I debated whether or not to do a list like this. On one hand, it feels like a slap in the face to everyone involved making these films. On the other hand, not every movie can be destined for greatness. There are bad films out there, whether they're intentional or not. Even the best films of all time can change rankings from time to time. I did not see every movie that came out, so there are likely to be films that you thought were worse than what is on my list. There are spoilers in some of these so you have been warned. Feel free to debate me in the comments below. In any case, here are my top (bottom?) 5 worst movies of 2012.
I'll probably catch some flack for this, but hear me out first. On the outside, this documentary has everything going for it. The topic of bullying has become a source of national debate and studies. Children have committed suicide because of bullying or have taken matters into their own hands and have hurt or killed people as a result. The subject matter is not the issue here; the presentation of the documentary and the surrounding controversy is.
Lee Hirsch's documentary ends up giving a one-sided look at bullying. We see the children, how they're treated, and even see several scenes where bullying takes place, which calls into mind the authenticity of the acts being filmed. We hear their family's reactions to the bullying and how little most of them realize what is happening. All the children involved seem to come from low socio-economic backgrounds. While this gives the viewer a more sympathetic look, I think it is also damning at the same time. Bullying occurs across all walks of life and I think it's sad that only one section of the country was used. While not all documentaries have to throw statistics around to make a point, I think it would've done this film a great service to provide something to have the audience attach to. Unfortunately, the only stats thrown up late in the film come across as meaningless and have no lasting impact. The biggest issue I have is that nothing comes of this film. These children we've watched over a school year don't seem to be tolerating the abuse better than before. Parents get outraged at school board meetings and vigils are held for those who have killed themselves as a result of bullying, but no viable solution is offered for what can be done about bullying. We're told to visit a website as the credits roll for more information. Wouldn't the whole point of the documentary be to find some type of solution for the problem or at least explain why it happens?
This film also suffered because of the pointless controversy surrounding it involving the Weinstein Company, the distributors of the film. Bully was given an R-rating due to its use of the word fuck six times. Harvey Weinstein went public about this since the MPAA refused to budge to reduce the rating to PG-13 so school groups and children could see this film. Weinstein tried to garner public sympathy though he was told by removing half of the fucks out would allow the lower rating. He eventually caved and the PG-13 rating was given.
4. Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
There's a problem with adapting children's books to feature-length films. Often characters are fleshed out more than they are in the book, often to the detriment of the story. Characters are added to bring out conflict or relationships that never existed in the original material. In other words, leave the source material alone and go with what you have. This same issue plagues Dr. Seuss' The Lorax. Even at 86 minutes, this film is still too long for its own good. The musical numbers in the film are unnecessary and come out of nowhere. The additional characters and subplot add absolutely nothing to the overall story. I think had they stuck with the original material, this could have actually been a decent film. Unfortunately, it panders to the lowest common denominator and it's core message brings nothing new to the table. Environmentalist stories have been told over the years and have been much, much better (see Princess Mononoke as a prime example).
The studio brings out an all-star cast to breathe some life into this otherwise dead film. All of the voice acting seems dialed in and no one really seems to give it much thought. Taylor Swift's casting seems especially odd considering she was not used for any of the musical numbers. She doesn't strike me as the type to transition from music to film, though I suppose her name brings in the more kids that want to hear her. Even Ed Helms and Danny DeVito, who are generally pretty funny actors, bring very little comedic relief to the film. The only thing I will give the film credit for is that it does look pretty. The CGI is very bright and colorful, exactly what a Dr. Seuss film should be filled with. Other than that, there isn't much to keep one's interest.
3. Get the Gringo
Recent times have not been kind to Mel Gibson. His Hollywood career has taken a steep dive since Passion of the Christ and his personal life hasn't helped things much either. His last big role was in Signs, and that was 10 years ago. It's not surprising to see his latest film end up as one of the worst films of the year. Get the Gringo has Gibson playing the titular character who ends up in jail in Mexico though his crime was committed in the US. While there, he comes across a boy who has a special place in the prison. He has a rare blood type that matches that of Javi, the prison's "boss", who requires a liver transplant. The gringo decides he must protect the boy and his mother at all costs.
As if that didn't sound stupid enough, Gibson is the only white person in the prison. I get they were probably going for an alliteration here or something, but could they not really give Gibson's character an actual name? Maybe that's a minor point, but his character has no motivation to help out this boy and his mother. His life actually would be better off if he didn't. We learn his ripped off a crime boss back in America and that this person wants the Gringo dead. After several mishaps and an attempted assassination on the Gringo by US law enforcement officials, where Gibson miraculously develops uncanny reflexes and amazing accuracy despite being 20 years older than his pursuers, the prison is closed down in a mass effort by Mexican authorities. Gibson is able to not only escape prison, but travel back to the US where he somehow convinces a secretary & CEO of a company to believe he is Clint Eastwood by sounding gruff and putting a rag over the phone to set up a meeting with the CEO and the crime boss.
The cherry on top of this steaming crap sundae is that this film was only released as VOD. It was shown in foreign countries before making its way to the US. I think it's time for Mel Gibson to either hang up his acting and directing career, or he needs to take a while off and seriously contemplate how to come back and become the A-list celebrity he was in the 80s and 90s. He also should never write or co-write a script again, as the dialog in this film is pretty awful.
2. Casa de mi Padre
Ahhh Will Ferrell, sometimes you can be a comic genius, and others you can give us total shit. We'll label this under the total shit category. Casa de mi Padre is Ferrell's latest film and it is mostly in Spanish. One might assume that Ferrell would not really talk much Spanish and use this as a basis of the comedy, but that is not the case. That may have made it a better film though. He plays Armando Alvarez, the son of a ranch hand who is due to inherit his father's land. His younger brother Raul shows up to the ranch with his fiancée Sonia. Raul appears to be a successful businessman who will help clear his father's debts. Everything is not as it seems though, as Raul seems to have become involved with a powerful drug lord. Armando must find a way to not only save his brother, but his father's ranch too.
First off, this film is supposed to be a parody of Mexican soap operas, a subject I have zero knowledge on. Even in spite of this, the film comes off as far too contrived for its own good. We learn Armando killed his mother as a boy accidentally when they were ambushed by thieves near a private spring. This scene comes into play later on when Armando goes off in search of Sonia. She tries to kill herself in that same spring after everyone at her & Raul's wedding, including Armando's father, are massacred by the drug lord's henchmen. This leads to a tame sex scene where we are treated to intertwining shots of Armando and Sonia's bare asses. This is pretty standard Will Ferrell humor, but we've seen it so many times it's lost its charm. Oh, did I mention Armando has a thing for Sonia and wants her when it's clear Raul only has her to be a trophy wife? Yeah, it seems like a standard soap opera affair, but it's just not funny, even ironically.
There are several scenes with a white cougar puppet. They don't even try to hide the fact that it's fact, it's just out there for everyone to see. The cougar can also talk and comes to Will Ferrell's in an almost hallucinogenic state. Probably one of the worst scenes in the film is where they stop in the middle of a scene where Armando is going to fight the cougar. Literally, the film stops rolling and a letter comes up from the assistant director about how great this scene was going to be and that people died filming it, etc. I just can't see how anyone can find it funny. Again, even trying to be this ironically bad just comes across as bad, period. That is the kind of humor small children would probably enjoy, but anyone with half a brain is going to scratch their heads and wonder what the hell they're trying to go for.
One of the final scenes involves a shoot-out at the drug lord's mansion. Raul ends up being shot and Armando rides in on a white horse to save the day, killing everyone with deadly accuracy not shown anywhere else in the film. He is able to not only save Sonia, but kill the drug lord and ride off into the sunset.
Everything about this film is just terrible start to finish. I was honestly expecting a lot better from the people who brought us Anchorman. I can only hope this type of humor does not make its way into Anchorman 2, or we might be in for an unfortunate sequel after such a long wait.
1. The Devil Inside
God, where do I even begin with this "film"? Actually, one might question if there is a God after viewing this pile of trash that came into theaters the first weekend of 2012. Had the Mayan's been right, I think the fact this film made over $100 million at the box office would've been one of the first signs. There are many reasons this film is not only the worst one of 2012, but probably the worst one to come out in years. This is very disappointing considering the film started out with an interesting premise and that it might do something different with the horror and exorcism genres.
The film begins with a 911 call from 1989 where a woman states she has killed three people and hangs up. We then see news and police footage of the crime scene and what was reported. A woman was arrested for murdering two priests and a nun as an exorcism was being performed on her. We cut to the present where a young woman, Isabella, is in Rome to do a documentary on exorcisms. We discover it was her mother who committed the murders. Isabella's father told her about what her mother did and then died three days later. After meeting up with a couple of young men training for the priesthood and more specifically, exorcisms, she convinces them to investigate her mother being held in a psychiatric hospital in Vatican City to determine if she's crazy or if she really is possessed.
As I said before, The Devil Inside actually starts off with an interesting premise. What if people who seem possessed really suffer from a mental disorder and just need help to fix it or bring it under control? Unfortunately, the film quickly forgets its own rules and drops into chaos. There is a scene where it's suggested that a person can be a victim of multiple possessions and as a result, the demon can transfer bits of itself into other people, possessing several people at once. The problem with this is one scene involves one of the priests being possessed and he goes to perform a baptism in a Catholic church. The possessed priest not only wears the holy shawl, but also submerges his hands in holy water without showing any effects. How could the demon possibly stand to be in a church, let alone touching holy objects which should cause it mass amounts of pain? We were shown an exorcism in an earlier scene where the shawl was put on the head of the possessed woman and she screams out in pain as the demon in her cannot take it.
Late in the film, Isabella is possessed and is taken to a hospital. She kills a nurse and as the cameraman, Mike, runs into the room to film what's going on, blood gets on the camera lens. After zooming in and out of focus, the blood has magically disappeared off the lens. I know this is a low-budget film and all, but that is just pure laziness there. It's not even a subtle thing either; you can only be paying half attention to the screen to notice such a glaring mistake.
The worst offense of this film is its "ending." After Isabella is taken from the hospital by Ben and Mike, she transfers one of the demons into Mike. He then drives the car into oncoming traffic and the car flips several times as the film comes in and out of black. The car stops and we don't see anyone moving and the camera cuts to black. Instead of either leaving something to the imagination or telling the audience that all passengers in the car died, we are told to go to a website for more information on the investigation. What. The. Fuck. Like I said, this has got to be one of the worst endings to a film ever. It never truly ends. I really have to wonder what was going through the head of the director to think that this would be an interesting, new way to end a film. I could see this working if you were actually given information on what happened to the characters. Instead, you're treated to many pages of text that provide little insight to the events that just happened. Oh, and the end credits sequence lasts 10 minutes. It is the slowest credit scroll I have seen in my life. This movie was already pushing it's luck at 83 minutes and if you take out the 10 minutes for the credits and probably another 5 - 10 for scenes of the characters walking or driving to the various locations, this film is barely pushing an hour-long. I would have no problem with that if there was some substance to it, but unfortunately, there is none to be found.