Movies That Should Only Be Shown at Abu Ghraib

I was talking with my friend Nic the other day and he told me that he had made the unfortunate mistake of seeing the movie Rumor Has It… starring Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Costner. We were at least able to commisserate together on what a terrible movie it was, but I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of guilt having not warned him about what a crap-tacular bomb it was. So, to help those who haven’t yet seen it and are still considering it, I give you the first installment of Movies That Should Only Be Shown at Abu Ghraib (and even that might be too cruel).

First up, the reason for this post: Rumor Has It… This charming romantic comedy tells the story of the dysfunctional Huttinger family, whose eldest daughter, Sarah (Jennifer Aniston), feels somehow out of place in her family of romantic comedy charicatures. Sigh . . . let’s get right to it. This movie blows. I’m sorry, but Jennifer Aniston is more frustrating than sympathetic to watch. Mark Ruffalo doesn’t exactly woo you either. I’ve seen better chemistry at high school science fairs. And the situations in this movie have to be forced to work (which they don’t anyway). The basic premise is that the 1967 classic, The Graduate, was based on actual events and the Robinsons of the movie are in fact the Huttingers. Sarah Huttinger digs into the family’s history to find out the truth and to find out if she is even a real Huttinger and not a product of an affair her mother had days before her wedding. Not a terrible premise. Not exactly inspired, but not terrible. But the execution is shoddy at best. The characters make decisions that no rational person would ever make, just to squeeze into a plot that doesn’t fit right. For instance, all Beau Burroughs (Kevin Costner), the man who inspired Benjamin’s character in The Graduate (and Sarah’s potential father), does is throw money at Sarah for what . . . two days? And suddenly she’s desperate to sleep with him. What? And Shirley MacLaine? Not funny. She says things in a context that I recognize as a joke but there’s just no funny. Gah, I saw this movie with my girlfriend and it was just awkward. Neither of us laughed much and we ended up just discussing the many points at which the movie went terribly wrong. So, so terribly wrong.

This movie gets a one star bonus for being a Rob Reiner film and I loved The Princess Bride and This is Spinal Tap. But this is the last time, Rob. Lessee, with the bonus that brings us to . . . 1 star out of 5. Next . . .

Bloodrayne. Oh my God, this movie. If I hadn’t seen two of director Uwe Boll‘s other movies (Alone in the Dark and House of the Dead), I would say this is the worst movie in existence. Unfortunately, I have . . . so it’s a toss-up between the three. *shudder* I seriously don’t know where to begin. I guess with the title character, Rayne. She’s . . . what’d-they-call-it . . . a dhampir, a half-human half-vampire hybrid, who has the strengths of both and a wekaness to . . . water? What?! Are you serious? I guess the ambient moisture in the air doesn’t bother her–or the water in blood. But the liquid stuff will burn her alive. Yeah, that’s not lame at all. Whatever, she’s the last of her kind who are being exterminated by Ben Kingsley because of . . . some reason. I don’t know, maybe he’s just that evil. Awesome character development. Wait a minute. What did I just say? Ben Kingsley?! What the–! What is Ghandi doing? On top of that we have Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez, Billy Zane, friggin’ Meatloaf, and Udo Kier. I don’t know what Uwe Boll had on them, but it had to be diiiiiiiirty to get them in this movie. It just turns sad after the first twenty minutes. The costumes were bought at thrift shops, the fight scenes were choreographed by an eight year old, and the acting . . . these are good actors and they know this is trash. They don’t even try. It’s seriously not even unintentionally funny. Just sad. So sad.

If you’ve never seen a Uwe Boll movie, that’s the only reason I would recommend it–that way you’ll know never to watch another of his films again. Why Ghandi? You overthrew the British. Why couldn’t you resist this? 0 stars out of 5.

Date Movie. This movie was written by 2 of the 6 writers of the awesome (no, there’s no sarcasm there) Scary Movie series. If that doesn’t ward you off, let me say it another way. The premise of this movie is so terrible that not even all of the people associated with the piece of trash that is Scary Movie wanted to be associated with it. It was below even them. If you still want to see it, then, you know what, do see it. You’ll love it. This movie . . . this movie doesn’t even pick good things to parody. It parodies things that are already extreme characterizations themselves. Like Napoleon Dynamite. Where do you go with that? You’re parodying a charicature of Idaho nerdom. Are you even trying? You know what this movie is like? It’s like having to watch that jackass in eighth grade who thought he could do awesome impressions of everyone. And he thought he was so funny. It’s like watching that . . . for 83 minutes.

0 out of 5 stars.

Freedomland is about a cop (Samuel L. Jackson) who handles a woman’s (Julianne Moore) car-jacking. The kicker is–her son was in the backseat. Aaaaaaaand, the jacking took place in the lower socio-economic district of a fictional New Jersey city that is predominately African-American. Wha-oh. So let’s run down the checklist.

Black community that is ignored by the white police *check*

White cop relative of the missing child who goes crazy racist after the crime is reported *check*

Black cop who knows the streets *check*

The list goes on. Whatever, it doesn’t have to. Things happen in this movie that have no justification. People’s opinions of the case just randomly skew to the other extreme. Julianne Moore’s performance is so ridiculously over-the-top that you cannot sympathize with anything associated with her. And characters disappear because the screenwriter (Richard Price, who also wrote the novel) didn’t know what to do with them. And the monologues. There are (two in particular) monologues in this movie that just go on and on and on for up to five minutes! Just this person talking. It’s supposed to build tension and be dramatic or something, but it doesn’t work when all you can think about is how much you want them to stop. Please, just stop. Samuel L. Jackson does what he can but it’s just not enough.

1.5 stars out of 5.

One more and then I’m done. How about The Producers? The Producers is a film musical version of the broadway musical version of a . . . film. For those of you who haven’t seen the original, it is hilarious and highly recommended. But this one . . . it just doesn’t work, for a number of reasons. First off, this is the first film for director, Susan Stroman. Everything she’s directed before this was a play. And it shows. The camera . . . just lacks life. With a play, there’s just one stage and one “view” that the audience sees everything from. But in a movie, the camera is a dynamic (almost) character in and of itself. Through the director and the editor, the audience interacts with the actors. Someone forgot to tell that to Susan. The camera just sits there through the whole film. Second, the actors need to tone it down a might. Everyone except for Matthew Broderick. He needs to tone it down a lot. He looked like he had taken the acting equivalent of whatever Barry Bonds is on. Jeez. Where did that sly and subtle Ferris Bueller go? You can clearly tell what’s been added into this version because it either goes on for too long or recaps the entire film, again and again. This movie is 134 minutes long! It could have easily been two hours, and in my opinion less than that. I’ll give credit where credit’s do, though. It is bright. It is vibrant. And Nathan Lane is always fun to watch. This movie just wasn’t up to par. It is definitely the best of this bunch (but what’s that really saying).

If and only if you love zany musicals, give this movie a shot. If you don’t–and especially if you loved the original (that is, the movie)–shy away. And even if you love zany musicals, I’d tell you to go see the play, which would probably be much more fun and entertaining. 2 stars out of 5.

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