::Literate Blather::
Friday, March 07, 2008
Big Movie, Bad Movie

10 Blockbusters That Make You Want Your Damn Money Back

(Can you say blockbuster? Or at least they were supposed to be. These were the movies with big potential, big budgets, big stars, big directors – and, well, they were terrible. God awful, in fact. Join us in a journey through shattering dreams and missed opportunities.)

The Truth About Charlie

Director: Jonathan Demme

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Thandie Newton,

Year: 2002

Box Office Take: $5.2 million

Plot in a Nutshell: A thriller without thrills. A woman discovers that her recently deceased husband may have been a criminal – and his buddies want their take of his $6 million and think his wife knows where it is.

Biggest Annoyance: Mark Wahlberg wearing a fedora through most of the movie. He looks like a buff version of Boy George.

Really Bad Quote:Reggie, I hate that you're caught up in this. But at the same time I'm glad, because it means we've met.”

The Lowdown: The only redeeming thing about this disaster of a remake is that it bombed at the box office so most people were spared the agony. The original “Charade” starred Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant – so even trying for a remake of this classic was risky business. The worst part of this movie is Walhberg who was still trying to find his way as an actor here. He can’t pull off the Cary Grant thing – at all. He stumbles and bumbles his way as a con man and come off as more of a clown. His worst asset as an actor is his naturally high voice and it’s on grand display in “The Truth About Charlie” where he’s at his squeaky best.

Fallout: Jonathan Demme, who won an Oscar for “The Silence of the Lambs” hasn’t had a good movie that wasn’t a documentary since.

Planet of the Apes

Director: Tim Burton

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Paul Giamatti

Year: 2001

Box Office Take: $180 million

Plot in a Nutshell: An astronaut crash lands on a planet where apes rule and men are slaves.

Biggest Annoyance: It’s hard to determine who to hate more in this movie: Tim Roth overacting his role of Thade or Helena Bonham Carter hamming it up as Ali. Two usually excellent actors reduced to utter embarrassment.

Really Bad Quote: “Can’t we all just get along?”

The Lowdown: The remake of the original Charlton Heston sci-fi classic has been turned into a long chase movie with absolutely no redeeming qualities – except for the excellent make-up work. The movie simply can’t figure out what it wants to be: a social satire, an action movie or a comedy. So it turns out to be a mess. The usually creative and daring Burton gives us a vanilla ice cream cone.

Fallout: No one has yet paid the price for this movie. In fact, it was a blockbuster.

St. Elmo’s Fire

Director: Joel Schumacher

Starring: Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Mare Winningham, Andie MacDowell

Year: 1985

Box Office Take: $37.8 million

Plot in a Nutshell: A tight-knit group of college friends has a difficult time handling life after college and begin to drift apart.

Biggest Annoyance: The most annoying scene is when freelance writer Andrew McCarthy pens a story about “The Meaning of Life” and gets it published on the front page of the New York Times. Yeah, right. And then, of course, there’s Rob Lowe with blown dried hair and headbands.

Really Bad Quote: “Jules, you know, honey, this isn't real. You know what it is? It's St. Elmo's Fire. Electric flashes of light that appear in dark skies out of nowhere. Sailors would guide entire journeys by it, but the joke was on them... there was no fire. There wasn't even a St. Elmo. They made it up. They made it up because they thought they needed it to keep them going when times got tough, just like you're making up all of this. We're all going through this. It's our time at the edge.”

The Lowdown: “St. Elmo’s Fire” fails because the characters are shallow, obnoxious, and self-centered. None of the friends are worthy of having friends. Rob Lowe’s Billy Hicks character takes the cake as a blowhard saxophone player who is basically a sociopath (who wears leg warmers). So bad – it hurts.

Fallout: The movie that symbolically ended the reign of the Brat Pack and killed the career of Emilio Estevez.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Director: Tim Burton

Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Christopher Lee, David Kelly

Year: 2005

Box Office Take: $206 million

Plot in a Nutshell: An eccentric chocolate factory owner opens his magical factory up for a group of children to see which one of them is worthy of becoming the new owner.

Biggest Annoyance: Johnny Depp’s teeth or, perhaps, his hair?

Really Bad Quote: “Candy doesn't have to have a point. That's why it's candy.”

The Lowdown: An unnecessary second adaptation of the beloved children’s book. Depp’s performance is the worst of his career as he channels Mark Wahlberg’s squeaky voice for the entire movie.

Fallout: None. It’s amazing how the overrated Tim Burton isn’t made to pay for the crap that he puts out.

Wild Wild West

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

Starring: Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, Salma Hayek, M. Emmet Walsh

Year: 1999

Box Office Take: $113 million

Plot in a Nutshell: Two federal agents investigate a possible assassination of President Grant and discover a super villain who wants to destroy the United States.

Biggest Annoyance: There are too many, but the overacting of Kenneth Branagh may take home of the first-place ribbon.

Really Bad Quote: “Gordon, when you tell this story to your grandkids, you be sure to leave this part out.”

The Lowdown: “Wild Wild West” is on the varsity squad of bad movies. It fails on every single level – writing, directing, acting, and producing (even the catering sucked on this movie – which is rumored to be a comedy). The movie was completely overrun by special effects – which seem ridiculous as the movie takes place in the Old West. Yet it has more explosions (and even a gigantic mechanic spider) than a science fiction movie. This is a movie that went horrible out of control and no one could get it back. But at least Will Smith got a pretty good rap song out of it.

Fallout: Director Barry Sonnenfeld has become a TV director and producer.


Director: Steve Spielberg

Starring: Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins, Maggie Smith

Year: 1991

Box Office Take: $119.6 million

Plot in a Nutshell: What if Peter Pan grew up into a corporate titan with little time for his children and then was forced to go back to Neverland because Captain Hook kidnapped his kids?

Biggest Annoyance: The strained script filled with forced dialog and unfunny lines.

Really Bad Quote: “I have waited long to shake your hand with this. Peter Pan, prepare to meet thy doom!”

The Lowdown: This must have looked great on paper – but the execution was terrible. This was a rare misstep for Spielberg – who gives us an overly produced movie that looks like an amusement park ride instead of a fantasy movie. The performances are a struggle, especially Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell and Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook.

Fallout: Generally considered a bomb despite the box office numbers.

Van Helsing

Director: Stephen Sommers

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh

Year: 2004

Box Office Take: $120 million

Plot in a Nutshell: Legendary monster hunter, Van Helsing is sent by the Pope to Transylvania to hunt down Dracula. One the way he also meets the Wolfman and Frankenstein’s monster.

Biggest Annoyance: Van Helsing’s one-liners. Can you say fish out of water? Can you say random?

Really Bad Quote: “Some say you're a murderer, Mr. Van Helsing. Others say you're a holy man. Which is it?”

The Lowdown: They put so much effort into a creating a movie where Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein’s monster, and Mr. Hyde could appear together that they forgot about a plot. That’s the problem with “Van Helsing.” It plays like a series of sketches slapped together and none of it really makes sense when it’s sewn together like the corpses that make up Frankenstein’s monster.

Fallout: Where the hell has Stephen Sommers been? He hasn’t directed a real movie since “Van Helsing.”

I, Robot

Director: Alex Proyas

Starring: Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Alan Tudyk, James Cromwell, Bruce Greenwood

Year: 2004

Box Office Take: $144.7 million

Plot in a Nutshell: In the year 2035, a Luddite cop investigates the possible suicide of a robotic scientist. The cop discovers that the scientist was killed by one of his robots – despite the fact that they are programmed not to kill humans.

Biggest Annoyance: The walking, talking cliché that is the character of Del Spooner played by Will Smith.

Really Bad Quote: “Human beings have dreams. Even dogs have dreams, but not you, you are just a machine. An imitation of life. Can a robot write a symphony?”

The Lowdown: More often than not – Will Smith’s action movies are bad. This one is no exception. The movie is recycled from every science fiction and cop action adventure movie ever made. But the worst part of the movie may be the fake looking robots.

Fallout: Alex Proyas has vanished off the fact of the earth.

Pearl Harbor

Director: Michael Bay

Starring: Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jon Voight, Alec Baldwin, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Garner

Year: 2001

Box Office Take: $198.5 million

Plot in a Nutshell: The attack on Pearl Harbor made boring and uninteresting.

Biggest Annoyance: The acting or lack thereof.

Really Bad Quote: “Rafe I'm pregnant. I didn't even know until the day you turned up alive and then all this happened. I haven't told Danny. I don't want him to know. All he needs to think about is how to do this mission and get back alive. Oh Rafe, all I ever wanted was for us to have a home and grow old together, but life never asked me what I wanted. Now I'm going to give Danny my whole heart, but I don't think I'll ever look at another sunset without thinking of you. I'll love you my whole life.”

The Lowdown: This is one of the most trite war movies ever made. The love triangle at the center of the story is about as hot as cold tap water.

Fallout: Started the long drought of duds for Ben Affleck.


Director: Jan de Bont

Starring: Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Cary Elwes, Jami Gertz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alan Ruck

Year: 1996

Box Office Take: $241.6 million

Plot in a Nutshell: Husband and wife researchers on the brick of divorce keep running into each other as they chase tornadoes across the Midwest.

Biggest Annoyance: The idea that you can successful outrun tornadoes – several times.

Really Bad Quote: “Killing yourself won’t bring your dad back. I'm sorry that he died, but that was a long time ago. You got to move on. Stop living in the past, and look what you got right in front of you.”

The Lowdown: This movie is just an excuse to blow things up.

Fallout: Jan de Bont’s next movie was “Speed 2: Cruise Control.” Need we say more?

Read our picks for the best "Unromantic Movies" here

Cowboy Up! Our picks for the best Westerns of all time

Hall of Lame: 10 Superheroes That You Wouldn't Want to Be

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
That's a wild assortment of movies there. About half were huge blockbusters, the other half disasters. They all share the trait that they kind of sucked.

The Truth About Charlie was developed with Will Smith in mind, but when he dropped out to do Ali, Demme cast Wahlberg. Bad idea. I spent the whole movie waiting for him to bang down someone's door yelling "Lemme in the motherfuckin house!"

I can't recall many movies that were worse than Twister between the action scenes.

Blogger GFS3 said...
"Twister" was bad, but I have to say "Planet of the Apes" and "Wild Wild West" have to take the cake.

Blogger Bybee said...
I echo every word you said about St. Elmo's Fire. I have similar feelings about The Breakfast Club.

Blogger GFS3 said...
But I actually liked "The Breakfast Club!"

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