"Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks."If we have Roger Ebert's list of great movies, we might as well also have his list of most-hated films. All of these films have a maximum rating of 1.5 stars on his website (except for Halloween III: Season of the Witch, which got 2 stars but still made the list); films that managed to offend Ebert enough to get a zero star rating from him have those films' star rating replaced with a Thumbs Down icon (he awarded that to terrible movies that were also personally offensive to him in some form).
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- An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn
"In taking his name off the film, Arthur Hiller has wisely distanced himself from the disaster, but on the basis of what's on the screen I cannot, frankly, imagine any version of this film that I would want to see. The only way to save this film would be to trim 86 minutes."note
"The movie doesn't work, but was there any way this material could ever have worked? My guess is that African Americans will be offended by the movie, and whites will be embarrassed. The movie will bring us all together, I imagine, in paralyzing boredom."
- Baby Geniuses
"Bad films are easy to make, but a film as unpleasant as Baby Geniuses achieves a kind of grandeur. And it proves something I've long suspected: Babies are cute only when they're being babies. When they're presented as miniature adults (on greeting cards, in TV commercials or especially in this movie), there is something so fundamentally wrong that our human instincts cry out in protest."
- Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
"Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo makes a living cleaning fish tanks and occasionally prostituting himself. How much he charges I'm not sure, but the price is worth it if it keeps him off the streets and out of another movie. Deuce Bigalow is aggressively bad, as if it wants to cause suffering to the audience. The best thing about it is that it runs for only 75 minutes. ... Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks."note
- Dice Rules
"Andrew "Dice" Clay comes billed as a comedian, but does not get one laugh from me in the 87 minutes of this film. I do not find it amusing to watch someone mock human affliction, and I don't find it funny, either, for him to use his fear of women as a subject for humor. Of course any subject can theoretically be made funny, but just to stand and point is not the same thing as developing a humorous point of view. An example. We have all known someone who has undergone a tracheotomy, having the voice box removed because of cancer. Sometimes these people are still able to speak through controlling the air stream in their throat, or by using small battery-powered devices that magnify their whispers. Andrew Dice Clay finds their speech funny, and mocks it in this film. I imagine that tracheotomy patients themselves use morbid humor as one way of dealing with their condition, but Clay is not using humor at all—he is simply pointing, and making fun, like a playground bully."
- The Dukes of Hazzard
"It's a retread of a sitcom that ran from about 1979 to 1985, years during which I was able to find better ways to pass my time. Yes, it is still another TV program I have never ever seen. As this list grows, it provides more and more clues about why I am so smart and cheerful. ... Bo and Luke are involved in a mishap that causes their faces to be blackened with soot, and then, wouldn't you know, they drive into an African-American neighborhood, where their car is surrounded by ominous young men who are not amused by blackface, or by the Confederate flag painted on the car. I was hoping maybe the boyz n the hood would carjack the General, which would provide a fresh twist to the story, but no, the scene sinks into the mire of its own despond."
- Freddy Got Fingered
"This movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as barrels. Many years ago, when surrealism was new, Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí made Un Chien Andalou, a film so shocking that Bunuel filled his pockets with stones to throw at the audience if it attacked him. Green, whose film is in the surrealist tradition, may want to consider the same tactic. The day may come when Freddy Got Fingered is seen as a milestone for neo-surrealism. The day may never come when it is seen as funny." Chicago Sun-Times review."On TV, we can't show you the scene where Green swings a newborn baby around his head by its umbilical cord, or two scenes involving the sexual organs of a stallion and a bull elephant, or when he skins a deer and runs around wearing its bloody carcass, or any of the jokes about child abuse. The MPAA gave this movie an R rating; that's definitive evidence that the MPAA ratings board is morally adrift, and that we need a workable adult rating for movies like this." Ebert & Roeper review. note
- Hardly Working
"Watching the Today show in a hotel room in Los Angeles, I saw Jerry Lewis being interviewed by Gene Shalit. Jerry was convinced that the critics had it in for him. He hinted, none too subtly, that the chances were Shalit would dislike the film when he saw it (Shalit claimed not to have seen it already, which was an excellent ploy). In Variety, I’d read that the critics were barred from the Miami premiere of the film because, and I paraphrase, Jerry Lewis makes films for the masses and critics are unequipped to understand his appeal. Horse manure. Hardly Working is one of the worst movies ever to achieve commercial release in this country, and it is no wonder it was on the shelf for two years before it saw the light of day. It is not just a bad film, it is incompetent filmmaking."
- The Hot Chick
"The movie resolutely avoids all the comic possibilities of its situation, and becomes one more dumb high school comedy about sex gags and prom dates. ... Through superhuman effort of the will, I did not walk out of The Hot Chick, but reader, I confess I could not sit through the credits. The MPAA rates this PG-13. It is too vulgar for anyone under 13, and too dumb for anyone over 13." Chicago Sun-Times review."Here is a movie where the most amazing thing in the history of mankind occurs: their girlfriend is inside a man's body. Incredible! And so what is the first thing these ditzy airheads ask? They wanna look at his family jewels. These characters are too stupid to be in a movie. About half an hour into the screening the film got trapped in the projector and it caught fire; that was the good news! The bad news was the screening continued, and hardly any of the film was destroyed." Ebert & Roeper review.
- Joe Dirt
"We professional movie critics count it a banner week when only one movie involves eating, falling into or being covered by excrement (or a cameo appearance by Carson Daly). We are not prudes. We are prepared to laugh. But what these movies, including Joe Dirt, often do not understand is that the act of being buried in crap is not in and of itself funny."
- A Lot Like Love
"Judging by their dialogue, Oliver and Emily have never read a book or a newspaper, seen a movie, watched TV, had an idea, carried on an interesting conversation or ever thought much about anything. The movie thinks they are cute and funny, which is embarrassing, like your uncle who won't stop with the golf jokes. ... Later they Meet Cute again, walk into a bar, drink four shots of Jack Daniel's in one minute, and order a pitcher of beer. No, they're not alcoholics. This is just Movie Behavior; for example, at first she smokes and then she stops and then she starts again. That supplies her with a Personality Characteristic." Chicago Sun-Times review"..they first meet on an airplane. She follows him into the restroom, she has sex with him, and then she says that's strike one against him because she had to make the first move. Yeah, like, for example, a dude is gonna break into the restroom and make love with a woman he's never seen before? I don't think so. I think that's how you get to meet the federal air marshal." Ebert & Roeper review
- Mad Dog Time
"Mad Dog Time is the first movie I have seen that does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for the same length of time. Oh, I've seen bad movies before. But they usually made me care about how bad they were. Watching Mad Dog Time is like waiting for the bus in a city where you're not sure they have a bus line. ... Mad Dog Time should be cut into free ukulele picks for the poor." note
"I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it." Chicago Sun-Times review note"I hated this movie as much as any movie we've ever reviewed in the 19 years we've been doing this show. I hated it because of the premise, which seems shockingly cold-hearted, and because this premise is being suggested to kids as children's entertainment, and because everybody in the movie was vulgar and stupid, and because the jokes weren't funny, and because most of the characters were obnoxious, and because of the phony attempt to add a little pseudo-hip philosophy with a Bruce Willis character!" Siskel & Ebert review note
- One Woman or Two
"Add it all up, and what you've got here is a waste of good electricity. I'm not talking about the electricity between the actors. I'm talking about the current to the projector."
- She's Out of Control
"What planet did the makers of this film come from? What assumptions do they have about the purpose and quality of life? I ask because She's Out of Control is simultaneously so bizarre and so banal that it's a first: the first movie fabricated entirely from sitcom cliches and plastic lifestyles, without reference to any known plane of reality." Chicago Sun-Times review"I sat there and I thought: life is precious, life is short, and the idiots who made this film are taking two hours of my life and robbing it from me in order to give me less than nothing! I mean, a movie like this is a crime because what it does is it robs life from people by requiring them to spend two hours having such a terrible experience happen to them. ... Go stand in the lobby and talk!" Siskel & Ebert review
- Sorority Boys
"I should be a good sport and go along with the joke. But the joke is not funny. The movie is not funny. If it's this easy to get a screenplay filmed in Hollywood, why did they bother with that Project Greenlight contest? Why not ship all the entries directly to Larry Brezner, Michael Fottrell and Walter Hamada, the producers of Sorority Boys, who must wear Santa suits to work?''"
- Sour Grapes
"How to account for the fact that Larry David is one of the creators of Seinfeld? Maybe he works well with others. I can't easily remember a film I've enjoyed less. North, a comedy I hated, was at least able to inflame me with dislike. Sour Grapes is a movie that deserves its title: It's puckered, deflated and vinegary. It's a dead zone."
- Spice World
"The Spice Girls are easier to tell apart than the Mutant Ninja Turtles, but that is small consolation: What can you say about five women whose principal distinguishing characteristic is that they have different names? They occupy Spice World as if they were watching it: They're so detached they can't even successfully lip-synch their own songs." Chicago Sun-Times review."I would like to announce that I have now seen the worst movie of 1998. note This movie stinks; it is an entertainment free dead zone, as far as I'm concerned. They...they can't even lip-synch to their horrible music successfully!" Siskel & Ebert review.
- Tommy Boy
"Tommy Boy is one of those movies that plays like an explosion down at the screenplay factory. You can almost picture a bewildered office boy, his face smudged with soot, wandering through the ruins and rescuing pages at random. Too bad they didn't mail them to the insurance company instead of filming them."
- The Waterboy
"Do I have something visceral against Adam Sandler? I hope not. I try to keep an open mind and approach every movie with high hopes. It would give me enormous satisfaction (and relief) to like him in a movie. But I suggest he is making a tactical error when he creates a character whose manner and voice has the effect of fingernails on a blackboard, and then expects us to hang in there for a whole movie."
Hideous Horror & Science Afflictions
- 13 Ghosts
"The shatterproof glass cages, we learn, are engraved with containment spells that keep the ghosts inside. You can see the ghosts with special glasses, which the cast is issued; when they see them, we see them, usually in shots so maddeningly brief we don't get a good look. Our consolation, I guess, is that the cast has the glasses but we will have the pause button when 13 Ghosts comes out on DVD. The only button this movie needs more than pause is delete."
"Here it is at last, the first 150-minute trailer. Armageddon is cut together like its own highlights. Take almost any 30 seconds at random, and you'd have a TV ad. The movie is an assault on the eyes, the ears, the brain, common sense and the human desire to be entertained. No matter what they're charging to get in, it's worth more to get out." Chicago Sun-Times review"I wanted to escape from this movie! I didn't care if the asteroid hit the Earth or not; I was afraid the movie was gonna hit me. And you know, it's cut so quickly, that there's no, uh, stretch of action that makes any sense or is comprehensible in any way. This movie, the entire movie, is cut together like a "Coming Attractions" trailer. And, uh, it was aggressive, and it was assaulting, and it was too noisy, and I liked The Rock; I gave The Rock Thumbs Up, but, this film, to me, doesn't have any kind of an arc or any kind of dramatic interest, and when it stops for drama, like when they're all saying goodbye to each other, before, you know, like, seconds are ticking down! If they don't get that bomb ready in another 20 seconds, the Earth ends, and they're saying goodbye to each other on television. I couldn't understand that!" Siskel & Ebert reviewnote
- Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever
"The movie is a chaotic mess, overloaded with special effects and explosions, light on continuity, sanity and coherence. So short is its memory span that although Sever kills, I dunno, maybe 40 Vancouver police officers in an opening battle, by the end, when someone says, 'She's a killer,' Ecks replies, 'She's a mother.' ... Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is an ungainly mess, submerged in mayhem, occasionally surfacing for cliches." Chicago Sun-Times review"I hated this movie, but on the other hand, the title is not only bad, but inaccurate, because for most of the movie, it's not Ecks Vs Sever, but Ecks & Sever Vs The Bad Guy. And think about this: usually Canadian cities double for American cities, but in this movie, Vancouver is identified as Vancouver. Yet, the battle is between the FBI and the Defense Intelligence Agency, which is an actual U.S. government agency, and they're using rocket launchers, grenades, plastic explosions, machine guns, dozens of people are dead, blood is running in the gutter. I think Canadian's gonna say, "Hey, why don't you go home, and fight, fight each other in an American city? Isn't there some kind of jurisdictional problem?" It is, it is, it is unusually bad." Ebert & Roeper review note
- Battlefield Earth
"Battlefield Earth is like taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time. It's not merely bad; it's unpleasant in a hostile way. The visuals are grubby and drab. The characters are unkempt and have rotten teeth. Breathing tubes hang from their noses like ropes of snot. The soundtrack sounds like the boom mike is being slammed against the inside of a 55-gallon drum. The plot ... Some movies run off the rails. This one is like the train crash in The Fugitive. I watched it in mounting gloom, realizing I was witnessing something historic, a film that for decades to come will be the punch line of jokes about bad movies." Chicago Sun-Times review."Let's not beat around the bush; this is one of the ugliest and most incomprehensible movies I've ever seen. It's like spending two hours in the intergalactic town dump with a lot of people who need a bath and a trip to the dentist. ... There's just no joy in Battlefield Earth. This movie is not fun. I think, although I am not sure, that the movie thinks the extreme stupidity of Terl is amusing. I mean, here's one of the leaders of a conquering race and he doesn't even know what kind of food humans eat. Travolta is a charming actor, but not here, not as Terl, hiding behind a sneer, a lot of hair, and those weird nose tubes. ... just everything looks like it has a fungus growing on it." Ebert & Roeper review. note
"I wonder how Ben learned English. I seem to recall from Willard, last summer's big rat movie, that Willard trained Ben to heel, beg, roll over, play dead and sic Ernest Borgnine. Not bad for a rat. But when did Ben learn English? It takes Berlitz six weeks of intensive training to get a French businessman to the point where he can proposition a girl on Rush St. — and here's Ben learning instinctively."
"She becomes Catwoman, but what is a catwoman? She can leap like a cat, strut around on top of her furniture, survive great falls and hiss. Berry looks great doing these things, and spends a lot of time on all fours, inspiring our almost unseemly gratitude for her cleavage. She gobbles down tuna and sushi. Her eyes have vertical pupils instead of round ones. She sleeps on a shelf. The movie doesn't get into the litter box situation. What does she think about all of this?" Chicago Sun-Times review."There are 3 good things in it: Halle Berry's face, Halle Berry's body, and Halle Berry's costumes. Those are first rate. Everything else in this movie is unbelievably bad. This is a really bad movie! There is no chemistry between Benjamin Bratt and Halle Berry, none, none. I mean, it's a good thing that it's PG-13 and the love scene was offscreen because it probably would have been boring, except for the scratch he gets, of course. I was just amazed that they took a potentially interesting character like Catwoman and did so little with it! This movie is truly bad!" Ebert & Roeper review. note
"Chaos is ugly, nihilistic, and cruel — a film I regret having seen. I urge you to avoid it. Don't make the mistake of thinking it's 'only' a horror film, or a slasher film. It is an exercise in heartless cruelty and it ends with careless brutality. The movie denies not only the value of life, but the possibility of hope."
"The forces of hell manifest themselves in many ways. One victim is eaten by flies. A young girl is possessed by a devil, and Constantine shouts, 'I need a mirror! Now! At least three feet high!' He can capture the demon in the mirror and throw it out the window, see, although you wonder why supernatural beings would have such low-tech security holes."
- Critters 2: The Main Course
"Critters 2: The Main Course is a movie about furry little hand puppets with lots of teeth, who are held up to salad bars by invisible puppeteers while large numbers of actors scream and pronounce unlikely dialogue."
"The movie takes place in a future world in which all civilization has been reduced to a few phony movie sets. Leather-clad neo-Nazis stalk through the ruins, beating each other senseless and talking in Pulpspeak, which is like English, but without the grace and modulation. It's cold in the future, and it's wet, but never so cold or wet that the costumes do not bare the arm muscles of the men and the heaving bosoms of the women."
- The Deathmaster
"These people are not very bright. They are so dumb, in fact, that they have had to learn to speak the English language by watching old AIP exploitation movies, and their dialog is eight years out of date. They talk like Frankie Avalon trying to pass for hip, translated from the German. Count Khorda (for such is his name) makes them a proposition: 'Would you like to trade a lifetime of petty passions for an eternity of ecstasy,' They would, I guess. Well, wouldn't you?"
- Deep Rising
"The owner of the ship (Anthony Heald) makes several speeches boasting about how stable it is; it can stay level even during a raging tempest. I wonder if those speeches were inserted after the filmmakers realized how phony their special effects look. Every time we see the ship, it's absolutely immobile in the midst of churning waves."
- The Devil's Rain
"But ... what IS the Devil's Rain? This is a question frequently asked in The Devil's Rain and, believe me, frequently answered. Picture it this way: All the good things of life are on one side of a sheet of plate glass, and you're on the other, and it's raining on your side, bunky."
"Nobody looks very happy in this movie. Actors stand around in ridiculous costumes, mouthing dialogue that has little or no context. They're not even given scenes that work on a self-contained basis; portentous lines of pop profundity are allowed to hang in the air unanswered, while additional characters arrive or leave on unexplained errands. Dune looks like a project that was seriously out of control from the start. Sets were constructed, actors were hired; no usable screenplay was ever written; everybody faked it as long as they could. Some shabby special effects were thrown into the pot, and the producers crossed their fingers and hoped that everybody who has read the books will want to see the movie. Not if the word gets out, they won’t.''
- The Guardian
"Of the many threats to modern man documented in horror films — the slashers, the haunters, the body snatchers — the most innocent would seem to be the druids. What, after all, can a druid really do to you, apart from dropping fast-food wrappers on the lawn while worshipping your trees?" Chicago Sun-Times review"You know, there is one area, though, Gene [Siskel], where this movie breaks important new ground, and this is something that movie trivia experts are going to.... Yes, I am, I'm going to be funny. This is the first horror movie in which a chainsaw is used against a tree!" Siskel & Ebert review
- Halloween III: Season of the Witch
"The one saving grace in Halloween III is Stacey Nelkin, who plays the heroine. She has one of those rich voices that makes you wish she had more to say and in a better role. But watch her, too, in the reaction shots: When she's not talking, she's listening. She has a kind of rapt, yet humorous, attention that I thought was really fetching. Too bad she plays her last scene without a head."
- Hellbound: Hellraiser II
"This movie has no plot in a conventional sense. It is simply a series of ugly and bloody episodes strung together one after another like a demo tape by a perverted special-effects man. There is nothing the heroines can do to understand or change their plight and no way we can get involved in their story. That makes Hellbound: Hellraiser II an ideal movie for audiences with little taste and atrophied attention spans who want to glance at the screen occasionally and ascertain that something is still happening up there. If you fit that description, you have probably not read this far, but what the heck, we believe in full-service reviews around here. You're welcome." Chicago Sun-Times review"The name of the film is Hellbound: Hellraiser II, and I guess it's more or less a continuation of the original hit film, Hellraiser. Actually, though, it plays more like a Compact Disc than it does like a movie, especially if you have one of those CDs that you can program in any order. I love the names of the characters in this movie, by the way. They're named Kirsty and Tiffany. I love them because this is another one of those movies where they say the names WAY too often, over and over again. "Kirsty. Tiffany. Tiffany! Kirsty! Kirsttttttyyy!!! Tiffanyyyyyyyy!!!!" Over and over! Just until the audience is almost tempted to start shouting "Tiffany!" and "Kirsty!" back at the screen if only to break the monotony. Or to continue the monotony." Siskel & Ebert review
- Resident Evil
"Resident Evil is a zombie movie set in the 21st century and therefore reflects several advances over 20th century films. For example, in 20th century slasher movies, knife blades make a sharpening noise when being whisked through thin air. In the 21st century, large metallic objects make crashing noises just by being looked at."
- Resident Evil: Apocalypse
"The movie is an utterly meaningless waste of time. There was no reason to produce it, except to make money, and there is no reason to see it, except to spend money. It is a dead zone, a film without interest, wit, imagination or even entertaining violence and special effects. ... Parents: If you encounter teenagers who say they liked this movie, do not let them date your children." Chicago Sun-Times review"It's called Resident Evil: Apocalypse and it's a sequel to one of the worst movies of 2002. This one recycles the same material into one of the worst movies of 2004. It's a chaotic and truly lame-brained zombie movie about an evil corporation that once again opens up its secret lab and once again releases a virus that once again inspires lots and lots and lots of shots of zombies getting their brains blown out." Ebert & Roeper review
"It is also the kind of movie where the sun god Ra, who has harnessed the ability to traverse the universe at the speed of light, still needs slaves to build his pyramids. And where the local equivalent of a Nubian princess is sent into the chamber of the Earth visitors, to pleasure them. Don't tell me there aren't any coincidences. The movie Ed Wood, about the worst director of all time, was made to prepare us for Stargate."note
- The Village
"The Village is a colossal miscalculation, a movie based on a premise that cannot support it, a premise so transparent it would be laughable were the movie not so deadly solemn. It's a flimsy excuse for a plot, with characters who move below the one-dimensional and enter Flatland. ... The whole enterprise is a Shaggy Dog Story, and in a way, it is all secrets. ... To call it an anticlimax would be an insult not only to climaxes but to prefixes. It's a crummy secret, about one step up the ladder of narrative originality from It Was All A Dream. It's so witless, in fact, that when we do discover the secret, we want to rewind the film so we don't know the secret anymore."
Sex, Romance, Music, Drama, and Other Crap
- Betty Blue
"Typists will enjoy the typing scenes, in which she makes typing errors, causing her to throw away countless copies of Page 1, and then has the whole manuscript typed in no time. This is the way typing is thought about by people who always use yellow legal pads themselves."
- Beyond And Back
"The makers of Beyond and Back were also responsible, if memory serves, for another film called In Search of Noah's Ark. It figures. At the end of that one they were still searching for Noah's Ark — never found it. At the end of Beyond and Back we're back, all right — but were we beyond?
- The Blue Lagoon
"This movie made me itch. It's about a young girl and a young boy who are shipwrecked on a beautiful Pacific Island. It shows how they grow up, mostly at sunset. It follows their progress as they discover sex and smile sweetly at each other, in that order. It concludes with a series of scenes designed to inspire the question: If these two young people had grown up in civilized surroundings, wouldn't they have had to repeat the fourth grade?"
- Body of Evidence
"What about the story here? It has to be seen to be believed — something I do not advise. There's all kinds of murky plot debris involving nasal spray with cocaine in it, ghosts from the past, bizarre sex, and lots of nudity. We are asked to believe that Madonna lives on a luxury houseboat, where she parades in front of the windows naked at all hours, yet somehow doesn't attract a crowd, not even of appreciative lobstermen."
"Caligula is sickening, utterly worthless, shameful trash. If it is not the worst film I have ever seen, that makes it all the more shameful: People with talent allowed themselves to participate in this travesty. Disgusted and unspeakably depressed, I walked out of the film after two hours of its 170-minute length. That was on Saturday night, as a line of hundreds of people stretched down Lincoln Ave., waiting to pay $7.50 apiece to become eyewitnesses to shame. ... Caligula is not good art, It is not good cinema, and it is not good porn. ... 'This movie,' said the lady in front of me at the drinking fountain, 'is the worst piece of shit I have ever seen.'"
- Camille 2000
"Camille 2000 is shot in color. It is dubbed into English instead of subtitled. It is wide screen. It has a pretty girl in it. Her name is Daniele Gaubert. Whoever painted that big sign in front of the theater has an accurate critical sense. The sign says: "See Daniele Gaubert presented in the nude ... and with great frequency." That captures the essence of Metzger's art."note
- Christopher Columbus: The Discovery
"Columbus encounters friendly Indians, of which one — the chief's daughter — is positioned, bare-breasted, in the center of every composition. (I believe the chief's daughter is chosen by cup size.) Columbus sails back to Europe and the story is over. Another Columbus movie is promised us this fall.note It cannot be worse than this. I especially look forward to the chief's daughter."
- Easy Come, Easy Go
"Elvis looks about the same as he always has, with his chubby face, petulant scowl and absolutely characterless features. Here is one guy the wax museums will have no trouble getting right. He sings a lot, but I won't go into that. What I will say, however is that after two dozen movies he should have learned to talk by now."
- The First Time
"There are other moments of incredible inaccuracy. They almost outnumber the moments of dreadful inactivity. For what seems like hours, the three heroes sightsee at Niagara Falls while a lousy pop group sings dreary, square songs. Our attention is finally reduced to the lowest common denominator: Will anyone ever, ever make it with Jackie?"
"Flashdance is like a movie that won a free 90-minute shopping spree in the Hollywood supermarket. The director (Adrian Lynn, of the much better Foxes) and his collaborators race crazily down the aisles, grabbing a piece of Saturday Night Fever, a slice of Urban Cowboy, a quart of Marty and a 2-pound box of Archie Bunker's Place. The result is great sound and flashdance, signifying nothing."
- Friends (1971)
"There are probably no 14- or 15-year-olds in the entire world like these two; they seem to have been created specifically for the entertainment of subscribers to Teenage Nudist. The archness of their "innocence" toward sex is, finally, just plain dirty. And the worst thing is that the movie seems to like it that way."
- The Green Berets
"The Green Berets simply will not do as a film about the war in Vietnam. It is offensive not only to those who oppose American policy but even to those who support it. At this moment in our history, locked in the longest and one of the most controversial wars we have ever fought, what we certainly do not need is a movie depicting Vietnam in terms of cowboys and Indians. That is cruel and dishonest and unworthy of the thousands who have died there."
- Last Rites
"This is it — located at last and with only six weeks to spare — the worst film of 1988. Last Rites qualifies because it passes both acid tests: It is not only bad filmmaking, but it is offensive as well — offensive to my intelligence. Many films are bad. Only a few declare themselves the work of people deficient in taste, judgment, reason, tact, morality and common sense. Was there no one connected with this project who read the screenplay, considered the story, evaluated the proposed film and vomited?"
- The Life of David Gale
"The secrets of the plot must remain unrevealed by me, so that you can be offended by them yourself, but let it be said this movie is about as corrupt, intellectually bankrupt and morally dishonest as it could possibly be without David Gale actually hiring himself out as a joker at the court of Saddam Hussein."
- The Scarlet Letter
"... The film version imagines all of the events leading up to the adultery, photographed in the style of those 'Playboy's Fantasies' videos. It adds action: Indians, deadly fights, burning buildings, even the old trick where the condemned on the scaffold are saved by a violent interruption. And it converts the Rev. Dimmesdale from a scoundrel into a romantic and a weakling, perhaps because the times are not right for a movie about a fundamentalist hypocrite. It also gives us a red bird, which seems to represent the devil, and a shapely slave girl, who seems to represent the filmmakers' desire to introduce voyeurism into the big sex scenes."
- The Skulls
"The Skulls is one of the great howlers, a film that bears comparison, yes, with The Greek Tycoon or even The Scarlet Letter. It's so ludicrous in so many different ways it achieves a kind of forlorn grandeur. It's in a category by itself." Chicago Sun-Times review"I think The Skulls has been inspired by "Skull And Bones", a secret society at Yale. The film is set in New Haven, but it's sneaky and it never quite mentions the name of the college. they is a big "Y" on the wall in some shots, so maybe it's "Yazoo State". The villains are slimy, the hero is conflicted, and the Skulls are impossibly powerful. They hold a duel right there on their clubground. The Skulls goes so far over the top that this movie may a future at festivals of bad movies." Ebert & Roeper review
- Staying Alive
"Like the Rocky movies, Staying Alive ends with a big, visually explosive climax. It is so ludicrous it has to be seen to be believed. It's opening night on Broadway: Tony Manero not only dances like a hero, he survives a production number of fire, ice, smoke, flashing lights and laser beams, throws in an improvised solo — and ends triumphantly by holding Finola Hughes above his head with one arm, like a quarry he has tracked and killed. The musical he is allegedly starring in is something called "Satan's Alley," but it's so laughably gauche it should have been called "Springtime for Tony." Stallone makes little effort to convince us we're watching a real stage presentation; there are camera effects the audience could never see, montages that create impossible physical moves and — most inexplicable of all — a vocal track, even though nobody on stage is singing. It's a mess. Travolta's big dance number looks like a high-tech TV auto commercial that got sick to its stomach."
- Swing Kids
"The screenplay is so murky, indeed, that I was never sure whether the Kids hated the Hitler Youth lads because they were Nazis, or simply because they didn't swing. At a time when civilization was crashing down around their ears and Hitler was planning the Holocaust, it doesn't make them particularly noble that they'd rather listen to big bands than enlist in the military. Who wouldn't?"
- Taste Of Cherry
"A case can be made for the movie, but it would involve transforming the experience of viewing the film (which is excruciatingly boring) into something more interesting, a fable about life and death. Just as a bad novel can be made into a good movie, so can a boring movie be made into a fascinating movie review."
- The Usual Suspects
"Once again, my comprehension began to slip, and finally I wrote down: "To the degree that I do understand, I don't care." It was, however, somewhat reassuring at the end of the movie to discover that I had, after all, understood everything I was intended to understand. It was just that there was less to understand than the movie at first suggests."
Other Hated Films A-E
- The Million Dollar Duck
"There was a Stan Freberg record once about a rat that was put through this ordeal. Over drawbridges. Up ramps. Through doors. Past dead-ends. Across the moat. Up the ladder. And finally, finally...when the exhausted rodent reached his objective and punched the right button, do you know what came out of the little door for him to eat? One single chlorophyll gumball." note
- The 13th Warrior
"The 13th Warrior is another example of f/x run wild, lumbering from one expensive set-piece to the next without taking the time to tell a story that might make us care."
- Two Hundred Cigarettes
"I am reminded of Gene Siskel's bottom-line test for a film: "Is this movie more entertaining than a documentary of the same people having lunch?" Here they are contained by small ideas and arch dialogue, and lack the juice of life. Maybe another 200 cigarettes would have helped; coughing would be better than some of this dialogue."
- Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
"Carrey plays Ace as if he's being clocked on an Energy-O-Meter, and paid by the calories expended. He's a hyper goon who likes to screw his mouth into strange shapes while playing variations on the language. He shares his house with so many animals that he's like those zookeepers on late-night talk shows who always have pets crawling out of their collars. And he is simultaneously a spectacularly good and bad detective."
- Action Jackson
"Action Jackson is a movie where some of the parts are good, but none of them fit and a lot of them stink. The movie tries for so many different effects in the course of its endless 94 minutes that I walked out feeling dizzy. What can you make of a movie that has one scene where a cop outruns a taxi cab and another one where a villain shoots his wife in the stomach while kissing her, and then keeps on kissing? What’s going on here? Action Jackson plays like a cross between Superman and The Face Of Death, and that’s not intended as a compliment. Rarely have comedy and gruesome violence been combined in such a blithe mixture, as if the violence didn’t really count. I wonder which direction the rewrite moved in. Did they start with the comedy and then pencil in the sadism, or the other way around?"
- The Adventures of Ford Fairlane
"The Adventures of Ford Fairlane is a movie about a hero I didn't like, chasing villains I didn't hate, in a plot I didn't understand. It is also loud, ugly and mean-spirited. That makes it the ideal vehicle for Andrew "Dice" Clay, a comedian whose humor is based upon hating those not in the room for the entertainment of those present."
- Africa Addio
"Africa Addio is a brutal, dishonest, racist film. It slanders a continent and at the same time diminishes the human spirit. And it does so to entertain us. It claims to be a documentary of what has happened in Africa since colonialism ended. It shows us sadism and tells us we must not fear to see the truth — but the sadism itself has been staged for the cameras. It weeps for the slaughtered wild game of Africa — but who weeps for the game tortured before the cameras, and before our eyes?"
- Agnes of God
"The infuriating thing about Agnes of God is that it tells a story that makes such questions essential and then ignores them. This is a very badly confused movie. It takes the form of a murder investigation and then uses hints of the supernatural to avoid all the hard-edged questions raised by the murder. Then, just what it seems to be edging close to the fundamental supernatural questions it contains — it's back to the courtroom. The movies uses each half of its story to avoid dealing with the other.
- Alien: Resurrection
"The Alien movies always have expert production design. Alien Resurrection was directed by the French visionary Jean-Pierre Jeunet (City of Lost Children), who with his designers has placed it in what looks like a large, empty hangar filled with prefabricated steel warehouse parts. There is not a single shot in the movie to fill one with wonder—nothing like the abandoned planetary station in Aliens. Even the standard shots of vast spaceships, moving against a backdrop of stars, are murky here, and perfunctory."
- All I Want for Christmas
"All I want for Christmas is to never see All I Want for Christmas again. Here is a calculating holiday fable that is phony to its very bones - artificial, contrived, illogical, manipulative and stupid. It's one of those movies that insults your intelligence by assuming you have no memory, no common sense, and no knowledge of how people behave when they are not in the grip of an idiotic screenplay."
"The alligator, on the other hand, is smart enough to travel all over the city without being seen: In one shot, he's in a suburban swimming pool, and seconds later, he's midtown. You would not think it would be that easy for a 40-foot alligator to sneak around incognito, but then, New Yorkers are awfully blase. Meanwhile, I suggest a plan: Why not try flushing this movie down the toilet to see if it also grows into something big and fearsome?"
- American Anthem
"American Anthem is like a very bad Identikit sketch of Purple Rain, the previous movie by the same director. You can almost hear the police artist as he tries to make his drawing, based on half-witted descriptions of the big hit from the summer of 1984: Q. Who is the star? A. A major superstar in another field who has never acted before."
- The Amityville Horror note
"The problem with The Amityville Horror is that, in a very real sense, there's nothing there. We watch two hours of people being frightened and dismayed, and we ask ourselves... what for? If it's real, let it have happened to them. Too bad, Lutzes! If it's made up, make it more entertaining. If they can't make up their minds... why should we?" Chicago Sun-Times review.note "We have Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down on this show, and now we introduce a new position, (in echo voice) THE WAGGING FINGER OF SHAME (end echo voice), which is awarded to movies that the studios are too embarrassed to screen in advance for movie critics. The first (in echo voice again) WAGGING FINGER OF SHAME (end echo voice again) winner is The Amityville Horror which opens this weekend without benefit of reviews, maybe because the studio knows something about this movie that they don't want you to know." Ebert & Roeper review. note
- Anatomy of Hell
"... But sometimes [Catherine Breillat] is just plain goofy, as in Anatomy of Hell, which plays like porn dubbed by bitter deconstructionist theoreticians."
"Believe me, I know how to believe stuff when it happens in the movies. I believe bicycles can fly. I believe sharks can eat boats. I even believe pigs can talk. But I do not believe Assassins, because this movie is filled with such preposterous impossibilities that Forrest Gump could have improved it with a quick rewrite."
- The Babe
"Spending these 115 minutes with the Babe is a little like being jammed into the window seat on a long-distance bus, next to a big guy with beer and cigars on his breath and nothing to talk about but his next meal and his last broad. Babe Ruth comes across as a pathetic orphan lacking in all social graces, who grew up into a self-destructive bore and hit a lot of home runs in the process. And then, in the end, he never got the message, and almost destroyed the myth that had grown up around him."
- Bad Boys II
"... Bad Boys II is a bloated, unpleasant assembly-line extrusion in which there are a lot of chases and a lot of killings and explosions. ... The movie has a carelessness that shows a contempt for the audience. Consider a sequence in which two helicopters pursue a speedboat near Miami. I was never sure who was in the speedboat, or why it was fleeing. Maybe I missed something, but it didn't make much difference. Eventually the cops spray the boat with automatic weapons, the engine dies, and we hear "the boat is dead in the water." End of scene. As nearly as I can tell, the only reason this scene is in the movie is so that we can watch two helicopters chasing a speedboat. In a movie that is painfully long at 146 minutes, why is this scene taking up our time?''"
- Bad Girls
"What a good idea to make a Western about four tough women. And what a sad movie. Bad Girls is like Young Guns in drag, a B-minus Western in which the only novelty is supplied by the quickly exhausted surprise of finding cowgirls instead of cowboys. Nothing in the plot shows the slightest invention. After Silverado, Unforgiven and Tombstone, here's a throwback to the assembly line."
"Some commentators will no doubt seize upon BASEketball as further evidence of the deterioration of standards in our society. They will attack it as vulgar, offensive, disgusting, etc. That's not what bothers me. I think the movie is evidence of deteriorating comic standards in our society. It's not very funny and tries to buy laughs with puerile shocks. My theory: Those who find it funny haven't advanced a whole lot from the sneaky-fart-noise evolutionary stage."
- Basic Instinct 2
"Basic Instinct 2 resembles its heroine: It gets off by living dangerously. Here is a movie so outrageous and preposterous it is either (a) suicidal or (b) throbbing with a horrible fascination. I lean toward (b). It's a lot of things, but boring is not one of them. I cannot recommend the movie, but ... why the hell can't I? Just because it's godawful? What kind of reason is that for staying away from a movie? Godawful and boring, that would be a reason." note
- Battle of the Amazons
"One thing is for sure: No movie in the last 20 years has been dubbed more ineptly. No, not even Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster. In one scene, a man has his head split open with a ferocious blow from a sword. On the screen we see his lips opening in an anguished scream. On the soundtrack we hear him say, in English: 'Oh, no!' It is possible to respect his opinion while questioning his sincerity. Another problem in the movie is that the actors who were hired to dub it into English have a hard time not laughing. There was one speech that went something like: 'Zeno, surely you agree that no matter what Ilio, Antiope, Medio, Eraglia and Sinade say, Valeria is right!' Apart from the problems already enumerated above, an additional difficulty is that most of the pretty girls in the movie are Amazons. I had my own notions about why the men of her village would not fight to resist capture by the Amazons, but I kept them from Valeria. It's hard to be sure exactly when the movie takes place; there are spears and bows and arrows and swords, which suggests early times, but then again all of the women on both sides are fresh from the hair dryer. They also exhibit impressive technical advances in the art of brassiere-design."
- Behind Enemy Lines
"The premiere of Behind Enemy Lines was held aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. I wonder if it played as a comedy. Its hero is so reckless and its villains so incompetent that it's a showdown between a man begging to be shot, and an enemy that can't hit the side of a Bos-nian barn. This is not the story of a fugitive trying to sneak through enemy terrain and be rescued, but of a movie character magically transported from one photo opportunity to another." Chicago Sun-Times review"Behind Enemy Lines recycles two of the most beloved cliches of bad war movies. Cliche No. 1: The immature hot dog showoff turns into a hero when the chips are down. Cliche No. 2: The enemy can fire thousands of rounds of machine gun fire, rifle fire, tank fire, and even missiles at the guy and never hit him, but when he fires back, well, he never misses.... Behind Enemy Lines is spectacularly unconvincing." Ebert & Roeper review
- The Beverly Hillbillies
"Imagine the dumbest half-hour sitcom you've ever seen, spin it out to 93 minutes by making it even more thin and shallow, and you have this movie. It's appalling. It's not even really a good version of whatever it was that made the TV series appealing. And it certainly doesn't add the kind of spin and quality we expect when we go to the movies."
- Beverly Hills Cop II
"For what producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer probably paid for the screenplay for this movie, they should have been able to buy a new one. The plot of Cop II is recycled right out of every other brainless, routine, modern, high-tech crime picture. It's really not even a plot; it's a series of standard sequences, involving The Chase, The Powerful Men of Evil, The Sexy Bitch-Goddess, The Hit Men and The Shootout. (The Chase involves a cement truck, and it proves definitively that cement trucks do not work very well in chases)."
- The Beyond
"The Beyond opens in 'Louisiana 1927,' and has certain shots obviously filmed in New Orleans, but other locations are possibly Italian, as was (probably) the sign painter who created the big 'DO NOT ENTRY' sign for a hospital scene. It's the kind of movie that alternates stupefyingly lame dialogue with special effects scenes in which quicklime dissolves corpses and tarantulas eat lips and eyeballs. ... In a film filled with bad dialogue, it is hard to choose the most quotable line, but I think it may occur in Liza's conversations with Martin, the architect hired to renovate the hotel. 'You have carte blanche,' she tells him, 'but not a blank check!' The movie is being revived around the country for midnight cult showings. Midnight is not late enough."
- Beyond The Poseidon Adventure
"But what did we really, sincerely, expect anyway, from a movie in which Karl Malden plays a character named 'Wilbur,' and Slim Pickens plays a character named 'Tex'? If you can think of a single line of dialog that Slim Pickens, as 'Tex,' wouldn't say in Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, please do not miss this movie, which will be filled with amazements and startling revelations."
- Big Daddy
"Big Daddy is a film about a seriously disturbed slacker who adopts a 5-year-old and tutors him in cynicism, cruel practical jokes and antisocial behavior. It's not every film where an adult role model throws himself in front of a moving car just to cheer the kid up. "Man, this Yoo-Hoo is good!" the adult tells the tyke. "You know what else is good? Smoking dope!" On the way down in the elevator after the Big Daddy screening, a fellow critic speculated that the line about weed was intended not as a suggestion, but as a feeler: The hero was subtly trying to find out if the kid and his friends were into drugs. I submit that so few 5-year-old are into drugs that it's not a problem, and that some older kids in the audience will not interpret the line as a subtle feeler."
- Blade: Trinity
"It lacks the sharp narrative line and crisp comic-book clarity of the earlier films, and descends too easily into shapeless fight scenes that are chopped into so many cuts that they lack all form or rhythm."
- Blame It On Rio
"Blame It on Rio, however, has the mind of a 1940s bongo comedy and the heart of a porno film. It's really unsettling to see how casually this movie takes a serious situation. A disturbed girl is using sex to play mind games with a middle-aged man, and the movie get its yuks with slapstick scenes where one guy goes out the window when the other guy comes in the door. What's shocking is how many first-rate talents are associated with this sleaze. The director is Stanley Donen, of Singin' in the Rain. The man having the affair is Michael Caine, one of my favorite actors. His friend (the father of the girl) is Joseph Bologna. The girl is played by a zaftig model named Michelle Johnson, who is set up as the new Bo Derek."
- The Blue Iguana
"I have no idea why this movie was made. I have no notions of what the actors in it thought they were doing. I have no clues as to whether the writer-director, John Lafia, thought it was funny. I do not know why Paramount released it. I do know that they say if an iguana loses its tail, it can grow another one. I do not know, however, if that is true. Wouldn't you think that in a movie named The Blue Iguana, in which nothing of interest happens for 90 minutes, they'd at least answer a few fundamental questions about iguanas? But the only iguana in this movie is a cigarette lighter."
- Blue Velvet
"Blue Velvet contains scenes of such raw emotional energy that it's easy to understand why some critics have hailed it as a masterpiece. A film this painful and wounding has to be given special consideration. And yet those very scenes of stark sexual despair are the tipoff to what's wrong with the movie. They're so strong that they deserve to be in a movie that is sincere, honest and true. But Blue Velvet surrounds them with a story that's marred by sophomoric satire and cheap shots. The director is either denying the strength of his material or trying to defuse it by pretending it's all part of a campy in-joke....The sexual material in Blue Velvet is so disturbing, and the performance by [Isabella] Rosellini is so convincing and courageous, that it demands a movie that deserves it. American movies have been using satire for years to take the edge off sex and violence. Occasionally, perhaps sex and violence should be treated with the seriousness they deserve. Given the power of the darker scenes in this movie, we're all the more frustrated that the director is unwilling to follow through to the consequences of his insights."
- Boat Trip
"Boat Trip arrives preceded by publicity saying many homosexuals have been outraged by the film. Now that it's in theaters, everybody else has a chance to join them. Not that the film is outrageous. That would be asking too much. It is dim-witted, unfunny, too shallow to be offensive, and way too conventional to use all of those people standing around in the background wearing leather and chains and waiting hopefully for their cues. This is a movie made for nobody, about nothing."
"Let's face it. Nobody is going to Bolero for the plot anyway. They're going for the Good Parts. There are two Good Parts, not counting her naked ride on horseback, which was the only scene in the movie that had me wondering how she did it. The real future of Bolero is in home cassette rentals, where your fast forward and instant replay controls will supply the editing job the movie so desperately needs."
- Born Yesterday (1993)
"Sometimes you're watching a movie and you start to sense the real feelings of the people on the screen. Not how their characters feel - how they feel. Watching Born Yesterday, I picked up an enormous weariness, a dispirited approach to the material, as if everyone had lost heart. This is supposed to be snappy material, and it comes across gloomy."
- The Bounty Hunter
"I stared with glazed eyes at The Bounty Hunter. Here is a film with no need to exist. Among its sins is the misuse of Jennifer Aniston, who can be and has been very funny, but not in dreck like this. Lacking any degree of character development, it handcuffs her to a plot of exhausted action comedy cliches — and also to a car door and a bed."
- Breaking The Rules
"The movie has to be seen to be believed. It is a long, painful lapse of taste, tone, and ordinary human feeling. Perhaps it was made by beings from another planet, who were able to watch our television in order to absorb key concepts such as cars, sex, leukaemia and casinos, but formed an imperfect view of how to fit them together."
- The Brown Bunny note
"The audience was loud and scornful in its dislike for the movie; hundreds walked out, and many of those who remained only stayed because they wanted to boo. Imagine, I wrote, a film so unendurably boring that when the hero changes into a clean shirt, there is applause. The panel of critics convened by Screen International, the British trade paper, gave the movie the lowest rating in the history of their annual voting." note
- The Bucket List
"The Bucket List is a movie about two old codgers who are nothing like people, both suffering from cancer that is nothing like cancer, and setting off on adventures that are nothing like possible. I urgently advise hospitals: Do not make the DVD available to your patients; there may be an outbreak of bedpans thrown at TV screens."
"Does Hollywood think Whoopi Goldberg recently arrived here from another planet? Do they think she has one of those invisible protective shields around her, like in the old toothpaste commercials? Do they respond at all to her warmth, her energy, her charisma? Sure, she looks a little funny, but why isn't she allowed to have normal relationships in the movies? Why is she always packaged as the weirdo from Planet X? The occasion for these questions is 'Burglar,' a witless, hapless exercise in the wrong way to package Goldberg. This is a woman who is original. Who is talented. Who has a special relationship with the motion picture comedy. It is criminal to put her into brain-damaged, assembly-line thrillers."
- Cabin Fever
"If some of this material had been harnessed and channeled into a disciplined screenplay with a goal in mind, the movie might have worked. But the director and co-author, Eli Roth, is too clever for his own good, and impatiently switches among genres, tones and intentions. There are truly horrible scenes (guy finds corpse in reservoir, falls onto it), over-the-top horrible scenes (dogs have eaten skin off good girl's face, but she is still alive), and just plain inexplicable scenes (Dennis, the little boy at the general store, bites people). By the end, we've lost all interest. The movie adds up to a few good ideas and a lot of bad ones, wandering around in search of an organizing principle."
- The Cannonball Run
"The Cannonball Run is an abdication of artistic responsibility at the lowest possible level of ambition. In other words, they didn't even care enough to make a good lousy movie. Cannonball was probably always intended as junk, as an easy exploitation picture. But it's possible to bring some sense of style and humor even to grade-zilch material. This movie doesn't even seem to be trying.""This is the movie equivalent to phoning it in. You can't blame Sinatra. Everybody else is walking through this movie, so why shouldn't he? Refusing to appear in a scene with your fellow actors is no worse than agreeing to appear in a scene that nobody has bothered to write. Cannonball Run II is one of the laziest insults to the intelligence of moviegoers that I can remember. Sheer arrogance made this picture."
- Can't Buy Me Love
"Can't Buy Me Love makes American teenagers look like stupid and materialistic twits. That would be all right if the movie were aware of itself and knew what it was doing - if it were a satirical comment on our society. But this movie is as naive as the day is long. It doesn't have a thought in its head and probably no notion of the corruption at its core."
- Cecil B. Demented
"Too much of the movie feels like the kind of film where you're supposed to say, Look! There's . . . and fill in the name of a faded TV personality. Patricia Hearst, who appeared in [John] Waters' funny Cry-Baby, is back, for example, to add ironic weight to a story about a kidnapper who identifies with her captors. How entertaining is that really supposed to be? Waters has always embraced a tacky design look in his films, and here a lot of the sets seem decorated by stuff everybody brought from home. Old movie posters are plastered on the walls, the cult hangs around in what looks like a rec room, and there are movie in-jokes everywhere. (Cult members have the names of their favorite directors tattooed on their arms.) Cecil also tells us, "I don't believe in phony life-affirming endings." He sure doesn't. The ending of Cecil B. Demented may be phony, but it's not life-affirming. One wonders if the script simply says: Everyone runs around like crazy."
- Charlie's Angels
- Christmas with the Kranks
"Christmas, some of my older readers may recall, was once a religious holiday. Not in this movie. Not a single crucifix, not a single creche, not a single mention of the J-name. It's not that I want Christmas With the Kranks to get all religious, but that I think it's secular as a copout, to avoid any implication of religious intolerance. No matter what your beliefs or lack of them, you can celebrate Christmas in this neighborhood, because it's not about beliefs, it's about a shopping season."
"A movie like this is a deep mystery. It asks the question: What went wrong? Clifford is not bad on the acting, directing or even writing levels. It fails on a deeper level still, the level of the underlying conception. Something about the material itself is profoundly not funny. Irredeemably not funny, so that it doesn't matter what the actors do, because they are in a movie that should never have been made." Chicago Sun-Times review"Clifford is like a movie from Mars. This is the kind of movie where you sit there simply stupefied. The cast contains some of my favorite actors, and yet, nothing works, and I wonder if the central mistake might not have been the casting of Martin Short as the little boy. He looks so weird, there's never a moment where you can stop gawking at it long enough for the character to gather up any momentum. Now we saw this movie in a theater with maybe 150 people. Two people laughed once apiece. One of them was me, and I think the other one laughed because I have an infectious laugh. I found one gag in this movie, and 148 other people found nothing." Siskel & Ebert review
- Closet Land
"All it requires to make Closet Land complete is a pious screen note at the end of this story, assuring us that the torture of political prisoners continues all over the world today. The movie does not disappoint: The slogan appears right on schedule."
- Cold Creek Manor
"Cold Creek Manor was directed by Mike Figgis, a superb director of drama (Leaving Las Vegas), digital experimentation (Timecode), adaptations of the classics (Miss Julie) and atmospheric film noir (Stormy Monday). But he has made a thriller that thrills us only if we abandon all common sense. Of course preposterous things happen in all thrillers, but there must be at least a gesture in the direction of plausibility, or we lose patience. When evil Dale Massie just stands there in the woods and doesn't push Cooper Tilson down the well, he stops being a killer and becomes an excuse for the movie to toy with us — and it's always better when a thriller toys with the victims instead of the audience."
- Color of Night
"Color of Night approaches badness from so many directions that one really must admire its imagination. Combining all the worst ingredients of an Agatha Christie whodunit and a sex-crazed slasher film, it ends in a frenzy of recycled thriller elements, with a chase scene, a showdown in an echoing warehouse, and not one but two cliches from Ebert's Little Movie Glossary: The Talking Killer and the Climbing Villain. I am compelled to admit that the use of the high-powered industrial staple gun is original." note
"Now we have Coneheads, the movie, which proves that if you're going to stretch a sketch to feature length (even if only to barely 90 minutes) it's going to take more than pointy heads to make it funny. This is a dismal, dreary and fairly desperate movie, in which the actors try very hard but are unable to overcome an uninspired screenplay."
- Cool World
"The DJ who was hosting the radio station's free preview of Cool World leaped onto the stage and promised the audience: "If you liked Roger Rabbit, you'll love Cool World!" He was wrong, but you can't blame him - he hadn't seen the movie. I have, and I will now promise you that if you liked Roger Rabbit, quit while you're ahead."
- Corky Romano
"Corky Romano is like a dead zone of comedy. The concept is exhausted, the ideas are tired, the physical gags are routine, the story is labored, the actors look like they can barely contain their doubts about the project."
- Crossroads (2002)
"I went to Crossroads expecting a glitzy bimbofest and got the bimbos but not the fest." Chicago Sun-Times review"What was Britney Spears thinking when greenlighted this project? That it would be sincere and dramatic and showcase her serious acting skills? Won't audiences basically be expecting an upbeat comedy with a lot of music? I think so. The stories involving Britney's long lost mom and Zoe's indifferent fiancee and Taryn's pregnancy all end sadly. And I'm thinking, "Give us a break! We're only 18 and already, life is a dismal soap opera?" And since the movie's primary audience will be younger kids, do we really need Date Rape, drinking, trying to lose your virginity, miscarriages, and running away from home? Crossroads was enough to make me nostalgic for The Spice Girls!" Ebert & Roeper review.
- D3: The Mighty Ducks
"D3: The Mighty Ducks is the first movie title I've seen that correctly predicts its grade on Entertainment Weekly's movie report card: a D. The Mighty Ducks, Minnesota's underdog kid hockey team, are back again, in a third version of more or less the same story: Evil, petty, vindictive, mean-spirited, cheating, lying snobs try to stop them, but the Ducks, after first dealing with cockiness, infighting, pride, anger and a new coach, redeem themselves in the big match."
- Dangerously Close
"At a guess, I'd say the director of Dangerously Close devoted a great deal of time and thought to how his movie looked, and almost no time at all to what, or who, it was about. This is a technical exercise, a classroom film designed to show that the maker can manipulate the tools of his trade to his own satisfaction. It is arrogant in its indifference to the audience. There is no evidence that Dangerously Close was intended to communicate anything to anybody. ... What always amazes me about movies like Dangerously Close is that they don't believe high school kids are young. The characters look and act like men in their 20s. The movie has a view of adolescence that is both stupid and irrelevant. Look at a movie like Lucas, which remembers what it was really like to be 13 or 14 or 15, and then go look at Dangerously Close, and you'll think you stumbled into a reunion of Calvin Klein underwear models."
- Date with an Angel
"Why can't the movies really extend themselves and give us something more than clouds, nightgowns and recycled plots about how dumb everyone is on earth? Just this month we have had one vision of heaven, in Made in Heaven, and two visitors from heaven, Shelley Long in Hello Again and now Emmanuelle Beart in Date With an Angel. Taken together, these three movies have convinced me I would rather spend the afterlife on my own. ... This movie ought to be shot. It wastes not only the idea of the angel, but also the human presence of Cates, a bright and quick actress who is required to play a simpering bimbo. How come the filmmakers didn't have the wit to allow Cates to join her boyfriend in getting to know the angel, instead of making her into an idiotic shrew? Imagine the girl-talk she could have had with somebody her own age from heaven."
- Dear God
"There is a new book out titled Reel Justice, which examines many famous movies on the basis of how accurate their legal scenes are. I commend Dear God to them, as an example of the same fallacy committed by A Time to Kill. This is the verdict brought in according to the requirements of the plot, rather than the rules of the law. If a defendant breaks the law, and admits he did it, and it is generally agreed that he did it, then he cannot be found “not guilty.” He can be given a light sentence, a tap on the wrist, or fined $1."
- Death Before Dishonor
"Death Before Dishonor is a fairly pure example of the Ordinary Day/Narrowed Eyes/Far-Off Rattle/Rum-Dum-a-Dum Movie. There isn't a lick of original thinking in it. The plot: Americans are kidnapped and brave marines blast their way in and free them from their heathen Arab kidnappers. The movie's dramatic high point is when Brian Keith takes an electric drill right through the back of his hand and still won't sign the phony confession. Courage? Maybe. Or maybe it just didn't hurt much. Seconds later, he's barking out orders, and in later scenes he seems to have regained the use of the maimed hand." Chicago Sun-Times review"Now in this first scene that we're gonna look at, Brian Keith is a tough American colonel who is about to be kidnapped. And as you watch this scene, remember what I call "The Rule Of The Suspicious Pedestrian." Now this is the rule that states that in a thriller, whenever the hero's car hits a person clothed in concealing female garments who walks directly in front of the car, that person is not a female and is not dead. I forgot to mention that in order to get on that road in the first place, they had to take a detour. And Rule No. 2 states, "All detours are set up by terrorists."" Siskel & Ebert review
- Death Race (2008 remake)
"Hitchcock said a movie should play the audience like a piano. Death Race played me like a drum. It is an assault on all the senses, including common. Walking out, I had the impression I had just seen the video game and was still waiting for the movie."
- Death Race 2000
"... This is a film about a futuristic cross-country race in which the winner is determined, not merely by his speed, but also by the number of pedestrians he kills. You get 100 points for someone in a wheelchair, 70 points for the aged, 50 points for kids and so on. The killings are depicted in the most graphic way possible. Giant swords on the fronts of the cars skewer victims. Others are run over several times. ... Well, folks, the theater was up for grabs. The audience was at least half small children, and they loved it. They'd never seen anything so funny, I guess, and I was torn between walking out immediately and staying to witness a spectacle more dismaying than anything on the screen: the way small children were digging gratuitous bloodshed."
- Death to Smoochy
"Only enormously talented people could have made Death to Smoochy. Those with lesser gifts would have lacked the nerve to make something so bad, so miscalculated, so lacking any connection with any possible audience. To make a film this awful, you have to have enormous ambition and confidence, and dream big dreams."
- Death Wish II
"Although the original Death Wish had its detractors, it was an effective movie that spoke directly to the law-and-order mentality of the Nixon-Ford era. It was directed with a nice slick polish by Michael Winner, and, on its own terms, it worked. Death Wish II is a disaster by comparison. It has the same director, Winner, but he directs the dialogue scenes as if the actors' shoes were nailed to the floor....What’s most shocking about Death Wish II is the lack of artistry and skill in the filmmaking. The movie is underwritten and desperately underplotted, so that its witless action scenes alternate with lobotomized dialogue passages. The movie doesn't contain an ounce of life. It slinks onto the screen and squirms for a while, and is over."
"The character traits of the "D.E.B.S." are only slightly more useful than the color-coded uniforms of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In such movies, taxonomy is personality; once you've got the label straight, you know all you're ever going to know about the character. In addition to Amy, who is a lesbian, we meet Max (Meagan Good), who is black, Janet (Jill Ritchie), who is white, and Dominique (Devon Aoki), who corners the market on character attributes by being an Asian with a French accent who smokes all the time. I would not identify the characters by race, but the movie leaves us with no other way to differentiate them."
- Destiny Turns On The Radio
"Destiny Turns on the Radio, directed by Jack Baran and written by Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone, moves at a lugubrious pace, is neither funny nor satirical, does not create any interest in its characters and takes seriously just those parts it should be laughing at - the Tarantino character, for example, or the business of how Lucille got pregnant in a dream. It's one of those movies where everybody must have spent a lot of time convincing themselves that the material would work if you looked at it in the right way, but nobody ever knew exactly what the right way was."
- Deuce Bigalow Male Gigolo
"The kind of picture those View n' Brew theaters were made for, as long as you don't View."
- Did You Hear About the Morgans?
"What possible reason was there for anyone to make Did You Hear About the Morgans? Or should I say 'remake,' because this movie has been made and over and over again, and oh, so much better."
- Dirty Love
"Dirty Love wasn't written and directed, it was committed. Here is a film so pitiful, it doesn't rise to the level of badness. It is hopelessly incompetent. It stars and was scripted by Jenny McCarthy, the cheerfully sexy model who, judging by this film, is fearless, plucky and completely lacking in common sense or any instinct for self-preservation." note
- Domestic Disturbance
"The physical details are so unlikely they seem contrived even in a thriller."
"The movie has been "inspired by" the famous video game. No, I haven't played it, and I never will, but I know how it feels not to play it, because I've seen the movie. Doom is like some kid came over and is using your computer and won't let you play." note Chicago Sun-Times review"Doom is certainly what anybody is gonna face who goes to see this movie." Ebert & Roeper review
- The Doom Generation
"Note carefully that I do not object to the content of his movie, but to the attitude. Content is neutral until shaped by approach and style. This is a road picture about Amy and Jordan, young druggies who get involved with a drifter named Xavier who challenges their ideas about sex, both gay and straight, while involving them on a blood-soaked cross-country odyssey. The movie opens as the drifter "inadvertently" (Araki's word, in the press kit) blows off the head of a Korean convenience store owner. The head lands in the hot dog relish and keeps right on screaming. Ho, ho."
- Double Take
"Double Take is the kind of double-triple-reverse movie that can drive you nuts because you can't count on anything in the plot. Characters, motivations and true identities change from scene to scene at the whim of the screenplay. Finally you tire of trying to follow the story. You can only get the rug jerked out from under you so many times before you realize the movie has the attention span of a gnat and thinks you do, too." Chicago Sun-Times review"You know, I'm gonna make a little mental note here that Double Take is already on my list of the worst movies of 2001. note This movie is a complete disaster area, and Eddie Griffin, who I'm sure is a very nice guy, and maybe even a very talented guy in real life, in this movie, his performance comes across as the "fingernails on the blackboard" syndrome. I got to the point where I didn't want to see him on the screen again. He was so obnoxious and so tiresome, and the complete movie is a disaster zone!" Ebert & Roeper review
- Dream A Little Dream
"To cover up the chaos on the screen, the movie adds the most obnoxious sound track in a long time - a group of rock songs that all sound exactly the same, even though they are played loudly. Dream a Little Dream is an aggressively unwatchable movie."
"When the filmmakers are capable of the first half of Dreamcatcher, what came over them in the second half? What inspired their descent into the absurd? On the evidence here, we can say what we already knew: Lawrence Kasdan is a wonderful director of personal dramas. When it comes to Crap Weasels, his heart just doesn't seem to be in it."
- Dungeons & Dragons
"The plot does not defy description, but it discourages it. Imagine a kingdom that looks half the time like a towering fantasy world of spires and turrets, castles and drawbridges—and the other half like everyone is standing around in the wooded area behind Sam's Club on the interstate. Imagine some characters who seem ripped from the pages of action comics, and other characters who look like their readers. Imagine arch, elevated Medievalese alternating with contemporary slang. The disconnects are so strange that with a little more effort, they could have become a style."
"This sounds like a sensational scenario, but, alas, almost everything in between is recycled out of lightweight sports-movie cliches, and the movie never captures the electricity and excitement of the real NBA."
"Elektra plays like a collision between leftover bits and pieces of Marvel superhero stories. It can't decide what tone to strike. It goes for satire by giving its heroine an agent who suggests mutual funds for her murder-for-hire fees, and sends her a fruit basket before her next killing. And then it goes for melancholy by making Elektra a lonely, unfulfilled overachiever who was bullied as a child and suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. It goes for cheap sentiment by having her bond with a 12-year-old girl, and then ... but see for yourself. The movie's a muddle in search of a rationale."
- Empire Records
"Empire Records is a microcosm movie, one of those films where in a single day, every conceivable thing happens to every conceivable character, and at the end of the day, they are all a lot wiser, as the endless list of music credits scroll up the screen."
"Enough is a nasty item masquerading as a feminist revenge picture. It's a step or two above I Spit on Your Grave, but uses the same structure, in which a man victimizes a woman for the first half of the film, and then the woman turns the tables in an extended sequence of graphic violence. It's surprising to see a director like Michael Apted and an actress like Jennifer Lopez associated with such tacky material."
- Erik the Viking
"Every once in a while a movie comes along that makes me feel like a human dialysis machine. The film goes into my mind, which removes its impurities, and then it evaporates into thin air. Erik the Viking is a movie like that, an utterly worthless exercise in waste and wretched excess, uninformed by the slightest spark of humor, wit or coherence."
- Even Cowgirls Get The Blues
"Even Cowgirls Get the Blues had its world premiere in September 1993 at the Toronto Film Festival. As one of the witnesses to that occasion, I remember the hush that descended upon the theater during the screening; it was not so much an absence of noise as the palpable presence of stunned silence. The movie was set to open shortly after, but was pulled by its distributor for "more editing." No amount of editing seems to have helped. This is one of the wide open spaces of recent cinema."
- The Evening Star
"The Evening Star is a completely unconvincing sequel to Terms of Endearment. It tells the story of the later years of Aurora Greenway (Shirley MacLaine), but fails to find much in them worth making a movie about. It shows every evidence, however, of having closely scrutinized the earlier film for the secret of its success. The best scenes in "Terms" involved the death of Aurora's daughter Emma, unforgettably played by Debra Winger. Therefore, The Evening Star has no less than three deaths. You know you're in trouble when the most upbeat scene in a comedy is the scattering of the ashes."
- Exit to Eden
"It's supposed to be a kinky sex comedy, but it keeps getting distracted. On the first page of my notes, I wrote "Starts slow." On the second page, I wrote "Boring." On the third page, I wrote "Endless!" On the fourth page, I wrote: "Bite-size Shredded Wheat, skim milk, cantaloupe, frozen peas, toilet paper, salad stuff, pick up laundry." The movie is based on a novel by Anne Rice, who is said to know a lot about bizarre sexual practices. Either she learned it all after writing this book, or the director, Garry Marshall, just didn't have his heart in it. The movie is not only dumb and illconstructed, but tragically miscast. The actors look so uncomfortable they could be experiencing alarming intestinal symptoms."
- The Exterminator
"The Exterminator exists primarily to show burnings, shootings, gougings, grindings, and beheadings. It is a small, unclean exercise in shame."
Other Hated Films F-P
- Fantastic Four (2005)
- Fathers' Day
"The people connected with this movie are among the brighter talents in Hollywood. Ivan Reitman is the director; Ganz and Mandel have a great track record; Williams and Crystal are so good they could improvise a better movie than this. Here's a promising starting point: Two comics get stuck in doomed remake of a French comedy and try to fight their way free."
"Where to start with this movie? Where to end? Even more to the point, in which order to show the reels? Firewalker is a free-form anthology of familiar images from the works of Steven Spielberg, subjected to a new process that we could call discolorization. All of the style and magic are gone, leaving only the booby-trapped temples, the steaming jungle and such lines as, if I remember correctly, "Witch, woman, harlot - I've been called them all!" Firewalker borrows its closing images from the Indiana Jones movies, but its press notes optimistically claim the movie is "in the tradition" of Romancing the Stone. In literature, it's called plagiarism. In the movies, it's homage.
- The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas
"The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas has dinosaurs that lumber along crushing everything in their path. The movie's screenplay works sort of the same way. Think of every possible pun involving stones, rocks and prehistoric times, and link them to a pea-brained story that creaks and groans on its laborious march through unspeakably obvious, labored and idiotic humor."
"Flubber the movie seems to be made out of anti-flubber; you drop it, and it stays on the floor. Although the movie may appeal to kids in the lower grades, it's pretty slow, flat and dumb."
"Footloose is a seriously confused movie that tries to do three things, and does all of them badly. It wants to tell the story of a conflict in town, it wants to introduce some flashy teenage characters, and part of the time it wants to be a music video. It's possible that no movie with this many agendas can be good; maybe somebody should have decided, early on, exactly what the movie was supposed to be about."
- For Love Of The Game
"The ending is routine: false crisis, false dawn, real crisis, real dawn. Only a logician would wonder why two people meet in a place where neither one would have the slightest reason to be. Thinking back through the movie, I cannot recall a single thing either character said that was worth hearing in its own right, apart from the requirements of the plot. No, wait: He asks her, "What if my face was all scraped off and I was basically disfigured and had no arms and legs and no [something else, can't read my handwriting]. Would you still love me?" And she replies, "No. But we could still be friends."
- Forces Of Nature
"So I'm sitting there, looking in disbelief at the ending of Forces of Nature, and asking myself—if this is how the movie ends, then what was it about? We spend two endless hours slogging through a series of natural and man-made disasters with Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck, and then ... that's it? Bronwen Hughes' Forces of Nature is a romantic shaggy dog story, a movie that leads us down the garden path of romance, only to abandon us by the compost heap of uplifting endings. And it's not even clever enough to give us the right happy ending. It gives us the wrong happy ending."
- Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
No Chicago Sun-Times review of this film is known to exist, but it's clear Roger Ebert severely disliked this movie..."Yeah, real great. Jason, you can't see him, you can't hear him, he hardly even breathes, he's the latest word in leading men from the geniuses at Paramount Pictures. You get the idea. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is ninety minutes of teenagers being strangled, stabbed, impaled, chopped up, and mutilated. That's all this movie is, is just mindless bloody violence. And just think of the message this film offers to its teenage audience: The world is a totally evil place, this movie says. It'll kill ya, it doesn't matter what your dreams and hopes and ambitions are, it doesn't matter if you have a new boyfriend or a new girlfriend, or you've got plans for the future. You can forget all those plans, because you're gonna wind up dead. There is literally nothing else in this movie, and the sickest thing is, this isn't the final chapter. That's just an advertising gimmick. The ending clearly sets up a sequel, and what I wanna know is: I wonder if they're gonna be heartless and cynical enough to make a sequel, because why not? They've already taken the bucket to the cesspool four times for this sludge. I think the people that made this movie ought to be ashamed of themselves, and that's what I think, Gene [Siskel]." Siskel & Ebert review
- Frogs for Snakes
"Seeing the cast of familiar actors (not only Hershey and Coltrane, but also Harry Hamlin, Ian Hart, Debi Mazar, John Leguizamo and Ron Perlman), I was reminded of Mad Dog Time (1996), another movie in which well-known actors engaged in laughable dialogue while shooting one another. Of that one, I wrote: " Mad Dog Time is the first movie I have seen that does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for the same length of time." Now comes Frogs for Snakes, the first movie I have seen that does not improve on the sight of Mad Dog Time."
- Frozen Assets
"This movie is seriously bad, but what puzzles me is its tone. This is essentially a children's movie with a dirty mind. No adult could possibly enjoy a single frame of the film - it's pitched at the level of a knock-knock joke - and yet what child could enjoy, or understand, all the double entendres about sperm, and what goes into its production? This movie, as nearly as I can tell, was not made with any possible audience in mind." Chicago Sun-Times review"Not even the worst comedy ever made, just the worst movie ever made, I don't know. You know the theory of reincarnation, where the dues we pay in this lifetime we may get to collect in another lifetime? For having seen this movie, I want months and months and months in a beautiful valley with honey and nectar and zephyr-like breezes. I mean, years, perhaps, appropriate. And a big car!" Siskel & Ebert review note
- Funny About Love
"The screenplay is "based on an article by Bob Greene," the credits say, and Greene, who was sitting near me in the screening, did allow that he had once written a piece for Esquire about giving a speech at a sorority convention. In the movie, Gene Wilder does indeed give a speech at a sorority convention (that's where he meets Masterson), but I am at a loss to understand how anything else in this movie could have been inspired by anything. Let's put it this way. I would have had a better time if the 101 minutes had been devoted to the cast reading aloud from one of Greene's books." Chicago Sun-Times review"Here is a film that has a genius for awkward scenes, dopey dialogue, and cinema so shameless, it is actually offensive." Siskel & Ebert review
"Gator is yet another Good Ol' Movie, and not, I fear, the summer's last. It stars that archetypal Good Ol' Boy himself, Burt Reynolds, along with Lauren Hutton, who is a plenty good enough Good Ol' Girl for me, and Jack Weston, who plays a Good Ol' New York cop. If only it had a Good Ol' Plot worth a damn, it might have even been a halfway tolerable ol' movie."
- The Getaway
"The Getaway is a particularly nasty and mean-spirited action picture, with the dramatic depth of an arcade game. It is about a lot of people who doublecross and shoot each other, usually several times. None of these people have personalities, backgrounds, values or other points of interest. The film is fairly unique in one respect: Everyone in it is slime, and the "heroes" are approximately as amoral as the villains."
- The Ghost and the Darkness
"The Ghost and the Darkness is an African adventure that makes the Tarzan movies look subtle and realistic. It lacks even the usual charm of being so bad it's funny. It's just bad. Not funny. No, wait . . . there is one funny moment. A bridge-builder takes leave of his pregnant wife to go to Africa to build a bridge, and she solemnly observes, “You must go where the rivers are.” The bridge man, named Patterson, is played by Val Kilmer in a trim modern haircut that never grows an inch during his weeks in the bush. He soon is joined by a great white hunter named Remington (Michael Douglas), whose appearance is that of a homeless man who somehow got his hands on a rifle. If this were a comic strip, there would be flies buzzing around his head."
- Ghost Dad
"Ghost Dad is a desperately unfunny film - a strained, contrived construction that left me shaking my head in amazement. How does Bill Cosby, so capable on television, get himself into movie disaster zones like this movie and his previous one, Leonard Part 6? How could Sidney Poitier, a skilled filmmaker with an actor's sense of timing, have been the director of this mess? How did a production executive go for it? Who ever thought this was a good idea?"
- Gods and Generals
"Gods and Generals is the kind of movie beloved by people who never go to the movies, because they are primarily interested in something else—the Civil War, for example—and think historical accuracy is a virtue instead of an attribute. The film plays like a special issue of American Heritage. Ted Turner is one of its prime movers and gives himself an instantly recognizable cameo appearance. Since sneak previews must already have informed him that his sudden appearance draws a laugh, apparently he can live with that."
- Godzilla (1985)
""The filmmakers must have known that the original Godzilla (1956) had many loyal fans all over the world who treasured the absurd dialogue, the bad lip-synching, the unbelievable special effects, the phony profundity. So they have deliberately gone after the same inept feeling in Godzilla 1985. Examples: Dialogue: It is so consistently bad that the entire screenplay could be submitted as an example. My favorite moment occurs when the hero and heroine are clutching each other on a top floor of a skyscraper being torn apart by Godzilla and the professor leaps into the shot, says "What has happened here?" and leaps out again without waiting for an answer. Lip-synching: Especially in the opening shots, there seems to be a subtle effort to exaggerate the bad coordination between what we see and what we hear. All lip-synch is a little off, of course, but this movie seems to be going for condescending laughs from knowledgable filmgoers. Special effects: When Godzilla marches on Tokyo, the buildings are the usual fake miniature models, made out of paint and cardboard. The tipoff is when he rips a wall off a high-rise, and nothing falls out. That's because there is nothing inside."
- Godzilla (1998)
"CANNES, France—Going to see Godzilla at the Palais of the Cannes Film Festival is like attending a Satanic ritual in St. Peter's Basilica. It's a rebuke to the faith that the building represents. Cannes touchingly adheres to a belief that film can be intelligent, moving and grand. Godzilla is a big, ugly, ungainly device to give teenagers the impression they are seeing a movie. It was the festival's closing film, coming at the end like the horses in a parade, perhaps for the same reason."note
- Good Boy!
"Millions of Dog Owners Demand to Know: 'Who's a Good Boy?' — Headline in The Onion If a child and a dog love each other, the relationship is one of mutual wonder. Making the dog an alien from outer space is not an improvement. Giving it the ability to speak is a disaster. My dog Blackie used his eyes to say things so eloquent that Churchill would have been stuck for a comeback. Among my favorite recent movie dogs are Skip, in My Dog Skip, who teaches a boy how to be a boy, and Shiloh, in Shiloh, who teaches a boy that life is filled with hard choices. Hubble, the dog in Good Boy!, teaches that dogs will be pulled off Earth and returned to their home planet in a "global recall." I've told you all you really need to know about the movie's plot. Owen Baker (Liam Aiken), the young hero, adopts a terrier who turns out to have arrived in a flying saucer to investigate why dogs on Earth are our pets, instead of the other way around. This will be a no-brainer for anyone who has watched a dog operating a pooper scooper. Nor do dogs look like the master race when they go after your pants leg. But I am willing to accept this premise if anything clever is done with it. Nothing is."
- Good Luck Chuck
"The startling thing about the movie is how juvenile it is. Stu, in particular, is a creepy case of arrested development. Consider the whole scenario he stages with a fat woman who might break Charlie's hex. She's not only fat, she has pimples all over, and yes, we get a closeup of them. There is a word for this movie, and that word is: Ick."
- A Good Old Fashioned Orgy
"To take off your clothing and engage randomly in sex with nine or 10 other people reveals an appalling lack of self-respect. Is that all sex means to you, rummaging about in strange genitals? Masturbation seems healthier. It is performed with someone you admire. If a sexual orgy is as exciting as the people here pretend, why do they need to spice it up with costumes from fraternity toga parties and sex toys from the remainder bins of adult stores across from truck stops on lonely interstate highways?"
- The Good Son
"One of the reasons the movie feels so unwholesome is that Macaulay seems too young and innocent to play a character this malevolent. At times, hearing the things he's made to say, you want to confront the filmmakers who made him do it, and ask them what they were thinking of." Chicago Sun-Times review"The Good Son is a reprehensible film, trading on little children in order to create sick images, with no redeeming value, except, I guess, to entertain, although, I cannot imagine anyone being entertained by this movie. What really disturbed me were the scenes of small children in danger and the scenes in which this young man, Macaulay Culkin, is required to act out the murders of his family members, innocent bystanders, and even a dog. Macaulay Culkin has a lot of young fans, and all I can say is the movie, which is rated R, is completely inappropriate for children, and two of the children that should have been kept out of it are Macaulay Culkin and Elijah Wood." Siskel & Ebert review
- Goodbye Uncle Tom note
"This is cruel exploitation. If it is tragic that the barbarism of slavery existed in this country, is it not also tragic — and enraging — that for a few dollars the producers of this film were able to reproduce and reenact that barbarism? Make no mistake. This movie itself humiliates its actors in the way the slaves were humiliated 200 years ago."
- Half Past Dead
"Half Past Dead is like an alarm that goes off while nobody is in the room. It does its job and stops, and nobody cares. It goes through the motions of an action thriller, but there is a deadness at its center, a feeling that no one connected with it loved what they were doing. There are moments, to be sure, when Ja Rule and Morris Chestnut seem to hear the music, but they're dancing by themselves."
- Happy Gilmore
"I'm sure some of those got in by accident (the modern golf tour has ads plastered on everything but the grass), but I'm fairly sure Subway paid for placement, since they scored one Subway sandwich eaten outside a store, one date in a Subway store, one Subway soft drink container, two verbal mentions of Subway, one Subway commercial starring Happy, a Subway T-shirt, and a Subway golf bag. Halfway through the movie, I didn't know what I wanted more: laughs, or mustard."
- Harry & Son
"This movie looks like the aftermath of an explosion in the story department. It's about everything. They give us so many relationships, so many problems, so many emotional hazards, so many colorful characters, we need a battery-lighted ballpoint, so we can take notes in the dark."
- Heartbreak Hotel
"Here it is, the goofiest movie of the year, a movie so bad in so many different and endearing ways that I’m damned if I don’t feel genuine affection for it. We all know it’s bad manners to talk during a movie, but every once in a while a film comes along that positively requires the audience to shout helpful suggestions and lewd one-liners at the screen. Heartbreak Hotel is such a movie. All it needs to be perfect is a parallel soundtrack."
- Heaven's Gate
"...this movie is a study in wretched excess. It is so smoky, so dusty, so foggy, so unfocused and so brownish yellow that you want to try Windex on the screen. A director is in deep trouble when we do not even enjoy the primary act of looking at his picture. ... This movie is $36 million thrown to the winds. It is the most scandalous cinematic waste I have ever seen, and remember, I've seen Paint Your Wagon."
- Hell Night
"You know a movie is in trouble when what is happening on the screen inspires daydreams. I had lasted through the first reel, and nothing had happened. Now I was somewhere in the middle of the third reel, and still nothing had happened. By "nothing," by the way, I mean nothing original, unexpected, well-crafted, interestingly acted, or even excitingly violent. Hell Night is a relentlessly lackluster example of the Dead Teenager Movie. The formula is always the same. A group of kids get together for some kind of adventure or forbidden ritual in a haunted house, summer camp, old school, etc. One of the kids tells a story about the horrible and gruesome murders that happened there years ago. He always ends the same way: ", and they say the killer never died and is still lurking here somewhere." That was the formula of The Burning and the Friday The 13th movies, and it's the formula again in Hell Night."
"Who goes to see movies like this? What do they get out of them? I like good horror movies because I enjoy being surprised (and sometimes even moved), but there are no surprises in Hellraiser, only a dreary series of scenes that repeat each other. What fun is it watching the movie mark time until the characters discover the obvious? This is a movie without wit, style or reason, and the true horror is that actors were made to portray, and technicians to realize, its bankruptcy of imagination. Maybe Stephen King was thinking of a different Clive Barker."
- Her Alibi
"You know a movie is in trouble when you start looking at your watch. You know it's in bad trouble when you start shaking your watch because you think it might have stopped. Her Alibi is a movie in the second category - endless, pointless and ridiculous, right up to the final shot of the knife going through the cockroach. This movie is desperately bankrupt of imagination and wit, and Tom Selleck looks adrift in it."
- High School High
"High School High opens with a big laugh (“Produced by the producer formerly known as David Zucker”) and goes downhill. Zucker, associated with the Naked Gun movies, wants to do the same thing here for the urban high school genre, but the movie makes two mistakes: (1) It isn't very funny, and (2) it makes the crucial error of taking its story seriously and angling for a happy ending."
- Highlander II: The Quickening
"This movie has to be seen to be believed. On the other hand, maybe that's too high a price to pay. Highlander 2: The Quickening is the most hilariously incomprehensible movie I've seen in many a long day - a movie almost awesome in its badness. Wherever science fiction fans gather, in decades and generations to come, this film will be remembered in hushed tones as one of the immortal low points of the genre." Chicago Sun-Times review"Highlander II: The Quickening... what a title! This movie, I think I can safely say is a film that defies description. How else to account for a character who comes from another planet, but seems to know nothing he didn't learn in Scotland 500 years ago? Or a planetary shield that should have produced an ice age, but creates a heat wave instead? Or an ozone layer that can repair itself in just 25 years? We've got a month to go, Gene [Siskel], before we start choosing the list of the year's worst films, but I think it's safe to reserve a place on my list for Highlander II: The Quickening!" Siskel & Ebert review note
- The Hitcher (1986 original)
"But on its own terms, this movie is diseased and corrupt. I would have admired it more if it had found the courage to acknowledge the real relationship it was portraying between Howell and Rutger, but no: It prefers to disguise itself as a violent thriller, and on that level it is reprehensible."
- Hocus Pocus
"Of the film's many problems, the greatest may be that all three witches are thoroughly unpleasant. They don't have personalities; they have behavior patterns and decibel levels. A good movie inspires the audience to subconsciously ask, "Give me more!" The witches in this one inspired my silent cry, "Get me out of here!""
"Note: If you are a viewer of intelligence and curiosity, and live in a city where human beings still program some of the theaters, there is a much better movie right now about guerrillas fighting to protect an endangered species. It is Mountain Patrol: Kekexili, which I also review today. You have a choice: a inane dead zone of sitcom cliches, or a stunning adventure shot on location in the high deserts of Asia." Chicago Sun-Times review"I wanted to know why they're building the, yeah, this is true, why, why are they building a pancake house in the middle of the wilderness with no highways around? Apparently, you have to walk to get to the pancake house through the woods." Ebert & Roeper review
- Honey, I Blew Up the Kid
"Honey, I Blew Up the Kid is essentially reduced to one key image, with a movie struggling to take shape around it. The image is of a 2-year-old who has grown as tall as the biggest casinos in Las Vegas, and walks up and down the street like Godzilla while pedestrians cringe and scientists scramble for a solution. There may be, for all I know, comic possibilities in a giant kid, but this movie doesn't find them. Even the old giant grasshopper movies from Japan found more things to do with their monsters than this movie does."
- House Of D
"You know a movie is not working for you when you sit in the dark inventing new words. House of D is the kind of movie that particularly makes me cringe, because it has such a shameless desire to please; like Uriah Heep, it bows and scrapes and wipes its sweaty palm on its trouser leg, and also like Uriah Heep, it privately thinks it is superior."
- The Human Centipede: First Sequence
"I am required to award stars to movies I review. This time, I refuse to do it. The star rating system is unsuited to this film. Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don't shine."
"This film is reprehensible, dismaying, ugly, artless and an affront to any notion, however remote, of human decency. It makes a point of Martin's lack of all surgical skills. He seems to have sewn his victims together with summer camp skills where you stitch the parts of a billfold together with leather thread. I am left with this question: After Ashlynn Yennie's first movie role was in the first Human Centipede movie, and now her second is in Human Centipede Two, do you think she'll leave show business?"
- The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence
- The Hunger
"The Hunger is an agonizingly bad vampire movie, circling around an exquisitely effective sex scene. Sorry, that's the way it is, and your reporter has to be honest. The seduction scene involves Catherine Deneuve as an age-old vampire, and Susan Sarandon as her latest victim. There was a great deal of controversy while the movie was being made (all sorts of rumors about closed sets, etc.), but the scene as it now appears isn't raunchy or too explicit — just sort of dreamily erotic."
- I Am David
"I know, I know, I'm supposed to get sentimental about this heart-warming tale. But I couldn't believe a moment of it, and never identified with little David, who is played by young Ben Tibber as if he was lectured to mind his manners. In an era with one effective child performance after another, here is a bad one."
- I Know What You Did Last Summer
"The ads make much of the fact that I Know What You Did Last Summer is from “the creators of Scream. “ That means both scripts are by Kevin Williamson. My bet is that he hauled this one out of the bottom drawer after Scream passed the $100 million mark. The neat thing about Scream was that the characters had seen a lot of horror films, were familiar with all the conventions, and knew they were in a horror-type situation. In I Know, there's one moment like that (as the two women approached an ominous house, they observe ominously, “Jodie Foster tried this ... “). But for the rest of the movie they're blissfully unaware of the dangers of running upstairs when pursued, walking around at night alone, trying to investigate the situation themselves, going onto seemingly empty fishing boats, etc." Chicago Sun-Times review"Yeah, uh, I sat in the dark, the movie started, the first scene is fabulous. The first shot. It's a long helicopter scene. It shows a dark and stormy night, the waves, it shows the entire coast, and it zeroes in on one unbroken shot to a guy sitting on a cliff, and I thought, 'That's terrific.' And about an hour later, I wrote, 'You know you're in trouble when the best shot in a movie is the first one, because it was all downhill from the opening credits. ... Nobody will ever notice that fishing hand in a fishing town, I thought, well, maybe they will in July. ... it's on the Fourth of July and here's a guy who's dressed for a nor'wester, right?" Siskel & Ebert review"I Still Know What You Did Last Summer assembles the building blocks of idiot-proof slasher movies: Stings, Snicker-Snacks, false alarms and point-of-view baits-and-switches. We'll get back to those. The movie's R rating mentions "intense terror violence and gore," but only its publicity team could consider it intense or terrifying. Gore it has." Chicago Sun-Times review"Now how do they win the trip the trip to the Bahamas? On a radio station contest where they said Rio was the capital of Brazil. Well, that's the wrong answer. The answer is Brasilia. The contest is a phony. But frankly, I was surprised these characters even knew Brazil was a country. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer is a deadening series of setups and slashings, setups and slashings, setups and slashings, and for it's viewers, it's a waste of 90 precious minutes that they can never get back! Just think, Gene [Siskel], that's three hours between the two of us, and if you multiply that by thousands of people who will see this movie, it adds up to months, years, even centuries lost forever to the human race! We could have stopped flooding. We could of tutored kids to learn, wanna learn how to read, maybe have our used clothing dried or something. Think of the things, think of the hours of volunteer labor this movie has taken out of the timepool. It's shocking. I think I'm going to start crying right now." Siskel & Ebert review
- I Spit on Your Grave
"This movie is an expression of the most diseased and perverted darker human natures, Because it is made artlessly, It flaunts its motives: There is no reason to see this movie except to be entertained by the sight of sadism and suffering."
"This despicable remake of the despicable 1978 film I Spit on Your Grave adds yet another offense: a phony moral equivalency. In the original, a woman foolishly thought to go on holiday by herself at a secluded cabin. She attracted the attention of depraved local men, who raped her, one after the other. Then the film ended with her fatal revenge. In this film, less time is devoted to the revenge, and more time to verbal, psychological and physical violence against her. Thus it works even better as vicarious cruelty against women."
- I Spit on Your Grave (2010 remake)
- In The Army Now
"The screenplay, work by five writers, based on a story by three others, seems to have been rewritten often enough that any individuality has been lost. It's by a committee and about a committee; the most-used phrase of dialogue is, "Hey, you guys!" The bad guys are of course all Arabs, Hollywood's flavor of the year in villains. But they aren't really bad, because the movie doesn't care that much. Most of the war scenes consist of the four heroes slogging through the sand exchanging rueful one-liners and low-key observations. I was waiting for comedy and got whimsy."
- Inspector Gadget
"Inspector Gadget was an afternoon TV cartoon in the 1980s, much-loved by some, unseen by me, which has now inspired a high-tech live-action retread that has Gadget fans on the Internet furious because, apparently, they do not want to see the face of Dr. Claw. If Dr. Claw went unseen in the cartoon, their reasoning goes, it is no consolation that he is brought to life here by Rupert Everett. One person who might agree with them is Rupert Everett himself, who was on a winning streak until this movie came along."
"Maybe my problem was that somehow I got it stuck in my head that Intersection was a Thriller. If I'd known it was a Weeper, I wouldn't have wept, but at least I wouldn't have been waiting for an hour for someone to pull out an ice pick."
"Ishtar is a truly dreadful film, a lifeless, massive, lumbering exercise in failed comedy. Elaine May, the director, has mounted a multimillion-dollar expedition in search of a plot so thin that it hardly could support a five-minute TV sketch. And Beatty and Hoffman, good soldiers marching along on the trip, look as if they've had all wit and thought beaten out of them. This movie is a long, dry slog. It's not funny, it's not smart and it's interesting only in the way a traffic accident is interesting."
- Isn't She Great?
"Jackie Susann deserved better than Isn't She Great. A woman who writes Valley of the Dolls shouldn't be punished with a biopic that makes her look only a little naughtier than Catherine Cookson. There's a scene here where Jackie and Irving visit with Jackie and Aristotle on the Onassis yacht. Consider for a moment what Susann could have done with that. Then look at the tepid moment where Ari sighs fondly, "Perhaps I married the wrong Jackie." Uh, huh. Here is a movie that needed great trash, great sex and great gossip, and at all the crucial moments Susann is talking to a tree."
"Who was this movie made for? Kids, maybe, who will like the scene where Jack passes himself off as the school principal (although the scene could have been written with smarter dialogue). But if this is a kids' movie, go for kids' reference points. Or if it's for adults, then it shouldn't have been constructed as a sitcom. My best guess is that the premise blinded everyone. Robin Williams is a 40-year-old in a 10-year-old's body? Great! When do we start shooting? If anyone dared to bring up the possibility of a better screenplay, he was probably shouted down: In the delirium of high concept, it doesn't pay to rain on the parade — no, not even if flowers might afterward grow."
- Jack Frost (1998)
"Now we have proof: It's possible for the Jim Henson folks and Industrial Light and Magic to put their heads together and come up with the most repulsive single creature in the history of special effects!"
- The Jackal
"The Jackal is a glum, curiously flat thriller about a man who goes to a great deal of trouble in order to create a crime that anyone in the audience could commit more quickly and efficiently. An example: Can you think, faithful reader, of an easier way to sneak from Canada into the United States than buying a sailboat and entering it in the Mackinaw to Chicago race? Surely there must be an entry point somewhere along the famous 3,000-mile border that would attract less attention than the finish line of a regatta."
- The January Man
"The January Man is worth study as a film that fails to find its tone. Its all over the map. It wants to be zany but violent, romantic but cynical. It wants some of its actors to rant and rave like amateur tragedians, and others to reach for subtle nuances. And it wants all of these things to happen at the same time."
- Jason X
""This sucks on so many levels." — dialogue from Jason X — Rare for a movie to so frankly describe itself. Jason X sucks on the levels of storytelling, character development, suspense, special effects, originality, punctuation, neatness and aptness of thought. Only its title works. And I wouldn't be surprised to discover that the name Jason X is Copyrighted (c)2002, World Wrestling Federation, and that Jason's real name is Dwayne Johnson. No, wait, that was last week's movie."
"I knew high school comedies were desperate for new ideas, but Jawbreaker is the first one I've seen where the bad girl is stoned with corsages. The movie is a slick production of a lame script, which kills time for most of its middle half-hour. If anyone in the plot had the slightest intelligence, the story would implode."
- Jaws: The Revenge
"The shark models have so little movement that at times they seem to be supporting themselves on boats, instead of attacking them. Up until the ludicrous final sequence of the movie, the scariest creature in the film is an eel." Chicago Sun-Times review"Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the theater... Michael Caine actually comes over the rail, out of the water and he's totally dry. I was sitting in the theater and I said, "His shirt is dry!" and the preview audience, uh, appreciated that; you know, I always hate it when people talk during the movies, but I don't know, that seemed to go over pretty well. And I've got a question for you. I may be very badly confused here. In this mov- I usually am. In this movie, the shark wants revenge against the Brody family. Now in the first movie what happened to the shark in the first movie? Blown to pieces right? What happened to the shark in the second movie? What happened to the shark in the third movie? They all died. So in that case, what shark is this?!! Is this like a cousin, a nephew?!!" Siskel & Ebert review
- The Jazz Singer
"The Jazz Singer has so many things wrong with it that a review threatens to become a list. Let me start with the most obvious: This movie is about a man who is at least 20 years too old for such things to be happening to him. The Jazz Singer looks ridiculous giving us Neil Diamond going through an adolescent crisis."
- Jeepers Creepers 2
"The movie wants to work at the level of scaring us every so often with unexpected sudden attacks of the Creeper, although in this genre you expect sudden unexpected attacks, so you end up evaluating the craftsmanship instead of being scared. On that level, praise for the makeup and costume departments, including Richard Radlefsen, credited for "Creeper makeup and lead suit." Why the creature is called the Creeper when he leaps and flies I am not sure. Why Francis Ford Coppola decided to produce this movie I am also not sure." Chicago Sun-Times review"Every 23 years, for 23 days, it gets to eat. It has it easy, every 2 years we have to see a movie about it." Ebert & Roeper review
- Joe's Apartment
"I am informed that 5,000 cockroaches were used in the filming of Joe’s Apartment. That depresses me, but not as much as the news that none of them were harmed during the production. I do not like roaches, and I wonder if they even like themselves. Although it is said that after a nuclear holocaust they would inherit the earth, my guess is they would still scurry out of sight even when there was no one left to see them. Joe's Apartment would be a very bad comedy even without the roaches, but it would not be a disgusting one. No, wait: I take that back. Even without the roaches, we would still have the subplot involving the pink disinfectant urinal cakes. Not everybody's cup of tea. My standards are not inflexible. There is a scene in Trainspotting, another recently released movie, in which the hero dives head-first into the filthiest toilet in Scotland, and I actually enjoyed that scene (you would have to see the movie to understand why). But when we arrived at the tender little scene in Joe's Apartment where the roaches were tugging at his eyelashes to wake him up, I easily contained my enthusiasm. The movie is a feature-length version of a 1992 short film made for MTV by John Payson. Less is more. The idea of singing, dancing cockroach buddies can easily be explored in all of its manifestations, I am sure, in a film much briefer than 80 minutes, which is how long Joe's Apartment runs, illustrating my principle that no good film is too long and no bad film is short enough."
- Johnny Be Good
"There are a lot of good screenplays to be filmed and only a limited amount of money to go around. This movie is simply financial leakage, a squandering of resources equivalent to polluting a river or plowing under a rain forest. I’m serious. We’re desperate for things to think about in this society, and these guys contribute to the situation by providing us with 86 minutes of zip. They oughta have their pictures on the post office wall."
"Jumanji is being promoted as a jolly holiday season entertainment, with ads that show Robin Williams with a twinkle in his eye. The movie itself is likely to send younger children fleeing from the theater, or hiding in their parents' arms. Those who do sit all the way through it are likely to toss and turn with nightmares inspired by its frightening images."
- The Jungle Book 2
"The Jungle Book 2 is so thin and unsatisfying, it seems like the made-for-DVD version, not a theatrical release. Clocking in at 72 minutes and repeating the recycled song "The Bare Necessities" three if not four times, it offers a bare-bones plot in which Mowgli wanders off into the jungle, is threatened by a tiger and a snake, is protected by a bear, takes care of his little girlfriend, and sings and dances with Baloo."
- Jungle 2 Jungle
"No one is allowed to think in this movie. Not one single event in the entire plot can possibly take place unless every character in the cast has brains made of Bac-o-Bits." note
- Jury Duty
"Jury Duty is another entry in the national Dumbing It Down sweepstakes, giving us a character who likes jury duty because, hey, when you're sequestered, the room and board are free. After Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Dumb and Dumber, after Adam Sandler in Billy Madison, after Chris Farley in Tommy Boy, here is another character whose appeal rests on rudeness, stupidity and the ability to make loud bathroom noises."
- The Karate Kid Part III
"I think I have the message by now. It was contained in The Karate Kid, which was a wonderful movie, and then it was recycled in The Karate Kid, Part II. Now we have The Karate Kid Part III, and still the message is the same. This material is wearing out its welcome. I have mastered all of the lessons The Karate Kid movies have to teach and all of the surprises they have to spring. I am also intimately familiar with the plot formula, so that nothing in this third film comes as the faintest surprise. Perhaps it is time, as Mr. Miyagi might say, to study something else."
"As for Shaquille O'Neal, given his own three wishes the next time, he should go for a script, a director and an interesting character."
- Key Exchange
"Farce has been defined as the art of creating characters who under no circumstances should be in the same room with one another - and putting them in the same room as soon as possible. There is not yet a definition, however, for a movie like Key Exchange, which creates characters who should be in the same room with one another and then separates them with dreary and predictable artifice. The movie comes dangerously close to exhibiting an Idiot Plot, defined as a plot that would be over in five minutes if everyone in it were not an idiot."
"Shall I have feelings, or should I pretend to be cool? Will I seem hopelessly square if I find Kick-Ass morally reprehensible and will I appear to have missed the point? Let's say you're a big fan of the original comic book, and you think the movie does it justice. You know what? You inhabit a world I am so very not interested in."
- Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy
"Reader, I did not laugh. I felt the Kids were too busy being hip and ironic to connect at the simpler level where comedy lives. They were brought down by their own self-protective devices. It's not cool to seem to want to be funny, and so the modern strategy is to adopt the pose that you are funny by not seeming to want to be funny. The audience laughs because the performers are being hip by trying to be funny without seeming to try to be funny. Thus everybody has an irony orgy and goes home, if not satisfied, at least unexposed as unhip. It seemed to me there were two or three superfluous levels of attitude between the Kids and their material. A laugh can penetrate a lot of things, but not a solid block of cool." Chicago Sun-Times review"I did not laugh once. I thought this movie was awful, dreadful, terrible, stupid, idiotic, unfunny, labored, forced, painful, bad! I got my sense of humor. That was what, my sense of humor was starving for a laugh." Siskel & Ebert review.note
- King Kong Lives
"Every movie like this has at least one amazing line of dialogue. I especially liked it when the heroine cried to the Army troops: "Don't shoot the female! She's gone into labor!" This moment was especially amazing since the two Kongs had mated for the first time only three days earlier. With a turnaround time like that, it's remarkable that there isn't a little Kong in every one of the holiday movies."
- Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects
"Yet Kinjite is actually Bronson's most polished movie in a long time; it's slimy, but slick. After the inanities and inaptitudes of the later Death Wish movies, in which the directors often seemed to forget to film entire scenes, including the conclusions, here is a movie directed with some energy and style by the old war-horse J. Lee Thompson (whose credits range all the way from The Guns of Navarone down to Death Wish IV). Thompson has worked at least five other times with Bronson and so has producer Pancho Kohner, the son of Bronson's late agent. It's ironic that their best-made film is also their most distasteful."
- Lady in the Water
"The key to deciphering M. Night Shyamalan's fractured fairy tale, Lady in the Water, is to remember that it is rooted in the mythology of Stephen Colbert and The Colbert Report. It is a warning to Mankind about the dire threat posed by ferocious topiary bears in America today, and a salute to the gigantic, soaring eagle who swoops in to rescue Wet Ladies from pitiless ursine jaws and claws. Colbert oughtta sue."
- Lake Placid
""What an animal does in the water is his own business—unless he does it to man." So says Sheriff Keough, one of the crocbusters of Lake Placid. I couldn't disagree with him more. The 30-foot crocodile in this movie stays in the water, contentedly munching on bears and cows, until scuba-diving beaver taggers invade his domain. It's their own fault that the beast gets mad and eats a scientist and half a game warden."
- Larger Than Life
"The sad thing is, there are the fixings for another comedy, probably a much better one, right there in the opening scenes. Motivational speakers are ripe for satire. The bookshelves groan with self-improvement volumes, all promising to explain the problems of your universe, and their solution, in a few well-chosen rules. An honest bookstore would post the following sign above its “self-help” section: “For true self-help, please visit our philosophy, literature, history and science sections, find yourself a good book, read it, and think about it.” Murray's portrait of an inspirational speaker is right on target, and filled out with lots of subtle touches of movement and dialog, and there is humor, too, in the way his audiences will go along with his insane schemes (like the human pyramid), as if being able to balance three people on your back would solve your problems at work. This whole section of the movie is inspired; Murray should star in the movie of The Dilbert Principle. As for the elephant portions of the movie: They say an elephant never forgets, which means that I have an enormous advantage over Tai, who plays Vera, because I plan to forget this movie as soon as convenient."
- The Last Airbender
"The Last Airbender is an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented. The laws of chance suggest that something should have gone right. Not here. It puts a nail in the coffin of low-rent 3D, but it will need a lot more coffins than that." note
- Last Man Standing
"Last Man Standing is such a desperately cheerless film, so dry and laconic and wrung out, that you wonder if the filmmakers ever thought that in any way it could be ... fun. It contains elements that are often found in entertainments—things like guns, gangs and spectacular displays of death—but here they crouch on the screen and growl at the audience. Even the movie's hero is bad company."
- The Last Movie/Chincero
"Dennis Hopper's The Last Movie is a wasteland of cinematic wreckage. There are all sorts of things you can say about it, using easy critical words to describe it as undisciplined, incoherent, a structural mess. But mostly it's just plain pitiful. Hopper hasn't even been able to cover his tracks; the failure of his intentions is nakedly obvious. Near the movie's end there's a pathetic scene in which he sits, half-stoned, dazed, confused, and says the hell with it. It feels like he means it."
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
"Just when it seems about to become a real corker of an adventure movie, [the movie] plunges into incomprehensible action, idiotic dialogue, inexplicable motivations, causes without effects, effects without causes, and general lunacy." Chicago Sun-Times review."There's one scene where they're in Venice, and there's a car chase, and the car is racing through the streets of Venice, and the problem with that is, there aren't any streets in Venice! It would go directly into a canal, or crash into a bridge!" Ebert & Roeper review.
- The Legend of Zorro
"The circumstances under which Zorro and the villain fight a duel with polo mallets is unprecedented in the annals of chivalry, but never mind: What's with this secret society named the Knights of Aragon, who have secretly controlled the world for centuries? When you belong to an ancient order that runs the world and you're reduced to dueling with polo mallets, it's like you're running the Scientology office in Thule. ... I am searching for the correct word to describe the scene where Zorro is served with divorce papers. Ah, I've found it! Shame I can't use it. Four letters. This is a family newspaper. Starts with "s." Then Zorro has to attend a fancy dress ball where Elena turns up as the escort of Armand (Rufus Sewell), a wealthy French vineyard owner. This is like Supergirl dating Jughead. For maximum poignancy, we need a scene where little Joaquin approaches Armand and says, "Father?""
- Leonard Part 6
No copy of a Chicago Sun-Times review for this movie exists, but it's clear Ebert greatly disliked this film...."Maybe at some point, there was an original inspiration for a good comedy here, I don't know. They certainly were not reluctant to spend a lot of money looking ridiculous in this movie, and sometimes that works. But not this time. The whole movie is a mess, and even though Cosby has disowned, has disowned it, he cannot escape all the blame, I don't think so. In one scene, his 20-year old daughter brings home a 66-year old man that she wants to marry. Cosby is appalled! This guy is robbing the cradle! What does he do!? He calls for a sandwich and a Coke. And then he holds the Coke bottle prominently next to his face for the rest of the scene. First, it says Coca-Cola, then the next shot, it says Coke, in case you missed the point. Who released this movie? Columbia. Who owns Columbia? Coca-Cola note . What is Coca-Cola doing with this movie? They have a lot of products in this movie, Gene [Siskel], that you can get a tie-in, where you can get the product in connection with buying a ticket for the movie. I think that that is an all time low. Bill Cosby, the richest man in show business, $67.5 million dollars income last year, reduced to holding a Coca-Cola bottle next to his face in order to get a picture made at Columbia. He oughtta be ashamed of himself!" Siskel & Ebert review. note
- Life Or Something Like It
"Someone once said, live every day as if it will be your last. Not just someone once said that. Everyone once said it, over and over again, although Life or Something Like It thinks it's a fresh insight. This is an ungainly movie, ill-fitting, with its elbows sticking out where the knees should be. To quote another ancient proverb, A camel is a horse designed by a committee. Life or Something Like It is the movie designed by the camel." Chicago Sun-Times review"It's called Life or Something Like It, but it's nothing like it, and reads like it was pieced together after an explosion at the used screenplay factory. Jolie's archenemy is a sexy cameraman played by Edwards Burns who can't stand her ego. She can't stand him either. They fight so much, we just know they're gonna end up in the sack together. Network stardom or a life with a cameraman back in Seattle? Which choice will she make? And, who cares? Now that's a real good question?" Ebert & Roeper review
- Little Indian Big City
"Little Indian, Big City is one of the worst movies ever made. I detested every moronic minute of it. Through a stroke of good luck, the entire third reel of the film was missing the day I saw it. I went back to the screening room two days later, to view the missing reel. It was as bad as the rest, but nothing could have saved this film. As my colleague Gene Siskel observed, “If the third reel had been the missing footage from Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons, this movie still would have sucked.” I could not have put it better myself." note
"At one point in London, a Japanese experiment is described. Scientists place containers of white rice in two different rooms. One container is praised. Nice rice. Beautiful rice. The other container is insulted. Ugly rice. Bad rice. At the end of a month, the rice in the first container is fresh and fragrant. The rice in the other room is decayed and moldy. If there is any validity to this experiment, I expect London to start decaying any day now. Bad movie. Ugly movie." Chicago Sun-Times review"Thumbs, thumbs, thumbs down, my goodness, what an, what an ordeal this was, to be in that bathroom locked in there with these boring people who are stoned, who are stoned out of their minds and have these meaningless conversations, "Who is God, does God exist, is there an afterlife?" Let me, let me try something on you here, I've never snorted cocaine, so I can't say this for sure, but I'll bet that if you began by being wasted, snorted cocaine, drank, and passed out, and were awaken by a phone call and went to a party and spend the next three hours snorting unlimited amounts of more cocaine, and drinking tequila out of a bottle, you would not be able to talk." Ebert & Roeper review
- The Lonely Lady
"The movie's whole plot hinges on Pia's ability to rewrite a scene better than her jealous writer-husband. When the star of her husband's movie weeps that she can't play a certain graveyard scene, Pia whips out the portable typewriter and writes brilliant new dialogue for the star. What, you may ask, does Pia write? Here's what: She has the grieving widow kneel by the side of the open grave and cry out (are you ready for this?) "Why? Why!!!" That's it. That's the brilliant dialogue. And it can be used for more than death scene, let me tell you. In fact, I walked out of this movie saying to myself, "Why? Why!!!"" note
- Look Who's Talking Now!
"Look Who's Talking Now is a fairly misleading title for those who paid attention during English class, since the talkers are dogs, and so the title of course should be Look What's Talking Now. Anyone who paid attention during English will also find innumerable other distressing elements in the film, including what teachers used to call "lack of originality and aptness of thought."
- Lost in Space
"Lost in Space is a dim-witted shoot-'em-up based on the old (I hesitate to say “classic”) TV series. It's got cheesy special effects, a muddy visual look, and characters who say obvious things in obvious ways. If it outgrosses the brilliant Dark City, the previous sci-fi film from the same studio, then audiences must have lost their will to be entertained."
- The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
""It is a curious attribute of camp that it can only be found, not made." So observes Dave Kehr, in his New York Times review of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. I did not read the rest of the review, because (1) I had to write my own, and (2), well, his first sentence says it all, doesn't it? True camp sincerely wants to be itself."
- The Love Guru
"Myers has made some funny movies, but this film could have been written on toilet walls by callow adolescents. Every reference to a human sex organ or process of defecation is not automatically funny simply because it is naughty, but Myers seems to labor under that delusion. He acts as if he’s getting away with something, but in fact all he’s getting away with is selling tickets to a dreary experience." note
- The Man Who Knew Too Little
"The funniest thing about The Man Who Knew Too Little is the title; that melancholy truth that develops with deadening finality as the movie marches on. The movie develops endless permutations on an idea that is not funny, until at last, in desperation, we cry, "Bring on some dancing Cossacks!" and it does."
"Mandingo is racist trash, obscene in its manipulation of human beings and feelings, and excruciating to sit through in an audience made up largely of children, as I did last Saturday afternoon. The film has an "R" rating, which didn't keep many kids out, since most came with their parents. Besides, here in Chicago we taxpayers pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to subsidize a censorship apparatus operated by the police department. Any film to be shown to those under 18 must have a city permit, and Mandingo, incredibly, was given one. ... What James Mason, as the old master of Falconhurst, is doing in this film is beyond me; He told one interviewer he needed the money for his alimony payments, but surely jail would have been better. His performance is adequately decrepit, and Perry King, as his son, has a few tender scenes with the young slave (Brenda Sykes) he takes as his "bed wench." But even those scenes are only a setup for the final bloodletting. This is a film I felt soiled by, and if I'd been one of the kids in the audience, I'm sure I would have been terrified and grief stricken."
"This movie is a real curiosity. It's dead. I don't mean it's bad. A lot of bad movies are fairly throbbing with life. Mannequin is dead. The wake lasts 1 1/2 hours, and then we can leave the theater. Halfway through, I was ready for someone to lead us in reciting the rosary."
- Marie Baie des Anges
"Yes, there is beautiful scenery. And nice compositions. Lots of pretty pictures. Giocante and Malgras are superficially attractive, although because their characters are empty vessels there's no reason to like them much, or care about them. The movie is cast as a tragedy, and it's tragic, all right: tragic that these kids never developed intelligence and personalities."
"Patrick Stewart, best known for his work on Star Trek: The Next Generation, is an actor of effortless class and presence, and Masterminds is like an obstacle course he has to run. Can he make it from beginning to end of this dreadful movie without lowering himself to its level of idiocy? Or will he go down with the material? The answer to that question provides the only suspense and nearly the only interest in one of the worst films of the year." Chicago Sun-Times review"You know, this is one of those movies, this is one of those movies while, when you're sitting there, you're saying, "There is nothing to think about. There is nothing on the screen that interests me." It is, in a way, it's as if, you know how protons can kinda go through lead and not hit anything? This movie went through my mind and didn't hit anything." Siskel & Ebert review
- The Master of Disguise
"The Master of Disguise pants and wheezes and hurls itself exhausted across the finish line after barely 65 minutes of movie, and then follows it with 15 minutes of end credits in an attempt to clock in as a feature film. We get outtakes, deleted scenes, flubbed lines and all the other versions of the Credit Cookie, which was once a cute idea but is getting to be a bore." Chicago Sun-Times review"I wouldn't even recommend it if you cut it up and made it into ukelele picks. This movie... Nev, it never ended and it was only 80 minutes long, and I'm looking at my glow-in-the-dark watch here, I think the movie itself was only about 60 or 65 minutes in length. And that's why they had to have all the outtakes and credit cookies, which went on and on, and instead of listing the songs and then having an outtake, they list three songs and have an outtake, then three more songs and have an outtake. Finally they have the caterer up there, well, they don't exactly have an outtake for the caterer, but, and then at that point, finally, it looks like it's over, and the projectionist closes the curtains, and then they, there's Dana Carvey on the curtains, saying "Wait a minute! The movie isn't over yet!" Ebert & Roeper review
- The Master Gunfighter
"A film archeologist could have fun with The Master Gunfighter, sifting among its fragments of plot and trying to figure out what the hell happened to this movie on the way to the theater. The movie opens with a longwinded narration, in a hapless attempt to orient us, but not long afterward the narrator has to break in again—we're lost already. It's all to little avail. I don't think there's any way an intelligent moviegoer could sit through this mess and accurately describe the plot afterward. ... The opening narration provides some nonsense about samurai training that's supposed to explain the sword, as well as the MG's revolver, which can fire 12 shots. After we've seen the MG nail all kinds of bad guys with the pistol, only to use the sword in his next emergency, we're reminded of John Carter of Mars, the Edgar Rice Burroughs hero who kept getting sliced up in swordplay when he could have just pulled out his atomic ray gun. But no matter. Nothing as simple as logic is going to explain this movie."
- Medicine Man
"There are some beautiful moments in Medicine Man. I enjoyed the freedom of the rope-and-pulley arrangement by which Connery is able to journey to the treetops. And the drollery of his dialogue, although it is interrupted by the screenwriter's bizarre ideas of how Bracco should talk ("No boat! No boat!" she shouts at one juncture, when Connery wants to send her home). The movie also has a perfect closing line ("Unbutton your shirt"), although it is typical of the filmmakers that they fail to recognize it as the closing line and tack on a cornball conclusion."
- Meet The Deedles
"I am prepared to imagine a theater full of 11-year-old boys who might enjoy this movie, but I can't recommend it for anyone who might have climbed a little higher on the evolutionary ladder."
- Men in Black II
"Some sequels continue a story. Others repeat it. Men in Black II creates a new threat for the MIB, but recycles the same premise, which is that mankind can defeat an alien invasion by assigning agents in Ray-Bans to shoot them into goo. This is a movie that fans of the original might enjoy in a diluted sort of way, but there is no need for it—except, of course, to take another haul at the box office, where the 1997 movie grossed nearly $600 million."
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie
"Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie is about as close as you can get to absolute nothing and still have a product to project on the screen. The movie is like those synthetic foods that have no fat, no sugar, no vitamins and no calories, but they come in bright packages and you can chew them."
- Milk Money
"Sometimes they produce a documentary about the making of a movie. You know, like "The Making of Jurassic Park. " I would give anything within reason to see "The Making of Milk Money " — or, for that matter, to simply listen to recordings of the executive story conferences."
- Million Dollar Mystery
"If this movie is a hit, I've got an idea for the next one: De Laurentiis could offer viewers their choice of an interest-free loan for the ticket price, or an instant rebate."
- Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous
"I traditionally end my reviews of the Miss Congeniality movies by noting that I was the only critic in the world who liked Speed 2, and I see no reason to abandon that tradition, especially since if there is a Miss Congeniality 3 and it doesn't have Sam Fuller in it, I may be at a loss for words."
- Mixed Nuts
"As a general rule, normal people are funnier than zany people, a possibility that Mixed Nuts would have done well to explore. The film is so chock-a-block with unemployed Santas, disconsolate transvestites, lonely bachelorettes and harassed suicide hotline workers that a sense of exhaustion sets in: Isn't there anyone normal in this world, who can stand back and just sort of appreciate the others? The film takes place just before Christmas along the beach in Venice, Calif. - an area where, arguably, a normal person would stand out as a curiosity. It is centered on the offices of the Lifesavers, a volunteer hotline for the depressed, the suicidal, the lonely and the chatty. No prizes for guessing that many of the volunteers are more depressed than the callers."
- Mommie Dearest
"I can't imagine who would want to subject themselves to this movie. Mommie Dearest is a painful experience that drones on endlessly, as Joan Crawford's relationship with her daughter, Christina, disintegrates from cruelty through jealousy into pathos. It is unremittingly depressing, not to any purpose of drama or entertainment, but just to depress. It left me feeling creepy."
"A character played by Brendan Fraser spends half of Monkeybone on life support, and so does the movie. Both try to stay alive with injections of nightmare juice. The movie labors hard, the special effects are admirable, no expense has been spared, and yet the movie never takes off; it's a bright idea the filmmakers were unable to breathe life into."
"It appears to have no purpose. It doesn't condemn dishonesty, yet neither does it applaud unscrupulous schemery. It doesn't bemoan low human weaknesses, nor does it contain heroes. In the case of the affair between the priest and the nun, it doesn't even take a stand! The flash-forward avoids the necessity of even finishing that aspect of the story. There are a few good things in Monsignor. The movie is populated with good performances in the character roles, especially by Fernando Rey (who once played one of Bu–uel's anticlerical clerics), by Robert Prosky (he's an American cardinal here, and was superb as the mob fixer in Thief) and by Leonardo Cimino as a pope who looks uncannily like E.T. and looks forward to his own death with a grim humor. These performances, alas, do not occur in an engaging screenplay; the most cynical thing in this cynical movie is that it doesn't even bother to put its nihilistic characters in a comprehensible story.
- Moonlight and Valentino
"Watching it, I felt trapped in an advice column from one of the women's magazines. I have no doubt many of the heartfelt statements in the film are true (actually, I have many doubts - but never mind). What bothered me was that the story never found a way to make them dramatic, or illustrate them with incidents. The movie is slow, plotless and relentless - one of those deals where you find yourself tapping your watch, to be sure it hasn't stopped."
- Mother's Day
"After the first five minutes of Mother's Day - after the shot of the blood spurting from the severed neck of the movie's first victim - I was ready to walk out. But no, that would have been too easy. I determined to stick this one out. I was part of a large crowd of Saturday afternoon moviegoers, some of them no doubt taking a break from Christmas shopping, and I wanted to see how this cross-section of Americans would react to the movie's images of vile and depraved sadism."
- Mr. Deeds
"The moral center of the story is curious. The media empire, we learn, controls enormous resources and employs 50,000 people. The evil Cedar wants to break it up. The good-hearted Deeds fights to keep it together so those 50,000 people won't be out of work. This is essentially a movie that wants to win our hearts with a populist hero who risks his entire fortune in order to ensure the survival of Time-AOL-Warner-Disney-Murdoch. What would Frank Capra have thought about the little guy bravely standing up for the monolith? Of the many notes I took during the film, one deserves to be shared with you. There is a scene in the movie where Deeds, the fire chief in Mandrake Falls, becomes a hero during a Manhattan fire. He scales the side of a building and rescues a woman's cats, since she refuses to be rescued before them. One after another, the cats are thrown onto a fireman's net. Finally there is a cat that is on fire. The blazing feline is tossed from the window and bounces into a bucket of water, emerging wet but intact, ho, ho, and then Deeds and the heavyset cat lady jump together and crash through the net, but Deeds' fall is cushioned by the fat lady, who is also not harmed, ho ho, giving us a heart-rending happy ending. That is not what I wrote in my notes. It is only the set-up. What I noted was that in the woman's kitchen, nothing is seen to be on fire except for a box of Special-K cereal. This is a species of product placement previously unthinkable. In product placement conferences, do they discuss scenes like this and nod approvingly? Tell me, for oh, how I want to know."
- Mr. Magoo
"I have taken another look at my notes and must correct myself. There is one laugh in the movie. It comes after the action is over, in the form of a foolish, politically correct disclaimer stating that the film is not intended as an accurate portrayal of blindness or poor eyesight.” I think we should stage an international search to find one single person who thinks the film is intended as such a portrayal, and introduce that person to the author of the disclaimer, as they will have a lot in common, including complete detachment from reality."
- Mr. Payback
"I went to see Mr. Payback with an open mind. I knew it would not be a "movie" as I understand the word, because movies act on you and absorb you in their stories. An "interfilm," as they call this new medium, is like a cross between a video game and a CD-ROM game, and according to Bob Bejan, president and CEO of Interfilm Inc., "suspension of disbelief comes when you begin to believe you're in control." I never believed I was in control. If I had been in control, I would have ended the projection and advised Bejan to go back to the drawing board. While an interactive movie might in theory be an entertaining experience, Mr. Payback was so offensive and yokel-brained that being raised in a barn might almost be required of its audiences." note
- Murder at 1600
"The last third of the film is a ready-made action movie plug-in. Without giving away a single secret, I can tell you that Regis and Chance find it necessary to break into the White House. And to do this, they must traverse a forgotten series of tunnels that lead by labyrinthine twists into the White House basement. The movie does what too many thrillers do: It establishes an interesting premise, and then instead of following it, substitutes standard action cliches. Will there be water, rats, electricity, dangerous secrets, hazards, security traps, flames, explosions and gunshots in the tunnel? If you think not, you haven't seen The Rock or all the other movies that inspire this sequence."
- Narrow Margin
"Narrow Margin is a clumsy version of the Idiot Plot, dressed up as a high-gloss chase thriller. The Idiot Plot, of course, is any plot that would be resolved in five minutes if everyone in the story were not an idiot. And rarely has there been a film in which more idiots make more mistakes than in this one"
- Nate and Hayes
"Nate and Hayes is one of the more inexplicable films I've encountered recently. The part I can't explain is: Why did they make it? The movie is a loud, confusing, pointless mess that never seems to make up its mind whether to be a farce or an adventure. You know you're in trouble when people are carrying swords and talking like TV Game Show contestants."
- National Lampoons Van Wilder
""On a scale of 1-10 shots of bourbon needed to make a pledge ralph," writes Bob Patterson of the Web site Delusions of Adequacy, "this film will get a very strong five from most college age film fans who are not offended by vulgar humor. Older filmgoers who might be offended by such offerings are encouraged to do something that is physically impossible (i.e., lift yourself up by your bootstraps)." Although this is obviously the review the movie deserves, I confess the rating scale baffles me. Is it better or worse if a film makes you ralph? Patterson implies that older filmgoers might be offended by vulgar humor. There is a flaw in this reasoning: It is not age but humor that is the variable."
- Needful Things
"Needful Things is yet another one of those films based on a Stephen King story that inspires you to wonder why his stories don't make better films. For everyone that does (Carrie, The Dead Zone, Misery), there are three that don't. In this case, the problem is that the characters are unattractive and the plot, once it reveals itself, lacks any surprises. You know you're in trouble when a movie's about Satan, and his best lines are puns."
- The Next Best Thing
"The Next Best Thing is a garage sale of gay issues, harnessed to a plot as exhausted as a junkman's horse. There are times when the characters don't know if they're living their lives or enacting edifying little dramas for an educational film. The screenplay's so evenhanded it has no likable characters, either gay or straight; after seeing this film, I wanted to move to Garry Shandling's world in What Planet Are You From?, where nobody has sex."
"I saw the movie at a Saturday morning preview attended by hundreds of children. From what I could see and hear, the kids didn't get much out of it. No wonder. Although the material does indeed involve young protagonists, no effort is made to show their lives in a way today's kids can identify with. This movie must seem as odd to them as a foreign film. The fact that old man Pulitzer once tried to cheat newsies out of a tenth of a cent must represent, for many of them, the very definition of the underwhelming."
- Night at the Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian
"Oh, did I dislike this film. It made me squirm. Its premise is lame, its plot relentlessly predictable, its characters with personalities that would distinguish picture books, its cost incalculable (well, $150,000,000). Watching historical figures enact the cliches identified with the most simplistic versions of their images, I found myself yet once again echoing the frequent cry of Gene Siskel: Why not just give us a documentary of the same actors having lunch?"
- A Night at the Roxbury
"D. Kepesh of Chicago writes, "Do you ever find yourself distracted during a screening by thoughts of the review you will later write? Distracted to the point of missing part of the film?" Sometimes it gets much worse than that, D. Sometimes a movie is so witless that I abandon any attempt to think up clever lines for my review, and return in defeat to actually watching the film itself. I approach it as an opportunity for meditation. My mantra is "aargh ... aargh ... " A Night at the Roxbury is such a movie. It's based on the Saturday Night Live skits about the Butabi brothers, Steve and Doug (Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan), who snap their heads in unison with the music and each other, while trying out pick-up lines in spectacularly unlikely situations. I liked the first 60 seconds of the first Butabi brothers sketch I saw, because I found the head-snapping funny. Apart from that, I relate to the sketches basically as a waste of the talent of Kattan, who as Mr. Peepers, the Missing Link, is very funny."
- A Night In Heaven
"If the original Tewkesbury-Avildsen version had been released, maybe it would have been a success. This miserable commercial compromise is dying a slow and richly deserved death at the box office. Maybe the movie would have been a flop anyway. But at least it could have been a flop to be proud of."
- Night of the Living Dead (1990)
"The remake is so close to the original that there is no reason to see both, unless you want to prove to yourself that black and white photography is indeed more effective than color for this material."
- A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
"The Nightmare on Elm Street series has a reputation in the movie business as sort of a high-rent answer to the Friday the 13th saga, and this third episode lives up to the billing. It's slick, it has impressive production values and the acting is appropriate to the material. So why did I find myself so indifferent to the movie? Maybe because it never generated any sympathy for its characters. This is filmmaking by the numbers, without soul."
- A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) (remake)
"I stared at A Nightmare on Elm Street with weary resignation. The movie consists of a series of teenagers who are introduced, haunted by nightmares and then slashed to death by Freddy. So what? Are we supposed to be scared? Is the sudden clanging chord supposed to evoke a fearful Pavlovian response?''"
- Nowhere to Run
"I am trying to remember where I saw "Nowhere to Run" before, but I have forgotten - just as, before too much longer, I will have forgotten Nowhere to Run itself. This is the kind of movie that is so witlessly generic that the plot and title disappear into a mist of other recycled plots and interchangeable titles."
- Nuns on the Run
"Watching Nuns on the Run, I had a fantasy. In my fantasy, the movie's first screening is over, and the lights go up, and before the filmmakers can leave the room, Mother Superior comes in and says, "I want to know who did this." And nobody answers. And then she says that she has all day and that we're all going to sit right here in our seats until she gets the answer to her question. And finally Eric Idle breaks down and points to Robbie Coltrane and says, "He did, sister!" And Coltrane breaks into tears and says, "No, he did!" And then sister says she hopes that whoever did it has made a sincere act of contrition."
- The Nutcracker in 3D
"From what dark night of the soul emerged the wretched idea for The Nutcracker in 3D? Who considered it even remotely a plausible idea for a movie? ... The Nutcracker in 3D easily qualifies as one of the most preposterous ideas in the history of the movies. It isn't a story, it's a gag line for one of David Letterman's 'Top 10 List.'"
- The Odd Couple II
"Watching Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon make the talk show circuit, trading one-liners and barbs like a vaudeville team, I imagined a documentary simply showing them promoting this film. They're funny, familiar, edgy and smart. The Odd Couple II is none of those things, and a much longer list could be made of other things it is not."
- Oh Heavenly Dog
"Oh Heavenly Dog becomes another one of those insufferable movies in which the plot grinds to a dead halt while the trained dog does his tricks. You know: A-ha! The dead woman is connected in some way with the art gallery! Now let's watch Benji pick up a pencil in his teeth and dial the telephone!"
- Old School
"Old School wants to be National Lampoons Animal House, but then don't they all. It assumes that the modern college campus is a hotbed, or is it a sinkpit, of moral squalor, exhibitionism, promiscuity, kinky sex and rampant rampantness. Perhaps it is."
- Only When I Laugh
"Neil Simon's Only When I Laugh is basically a movie about a woman who is recovering from alcoholism, although the film also provides us with a lonely homosexual, a disturbed teenager, a fortyish woman losing her husband, and a “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” scene in which protagonist Marsha Mason is assaulted and raped. It comes billed as one of Neil Simon's "serious" films. That means that it is about serious subjects. It does not mean Simon examines them seriously. The film should have contained half so many problems if he hoped to provide us with insights into them. But Simon uses misfortunes as a way of creating characters. If he can create an "alcoholic," then he doesn't have to create a three-dimensional person for his film. He can just fill out the person's life with predictable crises from the disease. The same with the film's homosexual, who can complain of loneliness, rejection, feelings of inadequacy, can do everything, indeed, except be gay onscreen."
- The Opposite Sexnote
"This is the kind of movie where nothing that is done, said, thought or performed bears any relationship to anyone you have ever met."
"Elder Young is given the role of Orgazmo, a porno superhero with a sidekick named Choda-Boy (Dian Bachar). They crash through cardboard walls to rescue damsels in distress (or damsels being ravished by Ron Jeremy, which amounts to the same thing). His weapon (Orgazmo's) is an Orgazmorator, which immobilizes his enemies with multiple orgasms. In a movie with wit, people would be lining up to become Orgazmo's enemies."
- The Other Sister
"The Other Sister is shameless in its use of mental retardation as a gimmick, a prop and a plot device. Anyone with any knowledge of retardation is likely to find the film offensive. It treats the characters like cute little performing seals—who always deliver their "retarded" dialogue with perfect timing and an edge of irony and drama. Their zingers slide out with the precision of sitcom punch lines."
- The Out Of Towners
"It helps to observe situations closely, to find humor in the details rather than trusting the general scene. Consider a sequence where Henry and Nancy blunder into a meeting of Sex Addicts Anonymous because they're starving, and spot the free sweet rolls. They don't realize what kind of a meeting it is, and the movie thinks that's joke enough, so it doesn't really see the other people at the meeting. I'm reminded of a scene in John Waters' Polyester, where Tab Hunter blunders into an AA meeting and is asked to introduce himself. He gives his name. "And?" ask the assembled members. "AND? AAANNNDDD???" They're shot with a fish-eye lens as they peer at him, waiting for the magic words, "and I'm an alcoholic." In The Out-of-Towners, the filmmakers think it's funny enough that the sex addicts are creepy, and Henry and Nancy are grossed out by their stories. That misses the point. In comedy, you figure out what the objective is and go for it single-mindedly. Why are Henry and Nancy at the meeting? Because they want those sweet rolls! So what should they do? Win the sweet rolls by any means necessary, telling the members whatever they want to hear. I can imagine Martin and Hawn improvising sexual addictions all night long. But not in this movie, which skims the surface."
- The Pagemaster
"The movie is not really interested in why Ahab was driven to hunt the Great White Whale. He's the butt of a joke, a peg-legged punchline forever circling the Pacific, looking for that darned leviathan. Nor does the movie show any curiosity about why a nice doctor would want to transform himself into the monster. Motivation - which is what Moby-Dick and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are about - is not a concept that much interests The Pagemaster. But maybe that doesn't surprise me. Maybe I didn't really go to The Pagemaster hoping that Macaulay Culkin would gain a new appreciation of Moby Dick. Maybe I would have been pleased if The Pagemaster had simply been an entertaining animated feature. If that's the case, then The Pagemaster is still a disappointment."
- Patch Adams
"Patch Adams made me want to spray the screen with Lysol. This movie is shameless. It's not merely a tearjerker. It extracts tears individually by liposuction, without anaesthesia. It is allegedly based on the life of a real man named Patch Adams, who I have seen on television, where he looks like Salvador Dali's seedy kid brother. If all of these things really happened to him, they should have abandoned Robin Williams and brought in Jerry Lewis for the telethon.''
- Pearl Harbor
"Pearl Harbor is a two-hour movie squeezed into three hours, about how on Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese staged a surprise attack on an American love triangle. Its centerpiece is 40 minutes of redundant special effects, surrounded by a love story of stunning banality. The film has been directed without grace, vision, or originality, and although you may walk out quoting lines of dialog, it will not be because you admire them." Chicago Sun-Times review"I was amused by how the movie keeps a straight face, though, while recycling those aged cliches you [Richard Roeper] were talking about. Cliches that MAD Magazine was making fun of when I was a kid!" Ebert & Roeper review
- The Perfect Man
"The Perfect Man crawls hand over bloody hand up the stony face of this plot, while we in the audience do not laugh because it is not nice to laugh at those less fortunate than ourselves, and the people in this movie are less fortunate than the people in just about any other movie I can think of, simply because they are in it."
"I've got another classic to add to my collection of Great Moments in Bad Movies. Michael, the young hero of Phantasm, slams a door on the hand of a sinister figure that is chasing him. Then he slices off the fingers with a knife. The hand spurts bright yellow blood. The plucky youth takes one of the severed fingers home with him and sticks it in a little box. The next morning, the box bounces around because the finger is still alive. Michael explains this to his older brother, Jody, who doesn't believe him. So Jody ever-so-gingerly opens the box. Inside is a severed finger squirming in a pool of yellow blood. "OK," says Jody, closing the box. That Jody has a gift of gab."
"The movie quickly degenerates into another one of those Gotcha! thrillers in which loathsome slimy creatures leap out of drain pipes and sewers and ingest supporting actors, while the stars pump bullets into them. There are a few neat touches. In front of an altar at the local church, the heroes discover a curious pile of stuff: Watches, glasses, ballpoints, pacemakers. At first they think it's an offering to the Virgin Mary. But no: "That's not an offering. Those are undigested remains." How common are these films getting to be? Two out of the three films I saw this particular day used the formula. With a deep bow (almost a salaam) to Tremors, they locate their creatures beneath the surface of the land or sea, so that most of the time, although not enough of the time, you can't see them."
- Pink Cadillac
"This plot is sort of a cross between Midnight Run, with Robert De Niro as a bondsman becoming the friend of his quarry, and Betrayed, with Debra Winger as an undercover agent who falls in love with a white supremacist. There's little that's new in the material, and nobody seems to have asked whether the emotional charge of blatant racism belongs in a lightweight story like this - even if the racists are the villains."
- Pink Flamingos
"There is a temptation to praise the film, however grudgingly, just to show you have a strong enough stomach to take it. It is a temptation I can resist ... Pink Flamingos should be considered not as a film but as a fact, or perhaps as an object."
- Play It To The Bone
"The movie was written and directed by Ron Shelton, an expert on sports movies; he wrote and directed Bull Durham, White Men Can't Jump and Cobb and wrote Blue Chips. One of his trademarks is expertise, and yet Play It to the Bone isn't an inside job on boxing but an assembly of ancient and familiar prizefight cliches (the corrupt promoter, the dubious contract, the ringside celebrities, the cut that may not stop bleeding, the "I coulda been a contender" scene). Even at that level it doesn't have enough of a boxing story to occupy the running time, and warms up with a prolonged and unnecessary road movie."
- Police Academy
"It's really something. It's so bad, maybe you should pool your money and draw straws and send one of the guys off to rent it so that in the future, whenever you think you're sitting through a bad comedy, he could shake his head, and chuckle tolerantly, and explain that you don't know what bad is. This is the kind of movie where they'll bring a couple of characters onscreen and begin to set up a joke, and then, just when you realize you can predict exactly what's going to happen ... not only doesn't it happen, but nothing happens — they just cut to some different characters! If there's anything worse than a punch line that doesn't work, it's a movie that doesn't even bother to put the punch lines in."
- Pootie Tang
"Pootie Tang is not bad so much as inexplicable. You watch in puzzlement: How did this train wreck happen? How was this movie assembled out of such ill-fitting pieces? Who thought it was funny? Who thought it was finished? For that matter, was it finished? Take away the endless opening titles and end credits, and it's about 70 minutes long. The press notes say it comes "from the comedy laboratory of HBO's Emmy Award-winning Chris Rock Show." It's like one of those lab experiments where the room smells like swamp gas and all the mice are dead." Chicago Sun-Times review"You know, I think it's a lot worse than you [Richard Roeper] give it credit for. I think this is really hardly even a movie at all. I mean, if you take out the opening credits and the endless end credits with a music video under them, this movie is barely 70 minutes long. And I noticed in those endless end credits that the end credits and the opening credits were directed by a different person than the person who directed the movie, and I'm gonna propose to you, this movie was never finished. This movie does not feel like it's ready to be released; it feels like there are missing scenes, missing payoffs, missing introductions, and, basically, a missing movie! This is just like, outtakes! These are like the deleted scenes, and they're holding the movie back from us! It's not very bad, it's incompetent." Ebert & Roeper review
"Porky’s is another raunchy teenage sex-and-food-fight movie. The whole genre seems fixated on the late 1950s and early 1960s, when the filmmakers, no doubt, were teenagers. Do today's teenagers really identify with jokes about locker rooms, Trojans, boobs, jockstraps, killer-dyke gym coaches, and barfing? Well, yes, probably they do. Teenagers seem to occupy a time warp of eternally unchanging preoccupations. Hollywood originally entered that world with a certain innocence in the late 1950s with Pat Boone and beach party movies. That innocence is now long, long ago. Since American Graffiti, National Lampoon’s Animal House, and Meatballs, the A.C.N.E.S. movie has turned cynical. You remember what A.C.N.E.S. stands for. It's an acronym for any movie about the dreaded Adolescent Character's Neurotic Eroticism Syndrome."
- The Postman
"The movie has a lot of unwise shots resulting in bad laughs, none more ill-advised than one where the Postman, galloping down a country lane, passes a gate where a tow-headed little tyke holds on a letter. Some sixth sense causes the Postman to look back, see the kid, turn around, then gallop back to him, snatching up the letter at full tilt. This touching scene, shot with a zoom lens in slow motion to make it even more fatuous than it needed to be, is later immortalized in a bronze statue, unveiled at the end of the movie. As a civic figure makes a speech in front of the statue, which is still covered by a tarpaulin, a member of the audience whispered, “They've bronzed the Postman!” Dear reader, that member was me, and I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that I was right."
- The Princess Diaries
"Haven't I seen this movie before? The Princess Diaries is a march through the swamp of recycled ugly duckling stories, with occasional pauses in the marsh of sitcom cliches and the bog of Idiot Plots. You recall the Idiot Plot. That's the plot that would be solved in an instant if anyone on the screen said what was obvious to the audience. A movie like this isn't entertainment. It's more like a party game where you lose if you say the secret word."
"In Part 2, she is the beloved Princess Mia of Genovia, a kingdom the size of a movie set, which is apparently located somewhere in Europe and populated by citizens who speak American English, except for a few snaky types with British accents. This kingdom has two peculiarities: (1) The shops and homes all seem to be three-quarter-scale models of the sorts of structures an American Girl doll would occupy, and (2) A great many of the extras get a few extra frames, in order to look uncannily as if they might be personal friends of the director. So many prosperous men in their 60s, so well-barbered, groomed and dressed, so Southern California in their very bearing, are unlikely to be visiting Genovia for any other reason, since the kingdom doesn't seem to have a golf course."
- The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
- Prison Girls
"The first explanation that leaps to mind is that the movie was so cheap they couldn't afford prison sets. But, no, that doesn't make sense, because the current wave of prison movies was INVENTED to save money on sets. If you shoot a whole movie in a motel room, the audience is going to notice that you're cheap with the sets. But if you shoot a whole movie in a prison cell, everybody understands because the characters are locked in anyway. So I guess Prison Girls didn't have a lot of prison sets because it was a big-budget exploitation movie. Maybe."
- Psycho (1998) note
"Curious, how similar the new version is, and how different. If you have seen Hitchcock's film, you already know the characters, the dialogue, the camera angles, the surprises. All that is missing is the tension—the conviction that something urgent is happening on the screen at this very moment. The movie is an invaluable experiment in the theory of cinema, because it demonstrates that a shot-by-shot remake is pointless; genius apparently resides between or beneath the shots, or in chemistry that cannot be timed or counted." Chicago Sun-Times review"Rent the original." Siskel & Ebert review
Other Hated Films Q-Z
- Radio Flyer
"Radio Flyer pushes so many buttons that I wanted to start pushing back. One of the things I resisted was the movie's almost doglike desire to please. It seems to be asking: How can anyone dislike a movie that is against child abuse, and believes little red wagons can fly? I found it fairly easy. The movie pushes so many fundamental questions under the rug of its convenient screenplay that the happy ending seems like cheating, if not like fraud."
- Raising Arizona
"The movie cannot decide if it exists in the real world of trailer parks and 7-Elevens and Pampers, or in a fantasy world of characters from another dimension. It cannot decide if it is about real people, or comic exaggerations. It moves so uneasily from one level of reality to another that finally we're just baffled. Comedy often depends on frustrating the audience's expectations. But how can it work when we don't have a clue about what to expect — when the movie itself doesn't know what is possible and what is not?"
- Return to the Blue Lagoon
"The sincere idiocy of this film really has to be seen to be appreciated - not that I think there is any need for you to see, or appreciate, it. Return to the Blue Lagoon aspires to the soft-core porn achievements of the earlier film, but succeeds instead of creating a new genre, no-core porn."
"Guy Ritchie's Revolver is a frothing mad film that thrashes against its very sprocket holes in an attempt to bash its brains out against the projector. It seems designed to punish the audience for buying tickets. It is a "thriller" without thrills, constructed in a meaningless jumble of flashbacks and flash-forwards and subtitles and mottos and messages and scenes that are deconstructed, reconstructed and self-destructed. I wanted to signal the projectionist to put a gun to it."
"The center part of the film — the country "training" sessions — could have been fun if they'd been written with a satiric edge. Unfortunately, they seem to have been written with a blunt instrument. Dolly explains that the way to "walk country" is to pretend you have jock itch. Stallone needs to have this concept explained to him."
- Roller Boogie
"The movie, as you have guessed, is not very deep. But I've been thinking: Is it a bad movie, or is it just that my tastes have completely changed since those long-ago days when I could see some residual virtue in Annette and Frankie and the gang? Let's say Roller Boogie is no better and no worse than the beach blanket/bikini/bingo/bongo movies, and from there you're going to have to take it by yourself."
- Rollerball (2002)
"Someday this film may inspire a long, thoughtful book by John Wright, its editor. My guess is that something went dreadfully wrong early in the production. Maybe dysentery or mass hypnosis. And the director, John McTiernan (Die Hard), was unable to supply Wright with the shots he needed to make sense of the story. I saw a Russian documentary once where half the shots were blurred and overexposed, because the KGB attacked the negative with X-rays. Maybe this movie was put through an MRI scan. Curiously, the signifiers have survived, but not the signified. Characters set up big revelations and then forget to make them. And the long, murky night sequence looks like it was shot, pointlessly, with the green-light Night Shot feature on a consumer video camera." Chicago Sun-Times review"I think "Rollerball" consists of throwing a ball at a golden gong and setting off a shower of sparks without getting yourself murdered, but I'm not sure. Even the Romijn-Stamos character admits she doesn't understand the game, which is OK, because Jean Reno suspends all the rules, all the fouls, and all the penalties in order to get a player killed and also, as he keeps screaming, "To get that North American cable deal"! You don't often see a big-budget movie this incoherent and chaotic." Ebert & Roeper review
- Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
"As a play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern is fascinating; we use our knowledge of Hamlet to piece together the half-glimpsed, incomplete actions of the major players, whose famous scenes we see a line or a moment at a time. As a movie, this material, freely adapted by Stoppard, is boring and endless. It lies flat on the screen, hardly stirring."
- Rude Awakening
"No one in this movie has an adequate intelligence level. The dialogue of the characters is half-witted, their actions are inexplicable, and to the degree that they possess personalities, they are boring, self-important clods. Rude Awakening made me wonder if perhaps it wouldn't have been the best idea, after all, to just let the memories of 1969 slip gracefully into the past, instead of dredging them up in a film so ham-handed and politically obtuse that it is an actual insult to whatever beliefs it dimly thinks it upholds."
- Rush Hour 2
"Jackie Chan complained, I hear, that the Hollywood filmmakers didn't give him time to compose his usual elaborately choreographed stunts in Rush Hour 2, preferring shorter bursts of action. Too bad Brett Ratner, the director, didn't focus instead on shortening Tucker's dialogue scenes. Tucker plays an L.A. cop who on the evidence of this movie is a race-fixated motormouth who makes it a point of being as loud, offensive and ignorant as he possibly can be." Chicago Sun-Times review"The problem with this movie is Chris Tucker never. Shuts. Up. He acts less like a cop than like a madman on speed. I was personally embarrassed during a scene in a casino, where he starts screaming that the dealer is a racist. I don't think long rants where black guys insult white guys are any funnier than when white guys insult black guys, especially when the white guy hasn't done anything, and the other actors have to stand around pretending not to notice that they're in the company of an egomaniacal motormouth. There are some impressive stunts in the movie, and some funny moments, but basically, Rush Hour 2 sinks under the weight of Chris Tucker's overacting." Ebert & Roeper review
- Saturn 3
"This movie is awesomely stupid, totally implausible from a scientific viewpoint, and a shameful waste of money. If Grade and Kastner intend to continue producing films with standards this low, I think they ought instead, in simple fairness, to simply give their money to filmmakers at random. The results couldn't be worse."
- Say It Isn't So
"Say It Isn't So, on the other hand, keeps a character embarrassed in scene after scene, until he becomes an...embarrassment. The movie doesn't understand that embarrassment comes in a sudden painful flush of realization; drag it out, and it's not embarrassment anymore, but public humiliation, which is a different condition, and not funny."
- Scary Movie 3
"Scary Movie 3 understands the concept of a spoof but not the concept of a satire. It clicks off several popular movies (Signs, The Sixth Sense, The Matrix, 8 Mile, The Ring) and recycles scenes from them through a spoofalator, but it's feeding off these movies, not skewering them. The average issue of MAD magazine contains significantly smarter movie satire, because Mad goes for the vulnerable elements and Scary Movie 3 just wants to quote and kid."
- Scenes From A Mall
"There is a theory about film directing which teaches that every shot is wasted that does not further the story. When details are added to make things “interesting” or “colorful,” they only distract from the forward progress of the narrative, and bore us. For example, I tell you, “A guy is on a lonely road in cold weather, trying to get his car started.” What do you want to know? What he does to get his car started, right? Now what if I say, “A balding, middle-aged appliance salesman is on Alaska Route 47, trying to get his Ford Crown Victoria started when it’s 47 below zero.” More interesting, or less? Less, I’d say, because the additional detail was not crucial for the thrust of my story. And what if I added lots of other touches, like giving him a bumper sticker that says “The more I know men, the more I trust dogs.” Better, or worse? In a mediocre film with nothing to say, the details might provide momentary flashes of distraction. But the pure story line would be lost: The guy against the elements and a stubborn machine. When a movie seems overflowing with interesting, colorful details, that is often a sign of desperation - a way of saying, if the picture’s no good, get a gaudier frame."
"Not only am I ill-prepared to review the movie, but I venture to guess that anyone who is not literally a member of a Scooby-Doo fan club would be equally incapable. This movie exists in a closed universe, and the rest of us are aliens. The Internet was invented so that you can find someone else's review of Scooby-Doo. Start surfing." Chicago Sun-Times review"This is my introduction to the entire genre, and I hope it's the end of my exposure to this genre because I'm completely unmoved by this film. I don't understand, I don't understand it, I didn't get it, it wasn't funny, I didn't like it, and that's it." Ebert & Roeper review
"Scrooged is one of the most disquieting, unsettling films to come along in quite some time. It was obviously intended as a comedy, but there is little comic about it, and indeed the movie's overriding emotions seem to be pain and anger. This entire production seems to be in dire need of visits from the ghosts of Christmas. ... You can't bad-mouth A Christmas Carol all the way through and then expect us to believe the good cheer at the end. In his studies of Dickens in preparation for this role, Murray seems to have read only as far as 'Bah! Humbug!'"
- The Second Jungle Book
"It is not easy to get a movie made, and even harder to make one for young audiences. If you're going to the effort, why not make a smart one? Young moviegoers, in my experience, are sharp and observant: Bored by countless hours of brainless television, they don't want the same old stuff on a movie screen. At a time when a film like Shiloh is playing in theaters, there is no reason to see Rudyard Kipling's etc., etc."
- The Secret of My Success
"The Secret of My Success seems trapped in some kind of time warp, as if the screenplay had been in a drawer since the 1950's and nobody bothered to update it. This is the kind of movie that should star Tony Randall or Gig Young opposite Judy Holliday or Doris Day, and, in fact, they were wonderful in the 1950's classics that Secret recycles."
- See Spot Run
"See Spot Run is pitched at the same intellectual level as the earlier stories involving Spot, which I found so immensely involving in the first grade. There are a few refinements. The characters this time are named Gordon, Stephanie and James, instead of Dick and Jane. And I don't recall the Spot books describing the hero rolling around in doggy poo, or a gangster getting his testicles bitten off, but times change. The gangster is named Sonny Talia, in a heroic act of restraint by the filmmakers, who could have named him Gino with no trouble at all."
- September Dawn
"On Sept. 11, 1857, at the Mountain Meadows Massacre, a group of fanatic Mormons attacked and slaughtered a wagon train of about 120 settlers passing through Utah on their way to California. Can we all agree that the date has no significance? No, we cannot, because September Dawn is at pains to point out that on another Sept. 11, another massacre took place, again spawned by religion. ... What a strange, confused, unpleasant movie this is. Two theories have clustered around it: (1) It is anti-Mormon propaganda to muddy the waters around the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney note , or (2) it is not about Mormons at all, but an allegory about the 9/11/01 terrorists. Take your choice. The problem with allegories is that you can plug them in anywhere. No doubt the film would have great impact in Darfur."
- Seven Days In Utopia
"I would rather eat a golf ball than see this movie again. It tells the dreadful parable of a pro golfer who was abused by his dad, melts down in the Texas Open and stumbles into the clutches of an insufferable geezer in the town of Utopia (pop. 375), who promises him that after seven days in Utopia, he will be playing great golf. He will also find Jesus, but for that, you don't have to play golf, although it might help."
- Sex And The City 2
"Some of these people make my skin crawl. The characters of Sex and the City 2 are flyweight bubbleheads living in a world which rarely requires three sentences in a row. Their defining quality is consuming things. They gobble food, fashion, houses, husbands, children, vitamins and freebies. They must plan their wardrobes on the phone, so often do they appear in different basic colors, like the plugs you pound into a Playskool workbench."
- Shadow Conspiracy
"There isn't a brain in its empty little head, or in its assembly-line story, which is about how Charlie Sheen pauses occasionally between ludicrous action scenes, some of them ripped off from better films."
- Sibling Rivalry
"All of the wheels go round on Sibling Rivalry, and the pistons go up and down and the gears churn ferociously, but nothing much creeps out onto the assembly line. Here is a comedy so lifeless and mechanical that the main diversion is in watching the way the pieces go together."
- Silent Fall
"Silent Fall has such a torturously constructed plot, but the solution to the mystery has been right there all along. I refer you to the entry on "The Law of Economy of Characters" in Ebert's Little Movie Glossary, which observes that since there are no unnecessary characters, the guilty person in a whodunit is inevitably the one who otherwise seems unaccounted for."
- Silent Hill
"I was out in Boulder last week on a panel about video games and whether they can be art, and a lot of the students said they were really looking forward to Silent Hill because it's one of the best games and they read on the internet that the movie was supposed to live up to the game. That was all speculation, of course, because Sony Pictures declined to preview the film for anybody, perhaps because they were concerned it would not live up to the game, or because they were afraid it would. When I told one student that the movie was not being previewed, there was real pain on his face, as if he had personally been devalued."
- Sky Bandits
"The design of the airplanes in this movie is its single, lonely, redeeming facet. Everything else is surprisingly boring, given the fact that the movie cost a reported $17 million to make. The plot involves aerial battles in World War I, but the dialogue rolls along at about the level and intensity of a couple of fraternity kids making plans for the weekend."
"A dirty movie. Not a sexy, erotic, steamy or even smutty movie, but a just plain dirty movie. It made me feel unclean, and I'm the guy who liked There's Something About Mary and both American Pie movies. Oh, and Booty Call. This film knows no shame."
"I don't require all high school (or junior high) comedies to involve smart, imaginative, articulate future leaders. But I am grateful when the movie at least devises something interesting for them to do, or expresses empathy with their real natures. The characters in Sleepover are shadows of shadows, diluted from countless better, even marginally better, movies. There was no reason to make this movie, and no reason to see it." Chicago Sun-Times review"Sleepover. This is a hopeless movie, almost pathetic in the way it assembles the usual materials of a teenage girl comedy, but is completely unable to do anything interesting with them. Once again, we get the smart but unpopular girls, led by Alexa Vega, and the pack of snobs who rule the school, led by Sara Paxton. Lots and lots of would-be comedy in this movie involves sneaking out of the house, and, of course, sneaking into the house. There's even a scavenger hunt in this movie, and it seems very important when they first announce it, although the movie keeps seeming to forget about it, and, isn't it strange how the adults remain oblivious to the total chaos happening all around them. Thumbs Down." Ebert & Roeper review
- Smokey And The Bandit II
"There is no need for this movie. That's true of most sequels, but it's especially true of Smokey and the Bandit II, which is basically just the original movie done again, not as well."
- Snake Eyes
"If Brian De Palma were as good at rewriting as he is at visual style, Snake Eyes might have been a heck of a movie. He isn't, and it isn't. It's the worst kind of bad film: the kind that gets you all worked up and then lets you down, instead of just being lousy from the first shot."
- Son of the Mask
"What we basically have here is a license for the filmmakers to do whatever they want to do with the special effects, while the plot, like Wile E. Coyote, keeps running into the wall."
- Soul Man
"This is a genuinely interesting idea, filled with dramatic possibilities, but the movie approaches it on the level of a dim-witted sit-com. Thoughtful scenes are followed by slapstick, emotional moments lead right into farce, and the movie doesn't have an ounce of true moral courage; it sidesteps every single big issue that it raises."
- Speed Zone
"Read my lips. Cars are not funny. Speeding cars are not funny. It is not funny when a car spins around and speeds in the other direction. It is not funny when a car flies through the air. It is not funny when a truck crashes into a car. It is not funny when cops chase speeding cars. It is not funny when cars crash through roadblocks. None of those things are funny. They have never been funny."
"Sphere feels rushed. The screenplay uses lots of talk to conceal the fact the story has never been grappled with. The effects and the sets are pitched at the level of made-for-TV fare. The only excellence is in the acting, and even then the screenplay puts the characters through so many U-turns that dramatic momentum is impossible."
- The Spirit
"The Spirit is mannered to the point of madness. There is not a trace of human emotion in it. To call the characters cardboard is to insult a useful packing material. The movie is all style — style without substance, style whirling in a senseless void. The film's hero is an ex-cop reincarnated as an immortal enforcer; for all the personality he exhibits, we would welcome Elmer Fudd."
- Spy Kids 3D: Game Over
"The movie has cute stuff like multiple roles (Stallone talking to three other characters played by himself) and celebrity supporting appearances (George Clooney, Steve Buscemi, Bill Paxton, Mike Judge). But I wasn't excited, I wasn't amused, and although 3-D didn't help, the movie wouldn't work in 2-D, either. Rodriguez famously loves to work fast, but speed in execution requires care in preparation. At the basic levels of production design and screenplay, this movie is not ready for prime time." Chicago Sun-Times review"You know, my dad took me to see the first 3-D movie, Bwana Devil, and I've seen just just about every 3-D movie since then, and I'm going to tell ya, 3-D sucks as a way at looking at movies! 2-D looks a lot better. It's more convincing, it's brighter, it's crisper, it's cleaner. 3-D, even the very best systems I've seen, kinda washes out things and makes them murky, and doesn't add anything, because I don't care if the arm comes toward me in the screen! I'm really, I'm not really moved by that!." Ebert & Roeper review
- The Spy Next Door
"Truth in reviewing requires me to report that The Spy Next Door is precisely what you would expect from a PG-rated Jackie Chan comedy with that plot. If that's what you're looking for, you won't be disappointed. It's not what I was looking for. There are things you learn from movies like this. (1) All kids know how to use weapons better than Russian mobsters. (2) A villainess in a spy movie always dresses like a dominatrix. (3) Hummers are no help. (4) Kids always hate the guy their mom is dating until they survive in battle with him, and then they love him. (5) Whenever an adult turns away, a small child will instantly disappear. The smaller the child, the more agile. (6) Even in New Mexico, Russian gangsters wear heavy long black leather coats, which they just bought in the duty-free shops at Heathrow. These, added to their 6-foot-5-inch heights and goatees, help them blend in. (7) The mole in the CIA is always the white boss, never the Latino. What else? Oh, (8) if you put a cell phone under a rock with iron in it, it cannot be traced. Only such a rock miles into the desert will work. No good putting it in the stove. (9) Little girls would rather dress in a pink princess outfit than wear a Hulk mask. (10) Spies always have fiery kitchen disasters the first time they cook for kids, and the second time produce perfect French toast with powdered sugar on it. Oh, and (11) no spy has the slightest idea of a reasonable ratio of oatmeal to water."
- The Squeeze
"Sometimes they hold sneak previews for movies, and ask the audience to rate the picture on a scale ranging from "excellent" to "poor." I've got an idea for The Squeeze. They should hand the audience postcards and ask them to mail them back a week after seeing the movie - if they can recall anything about the plot. I'm serious. This movie isn't about anything or anybody, and to remember it is an act of the will." Chicago Sun-Times review"Who could remember a title like The Squeeze? Certainly not me! When we had a conference call to decide, I'm going to tell this story, we had a conference call to decide what movies to put on this show, and The Squeeze was mentioned, I couldn't even remember the name of the movie, I couldn't remember having seen it, they said, "You saw it Friday." I said, "Who was in it?" They said, "Michael Keaton." "Oh, yeah, that movie, right!" This movie is like an occasion, I have to be honest and tell you this, it doesn't make me a bad movie critic that I forgot this movie. I think I could anyone a test six days after they saw this movie. They'd flunk every question! This movie is just vapor, it just goes into your head and evaporates. This is chewing gum for the mind; that is an insult to chewing gum." Siskel & Ebert review
- The Statue
"In addition to being one of the worst movies ever perpetrated, The Statue is based on one of the two or three worst ideas ever conceived for a movie. How it managed to get past the office mimeograph machine, much less get read, financed, produced, acted in and even released, is a mystery maybe only that helpful stranger, with his boundless optimism for bad plots, could explain. ... I suppose a funny movie might have been made of this material. No, on second thought, I suppose not. Certainly not with David Niven looking so uncomfortable you wish, for his sake, he were in another movie, or even unemployed. Anywhere except under those pigeons."
- Steal Big, Steal Little
"Remember those supermarket contests where the teams raced down the scales, trying to pile as much stuff as possible into a shopping cart? Steal Big, Steal Little reads like the screenplay was assembled the same way, with the filmmakers racing through the Used Movie Parts Store, grabbing everything off the shelves and piling it into the movie. Here is a film that is seriously overloaded."
- Stealing Home
"The problem is possibly with me. I detested Stealing Home so much, from beginning to end, that I left the screening wondering if any movie could possibly be that bad. Never mind the hoots and catcalls from others in the preview audience; they had their own problems. I resolved to sit in a quiet place and run through the movie once again in my mind, trying to see through its paralyzing sincerity to the intelligence, if any, inside."
"Stealth is an offense against taste, intelligence and the noise pollution code — a dumbed-down Top Gun crossed with the HAL 9000 plot from 2001. It might be of interest to you if you want to see lots of jet airplanes going real fast and making a lot of noise, and if you don't care that the story doesn't merely defy logic, but strips logic bare, cremates it and scatters its ashes. Here is a movie with the nerve to discuss a computer brain 'like a quantum sponge' while violating Newton's Laws of Motion."
- Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot
"The domineering mother is not one of my favorite comic characters anyway, but Stop! Or My Mom will Shoot loses its nerve and doesn't make Getty half as bad as she could have been, or Stallone nearly the milquetoast his character should really be. What we get instead of personalities and comic characters are two stick figures, plugged into a series of unfunny, unoriginal situations that seem taken right off the shelf."
- The Story Of Us
"Rob Reiner's The Story of Us is a sad-sack movie about the misery of a married couple (Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer) who fight most of the time. Watching it is like taking a long trip in a small car with the Bickersons. I leave it to you to guess whether the movie has a happy ending, but what if it does? A movie like this is about what we endure while we're watching it, not about where it finally arrives."
- Straight to Hell
"Straight to Hell was "filmed in three weeks on a shoestring budget of $1 million," but looks more as if it were filmed in one week on Cox's Master Card. The cast is littered with familiar faces who dropped in for the fun: Strummer, Elvis Costello, Grace Jones, Jim Jarmusch, and Dennis Hopper - whose mere presence should have sent up some sort of a warning light. It was Hopper who went to Peru in 1970 and made The Last Movie / Chinchero, another shapeless gonzo Western starring lots of rock stars and personal friends, and the backlash from that movie put his career on hold for years. Cox seems to have staged the same sort of come-as-you-are party."
- Stroker Ace
"To call the movie a lightweight, bubble-headed summer entertainment is not criticism but simply description. This movie is so determined to be inconsequential that it's actually capable of showing horrible, fiery racing crashes and then implying that nobody got hurt. The plot involves a feud between two NASCAR drivers (played by Reynolds and Parker Stevenson) who specialize in sideswiping each other at 140 m.p.h. in the middle of a race. I don't think that's a very slick idea."
- Summer School
"The movie contains: practical jokes, field trips, rebellion, acceptance, evil principals, absent girlfriends, a birth, a scene involving lots of special-effects makeup, a display of total teaching ineptitude, and some very mild sex. It doesn't even have the nerve to be vulgar, to be the kind of mass trash that the ads promise. It's a vaporfilm. You see it, you leave the theater, and then it evaporates, leaving just a slight residue, something like a vaguely unpleasant taste in the memory."
- Sweet November
"Sweet November passes off pathological behavior as romantic bliss. It's about two sick and twisted people playing mind games and calling it love. I don't know who I disliked more intensely—Nelson, the abrupt, insulting ad man played by Keanu Reeves, or Sara, Charlize Theron's narcissistic martyr." Chicago Sun-Times review"Yeah, he climbs through the window, he's like Santa Claus, and out of the bag, among the things he takes out of the bag, is an automatic dishwasher. Now how can you get an automatic dishwasher into a bag small enough that you can climb through a second floor window with it over your shoulder? The answer, I'm afraid, is this is a very. Small. Automatic dishwasher. But as he pulls it out of the bag, I was just shaking my head in disbelief." Ebert & Roeper review
- Swept Away
"Swept Away is a deserted island movie during which I desperately wished the characters had chosen one movie to take along if they were stranded on a deserted island, and were showing it to us instead of this one."
- Tai Pan
"Of the women of Tai-Pan, it can be said that Joan Collins could have played each and every one of them at some point in her career. My favorite is Mary Sinclair (Katy Behean), who comes out to Hong Kong as a simple English lass and, through pluck and dedication, becomes a successful prostitute, inspiring the immortal line, "You're not the Mary Sinclair I knew." Then there is May-May (Joan Chen), Brown's Chinese mistress, who will-will. Their most tender moment comes when she loses face with him and wants to commit suicide, and he helps her regain face by whipping her but not really hitting her very hard. You gotta love this guy." Chicago Sun-Times review"Apparently what happened is, the entire British empire went out there and spent 40 years in bed, right? And occasionally, they got up for a costume dance or a swordfight. And the other amazing thing is, none of these guys age, you notice that? You see Brian Brown at the beginning, they're shelling the Chinese coast, it's about 1802 or 1804. 40 years later, he's still dancing around on the parapets in this big swordfight. Meanwhile, he's got a grown son. I mean, he must be about 80 by then. And he hasn't, I mean, not a single whisker has changed. It's unbelievable!" Siskel & Ebert review
"Why was it thought that [Queen] Latifah needed to make a movie as obviously without ambition, imagination or purpose as Taxi? Doesn't she know that at this point in her career she should be looking for some lean and hungry Sundance type to put her in a zero-budget masterpiece that could win her the Oscar? True, it could turn out to be a flop. But better to flop while trying to do something good than flop in something that could not be good, was never going to be good, and only gets worse as it plows along."
- Team America: World Police
"If I were asked to extract a political position from the movie, I'd be baffled. It is neither for nor against the war on terrorism, just dedicated to ridiculing those who wage it and those who oppose it. The White House gets a free pass, since the movie seems to think Team America makes it own policies without political direction. I wasn't offended by the movie's content so much as by its nihilism. At a time when the world is in crisis and the country faces an important election, the response of Parker, Stone and company is to sneer at both sides — indeed, at anyone who takes the current world situation seriously. They may be right that some of us are puppets, but they're wrong that all of us are fools, and dead wrong that it doesn't matter."
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.
"I liked the older superheroes better. The ones that stood out from a crowd, had their own opinions, were not afraid of ridicule, and symbolized a future of truth and justice. Spiderman and Superman represented democratic values. Today's kids are learning from the Turtles that the world is a sinkhole of radioactive waste, that it's more reassuring to huddle together in sewers than take your chances competing at street level, and that individuality is dangerous. Cowabunga." Chicago Sun-Times review"Here you have kind of a collective group of these radioactive turtles who seem to applaud the lowest common denominator. They talk to each other in the way that teenage boys sometimes do when they're trying not to stand out from the crowd by having any ideas. You know, "Cowabunga, dude." It's like, uh, as long as we all talk in this way and act in unison, we don't have any ideas of our own, we're not individuals, we don't have to make decisions, it will all be just fine. It's really, it's really depressing. I think there's something going on with these turtles that is telling us something alarming about our society." Siskel & Ebert review
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
"The new version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a contemptible film: Vile, ugly and brutal. There is not a shred of a reason to see it. Those who defend it will have to dance through mental hoops of their own devising, defining its meanness and despair as 'style' or 'vision' or 'a commentary on our world.' It is not a commentary on anything, except the marriage of slick technology with the materials of a geek show."
- 'Til There Was You
"Here is the most tiresome and affected movie in many a moon, a 114-minute demonstration of the Idiot Plot, in which everything could be solved with a few well-chosen words that are never spoken." Chicago Sun-Times review"Didn't it strike you as strange that although the building was built by the mentor of the hero architect, he didn't know that that was her building? He would have known his own teacher's most famous building there in town. The casting director should be fired for having cast this picture. Now I know them because some of these people are stars on television. I presume that there are some people who will be able to tell them apart, but I kept thinking, "Is this the professor, or is it the architect, or is it some other guy who was this guy? Is that the relationship? Is this the guy she knew then, and this is the guy she knows now, or are they each other?"" Siskel & Ebert review
- That Old Feeling
"Remember those little Scotty dogs kids used to play with? They were glued to magnets. If you pointed them one way, they jumped toward each other, and if you pointed them the opposite way, they jumped apart. Carl Reiner's That Old Feeling is an entire movie based on the dance of the Scotty dogs, and the characters in it act as mechanically as if they had big magnets strapped to their thighs"
- The Thing With Two Heads
"The publicity for the movie warns against the possibility of "apoplectic strokes, cerebral hemorrhages, cardiac seizures or fainting spells" during the movie, but they're just trying to make themselves look good. The only first aid they really need is hot coffee for the patrons who doze off."
"Here is a film that is scoring 79% on Rotten Tomatoes. For what? The standards for comic book superhero movies have been established by Superman, The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 2 and Iron Man. In that company Thor is pitiful. Consider even the comparable villains (Lex Luthor, the Joker, Doc Ock and Obadiah Stane). Memories of all four come instantly to mind. Will you be thinking of Loki six minutes after this movie is over?"
- A Thousand Words
- ¡Three Amigos!
"The ideas to make Three Amigos into a good comedy are here, but the madness is missing. All great farces need a certain insane focus, an intensity that declares how important they are to themselves. This movie is too confident, too relaxed, too clever to be really funny. And yet, when the cowboys sit around their campfire singing a sad lament and then their horses join in, you see where the movie could have gone." Chicago Sun-Times review"This is not a good movie. The Randy Newman songs are funny; Randy Newman wrote them, and he performs as the singing bush. Martin Short, who was so weird all last year on Saturday Night Live, everything he did was funny; this time, they seem to have him in a straightjacket, maybe because his wild comedy doesn't go along with the real laid back style of Steve Martin, and as for Chevy Chase, he's so laid back that occasionally he only seems to be visiting as a, you know, visiting the set today, just looking around." Siskel & Ebert review
- Three O'Clock High
"The plot of this movie is pretty stupid, but that's because the filmmakers counted on the impending fight scene, I guess to maintain suspense. There's nonsense about the hero robbing the student store in order to hire another tough kid to protect him. More nonsense about a sex-mad teacher who is turned on by the hero's book report. And a particularly distasteful scene at a pep rally, where cheerleaders use baseball bats to tear apart the other school's stuffed mascot."
- Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie
"As faithful readers will know, I have a few cult followers who enjoy my reviews of bad movies. These have been collected in the books I Hated, Hated, Hated, HATED This Movie; Your Movie Sucks, and A Horrible Experience of Unendurable Length. This movie is so bad, it couldn't even inspire a review worthy of one of those books. I have my standards."
"The men in Tomcats are surrounded by beautiful women, but they hate and fear them. That alone is enough to sink the film, since no reasonable person in the audience can understand why these guys are so weirdly twisted. But then the film humiliates the women, and we wince when it wants us to laugh. Here is a comedy positioned outside the normal range of human response. ... The movie belongs to an old and tired movie tradition, in which guys are terrified that wedding bells may be breaking up that old gang of theirs (only last week we had The Brothers, an African-American version of the theme, but gentler and nicer). There is always one guy who is already (unhappily) married, one who is threatened with marriage, one who claims he will never marry and then the hero, who wants to marry off the unmarriagable one, to win a bet. This plot is engraved on a plaque in the men's room of the Old Writers' Retirement Home. ... Tomcats was written and directed by Gregory Poirier, who also wrote See Spot Run and thus pulls off the neat trick, within one month, of placing two titles on my list of the worst movies of the year. There is a bright spot. He used up all his doggy-do-do ideas in the first picture."
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a horrible experience of unbearable length, briefly punctuated by three or four amusing moments. One of these involves a dog-like robot humping the leg of the heroine. Such are the meager joys. If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination." note"The series exists to show gigantic and hideous robots hammering one another. So it does. The last hour involves a battle for the universe which for some reason is held at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive in Chicago. This battle is protracted mercilessly beyond all reason, at an ear-shattering sound level, with incomprehensible Autobots and Decepticons sliced up into spurts of action with no sense of the space they occupy."
- Trapped In Paradise
"Listen. You want to see a comedy about a nice family that ends up playing host to criminals on Christmas Eve? Rent The Ref, which came out earlier this year and is now in video stores. My rating, three stars. As for Trapped in Paradise, it should be preserved by the Library of Congress, as an example of creative desperation. It plays like a documentary about a group of actors forced to perform in a screenplay that contains not one single laugh, or moment of wit, or flash of intelligence, or reason for being."
"Now what can you really say about a movie where Joan Crawford, dressed in an immaculate beige pantsuit, hunts through a cave shouting: "Trog! Here, Trog!" to her pet troglodyte? A scene like that surpasses absurdity, and so does this movie."
"This is one of those movies where you keep asking questions. Questions like: How much money does an airline lose by flying a 747 from New York to L.A. with a dozen passengers on board? Like, do passengers board 747s from the rear door? Like, can a 747 fly upside down? Like, have you ever seen Christmas decorations inside an airplane (lights and wreaths and bows and mistletoe)? Like, why don't the oxygen masks drop down automatically when the cabin depressurizes—and why do they drop down later, during a fire? Like, do storms reach as high as the cruising altitude of a transcontinental flight? The big conflict involves the Lonely Hearts Killer and two flight attendants. One of them (Catherine Hicks) is strangled fairly early. The other (Lauren Holly) wages a heroic fight after both pilots are killed. It's up to her to fend off the madman and somehow land the big plane. Holly's performance is the key to the movie, and it's not very good: She screams a lot and keeps shouting “ooohhh!” but doesn't generate much charisma. Frankly, I wish the killer had strangled her and left the more likable Hicks to land the plane."
- Turk 182!
"The sad thing about Turk 182! is that, the whole project sounds like a High Concept movie, in which the idea of the Turk was allowed to substitute for a story about him. Sure, it would be neat to see a movie about a guy like this. But not this movie."
- Turn It Up
"Turn It Up tells the story of a moral weakling who compromises his way through bloodbaths and drug deals while whining about his values. Here's one of those movies where the more the characters demand respect, the less they deserve it. What's pathetic is that Turn It Up halfway wants its hero to serve as a role model, but neither the hero nor the movie is prepared to walk the walk."
- The Tuxedo
"There's something engaging about Jackie Chan. Even in a bad movie, I like him, because what you see is so obviously what you get. This time he goes light on the stunts, at least the stunts he obviously does himself, so that during the closing credits, there are lots of flubbed lines and times when the actors break out laughing, but none of those spellbinding shots in which he misses the bridge, falls off the scaffold, etc. And some of the shots are computer-generated, which is kind of cheating isn't it, with Jackie Chan? Luckily, special effects are not frowned upon at the Insect Fear Film Festival."
- The Twilight Saga: New Moon
"The Twilight Saga: New Moon takes the tepid achievement of Twilight (2008), guts it, and leaves it for undead. You know you're in trouble with a sequel when the word of mouth advises you to see the first movie twice instead. Obviously the characters all have. Long opening stretches of this film make utterly no sense unless you walk in knowing the first film, and hopefully both Stephanie Meyer novels, by heart. Edward and Bella spend murky moments glowering at each other and thinking, So, here we are again."
"Philip Kaufman's Twisted walks like a thriller and talks like a thriller, but it squawks like a turkey. And yet the elements are in place for a film that works — all until things start becoming clear and mysteries start being solved and we start shaking our heads, if we are well-mannered, or guffawing, if we are not."
- Two Much
"The elements are here, I suppose, for a successful comedy. But elements don’t count in screwball, because nobody takes them seriously anyway. What counts is energy, tone and timing. Banderas has an extended scene where he races between the bedrooms of the sisters, past a swimming pool, while frantically changing bathrobes. It's not funny. It goes on and on and still doesn't become funny, and I don't know why it doesn't: This is a classic screwball situation, but the fuse doesn't light."
- Two of a Kind
"Give me a break. Don't send me any more movies where four angels in heaven ask God to give mankind a second chance, and God agrees — on the condition that John Travolta reforms. This movie should have been struck by a lightning bolt."
- U Turn
"Only Oliver Stone knows what he was trying to accomplish by making U-Turn, and it is a secret he doesn't share with the audience. This is a repetitive, pointless exercise in genre filmmaking—the kind of movie where you distract yourself by making a list of the sources."
- Ulysses' Gaze
"Because it is a noble epic set amid the ruins of the Russian empire and the genocide of what was Yugoslavia, there is a temptation to give Ulysses' Gaze the benefit of the doubt: To praise it for its vision, its daring, its courage, its great length. But I would not be able to look you in the eye if you went to see it, because how could I deny that it is a numbing bore? A director must be very sure of his greatness to inflict an experience like this on the audience, and Theo Angelopoulos was so sure that when he only won the Special Jury Prize at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, he made his displeasure obvious on the stage. He thought he should have won the Palme d'Or, which went instead to Underground, by Emir Kusturica, which also was three hours long and also set in the wreckage of Yugoslavia, but had at least the virtue of not being almost unendurable."
- Until September
"I knew we were in trouble when Karen Allen told Thierry Lhermitte he had the most beautiful eyes she'd ever seen. His eyes looked more to me like the kind of eyes where, when you turned up looking like that, the nuns sent you to see the school nurse. But then perhaps I am being unfair. Perhaps I do not like Thierry Lhermitte. Perhaps I think he is the biggest drip I've seen in a love story in years. He is the kind of romantic leading man who has the audience wondering when the real leading man is going to turn up and wipe this guy out of the picture. But Until September denies us that relief. This is a dumb, pointless, boring romance from beginning to end. Some measure of its desperation comes during the French toast scene, where the two lovers discuss the proper way to hold a fork. This is a scene that cries out for a Groucho Marx to pop up at the first mention of a fork, and cackle, "Your place or mine?""
- Vampire in Brooklyn
"At one point early in Vampire in Brooklyn, the vampire's victim says, "Don't be pulling that old Blacula - - - - on me." If only he had been! Blacula (1972), actually one of the better movies from the blaxploitation period, was miles better than this disorganized mess. Eddie Murphy, whose career is seriously in need of reviving, should have thought twice before entrusting it to an amateur-night screenplay stapled together from a story by himself and his brothers."
- The Vanishing
"What's the story here? Do Sluizer and his American producers believe the American movie audience is so witless it will not accept uncompromising fidelity to a story idea? Are Europeans deserving of smart, cynical filmmaking, but Americans have to be approached on a more elementary level? I don't know. I simply know that George Sluizer has directed two films named The Vanishing, and one is a masterpiece and the other is laughable, stupid and crude.
- Very Bad Things
"Peter Berg's Very Bad Things isn't a bad movie, just a reprehensible one. It presents as comedy things that are not amusing. If you think this movie is funny, that tells me things about you I don't want to know."
"The idea, I gather, is that V/H/S is sort of a showcase for its young directors and actors. Since it's such a muddle, I don't understand how any of them hope to stand out. It plays more like a student project in which several short films were cobbled together in the popular found-footage horror genre to masquerade as a feature."
"The movie's special effects are not exactly slick, and the creature itself is a distinct letdown. It looks like a very tall humanoid figure hammered together out of crushed auto parts, with several headlights for its eyes. It crunches through steel bulkheads and crushes all barriers to its progress, but is this an efficient way for a virus to behave? It could be cruising the Internet instead of doing a Robocop number."
"I expected to see a mountainous volcano in Volcano, towering high over Los Angeles. But the movie takes place at ground level; It's about how lava boils out of the La Brea Tar Pits, threatens a stretch of Wilshire Boulevard, and then takes a shortcut through the city sewer system. The ads say "The Coast Is Toast," but maybe they should say "The Volcano Is Drano." This is a surprisingly cheesy disaster epic. It's said that Volcano cost a lot more than Dante's Peak, a competing volcano movie released two months ago, but it doesn't look it. Dante's Peak had better special effects, a more entertaining story, and a real mountain. Volcano is an absolutely standard, assembly-line undertaking; no wonder one of the extras is reading a paperback titled "Screenwriting Made Easy."
- Wagons East
"The loss of John Candy is made all the more poignant because Wagons East! is the last film he completed. It is possible he never appeared in a worse one. The producers claim he finished all his key scenes before his unexpected death on the location, but that's hard to believe, because his character is an undefined, vague figure, and isn't even required to be funny most of the time."
"Some bad movies are in no hurry to announce themselves, but Walker declares its badness right from the opening titles with gushers of blood streaming from the wounds of men who are appearing (the opening credits promise us) in a "true story." ... Although the ads for Walker don't even hint it, this movie is apparently intended as a comedy or a satire. I write "apparently" because, if it is a comedy, it has no laughs, and if a satire, no target. ... ...this movie's poverty of imagination has to be seen to be believed."
- Weekend at Bernie's
"In Weekend at Bernie’s, for example, it should be immediately obvious to several people that Bernie is dead. In order for them not to notice, they must be incredibly dense. Their behavior in not noticing is so idiotic that we can’t take them seriously, or care about what they do."
- What Planet Are You From
"Here is the most uncomfortable movie of the new year, an exercise in feel-good smut. What Planet Are You From? starts out as a dirty comedy, but then abandons the comedy, followed by the dirt, and by the end is actually trying to be poignant. For that to work, we'd have to like the hero, and Garry Shandling makes that difficult. He begrudges every emotion as if there's no more where that came from. That worked on TV's The Larry Sanders Show—it's why his character was funny—but here he can't make the movie's U-turn into sentimentality."
- Whats The Worst That Could Happen
"What's the Worst That Could Happen? has too many characters, not enough plot, and a disconnect between the two stars' acting styles. Danny DeVito plays a crooked millionaire, Martin Lawrence plays a smart thief, and they seem to be in different pictures. De Vito as always is taut, sharp, perfectly timed. Lawrence could play in the same key (and does, in an early scene during an art auction), but at other times he bursts into body language that's intended as funny but plays more like the early symptoms of St. Vitus' Dance."
- Where The Boys Are '84
"This movie has nothing to do with the song and the 1960 movie whose name it appropriates. It isn't a sequel and isn't a remake and isn't, in fact, much of anything. The press release contains this priceless line: "Allan Carr is producing Where the Boys Are '84 from a screenplay based on an original story idea by himself, Jeff Burkhart, and Stu Krieger." What could the original story idea have been? "Hey, Jeff and Stu, let's write a new movie called Where the Boys Are '84" Don't laugh. People have made millions in Hollywood with even less-inspired story ideas. Also with even more-inspired ideas, of course, like this one I've just had: Hey, Allan, Jeff, and Stu — let's not rip off that old title!"
- White Chicks
"The fact that White Chicks actually devotes expository time to the kidnap plot shows how lame-brained it is, because no one in the audience can conceivably care in any way about its details. Audiences who see the TV commercials and attend White Chicks will want sharp, transgressive humor, which they will not find, instead of a wheezy story about off-the-shelf bad guys, which drags on and on in one complicated permutation after another." Chicago Sun-Times review"The Wayans family has produced some funny movies, but White Chicks is. Not. One of them." Ebert & Roeper review
- The Whole Ten Yards
"A fog of gloom lowers over The Whole Ten Yards, as actors who know they're in a turkey try their best to prevail. We sense a certain desperation as dialogue mechanically grinds through unplayable scenes, and the characters arrive at moments that the movie thinks are funny but they suspect are not. This is one of those movies you look at quizzically: What did they think they were doing?" Chicago Sun-Times review"I sat there, patiently and passively, and the time went past, and eventually, the movie was over. And there was a large dead zone. Nothing happened." Ebert & Roeper review
- Wild Orchid
"Wild Orchid is an erotic film, plain and simple. It cannot be read any other way. There is no other purpose for its existence. Its story is absurd, and even its locale was chosen primarily for its travelogue value; this movie no more needs to take place in Brazil than in Kansas, which the heroine leaves in the opening scene." Chicago Sun-Times review"Wild Orchid has some intriguing people in it, it's photographed with style, but since I didn't believe in these people, I couldn't care much about their love life." Siskel & Ebert review
- Wild Wild West
"Wild Wild West is a comedy dead zone. You stare in disbelief as scenes flop and die. The movie is all concept and no content; the elaborate special effects are like watching money burn on the screen. You know something has gone wrong when a story is about two heroes in the Old West, and the last shot is of a mechanical spider riding off into the sunset." note
- Wing Commander
"Is there any reason to see it? Not for the Belushi material; you can see that firsthand from his own movies and his Saturday Night Live performances. To learn about his problems? The movie fails to understand them. To watch the performances? There is not a convincing imitation of a known performer in the entire movie. Belushi made millions of people laugh and broke the hearts of those who loved him, and there is little in this film to explain how, or why, he did either of those things."
- The Wizard
"It was only after the three kids arrived safely at the championships that I began to question the ethics of the film, which is, among other things, a thinly disguised commercial for Nintendo video games and the Universal studio tour." Chicago Sun-Times review"Nintendo fans are gonna be as disappointed as everyone else. Now what do I know about Nintendo? Very little. But I know this: I once got to the second level of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, note and so, when this movie, when they talk about "Hey, I got to the third level", and they showed the screen, even dummy like me, I know enough that they only got to the first level. So any kid is gonna say, "This movie doesn't know what it's talking about! That's not the third level of ''Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles''," and, you gotta get stuff like that right in movies like this." Siskel & Ebert review
- Wolf Creek
"I had a hard time watching Wolf Creek. It is a film with one clear purpose: To establish the commercial credentials of its director by showing his skill at depicting the brutal tracking, torture and mutilation of screaming young women. When the killer severs the spine of one of his victims and calls her "a head on a stick," I wanted to walk out of the theater and keep on walking."
- Year Of The Horse: Neil Young and Crazy Horse Live
"The film, directed by Jim Jarmusch, follows a 1996 concert tour and intercuts footage from 1986 and 1976 tours. It's all shot in muddy earth tones, on grainy Super 8 film, Hi Fi 8 video and 16-mm. If you seek the origin of the grunge look, seek no further: Young, in his floppy plaid shirts and baggy shorts, looks like a shipwrecked lumberjack. His fellow band members, Billy Talbot, Poncho Sampedro and Ralph Molina, exude vibes that would strike terror into the heart of an unarmed convenience store clerk." note