As much as we like to celebrate the best in any particular category, we are also obsessed with the worst, it is in our nature to laugh at the misfortunes of others. In terms of film, I have seen many that technically or visually are terrible; the sound editing and special effects of Birdemic (2010) or the community theatre style of acting in British horror Tooth Fairy (2019), in which a young man, playing an elderly priest has just sprayed his hair grey. However it is unfair to be too critical of these types of movies, they are cripplingly low budget and the filmmakers are just trying to create some art of their own, more power to them. It is the larger studio movies demanding our money, that deserve to be judged when they go horribly wrong, and judged they will be.
This is why the Golden Raspberry awards were conceived in 1981, by two film industry veterans. Known as the Razzies, they have been taking place the night before the Oscars ever since, celebrating the worst movies of the year, with some good sports actually turning up to collect their awards, knowing they have committed celluloid sin. So I have been delving in, to three films that have won the most Razzies between them. Do they reach the great zenith of being so bad they are good, or are they the equivalent of razor blades to the eyes. I have been gracious enough to find out for you. Pray for me…
(Winner of Worst picture, Worst Director,Worst Supporting Actor,Worst Supporting Actress,Worst Screen Combo [any half human half feline fur balls], Worst Screenplay)
Cats, based on the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which in turn is based on some poems by T.S.Eliot, is complete nonsense. The plot, taken from the musical, talks of Jellicle cats going to a Jellicle ball, so one of them can ascend to the Heavinside layer to start a new life. The opening musical number mentions the word Jellicle about 50 times, what are you taking about Webber?! To be fair the musical has been running since 1981, so it has struck a chord with audiences and is clearly suited to stage production, showcasing interpretive dance and costumes, the plot being a secondary thought. However in a feature film it becomes more apparent that the story is nonsensical and irritating. But of course the main criticism is the use of CGI for the weird human/cat hybrids, and yes it's terrible. Firstly it takes all the talent away from ballet dancer Francesca Hayward, who plays the protagonist Victoria the White Cat, as all her movements look fake, like they are all animated. They could have clumsy stuck anybody’s face onto her body. Secondly the effects are at their worst for Jennifer Hudson, whose real face moves awkwardly against the white spots and whiskers, floating around on the screen. Simply horrible. If you are a fan of the musical, you will wonder why they didn’t just use animation or more importantly, just stick to the live show. If you aren’t, it is painful to sit through song-after-song, introducing a new cat character. Finally we get an extended monologue with Judi Dench, celebrating cats in general. It is bizarre, the ramblings of a mad cat lady. Even if you are a cat person in the real world, by the end you will wish that these bizarre human/cat creatures were put out to pasture long ago.
Battlefield Earth (2000)
(Winner of Worst Picture,Worst Director,Worst Screenplay, Worst Actor, Worst Supporting Actor, Worst Screen Couple [Anyone sharing the screen with Travolta], Worst Picture of the decade)
Battlefield Earth, based on the novel of the same name by Scientology founded L. Ron Hubbard, was a pet project for fellow scientologist John Travolta. I’m not sure why, as the story is so mundane and devoid of action or interest, it is hard to get excited about it. However the film is worth a watch for Travolta alone, who brings a hammy over-the-top style that only John can deliver. We are told by green words on a screen that it is the year 3000, not much as changed but we live underwater, sorry that is a Busted song! Actually the Earth has been ruled by the evil Psychlos for a 1000 years and use humans as slaves. A few primitive hunter-gatherer tribes exist, including Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, yes that is his name, played by Barry Pepper. He goes out to explore the world, his fellow tribesman are superstitious and too scared to explore, while he is a man of reason. He sees the ruins of the old world and then is immediately captured and dumped in a prison camp by the Psychlos. It is here we are introduced to head of security Terl (John Travolta) and boy does he look hilarious, complete with giant head, dreadlocks, a gimp suit and platform boots. The Psychlos are 9 feet tall and meant to look intimidating, in fact Travolta looks like a cross between a drag queen and a character at a renaissance fair.
We quickly get embroiled in the affairs of Terl, we are told he was top of his class ( I would love to see a prequel called Battlefield Earth: The College Years), but will be spending the rest of his days on Earth, due to an undisclosed misdemeanour with the Senator’s daughter. So he quickly starts scheming with his subordinate and partner in crime Ker (Forest Whitaker) to get the humans to mine gold for them. Terl and Ker are like partners in crime from a Looney Toons cartoon, you expect Terl to bop Ker on the head to keep him in line. Travolta’s acting is great here, constantly talking of his great abilities in the academy, saying how he wants to ‘Explore the Galaxy’! ,with his ridiculous giant rubber hands gesturing to the sky. His acting is like a parody, made even more funny by his costume, which never doesn’t look silly. Terl is also completely inept - his plan is stupid, as he teaches Jonnie all of the Psychlos language and knowledge - just so he can tell him to mine gold. May that backfire on him? He is also cocky to a fault, even when he has let the humans get the better of him again-and-again. The poster and ad campaigns make you think this is an epic Sci-Fi tale but it feels more like a failed TV pilot, with its low level plotting and Terl’s obsession with filming every exchange to get leverage, which never really comes into play. The effects are poor, the humans forgettable and the director is obsessed with dutch angels, so half the film is slanted. It does deserve its accolades but I absolutely loved the character of Terl, a ludicrous looking, overconfident fool, that only Travolta could play. No wonder he had to get it made, in dark times we needed a character as amusing as Terl, to brighten our days.
WORTH A WATCH!
Jack and Jill (2011)
(A record 11 Razzies, including Worst Actor, Director and On-screen couple)
So here we are with the darling of the Golden Raspberries; Adam Sandler playing male and female twins. Yes just let that synopsis sink in for a minute. How was this ever going to be anything but disastrous? After Sandler performed some great self mockery in Funny People (2009) , Jack and Jill really is a middle finger to audiences. We start with a montage of real twins, talking about being twins. It isn’t funny, then we get a montage of Jack and Jill growing up together, with excessive baby farting ;here we go… Jack directs adverts and is being pressured into getting Al Pacino to appear in a Dunkin’ Donut commercial, advertising 'The Dunkacino' (I don’t care if that is how you spell it). Not only is Al Pacino in this movie, it is fair to say he is a supporting character, how was he persuaded to do this? I would love to know. Jack’s twin sister Jill (also played by Sandler, with an incredibly irritating Brooklyn twang) arrives for Thanksgiving, they don’t get on, however Al Pacino fancies her, so Jack persuades her to go on a date with him so he will agree to do the ‘Dunkacino’ commercial. The slightly positive first. Jack doesn’t have an irritating voice, which Sandler normally uses for most of his characters, the worst offender being Little Nicky (2000), which for me is still in contention for one of the worst films I have ever seen. The film isn’t funny, but it at least attempts jokes, these are mainly around Jill being annoying, especially describing films and not accepting it when someone suggests the correct title. There is also a lot of slapstick that can raise a smile. Right with that out of the way, the longer the 90 minutes drag on, being in the presence of the character of Jill is excruciating, Sandler in a wig and make-up putting on a grating female voice, starts to wear you down. Jack and Jill becomes a war of attrition. The interactions between Jack and Jill are also worthy of its Razzie, Sandler can’t even be bothered to play Jack properly, he is so apathetic to his own existence, then suddenly shouting at himself in drag; how dare he make us spend so much time with the character of Jill. She is meant to be obnoxious and to speak without thinking, such a character can be entertaining, however it is written so poorly there isn’t an ounce of charm to her, to call Jill a ‘her’ is insulting to all women, ever. Why would Al Pacino be in love with her? Why is he in this movie?! The only funny part of the film is at the end, when Al does the commercial. He turns to Jack, who is previewing it for him and says; ‘Burn this’. A perfect metaphor for the film as a whole.
Right that is enough bad films, I am going to curl up with The Lost Boys and a mug of Horlicks, feel free to check out the above, just don’t say I didn’t warn you. Jake out.