The Bottom Shelf: Year-End Edition
“You hate everything.” If I had
a nickel for every time I’ve heard that, I’d … well,
I’d have a lot more money than I make writing for The High
Hat, of that I can assure you. It’s not really true, though.
I liked a number of movies this year, including the documentaries Spellbound and Capturing
the Friedmans, the oddball love stories American Splendor and Lost
in Translation, and the ripping seafaring yarns with very long
titles, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl and Master
and Commander: The Far Side of the World. I even have some
good things to say about The Hulk, and how many of you can
It’s just that I’m the movie janitor.
Somebody’s got to do it. At this time of year, newspapers,
magazines and web sites are overflowing with effusive praise for
2003’s greatest artistic achievements. The High Hat is no
exception. If that’s what you’re after, there’s
plenty of it here. But this is The Bottom Shelf, so without further
ado, here are the 10 Worst Movies of 2003.
of 1000 Corpses. Few movies could live up to the distinguished
name of Rob Zombie, and the former White Zombie frontman’s
directorial debut is not one of them. This gory splatter flick
sat on a shelf for a year or two while studio suits tried to
figure out how it could be released with an R rating. The solution?
Layer all the violent scenes on top of each other and then
cover the result with psychedelic goop so no one can see what
the hell is going on. Genius!
9. Underworld. Underlit.
Undercooked. Underwhelming. How could a movie about a war between
vampires and werewolves be so ass-numbingly dull? If you’re
not yet sick of dark, rainy dystopic cities or people in long black
coats jumping sideways while firing guns with both hands, this
is the movie for you.
and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd. Presumably conceived
in the special needs department of New Line Cinema, this prequel
to the Farrelly brothers’ hit Dumb and Dumber is the
dumberest attempt at extending a franchise imaginable. Nobody
involved with the first movie has returned — I think even the
key grip had better things to do. Instead we’ve got an
already blissfully forgotten pair of knuckleheads doing lame
impressions of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as they strain to
wring even a drop of humor out of the usual pee-pee poo-poo
jokes. Also features Eugene Levy, who should really be spending
more time at home tending his garden.
7. Cinemania. A
documentary about six obsessive New York moviegoers turns into
a freak show, but are the real freaks in front of the cameras or
behind them? It’s clear that at least a couple of the movie’s
subjects are mentally ill, and the filmmakers are more than happy
to gleefully zoom in on each nose-pick and unzipped fly. It’s
a scuzzy experience that will leave you craving a nice hot shower.
6. Timeline. I
don’t necessarily expect stark realism from my time-travel
movies, but Timeline makes that Star Trek installment
with the whales look like something out of Scientific American.
mission is hastily assembled to retrieve an archeology professor
trapped in the Middle Ages. To which I query, what’s the
damn hurry? He’s stuck in the past! Take your time, assemble
the right team, make sure the equipment is in smooth working order!
He ain’t going anywhere! And don’t even get me started
on the whole “changing the course of history” thing.
These people tromp around 14th Century France like disgruntled
dinner guests at a Medieval Times restaurant. An irritating movie
Fantasma. Here’s a nice change of pace: a Portuguese
movie about a young man’s sexual awakening. The film
opens on a particularly tender moment as young Sergio, resplendent
in head-to-toe skintight black leather, cornholes a naked dude
in a filthy bathroom. Later he will jerk off a handcuffed cop,
sniff a terrified woman like a dog, lovingly lick a shower
stall and wear underwear stolen from a garbage can. Don’t
miss the completely inexplicable grand finale, in which Sergio
becomes some kind of S&M Spider-Man. Or something.
English. Some well-meaning relative must have told
Rowan Atkinson he was funny when he was a young boy, and we
all know where the road paved with good intentions leads. It
leads directly to the Hell Octoplex, currently featuring Johnny
English on all eight screens, 24 hours a day. So be good, or
you’ll be marveling at John Malkovich’s most hilarious
hairpiece ever for all eternity.
Order. I’d love to tell you what this is about,
but honestly, I only remember it has something to do with Heath
Ledger poring over musty tomes and uncovering dull-as-dogshit
religious conspiracies. The pacing calls to mind a 95-year-old
woman with a walker, and the muddled plot is complemented by
equally murky cinematography. A recommended sleep aid.
of the Dead. A movie based on a videogame that is actually
less entertaining than watching someone else play a videogame
for two hours. I believe House of the Dead is in the same neighborhood
as House of 1000 Corpses, as they both have similar methods
of covering up excessive gore; in this case, frequent cut-aways
from the live-action slaughter of zombies to actual videogame
footage of same. Also features Clint Howard in a yellow rain
slicker, looking like a cross between the guy on the Beach
Cliff sardines can and a ferret.
1. Basic. Remember
when Pulp Fiction came out, and we were all so happy for
that nice John Travolta and his big comeback after all those years?
think anyone on the planet is still happy for John Travolta? Maybe
someone who has yet to see Basic, the excremental military
thriller he starred in this year. Travolta plays an Army Ranger
a botched training mission. After putting the pieces together and
figuring out what really happened, it turns out that everything
he thought he knew was wrong! Except then it turns out that everything
you thought he thought he knew was wrong, and he was right all
the time! Except then it turns out … oh, who the fuck cares?
Never has one movie packed in so many inane twists, each more nonsensical
than the last.