The Hangover Part II (Todd Phillips, 2011)
This lazy, offensive, pathetic, boring, unfunny, repetitive, hopeless Hollywood sequel (though Xerox might be a more appropriate term) might seem like an odd choice for one of the WORST FILMS EVER, but let me explain. It’s not just bad - even though it is that too - it somehow performs the mind-boggling trick of being simultaneously explicitly and insidiously racist and sexist.
The female characters get a slightly easier ride this time compared to the first (in that at least one is not a screaming, stupid, nagging harridan), but they’re still routinely hurled under the bus. However, the real enemy here is a perceived uptight Eastern culture, personified by the family of the Thai fiance of Stu (Ed Helms). All it takes to get these serious Asians to lighten up is to have a bunch of touring all-American assholes desecrate their culture, right? Well that’s what this film proposes, without a hint of irony. In the most egregious example of this, Stu’s fiance’s younger brother - a promising violinist - loses a finger. He should be devastated, right? Wrong. He’s happy - even grateful - that the Americans have educated him in the art of having a blast, yo! In allowing these clowns to get away scot-free, the filmmakers’ moral cowardice beams through.
On the other end of the stereotype spectrum is Ken Jeong’s screamingly camp Chinese gangster, possessed of a tiny penis and a sassy attitude. He’s the type of character who might have seemed a bit much 30 years ago. To see this kind of thing in 2011 is disgraceful, and one must wonder what’s going through Jeong’s mind as he hams it up (probably the dollar signs). The Hangover Part II is cynical, racist garbage that represents the absolute worst of Hollywood’s culturally imperialist attitudes.
Juno (Jason Reitman, 2007)
I like Ellen Page but frankly, I think she fares much better with inception than with conception. While her character’s baby is carried to full term, my love for the things that this film overtly references was sadly miscarried. For starters: the mentioning of the Melvins over and over and over. I used to love them. I still do. But my finite energy for loving them has been partially sublimated towards hating this movie. And the hamburger phone? The hamburger phone! What an amazing thing. The problem is that it’s in the quirky forefront ad nauseam, along with Michael Cera’s annoying affectation for orange Tic Tacs.
If you want be quirky, then that’s fine. Hot, weird hipster girls are still, in my opinion, the hottest version of girls out there today. But like with any vegetarian (or worse yet, vegan), I don’t care what you decide to put in your mouth; don’t shove your opinions down my ears. The same goes for straight edge punks: good for you that you abstain from putting chemicals down your throat, up your nose or into your veins, but don’t get mad at me when I don’t follow suit. Be quirky. Sure. Just shut up about it.
The pièce de résistance comes at the end when Ellen Page and Michael Cera sit side-by-side playing a cutesy cringe-worthy Moldy Peaches cover. And by résistance, I mean my resisting the urge to throw up in the popcorn bowl as I delete every Kimya Dawson song from my iTunes
The Room (Tommy Wiseau, 2003)
Produced, directed, written by - and starring! - craggy-faced Euro-trash Tommy Wiseau, The Room is the closest modern cinema has come to finding a companion to Ed Wood’s woefully awful Plan 9 From Outer Space. But whereas Wood worked in B-movie territory, Wiseau shoots straight for Tennessee Williams-style melodrama, as a kind-hearted banker finds his world falling apart, after the love of his life breaks his heart.
Atrocious acting, incongruous lines, puzzling plot holes, The Room bears all the hallmarks of a craptastic classic, but it is more than just a bad movie, it’s a ‘so bad, it’s good’ sensation. A film so terrible that it is almost single-handedly keeping certain independent cinemas afloat in these trying economic times. Shrewd programmers have pilfered the communal, kitsch-y thrills of watching, say, The Rocky Horror Picture Show - the campy activities, the call-and-response catchphrases, the themed screenings - to their monetary gain. And the boozy, ironic Friday night crowd are turning up in droves.
But whereas the cult flicks of old were giddy, unpredictable and wildly subversive, The Room is an unseemly, misogynistic mess. Wiseau sank $4 million into this narcissistic dud - and in return for his investment, he gets to enjoy multiple, nauseating sex scenes, and plays the Christ figure as the protagonist’s unloving nympho of a wife and his deceitful best friend canoodle behind his back. He even gets the ultimate moment of martyrdom, as the film ends with his ‘tragic’ suicide.
‘So bad, it’s good’? Nope, it’s just plain bad. Or, in fact, the worst.