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112 Movie Critics Can't Be Wrong: The Scientifically-Proven WORST Movies of 2004!

by Scott Weinberg

Every critic in the known universe bangs out a Top 10 list once late-December rolls around. You'll generally find the same fifteen movies mentioned over and over. Sometimes those same critics will offer their Bottom 10 as well, and it's there that you'll find a wide and varied array of titles. I thought it would be fun to collect ALL the Bottom 10 Lists that I could, jam them into a (hopefully simple) mathematical formula, and then share the resulting poop parade with you: the devoted moviegoer who most likely dropped at least 100 bucks on these films over the past twelve months.

First off, this project was a hell of a lot of fun -and- a whole lot of work at the same time. Of course I must thank all the critics who participated, as well as Movie City News, Cinemarati & The O.F.C.S. for helping me track down a good percentage of these lists. The rest came from non-stop Google searches and the fine folks here at HBS/EFC.

I was all set to stop once I'd accrued 100 Bottom Ten lists, but a new batch cropped up at the last minute, so the following statistics now represent the opinions of 112 different critics. I tried to cut across all sorts: newspaper, magazine, online, TV & radio critics....basically anyone I read and respect as a writer would be included. (Keep in mind that several excellent critics simply did not "do" a Bottom 10 list - or perhaps I just happened to overlook it. If you know of someone I missed, drop me an email.) You'll find a full list of all the contributing critics on Page 2 of this article - in extremely small text. (It's a long list.)

To those who might consider this project unnecessarily nasty or annoyingly cynical, especially coming from a guy who claims to love movies with a red, glowing passion, please keep in mind that Hollywood can be a nasty and cynical place itself. For every ONE movie that has you floating out of the theater on an emotional high, you'll be expected to sit through at least a dozen movies made in mindless, assembly-line fashion. The less money we give to Catwoman, the less movies like Catwoman will be offered up next year. (We sure hope so, anyway!) The cinema is one of the last bastions of true democracy that we still have. If we the moviegoers can manage to be just a BIT more discerning about what movies get our greenbacks, then the studios will just have to work a little bit harder to earn our coin.

And don't even think about blaming the critics for trashing the cinematic fiascoes. I've met dozens of movie critics over the past few years, and every single one of them is a bona-fide movie LOVER. There's no other reason to get into this field, aside from simple Movie Passion. (It sure as hell isn't for the salary.) And I don't know any film critics who walked into Catwoman wanting to hate the movie. Believe me, movie critics would much rather be "pleasantly surprised" by a potential turkey than be "predictably annoyed."

OK, getting underway here. Let's start off with the least enlightening of the three statistics I came up with: the "Number Ones." It's a pretty simple approach: for every critic who delivered a numeric Bottom 10 (and not an alphabetical one), I pulled out their #1 Worst Movie of 2004. Here's what came out:

"Number Ones"

Alexander – 6 critics call it the worst movie of 2004

Christmas with the Kranks – 5
The Passion of the Christ – 5

The Village – 4
White Chicks – 4

New York Minute – 3
Van Helsing – 3
The Whole Ten Yards – 3

Anatomy of Hell, Beyond the Sea, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Catwoman, Dogville, Hero, It’s All About Love, Man on Fire, Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Spanglish, The Stepford Wives, Surviving Christmas - 2

The 24th Day, Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London, The Alamo, Alien vs. Predator, Along Came Polly, Around the World in 80 Days, Benji: Off the Leash!, Birth, Blade: Trinity, The Butterfly Effect, Catch That Kid, The Chronicles of Riddick, Coffee and Cigarettes, Envy, Eurotrip, George W. Bush: Faith in the White House, Godsend, I Heart Huckabees, King Arthur, The Ladykillers, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra , The Merchant of Venice, My Baby’s Daddy, Ocean’s Twelve, The Phantom of the Opera, The Principles of Lust, The Punisher, Raise Your Voice, Rick, Saw, Seed of Chucky, She Hate Me, A Sight for Sore Eyes, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Taxi, Team America: World Police, Teknolust, Troy, Twisted, The United States of Leland, Walking Tall, Welcome to Mooseport, Without a Paddle, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie - 1

(14 critics did "alphabetical" Bottom 10s, so I did not extract a #1 Worst from those contributors.)

So what does this tell us? Well, out of 100+ movie critics, there's very little agreement on what the worst movies of the year actually are. Ask the exact same group of critics what the #1 best movie if the year is, and I suspect you'll get a list of movies a whole lot shorter than that one. Which leads me to the conclusion that cinematic crap outweighs cinematic quality by a ratio too distressing to contemplate. That and Alexander seems to be the front-runner for poo-pile of the year. So far, anyway....

The next statistic I focused on was that of "List Appearances." Pretty self-explanatory: whenever a movie is mentioned on a critic's Bottom Ten, it gets a +1. This is an interesting, albeit broad, way to check the critical consensus. Plus it yielded a few interesting surprises as well.

List Appearances

Van Helsing – appeared on 43 Bottom 10 lists (out of 112 polled)
Catwoman – 42
Alexander – 39

The Village – 27
Christmas with the Kranks – 25
White Chicks & The Whole Ten Yards – 21

Surviving Christmas – 18
New York Minute – 16
Garfield: The Movie, The Passion of the Christ & Resident Evil: Apocalypse – 15
Beyond the Sea, The Butterfly Effect, Dogville, Envy & The Stepford Wives – 14
The Phantom of the Opera, The Punisher & Twisted – 12
Godsend, Taxi & Torque – 11

The Alamo, Around the World in 80 Days, The Chronicles of Riddick, Connie and Carla, Exorcist: The Beginning & Soul Plane – 10

Along Came Polly, Saw, Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Shark Tale, SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2, Thunderbirds & Welcome to Mooseport - 9

The Brown Bunny, Johnson Family Vacation, Napoleon Dynamite, Paparazzi, She Hate Me & Walking Tall – 8

Against the Ropes, Alien vs. Predator, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, The Day After Tomorrow, The Girl Next Door, I Heart Huckabees, Jersey Girl, King Arthur, The Ladykillers, My Baby’s Daddy & Troy – 7

After the Sunset, Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London, Birth, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Eurotrip, Little Black Book, Man on Fire, Raising Helen, Starsky & Hutch & Vanity Fair – 6

Alfie, Anatomy of Hell, The Big Bounce, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, A Dirty Shame, The Polar Express, Raise Your Voice, Seed of Chucky, Spanglish, The Terminal & Without a Paddle – 5

Around the Bend, Blade: Trinity, De-Lovely, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, The Grudge, It’s All About Love, Laws of Attraction, Ocean’s Twelve, Secret Window, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Sleepover, Taking Lives, Twentynine Palms, What the Bleep Do We Know? & Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! – 4

50 First Dates, Benji: Off the Leash!, Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, A Cinderella Story, Closer, Club Dread, Darkness, Dodgeball: A True Underdog’s Story, The Door in the Floor, Fat Albert, The Forgotten, Games People Play: New York, Head in the Clouds, A Home at the End of the World, I, Robot, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Manchurian Candidate, The Middle of the World, National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers, Never Die Alone, Open Water, The Saddest Music in the World, Suspect Zero, Team America: World Police & The United States of Leland – 3

13 Going on 30, Coffee and Cigarettes, Dawn of the Dead, Ella Enchanted, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Fahrenheit 9/11, George W. Bush: Faith in the White House, Going the Distance, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Hero, Kill Bill Vol. 2, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, Love Me If You Dare, A Love Song for Bobby Long, Merci Docteur Rey, National Treasure, The Notebook, Primer, Raja, Shrek 2, Silver City, Stage Beauty, Stateside, Teknolust, Undertow, A Very Long Engagement, You Got Served & Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie – 2

The 24th Day, Adored: Diary of a Porn Star, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Baadasssss!, Bad Education, Before Sunset, The Best of Youth, Blueberry, Bon Voyage, Bush’s Brain, The Calcium Kid, Callas Forever, Carlos Castaneda: Enigma of a Sorcerer, Catch That Kid, Chasing Liberty, Churchill: The Hollywood Years, The Clearing, Clifford’s Really Big Movie, Code 46, Control Room, The Cookout, Danny Deckchair, The Dreamers, Easy, The Final Cut, Finding Neverland, Garden State, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, Gypsy 83, Happy Hour, Hidalgo, Highwaymen, Home on the Range, The Hunting of the President, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Incident at Loch Ness, Intermission, Ju-On: The Grudge, Kaena: The Prophecy, Kinsey, Ladder 49, Love Don’t Cost a Thing, The Manson Family, Mean Girls, Meet the Fockers, The Merchant of Venice, Million Dollar Baby, National Lampoon’s Dorm Daze, Ned Kelly, Not on the Lips, Paper Clips, Peoples, The Perfect Score, The Prince & Me, The Principles of Lust, Rick, Rosenstrasse, Saved!, Secret Things, Secret Woman, Seducing Doctor Lewis, Sex is Comedy, Shall We Dance?, Sideways, A Sight for Sore Eyes, The Singing Forest, Spartan, Species 3, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Suzie Gold, A Tale of Two Sisters, This So-Called Disaster, Two Brothers, Undertaking Betty, Unspeakable, Vera Drake, We Don’t Live Here Anymore, When Will I Be Loved?, Wicker Park, Woman Is the Future of Man, Young Adam & Zhou Yu’s Train – 1

Whew! That's a LOT of movies to be thrown at you. Imagine you walked into a room where 112 movie critics are sitting. You ask them to yell out the 10 worst movies of the year and you get that litany of titles thrown at you. (And in case you're wondering "Hey, what critic called THAT movie, which I dearly love, one of the year's worst?!?" - you'll be able see each and every Bottom 10 list on page 2 of this aimless tract.)

Statistically, it seems that one out of every three movie critics would call Alexander, Catwoman and Van Helsing "one of 2004's worst!" Weird, I'd have expected those three to grace at least half of the 112! I needed more data! But how to do it correctly? Howzabout I do it this way:

If a critic gave Movie X their #1 spot as worst movie of the year, then Movie X gets 10 "Garbage Points". If Movie Y is that critic's #2 pick, it gets 9 Garbage Points...all the way down to the #10 worst, which of course gets 1 Garbage Point. This scale will work wonders if a critic has presented a ranked Bottom 10, but for those who did an "alphabetical / in no particular order" list, each movie will get 5.5 Garbage Points. (The math works out; I consulted NASA.)

Through this method I was able to glean precisely how much suckitude each movie delivered, as it ranks not only their inclusion among the critic's lists, but it also illustrates how high or low it ranked with the collective. I did the previous pair of lists in normal order, but for the sake of drama I'll do this last list on the flip-flop. Or you can just scan down and spoil the surprise. You're the one who needs to get back to work, after all.

Total "Garbage Points" Tally

The following films earned less than 10 Garbage Points, which means that they might not really be all that bad after all, despite what a handful of critics have to say. OR they might suck real bad and all the other critics just forgot all about 'em:

1 Garbage Point - Bad Education, The Best of Youth, Easy, Hidalgo, Home on the Range, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Ladder 49, The Manson Family, Meet the Fockers, Not on the Lips, Paper Clips, Sideways & Wicker Park

2 - Intermission, Ned Kelly, The Perfect Score, The Prince & Me, Secret Woman, Unspeakable & Woman Is the Future of Man

3 - Chasing Liberty, Happy Hour, Ju-On: The Grudge, A Love Song for Bobby Long, Undertaking Betty & We Don’t Live Here Anymore

4 - Before Sunset, Bon Voyage, The Hunting of the President, Rosenstrasse, Sex is Comedy, The Singing Forest, Suzie Gold & This So-Called Disaster

5 - Anonymous, Baadasssss!, The Clearing, Clifford’s Really Big Movie, Code 46, Danny Deckchair, Gypsy 83, Kinsey, Saved!, Secret Things, Seducing Dr. Lewis & Undertow
5.5 - Kaena: The Prophecy, Mean Girls & A Tale of Two Sisters

6 - Callas Forever, The Dreamers, The Final Cut, Garden State, Shall We Dance?, Two Brothers, When Will I Be Loved?, Young Adam & Zhou Yu’s Train

7 - Carlos Castaneda: Enigma of a Sorcerer, Control Room, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Fahrenheit 9/11, Finding Neverland, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Incident at Loch Ness, Love Don’t Cost a Thing, National Treasure, Peoples & Spartan

8 - Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Bush’s Brain, Churchill: The Hollywood Years, The Forgotten, Going the Distance, Highwaymen, Kill Bill Vol. 2, National Lampoon’s Dorm Daze, Species 3, Vera Drake
8.5 - A Very Long Engagement

9 - Adored: Diary of a Porn Star, Blueberry, The Calcium Kid, The Cookout, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, Shrek 2, Million Dollar Baby
9.5 - Silver City
10 - The Merchant of Venice

10 - The 24th Day, Catch That Kid, Dawn of the Dead, Ella Enchanted, Primer, The Principles of Lust, Raja, Rick, A Sight for Sore Eyes, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow & The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie

How Meet the Fockers avoided the Bottom 10 lists is beyond me, but this is not an editorial. It's a collection of scientifically-proven facts! (Well, not really....)

Moving down to the next plateau of pain, we have the 11 - 40 point range. (Remember: points are BAD!...just like in Hearts.)

11 Garbage Points - 50 First Dates & The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
12 - Club Dread, I, Robot, The Middle of the World & The Notebook
13 - 13 Going on 30, Closer, Darkness, Head in the Clouds, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou & Love Me If You Dare
13.5 - Suspect Zero
14 - Dodgeball: A True Underdog’s Story, George W. Bush: Faith in the White House, The Manchurian Candidate, Open Water & The Polar Express
14.5 - Stage Beauty
15 - Fat Albert, Merci Docteur Rey, Teknolust & You Got Served
17 - Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, Coffee and Cigarettes, De-Lovely, Laws of Attraction & Stateside
18 - Team America: World Police & Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie
18.5 - Benji: Off the Leash!
19 - A Cinderella Story, National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers, The Terminal & Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!
19.5 - Games People Play: New York
20 - Around the Bend, A Home at the End of the World & Hero
20.5 - The Grudge, Sleepover & Taking Lives

21 - The Big Bounce & Never Die Alone
22 - Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, A Dirty Shame, Raising Helen & The Saddest Music in the World
23 - Secret Window & The United States of Leland
24 - After the Sunset, Blade: Trinity & The Door in the Floor
25 - Twentynine Palms
25.5 - Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid
26 - Alfie, Ocean’s Twelve, Troy & What the Bleep Do We Know?
29 - Little Black Book & Spanglish
29.5 - It’s All About Love
30 - Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen & My Baby’s Daddy
30.5 - Raise Your Voice & Vanity Fair

31 - Without a Paddle
32 - I Heart Huckabees & Starsky & Hutch
32.5 - Anatomy of Hell
33 - Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London, Jersey Girl & Seed of Chucky
34 - Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
36 - The Day After Tomorrow & Eurotrip
36.5 - Johnson Family Vacation
37 - Man on Fire & Napoleon Dynamite
37.5 - Against the Ropes
39.5 - The Brown Bunny & The Ladykillers
40 - Shark Tale

Right at about this point is where we start to see a certain sense of agreement from the body of critics I've consulted. For a flick to have earned 40+ points, it must have been included in a fair amount of Bottom 10 Lists. (Or only a few lists, but those critics ranked it really high!) Four critics calling Movie X "the worst of the year" will net you 40 points, the same as if eight movie critics placed it in the middle of their pack. Basically, the higher the score gets, the more the critics hated you. Better luck next time!

41 Garbage Points - King Arthur
41.5 - The Girl Next Door
42 - Saw
42.5 - Walking Tall
43.5 - Connie and Carla & Paparazzi
44 - Birth
46 - Along Came Polly & She Hate Me
47.5 - Alien vs. Predator
48.5 - Soul Plane & Welcome to Mooseport
49.5 - The Chronicles of Riddick

51 - Thunderbirds
53 - Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
53.5 - The Punisher
55.5 - The Alamo
59 - Twisted

62.5 - Around the World in 80 Days
64 - The Phantom of the Opera
64.5 - SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2
65.5 - Exorcist: The Beginning
66 - Torque

70.5 - Godsend
72.5 - Taxi
78 - Resident Evil: Apocalypse
79.5 - The Butterfly Effect

84 - Garfield: The Movie
85 - Envy
94.5 - Surviving Christmas & Dogville
100.5 - Beyond the Sea

As you glanced over the past several titles, you probably groaned to yourself as you were reminded of sitting through many of these movie meatballs, but we still have the Bottom 10! Yes, after hours of research on my part and hours of reading on yours, we come to the Bottomest 10 of ALL Bottom 10s, scientifically proven and entirely unquestionable. Unless, of course, you happen to disagree. That's the sticky part about film criticism: nobody's got the "right" answer. But I'm sure most of us will agree that the Ultimate Bottom 10 consists of movies mediocre at best...drop-dead kick-in-the-throat awful at worst. Let's see what the final stage delivers:

103.5 Garbage Points - The Stepford Wives
106 - New York Minute
115 - The Passion of the Christ (Surprise!)
121.5 - The Village
138 - The Whole Ten Yards
149.5 - White Chicks
157 - Christmas with the Kranks

A quick break before the final three to contemplate Passion's placement within this list. It sure surprised me! The film was on 15 lists and earned the #1 spot five times. Or maybe I just did the math wrong! (Nope!) Ah well, the numbers don't lie. Gibson's passion play was fairly well-reviewed upon its theatrical release, but earned a fair share of Bottom 10 notices, hence its inclusion. Don't look at me, folks. I thought it was a pretty solid movie. (Especially if you love horror movies.)

Now get this leap. The last Garbage Point tally was 157. Now we lunge forward about 60 points and find:

235.5 Garbage Points - Alexander & Catwoman ! Yep, TWO movies tied for second! After all that tabulating and number-checking, I was left scratching my head and mystified. Not that these two movies are so reviled, but that they both hit the exact same score! Weeeeeird.....

Which leaves the #1 spot to:

246 Garbage Points - Van Helsing

And that tells me something that movie producers should pay some heed to: if you're going to create yet another soulless and non-sensical piece of disposable summertime clatter, you're better off NOT befouling the names of characters that most movie critics hold very close to their hearts. Van Helsing is a really bad movie, but the way it drags Universal's classic monsters through the mud is pretty much a huge slap-in-the-face that reeks of market testing, ego and plain old greed. And that's why it's earned the designation of 2004's Worst Film, as decided by over 100 movie critics (who had a LOT of crappy movies to pick from)!

Before I sign off and thank you for reading, please take note of the 112 film critics who made this ridiculous project possible. If you click HERE or on the banner below, you'll be taken to Page 2 of this feature, which I'm placing within the HBS message board. It's there that you'll find an entire list of the critics who participated, the complete list of all Bottom 10s, and the various stat sheets that I worked from. If you have any questions, comments, criticisms or corrections, you can post 'em on the board or drop me an email at scott29@hollywoodbitchslap.com .

And let's all make one important resolution this New Year's: stop giving money to the really crappy movies. You can often spot 'em without even buying a ticket! Find a film critic whose tastes and opinions jibe with your own, and start to take their advice more often. You'll be saving yourself some cash while doing your part to stamp out Rampant Cinematic Awfulness!

And as always: thanks for reading.


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=1279
originally posted: 01/02/05 19:17:40
last updated: 01/26/05 22:06:41
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