Thomas Edison invented the first bad movie back in 1897 with "Mr. Edison at Work in His Chemical Laboratory." It flopped among early adopters. To endure the hard 30 seconds, audiences prattled insults at the screen with post-modern detachment.
Flash forward a hundred years or so. Since 2004, Sherilyn Connelly, Jim Fourniadis, and Erin Ohanneson of The Dark Room in San Francisco have presented the weekly Bad Movie Night, promising "guaranteed awful movies, free popcorn, wisecracking hosts & BANJO!!" Finally, people can watch Toys as a group and heckle to it to endure it. (Plug: I'll be cohosting Toys on Sunday, December 27th, 2009.) Sherilyn has curated a who's who of what's drek, and many movies I've cohosted with the #bmn crew have made my worst films of the 2000s.
*An asterisk precedes a film featured at Bad Movie Night.
**Double asterisk means I've cohosted it.
The Room (2003)
I saw this billboard with the face of a pasty European dead-eyed somnambulist, possibly promoting a European cult, an anti-meth campaign, or a sex club called "The Room." Winds up The Room was the somnambulist's movie. And the somnambulist wound up being Tommy Wiseau, actor, writer, director and presenter of the worst movie of the decade, The Room!
Everyone will agree this movie is ironically bad. Even Wiseau knows this and hosts sold-out midnight shows in L.A. (there's midnight showings nationwide now). Plus, he holds a Q & A before the showing. Probably takes the money and runs before the credits start.
This is the ideal date movie, perfect for casual bad movie patrons. I'd suggest a double feature with another easily mocked movie from the '00s, like *Glitter, *From Justin to Kelly and The Real Cancún. I'd suggest it because I've never bothered to watch the last three pictures myself.
Before it even unspooled in theaters, Gigli had its own bullet points of notoriety:
- No American gets the title's reference, nor can they pronounce it.
- A macho assassin and lesbian assassin kidnap the mentally handicapped brother of a politician, then the killers falls in love.
- The lesbian assassin is played by Jennifer Lopez, the macho assassin is played by Ben Affleck.
- Gigli wasn't just an onscreen affair between Lopez and Affleck. Their offscreen romance was ubiquitous tabloid fodder called "Bennifer," which, unlike the movie, was free and updated daily.
- It's from Revolution Pictures, not a good thing.
So everyone wised up and skipped Gigli. Here's what they missed:
Crummy music plays in the background. The outdoor scenes (where Affleck's boss calls him from pay phones) seem unnaturally airless. Gigli's mom flirts with J. Lo. Both leads give unsexy speeches about their crotches. Justin Bartha earnestly plays the mentally challenged abductee, whose obsession with Baywatch hits play dirt in the final reel, when they drive into a beach shooting of the show. Al Pacino shows up and says, "I say everything twice. Sit sit, down down." Christopher Walken shows up and says: "Man, you know what I'd love to do, right now? Go down to Marie Callender's, get me a big bowl, pie, some ice cream on it, mmm-hmm good! Put some on your head! Your tongue would slap your brains out trying to get to it! INTERESTED? SURE?"
No, I'm not sure.
Freddy Got Fingered (2001)
Within the first 20 minutes, writer-director-star Tom Green delivers babies in a maternity ward and spins them around by the umbilical cords. Where does one go from there?
**The Love Guru (2008)
After 2 Wayne's Worlds, 3 Austin Powers and 3 Shreks, Mike Myers had the power to launch franchises. He used that power to launch the logo-ready Love Guru, a tribute to racism, dick jokes, hockey, Deepak Chopra, mugging to the camera, Mariska Hargitay, and Blur's "woo-hoo" song.
The Cat in the Hat (2003)
"I'm not so good with the rhyming, not really, no. Look, I'm a cat that can talk; that should be enough for you people!" - Mike Myers in a Cat in the Hat costume.
**I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007)
Rob Schneider plays a Japanese man with goggle glasses and a camera around his neck. Plus, strawman arguments!
**Little Man (2006)
"Dwarf criminal" (Marlon Wayans' face CGIed on a little person) pretends to be an orphaned baby. One scene he sleeps in Shawn Wayans and Kerry Washington's bed. The next morning Washington compliments Shawn's suddenly passionate love-making, but Shawn doesn't recall. The joke is Marlon raped her.
Smokin' Aces (2006)
Character walks on screen. Freeze image. Subtitle reveals character's stupid name. Another character describes onscreen person. Repeat ad nauseum until Guy Ritchie files infringement lawsuit. My wife's least favorite movie of the decade.
**Second half of Grindhouse (2007)
I wish Robert Rodriguez had scaled back his Planet Terror segment to 45 minutes, but it was watchable, with decently formed characters and fuck-all attitude. Then Rob Zombie's insipid Ilsa parody trailer comes on and Grindhouse grinds to a halt.
Here's the plot to **Death Proof, Quentin Taratino's contribution:
While in New Zealand, stuntwoman and Uma Thurman look-alike Zoë Bell (played by Zoë herself) subscribes to the print edition of a Tennessee newspaper to scour the classifieds in search of a car model used in the movie Vanishing Point. She finds it, and while shooting a movie in the state, visits the rural owner and takes the car for a test run. Zoë performs a stunt on the hood of the car, when all of a sudden, Wile E. Coyote - excuse me, lame Texan killer Stuntman Mike - appears out of the blue and chases them. When cornered, the ruthless murderer suddenly wimps out. This chase scene has been hailed as one of cinema's best, but its lead-up is absolutely artificial. Avoid the DVD version too, which adds foot-licking, depressing lap-dancing, and a subplot about an Italian fashion magazine. For the record, I also hated the Kill Bills and Inglourious Basterds.
**Wicker Man (2006)
A woman-hater remakes a film school fave into a YouTube sensation.
Mega Wicker Man
Film students can stop telling me about their remakes of The Wicker Man because Neil LaBrute did it.
And the loser is:
**Adam Sandler's 8 Crazy Nights (2002)
Singer of "The Chanukah Song" makes animated holiday feature aimed for Jewish kids. After watching 8 Crazy Nights, I converted to Christianity. Credit my BMN cohosts Sherilyn and Phil Darnowsky, who consider this the nadir. In their honor, I designate Adam Sandler's 8 Crazy Nights as the worst movie of the decade (sorry, Gigli). There's a musical number where the logos of actual shopping mall stores come to life and are voiced by celebrities like Tyra Banks (Victoria's Secret) and Carl Weathers (GNC). Also, Rob Schneider plays a Chinese waiter.
Unwatchable runners-up: Battlefield Earth (2000), Intolerable Cruelty (2003), Revolver (2005), Southland Tales (2006), He's Just Not That Into You (2009), horror remakes, original horror movies from Rob Zombie.