Stinkers I’ve Known and Ducked

Ridley Scott‘s The Counselor doesn’t belong in a discussion of 2013′s worst films because it was far and away one of the most cunningly written, the most perverse, the most succinctly edited, the ballsiest and…well, probably the most unconventional film of the year, hands down. It was certainly the finest 2013 film that received a failing grade from Rotten Tomatoes (35%) and Metacritic (48%).

I hated Nicholas Winding Refn‘s Only God Forgives, which I saw in Cannes, more than any other film I saw this year…down on my knees, howling with disgust. Amat Escalante‘s Heli is a respectable, highly disciplined Mexican art film, but it was easily the ugliest thing I sat through all year — sorry. Everyone seemed to agree that Adore, the Australian drama about a pair of moms (Naomi Watts, Robin Wright Penn) banging each other’s sons, was a miscalculation for the ages. I found Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s moderately diverting. And I worshipped the black-and=white 3D section of Sam Raimi‘s Oz The Great and Powerful, even though the rest of the film more or less blew. I didn’t find Paul Schrader‘s The Canyons to be all that good, but it wasn’t deplorable. Jobs was a plodder for the most part, but I wasn’t grossly offended.

I haven’t even seen Charlie Countryman or Jayne Mansfield’s Car, but they’re both waiting for me on Vudu.

Six months ago I complied a Worst of 2013 list: Only God Forgives, Man of Steel (because of the deplorable final 80 minutes — the first hour isn’t half-bad), After Earth, To The Wonder, Now You See Me, Hangover Part 3, Simon Killer, Iron Man 3, Arthur Newman, Post Tenebras Lux, At Any Price, Movie 43, Olympus Has Fallen; InAPPropriate Comedy; Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Identity Thief, A Glimpse Inside The Mind of Charles Swan III, Stoker, Gangster Squad, Stand-Up Guys.

One of the things I’m happiest about these days is a general decision to avoid shit movies. I can smell them from a mile off so I try to steer clear. Okay, sometimes I don’t but I almost always regret it. I even avoid them on Vudu or Netflix…they don’t exist. So I didn’t see Getaway, Paranoia, The Big Wedding, Grown Ups 2, CBGB (an exception to the rule — I’l be renting this soon out of curiosity), Safe Haven, R.I.P.D., A Good Day to Die Hard, The Last Exorcism Part 2, Tyler Perry’s Temptation, Free Birds, Texas Chainsaw 3D, Girl Most Likely, the PG Romeo and Juliet, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Upside Down, Kick-Ass 2, Luc Besson‘s The Family, The Lone Ranger, Machete Kills, Austenland, Tyler Perry Presents Peeples, Red 2, Parker All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Bullet to the Head, Carrie, Jack the Giant Slayer, The Last Stand, Ender’s Game Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain and Thor: The Dark World…missed ‘em!

  • SmaugAlert

    This list seems to be missing Pacific Rim.

    • Jeffrey Wells

      Pacific Rim was not a problem movie — it was visionary, supersized — just not for me.

      • SmaugAlert

        Picture it having been directed by someone you don’t know personally… now, tell me it wouldn’t have ended up on the worst of list.

        A similar case can be made that Man Of Steel was “visionary, supersized” and Only God Forgives, To The Wonder, and Stoker were definitely “visionary”

        • Circumvrent

          No, I think Jeff had it right the first time.

  • Michael Gebert

    Reading a list like this has the exhilaration of bullets dodged.

    That said, Ender’s Game honestly wasn’t that bad. On the plus side, it’s kind of got a thoughtful parable feel to it. On the minus side, it also has all the epic Lean-esque sweep of an after school special. Still, I wouldn’t sentence it to the hell that Red 2 surely must be suffering in right now.

  • berg

    Jayne Mansfield’s Car is quite good .. it also has the strangest sexual tit for tat scene I’ve ever witnessed

  • thatpj

    I try to avoid bad films and then an overly hyped one like Gravity comes along…woof woof!

  • Michael

    Could you stop claiming that the showdown in Man of Steel is 80 minutes long? Obviously in the context of your absurd claims thats one of the smaller ones, but its still utterly absurd…

    • Brad

      You know what film has a long final act? ‘Superman Returns’. I don’t hate it, but that has one of the more lop-sided structures in recent memory (well, in respect to superhero films). The first act (which establishes that, gee, Superman is back and Lex Luthor is up to no good) lasts for forty minutes, then we get a very small second act (another forty minutes) and then the final act (which starts when Lois gets captured) lasts for 60 MINUTES. That’s nuts. When Wells whines about Man of Steel’s last act, he’s coming from a place of willful ignorance.

  • Nessamur

    So The Hangover Part 3 and A Good Day to Die Hard are on your Worst list even though they’re also on your “didn’t see them” list? I’m not arguing if they’re bad or not, just curious about that discrepancy.

    • SlashMC

      yeah, when I read is Worst list I totally thought “no way he saw all of those” but was too lazy to search the site, though I’m positive a couple will appear as no-see-ums which should invalidate them completely from any list other than “didn’t see it”.

  • Bob Strauss

    Machete Kills was a gas

  • BromanBrolanski

    “One of the things I’m happiest about these days is a general decision to avoid shit movies.”

    Not above posting a Godzilla or 47 Ronin trailer for some page clicks and a quick queef in Joe Popcorn’s face though.

  • LeSamourai

    Oh, you should definitely check out “At Any Price” – that was good. It’s that director that did “Goodbye Solo”, “Man Push Cart”, etc. – his name escapes me. Ebert gave it four stars shortly before he shook off the mortal coil. I didn’t even mind Zac Efron being one of the leads, so it must have been good. It also has Heather Graham as the town tramp……lots to recommend, really.

    • actionman

      really good movie.

    • Gabe_Toro

      Had no idea there was so much love for a dopey oater like AT ANY PRICE. Quaid is typically terrible, and the story really plummets into operatics in that last half hour.

      -Jeff, you’d like Ender’s Game for it’s surprisingly pacifist outlook. Or hate it for “wussing out” or something. Dunno.

      -Among B-movies, Bullet To The Head is pretty excellent, didn’t get a fair shake. It’s Walter Hill pretending that it’s 1988 again, and either you think that’s awesome, or you’re kind of an asshole.

      -CBGB is fucking AWFUL.

      • jesse

        Ha, yeah, I remember actionman stumping for it in great detail — fascinating but still bizarre to me. At Any Price easily makes my worst-of-year-list. Wort-ofs are tricky because often I feel like I’m just taking cheap shots at crap indie movies or crap genre programmers that didn’t work… but At Any Price really had some ambition, so I feel decent about it as a worst movie

        But Bullet to the Head, Jesus Christ. Pretty excellent? I’d say maybe passable if you’re in a great mood and Walter Hill pretending it’s 1988 again is way, way higher on your priority list than I can imagine. The fact that it has a pretty cool axe fight only makes it more frustrating how little of it is exciting or even dumb fun.

        Speaking of:

        1. Stuck in Love
        2. At Any Price
        3. Olympus Has Fallen
        4. Generation Um…
        5. Aftershock
        6. Bullet to the Head
        7. Getaway
        8. Thanks for Sharing
        9. Safe Haven
        10. Girl Most Likely

  • Deaf Ears

    THE LAST STAND was good fun. Nothing particularly memorable, but far from a stinker.

  • JoeS

    I too now try and “avoid” many stinkers when I can.

    I don’t see why IRON MAN III was considered that bad. A mindless sequel, perhaps, but not awful. And, sorry, but LLEWYN DAVIS was just as dull as TO THE WONDER.

  • GigglesForGigli

    Did you see All the Boys Love Mandy Lane at Sundance five years ago?

  • riboleh

    You are 100% wrong about Jack the Giant Slayer. It’s surprisingly good.

  • GigglesForGigli

    Sorry, but I liked Stoker. It is definitely closer to my “best of” list than my “worst of” list. Pacific Rim is definitely on my “worst of” list though. Since when were giant robot vs monster movies with wooden acting and laughable dialogue considered visionary?

  • The Best Feet

    Whoa there. You clearly didn’t quite get AT ANY PRICE if you have it on a negative list. Amazing film.

  • alynch3

    You’ve got a couple films (At Any Price & The Last Stand) on both you’re Worst list and Unseen list.

    • The Best Feet

      I just noticed this. He clearly assumes he’d hate them so sticks them on the hate list sight unseen. Ridiculous.

  • Perfect Tommy

    I’ll admit to enjoying “Bullet to the Head”, “The Last Stand” and “Escape Plan”. Sly and Arnold can still make action films that make me laugh. Now as for their comedies… “Grudge Match” is one I’ll certainly duck.

  • Perfect Tommy

    And as for the cockroach race that was the Capital Destruction films this summer, I’d say “White House Down” was a little worse than “Olympus Has Fallen”, if only for coming out second, a more obvious title and even more preposterous villains.

    • jesse

      White House Down at least has a bit of movie-star charm in it. Olympus is a grim slog. I couldn’t believe either of them got a “this is a much better Die Hard movie than Die Hard 5″ pass when they came out. I mean, I guess White House Down is actually better than Die Hard 5 because it’s somewhat enjoyable and DH5 isn’t. But Olympus is Fallen is actually an even worse movie, I’d say. And I’ll take Die Hard 4 over either of them, easily.

    • Michael Gebert

      Given the concept overall, more preposterous is a virtue.

  • Ivan__Drago

    Iron Man 3 was pretty good for the third outing of a superhero franchise. The plot had a nice twist, there were several strong character beats and it looked great. I understand the compulsion to instantly dismiss these super hero projects, and I’d understand panning the second one, but if you insisted on sitting through it, what about Iron Man 3 makes it one of the worst movies of the year?

  • Max Stephens

    With all their flaws, Stoker and Only God Forgives are a lot more interesting and cinematic than overly praised middle-brow films such as Before Midnight.

    • The Best Feet