Good reviews of bad films


I like to watch films and so read a lot of film reviews since there are so many films and so little time and I need guidance in selecting what to watch. But while good reviews are the most helpful, it is the nasty ones that are the most fun to read, especially if they are written in a witty manner.

Film critic David Edelstein provides capsule reviews of the worst films of 2013 that is fun to read even if you never intend to watch the film. Here is his review of Labor Day.

America’s most overrated director, Jason Reitman, has finally made a film that will have even his most slavish devotees choking back bad laughs. It’s a fancy adaptation of Joyce Maynard’s primitive romantic fantasy about a depressed woman (Kate Winslet), her fatherless son (Gattlin Griffith), and the convicted murderer (Josh Brolin) who escapes from prison, takes them hostage in their home, and … bakes pies. Peach. Best crust they’ve ever had. Butter and shortening. Would have used lard if there was any. You gotta keep the butter cold. Work the dough with your hands. Work it. Don’t overmix. Let it rest. Omigod, omigod. That’s so good. How ’bout some fresh chili? Yum! Alas, there’s no time for poulet en croute or paté de foie gras. There are leaks to be fixed, fences to be mended. The boy must be taught to catch a baseball. And the lady must be made love to like no one has made love to her before, so that her broken faith in love itself is repaired. (It doesn’t hurt that the hunky escapee ties her up first — because, you see, she has to be able to pass a polygraph test if the cops accuse her of harboring a fugitive … Peach pie and bondage: double yum!) Nearly every scene in Labor Day is high hilarity, although I didn’t enjoy seeing Winslet make a fool of herself.

He also makes the point that the Razzies, the anti-Oscar award show that hands out awards for the worst films and performances for the year, seem to be picking on easy targets like Adam Sandler and Sylvester Stallone, when they should be paying more attention to bad or over-the-top performances by widely-admired actors in Oscar-nominated films rather than by low scores on Rotten Tomatoes.

Closer to our time, imagine the Razzies going after The Reader, that pathetic post-Holocaust melodrama that won a richly undeserved Oscar for one of our best English-speaking actresses, Kate Winslet (who merits another Razzie for Labor Day, opening wide on January 31). Consider this year’s insufferable documentary Salinger or the limp Disney weeper Saving Mr. Banks. What a statement it would be to nominate Meryl Streep, a certifiably great actress, for her honking, drug-addled, fright-bewigged gargoyle in August: Osage County. How about the dismal parade of puttied white actors playing twentieth-century presidents in Lee Daniels’ The Butler? I know such nominations would royally piss some people off, but what’s the point of the Razzies if not to give offense?

He says that that would give the Razzies an edge that it seems to have lost.

Comments

  1. colnago80 says

    Perhaps one of the worst flics ever, IMHO, was, The Night of the Hunter, with Robert Mitchum, directed by Charles Laughton, the only film he ever directed (although it alleged that the parts with the two children were directed by Mitchum because Laughton despised children). It got an 8.2 rating from IMDB and a 98/91 rating from Rotten Tomatoes. No accounting for tastes.

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    Worst films? Anything with Warren Beatty or Liz Taylor. Arguably the most overrated actors ever.

  3. says

    Quite frankly, I don’t even understand anyone who considers The Night of the Hunter “one of the worst films ever. It’s like you’re putting words in order, but they just come out as gibberish.

  4. says

    There is a revival house in Los Angeles called the New Beverly Theater. When I lived in Hollywood, I went there several times a month for more than 15 years. In all that time, the only movie I saw there that ever got a standing ovation from the entire crowd was Night of the Hunter.

    It’s not my personal favorite of all the films I saw there, but it was a real crowd-pleaser.

  5. Mano Singham says

    Rob,

    I would not call Warren Beatty a great actor but I did like Bonnie and Clyde, Heaven Can Wait, and Bulworth. In the second of these he was aided by the superb James Mason and Julie Christie.

    I liked Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

  6. colnago80 says

    The Night of the Hunter has a cult following. Perhaps my reaction is due to the overtly religious aspects of the film which I found off-putting. I have to admit that I saw it a long time ago and was thoroughly bored to tears.

    By the way, I once got into a touch football game with one of the actors in the film, Billy Chapin. Kind of sad about him. He and his two siblings were child actors who were sexually abused by their father. His career in the industry ended in 1958 when he was 15 years old. Kind of melancholy when one’s career is over at age 15. His sister Lauren’s lasted somewhat longer.. All three of them were heavily into drugs at one time, which probably contributed to their lack of adult success in Tinseltown..

  7. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    I wouldn’t say you should see The Night of the Hunter again, Colnago, but the main overtly religious aspect of the film is Mitchum’s character- the Preacher- who has long conversations with God in between murdering people.

  8. Rob Grigjanis says

    The only thing I remember about The Night of the Hunter is Robert Mitchum’s very scary character, with ‘LOVE’ and ‘HATE’ tattooed on the backs of his fingers.

    This was referenced years later in The Simpsons, in an episode which actually paid homage to Cape Fear (with another excellent Mitchum baddie), but had Sideshow Bob with the same tattoos. Because the cartoon characters only have three fingers, the tattoos were ‘LUV’ and ‘HĀT’.

  9. says

    One of the interesting aspects of The Night of the Hunter is that it’s a modern retelling of “Hansel and Gretel” with the gender roles recast. The wicked stepfather chases them out into the woods, and they’re rescued by an old woman who takes children into her house.

  10. Nathair says

    I don’t even understand anyone who considers The Night of the Hunter “one of the worst films ever. It’s like you’re putting words in order, but they just come out as gibberish.

    Quite.

  11. birger johansson says

    Some films are interesting failures, like The Hunger with David Bowie and Susan Sarandon. Some films have a good first part, and a horrible second part, like From Dusk To Dawn.

    Some flms are long and requires a lot of attention -in absence of patience they become unenjoyable.
    tarkovsky and bergmann comes to mind.

    BTW sometimes the audience do not get a basic premise, like that 28 Days Later is actually a modernised version of Day of the Triffids.

  12. colnago80 says

    It’s interesting to read some of the comments on Night of the Hunter over at IMDB. There were few, if any, neutral comments, it was either loved or hated.

  13. cafink says

    Film critic Roger Ebert was always one of my favorite writers, and his reviews of films he disliked were always some of his best. He published a compilation of such reviews, “I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie,” the title of which was taken from his review of the Rob Reiner film North.

    His reviews of the 2002 Scooby-Doo movie (http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/scooby-doo-2002) and the Martin Short comedy Clifford (http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/clifford-1994) are two of my particular favorites.

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