I’m a huge fan of film – but you probably already knew that. When a film is done well, it really makes an impression on you; the actors squeezing every last morsel of emotion and passion out of a scene, the cinematography being so top-notch and memorable that it creates a vivid picturesque feel in each frame, and the direction being so masterfully done that you all of a sudden have this feeling to watch every film by that director just to satiate your thirst for their pure, beautiful cinematic wonder. Needless to say, when a film is done well, it’s quite easy to tell. These following five films, however, possess the absolute polar opposite qualities of what has been described above. Avoid them at all costs.
5. “Paranormal Activity 4” (Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman, 2012)
When Oren Peli released his independent found-footage fright-fest “Paranormal Activity” in 2007, it scared the pants off any audience brave enough to watch it. It became so popular that more and more cities began to request it be shown at their local theatres and before long, it was a phenomenon. While the original “Paranormal Activity” is one of the creepiest films I’ve ever seen, the latest installment in the slowly-dying franchise offers absolutely nothing new and uses many of the same old tricks the previous films have used. It’s not even scary anymore – it’s laughable. This film is a prime example of how to take something good and completely ruin it without any care for the original product. And the audacity of these guys to release it in IMAX, too. You’re better off just watching the first two and stopping there. Seriously.
4. “Max Payne” (John Moore, 2008)
It would have been incredibly easy to compose this entire list of video game movies as most, if not all, are dreadful abominations that spit in the face of their source material. But if I had to settle on the worst of the worst, it’d have to be “Max Payne.” Having played the games and been fully immersed in Max’s neo-noir drama of betrayal, love and redemption, I expected to see all that translated well onto the big screen. Was that too much to ask, Mr. Moore? John Moore gave us a half-assed plot that borrowed random elements from the original game’s story and re-arranged them into an incoherent mess that doesn’t even make sense once it’s explained. Pair that with a pathetically wooden lead character (I love Mark Wahlberg, but I can’t forgive this) and a bastardization of everything the game popularized to the point that it almost made me never want to play it again, and you have this wretch. This visionary of a director would go on to make “A Good Day to Die Hard” five years later. Think about that for a second.
3. “Batman and Robin” (Joel Schumacher, 1997)
It was difficult for me not to include this film on this list. I love Batman and everything the Dark Knight stands for but this… what the hell was this? Joel Schumacher’s second attempt at portraying the caped crusader on the big screen following the modest success of “Batman Forever” was an absolute wreck of a film. The acting was painfully bad, the dialogue was so cringe-worthy you probably had aching muscles by the end, and the costumes were… were… BAT NIPPLES, REALLY?! This film was so bad that it single-handedly killed any possibility for a future Batman film until, by the grace and magic of Christopher Nolan, the true spirit of Batman was resurrected eight years later with “Batman Begins.” If you’re a fan of film, do not watch this. Please. If you’re a fan of Batman, well, you’ve either watched it and hated it or been told to not watch it, watched it, and then hated it even more.
2. “Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star” (Tom Brady, 2011)
Why, oh why, did I ever subject myself to this cinematic torture? Netflix, I love you and everything you offer, but why in the hell did you upload this to your library?! I watched this only because I wanted to watch something silly that I didn’t have to think or philosophize about. I asked for silly, I got stupid. Really, really stupid. This film is honestly the worst excuse for a movie I’ve ever encountered. It makes everything above it on this list look like “Lincoln” by comparison, it’s that bad. The filmmakers must have thought that a story about a small-town misfit trying to break in to the porn industry would make for the funniest movie ever, but they were so wrong that it hurt. Everything about this movie is awful. Everything. Don’t watch this film – ever. I don’t even know why it hasn’t been destroyed or thrown into a bottomless pit never to be seen again. So, given all that, you might be wondering why it’s not number one on this list. Well, that’s because as bad as this film was, it’s not as bad as the next film – nowhere near it.
1. “I Love You, Beth Cooper” (Chris Columbus, 2009)
“I Love You, Beth Cooper” reigns as the only film that has made me stop watching it before I even saw how it ended. Even if a film is terrible, I never give it the satisfaction of making me stop it prematurely; if I’ve committed myself to watching it, I’ll watch it to the end, no matter how bad it is. But this film was so bad I couldn’t be bothered to stay and see how it ended. It may be a bit of a cheat to include this film on this list as I haven’t even completely watched it but these romantic comedies always end one way – everyone’s happy and the couple, as impossibly mismatched as they are, get together and live happily ever after. From what I remember, however, the acting was bad, the script was bad, the pacing was bad, the characters lacked any depth and the whole “she’s out of his league but he tries anyways” cliché was so poorly done I couldn’t even genuinely root for the guy to get the girl. It was a profoundly predictable mess of a film that I had to stop halfway through because if I didn’t, I fear I would have suffered irreversible brain damage.