CliqueClack Flicks

2011’s movies that should have been better

2011 had a list of big movies that promised a lot of entertainment. Unfortunately, these are not them.

2011 wasn’t the rosiest of years at the box office, at least not as far as expectations went for a handful of movies. I previously had a look at the years most entertaining popcorn flicks, and now I present my Most Disappointing Movies of 2011.  These are films that (a) should have been better, or (b) would have been better off not being made. In no particular order, the Dishonor Roll includes:

Hall Pass — The Farrelly Brothers have had an extremely difficult time topping There’s Something About Mary, and Hall Pass is just another in a long list of their films that try to be shocking, but end up being strained and straining for laughs. I don’t know what was more off-putting: the premise of the movie or another loutish character played by Jason Sudeikis (one of two similar performances this year). There may have been one or two laughs, but for the most part this is just an unfunny exercise of a couple of guys living vicariously through their characters.

Red Riding Hood — While the film was gorgeous to look at, the “timeless” quality of the setting only made the story confusing. I didn’t know if they were supposed to be in the 14th century, or if there was a highway just beyond the mountain ridge. The story tries so hard to misdirect you into believing who the big bad (were)wolf is, but it seems pretty obvious. Amanda Seyfried and Virginia Madsen do the best that they can (and remain perfectly made up and coiffed through any ordeal), but the film only picks up when Gary Oldman rides into town as a werewolf hunter … who is sadly dispatched much too soon. The video’s alternate ending was wisely reshot, because I can imagine test audiences howling (pun intended) with laughter.

Arthur — I don’t like Russell Brand, so this was going to be a hard one for me to even try to enjoy.  The Dudley Moore original is so ingrained in my mind (from working at a theater where the original was playing), but the new version made too many PC changes to the character. Instead of a drunk, he’s an irresponsible, spoiled man-child with an annoyingly whiny voice who needed more of a good spanking than any kind of redemption.  Worse still was the recast of the classic John Gielgud role with a woman! Hobson went from a butler with the driest of wit (and Gielgud won an Oscar) to a harried caretaker short on patience. In the original, Hobson took ill, forcing Arthur to become the caretaker. Here, Hobson’s illness and death happen so quickly you never really get to see Arthur grow. And poor Helen Mirren never the great dialogue that Gielgud spun into gold.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides — It was grand to have Captain Jack Sparrow back in a new adventure, even in 3D, but even with the first three cash cows behind them, Disney slashed the budget for this one and it shows. Gone are any real hints of the supernatural that permeated the original trilogy. A zombie crew replaced the skeleton crew (cheaper to put people in a little makeup — very little — than CGI an entire cadre of sailors), and all they did was lumber about, and there were some inexplicably threatening mermaids but that was about it. Johnny Depp seemed to be sleepwalking through the movie, and the only time it really got interesting was when Ian McShane‘s Blackbeard was on screen … but there were too many questions about him left unanswered by the budget constraints. Overall, this was probably the most disappointing of the big summer movies.

The Hangover, Part II — I’ve said all I have to say about this one in my original review. This is a by-the-numbers rehash of the original (which I also felt was not as funny as people claimed it to be), hitting all of the key moments in pretty much the exact same places as the original. I found the Wolf Pack unappealing in the first movie, and even more so in the second. These are not people I want to spend two hours of my life with.

Horrible Bosses — Another comedy that should have been brilliantly, darkly hilarious, but ended up being undone by a lousy script full of stupid behavior thats only purpose was to put the “heroes” in a bad situation. This was the second movie of the year featuring Jason Sudeikis playing his signature character (and I like the guy on SNL), with Jason Bateman once again being stuck in the straight man role, and Kevin Spacey as the asshat boss. Only Jennifer Aniston and Charlie Day showed any real potential the film could have had, but the script decided to play it too safe and let them all, and the audience, down.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark — If you’ve never seen the classic 1970s TV movie, do yourself a favor and track it down instead of wasting your time with this one. The original’s claustrophic setting is undone by moving the family in peril to a ginormous mansion with even larger grounds, populated by cliched caretakers and people who do really stupid things to put themselves in danger. They really all deserved to die for being so stupid. No one believes the little girl who says there are monsters under her bed — and they were the coolest part of the movie — and that she’s terrified of the dark. So, what else to do but keep turning out the lights in her bedroom. Then, when the adults actually believe there is something to her claims, what do they do when the power to the house is cut off? Leave the little girl in a dark room all by herself while they go stomping around the mansion looking for a fuse box. Seriously. And, unfortunately, the hand of producer Guillermo del Toro is all over this movie, so if you’ve seen Pan’s Labyrinth, you’ll sometimes have a strong sense of déjà vu that only reminds you how good that movie was.

Contagion — As virus thrillers go, this one was rather plodding and clinical. If you want to see a kick-ass virus movie, check out the original The Andromeda Strain, a movie that featured lots of scenes of scientists in lab coats talking but still managed to be gripping and frightening. Contagion has an all-star cast (and I’m a sucker for all-star disaster movies), but there’s too much going on and never any answers to the most pressing of questions — why is Matt Damon immune? Where does Marion Cotillard run off to at the end? And what’s up with that silly fake tooth Jude Law is wearing? Was that meant as a joke? Because you can see his real tooth behind it! What could have been an intense “end of the world” thriller ended up feeling  more like a minor head cold. But, any movie that can kill off Gwenyth Paltrow in the first ten minutes can’t be all bad.

What’s Your Number? — I love Anna Faris and Chris Evans, and if you love Chris Evans too, there is plenty of him on display (forget Captain America if you’re looking for skin), but this pedestrian rom-com just never has any great laughs (Bridesmaids is really the only comedy that promised and delivered in that area).  I’m sure Faris wants to stretch her acting wings a bit, but you could see her chomping at the bit to really break loose and be one of those wild characters she does so well (for a great Faris performance, check out Just Friends). She’s great at being off the wall, as well as kooky (the Scary Movie franchise), but here she’s just being restrained too much with very disappointing results.  And if you’ve ever seen just one romantic comedy, you’ll know exactly where this one is going to end up.

Shame — The movie has gained notoriety for its NC-17 rating and full frontal nudity by this year’s breakout star, Michael Fassbender (you’ll never see X-Men‘s Magneto the same way again), but in the end this study of a sex addict is one of the most boring films of the year. The character, Brandon, is so out of touch with who he is that the audience is never allowed to connect with him. He can’t feel his own pain, so neither do we. Rather than being titillating, the sex scenes are anything but as the character is just as detached from it all as we are. The movie is a tease of the worst kind. Even the trailer, which hinted at him getting caught downloading porn at work, was a tease because the incident is blamed on an intern and that was that. There was a little more emotion from his sister, played by Carey Mulligan, as her rendition of “New York, New York” actually left a tear in her brother’s eye … probably because, while beautifully sung, it was the slooooowest version of the song you’ll ever hear. He just wanted it to end. By the end, I had no compassion for Brandon as tragedy befell him, and when you count on that kind of audience empathy then create a character no one cares about, you have a big problem.

Atlas Shrugged — I really can’t say any more about this movie that I haven’t already said in my review. Just a terrible misfire and a wasted opportunity to bring an admired (by some) literary work to the big screen.

So what movies did you see this year that you felt were huge disappointments? Sound off in the comments section below.

Want more? Check out Jeremy’s worst of 2011 list.



Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Categories: Features, General, News

5 Responses to “2011’s movies that should have been better”

December 31, 2011 at 5:40 PM

Is it pathetic that I haven’t seen any of those? Or maybe it’s a good thing, b/c I don’t wish for 2 hours of my life back, LOL! ;-)

December 31, 2011 at 6:28 PM

Deb: I’m with you … I only saw Contagion, and Chuck’s description of “Should Have Been Better” perfectly applies. Not horrible, but only half of what it could have been.

January 2, 2012 at 2:14 PM

. . . . .

Deb: No. It’s not pathetic. And not because I didn’t see any of them either.

Of them, Contagion was the only one I was interested in. And I’ll catch it eventually …

January 2, 2012 at 2:34 PM

I see them so you don’t have to! :-)

January 8, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Hey… I only saw 2 of them and thankfully I waited for Contagion to be on Demand because I had to restart 3 times due to falling asleep! Personally I liked (not loved) Horrible Bosses…but only ‘cuz I like the guy that is in “It’s always Sunny..” AND I got it from Red Box for only $1…it’s amazing how much you’ll let slide when you only pay $1 for a new release!!!

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