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Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies
Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.
Weird Science (1985) 56%
A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.
The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%
This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.
All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%
Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.
Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%
This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.
Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%
Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.
Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.
10 Rotten Movie Twists
A plot twist is like a complicated haircut; impressive when done right, a disaster when incorrectly executed. In honor of Orphan‘s twist ending this Rotten Friday, we’ve compiled our favorite Rotten movies (scoring 59% or less), all served up with a twist. Spoilers ahead.
Lucky Number Slevin (2006) 51%
Josh Hartnett’s Slevin gets caught up in a case of mistaken identity with two crime bosses: the Rabbi (Sir Ben Kingsley) and the Boss (Morgan Freeman). Bruce Willis is an assassin named Mr. Goodkat.
The Twist: Psych! In a “Kansas City Shuffle,” or a confusing double bluff, Slevin has been on a revenge mission the whole time. And guess what? Goodkat spared Slevin’s life as a child and then raised him as his own son. What you taking ’bout, Willis?
Now You See Me (2013) 49%
“The Four Horsemen” are illusionists who pull off a bank heist and shower the audience with the stolen cash. But how did they do it? FBI Investigator Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is on the case.
The Twist: Turns out there was a Fifth Horseman. And his name was Dylan Rhodes. Now that’s…magic?
Saw (2004) 48%
Two men wake up in a room next to a dead body. They soon realize they are victims of the Jigsaw Killer. Lessons are learned, a limb is removed.
The Twist: The dead body was really alive the whole time and is John, the Jigsaw Killer! Who Saw that coming?
Secret Window (2004) 46%
Johnny Depp plays Mort Rainey, an author who is stalked by John Shooter (John Turturro) who claims Rainey has stolen his novel. Shooter burns down Rainey’s house, kills his dog, and eventually his ex-wife.
The Twist: There is no John Shooter. Rainey has dissociative identity disorder. Shooter was just his desire to shoot his ex-wife, to SHOOT HER. Boo.
What Lies Beneath (2000) 46%
Claire Spencer (Michelle Pfeiffer) discovers that her husband, Dr. Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford) had an affair with a young woman, Madison (Amber Valletta). As Claire starts to put the pieces back together, she becomes suspicious that there is more to the story.
The Twist: Norman killed Madison and tries to kill Claire too. Claire is saved by the ghost of Madison.
The Village (2004) 43%
It’s the story of a 19th century secluded community with a big problem. There’s a creature lurking in the woods, threatening the safety of the villagers. But the elders are hiding a secret: they take turns wearing costumes to scare people into compliance. A blind villager, Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard) is permitted to leave to get medicine.
The Twist: The village is actually set in modern times. The elders have been lying to everyone to preserve old timey traditions. So, definitely no texting.
Vanilla Sky (2001) 42%
There’s a reason science fiction romantic thrillers aren’t a thing. Tom Cruise plays David Aames, a narcissistic publisher who is badly disfigured in a car accident. Things get weird and really complicated (we’ll spare you), and he eventually jumps off a building.
The Twist: David opens his eyes, revealing that after the accident, he has been in a cryogenic sleep, living a fantasy life.
Basic (2003) 21%
John Travolta is a DEA agent who investigates the death of a feared sergeant (Samuel L. Jackson) and his Special Forces unit.
The Twist: Travolta’s character is leading a con to make everyone think his unit went rogue; nobody’s actually dead. They pretended to kill Samuel L. Jackson.
The Happening (2008) 18%
A true low point for twist-o-phile M. Night Shyamalan. Mark Wahlberg and the ever low-energy Zooey Deschanel play a couple facing a mysterious force that causes people to commit suicide.
The Twist: It’s the trees.
The Number 23 (2007) 8%
Walter Sparrow (Jim Carrey) receives a book called The Number 23. He starts obsessing over the murderous story. The book ends at chapter 22, where could 23 be?
The Twist: It’s on a hotel wall and it’s a confession of how Sparrow murdered a girl in college. He is the author of the book! Talk about a real page turner.
Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” movie Orphan this Friday at 8P on IFC.
5 Reasons Rocky IV Is Too Rotten to Miss
When Rocky IV was released in 1985, the critics were not kind. (While it wasn’t around back then, the film’s 39% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes speaks for itself.) Less of a movie than a jingoistic music video starring a robot and a steroid-addled, monosyllabic Russian baddie, Rocky IV is a far cry from the Italian Stallion’s humble origins.
Still, more than any movie ever made, it exemplifies the whole “so bad its good” genre. This movie was made for us, the great-unwashed masses of the 1980s, who loved the band Survivor and hated those Commie bastards. Before you catch Rocky IV on IFC’s Rotten Fridays, let’s take a look at some moments that make this flick a “too rotten to miss” classic.
5. That Opening Shot
It takes all of 30 seconds for the audience to know they’re in for one ridiculous rollercoaster ride through a Cold War conniption fit of good vs. evil. Gone is the subtle tone and grounded reality of the first Rocky. In its place we see two gloves, one emblazoned with the American flag, the other with the Soviets’, hurtling toward each other. When they collide, sparks fly, and we witness an explosion decades in the making.
In case the symbolism is too subtle for you, director/writer/star Sylvester Stallone is trying to hint that this movie will be the clash of civilizations we’d all been waiting for, but instead of nuclear bombs, a humble palooka from the streets would be duking it out in the ring with the ultimate representation of coldhearted Communism. If it were up to us, this opening shot would’ve won Best Picture all by itself.
4. So Many Montages
Rocky IV has a running time of 91 minutes and 20 seconds. Its eight montages (yes, EIGHT) run a total of 29 minutes and 10 seconds. That is one third of the movie solely dedicated to montages. (Considering Stallone’s contempt for all things Soviet, we have to wonder if he knows it was a dirty Ruskie who invented the montage.)
During one of the many, many montages, director Stallone actually flashes back to a scene that had happened a minute and half prior, creating the impression that he might actually flashback to the montage we were just watching in the same montage. Stallone clearly loves a good montage set to an inspirational ’80s song, and so do we. Which brings us to…
3. A Soundtrack Full of Pumped Up ’80s Jams
Speaking of montages, they are set to the score of some of the cheesiest hits from the mid-’80s. For once, we’re spared tracks from Frank Stallone, with Stallone replacing his rocker brother with synth-y singles from Survivor, John Cafferty and Kenny Loggins. And of course, Robert Tepper, possessor of an ’80s mullet that could topple empires, crooning “No Easy Way Out.” The music in this movie is one step away from being a parody of the music in this movie. If you ever want to know what cocaine can do to the human mind, just listen to this soundtrack.
2. Rocky Ends the Cold War
In one of the most misguided, self-congratulatory, and immediately dated moments in cinema history, good ol’ galoot Rocky Balboa single-handedly ended the Cold War four years before the Berlin Wall came down.
To quote the Italian Stallion himself: “In here…there were two guys… killing each other. But I guess that’s better than millions. What I’m trying to say is… if I can change… and you can change…everybody can change!” And just like that the Soviet public, generals and even the Premier himself rose to their feet in applause, realizing what fools they’d been. This guy beat Mr. T for Heaven’s sake. He knows what he’s talking about!
1. Paulie’s Robot
Okay, let’s all take a deep breath and really consider this for a moment. Rocky IV has a robot butler in it. A movie franchise that began back in 1976 exploring the gritty reality of a bum fighter trying to prove himself somehow limped along long enough to turn into a weak Short Circuit rip-off in which an alcoholic mooch with a history of domestic abuse now gets his coffee served to him by a robot. A robot that he has programmed with a “sultry” lady voice!
Stallone was inspired to include the real life robot Sico in Rocky IV because of the work it did to help autistic children like his son Seargeoh. That’s all very moving, but doesn’t explain why he decided to write a scene where Paulie dubs poor Sico “the love of my life.” It’s a testament to Rocky IV‘s “too rotten to miss” status that Paulie’s robot girlfriend/personal servant isn’t even the craziest thing that happens to Rock and the gang.
Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” movie Rocky IV this Friday at 8P on IFC.
10 Reasons Why Rocky IV Is the Ultimate Rocky Movie
Sure, most people love the first Rocky for its heart, gripping boxing scenes and the classic training montage. Or, you might love Creed for being both a return-to-form and a new exploration of the Rocky mythology. Maybe the thrill of seeing Mr. T and Hulk Hogan in the same movie makes Rocky III your top pick. Well, sorry, you’re wrong: Rocky IV is the greatest of all the “Italian Stallion”‘s movies.
Before you watch the all-day Rocky movie marathon this Friday, September 30th on IFC (with Rocky IV airing at 8P as part of Rotten Fridays), check out a few reasons to appreciate the fourth installment as the king of the series.
1. The Greatest Opening Ever
How many openings are able to sum up the entire conflict of the film in less than a minute and without a single line of dialogue? And how many of those movies have exploding boxing gloves? Just try to watch the opening sequence above and not be completely psyched for the pumped-up flick to come.
We all know that the best part of any sports movie is the montage, and Rocky IV doesn’t give you one measly montage. There’s a recap of the previous films montage, a getting to Russia Montage, two training montages and an ending fight montage. That’s five montages! There’s probably a montage of montages snuck in there, too.
3. There’s a Full James Brown Musical Number
This movie is so packed with memorable moments, it’s easy to forget one of the first things that happens in the film: Apollo comes out to fight Drago dressed as a shirtless Uncle Sam, while James Brown and a full band play “Living in America.” To drive home the number’s patriotism, there are dancers in tuxedos and top hats, weird unitards and bowler caps, and bedazzled showgirls with headpieces for miles. Oh, and don’t forget the giant tentacled dragon statue on the stage. This is how every boxing match should start. Heck, this is how we always want to enter a room.
4. The Soundtrack
The Rocky IV soundtrack doesn’t just feature James Brown — it has rock anthems galore, all of which make you immediately want to hit the gym. From “Heart’s on Fire” by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band to “Sweetest Victory” by Touch to multiple Survivor jams, you’ll get pumped and stay pumped. Even the instrumental score rocks! Sure, sometimes it sounds like it was made on a kids Casio, but this soundtrack never quits and — to quote Robert Tepper — never takes the easy way out.
Every Rocky movie shows off Stallone’s incredible physique, but Rocky IV really ups the game. Not only do we get Dolph Lundgren mostly shirtless looking like a man machine, but we get a wide variety of scenes of Stallone doing impossible tasks. Stallone’s crazy dragon fly crunches, aka a thing no human should be able to do, automatically take this movie to the top.
6. Two words: Ivan Drago
Not only does Rocky IV explore the global conflict between the US and the Soviet Union, but it encapsulates all of our fears of the Cold War in one perfect villain. Ivan Drago only trains with machines and science and looks like he stepped out of an Aryan Nations recruitment poster. He also only responds in short, cold phrases like “If he dies, he dies,” or “I must break you.” There’s never been a villain who we so clearly want to get the crap beat out of than Ivan Drago.
7. Rocky Makes Chores Look Badass
Rocky doesn’t need to be hooked up to machines to become the perfect fighter. All he needs are huge tires and some outdoor chores to do. No one’s ever looked cooler chopping wood and using tractor parts. Half of his training is lifting an old wagon, probably to fix a broken axle. If anything, this film inspires us to take care of that gardening work we’ve been neglecting.
8. Rocky’s Beard
Stallone’s beard game is truly on point in Rocky IV. And this isn’t some “I forgot to shave, here’s a little stubble” look. No, we get full out, lumberjack-style beard action. Does any other Rocky movie have our hero looking like an old Russian aristocrat? Another point for Rocky IV.
9. There’s a robot!
Again, there’s so much to Rocky IV, you probably forgot about the robot. Well, Rocky has some money now and he’s not going to spend it on frivolous things for himself. He’s going to buy Paulie a robot! The best part of this scene is how truly disturbed Paulie is by this new technology until he gives it a sexy lady voice.
10. Rocky Ends the Cold War
If you’re still not convinced that Rocky IV is the greatest, answer this question: Does any other Rocky movie bring peace between the US and Russia?
By the end of the film, Rocky rises up to beat the seemingly undefeatable Drago. He fights so well, that even the Russians begin to appreciate his skills. Then, instead of using his victory to prove America’s superiority, he gives a rousing speech of “If I can change and you can change, everybody can change!” The whole crowd goes wild, including all of the Russian government, who we assume give up Communism immediately based solely on Rocky’s words. Stallone’s call for international reconciliation through brutal fighting and a variety of montages makes this if not one of the greatest films of all time, certainly the greatest Rocky of them all.
Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” movie Rocky IV this Friday at 8P on IFC.
10 Rotten Movie Franchises That Need to Stop
We live in the age of the blockbuster movie franchise. If you want a green-light, you better have tights, a light saber and decades worth of backstory and fan love to build on. And while we love some of these franchises, some just keep getting new entries despite horrible reviews, audience indifference and an utter lack of care from even the people making them.
With IFC and Rotten Tomatoes celebrating “too rotten to miss” movies like Scary Movie 2 this month, we thought it high time to point out just a few franchises than should be retired to the bottom of your Netflix queue. Here are 10 “rotten” movies franchise that need to just go away, please.
Hollywood execs, we get it. You grew up in the ’80s, and now you want to produce everything you loved as a child, only make it a lot worse. Here’s the thing: while a show like Stranger Things took all the tropes and style of ’80s movies, and created something new, lingerie commercial director Michael Bay went the opposite way, taking a title and basic concept, and creating a pile of garbage made out of robot parts.
If poop jokes mixed with racism, misogyny and incoherent fight scenes are your thing, this is the franchise for you. If you have even the slightest respect for character or basic story logic, you have to admit this franchise has been awful from frame one. Yes, we were alive in the ’80s, but some things are best left in the past. Unfortunately, with a sixth movie, a Bumblebee spin-off and a proposed G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover movie in the works, this franchise will probably outlive us all.
9. Scary Movie
True, its been a couple of years since we’ve been subjected to one of these, but you know that Jamie Kennedy or the Epic Movie guys are sitting in a writers room somewhere, pitching jokes on how to merge The Purge with a fart joke. This franchise started out in a mediocre place, a Wayans family knockoff of better movies like Airplane, and things went downhill from there. You shouldn’t be able to spin five movies out of a few Scream jokes and a Carmen Electra cameo.
8. Alvin and the Chipmunks
20th Century Fox
Designed to appeal to kids who love ’50s novelty albums and pun-y titles, the Chipmunk franchise feels like it was made by a prop comic from the Uncanny Valley. Full of rapping CGI rodents, and a paycheck cashing Jason Lee, 20th Century Fox has somehow made over a billion dollars off a series of diminishing “Squeakquels.” We do secretly sort of hope these movies keep getting made, just so David Cross keeps getting forced to star in them.
20th Century Fox
If we can all be honest with ourselves, these movies have been a mixed bag for the past decade. (Even the foul-mouthed spin-off Deadpool made fun of how self-serious the franchise has become.) In an ever expanding quest to turn the series into a dumbed-down version of the moody mutants’ ’90s cartoon, the stories have gotten paper-thin, the performances phoned in and the monster makeup just this side of Grimace cosplay. (We’re looking at you, X-Men: Apocalypse.)
Do we really need to see Hugh Jackman’s take on Wolverine for the ninth time? There is only so much steamed chicken and protein powder this man can eat before this franchise legitimately becomes a form of torture. Fox Studios, there are enough superheroes on the big screen right now. Maybe let this one go, and a decade from now Marvel can reclaim it and make some good movies again.
There have been over 200 projects starring Tarzan since pictures started motioning at the turn of the last century. 200! This vaguely racist story of a white man taming the, ahem, Dark Continent, has been told ad nauseam. We know Hollywood loves to keep beating iconic characters into the ground, and Tarzan probably has near universal name recognition, but that doesn’t mean that anyone wants to, you know, go and watch a movie about the guy, no matter how ripped Alexander Skarsgard’s abs are.
5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
These “heroes in a half shell” were a stretch for movie stardom back at the peak of their popularity, but thanks to some ingenious work by The Jim Henson Company, and Vanilla Ice’s “Ninja Rap,” they were able to have a moment during the early ’90s.
Now, decades later, Michael Bay’s desperate desire to ruin all of our childhoods has found its way to these pizza loving turtles with ‘tude. The CGI monstrosities that have resulted can barely be called movies. Like the Transformers franchise, but with more creepy scenes of an anthropomorphic turtle hitting on Megan Fox, these movies are a nail in the coffin of ’80s nostalgia, and need to be put to bed before Bay starts sniffing around the Thundercats.
4. Now You See Me
Magic tricks are impressive when you see them performed live. The fun is in wondering how they could possibly do that. When you watch a bunch of Christopher Nolan castoffs performing CGI tricks created in post production, the only thing you’re left wondering is what the point even was.
This is perhaps the strangest movie franchise to come along in awhile, a collection of genres tropes quilted together by a cavalcade of filmdom’s best supporting actors. Take a bit of Ocean’s Eleven, and a touch of The Prestige. Add a pinch of Morgan Freeman and James Franco’s brother, and cross your fingers that audiences will be dumb enough to line up for a sequel to that movie they didn’t totally hate when they saw it on an airplane that time.
3. God’s Not Dead
Pure Flix Entertainment
The Christian movie genre has blown-up over the last decade. God’s Not Dead, and its sequel, were beneficiaries of this expanding audience, raking in tens of millions of dollars at the box office. But, despite connecting with an audience, all is not well in God’s Not Dead-land.
These insipid movies, that never met a straw man they didn’t hate, tell laughable stories about the evils of college campuses and the ACLU, full of cartoonish villains whose sole purpose in life is to crush good Christian souls. With a “who’s who” of “Remember Them??” in the cast, including TV’s Superman Dean Cain and TV’s Hercules Kevin Sorbo, these movies are as poorly produced as the message they’re espousing. God may not be dead, but the careers of the filmmakers behind these movies should be.
2. Bridget Jones
It’s been more than a decade since the last Bridget Jones movie was foisted on us, and in that time young Bridget has remained the same self-involved, unrealistically clumsy mess. With pacing that makes each movie feel 10 hours long, sub-par slapstick and an unlikeable lead, the Bridget Jones trilogy too often feels like Sex and the City without the sex or the city.
Just because the book series your franchise is based on churns out another entry doesn’t necessarily mean you need to get the gang back together. Well, some of the gang, considering Hugh Grant wisely let Dr. McDreamy himself Patrick Dempsey fill in for him this go around. Remember when Renee Zellweger was an acclaimed, Oscar-winning actress? Yeah, that was a long time ago…
20th Century Fox
Seriously, is anyone really excited for the four sequels that James Cameron has promised us to this box office breaking blockbuster from 2009? Yes, at the time the 3D wonderland of CGI planets and tail sex was a revelation, making us overlook the fact that we were watching a hokey Dances With Wolves knockoff starring an actor with the approximate charisma of a broken toaster. But over the last few years, Avatar has slipped from the public consciousness. When’s the last time you popped in your Blu-ray of it, or saw someone cosplaying a Na’vi, or even mentioned it in casual conversation? If Cameron were making one sequel, okay, but four? FOUR? Maybe it’s best to just remember Avatar for what it was — a blue-hued fluke, and move on.
Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” flick Scary Movie 2 this Friday at 8P on IFC.
10 Rotten Wayans Brothers Movies
There was a time, not so long ago, that the Wayans family was synonymous with hilariously biting satire. With movies like I’m Gonna Git You Sucka and the classic sketch series In Living Color, the Wayans clan dominated culturally relevant comedy. But on the heels of those early successes, the Wayans began pumping out comedies filled cheap jokes and lazy spoofs that failed to match the incisive, message-driven works that the family produced in the late-’80s and early-’90s. Still, while all the movies on the list below are “Certified Rotten,” some are more dire than others.
Before you catch Scary Movie 2 on IFC’s Rotten Fridays, here are 10 movies that show the Wayans at their most (and slightly less) “rotten.”
1. A Low Down Dirty Shame (Tomatometer: 0%)
Surprisingly, the lowest rated Wayans movie on Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t contain a single Scream mask or CGI-faced toddler. Instead, it’s a poorly executed action-comedy written, directed by and starring Wayans elder Keenen Ivory. A far cry from his earlier acclaimed work, A Low Down Dirty Shame is a forgettable collection of mediocre stunts and jokes that can’t sustain itself either as an action or a comedy movie — and “forgettable” is the death knell for purveyors of outrageousness.
2. Fifty Shades of Black (7%)
The most recent entry in the Wayans’ oeuvre, Fifty Shades of Black is a spoof of a book whose parodies were exhausted five years ago. Rather than search for a new comedic angle to the novel’s corny BDSM meets Twilight fan fiction story, star Marlon Wayans (who also co-wrote and co-produced the movie) opts for the surface-level sight gags that always seem to anchor his family’s projects. Overuse of slapstick violence? Check. Cheap jokes at the expense of obese individuals? Check. A Kim Kardashian joke? Check and mate. Fifty Shades of Black isn’t so much a movie as it is an extended trailer from a different Wayans movie.
3. A Haunted House (10%) and A Haunted House 2 (8%)
Returning to the horror-comedy well for a double-dose of eye rolls and heavy sighs, writer-producer-star Marlon Wayans peddles the very same jokes that hit their middling apex with the first Scary Movie. From unseen poltergeists to dead-eyed dolls, Marlon proves there’s no overused horror trope that he can’t scream at and hit with a breakaway chair. But seeing as how both AHaunted House movies made substantial profits based on rock-bottom production costs, there will always be a market for lazy, easily recognizable parodies.
4. Little Man (12%)
For anyone who was dying to see Marlon Wayans’ face rotoscoped onto a horny toddler, your prayers were answered in 2006 with Little Man. A comprehensive argument against the advancement of CGI, the Marlon-baby hybrid sexually harasses woman and screams in homophobic panic when Shawn joins him in a bubble bath for a farting contest. (We wish we were kidding.) And you’ll never guess how Little Man reacts when he’s given a rectal thermometer! Wait, maybe you could.
5. Mo’ Money (13%)
After the world witnessed what the Wayans were capable of in recent years, this loose adaptation of an In Living Color sketch seems downright quaint and watchable. Written by Damon (who stars alongside Marlon), 1992’s Mo’ Money contains an actual plot with actual characters who have believable motivations — which is a huge departure from the family’s later work — but it still fails to maintain much interest. Gay jokes and broad impressions of mental disorders abound while the two brothers commit credit card fraud and grand larceny. In other words, it’s not the Wayans’ worst movie.
6. Blankman (13%)
To the Wayans’ credit, they were trying their hand at the “average person fights crime as a superhero” movie years before the genre was played out with Kick-Ass, Super,Mystery Men, et al. (Not that this 1994 film is very good, but at least they were exploring relatively new territory.) Blankman stars and was written by Damon, who plays a nerdy, effeminate repairman who takes on the crime world with homemade gadgetry and undiagnosed autism. There are a few decent laughs in the movie, and the concept isn’t wholly terrible, but the 13% rating on Rotten Tomatoes is definitely earned.
7. Scary Movie 2 (15%)
The second and final entry in the Scary Movie franchise to involve a Wayans, the sequel to the hit horror spoof features a surprisingly high amount of comedy talent (Chris Elliott, David Cross and Andy Richter also appear) and contains parody set pieces that were still effective in the early years of the Wayans spoof factory. Keenen Ivory directs while Shawn and Marlon write and star, and the whole affair manages to coast on the appeal of its predecessor. While we didn’t realize it then, Scary Movie 2 represents a more refined Wayans work.
8. White Chicks (15%)
Look, we’re not made of stone. The sight of Shawn and Marlon as white women elicits a snicker or two, and the stars mumbling through a Vanessa Carlton singalong is a solid gag. But the movie itself never rises above the level of “men in drag” cliches like falsie fumbling and keeping clueless male suitors at bay. Once again serving as director and co-writer, Keenen Ivory reins in his younger brothers’ performances and penchant for gross-out gags, maintaining a storyline that can serve as a tangible plot. It ain’t Tootsie, but it ain’t Norbit either.
9. Dance Flick (18%)
Written by a quintet of Wayans (including nephews Craig and Damien Dante), this 2009 dance spoof has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to source material. Critically panned — but not to the degree of other Wayans parodies — the movie features New Girl’s Damon Wayans, Jr. as the trainer to hopeless prancer Shoshana Bush and has more than a few laughs. (Call us morbid, but a real-life baby peeking through the slots of a closed school locker makes us chuckle.)
10. Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (29%)
Winning over both audiences and more than a few critics, Don’t Be a Menace kicked off the slew of wordy spoofs we’ve all come to regret. But in 1996, Shawn and Marlon’s rapid-fire references hadn’t yet overstayed their welcome and kept viewers entertained. Skewering John Singleton, the Hughes Brothers and the urban dramas of the time, the movie succeeds in eking out comedy from the stark subject matter it chooses to parody. How well the movie has aged is debatable, but to the Wayans’ credit: They know a reliably profitable formula when they see one.
Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Wayans spoof Scary Movie 2 this Friday at 8P on IFC.
10 Rotten Spoof Movies
Spoofs are deceptively difficult. Parody giants like Mel Brooks, the Zucker Brothers and the Documentary Now!crew realize their jokes must still be funny on their own and work as if their inspirations never existed. Otherwise, all you’ve got is just a parade of references without substance or value and a shelf life briefer than its subject.
In honor of the “Certified Rotten” Epic Movie (2%!) airing Friday, September 16 at 8PM on IFC, check out 10 truly rotten big screen spoofs.
1. Epic Movie, Date Movie, Disaster Movie, et. al
When it comes to the work of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, brows don’t come any lower. Using the weakest, emptiest references to fleeting bits of pop culture with zero subtext, the directing duo have successfully franchised 90-minute groin kicks and devalued the spoof genre for the foreseeable future. Although the Friedberg-Seltzer movie factory seems to have lost its luster with audiences, it was just 2010 that their $20 million Vampires Suck earned $80 million at the box office. Weep for humanity.
2. Zucker-Free Leslie Nielsen Spoofs (Spy Hard, 2001: A Space Travesty, Repossessed, etc.)
How can a man whose deadpan expression once kept us in stitches end up in such unfunny dreck? Leslie Nielsen‘s background in dramatic acting made his straight-faced one-liners in Airplane!, Police Squad! and the Naked Gun series all the more hilarious. But ironically, it was his background in spoof movies that soon typecast him in much-lesser parodies which hindered his dry delivery with cheap slapstick and totally botched the way Jim Abrahams and the Zuckers were able to evoke laughs from a simple look of misguided confidence. However, that trusty Nielsen-Zucker team-up backfired spectacularly in 2008 with…
3. An American Carol
Director David Zucker is a rarity in the entertainment industry and a complete oddity in the comedy world: He’s conservative. And following in the long tradition of right-leaning institutions trying to lampoon the left while remaining hip, funny and relevant, An American Carol is a colossal misfire. Featuring a binge-eating Michael Moore surrogate, tone deaf gay jokes, leftwing terrorist sympathizers and Bill O’Reilly, this spoof from 2008 not only missed its brief, pro-Bush era window but also failed to skewer Democrats as effectively as progressive hosts Jon Stewart, Seth Meyers and John Oliver have done on a routine basis.
4. Casino Royale (1967 version)
The bumbling spy is as integral to spoof movies as the underdog is to sports movies. (See Austin Powers, Johnny English, The Man Who Knew Too Little, etc.) And given the limited success rate for unwitting espionage plot lines to be legitimately funny, we thought to include the rotten granddaddy to the genre: 1967’s madcap romp Casino Royale. Non-canonical by popular demand, this James Bond reworking saddles an impressive cast with an unfunny, unworkable script that flies in all directions with no particular aim. When Peter Sellers can’t make a movie funny (let alone coherent), it’s time for a page one rewrite.
5. Movie 43
Speaking of impressive casts, this anthology spoof boasts household-name talent not only in front of the camera but behind it. No less than Kate Winslet, Bob Odenkirk, Julianne Moore, Jason Sudeikis, Elizabeth Banks, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, Emma Stone and Richard Gere (and that’s just a fraction) were involved with the making of Movie 43 — or what film critic Richard Roeper dubbed “the Citizen Kane of awful.” Produced on the backs of celebrities who owed somebody a favor, Movie 43 was shopped around and shot over the course of several years as producers begged talent reps to borrow their clients for a day or two of filming. Miraculously and lamentably, they succeeded.
6. The Onion Movie
Whereas Movie 43 prevailed in having its terrible vision preserved onscreen, The Onion struggled to keep a perverted image of its own work from being released. Originally conceived and written by the venerable satirical publication’s talented scribes, The Onion Movie was shuffled around the studio system so much, by the time it was rewritten, shelved, reworked, and produced, the movie was a shell of its former self and couldn’t measure up to its award-winning origins. Prior to release, The Onion disowned the Frankenstein’s monster of a spoof, but their branding remained as this groan-heavy movie crawled its way out of development hell and straight to DVD.
7. Not Another Not Another Movie
It’s one thing to fail at making a straight-forward spoof — it happens all the time — but to fall far short of a funny “spoof movie about spoof movies” is to crash and burn at a fantastic scale. Not Another Not Another Movie aims to poke fun at the slew of soulless parody movies but ends up being just as soulless and twice as conceited. The high concept might have worked in the hands of Edgar Wright or Charlie Kaufman — meta writers who can distort pop culture in ways that makes it funny on multiple levels — but it crumbles in the hands of lesser spoofmeisters. Burt Reynolds and Chevy Chase lend their diminished names to this 2011 title, and sadly, that’s the funniest thing about it.
8. Leonard Part 6
Even before he was revealed to be an irredeemable monster, the formerly beloved Bill Cosby already had his legacy permanently tarnished in the form of Leonard Part 6. Released just before Christmas 1987, this spy spoof was too dumb even for kids and had film critic Roger Ebert decrying it as the worst movie of the year. (That timespan would lengthen years later considering it holds a 9% currently on Rotten Tomatoes.) In the clip above, watch Ebert list the litany of offenses Leonard Part 6 commits, including flagrant product placement that causes the critic to profess, “[Cosby] ought to be ashamed of himself!” (That sentiment would intensify years later.)
9. The Works of Vince Offer
A vegetable chopper pitchman with infomercial aspirations tries his hand at comedy, and it goes about as well as you’d expect. Vince Offer, better known as “The ShamWow! Guy” or “The As Seen on TV Creep Who Beat Up a Prostitute,” wrote and directed the anthology spoof The Underground Comedy Movie, which was marketed in late-night cable TV ads alongside Girls Gone Wild DVDs and commemorative coins. Despite it being considered a giant waste of time and money with no redeemable value, that wouldn’t stop an infomercial genius like Offer. He topped himself with the sequel InAPPropriate Comedy which features Rob Schneider as a porn reviewer and the most embarrassing Adrien Brody performance this side of his reggae-loving Rastafarian character from SNL. Like his products for the kitchen and the garage, his movies are best left in the warehouse.
10. The Ridiculous 6
And lastly, we come to Adam Sandler, who is able to redefine “rotten” with every Happy Madison release. This time around, Sandler managed to drag Netflix down with him as his Old West spoof The Ridiculous 6 earned its share of controversy for its unflattering portrayal of Native Americans, causing several extras to walk off the set in disgust. (An impressive feat of offensiveness that even Jack and Jill couldn’t match.) Critics had a similar reaction to the movie, as it holds a pitiful 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But between Sandler and Netflix, only one party rebounded with their integrity mostly intact.
Experience the “Rotten” spoof Epic Movie this Friday at 8P on IFC.
5 Reasons Epic Movie is Too Rotten to Miss
There are rotten movies, and then there is Epic Movie. From the “minds” behind Meet the Spartans and Vampires Suck comes yet another movie that mistakes dated pop culture references and cameos from the flavor of the moment for an actual plot or clever jokes. With IFC and Rotten Tomatoes celebrating this “too rotten to miss” movie Friday night at 8P, we thought we’d look back at five of the many reasons Epic Movie (2% on Rotten Tomatoes!) along with those vampires, truly sucks.
5. One Rotten Cast
20th Century Fox
It’s hard to explain why Crispin Glover does things. Sometimes he takes a part in Charlie’s Angels and refuses to speak, and sometimes he slaps on some pancake makeup, reminds himself he was once in Back to the Future and stifles the screams with piles of cash. That seems to be his thinking here, because there’s no way he read the “script” and thought, “Now this is a project I want to be a part of!” Nor did he look through the cast list, and realize his lifelong ambition was to share the screen with Carmen Electra, Playmate Sara Jean Underwood and a Michael Jackson impersonator.
4. White People Rapping
20th Century Fox
How do you spoof a spoof? If you’re writer/directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the answer is as lazy as possible. “Lazy Pirate Afternoon” takes the clever premise, tight rhymes and inventive spark of the original SNL Digital Short, “Lazy Sunday,” and adds pirates. Because remember when Johnny Depp in eyeliner in Pirates of the Caribbean was a new thing?? It’s this sort of hack comedy math (reference + reference = joke?) that is Epic Movie‘s bread and butter. But, hey, SNL‘s Taran Killam shows up as a pirate! That’s, uh, something, right?
3. Truly Rotten Jokes
20th Century Fox
Good jokes take a premise and subvert it in some way that’s surprising, and God willing, humorous. The Epic Movie gang could use someone to lay out that simple premise, because they clearly wake up in flop sweat every morning, trying to understand what causes people to emit those laughing noises from their mouths. Their solution to this confusion seems to be ending every single shot with someone getting punched in the face, knocked to the ground or nailed in the nards. Sometimes, a Z-list celebrity is on the receiving end of the punishment. But really, it’s the audience who is suffering.
2. Dated Pop Culture Parodies
20th Century Fox
Great parodies (like, say, Airplane! or Documentary Now!) lovingly recreate a genre and add a uniquely absurd twist. Epic Movie has a Cribs parody set in Narnia. It’s two dated pop culture references in one! Watching this movie now, with years of distance between us and Tim Burton’s forgettable Willy Wonka movie, just makes Epic Movie‘s spoof all the more bewildering. This is a disposable movie mocking other disposable movies, creating a void where it is virtually impossible to remember a single detail the minute the film comes to an end.
1. Seriously, So Many Rotten Parodies…
20th Century Fox
After working on all of the Scary Movies,Date Movie and other cheap parodies, Friedberg and Seltzer clearly ran out of gags. How else do you explain the scene where Carmen Electra parodies Rebecca Romijn as Mystique several years after she played the role in the X-Men movies? Also, did we mention the scene is set to the overplayed Nelly Furtado song “Promiscuous”? And that Lauren Conrad from MTV’s The Hills is also there, because why not at this point? This one moment sums up everything rotten about Epic Movie.
5 Too Rotten to Miss Sandra Bullock Movies
Sandra Bullock has won an Oscar, a Blockbuster Entertainment Award (yes, that used to be a thing) and a Kid’s Choice Award. You don’t just stumble into success like that. You work for it. And Sandra Bullock works. Sometimes you get gems like While You Were Sleeping or The Heat, and sometimes you get the clunkers on this list.
With IFC and Rotten Tomatoes celebrating the “too rotten to miss” movie Speed 2: Cruise Controlthis Friday at 8P, we thought we’d look back at five Sandra Bullock movies that she probably wishes could be expunged from her IMDB record.
5. All About Steve
Sandra Bullock is so inherently likeable, she can make you fall in love with almost any character she plays. Almost. Mary Horowitz, the crossword puzzle writer with a pet hamster as a best friend, would prove to be her Waterloo. Less a character than a collection of quirks right out of the hack screenwriter handbook, Mary stomps through her movie, alienating every character she comes in contact with like a “manic pixie dreamgirl” on meth act.
The flimsy plot centers around Mary becoming obsessed with an uninterested man (Bradley Cooper), basically browbeating him (and his early ’00s spiky ‘do) into falling in love with her. Bullock famously won a Golden Raspberry for Worst Actress in All About Steve and then an Oscar for The Blind Side the next day, which has to be some sort of record. Currently sitting at 7% on Rotten Tomatoes, All About Steve has become a favorite among fans of star-studded trainwrecks.
A low rent knockoff of other low rent movies, the 2007 spookfest Premonition (8% on Rotten Tomatoes!) has the feeling of a project everyone made with a shrug. In fact, Bullock had already made a movie about a woman trapped in two different time periods — the Keanu Reeves weepfest The Lake House, making this project all the more bewildering.
Was she just desperate to work with Nip/Tuck eyebrow plucker Julian McMahon? Or make a movie that feels like a fake trailer from another, better movie? If only Sandy had a premonition before signing on to this stinker…
3. Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous
The first Miss Congeniality was a pitch perfect vehicle for Sandra’s talents. Its fish-out-of-water story of a FBI agent who goes undercover on the beauty pageant circuit was a bit predictable, but the script’s humor and amiable cast helped make it a surprise hit.
The sagging sequel, which scored only 15% on Rotten Tomatoes, assumes we love the character of FBI Agent Gracie Hart (Bullock) so much, we want to follow her on all her wacky adventures. Ditching the beauty pageant world, Hart has a new job, new partner and a new set of problems. The comedy is much broader and campier, and the film has little reason to exist beyond giving William Shatner an easy paycheck. Still, The Shat is always worth a couple chuckles.
2. The Net
Irwin Winkler, the legendary producer of Rocky and Goodfellas, took a big swing approach to predicting the future in this 1995 thriller, trying to tackle how the newfangled Information Superhighway was changing society and potentially ruining our lives.
Unfortunately, Winkler and the screenwriters used the framework of a laughably predictable conspiracy thriller, joining fellow ’90s tech thrillers Disclosure and Hackers in a sub-genre that looks as dated today as “The Rachel” haircut. If you like your thrillers filled with Times New Roman font and action at the speed of a 28.8Kbps modem, this relic from the AOL chatroom era might be for you.
1. Speed 2: Cruise Control
20th Century Fox/IFC Giphy
Removing the urgency of the iconic original, Speed 2: Cruise Control sets the action on a runaway cruise ship, ignoring the true horror of annoying tourists and backed up toilets for the smooth sailing terror of a boat going a little too fast.
Following the diminishing returns model of the Die Hard franchise, girl next door Annie (Bullock) was now delivering lines about how unlucky she was to find herself in the middle of yet another improbable terrorist attack. With Willem Dafoe hamming it up in the generic villain role, this is an example of bloated ’90s blockbuster-dom that is almost soothing in its rotten-ness.
Set sail with Speed 2: Cruise Control during IFC’s Rotten Fridays!
10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Speed Movies
Starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock as a cop and a civilian who “meet cute” on a bus wired to explode should it drop below 50MPH, Speed is an eminently rewatchable, high-octane thrill ride. Its followup, Speed 2: Cruise Control, starring a well-meaning Bullock and Jason Patric (subbing in for Keanu) as maritime quality-control specialists, pulls a 3% on Rotten Tomatoes. (The sequel’s “rotten” status earns it a place in IFC and Rotten Tomatoes’ Rotten Fridays.)
Before you dive into a Speed double feature this Friday starting at 5:30P, check out some things you might not have known about the Speed movies.
1. Joss Whedon Put Words in Keanu’s Mouth.
Yes, the mastermind behind Buffy, Firefly and The Avengers penned most of the dialogue in Speed, according to the film’s credited screenwriter Graham Yost. Although the story was originally conceived by Yost, Joss Whedon stepped in as script doctor and punched up the action movie one-liners we all know and quote today.
2. The Bus Jump Would Have Ended Badly in Real Life.
Suspension of disbelief be damned: The bus jump in Speed is one of the greatest stunts in popcorn movie history. Never mind the fact that the vehicle’s drivetrain would’ve been completely demolished upon impact, the bomb would’ve been triggered before they hit the ground. On a rear-wheel drive bus, the speedometer is connected to the front wheels, which would slow their rotation in mid-air. And since the wheels don’t measure wind speed, it wouldn’t matter how fast our heroes are soaring — the wheels say below 50!
3. A Special Bus Was Made to Survive the Jump.
Obviously, your average everyday bus isn’t built for acrobatics, so the filmmakers built a special jumpable bus with souped-up shock absorbers to soften the massive impact. (A ramp was built to give the bus extra lift.) And for added precaution for the certifiably insane stunt driver, the driver seat was moved back 15 feet and secured with a floor-to-ceiling stabilizer to prevent the likelihood of spinal compression. So in the movie, hypothetically, if the bus stuck the landing without triggering the bomb, everybody inside would be out of high-octane commission. Still, whatta stunt!
4. Speed originally took place entirely on a bus.
In Graham Yost’s original version of the script, the movie ends as soon as the bus ride does. No nail-biting elevator drop, no edge-of-your-seat subway brawl, and heck, even the jump wasn’t in the original script! (Yost added it when director Jan de Bont noticed an incomplete section of Interstate 105.) But in a shockingly good decision for a major movie studio, Fox requested that Yost put in more action that didn’t involve public transportation. Yost met them halfway with the subway sequence.
5. The “Die Hard on a Bus” Jokes Are Apt.
Comparing Speed to the greatest action movie of all time might be cruel, but it’s accurate. The script was written with the Die Hard franchise in mind and was originally offered to director John McTiernan, who ironically passed due to the story’s resemblance to the John McClane classic. Jan de Bont — who served as director of photography on Die Hard and other action blockbusters — took the job, which helped launch his directing career.
6. The Elevator Scene Was Based on a Real Incident.
Another memorable action sequence was the opening elevator rescue. Jan De Bont suggested adding the scene after his experience being trapped in an elevator during the making of Die Hard. (Too bad John McClane wasn’t around to save him.) De Bont and the crew constructed an 80-foot model elevator shaft for the sequence. Yippie kay yay, indeed.
7. Roger Ebert Was Forced to Defend His “Thumbs Up” Review of Speed 2.
Sequels don’t often fare too well with critics, and for Speed 2 — currently standing at 3% on Rotten Tomatoes — that would be putting it mildly. The movie was eviscerated by critics except for two notable holdouts: Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, who both gave Speed 2 a positive review. Ebert even admitted that he had to defend this review more than any other and that it was used as evidence by detractors of his poor cinematic judgment. (Not for nothing: Sandra Bullock confessed in a 2000 interview that it was “the biggest piece of crap ever made.”)
8. Speed 2 Almost Took Place on a Plane.
Despite Keanu passing on a sequel to make The Devil’s Advocate and Jan de Bont insisting that the concept only worked once, Speed 2 was immediately greenlit thanks to the success of its predecessor. Many potential vehicles were proposed for stars Jason Patric and Sandra Bullock to be trapped on, including Graham Yost’s idea about a plane flying through the Andes Mountains that would explode if it ascended above 10,000 feet. A cruise ship was eventually chosen, based on a recurring dream Jan de Bont had about being trapped on a ship that crashed into an island. New screenwriters Jeff Nathanson and Randall McCormick were brought on board to bring De Bont’s literal nightmare to life.
9. Two Stunts in Speed 2 Nearly Killed the Leads.
After Keanu declined to appear in the sequel, actor Jason Patric signed on as Sandra’s first mate. And although the film’s stunt coordinator was impressed by Patric’s physical ability, the actor nearly killed himself during a motorcycle stunt where he fell from a bike while 30 feet in the air. Bullock said Patric was lucky to survive the stunt, but she also had a close call herself: While shooting in the ocean, she had to be rescued by Patric from almost being decapitated by the ship’s rudder. (One stunt woman didn’t manage to escape injury on set: She was hit in the face by a boat cable and required reconstructive surgery.)
10. Three Characters Return for Speed 2, And a Fourth You Might’ve Missed.
Obviously Sandra’s back, and we have Joe Morton as Mac and Glenn Plummer as Maurice, or Tuneman as he’s better known. But there’s one more hapless character to undergo a crisis in both movies: Constance. Who? In Speed, actress Susan Barnes plays the nervous female executive trapped in the elevator and frozen in fear. In Speed 2, she’s back as the cooler-headed Constance who casually sits and smokes as chaos ensues. Apparently, her brush with death in ’94 turned Constance into a cool action movie character.
Set sail with Speed 2: Cruise Control during IFC’s Rotten Fridays!