THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Every year at this time, I like to make a list of the best films of the past twelve months. I’m talking about the films that entertained me, moved me, made me think and feel. This is not that list. The movies on this list made me feel, alright, but the feelings they induced were not pleasurable. This is a list of the worst films of 2005.

Making this list was easy. Although 2005 had many great movies, it was also filled with bad sequels (xXx: State of the Union, Son of the Mask, The Legend of Zorro) and sequels that nobody asked for (Transporter 2). It had generic romantic comedies that felt as though they’d been spit out by a computer (Must Love Dogs) and domestic comedies with jokes that were older than a California Redwood (The Pacifier). Some movies started strong and abruptly went south (Hide and Seek) while others never got off the ground at all (Herbie: Fully Loaded).

As you will see from the list, horror movies and supernatural thrillers didn’t fare so well this year. Half the titles on this list fall within those genres. I have no grudge (no pun intended) against scary stuff, though; it just so happened that these pictures failed miserably and noticeably. Other genres are represented as well. We have bad comedies, bad action movies, and a bad historical epic.

There are only ten slots on this list, but there were more than ten serious candidates. Some of them escaped by a thin margin. The Cave was lame, but it was also a low-budget effort that didn’t exactly ooze potential. Monster-in-Law was bad and it was an embarrassment to Jane Fonda, but at least there was a clever idea buried in there somewhere. Sahara’s entertainment value was as dry as the desert; I didn’t include it because…well, other films were even worse. And Aeon Flux (or, as I call it, Aeon Sucks) mitigated the damage by featuring Charlize Theron in a tight leather costume. I mean, that’s gotta count for something, right? (To be serious, I left it off because I felt the movie at least demonstrated some ambition, regardless of how misguided the final product turned out.) Just because these films did not merit inclusion on the list doesn’t mean that they don’t stink, though.

As always, a ground rule or two. Ultra-low budget movies are excluded, because why pick on a movie no one’s ever heard of? Obscure foreign movies aren’t worth the time either. (The Warrior? Zzzzzzzz….) One other film that is excluded is Saw 2; I hated the original so much that I confess having skipped the sequel. Somehow I don’t think I missed anything.

Okay, the time has come to stick it once more to the ten worst films of 2005:

10. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Fans of the classic Douglas Adams novel (myself included) have waited years for a big screen adaptation. What we got was a great big pile of crap. Adams was a master at wry, understated humor, whereas the movie version wanted to be a big, brash slapstick comedy. It was a fundamental mismatch between content and tone. Hollywood has screwed up its fair share of great books, but the last time one was bungled this badly was The Bonfire of the Vanities.

9. Stealth - If you crossed Top Gun, 2001 and “Knight Rider,” what would you get? If you said an unholy mess, then you are correct. Apparently director Rob Cohen couldn’t do the math. This is the story of a computerized plane that runs amok and declares its own war. And oh yeah, the plane talks. One would expect David Hasselhoff to star in a movie about a talking plane, not Oscar winner Jamie Foxx or character actor Josh Lucas. That noise you hear is the sound of agents being fired. Stealth is silly, dull, and one-note; it doesn’t even work on the level of camp. America wisely ignored the movie altogether.

8. Kingdom of Heaven - If the “three strikes and you’re out” rule applies to cinema, then we probably won’t be seeing any more bloated historical epics. Following the disastrous Troy and the even-worse Alexander, this Ridley Scott drama about the Crusades was the third pretentious, self-important, over-long historical drama in a row that Hollywood cranked out. Movies about significant real-life events are supposed to be stirring; they should make you want to run out and learn more. Kingdom of Heaven was boring – no mean feat considering the fascinating subject matter – and it isn’t likely to inspire anyone to anything other than fall asleep.

7. White Noise - This thriller dealt with Electronic Voice Phenomenon, which involves receiving messages from the deceased via staticy audio and video images. Michael Keaton played a man using the technique to communicate with his late wife. The coming attractions trailer for White Noise used real examples of EVP messages. I don’t necessarily believe in the stuff, but it still gave me a wicked case of the heebie-jeebies. The movie, on the other hand, just made me giggle unintentionally. You know you’re in trouble when the trailer is a hundred times scarier than the film itself. They should have scrapped the lame story and simply made a documentary about EVP.

6. Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous - Sandra Bullock should get down on her knees and give thanks that she also starred in Crash this year. Had she not, this painfully unfunny and obnoxious comedy might have damaged her career irreparably. The original Miss Congeniality lampooned beauty pageants. It was no masterpiece, but it was fun. The sequel strains for a reason to even exist. Without something to spoof, we’re left with a pitiful comedy that reeks of desperation. The subtitle should read: Atrocious and Foul.

5. The Amityville Horror - Once upon a time, there was a real murder that took place in a real house in a real upstate New York town. A real person really did claim that the house was haunted afterward. That has nothing to do with this film, however. Despite its claim of being inspired by a true story, this classless remake is nothing but a lazy assemblage of horror movie clichés that lost their scare value a long, long time ago.

4. Doom - The list of bad movies derived from video games continues with this adaptation of the popular first person shooter. If ever a game seemed less suited for big screen treatment, it would be “Doom.” The filmmakers tried to compensate for this fact by featuring a four-minute sequence designed to replicate the game’s POV. That couldn’t make up for the bad acting, incompetent direction, and non-existent plot. Watching this flick is like standing around and watching someone else play a video game.

3. Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo - It’s official: Rob Schneider is the least funny human being on the planet. If he weren’t friends with Adam Sandler (who produces for his pal), we wouldn’t have to endure any more of Schneider’s idiotic junk. This sequel to the 1999 cult comedy packs more penis jokes into 77 minutes than I ever would have thought possible. Aside from being generally unfunny, the humor is also racist, homophobic, and misogynist. For instance, a woman with an unfortunate penis-shaped nose gets her proboscis stuck in other woman’s tracheotomy hole. If Schneider thinks this is funny, then I think he is sick.

2. Boogeyman - I kid you not: this is a movie about a guy who is afraid of closets. Why? Because as a child, he thought that a monster lived in one. The guy (played by Barry Watson) inherits his childhood home, and thinks that a monster is still in there somewhere. This leads to numerous scenes in which he stands in front of various closet doors, looking terrified. The emotion is not passed on to the audience. Nothing else happens until the final four minutes, when some kind of creature does, in fact, pop out of the closet. What the creature is and where it came from is never revealed. This is seriously one of the stupidest, most incoherent “horror” movies I’ve ever seen.

And my choice for the worst film of 2005 is:

1. Alone in the Dark - Yet another video game adaptation. This one comes from German director Uwe Boll, who has inspired an entire legion of haters on the internet. Christian Slater plays a paranormal investigator looking into the disappearance of nineteen people and the slime dripping aliens who may be responsible. Meanwhile, Tara Reid plays what the press notes term “a brilliant anthropologist.” (Excuse me while I fall on the floor laughing.) The movie it looks like it was made for $1.05, with its murky cinematography, sloppy special effects, and cheap sets. There are also unintentional laughs, as when the brilliant anthropologist mispronounces “Newfoundland” as “New Found Land.” If you missed Alone in the Dark, don’t feel bad. It was released very early in January 2005, and lasted only about a week in theaters. It is currently stinking up home video.

This list represents perhaps the worst “worst” list in the ten years I’ve been reviewing films online. My bottom three all earned only half a star, which is a record. If there is one thing to cheer me up, it is this: I’ve already seen these pathetic pieces of junk and will never have to sit through them again.

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