October 6, 2009

A Closer Look at the Worst Movies of the Decade (2000-2009)

A couple of weeks ago I caught a story about Rotten Tomatoes listing the worst films of the first decade of this century/millennium (2000-2009). Obviously curious to see what was included, I headed over to RT to see the full list of shame. Here it is, from the "best" (an RT rating of 7%) to the worst (RT rating of 0%); titles are followed by the film's release year...

100. Whiteout (2009)
99. Glitter (2001)
98. Cheaper By the Dozen 2 (2005)
97. Boat Trip (2003)
96. All About Steve (2009)
95. Lost Souls (2000)
94. The New Guy (2002)
93. A Sound of Thunder (2005)
92. Babylon A.D. (2008)
91. Surviving Christmas (2004)
90. Dragonfly (2002)
89. Basic Instinct 2 (2006)
88. Kaena: The Prophecy (2004)
87. Testosterone (2003)
86. Pavilion of Women (2001)
85. Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector (2006)
84. Thr3e (2007)
83. Doogal (2006)
82. Supercross: The Movie (2005)
81. Extreme Ops (2002)
80. Big Momma's House 2 (2006)
79. The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)
78. Deck the Halls (2006)
77. Date Movie (2006)
76. Johnson Family Vacation (2004)
75. Son of the Mask (2005)
74. Envy (2004)
73. Gigli (2003)
72. Broken Bridges (2006)
71. College (2008)
70. New Best Friend (2002)
69. The Cookout (2004)
68. Yu-Gi-Oh: The Movie (2004)
67. The Hottie & the Nottie (2008)
66. The Fog (2005)
65. Swept Away (2002)
64. Corky Romano (2001)
63. Yours, Mine, & Ours (2005)
62. Serving Sara (2002)
61. Good Luck Chuck (2007)
60. The Perfect Man (2005)
59. 88 Minutes (2008)
58. Christmas with the Kranks (2004)
57. Godsend (2004)
56. Because I Said So (2007)
55. The Celestine Prophecy (2006)
54. Harry And Max (2005)
53. Modigliani (2005)
52. The Bridge of San Luis Rey (2005)
51. Fascination (2005)
50. Dirty Love (2005)
49. In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2008)
48. BloodRayne (2006)
47. Soul Survivors (2001)
46. Material Girls (2006)
45. My Baby's Daddy (2004)
44. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009)
43. Darkness (2003)
42. House of the Dead (2003)
41. Zoom (2006)
40. Down to You (2000)
39. Miss March (2009)
38. Happily N'Ever After (2007)
37. Code Name: The Cleaner (2007)
36. The Whole Ten Yards (2004)
35. Deal (2008)
34. The Haunting of Molly Hartley (2008)
33. Delta Farce (2007)
32. Deuces Wild (2002)
31. The Covenant (2006)
30. Fear Dot Com (2002)
29. Bless the Child (2000)
28. Rollerball (2002)
27. Battlefield Earth (2000)
26. Kickin' It Old Skool (2007)

(view clips of the "Top 25" at CNN.com)
25. Meet the Spartans (2008)
24. Texas Rangers (2001)
23. The In Crowd (2000)
22. Disaster Movie (2008)
21. Epic Movie (2007)
20. Crossover (2006)
19. Half Past Dead (2002)
18. The Master of Disguise (2002)
17. Twisted (2004)
16. Daddy Day Camp (2007)
(With a rating of 0%, the following top 15 movies did not receive one positive review among them. Not one.)
15. Alone in the Dark (2005)
14. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009)
13. Constellation (2007)
12. Killing Me Softly (2002)
11. Merci Docteur Rey! (2002)
10. Witless Protection (2008)
9. Redline (2007)
8. 3 Strikes (2000)
7. Strange Wilderness (2008)
6. Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004)
5. National Lampoon's Gold Diggers (2004)
4. King's Ransom (2005)
3. Pinocchio (2002) - 53 reviews
2. One Missed Call (2008) - 73 reviews
1. Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002) - 107 reviews

Now, if you've read any of my other unnecessary analyses of movie stuff, you'll know that the story doesn't just end with a release of this list. Let's break it down with some observations.

Worst Years

Here is a breakdown of the years from this decade and corresponding number of "worst" movies from said year:

2000 - 6 movies
2001 - 5 movies
2002 - 16 movies
2003 - 5 movies
2004 - 13 movies
2005 - 14 movies
2006 - 13 movies
2007 - 11 movies
2008 - 12 movies
2009 - 5 movies

A few things jump out at me:

First, I'm surprised 2007 had that many bad movies. I don't know if RT has a Best of the Decade list and I'm not about to do as much research and copying and pasting as I just did here to find out, but my point is that I still consider 2007 the best year of the decade, so it's a little surprising that's not reflected here.

Second, I am not at all surprised 2002 ranks as the worst year of the decade. Although this is a year that produced excellent films like Gangs of New York, Amelie, The Bourne Identity, Whale Rider, Catch Me If You Can, Unfaithful, Blue Crush (that's right), In America, Spirited Away, Frida, and City of God, in looking through an alphabetical list of films from that year you begin to chuckle, then wince, then cringe, and then run away screaming.

Make no mistake, this was an absolutely dreadful year at the movies. In addition to the 16 movies on this list, you can add garbage like Crossroads, Austin Powers in Goldmember, Death to Smoochy, Juwanna Man, Phone Booth, Windtalkers, When We Were Soldiers, and my own personal nightmare, The Time Machine, which ranks among the five worst movies I've ever seen.

Third, the awful quality of movies in 2002 begins to explain a lot of Hollywood trends that would influence the rest of the decade. Studios went all-in with sequels, producing record numbers of them and making trilogies out of totally meaningless comedies by mid-decade. Understanding that their original ideas (Eight Legged Freaks, anybody?) were getting panned by critics and ignored by audiences, they figured heck, let's just keep making the same movies from here on out and people won't be disappointed. Natch, Spider-Man, Ice Age, and xXx were all released in 2002 before spawning endless sequels. In addition to the rise of sequels, the success of both Chicago (Best Picture winner) and The Ring spawned countless movie musicals and J-horror remakes, respectively.

In conclusion, many of the movies we've seen over the last 5-7 years were directly a result of Hollywood's desperation to recreate anything that even resembled a success in 2002, since everything else they gave us that year was rightfully scorned.

Worst Actors

Thankfully I have not seen the majority of these movies, but in scanning this list I'm making a loose connection here that the following people may be guilty of multiple crimes against cinema (at least two movies from this list), a felony charge that should result in a career change but usually results in bigger paychecks: Tim Allen, Sandra Bullock, Jamie Kennedy, Chris Klein, Matthew Perry, Eddie Griffin, Jennifer Lopez, Vin Diesel, Larry the Cable Guy, Eddie Murphy, Ben Affleck, Mandy Moore, Piper Perabo, Leelee Sobieski, Robert De Niro, Ben Kingsley, Lucy Liu, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Hillary Duff, Anthony Anderson, Selma Blair, Stephen Dorff, Ja Rule, and Andy Garcia.

Now taking suggestions for their just punishment.

Worst Directors

There is no need for consideration and deliberation here. The worst directors of this decade are Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg, who together have blessed us with Date Movie, Disaster Movie, Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans in the last three years alone. Three of these are in the top 25, with Date Movie being the lone "hit" at a solid 6% RT rating, good enough for 77th place on the decade's list of shame.

You shouldn't be surprised that during the course of this unabated abusive streak against masochistic audiences, the duo has made millions of dollars more than you and I ever will, and they continue to work with no shame and no apparent moral compass. Next up: Scary Movie 5. And that's Hollywood.

Additional Observations

- I believe I've only seen three of these movies in their entirety: Yours, Mine, & Ours, Code Name: The Cleaner, and Envy. The first two I saw as in-flight entertainment (along with the aforementioned The Time Machine - twice), so those don't count because everybody knows that in-flight entertainment almost exclusively features the worst movies available at any given time. However the last movie, Envy, I will admit to seeing with a good friend on opening weekend. That Jack Black and Ben Stiller could have costarred in something so earth-shatteringly stupid still surprises me. If you've never heard of it, don't go looking for reasons why not. You may be severely disturbed by what you find.

- Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, the Worst Movie of the Decade, was directed by someone named "Kaos". That is all.

- How are Monkeybone (2001) and Lady in the Water (2005) missing from this list? Both are in the aforementioned top five worst movies I've ever seen, and I'm shocked that any critic could have had a positive opinion of either movie. Also, I find it interesting that this list does share some titles with the current IMDb Bottom 100, but does not share any title with the Bottom Rated 2000's Titles.

- I wonder how many Oscar-winning actors and directors are represented in this list? I'm not going to do any more research into it (as you can see I've already done way too much), but I'm curious as to who is most embarrassed by the list's release and attention. Same goes for studios, actually. Who can we thank for the most worst movies?

- Is Matthew McConaughey truly absent from this list? Is that possible?

- I've never heard of some of the listed movies, but a few of them appear to deserve this dishonorable distinction based on name alone. Thr3e features a naming device that should forever belong exclusively to Se7en, while Modigliani sounds like an Italian fashion designer, not a movie. Pavilion of Women? What? Also, notice the prevalence of movies with subtitled titles: Kaena: The Prophecy, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Supercross: The Movie, Yu-Gi-Oh: The Movie, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, and last but...actually, yes, last and least, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever.

Now I turn it over to you:
How many of these movies will you admit to seeing?
What movies do you remember from this decade that are missing from this list?
Will anyone dare defend one of the listed choices as a good movie?

Let's hear it...


  1. Hmm... well, the problem I have with RT is their rating system. Some reviews you read that are said to be negative don't turn out to be and some reviews that are designated as a rave, aren't always. How does RT qualify this and who does it? This makes their whole system flawed, IMO.

    That being said, I do agree with your pick of BLUE CRUSH as a good film from 2002. I really enjoyed the film but then I do have a weakness for surfing movies.

  2. True, J.D., RT is a mixed bag and far from perfect in their review fresh/rotten categorizing, but the nice thing is that I still think their Cream of the Crop reviews are mostly as "accurate" as everyone's beloved Metacritic (but I say that fully admitting that I shouldn't be listed as a Top Critic). Another reason I still like RT is because they do fun stuff like list the worst films of the decade. ;-P

    As far as Blue Crush goes, well it has a few rewatchability traits: awesome scenery (and yes, I'm talking about nature, not women in bikinis), a bangin' soundtrack, and an underdog story with characters that you actually want to root for. Really the only bad thing about Blue Crush is that I missed it in the theater.

  3. This is a great list because it does not include any movies I would defend. I've seen six on the list, but all of the six (except Whiteout) were movies I took my kids to see - and my kids weren't crazy about them, except my son loved Master of Disguise back in 2002. Wow, time flies!

    I would definitely add The Miracle at St. Anna. What a God-awful movie; sorry, Spike. Whiteout seems like it was added as a hasty afterthought; Jennifer's Body was worse.

  4. Yeah, I can't defend anything, either, but when I first saw the list, I think I only counted 3 (or 2.5) that I had seen. Sadly, though, I think 2 of them were in the theater (we walked on on Strange Wilderness).

    I can't believe Eragon didn't make it. That thing blew.

  5. I've been blessed that I haven't seen any of these films in their entirety, although I have seen parts of Battlefield Earth and Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever on TV.

    And no Boll love? I know he is an easy target but I see at leat three by him: Alone in the Dark, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, and BloodRayne.

    It is striking to me how many sequels and remakes are on the list.

  6. Hokahey, steer clear of my St. Anna review...!

    I've not seen Jennifer's Body or Whiteout, but the latter's position at #100 did some a little too timely. But they're just going by the percentages, and Jennifer's Body is currently almost fresh at a surprising 42%.

    Fletch, I remember your half-review of Strange Wilderness. Good times. Actually that's another good question for this - how many movies from the list have people walked out on?

    Brewmiester, thanks for stopping by. Yes, count your blessings that you have dodged all of these bullets, though even a partial viewing of Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever sounds like it could be damaging. Good point about Uwe Boll, too. I completely missed that, and maybe it's an even worse situation because he's probably trying a lot harder than Seltzer and Friedberg to make a decent film. I haven't seen any of them and I celebrate that fact daily.

  7. Wow. I usually shake my head at the number of bad movies I see every year, and I haven't seen a one of these...

  8. Which doesn't necessarily mean there aren't a lot of bad movies missing from this list, of course. Man, I can't believe I forgot about The Happening. Or Freedomland. Or Blindness. Or Knowing, or other movies I've given "F"'s here.

    I think one word titles are often a bad sign (especially when preceded by "The"), or titles that actually include the word "movie" within them.

  9. "Daniel Getahun October 7, 2009 11:00 AM
    Brewmiester, thanks for stopping by."

    Long time reader, first time commenter :)

  10. I haven't seen any of them, confirming that my strategy of trying not to see bad movies is working! I also like Blue Crush. Not a great film, but way better than it had to be (and I, too, have a weakness for surfing movies).

    BTW, Daniel, I saw a film from Ethiopia yesterday. One of the actors' last name was Getahun. Are you Ethiopian?

  11. It seems I've seen 3 of the movies mentioned in that elite list -

    Killing me Softly - it was bad, but was it THAT bad?!? At least parts of it were quite good ;P

    88 Minutes - yeah, it was THAT bad, and a jaded & uninterested Al Pacino made it even worse

    Basic Instinct 2 - c'mon, I had to see it despite the fact that I knew beforehand it would be as bad as the original BI was good ;)

  12. I have not seen many on this list for exactly the reason that this dire round-up proclaims in this infamous listing. Hence there is a not a single film here I will offer any defense for. 88 MINUTES was quite awful for sure. Dan, I feel 2002's greatest films are FAR FROM HEAVEN and TALK TO HER, and THE HOURS and THE PIANIST are worthy for a favorable short-list. This is quite a fascinating post, which really does round-up films to stay clear of at all costs, even with RT's always-questionable evaluative methods.

  13. Well done, Marilyn. I was also pleased to see my number came in relatively low. And on the topic of surfing movies, I'd throw my hat in obviously for Point Break and Riding Giants also. Maybe Step Into the Liquid, but I don't know if that counts. And yes, your cultural acuity is right on - my father is from Ethiopia and my mother is from Austria, which explains everything and nothing about me, depending on one's preferred stereotypes.

    Shubhajit, I've not seen any of those but all I heard about 88 Minutes was that was intolerable. Actually I'm surprised Pacino isn't on my actor list, or maybe he should be but he missed it. I think De Niro snuck three movies in there. My gosh, the guy hasn't had an acceptable film in a decade.

    Sam, I'm sorry to say I didn't forget any of those when I was listing my favorites from '02. Each of those four, while celebrated during Oscar season, lacked something for me personally. Or maybe I just wasn't mature enough to appreciate them at the time. I do remember getting a parking ticket while I was inside watching The Pianist. That kind of left a sour taste from the experience, to take nothing away from the quality of the movie.

  14. Daniel, this is a wildly informative piece.

    My only disagreements--one huge, the other small: Although 2002 featured many clunkers, as you note, the cream of the crop of that year remains hugely impressive in my eyes. One day I'll post all of the films from 2002 that I adored. That was a pivotal, personal year for me as it was when I became a diehard, obsessive cinephile (around early June of that year) once and for all, attempting to devour every film I possibly could... Anyway, here are some 2002 titles that still make me smile upon considering them:

    Catch Me If You Can
    Minority Report
    About Schmidt
    25th Hour
    The Quiet American
    Auto Focus
    About a Boy
    Femme Fatale
    The Two Towers
    Russian Ark
    Spirited Away
    Talk to Her
    One Hour Photo
    The Pianist
    Changing Lanes
    Hart's War

    Granted, I padded 2002 out some with those last few films, but I still have fond memories of seeing these and chewing on them. 2007 is the only other year I consider so excellent both in terms of its numerous peaks and astonishing depth.

    Oh, and the second, little disagreemnt: I'm the one person on this planet who actually liked Death to Smoochy. Maybe I was in the right mood for a stupid, black comedy but I vividly remember enjoying it. Wonder if it would in any way hold up.

  15. Wow, Alexander - touched a nerve on 2002, did I? I'd personally consider most of those that you list as good or very good, but on balance nothing that year (aside from the ones I listed) really stayed with me. Nice call on Changing Lanes, though - that rarely gets appreciated.

    And in any case I can completely understand how a particular year in movies can hold a special significance for you. I think I had your experience sometime in the latter half of the 90's. Not sure if I could nail it down to a specific month or year, but it would probably be sometime in late '98 or '99.

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