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Top 10 Worst Films of 2008

As with any year, 2008 delivered a fair few stinkers – such as blockbusters The Mummy 3 and Speed Racer, as well as romantic dramas such as PS I Love You.

There were also those that deplored Mamma Mia! The Musical, as well as the horror likes of Eden Lake and Donkey Punch. Vin Diesel had another stinker that even the director spoke out against, in the form of Babylon AD, while Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler and Vince Vaughn were all guilty of delivering unwanted Christmas duds in the form of Yes Man, Bedtime Stories and Four Christmases respectively. But which of the above, if any, made it into our top 10 worst films of the year?

The Women

10) The Women

Starring: Meg Ryan, Eva Mendes, Annette Bening.

What’s the story? Mary Haines (Ryan) is a modern woman struggling to cope with a cheating husband, a crumbling career and the betrayal of a best friend (Bening). After hitting rock bottom, she attempts to get her life back on track with the help of her other close friends (including Debra Messing and Jada Pinkett Smith), whilst getting one over on the object of her husband’s newfound affection (Mendes).

Why so bad: If you thought Sex & The City: The Movie was an ordeal, wait ‘til you get a load of this! Diane English’s film is not only a pointless remake of George Cukor’s 1939 classic, but an inferior rip-off of all things Carrie Bradshaw based. To make matters worse, we’re expected to sympathise with the plight of a bunch of hideously wealthy New York socialites whose “everyday woes” are designed to reflect the plight of the modern woman. Ryan, for instance, has a live-in nanny and housekeeper to help with those pesky chores, while her story arc involves plenty of strife, desperation and the obligatory feel-good finale in which she reinvents and makes a success of herself once again. Tell it to anyone feeling low this Xmas over the current credit crunch woes. Not just way, way wide of the mark… but pretty darn insulting!

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PS I Love You

9) PS I Love You

Starring: Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Harry Connick Jr, Lisa Kudrow.

What’s the story? Married couple Holly (Swank) and Gerry (Butler) may bicker over finances and the right time to start a family, but they’re happily married really. So, when Gerry dies from a brain tumour, Holly grieves inconsolably despite the best efforts of her friends (Kudrow and Gina Gershon) and mother (Kathy Bates). However, Holly is slowly encouraged to move on when a series of letters that Gerry wrote for her start to arrive that are designed to help awaken her to new possibilities.

Why so bad?: Quite how Richard LaGravenese’s mawkish, manipulative weepy proved so popular with hopeless romantics is a bigger mystery than Mamma Mia!’s overwhelming success in UK cinemas. It’s tragic how bad PS I Love You really is when you sit back and think about it. Swank’s widow is encouraged to “move on” with her life by following the instructions of her late husband to the letter, including taking a trip to Ireland and hooking up with his best friend (a notorious womaniser with a heart of gold really). Meanwhile, back at home, a sensitive barman (albeit with a tendency to put his foot in his mouth) must wait patiently to win her over… and then find that they’re not entirely suited at all. That character, played by Connick Jr, served as an apt metaphor for how this particular critic felt as a whole… frustrated throughout and then left with an anticlimax.

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The Cottage

8) The Cottage

Starring: Andy Serkis, Reece Shearsmith, Jennifer Ellison

What’s it about? Bickering brothers David (Serkis) and Peter (Shearsmith) arrive at a secluded country cottage with their loud-mouthed kidnap victim Tracey (Ellison) in tow. The cottage in question is being used as a rendezvous point for them to meet Tracey’s step-brother Andrew (Steven O’Donnell), who is also in on the scheme, but when he arrives with the ransom money it quickly becomes clear they have all been deceived. As the blackmail spirals out of control, Tracey manages to turn the tables on her kidnappers and escapes with Peter as her hostage, fleeing into the woods where she finds something altogether more sinister is lurking. It isn’t long before everyone faces a desperate battle for survival as a horribly disfigured local farmer wreaks bloody mayhem.

Why so bad: Writer-director Paul Andrew Williams blew everyone away with his gritty, breathless debut London To Brighton, so anticipation was extremely high surrounding his follow-up The Cottage. But the ensuing comedy horror is a diabolical affair that’s bereft of originality, devoid of any reason for being and unrelentingly violent to boot… Coming from a director who exhibited so much potential with his debut, this has to rate alongside Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales as one of the worst sophomore efforts of recent times.

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Mutant Chronicles

7) Mutant Chronicles

What’s the story? Thomas Jane, John Malkovich, Ron Perlman

What’s the story? It’s the 23rd century and control of the world is now torn between four mega-corporations who constantly war over its remaining resources. When one battle ruptures an ancient seal embedded in the earth, releasing a demonic army of mutants, mankind looks powerless to prevent its own slaughter. Hope lies with a brave band of soldiers – led by a holy man (Perlman) and a gung-ho commander (Jane) – who agree to travel underground to destroy the mutant power source.

Why so bad?: Yet another movie inspired by a computer game that sucks… when will they stop making them? Simon Hunter’s sorry excuse for a film is one of the first to exist in a fantasy sub-genre known as “steam-punk” (set in a sort of quasi-Victorian England but with strong elements of sci-fi) and therefore boasted a distinct look. But that only served to exacerbate its problems, creating the synthetic feel of a computer game and depriving it of any real sense of humanity. The performances were phoned in, at best! Max Payne was released shortly afterwards… and proved a similar waste of time for gamers and movie buffs alike.

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College Road Trip

6) College Road Trip

Starring: Martin Lawrence, Raven-Symone, Donny Osmond

What’s the story? Control freak dad James Porter (Lawrence) wants nothing more than to see his beloved teenage daughter Melanie (Raven-Symone) attend Northwestern University because it’s a short drive from the family home. So, when faraway Georgetown provides a more appealing offer, he’s forced to accompany her cross-country to the interview in a desperate bid to deter her from taking it up.

Why so bad?: Bad films, bad films, what you gonna’ do? What ya gonna do when Martin Lawrence comes for you? Run… if you’ve got any sense. ollege Road Trip proved yet another stinker for the former Bad Boy… a shrill, tiresome family movie that became progressively more irritating the longer it lasted. Lawrence is out-performed by a pig, Raven-Symone delivered the type of high-pitched performance that only dogs could hear and Osmond left you wanting to resort to violence whenever he appeared on-screen. It’s time for Lawrence to take his own college road trip… to acting class, or to find a new agent.

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Speed Racer

5) Speed Racer

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Matthew Fox, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman.

What’s the story? Speed Racer (Hirsch) is a natural behind the wheel who is driven to succeed by the memory of his late brother, Rex Racer, whose death in a race has tarnished the image of the sport. When approached by maniacal businessman Royalton (Roger Allam) to become part of his racing corporation, Speed Racer declines in favour of sticking with his father, Pops (Goodman) and the traditional family values – a decision that places him at odds with the ruthless promoter.

Why so bad?: Not so much a movie, but a computer game played out on the big screen, Speed Racer was yet another disappointment from the Wachowski brothers – the once great filmmaking partnership behind Bound and the original Matrix. Based on the classic Japanese cartoon series, it’s a CGI heavy (every scene was shot against green screens), incoherent bore of a movie that is likely to leave you feeling car sick if you sat too close to the big screen. All of the actors look lost against the effects, while the races lack any sense of excitement or danger whatsoever. Audiences felt the need… the need to turn their backs and speedily scarper from the cinema.

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The Love Guru

4) The Love Guru

Starring: Mike Myers, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Alba, Sir Ben Kingsley

What’s the story? Guru Pitka (Mike Myers), the world’s second best love guru, heads to Canada to settle a rift between a star hockey player and his estranged wife that will all but guarantee his position as the world’s best. But his task is seldom as easy as it seems.

Why so bad?: Not sure what Mike Myers was thinking when it came to The Love Guru, a truly heinous experience that even made you question whether he was ever that funny in the first place! As if the endless wee, poo and snot jokes weren’t bad enough, the gags were a lazy compendium of Myers’ previous best moments, all recycled with diminishing results. Sir Ben Kingsley cropped up as a cross-eyed guru, while – somewhat incredibly – Timberlake shone as an ice hockey player with the hots for Celine Dion. Poor old Jessica Alba, meanwhile, had a rom-com to rival Good Luck Chuck for the stinker stakes. Will she ever make a good comedy?

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3) Waz

Starring: Stellan Skarsgard, Melissa George

What’s the story? New York cops Eddie Argo (Skarsgard) and Helen Westcott (George) investigate a series of murders where the victims have been tortured in front of their loved ones and could volunteer to die in their place. Symbols have also been carved into their bodies that relate to an equation based on animal behaviour. As the body count mounts, Eddie traces the crimes back to one of his past cases, in which the perpetrators of an horrific rape and murder were never brought to justice. Could it be that one of the victims has come back to seek revenge? And how innocent is Eddie in the scheme of things?

Why so bad?: Ever since David Fincher re-launched the serial killer genre with Se7en filmmakers have been falling over themselves to imitate it without taking on board some of its crucial lessons: that less is most definitely more. To be fair, Clive Bradley’s screenplay sets up some intriguing questions based around human behaviour and the primal instinct to survive. But it’s bogged down by some abhorrent violence (mostly shown in flashback), wafer-thin or objectionable characters and a plot that becomes increasingly more absurd the longer it lasts.

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Kelly Reilly in Eden Lake

2) Eden Lake (18)

Starring: Kelly Reilly, Michael Fassbender, Thomas Turgoose.

What’s the story? Steve (Fassbender) takes his nursery school teacher girlfriend Jenny (Reilly) on a romantic camping weekend near an idyllic lake where he plans to propose. But when a gang of youths turn up and start rubbing the couple up the wrong way, the situation escalates into a vicious battle for survival for the couple.

Why so bad?: It was billed as one of the most controversial and provocative British films of the year and James Watkins’ repugnant “hoodie horror” certainly contained some shocking violence. But despite some early intelligence that cast some interesting observations on youth culture, knife crime and social snobbery, the film quickly descended into a sickeningly exploitative horror film that only seemed interested in seeing just how far the censor-baiting could go. The treatment of Fassbender, in particular, was diabolical, particularly when the youths lined up to repeatedly stab him as he was tied, helpless, to a tree. Far from condemning knife culture, such moments only seemed designed to appeal to the very same culture it was reportedly trying to vilify.

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Meet The Spartans

1) Meet The Spartans

Starring: Sean Maguire, Carmen Electra, Ken Davitian

What’s the story? The team that brought you Scary Movie and Epic Movie now seek to lampoon Zack Snyder’s 300 as they recreate the Battle of Thermopylae for laughs!

Why so bad?: When will people stop going to see these spoof movies? Meet The Spartans was, quite comfortably, one of the worst experiences you’re ever likely to sit through in this or any other year… and it only clocked in at 84 minutes (10 of which are taken up by end credits and outtakes)! Very few jokes appeared funny, while innumerable nods to things unrelated to 300 – such as Amy Winehouse and X-Factor/American Idol – just seemed like a desperate search for anything to lampoon. Really, may all who worked on this “Dine in hell!” Date Movie and Disaster Movie were the same (if not worse, reportedly), but fortunately, we avoided sitting in with them!

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What do you think? Have you sat through anything worse?

  1. Leave PS I Love You alone. It’s a great chick flick – sad, inspiring, beautifully made. I laughed, I cried… what more do you need from a movie? There mnust have been worse movies this year than that – which was in my opinion one of th best.

    Sarah    Dec 23    #
  2. where’s Semi-Pro and Disaster Movie on this list?

    eddie    Jan 19    #