Wednesday, November 29, 2006

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Budget

Admittedly, I'm a bit far behind on this one, but earlier this year Pajiba published its list of the 10 worst blockbusters of all time. And it's funny and smart. To take two examples:
Meet the Fockers may not represent the first time that two of the greatest actors of any generation -- Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro -- have shared screen time, but it’s certainly the worst, and that Barbra Streisand would trade in her Hollywood wattage for a role where she essentially plays Mrs. Roper with a psychology degree is just plain embarrassing.

Ultimately, not a single thing in Armageddon is emotionally honest, from the animal crackers to the melodramatic martyrdom. Bay’s close-ups of plaques honoring fallen Apollo astronauts are cheap echoes of a kind of nationalism he can never adequately sell; it’s almost like he wants to be Frank Capra, but he’s too cynical to know the difference between American sentiment and making a buck.
To narrow down the candidates, they used this chart of movies that have grossed more than $100 million at the domestic box office. It got me to thinking of my list, because I'd only seen three of their selections (Meet the Fockers, Titanic, and The Phantom Menace). So, without further ado, here are my selections, with only the top (or bottom) five ranked, with each film's box-office rank in parentheses.

Titanic (1)

The actual sinking of the ship provides a few thrilling moments and great visuals, but that doesn’t make up for the rest of the movie. One of the few times Kate Winslet couldn’t save something for me.

Twister (43)

I saw this with a few friends the night before our college graduation ceremony. A final exam in my toughest class couldn't have given me the kind of pounding headache the movie did.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (65)

The first Austin Powers movie was funny (enough), but entirely because of the fish-out-of-water joke. In this sequel, though, the fish jumps back into the pool of the swinging ‘60s. Boredom ensues. Needless to say, I didn't see the additional sequel ("Goldmember"); you know the old adage inspired by the American movie industry: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me seventeen times, shame on me.

Back to the Future Part II

There are definitely worse movies (see below, for starters), but this one shattered my 15-year-old heart and taught me a hard lesson in how the world was capable of treating the things I loved. (I had a relatively cushy childhood.)

Vanilla Sky

Cameron Crowe has made some entertaining movies (Say Anything, Almost Famous). He's also used the silver screen the way a bad dog uses the new carpet. As he did in this case.

5. Hulk (192)

Ang Lee might as well have taken all of my vintage Hulk comic books, which represent one of the formative steps in my love of reading, piled them up in front of my eyes and set them on fire. In short, he made Hulk fans angry, and you wouldn't like us when we're angry.

4. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (5)

It's bad enough that my generation feels compelled to go through life defending the pretty schlocky (in retrospect) original trilogy as if it were a work of total genius, but Lucas had to come back and spit in our faces. Sitting through this dull nightmare had only one thing to recommend it: It guaranteed I wouldn't sit through the next two.

3. The Break-Up (246)

This is easily one of the worst non-special effects/action/thriller movies I've ever paid to sit through. I might be ranking it so high just because my anger is fresh (it was the most recently released of all these choices), but I don't think so. In a world that's capable of producing scripts like The Philadelphia Story, Annie Hall, and Sideways, the writers of The Break-Up should be considered war criminals.

2. Forrest Gump (15)

I caught a few minutes of this on TV the other day, and it still amazes me that any sentient creature could take it seriously, much less so many sentient creatures. The fact that Hanks won an Oscar for it, instead of a Razzie, is a joke.

1. Con Air (339)

Taking into account all categories of suckitude -- comically bad plot twists, the differential between the talent of the cast and the humiliation of the material, and Nicolas Cage's accent -- this remains the worst movie I've seen in a theater. But it might be the reason I've avoided this kind of crap for the past nine years, so maybe I should be thankful. ... Nah.


There is the occasional good blockbuster, of course, so it's only fair to give you my favorite 10, too (only in order of box office rank, not my preference, and with much less commentary).

The Lord of the Rings trilogy (9, 13, 18)

All three movies were pretty high on the box office list, and I enjoyed all three, so I'll just combine them here. (The third was probably my least favorite; that last half hour was interminable...but it did provide fodder for some great MST-like riffing by my girlfriend's brother, who was with us, so there was that.)

Jaws (34)

Raiders of the Lost Ark (42)

Back to the Future (62)

Toy Story (77)

Saturday Night Fever (157)

Good Will Hunting (174)

The Godfather (185)

Doctor Zhivago (278)

The Graduate

And some honorable mentions. Some of these are guiltier pleasures than others, but I'll leave that for you to sort out (here's one hint: Mr. T) -- Monsters, Inc. (35), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (74), Grease (90), X-Men (130), The Silence of the Lambs (195), Rocky III (228), Terms of Endearment (292), Chicken Run (300), Kramer vs. Kramer (306), and Collateral (357)

So, feel free to visit the comments and let me (and my millions of international readers) know your favorite and least favorite blockbusters.



Blogger ko said...

dude Con Air is so bad it went full circle into total awesomeness.
one could argue the same about Armageddon- but i won't bother bow, except to note that the illustrious and prolific Steve Buscemi is in both...coincidence? I'd argue not.
Sure he made alotta ca$h for both to be sure, but he prob also had so much fun...and when movies turn out this bad they are funny...and that's fun.
In summary, i like them. yeah, i said it.

8:21 PM  
Blogger K said...

I'm so happy to admit never actually watching con air, forest gump or titanic. I've caught glimpses of them on tv reruns and thank whatever brilliant stroke of luck saved me.

12:41 PM  

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