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Top 10 Donkeys 2006

As with any year, 2006 delivered a fair few stinkers – we’re talking the likes of Jeff Bridges as an amateur porn maker in The Moguls, Sharon Stone abandoning her knickers once again for Basic Instinct 2 and Nicolas Cage running around in a bear suit (!) for The Wicker Man remake.

Hell, not even the sight of Kelly Brook in a white bikini (and less) could save Three from drowning, while Charlize Theron had little joy with audiences despite donning figure-hugging outfits in Aeon Flux.

But which of the above completes our list of the Top 10 Donkeys of 2006?

10) All The King’s Men

All The King's Men
Starring: Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, James Gandolfini, Anthony Hopkins.
What’s the story?: Willie Stark (Sean Penn) is elected Governor of Louisiana by pledging to bring his hick followers everything they need. Once in power, however, he’s forced to enter into shady dealings to stay there. When a leading judge (Anthony Hopkins) threatens to bring Stark down, the politician is forced to resort to increasingly desperate measures and enlists the help of his closest aide, Jack (Jude Law). But given that the judge in question also happens to be Jack’s surrogate father, the former journalist is forced to make a difficult decision at the same time as struggling to cope with the return of a former love interest (Kate Winslet)..
What we said: Just as power can corrupt, so the worthiest of movies can become the dullest of experiences. All The King’s Men is exactly that kind of movie – an ambitious remake of Robert Rossen’s 1949 political classic that takes a terrific cast and hopelessly squanders any of its potential.

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9) Three

Three

Starring: Kelly Brook, Billy Zane, Juan Pablo di Pace
What’s the story?: A rich trophy wife (Kelly Brook), her rich, obnoxious husband (Billy Zane) and a randy boat-hand (Juan Pablo di Pace) find themselves marooned on a desert island after their vessel catches fire. What begins as an idyllic existence quickly turns into a nightmare as sexual tensions emerge between the trio.
What we said: The Blue Lagoon meets Dead Calm and Lost in Kelly Brook’s Three, a vacuous desert island flick that’s as flimsy as the superstar’s white bikini. Writer-director Stewart Raffill’s film is notable for seeing how many excuses he can find for his hapless heroine to strip off as well as for watching just how hilariously ludicrous proceedings can become, but it’s a shipwreck of a movie in all other senses.

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8) American Dreamz

American Dreamz

Starring: Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid, Willem Dafoe, Sam Golzari, Chris Klein, Mandy Moore.
What’s the story?: A reality TV host (Grant) persuades the President of the United States (Quaid) to appear as a guest judge in the final of his X Factor like show without realising that one of his contestants is the accident-prone member of a terrorist sleeper cell (Golzari) with a passion for big Broadway numbers. Another of the show’s contestants, meanwhile, is a manipulative Southern belle (Moore) who uses her relationship with her ex-soldier boyfriend (Klein) to generate audience sympathy.
What we said: At a time when Hollywood has largely succeeded in delivering some thoughtful explorations of world politics with films like Munich and Syriana, it’s all the more alarming that work like American Dreamz can still find its way into the mainstream. That it comes from a writer-director as talented as Weitz – who was also responsible for last year’s excellent In Good Company – makes the disappointment all the more crushing. This embarrassing experience emerges as a nightmare for all concerned.

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7) Aeon Flux

Charlize Theron is Aeon Flux

Starring: Charlize Theron, Marton Csokas, Frances McDormand, Pete Postlethwaite.
What’s the story?: In 2415, super-assassin Aeon Flux (Theron) sets out to avenge the murder of her family years earlier. When she’s sent to kill the leader of the totalitarian regime that is governing society, she finds that she’s unable to complete the mission and fights instead to prevent a far more sinister group from carrying out its plans for domination.
What we said: Beware the female action heroine dressed in body-hugging outfits for it seems that proper clothes aren’t the only thing their films are lacking. In recent times, we’ve witnessed Jennifer Garner failing to provide any spark in Elektra, Kate Beckinsale emerging toothless from the Underworld franchise and Halle Berry whipping up the worst reviews of her career in Catwoman... The tagline on the poster states that ‘the future is Flux’, but by the time the film reaches its predictable conclusion it’s hard to give one.

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6) Failure To Launch

Failure To Launch

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zooey Deschanel.
What’s the story?: A 35-year-old luxury yacht broker (McConaughey) is determined to remain living with his parents’ for as long as he can. So they hire a dating specialist (Parker) to lure him away.
What we said: The ensuing romantic farce plays out like a deviant version of McConaughey’s own How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days with very little to recommend it whatsoever. The film is obviously straining for laughs from the moment director Tom Dey employs various animals to attack Tripp during his outdoor excursions (think animatronic chipmunks and lizards). It’s a failure on just about every level.

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5) Waiting

Waiting

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris, John Francis Daley, Justin Long.
What’s the story?: As a new recruit (Daley) begins his first day at ShenaniganZ restaurant he learns that his colleagues are an insane bunch of losers. Dean (Long) has come to question his role in life after hearing about the successful career of a former high-school classmate, while Monty (Reynolds) is hoping to get an under-age hostess to sleep with him. And then there’s “the game” – a hopelessly juvenile time-waster that involves male members exposing their genitals in the hope of catching a colleague looking…
What we said: Gross out humour hits a new low in Waiting, a deeply unsatisfyng look at a day in the life of the dead-end staff at ShenaniganZ Bar & Grill where laughs are as rare as the steaks on the menu. Ryan Reynolds and Anna Faris are among those attempting to extract chuckles from jokes involving exposed male genitalia, gay bashing and under-age sex. But quite how they found the script appealing is almost as big a mystery as how the film got made in the first place.

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4) The Pink Panther

The Pink Panther

Starring: Steve Martin, Beyonce Knowles, Kevin Kline.
What’s the story?: Inept provincial policeman Clouseau (Martin) is promoted to the rank of inspector to investigate the murder of a high-profile football manager (Statham) and the subsequent theft of a priceless diamond known as The Pink Panther. But his attempts to solve the case are continually threatened by his own stupidity, paving the way for the ambitious Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Kline) to crack the case himself and lay claim to France’s Medal of Honour.
What we said: Having tarnished the memory of one iconic comedy character in the form of Sgt Bilko, Steve Martin now proceeds to trample over the memory of another – namely, The Pink Panther. Stepping into the shoes vacated by the late, great Peter Sellers was never going to be an easy task but it’s difficult to imagine a more inept and unfunny attempt to do so. Quite how the film managed to reach the top of the US box office and post healthy financial figures is truly baffling. Far from tickling anyone pink, this unnecessary remake is more likely to turn viewers red with rage.

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3) Shortbus

Shortbus

Starring: Sook-Yin Lee, Paul Dawson, PJ DeBoy, Lindsay Beamish.
What’s the story?: A group of men and women attempt to find emotional liberation by pursuing their deepest sexual fantasies at a club called Shortbus in post 9/11 New York. They include sex therapist Sofia (Lee), who has never been able to have an orgasm, gay couple Jamie (PJ DeBoy) and James (Dawson), who are debating whether to bring a third party into their ailing relationship, and dominatrix Severin (Beamish), who considers herself an outsider.
What we said: The opening moments of Shortbus consist of a man and a woman having graphic sex in all manner of positions, another lone man attempting to perform felatio on himself and a female dominatrix whipping her latest client into an orgasmic frenzy. But while it capably sets the tone for the jaw-dropping sexual exploits that follow, it fails to stimulate the comic or intellectual reaction that writer-director John Cameron Mitchell undoubtedly was seeking to achieve.

Read the review l John Cameron Mitchell interview


2) Ultraviolet

Ultraviolet

Starring: Milla Jovovich, Cameron Bright.
What’s the story?: Violet (Jovovich) is a lethal member of a genetically-mutated subculture of humans who have emerged in the late 21st Century following a government experiment gone wrong. Although these super-humans display enhanced speed, incredible stamina and an acute intelligence they’re shunned by the politicians who want to wipe them out. Into this scenario comes a boy named Six (Cameron Bright), who Violet has been sent to kill. Rather than doing so, she resolves to protect him and finds herself at odds with both sides of the conflict.
What we said: Milla Jovovich seems to be stumbling from one disappointing futuristic action thriller to the next. Having disappointed in the lame Resident Evil franchise, she now finds herself lumbered with the excruciating Ultraviolet. Sadly, it’s a lamentable exercise in filmmaking that feels more like a computer game than anything else. It’s confused, ridiculous and quite frequently unwatchable – and certainly one of the worst viewing experiences you’re likely to endure this year.

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1) The Moguls

The Moguls

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Joe Pantoliano, Tim Blake Nelson, William Fitchner, Ted Danson, Glenne Headley.
What’s the story?: Andy Sargentee (Bridges) is a perpetual under-achiever whose get-rich-quick schemes frequently land him in trouble. Desperate to prove his worth to his teenage son – who is now living with a well-off stepfather – Andy finds inspiration in dirty movies and resolves to make his own amateur porn film with the help of his none-too-bright friends. But what looks to be an easy prospect on paper quickly proves far more difficult in reality, particularly as finding the right women to appear in the project proves easier said than done.
What we said: It’s very rare to find a bad Jeff Bridges film but The Moguls – about a small town’s attempts to get rich by making an amateur porn movie – has to represent one of the most misguided choices of his distinguished career. Designed as a life-affirming comedy, the film ends up being a sexist, homophobic mess with a little bit of racism thrown in. By the time the film reaches its obvious and banal conclusion, audiences should have become utterly sick of its contrivances. For this is, in the final analysis, a comedy about making porn that ends up becoming a movie stiff.

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