The Worst Films of 2011

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We’ve discussed the best of 2011, so I thought it would be a good time to talk about the opposite end of the spectrum. I haven’t seen as many 2011 releases as others here have but I’ve seen enough duds and disappointments to come up with the following list:

Most Overrated film (1) – The Descendants. Being a huge fan of Alexander Payne’s work, this film above all else was the film I was most looking forward to in 2011. But, despite all the critical praise it received, I found this to be a huge disappointment and easily his weakest film. The trend I sense in Payne’s work is that he’s moved away from the acute social satire and analysis that he was so good at and more blander Oscar bait type films. On that basis he’s been successful with two consecutive screenwriting Oscars but it’s made him a far less interesting filmmaker.

Most Overrated (2) & Boring Film – Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I don’t think I was out of step with critical and public opinion more in 2011 than this film. Lauded as being a blockbuster finally done with skill and intelligence, I saw virtually nothing in it that I liked. Having about 0.0001% of the intellectual interest of the original POTA, I found this perfunctory and uninteresting from the word go, with an incredibly dull ‘romantic’ angle. It’s far from the worst film I’ve seen at the cinema, but would be close to the most boring.

Most Overrated (3) – The Trip. This film had plenty of admirers. And I can’t deny that bits of this film are very funny and when Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s segment when they’re doing duelling Michael Caine impersonations is great. But as a whole film I found it rather hard to take. That’s perhaps in part because it wasn’t really a film, but just an edited down version of a TV series. It’s almost an anti-film in many ways, with no real plot to speak of and Brydon and Coogan playing themselves, but not really. More palatable if you watch the funny bits (like the Caine impersonations) on YouTube.

Most Overrated (4) – Bridesmaids. This one ticked off all the negative boxes of the modern mainstream Hollywood comedy – relies on ‘outrageous’ behaviour instead of wit for laughs, raucous elements cover up how conventional it all is, has no sense of comic timing, overlong by 20-25 minutes, has a lame ending, etc… It did have some laughs early, although the biggest laugh of all was that it got a Best Screenplay Oscar nomination.

Worst ending – Crazy, Stupid, Love. While the first half of this film was fairly entertaining, there was always a feeling of telegraphed phoniness about this film. But it really went downhill towards the end with increasingly hard-to-take sentiment and plot contrivances piling on top of each other. But it really fell apart with the school hall finale which managed to be implausiable, cringeworthy, sitcomish, sappy and unfunny all at once.

Worst Film – I Don’t Know How She Does It. Basically a slogan (aren’t corporate working mothers great!) that somehow became a movie. Virtually no narrative or plot to speak of with the only entertainment being wondering how such a good cast managed to be attached to this non-event. Earns extra demerits for employing the irritating device of having segments where characters talk to the camera in a pseudo-documentary style.

9 responses »

  1. Appreciate the post, but I liked all of your overrated films, as you can see The Trip made my 10 best and Rise of the Planet of the Apes just missed it. I liked The Descendants, and didn’t hate Bridesmaids.

    I am on board with Crazy, Stupid, Love, but the whole movie sucked, not just the ending. I wouldn’t see I Don’t Know How She Does It on a bet.

  2. The worst movies I saw this year were twin biopics, Eastwood’s J. Edgar and Lloyd’s The Iron Lady.

    J. Edgar was really a stupid film, in the truest sense of the term; it knew very little about its subject and seemed uninterested to know more. So it fills way too much time and thematic space focusing on the tawdrier, more sensationalistic aspects of the Hoover legend, as if screenwriter Dustin Lance Black was channeling Maureen Dowd or Chris Matthews.

    The Iron Lady, meanwhile, was a political movie that seemed like it was made by the kind of people who don’t want to be bothered about politics. So we get a Margaret Thatcher that seems like a raving loon, which isn’t altogether inappropriate except that most of the political and historical context is simply missing. That Streep won an Oscar for this is embarrassing, because she’s really terrible, reducing the role to a grotesque caricature.

    As for Marco’s list, I agree with the first two, liked The Trip but can understand the criticism, and didn’t see the last three.

    Watching The Descendants win a screenplay Oscar was strange, because the script was the weakest element of the movie, especially in the way it tried to convince us out of nowhere at the end that this was really a movie about the Clooney character’s deep spiritual ties to the land. Rise of the Planet was pretty well directed, but lazily plotted and too dependent on CGI that, despite all the praise, never convinced me that I was seeing real animals. I mean, Caesar didn’t look like any chimp that I’ve ever seen.

  3. Thank the movie gods you mentioned Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
    What a *turkey*.
    For me, Chronicle was easily the worst of the year. So bad on so many levels.

  4. Caesar didn’t look like any chimp that I’ve ever seen.

    For some reason, I heard this in a Groucho Marx voice.

  5. Chronicle is a 2012 release, Filmman.

    I don’t seek out movies I’m not likely to enjoy, so thankfully I don’t see that many of them (at least in theaters–with DVD my standards are lower). But I’ll play along and, after checking my notes, found that I gave three 2011 films a D+ or lower: Sucker Punch, Crazy Stupid Love, and Young Adult. So those are my three worst of the year.

  6. That was dumb, sorry. But it was so bad, it’s bad enough to count for three years’ worth. And the reception it received is laughable at best and mind-boggling in reality.

  7. I don’t quite get why you’d have to ‘play along’?
    No one searches out movies they’re gonna hate (no matter how much it may seem that I do). Isn’t just always the worst from what you’ve seen?

  8. Well, a critic sees films that they might not want to. And Brian sees like over a hundred new releases a year. But even he didn’t see I Don’t Know How She Does It.

    (no matter how much it may seem that I do)

    Yeah: Valentine’s Day, twice?

  9. Love Rise OTPOTA. Expected to hate it, but love it. Best of the year, that I saw.

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