Film Feature: The 10 Worst Films of 2010

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CHICAGO – Happy New Year’s Eve! The glorious life of the film critic – swimming pools, movies stars, etc. – unfortunately includes the necessary but cruel viewing of 2010’s worst films. Ten candidates made the low grade even after thankfully avoiding some of the more egregious sins (“Marmaduke” comes to mind). This list represents my personal worst from 2010.

To mollify the assignment, I’m adding a “mitigating factor” – a single piece of hope within each piece of dreck – to find the silver lining in losing precious time.

Star10. Sex and the City 2

Sex and the City 2
Sex and the City 2
Photo credit: New Line Cinema

This über-popular HBO series, which started “innocently” enough as four single gals on the town in New York City, morphed into the type of relationships and situations that makes every sitcom jump the shark – marriages, babies, menopause. The first film breakout was a surprise hit in 2008, but had the aforementioned marriage of Carrie and Big to hang onto. This sequel has no sex, and very little city. Sending the gals on the road to Abu Dhabi smacked of desperation for writer/director Michael Patrick King, and consequently the whole collective legend suffered for it.

MITIGATING FACTOR: Admittedly, it was pretty ballsy to have Samantha shove condoms into the face of the Arab patriarchy.

Star9. Easy A

Easy A
Easy A
Photo credit: Screen Gems

Emma Stone is a pleasant enough ingenue, and with a better script or even a darker take on the main premise this might have worked. As films have erroneously done since its invention, teenagers are portrayed here as idealized superstars, with no adolescent awkwardness or unpleasant backlash. This high-school-from-another-planet has Stone faking a “bad” reputation for a reason I can’t remember now, even wearing the Scarlet “A” from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous novel (the reading of which in high school funded the Cliff Notes corporation for years). Would this have worked better if Stone weren’t so freaking fabulous. Who knows?

MITIGATING FACTOR: At least there was the addition of Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as glib, wonderful parents.

Star8. The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Photo credit: Fox-Walden

Mostly this is a complaint about film series that don’t work if you haven’t read the books. This chapter of Narnia suffers from complexity (the story had something to do with swords), special effects that the flesh-and-blood actors don’t seem attuned to (the hunky King of Narnia can’t see to focus on the effects sight line) and the over-reliance of the effects over the story/character of the C.S. Lewis source. Outsiders don’t seem to be allowed into the magical world, with the only warning to me beforehand is that the lion (voiced by Liam Neesom) represents Jesus. I didn’t know what to do with that information, even when he appeared.

MITIGATING FACTOR: The just-entering-into-adolescent girl character walks through a watery tunnel at the end.

Star7. Little Fockers

Little Fockers
Little Fockers
Photo credit: Universal Pictures

Who is left to meet? Apparently no one as this latest “Meet the Parents” chapter strains to keep Jack (Robert De Niro) and Greg (Ben Stiller) at odds with each other, even though Greg seems to be the exemplary domestic daddy (the little Fockers are the kids, who despite the title remain in the background). This time Jack has decided, post a mild heart attack, that his side of a family needs a leader, and taps Greg as the “GodFocker” (hoo-ha). The conflict is when he suspects Greg, in a series of sitcom-ish misunderstandings, is having an affair. When the two highlights of the film are the comic stylings of Jessica Alba and Barbra Steisand’s curly perm wig, they’re focked.

MITIGATING FACTOR: Realizing that De Niro, graphically “upright” after a misadventure with a erectile dysfunction drug, has done it all on film.

Star6. The Last Airbender

The Last Airbender
The Last Airbender
Photo credit: Oscilloscope

Winning the “Most Prophetic Title of the Year,” director M. Night Shyamalan might never touch a family movie again. This bloated, confusing mess makes no sense at several points during the story, even with characters stopping in mid action to strangely describe the narrative while it’s going on. The special effects, retrofitted yet again to take advantage of the 3-D craze, are murky and blurry, plus the glasses conspire with the imagery to produce a headache. Unlike Shyamalan’s previous mysterious themes, there is nothing cultish in this film to save it. Well, maybe the bald kid whose head glows.

MITIGATING FACTOR: Aasif Mandvi, a senior correspondent on “The Daily Show, portrayed Commander Zhao. His line readings were exactly how he “acts’ when bantering with Jon Stewart, which I believe was his signal that the film stunk. Back to you, Jon.

Anonymous's picture

Putting “Easy a” and

Putting “Easy a” and “Love and other drugs” on that list is beyond subjective. Both are critically acclaimed movies. I agree with the rest though.

Btw. Anne Hathaway had nude scenes before. So much for good reasearched movie journalism…

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