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You know it’s been a bad year for movies when neither Tintinnitus or War Hearse crack my bottom ten. Try as Steve might to earn a spot in the Hall of Shame, there were dozens worse to contend with.

Normally, I’m in it for the long haul, but this year found me making an early exit on more movies (four to be exact) than any other time in recent memory. Refusing to be an accomplice to Robert Redford’s leaden The Conspirator, I bolted long before the second cue-mark hit the screen. Rango’s creations made the cast of Shrek look warm and cuddly by comparison and Bad Teacher was much worse. Half of me regrets taking a hike on Wayne Wang’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for another lightweight teen-pic from a director capable of delivering so much more.

I’ll blog about my personal Ten Best in a few days, and look for Reader critic David Elliott’s (or as we call him, Kim Jong El) list to appear after the first of the year. For the legions who have been kind enough to tell me, “If you like a movie, I know I’ll hate it,” here are ten for you to embrace.

10.) The Smurfs

I feel compelled to work blue. Wanna' hear some filthy Smurfing dirty words? Plot. Gag structure. Pacing. Timing. It took four Smurfsucking mother-Smurfers to write this. Nothing happens and it does so S-L-O-W-L-Y and with no Smurfing signs of style, wit, or joy.

9.) Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son

Three’s the charm! I was reluctant to put this on the list; there are more laughs to be mined from the third entry in the Big Momma trilogy than just about any of this year's so-called intentional comedies. (They should have named it Big Momma’s: Winter Light.) What’s more appropriate: director John Whitesell shares the same initials as inept 3 Stooges auteur Jules White, or that the BM in Big Momma stands for bowel movement?

8.) Vincent Wants to Sea

A young man grieving over the loss of his mother (and suffering from plot-convenient Tourette’s syndrome), a feisty anorexic gal, and a Bach-obsessed nerd with OCD check out of rehab for a spot of R and R. Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A feel-good “retard” road picture that would play best on the bottom half of a double-bill with Gigli.

7.) Restless

Death-obsessed boy meets terminally ill girl. I can hear the somber tones of the trailer voice-over: “Bayside faces losing one of its own when Slater learns Kelly has only three months to live. Academy Award-nominated Gus Van Sant directs this special episode of Saved by the Bell." Restless leg syndrome is what you’ll get if you subject yourself to this charmless riff on Harold and Maudlin.

6.) Cowboys & Aliens

All signs of imagination cease at the title. Not since Alan Ladd has there been an on-screen presence less deserving of assuming the mantle of box office superstar than Harrison Ford. Why cast a man with no visible signs of a sense of humor in a parody? The longest two hours I spent in a theatre all year. Even at 30-minutes this wouldn't qualify for a spot on The New Twilight Zone. Reason #4,697 why you wouldn’t catch me dead at ComicCon: they endorse crap like this.

5.) Martha Marcy May Marlene

Sean Durkin’s lurid tale of a teenage girl falling prey to a sexually abusive cult is as exploitative as it is cautionary. A cleansing bath or shower when it’s over won’t do; you’ll need to sandpaper your eyeballs in order to eradicate this atrocity.

4.) Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star

A beaver-toothed, virginal dweeb sees a sex tape starring his porn-star parents and decides on a career in the adult film industry. What a terrific premise for a dark comedy set in America's underbelly, but leave it to “Waterboy” Adam Sandler (he co-wrote) and his shopworn band of adolescent pranksters to once again drop the ball. Goodbye social commentary, hello Booger Nights!

3.) Mozart’s Sister

Marie Feret gives a toneless performance as the proverbial “little woman” behind the great man, systematically repudiated by a patriarchal system in this ludicrous dollop of revisionist feminist horse-dung.

2.) I Saw the Devil

The pregnant fiance of a Korean secret agent is slaughtered by a maniacal serial killer. This sets the stage for two hours of gratuitous gore and immeasurable misogyny that rivals any Hollywood slasher film. Disciples argue that Kim Jee-woon’s glorified slasher film is “well shot” (so was Lincoln), but this is one stretch of hell’s highway my CPS (Cinema Positioning System) should have circumnavigated.

1.) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Tom Hanks and Sandy Bullock star in the first feel-good picture about 9/11. Any film that resorts to sentiment and formula to sell this story is an affront to the victims and their families, not to mention the paying public. I smell Oscar!

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John71471 Dec. 27, 2011 @ 12:04 p.m.

I agree with "Extremely Loud" as the worst picture of the year. After the first 1/2 hour, I truly wanted to get up and walk out, something I never do.


Scott Marks Dec. 27, 2011 @ 1:22 p.m.

Leave?! I had no idea where where the story was leading.


Colonna Dec. 28, 2011 @ 1:51 p.m.

"Extremely Loud" is slated for a nationwide release on January 20, 2012. I foresee pulling an "Uncle Fester" at the cineplex:


Scott Marks Dec. 28, 2011 @ 2:53 p.m.

More than likely you'll be wanting to reenact the last reel of "Inglorious Basterds."


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