By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist December 12, 2013 at 12:08PM
People usually say that there’s nothing unintentional about movies, that there are no accidents, no mistakes. What to make of this mishap, then, which seems like a grave error in judgment at every step? Who felt the need to give $150 million to the director of “Flightplan”? Who thought this generic comic book premise wouldn’t look like a fourth-rate “Ghostbusters” cash-in? Who designed the creatures, which look like half-finished Cracked Magazine caricatures circa 1991? Who cast the oil-and-vinegar duo of Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds? Who told Bridges that this was Looney Tunes and Reynolds that this was a gritty “Lethal Weapon” reboot? Why is such an expensive movie built around the search for a MacGuffin that looks like an obviously-fake piece of gold plaster that wouldn’t pass muster in a first grade art class? Why do we keep giving Jeff Bridges a free pass when he’s a good actor who is intolerably obnoxious in big budget debacles like this and “Tron: Legacy”? What shiny things did Kevin Bacon buy with the paycheck he received to sleepwalk his way through the villain role in this? Why do they tease us with a sequel? How is it possible that this film feels scotch-taped together from a much longer cut? How could there be more “R.I.P.D.”? It doesn’t even seem that “R.I.P.D.” is bad: no, this is something different. This is an impossible movie.
3. “Grown Ups 2”
It’s too bad for Adam Sandler and company that the title “Contempt” was taken. What more is there to say about Sandler’s cottage industry of repellant, listless garbage that manages to become even more cavalier about how little it regards its core audience? “Grown Ups 2” has less onscreen action than a fucking Bujalski movie, and director Dennis Dugan and company treat this stuff like golden age sitcom material, pausing for laughs as these washed-up former comedians roll around nowheresville USA in khaki shorts and flip flops, taking care only to avoid blocking all the embarrassing product placement. “Grown Ups 2” is not a long movie (IMDb claims it’s 101 minutes too long, actually), but it spends an awfully extended amount of its runtime on bits like the one where Kevin James teaches his washed-up friends how to fart, burp and sneeze at the same time, which Sandler later celebrates by doing so on Salma Hayek. Hayek isn’t seen onscreen during this, and is instead heard in voiceover as Sandler cackles like a jackass; she likely had too much dignity to be present for the filming of such a scene. And yet, it closes the movie, the final indignity of a film starring forty-and-fiftysomethings made for the mind of a ten-year-old, and designed to exploit a nostalgic fanbase in their twenties and thirties. “Grown Ups 2” is to comedy as the gaping maw of Cthulhu is to comedy, a dreadful piece of big-screen bukkake that doesn’t even deserve to be broadcast on the side of a bus station bathroom stall. If there is a “Grown Ups 3,” there’s no spaceship properly equipped to get us off this godforsaken planet fast enough.
So who was Diana Princess Of Wales? In her all too brief 36 years, she experienced celebrity, royalty, scandal, romance, marriage and motherhood all in the very public eye, leading the kind of life few could even imagine. Hers is a story rich with intrigue, politics, charity, personal pain and public spectacle and somehow, Olivier Hirschbiegel’s turgid “Diana” manages capture none of that. Led by Naomi Watts, giving one of the most uninspired performances of her career, she mostly lets her wig do the acting as she navigates a script that reduces a post-Charles Diana into a barely-together shell of a person whose life has no meaning without a man as part of it. But more problematically, “Diana” never really makes the case why Dr. Hasnat Khan (played by Naveen Andrews aka Sayeed from “Lost," with whom Watts shares zero chemistry) was the lifeline for the People’s Princess. In fact, the pair spend most of the film making each other miserable, and refusing to put aside any of their own priorities for the sake of the other person. And when the picture isn’t detailing a relationship with no spark, it’s veering close to the edge of camp, particularly with its hilariously manhandled attempts to use jazz music as a patch of common ground between the new lovers. This is a movie that has two separate scenes of people listening to and appreciating jazz music, man. Isn’t it like, so free, and able to improvise—if only we could live like that! Directed with all the pizzazz of a low-rent TV special, soggy and misshapen from the first frame to the last, Hirshbiegel himself probably could’ve stood to listen to some jazz music before shooting this thing. As it stands, it’s an embarrassment all around, one that will unfortunately have the name Princess Diana forever attached: an undeserved indignity.
1. "A Good Day to Die Hard"
This year marked the 25th anniversary of John McTiernan's original "Die Hard," easily one of the greatest, most visually complex action movies of all time and a film that single-handedly launched its own unique subgenre. To celebrate, original star Bruce Willis decided to release "A Good Day to Die Hard," the fifth film in the franchise and easily the absolute worst, in which everything that made the original film so compelling and unforgettable is either corrupted or simply ignored. Tough-talking New York City cop John McClane, instead of being a victim of circumstance like in the original film, now just happen to stumble into extraordinary situations at virtually every turn. In "A Good Day to Die Hard," he's visiting his troubled son in Russia when all manner of hell breaks loose, for no apparent reason and without much in the way of context. This leads to a bunch of leaden action set pieces, including a seemingly endless car chase that supposedly took 75 days to shoot (even though, in the final product, you can't make out much of what's going on) and a climax set in the ashy remains of Chernobyl. Unlike the fourth entry, this 'Die Hard' was actually rated R, not that you could tell. Besides being almost completely free of gore and blood (a guy falls into helicopter blades and you don't even see a crimson splatter afterwards), there's barely any coarse language, either. Nobody seems to be having fun in "A Good Day to Die Hard," including Willis, with a limp, flavorless villain and a cast of supporting characters whose colorfulness rarely registers above beige. Never before has "Yippe-ki-yay, motherfucker" meant so little.
Aside from the afore-disparaged "Burt Wonderstone" which slid out the bottom twenty at some point in the last six months, but proves it has not been a good year for magician movies, special opprobrium should be heaped on "Jobs" which was on our list for a good while but no one could really even muster up the enthusiasm to hate on it. Late bids "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," and "Saving Mr Banks" had their vocal detractors but we weren't sure if it was their awfulness or the recentness of their awfulness that was taking precedence, so we relegated them. Then films like "A.C.O.D.," "Black Rock," "Getaway" and "CBGB" had strong cases made for their excommunication, but not enough of us had been unlucky enough to see them to reach a consensus. And other films like "Runner, Runner," "The Internship" "The Fifth Estate" and "Safe Haven" were bad, but maybe worse than bad: bland and so forgettable as to not inspire much passion. In genreville, "Elysium" was more disappointing than outright bad, while the "Evil Dead" remake was both, and dance movie "Battle of the Year" was by all accounts dire, but it did give us the chance to run this dance-off feature so we can't stay too mad at it. And then there are the films that divide us, like "Stoker," which is near-loathed and near-adored in almost equal measure, "The Purge," which has one vociferous hater, one vociferous defender and a whole load of "meh" in between and "Machete Kills!" which also cleaves opinion like, well a machete. Those latter you should tune in to our individual 2013 Best and Worst lists to see represented, and in the meantime, there's no comment section all year more primed for a bunfight, so have at it below. -- Drew Taylor, Katie Walsh, Oli Lyttelton, Gabe Toro, Rodrigo Perez, Sam Chater, Kevin Jagernauth & Jessica Kiang.