Rotten Tomatoes Summer 2009 Wrap-Up
THE BOTTOM 10 TOMATOMETERS OF THE SUMMER
There are some funny people in Aliens in the Attic -- Kevin Nealon and Tim Meadows among them -- but their talents are wasted in this boringly mediocre family flick, and anyway, didn't we just watch Ashley Tisdale hang out with cuddly CGI aliens in the High School Musical trilogy? Elliott Noble of Sky movies described Aliens as "a giant slurp of cinematic Sunny D, quenching the thirst for instant fun with CGI sweeteners and a fast-acting concoction of other slapstick additives."
9. Halloween II
After more than three decades of killing sprees, Halloween's Michael Myers has visited more than his share of indignities upon unsuspecting victims -- but few of them have been as brutal as the hack job Rob Zombie performed on the franchise with the follow-up to his 2007 reboot, wasting his formidable talent on dull, lowest-common-denominator gore. "Let's float a notion," proposed Keith Phipps of the AV Club: "Zombie is the greatest horror-movie director never to make a great movie."
8. Dance Flick
Zucker/Abrams/Zucker, what hast thou wrought? Not content to beat the parody film to death (with a notable assist from Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, of course), the Wayans brothers dropped the equivalent of a filmic deuce on the genre's corpse this summer with Dance Flick, a movie so bad that Channel 4 Film's Matt Glasby described it as "the comedy equivalent of torture porn, albeit with worse sound effects and notably fewer laughs."
Two entries in, the Transformers franchise has proven to be substantially less than meets the eye. Noisy, mechanical, and excessively lengthy, Revenge of the Fallen confirmed many of the critical slights against blockbuster filmmaking in general and Michael Bay in particular, emphasizing empty spectacle over narrative cohesion or character development. But hey, it's just mindless summer entertainment, not art, right? Well, most critics felt ROTF failed to make the popcorn grade; rather than immersing the audience in spectacle, the pundits complained that the film was merely an assault on the senses. "Bay seems to think that just showing us a bunch of brightly clashing metallic limbs (accompanied by lots of noise) is enough to make us faint in our seats with excitement," wrote Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com.
6. Next Day Air
Next Day Air could have worked, and probably should have, considering the presence of Mike Epps, Donald Faison, and Mos Def, all three of whom have come to establish themselves in Hollywood in recent years. Unfortunately for them, however, critics felt the film was hampered by derivative writing, an inconsistent tone, and unnecessary violence. Despite a handful of supporters who connected with Next Day Air's uneven humor, most reviewers agreed with Giant Magazine's Ethan Alter, who labeled the film "a messy and unpleasant genre mashup that needed at least two or three rewrites before shooting started."
5. Year One
How could a Harold Ramis-directed Biblical comedy starring Michael Cera and Jack Black possibly fail? Start with a witless script, then add a leaden pace and plenty of lowbrow yucks, and voila! You've got Year One, which has to qualify as one of the summer's biggest disappointments. Year One garnered comparisons to such classic Biblically-themed comedies as History of the World, Part One and Life of Brian -- none of which did the movie any favors. "Rarely in the history of cinema have so many genuinely funny people come together to make a film that is so painfully unfunny to watch," wrote Mike McGranaghan of Aisle Seat.
Two sexy, up-and-coming talents in a romantic comedy centered on the battle between the sexes? Sounds like a pretty surefire idea, doesn't it? Sadly, the ugly truth about The Ugly Truth is that it was probably much more effective on paper than it turned out to be on film, according to critics. While the film's stars, Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler, turn in respectable performances, most felt the story itself was plagued by romantic comedy clichés that never amounted to much or quite fit with the raunchier themes targeted at male audiences. Echoing the sentiments of the majority, the New York Post's Lou Lumenick wrote that "few recent Hollywood products have been anywhere near as crass or contrived as The Ugly Truth."
You cant fault studio executives completely for thinking this book adaptation would be a hit: the book was such a big seller! Such a success, in fact, that they let the author of the autobiography adapt the script himself. Turns out some things dont survive translation. And while the film has a title that asks you to love it, the critical response was staggeringly oppositional. Empire called it "painfully unfunny," Channel 4 called it "mean spirited and coarse." It's true that Beth Cooper (Hayden Pannetiere) is a less than perfect girl, and that Paul Rust's valedictorian idealizes her to a fault, but the film's ever predictable gags do skew a bit too cruel for this supposedly touching teen romance, and the film leaves you terribly little to walk home with.
The good news first: My Life in Ruins offers breathtaking views of Greek landmarks. The bad news? It also provides weather-beaten gags, one-note, stereotypical characters, and endless contrivances. In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Nia Vardalos had charm and wit to spare, but with My Life in Ruins (and the little-seen I Hate Valentine's Day, also released this summer), this once-promising actress is in a serious rut. "My Life in Ruins is a middle-aged Hallmark chick flick that makes you wish you were on a Greek vacation (and not, in fact, watching the movie)," wrote Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly.
1. Post Grad
The Gilmore girl graduates at last. But to what degree? Alexis Bledel stars in this timely, polite comedy about a college grad who has to move back home to her wacky family after being unable to procure any job prospects. But critics balked at its excessive predictability and tepid resolution, which undermined the movie's message of the importance of independence. "I've slogged my way through worse films than Post Grad," says Ken Hanke of the Mountain Xpress, "But what it lacks in sheer awfulness it more than makes up for in utter pointlessness."