An American Film Geek's Bottom 10 for 2011
1. The Hangover Part II - This is supposed to be a lot of fun. It's not fun. It's nothing but a tedious and pointless rehash that was better left alone. "The Hangover Part II" is the kind of sequel that, upon seeing it, ultimately makes you work to maintain the same level of love for the original that you once had. It diminishes its perfectly good predecessor for a pointless, glossy cash-grab. The film is long and dull, predictable and familiar.
2. The Change-Up - Since this was playing immediately following the "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" screening which I was there for, I thought "what the heck", and opted to give this raunchy body-swapping comedy a try. At the end of the night, I had seen one excellent movie about monkeys, and then a horrible one that was apparently made by monkeys.
3. Atlas Shrugged Part I - Atlas wasn't the only one shrugging through this one, the first entry of a proposed trilogy (which I presume is derailed off it's blue tracks). When it comes to casting and production value, "Atlas Shrugged Part I" has been rightfully compared to a sub-par made-for-TV mini-series from the late 1980s. The typically non-cinefile American Tea Party demographic the producers so shamelessly courted to the theaters should feel insulted all around.
4. Cedar Rapids - Any discerning viewer looking for the next witty comedy should know the two faces of "Cedar Rapids": It is a shamelessly cliché-driven gag-fest when it wants to be funny, but it waves the flag of its conflicted and irresolvable grown-up character situations when it wants indie cred. It is somehow trying to be both lowbrow and highbrow, but ends up just browbeating and pandering.
5. Women on the 6th Floor - Shot like a second-rate modern episode of "Masterpiece Theater", and taking place in 1962 for no apparent reason other than to perhaps stir the nostalgia of the target audience, "The Women on the 6th Floor" is a lame duck of film, making tired and shallow proclamations about class in relation to inherent happiness and satisfaction of life.
6. Soul Surfer - Don't let the bewildering array of positive reviews and box office success fool you - the true-life tale "Soul Surfer", ostensibly an "inspirational" film, is a soggy tween-centric "Triumph of the human spirit" movie gussied up with just enough Christian-ese to muster the approval of youth pastors everywhere.
7. Cave of Forgotten Dreams - There's no way around it - "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" is boring. Terminally, draggingly, boring. The subject could be an interesting one, but I suspect that once Herzog's creative visions fell victim to the heavy restrictions of the cave managers, his entire inspiration for the project became weighed down. Even his trademark bluntly Zen narration sounds more like self-parody than the transcendent directory it's intended as.
8. The Rum Diary - That bleary-eyed sensation you may be overcome with while watching "The Rum Diary" is not the contact high of classic Hunter S. Thompson vigor and delirium coming through. No, it's just plain old sleepiness.
9. Green Lantern - Clearly hoping to cop Marvel's winning "Iron Man" formula (casting a magnetically likeable actor as a second tier hero), the fact that poor Ryan Reynolds' personality cannot fill this cosmic comic book CGI super-suit is just one of this big budget bomb's many fails. What should be a fun space romp proves dull and muddled.
10. The Art of Getting By - Despite the authentic New York locations and the wealth of name talent in the cast, "The Art of Getting By" can't transcend its low budget roots. The visual direction is uninspired and flat, and the writing is faux-clever pandering.
Others to avoid: Immortals; Cars 2; Drive Angry
My Top 10 Films of 2011
- Jim Tudor