Film Feature: The 10 Worst Films of 2013

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CHICAGO – Why are those three Oscar winners – Susan Sarandon, Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton – laughing on that fourth poster below? Because they managed to cash a paycheck on the way to participating in one of the Worst Films of 2013.

As studios pump out more and more product, more cinematic sewage clogs up the system. What do you need to avoid at Hell’s Video Store? Read on.

There are no rankings, because they are all rank. The ten are listed in descending levels of dread, caught up momentarily by the one-two punch (“Grudge Match!”) of Robert I-need-to-pay-off-my-vacation-homes De Niro. Each entry has a “REDEEMING FACTOR,” because without it, film critic Patrick McDonald would probably rip out his eyeballs and have them blessed by Ultima (see below). And 10 of the worst films of 2013 are…

Star“We’re the Millers”

We’re the Millers
We’re the Millers
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

What is notable about this film is that the potential was there. The first 20 minutes or so plays like a bad-ass satire (regarding the American Dream), with Jason Sudeikis as a slovenly pot dealer throwing out one liners like a Don Rickles on a roll. Then for some inexplicable reason, the whole farce shuts off, and it becomes an unfunny family comedy with Jennifer Aniston eventually doing a strip tease without taking her clothes off – and even then it felt self conscious. The rest highlights a sweating supporting cast trying to squeeze out some laughs – especially the unwelcome Kathryn Hahn – and a road trip that goes nowhere. Painful.

REDEEMING FACTOR: It’s a pleasure to report that Jennifer A. still has the body to play a stripper, if not the comedic and acting chops to portray a stripper. Personal trainers and fake tan bronzers, take a gold star out of petty cash.

Star“The Hangover Part III

The Hangover Part III
The Hangover Part III
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Despite horrible reviews from “The Hangover Part II,” the box office returns weren’t horrible and the green light was lit for Part III. The creative team, however, made sure that there wouldn’t be a Part IV to be considered, because this is one the laziest sequels ever made. First, it’s trapped in an complex-for-a-comedy plot that felt like warmed over James Bond, and second, the now-famous cast were trying way too hard to extract a pitiful laugh from that complexity. How can they be drugged again, to generate wacky post-hangover adventures? Eh, they’re not. Yep, it’s a “Hangover” movie with no hangover, except for the unlucky audience members afterward. Featuring desperate guest star Melissa McCarthy as the love interest that can hopefully improvise something funny. Fail.

REDEEMING FACTOR: There was some nice real estate in the Mexico scenes.


Photo credit: Focus Features

The cast is practically a comedy hall of fame – Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Wallace Shawn and Lily Tomlin – all playing into Fey’s obsession with being Katharine Hepburn or some other sort of light comedienne. Set in the laugh-a-minute world of the Princeton University admissions office (I wish I were kidding), the film doesn’t make fun of helicopter parents or the snootiness of the Ivy League – it takes the Admissions Office politics seriously! Paul Rudd shows his softer side as a do-gooder who has traveled the world and has adopted a Ugandan orphan, you know, the side of Paul Rudd we’ve all been anticipating for years. It all adds up to Wally Shawn’s perfect catch phrase summation – “inconceivable!”

REDEEMING FACTOR: There was one funny bit. When Admissions Officer Fey went through applications, she imagined the students appearing to represent themselves in the office, and when rejected they fell down a cartoon-like trap door. See you at UMASS, suckers.

Star“The Big Wedding”

The Big Wedding
The Big Wedding
Photo credit: Lionsgate

Don’t RSVP for this one - hyyyyyy-oooh. This weekend wedding romp has an “R” rating, but it tossed with the sentimental goo of comic typical bride and bridegroom misunderstandings. Robert De Niro, doing some prime paycheck cashing, plays a horny old goat Dad whose adopted South American son never told his über-Catholic biological Mom that the Dad and his ex-wife – played by Diane Keaton – had ever divorced. Faster than you can say I-Love-Lucy-plot, the wacky old couple “pretend” to be married for the weekend. This is the type of ensemble film that underutilizes more interesting actors like Amanda Seyfried and Susan Sarandon for the comic stylings of Topher Grace, playing (I wish I were kidding) a 30 year old virgin doctor. But fear not, Robin Williams is around to play the same wacky Catholic priest character from “License to Wed.”

REDEEMING FACTOR: Robert De Niro is shown performing a particular carnal maneuver on Susan Sarandon and they are caught in the act by Diane Keaton. This same scenario could have played out in a cutting-edge indie film from 1981.

Star“The Family”

The Family
The Family
Photo credit: Relativity Media

It’s the Bobby De Niro two-fer. “The Family” is so gloriously bad, that this film alone could whack the mafia film genre forever. The premise is a witness protection program for Jersey Capo Giovanni Manzoni (De Niro) and his family of sociopaths. For comedy, the film pretends that the wife (Michelle Pfieffer) and two kids (Dianna Agron and John D’Leo) are in on the violent fun, so for laughs we’re treated to beatings by baseball bats, tennis rackets, hammers and of course large amounts of gunplay, all of which the family practices expertly. All prints of “The Family” should sleep with the fishes.

REDEEMING FACTOR: The cover that Giovanni uses is that of a writer. The De Niro character actually begins to write his memoirs, and those five minutes of voiceover are the only palatable moments in the whole flipping film.

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