing to open just before The Sixth Sense. This one is based on some old ridiculous Stephen King story with one of the most laughably bad, silly, predictable endings imaginable. John Turturro shows up at Johnny Depp's cabin claiming to have authored a story that Depp published as his own in a recent book. Oh, and some people wind up murdered. And there's a twist. And lots of corn. It's retarded. Includes the Single Most Overused Ending of the Year, which is will now blow for you: He's crazy! They're the same person! The movie sucks!
#4 - Dodgeball
Wowzer, when comedy is not funny, it's really really not funny. A lot of the people involved in Zoolander were also involved in this, and while that movie's no tremendous glowing achievement, it is quite watchable, and has a few big laughs, whereas every single joke in Dodgeball lands with an enormous thud. The only one that has a chance is Rip Torn chucking a wrench at some kid, and that's in the previews. Ben Stiller's character here is grating with a capital G, and Vince Vaughn seriously looks embarrassed to even be in that shitkicker. Neither of these guys have had a year to be proud of...They both need to get Will Ferrell involved in some movie they're doing, and bring out the funny, chop chop, because I'm getting impatient.
#3 - Finding Neverland
Mark Forster, you suck. Okay? You just do. You have no tact, no class, no subtlety, and no craft. You just make stories about sensitive people dying and hope that's enough to move an audience. But that's not drama, it's just maudlin tearjerking manipulative bullshit. That's how I feel about this movie, J. Depp's second entry in the year's worst list. His Willy Wonka better be the shit next year to make up for 2004. This story about the conception of Peter Pan is everything I hate about uptight costume dramas: it's self-important, bogus and fake.
#2 - White Chicks
The Wayans Brothers, I can only assume, do not spend any time with black or white people. They have no idea how people of either gender of either race speak, move, think or interact. This movie might as well be called White Aliens: the brothers don't look like chicks, don't sound like chicks, don't talk like chicks, and are not for a single moment believable as chicks. They look disgusting, disfigured, like freaks. The story, in case you missed the barrage of previews when this shitkicker opened in the summer, concerns the two worst FBI agents of all time, who foolishly think they can dress up like white girls and move incognito to foil a kidnapping plot, despite being unfunny black men with dangerously low IQ's. They proceed to engage in a whole lot of racial comedy that might be funny if, as I noted before, the Wayans had any idea how to act white or black. But they don't. All they have at their disposal are cheap, ancient stereotypes that were tired by the time Archie Bunker uttered them on national television 30 years ago.
#1 - Garden State
I fucking hate you, Braff. I hope you get cancer.This movie is fake. I referred to it earlier this year as Cinema du Poseur, and I am going to reiterate that title here. See, what Zach did is watch a lot of good movies...French New Wave movies, and David O. Russell's Spanking the Monkey, and Wes Anderson films...movies with quirky characters who move through alternate kind of realities, stumbling upon wisdom and learning about themselves and about life. And then he tried to write one of his own.
All this is fine. I've done this. It's how most new screenwriters get started.
But he took it a step further. He decided, why simply be inspired by other filmmakers and artists, when I can just rip off their ideas? So there's a shot from a Danny Boyle movie here, a shot from Wes Anderson here, a Shins song here (along with a blatant, "please respect me" piece of dialogue cluing the audience in to how hip and indie the filmmakers are), a Godard reference here, and when you're all done, you have a movie that looks and feels like 00's independent cinema, but that has no soul. A Frankenstein monster of a movie that wants you to like it so badly, it forgot to have an idea, a point, a message or a brain.
There are no characters to watch in Garden State, just quirk factories. Zach doesn't stop writing until he's given every character in his film about 500 idiocyncracies, from epilepsy to dozens of pets to mopeds to compulsive lying...and that's just one character.
Garden State represents the worst of not just movies, but of art. It represents a desire to go back and create a pastiche of what's been done, rather than a desire to take what has been done and push it further. Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation says that writing should always be an exploration into the unknown. Zach Braff wants to take you where he's already been before, to let you know how cool he is for going there. Fuck him.