Dec. 21, 2001-
My Life With the Dogs
By By Tricia Olszewski
Did you hear about the blond couple who froze to death at the drive-in?
What did the fish say when he hit a concrete wall?
The above jokeswhich make me laugh every timeare an appropriate introduction to the year's worst cinematic disasters for the following reasons: (1) The first is my favorite movie-related joke, (2) both indicate that I'm easily amused, and (3) the punch line of the second has typically been my reaction when I learn of the films I've been assigned to review. It's been a dismal year at the movies, from disappointing summer fare (how do you make Pearl Harbor boring?) to so-so independents and foreign films that have been successful simply because people are tired of feeling so bad (Amélie? Cute, but about 20 minutes too long). Then there are the no-name, no-plot groaners that I get stuck with, this year's unusually high number of which is attributable to either frantic green-lighting during the threat of a writers' strike or my getting old. I've had to sit through the worst of the worst, ranging from so-bad-they're-funny to so-bad-I'm-pissed. According to the numbers, many of you have wisely avoided this dreck at the theaters, but let this serve as a warning that the worst 10 movies of 2001 do not even a Blockbuster night make.
I started to rank these in order of hatefulness, with No. 1 being the, um, lowest, but after the first few the badness is pretty much uniform:
1. Tomcats A group of undesirable guys doing undesirable things to way-too-desirable-for-them women. In other words, Penthouse Forum come to life. Oh, and Jerry O'Connell and Jake Busey are the slimiest leading men ever.
2. Say It Isn't So A heartfelt story about the trials faced when one sleeps with his sister. (Let's hope no one sat in the theater thinking, It's funny because it's true!) And could someone please tell me how Chris Klein broke into Hollywood?
3. 3000 Miles to Graceland You get Vegas, you get cool criminals, you get Elvis. Yet this seeming sure shot quickly degenerates into as much of an unsightly mess as a bloated, hopped-up King after too many peanut-butter-and-nanner sandwiches. Kevin CostnerI could stop right here, couldn't I?plays the baddest Elvis of a gang of five thievin' impersonators, and once the rather stylish casino robbery ends and the rampant bloodshed begins, you simply count down the minutes until all the Elvii have finally left the building.
4. See Spot Run Drug busts and severed testiclesbut for kids! Even the sight of David Arquette covered in dog doo isn't worth the price of a rental.
5. Glitter The most reasonable explanation for Mariah Carey's emotional breakdown.
6. Sweet November Keanu Reeves as a mover-and-shaker ad exec? Please. And with all due respect to Charlize Theron's loveliness, you just can't act that crazy and still get the guy. A restraining order, maybe. (Then again, perhaps it's hard for a guy to find someone who also enjoys walking on the beach to Enya.) This 30-days-of-love-therapy cheesefestcomplete with the revealing of terminal-illness secretsis so leaden that it even takes away your ability to enjoy Reeves' bumbling attempts to emote toward the end.
7. Summer Catch You think watching an entire baseball game on TV is boring? You'll never find less exciting playon or off the fieldthan in this Freddie Prinze Jr.–led rip-off of Bull Durham, which ends with Prinze's full-of-promise pitcher abandoning a no-hitter to go after the girlwith the smiling support of his teammates. Worst...ending...2ever.
8. AntiTrust Though Ryan Phillippe's golden curls and empty, pretty face were much better suited to the flesh fair that was 54, it's kind of fun to watch him concentrating really hard as he connects the dots in this Bill Gates–gone–bad anti-thriller. But Phillippe as Super Genius, Tim Robbins as Evil Computer Man, and Claire Forlani as the Most Boring Girlfriend Ever ultimately leave you feeling that the only dangers awaiting Phillippe are carpal tunnel syndrome and eyestrain.
9. Shallow Hal I'm not sensitive, and I'm not large, but this is one insulting movie. You've got men whose jackassery prevents them from seeking any but the most stunning women and women who are judged by looks alone, but in the end it's the gals who are pitied and deemed in need of rescue.
10. The Wedding Planner OK, so a lot of my female friends liked this fluff about the loneliest wedding planner of them all. I was game until Jennifer Lopezlooking as Jennifer Lopez doesgives up on finding love after one rejection and decides to agree to an arranged marriage with a cousin she previously couldn't stand, thinking it's her only way to happiness. Way to role-model, J. Lo.
But, as I said, I'm easily amused. So even when I walk out of an assigned movie thinking that maybe I should grab one of those Work at Home! fliers on the way to the Metro, I can find something worthwhile amid the film's awfulness to make up for my trauma. In an effort to put a positive spin on this year's collection of otherwise horrible flicksthis is the season of giving, after allhere are some little ways in which these bombs excel:
The In-a-Nutshell Award for Best Unintentional Criticism 'He's pretty honest with his feelings. I don't think he knows how to act' (AntiTrust, said about Phillippe).
Gaggiest Gag A tie: A wayward testicle that's chased through a hospital and ends up in someone's dessert (Tomcats) and a shit explosion when a toiletcomplete with the gassy girl who is occupying itcrashes through the floor to the classroom below (Not Another Teen Movie).
The Thank-God-for-Big-Girls Teen-Choice Award Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, whose shower scene and cat suits persuaded little boys everywhere to stop fucking around with video games and work on finding Dad's Playboy collection (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider).
Best Use of a Non-Jiggly Body Part to Hold Audience Interest The raven-haired Emmanuelle Chriqui, whose follicular stylings blessedly took the focus off her lame boy-band co-stars (On the Line).
The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living Award for Best Philosophizing 'It's weird. Three days ago, I had a phat job and not a worry in the worldand now I'm going to turn into a vampire' (The Forsaken).
Best Keanu-as-Himself Moment Since Bill & Ted Eulogizing a 9-year-old as 'a little man; just a boy, really' (Hardball). CP