Like all movie years, 2009 saw its share of insightful, entertaining and inspired motion pictures -- and more than a few down-and-out stinkers.
To celebrate the consumption of so much turkey on Thanksgiving Day, we invited Harry Medved, senior director, public relations for Fandango (and a pioneer in the field of Bad Movie Study as co-author, with his brother Michael Medved, of "The Fifty Worst Films of All Time" and "The Golden Turkey Awards"), and Matt Atchity, editor in chief for Rotten Tomatoes, to share which films ranked at the absolute bottom of the barrel with readers and critics, respectively, as well as their own thoughts on the results -- and how this might have been Sandra Bullock's worst and best year ever.
Since bad movies don't get their own Buzzmeter, these lists may be your safest bet in trying to predict this year's Golden Raspberry Awards nominations.
Both lists can be found after the break.
The 10 Worst Reviewed Movies by Readers on Fandango (note: all comments are by actual readers, typos and all):
10. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li
"A complete waste of my money!! Horrible acting!!!" (sere)
"Please use the money for that movie to feed the poor or something well spent. Sorry Street Fighter: the movies hurt us again." (Kenyu)
"The entire theater would laugh at [Chris Klein] whenever he appeared on screen with his cheesy lines and horrendous acting" (rdfishfl)
"Sorry excuse for a movie...where did they get those actors? Actors r' Us?" (pinkmooncow)
"This movie blows.... Hollywood screwed up another game-to-movie adaptation. Yea for Hollywood!" (bigmix1986)
"In all my years, I have to say this was the worst movie I have EVER seen. I am very easily entertained, but Chris Klein's performance should have gotten him kicked out of SAG." (Clarence333)
9. Observe and Report
"I kept waiting for something to laugh at, BUT everything was so pathetic, the chance [to laugh] never came...boy, was I wrong!!!!! (fgwag)
"Seth Rogen stole 2 hrs of my life! I wasted an evening out with my husband on this trash!" (wildcatfan)
"Can't believe I spent the money. This was a stupid foul movie. I will research the [names of the] writers of this movie to ensure that I never waste money on their ventures again. This is the worst movie I have ever seen." (Cobrafan)
"Observe and Run! This may be one of Rogen's worst movies. He has been putting out movies like Kiss used to put out albums back in the 70's and 80's! Some were classics and some were crap!" (chrslee)
8. All About Steve
"Put it out of its misery. I love Sandra as an actress. Nothing else could have convinced me to ignore all the bad reviews. I wish I would have listened. Will rate as one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my life. Sandra! You're better than this." (WhoKnowsMvees)
"All About Stupid! I got lazy and neglected to read some reviews before going to see this movie because I liked the all actors, and didn't think they would individually and collectively stoop to be in total dog. BIG MISTAKE!! Stoop they did, as this is by far one of the stupidest stories I have ever endured. Many bad movies start out stupid, but get less so by the ending. Not so with this one, as it starts out stupid and gets far, far worse." (snackbar)
"An insult to the viewers' intelligence. The main funny parts are all seen in the previews. The first hour was absolutely, positively the worst thing I've seen on screen for some time. A couple of people even walked out.... not worth sitting through Bullock's annoying, psycho, chatterbox role. So do not spend your money...even on a matinee!! (saltluvs_ movies)
7. Dragonball: Evolution
"Ordinarily, I can't stand it when people in the audience talk during a film. I get pretty outraged by that. However, this time I could hardly blame them. The movie was absolute dreck, from soup to nuts. As usual, the actors try valiantly to put lipstick on a pig. But in the end, it was futile due to the lameness of the material. Everytime they desperately said something about the elusive dragonballs they were trying to connect-like "We now have two dragonballs!!" the audience would erupt in laughter. Skip this one." (Spoon 123)
"Worst movie of the year - it killed the anime! I've been a db and dbz fan since the age of 6 - it's been 14 years - so the past 4 days I've been watching the series over to try to forget the most horrendous movie ever." (animepnk88)
"I thought I was being punked! This is a new genre of action flick, one with NO action. The kid sitting next to me fell asleep several times during the film. A couple of teens got up and walked out...This film is nothing more than an extended first act. They introduce the characters and story, nothing else happens." (blackfilmstudent)
"The worst movie ever made...And worth every penny for the unintentional comedy." (kylegoesftw)
"WORST MOVIE EVER MADE...I've seen a lot of movies.....I mean A LOT OF FRIKIN MOVIES. I've seen good movies, and I've seen bad ones to. But this movie..........BY FAR THE WORST MOVIE EVER PUT TOGETHER!!!!! I am not exaggerating. This was complete trash. Garbage. Waste of time and money. The worst movie I've ever seen. Period. I mean it couldn't get much worse. PLEASE, DO NOT WASTE YOUR LIFE IN SEEING THIS THING!!!!!" (holmes9)
6. Year One
"As Bad As It Gets. There was a time when director Harold Ramis had both a sense of humor and an understanding of comedic timing. You'd never know that from this excrement...there were times I could swear I heard the sound of crickets chirping in the theater....It's hard to imagine a film worse than Year One - even Ed Wood would have been embarrassed to have his name associated with something this awful." (Colette327)
"If your idea of funny is jack black eating poop and the same lines reused 10 times an hour, well then disregard this review and run to the theater. I had high hopes for this movie, seeing as how I love Micheal Cera's brand of humor a-la Arrested Development, Nick and Norah's... and Juno...Worst Movie Ever." (sottenad)
"Worst Movie I Have Ever Seen. My cousin requested to see this movie for his birthday - we took the entire family, 10 people, aged 11 - 67 and EVERY SINGLE ONE was offended...We hoped for the best, and were beyond sorely disappointed." (LBJ3Q)
"SO-SO BAD I'm a huge Jack Black fan and made sure we were in theater's the weekend of Year One's realease...I wish I had stayed home to take a nap." (Aust)
"Flushing Your Money Down the Toilet would be more Fun. I liked Jack Black...before this movie." (dustinis)
5. Land of the Lost
"Another piece of my parents' childhood was crushed by this terrible movie." (Joker_Man)
"Land Of The Losers - After walking out of this movie 10 min. into it, I was afraid someone who knew me had seen me running out. When I went to the ticket counter they were more than happy to give me a pass to another movie. The woman at the counter said many people had walked out (smart people)! This movie was so bad [that] I will never see another Will Ferrell movie again." (yoda)
"Worst Movie Ever. What a waste of 2 hours!!!!! Think I lost a few brain cells." (moviefanTX)
"So terrible, its funny. WOW. biggest waste of $10. i feel like an idiot." (Autistic child)
"yikes. this movie was so awful that after an hour everyone had walked out. I have never seen that happen before. Need I say more?" (scoobamom)
4. The Box
"The BOX should be buried and NEVER seen or spoken of again! This movie was TERRIBLE... one of the worst movies I have EVER seen. Starting with Cameron Diaz's completely unbelievable southern accent... to the story line, plot, and ending... it was all TERRIBLE. I actually laughed out loud at the end in disbelief at how absurd the whole thing was. I didn't understand what the heck was going on or what the point was. It was a complete waste of time, money, and brain power" (Claire72677)
"I've actually never bothered to write a review but this movie was so horrifically bad that I felt it was my duty to warn people. The saddest part is that this movie had serious potential to be a blockbuster hit but they had to throw in some weird alien crap (which was never actually explained) and ruin the whole thing. The characters are rather annoying, the script is lacking substance, and the plot makes absolutely no sense. People who say they understood it are probably trying to make themselves feel smarter or deeper since there is nothing there to get. It was not deep, it tried to be but failed miserably to make any sense. Something about aliens, mind control, weird water bubbles (never explained), a guy missing half his face, and people jumping into a pool/portal that makes you deaf and blind??? What? If I had rented this movie I would have turned it off, driven back to blockbuster, and demanded a refund. Seriously do not waste your money or your time." (bad_movie)
3. Dance Flick
"DOnt waste your money THis movie was terrible!!! Dont get me wrong I love Shawn and Marlon Wayans, but the talent stops there. The trailer for this movie is funny but misleading. You get 5 minutes into the movie and you want to get the hell outta there but dont wanna waste your money so you stay. But it was a waste either way...The theatre was FULL when the movie began and then slowly people were leaving until like 10 people remained at the end. The end was the BEST part of this movie!!! Yea its over!!!!" (mellynellybee)
"So sad...I know the people in this movie are more talented than they acted here...worst movie I have seen in a while." (McQuaky)
"Keenan, Marlon and Shawn should be ashamed...as should anyone else who took part in this garbage." (mandingo271)
"I walked out 30 minutes into it, and so did half the theater. It was easily the worst movie I have ever seen...I didn't even laugh once, it was that dumb." (JGar000)
2. Halloween II
"That's not what Michael Myers is all about!...definitely the worst Halloween film yet! Just let this series die!" (MustBeIMAX)
"I felt compelled to say something about this one, since it was soooo horrible! Don't waste your money!" (Tymar)
"We sat through the whole thing and at the end our jaws just dropped" (JaredFlury13)
"I almost walked out in the middle - but like with any train wreck, you have to stay and watch. ATTN Rob: stop writing stupid stuff to put your wife in." (tat2ed_redhead)
"I have never left a movie feeling so awful in my life..." (TingedOak)
"First movie I ever walked out on and got my money back...I would say to save your money and watch it at home...but I wouldn't want to put you through that agony." (seecillago)
"Fearless, offensive, sad and pointless...I felt physically sick while watching this film and was glad when it was over." (urbanmama)
"I wasted 25 minutes of my life sitting through this strange effort at Euro comedy and then left to pursue better things like getting an oil change..." (HGWT)
So what do we make of 2009 from this list?
Harry Medved: Hell hath no fury like a moviegoer scorned and screwed out of his money... a lot of these user reviews are from people who feel ripped off. It's almost like what "Consumer Reports" used to be. People are looking to vent their spleen after they feel like they've been taken. And what you're finding here are mostly films that had misleading marketing campaigns, or a beloved franchise -- whether it's "Halloween" or video games like "Street Fighter" -- that's been completely ruined, as far the users are concerned. That's where you get people using phrases like 'worst movie' ever seen.
And people can be venomous -- it's a lot different when you're dealing with a critic, who's seeing the film in a screening room for free. These are people who paid for the babysitter, bought their tickets on Fandango, ran to the theater, and within 15 minutes, they're agog with shock. And we're finding that more and more moviegoers want to warn their fellow film fans of the dangers that they've seen -- they're saying, "Warning! Don't trust the trailers!"
That's another thing -- in the case of "Bruno," which had the worst user reviews of the year, we saw people writing time and again that all the good jokes were in the trailer, which misled people to believe that it was going to be as funny as "Borat." People feel misled and betrayed by the marketing campaigns. They expect this grand moviegoing experience; they're looking for a popcorn movie with a lot of thrills, but alas. They trusted their favorite star, whether it's Jack Black or Will Ferrell or Seth Rogen, to deliver the laughs and they didn't, or they expected action and didn't get it.
Are there surprises by inclusion or omission on this list?
HM: I was surprised that "Love Happens," with Jennifer Anniston, didn't make our Top 10, but I think a lot of people didn't see it. Movies needed 400 reviews on Fandango to qualify for this list. I don't know if it's a surprise, but it is interesting to note that 2009 was the best of times and the worst of times for Sandra Bullock. She had her biggest commercial hit ever with "The Proposal," her biggest critical hit, and what looks to be another commercial hit with "Blind Side," and her biggest commercial and critical flop ever with"All About Steve." It was a roller coaster year for her.
I'll tell you that I'm surprised that "All About Steve" and "Land of the Lost" didn't propel themselves to the top of the list. And I'll say that I'm surprised that "Bruno" is No. 1. It's relatively funny. I just think that a lot of people felt misled and were turned off by the humor. We do consider ourselves a mainstream moviegoers' site at Fandango -- we have everything from soccer moms to teenagers going out to "New Moon" to church groups going out to see the latest Tyler Perry movie. And it was interesting to see how much revulsion was generated across the board by "Bruno."
Ultimately, it's an interesting mixture of failed comedies and misfired franchise installments. Probably the most amount of venom was spewed at movie adaptations of video games. You don't want to mess around with gamers.
Rotten Tomatoes' 20 Worst Reviewed Films (by critics) of 2009
1. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (Tomatometer Rating: 4%)
2. Miss March (4%)
3. Old Dogs (8%)
4. All About Steve (6%)
5. Whiteout (6%)
6. Post Grad (9%)
7. The Stepfather (11%)
8. My Life in Ruins (10%)
9. Dragonball: Evolution (13%)
10. The Unborn (12%
11. Bride Wars (12%)
12. Couples Retreat (12%)
13. The Pink Panther 2 (13%)
14. Ninja Assassin (29%)
15. I Love You, Beth Cooper (15%)
16. Planet 51 (16%)
17. Year One (15%)
18. The Ugly Truth (15%)
19. Dance Flick (18%)
20. Love Happens (18%)
As critical drubbings go, how did 2009 stand up?
Matt Atchity: I don't think that we had an exceptionally bad year as such. More than anything, what's really surprising is the inclusion of "Old Dogs" and "Ninja Assassin," two movies being released right before Thanksgiving, which is usually when you see a lot of good movies. That being said, "Old Dogs" will probably make good money. If you look at (John Travolta's previous Disney effort) "Wild Hogs," that made -- what? $140 million? Some movies people will see regardless of what the critics will say. And it's important to look at the quality of the media that we're consuming, even if we're consuming it anyway. My girlfriend and I are still going to see "Ninja Assassin," but now I know what I'm in for.
And the thing to keep in mind about our Tomatometer is that we're running a percentage of critics that recommend a movie. With something like "Old Dogs," which is currently at 9%, we only see two people that have recommended the movie. That's not to say that everyone else will say it's the most staggeringly awful movie of all time. Most of the reactions are, "This movie is kind of lame." That's what we saw with films like "My Life in Ruins" or "Couples Retreat." It's not like those movies are garnering hatred with the fire of a thousand suns. All of the critics can say "meh," and you'll end up with a low Tomatometer. By the same token, you look at "Iron Man" last year, which was in the high 90s, but does that mean it's at the same quality as "The Godfather," which is at 100%? I don't think anyone's going to argue that.
What's interesting is the movies that have very passionate debates (over their quality) end up with very high Tomatometers, like "Bruno." The people who liked it, they liked it, but the people who hated it loathed it. And it ended up in the 60s. The controversial movies don't end up at one end or the other -- they're solidly in the middle.
What surprises you on this list?
We just ran our Worst of the Worst list, so a lot of this stuff, I'd already seen before. It did surprise me to see "Couples Retreat" so low -- I hadn't remembered that it had received such a low score. It's also interesting to see "All About Steve" on there, and Sandra Bullock's current movie, "Blind Side," doing so well -- that movie flirted with being Certified Fresh, which is when a movie hits 75%. In that case, it's nice to see that she's doing movies that people like.
-- Paul Gaita
Image: Sacha Baron Cohen in "Bruno." Credit: Universal Pictures.
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