During the Cold War, the United States and the USSR battled for the future of the world, in part through a massive arms race. In the process, many dictators and tyrants in developing and third world nations were put and kept in power, leading to the oppression of millions worldwide as both superpowers kept spending billions on weapons. Eventually the United States emerged victorious, but billions upon billions of dollars had been wasted and countries from the Middle East to Haiti had been victimized by the global power struggle.
The reason I bring this up is because there appears to be an arms race in Hollywood with many parallels and Adam Sandler appears prepared to destroy anything he can to be the world’s worst movie maker.
I recently saw a preview for Jack and Jill, which is Adam Sandler’s newest movie. Here is the preview:
The preview for this movie seemed like an effort to put Kevin James in his place. For me Kevin James has been the worst star in movies since he emerged (the way Marlon Brando had a small, but powerful group of performances that made him an inspiration to younger actors, Paul Blart is Kevin James’ anti-Godfather). But I feel like Jack and Jill is Adam Sandler’s answer, as if to say, “In case you forgot, I am the king of shitty movies so take this!” Like a rap artist dropping an incredible comeback album full of vengeance and spite, or an athlete taking a challenge seriously and then destroying the competition on the field. Jack and Jill is Adam Sandler’s declaration to the world that screams, “You cannot do shittier movies than me no matter how hard you try! I will take Kevin James and Rob Schneider humor and incorporate Martin Lawrence and Tyler Perry sensibilities into my movies. I dare you to try and beat that!”
And what is great about Jack and Jill is Sandler wanted to do more than destroy Kevin James and America’s sense of humor (the audience is the third world victim in the Sandler-Cold War scenario). He was going to finish off a Hollywood legend. I do not know how he got Al Pacino to agree to this, but now Al Pacino will have the ultimate blemish on his resume (apparently replacing Righteous Kill which sucked something fierce). “Serpico, The Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon, Scent of A Woman, Heat, The Insider and… Jack and Jill.”
Now some people have said to me that Pacino is in cruise control like Robert DeNiro and I disagree. Robert DeNiro has not touched a good movie in 11 years (Meet the Parents). He has debts or dementia, but clearly he has decided that he is never going to make a good movie again. However, Pacino has won an Emmy and been nominated for a Tony in the last couple of years. He certainly has garbage on his resume in the last 10 years, but it is not near DeNiro’s legacy. And for the record someone seriously should have killed them both before they were allowed to make Righteous Kill. But when Sandler had the option of ruining a titan of cinema, he probably thought, “DeNiro is done, but Pacino still seems to have some passion for the craft in him. So let’s rape that to death.”
So this Fall we will get Jack and Jill. The shame of this is that when Sandler was new to movies they were funnier. Then we made him rich and gave him control over his own production company. Now, left to his own devices he has done the act opposite of successful Hollywood players. Usually, actors who become A-listers get passion projects made that normally would be tough to get greenlit. Sandler seems to be an example of a guy who actually benefited from more studio control. He is like a mentally retarded kid with a 100 mph fastball. If the coach is constantly guiding him on where to throw it he can make some decent things happen (Happy Gilmore). However, if the coach leaves him alone he can cause tremendous damage to the fans in the stands (almost every movie he has made in the last decade). Heads up – Jack and Jill is headed straight for your face!
So to the shock of my Mother I have not yet seen a movie in 2011 (I chose to stare at a wall for hours a day in Connecticut, rather than see Season of the Witch with Nicholas Cage). But after a two week drought, it will come to an end when I see The Dilemma on Friday. There have been few films that have caused me as much of a dilemma as The Dilemma (I am going to use “The Dilemma” in this blog the way Jersey Shore’s The Situation overuses the word “situation”).
Here were the positives I saw in the preview. The movie is being brought to us by Ron Howard who has a ton of great credits ranging from comedy to drama (and some bad ones – Angels and Demons to name one). It stars Vince Vaughn, who has become hit and miss, but is still capable of terrific rapid-fire comedic delivery, Jennifer Connolly in a classic “I need a paycheck and to stay relevant, in case anyone has forgotten just how hot I was in Career Opportunities” role, Winona Ryder and rising star Channing Tatum. Not one of these actors is above doing a terrible movie and none is a Leonardo DiCaprio where every movie they do is at least an attempt to be great. But add in Maroon 5’s single “Misery” to the preview and you have enough to make me want to spend money from a gift card to see it. But there is one real concern for any movie fan or decent human being.
Kevin James is a chubby, likable fellow from a successful television show and in my estimation, not even a terrible actor. But what he does is make movies that are beyond terrible. He is like a cooler at a casino. As soon as he decides to get involved with a project his acting does not suffer, but the movie magically turns into an all-time worst film (or he has actually has the worst sense of humor in the world). A brief look at his most significant contributions to cinema:
Hitch– a decent romantic comedy, proving that Will Smith and Eva Mendes (who I found out recently threesomed her way to stardom) are the level of star power needed to counteract The James Effect.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry– I made it through a little over an hour of this alleged comedy. I laughed exactly zero times. Of terrible movies – Adam Sandler and Kevin James are Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan. There should be UN peacekeepers in Hollywood anytime those guys agree to make a movie because human atrocity is soon to follow.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop – a huge hit and one of the 20 worst films ever made.
Grown Ups – I learned my lesson and stayed away (though it looked HILARIOUS when Kevin James fell down a hill and urinated in a pool). Not a surprise that it has made most critics top ten worst films of 2010.
That is an incredible sample of awful. I mean even “actors” like Paul Walker, Mike Epps and Bow Wow have managed to produce a more impressive roster of films. The only person on par with Kevin James is Tyler Perry, and even Tyler Perry was in JJ Abrams Star Trek, which is better than Hitch. I look at Kevin James’ resume and all I think is that he is the exact opposite of a great athlete or actor in his prime. In fact, he may go down in history as the anti-John Cazale. For those of you who are not cinema buffs, John Cazale made only 5 films before an untimely death – Dog Day Afternoon, Godfathers I & II, The Deer Hunter and The Conversation. All five were nominated for Best Picture. If not for Hitch, Kevin James might have been on that track of anti-greatness.
And I will admit that I am personally offended the dilemma of the Kevin James effect. As a comedian it is bad enough that Kevin James seems unable to film a single funny thing, but what’s worse is that because he is fat and simple he is a huge hit in America. It just goes to show that in a country increasingly narcissistic (every marketing campaign you see on television is some derivation of “it’s yours” or “it’s about you!”) culture we enjoy seeing someone who looks like us or looks worse (i.e. obese) and is going for the easiest laugh possible (nut shots, head shots, etc.). If you don’t believe me check out the trailer for his next “film,” Zoo Keeper:
It is the same, unfunny garbage and it will be a big hit. So my dilemma with seeing The Dilemma is do I think Kevin James has accidentally picked a good movie to be in? Check my Facebook account Saturday morning for the review. Hopefully it is not the funniest thing to come out of The Dilemma.
Another year is coming to a close, which means I have once again seen a lot of movies. This year, unlike last year, I made an attempt to avoid awful movies (for example I did not see or rent Grown Ups because Adam Sandler and Kevin James are the closest thing to crack-cocaine in terms of brain cell destruction, nor did I see Saw VI because I believe it is wrong for a film franchise to have three consecutive films that claim to be “the final one”).
Sidenote- seriously does Kevin James ever wake up and think, “Man if I sucked di*k for drug money on live television I would be less of a disgrace to my family. I have made three of the worst films ever recorded – Chuck and Larry, Paul Blart and Grown Ups. And I know it. And I have tons of money, but I don’t care. I want to make dumb Americans even dumber and profit off of them mercilessly.” And can we stop treating Adam Sandler like he is some beloved entertainer? I know he reminds you of that moderately cute and cool kid in your Hebrew School class, but the dude is done. Mr Deeds, Chuck and Larry, Grown Ups, Little Nicky, Big Daddy, etc. The guy has done everything he can to kill good taste. Enough – please collect your cash and go away.
So naturally, despite moderate efforts I was unable to avoid bad movies for several reasons. Travelling to comedy clubs around the country and having spare time, Oprah Winfrey and wanting to see if Samantha Jones finally gets AIDS were all contributing factors to the several terrible films I saw this year. Before I get to the Bottom 10 I want to share a special note of two movies that were not worthy of the “worst,” but based on critical praise and box office success, are the two most overrated films of the year:
Box Office Overrated Film of the Year
ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Over $300 million is what this film pulled in. Weird is the best way to describe it. Boring is a very accurate way to describe it. Johnny Depp – you were cool and talented the first eight times you played a weird character, but now it feels redundant. For a change, try playing a male with genitals who does not talk like a pretentious college student who has returned from a study abroad semester and now pronounces Barcelona as Barthelona.
Overrated Movie of the Year – Critics
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
For me, the reason to give gay people all the rights they deserve is selfish: I am tired of Hollywood patting itself on the back for showing gays as regular people and then acting like they re-invented the wheel. But that was ok for me with Brokeback Mountain, which I thought was pretty damn good, but what really gets me is when a mediocre movie that is lathering itself in every indi-film cliche is praised as a great film. Enter The Kids Are All Right. Granted there were other movies that will be nominated for best picture like The King’s Speech (will be this year’s “we have to nominate at least one movie with British people and one movie related to the Holocaust, so why not nominate this one which has both?) and Black Swan (dark artsy-fartsy, but interesting in parts), which were interesting, but incredibly overrated, but the Kids Are All Right really stands out. It just is not that good. The movie is a B- at best, but critics have treated it like The Godfather fu*ked Amadeus while Goodfellas watched. If you have not seen this or have and thought it pretentious enjoy this brief cinematic interlude:
But none of those movies were worthy of being on:
J-L CAUVIN’S TEN WORST FILMS OF 2010
10. The Deuce – (tie)
Sex and The City 2 and Iron Man 2
Two sequels – two bowel movements. Iron Man 2 is shameless in what is becoming a Hollywood trend – we have a hit, we want at least three films and everyone will pay for the second so we can make it a huge bag of sh*t and make half of the movie about setting up and establishing things for the third film. It is literally the middle child before there is a third child. The movie was just mediocre, but because of how shameless it was and how much worse than the first it was – it earned a spot on the list.
Sex and the City 2: It was good to see these old bags who have influenced a generation of emotionally and spiritually lost women go out like Brett Favre – with a cinematic equivalent of an interception. Here is the summary of the Carrie Bradshaw saga: she finally gets her man (women will give a good guy one chance, good penis a few chances and a super wealthy guy almost infinite chances – see “Mr. Big”). And what does she do when she gets her better looking Trump? She complains about the monotony of married life, makes out with an ex boyfriend in a foreign country and complains to her hubby when they eat dinner in for…wait for it… two consecutive nights! The lesson for all the women who wanted to be Carrie, thought Carrie was fabulous, came to NYC to have a “Sex ad the City experience:” Carrie was a bitch.
9. Black People Besides Tyler Perry Can Make Bad Movies (tie) –
Lottery Ticket & Copout
When I saw Lottery Ticket I was hoping for something in the vein of Barber Shop and when I saw Copout I was hoping that Tina Fey was writing Tracy Morgan’s material. I was wrong on both. Lottery Ticket, starring fully grown Bow Wow produced the unthinkable – it offered a movie where Mike Epps, an incredibly unfunny human being, was the funniest thing in the movie.
Copout, combined with his deplorable HBO comedy special, proved that Tracy Morgan is completely unfunny when Tina Fey is not writing his words. I was harsh on Fey when she was the head writer of SNL, but this chick has apparently worked miracles to make Tracy Morgan appear funny every week on 30 Rock.
8. The Worst Thing Clooney Has Ever Done –
Even George Clooney can go to far. Here is how I think this boring movie was made: George Clooney spends time in Italy fu*king models so he said, what if you filmed me driving and looking thoughtful while I was on vacation in Italy? And maybe throwin a few conversations, some guns that we barely use but just show me putting them together? And what if this was all so boring and self-indulgent that when I do a sex scene with a woman who is off the charts hot, it still cannot save the movie? What, Hollywood – you love me so much, like a quarterback who is also in an A Capella group, that you are afraid to tell me no? Let’s do it!
The review for this film can be summed up by the young black woman who was siting in front of me while watching it. With about 15 minutes left in the movie she just, “Damn, this movie SUCKS.” Sometimes talking at movies is OK and this was one of those times.
7. They lost me when Adrien Brody fu*ked a lab creature –
I thought this was going to be a tense sci-fi thriller. Instead about one hour in to a relatively mediocre movie Adrien Brody fu*ks a creature he created in a laboratory. From then on it became one of the worst films of the year and the most awkward moment I saw in a movie since Willem Dafoe ejaculated blood in Antichrist (last years #3 worst movie on my blog).
6. I think it is time to admit that The Rundown was accidentally entertaining –
The Rock was the most entertaining WWF/WWE star of all time. Then his first starring movie not associated with a Brendan Fraser franchise was the very enjoyable The Rundown. Seemed like he was destined to do great things – maybe not Oscar great, but legitimately solid entertainment. Faster is the death of that optimism for me. When I saw previews for Faster I thought – “Man, that looks like Taken, but on steroids!” What it was was Taken on creatine with a lobotomy. How they managed to make a movie about a dude travelling the country murdering people for revenge somewhat boring is beyond my intellectual capacity.
5. Even low expectations could not save these bad westerns (tie) –
Jonah Hex and The Warrior’s Way
Jonah Hex I saw while on the road. I would have been better off lying in the middle of a road. I think it was written in about 14 hours because it felt like it had potential if someone had just written a story.
The Warrior’s Way I saw with a buddy because I had already seen everything that he had not promised to see with his girlfriend. The Warrior’s Way is honestly one of the 20 worst films I have ever seen, but since I had no interest in it and my expectations were zero I did not think it deserved a higher spot on the list.
4. I really hated this fu*king movie and its awful 3-D –
Clash of the Titans
I am sort of shocked that this was not the worst film of the year but it is close. Between Avatar, Clash of the Titans and Terminator Salvation it is obvious that Sam Worthington is unable to act with actual people. And after Clash of the Titans, maybe he shouldn’t be allowed to. A giant bag of crap (shame on you Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson) and the poster child for the other cinema scam – 3-D. I actually was able to watch half of the movie clearly without 3-D glasses and the 3-D was terrible (James Cameron rightly criticized the filmmakers for scamming people for extra ticket money, but not providing legitimate upgrade in quality). I hate 3-D and I hate how it is becoming an automatic surcharge on every other movie now. No one likes watching movie with special glasses. It is annoying and when it is accompanied by a giant piece of crap like Clash of the Titans it really sucks. And yes, a sequel is being made.
3. Like Mexican sex shows – only the horse was entertaining –
If the horse in Secretariat only had two film credits – sex with Mexican prostitutes and Secretariat, he should leave Secretariat off of his resume. Schmaltzy to the point that the entire dialogue could have consisted of Jon Favreau screaming “who’s the wild man now?!” from Rudy and it would not have been as corny and embarrassing. The only thing that was good in the movie were the 15 minutes of horse racing. Everything else was awful. I wanted Seabiscuit (but about the greatest horse of all time), but instead got a terrible ABC Family made-for-TV movie.
2. Even when he tries, Tyler Perry sucks –
For Colored Girls
This year Tyler Perry finally got to show off his diversity as a filmmaker. For so long he was known as the creator of shi*ty comedies. Now we all know he can make a shi*ty drama. This movie actually has several good performances, but it is a TERRIBLE movie. One dude kills his own kids, one guy gives his wife HIV, one guy rapes his date, one (unseen character) abused his daughters. The one good guy is a cop, but his wife cannot have kids because… wait for it… a man gave her an STD when she was younger. I think the movie is for colored girls by default because it is definitely not for colored men. It is also a lazy movie, because rather than adapt the original text to w workable film script he just has the character inexplicably delivering long, poetic monologues which do not work in a movie. Tyler – just stick to your day job of making shi*ty “comedies.”
1. When steroid abuse doesn’t kill who it’s supposed to (and your 2010 champion) –
A tremendously awful film. Just like when white women feel like they need some fulfillment they open a cupcake store with family money and pretend to be serious entrepreneurs; when old white men feel unfulfilled they make movies like this. An absolute embarrassment for even half-decent action movies, men and decent taste this is your champion for 2010.
I could not say it any better than I did in August on my blog – so enjoy: