Worst 5 Films of 2011

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Every year, I wonder why I feel the need to call out five films that were the worst of the worst.  No studio exec is going to read this article think, “Matt Goldberg, that voice of sage wisdom, has spoken, and now we must cease production on all of our banal romantic comedies.”  But I make myself sit through a lot of junk every year because I have the idiotic policy of finishing every movie I start.  And these movies were not only a trial, but they managed to waste a potentially good aspect and be shockingly offensive at the same time.  Don’t look for The Zookeeper or Jack and Jill on this list; I prefer not to shove toxic waste into my eye sockets.  The five movies on this list had at least one enticing aspect: the talent involved, the premise, the success of previous entries in the franchise.  And then that lure brought me into a grueling slog where my only solace was knowing the film’s running time and having a wristwatch.  These films punched me for no reason.  This is me hitting back with good cause.

Hit the jump to check out my picks for the worst five films of 2011.

5.) THE ART OF GETTING BY / RESTLESS

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It’s a bit of a cheat to give a slot to two movies, but movies like The Art of Getting By and Restless need to stop existing.  I like coming-of-age movies, but I have to care that the main character is coming-of-age.  But I don’t care if whiny, quirky, middle-upper-class white male teenagers grow up or not.  The main characters in both films fit this description and we’re forced to watch them move through endless self-pity and fake conflict until they meet a Manic Pixie Dream Girl who will teach them a valuable lesson about life.  The Dream Girl has her own baggage, but the movie could care less if she deals with it or not.  Film festivals: stop accepting these movies even if you like the talent attached (Gus Van Sant owes the Toronto International Film Festival an apology for Restless).

4.) PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES


The 2nd and 3rd Pirates films don’t have a lot of defenders, but I’m one of them.  I think they do a great job of expanding the world, providing bigger and better action scenes, and ground the story by letting Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann develop as characters and then let Captain Jack Sparrow be the spice of the recipe.  Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides puts Jack front and center and the result tastes like a mouth full of saffron.  The action scenes scream “We had a lot less money for this one!” and they’re made worse by Rob Marshall‘s inability to direct exhilarating set pieces. The new characters are one-dimensional and waste their talented actors, and the story is astonishingly sloppy and dull.  Every single thing that was fun about the previous Pirates of the Caribbean movies was stripped away with On Stranger Tides and all that was left was a hollow shell.

3.) MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS

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I should know better to go into non-animated family films at this point, but I like penguins and the source material—a widely beloved children’s book—provided a brief glimmer of hope.  I gave Mr. Popper’s Penguins the benefit of the doubt.  This is what I got in return: Giving a movie over to Jim Carrey who unsurprisingly phoned it in with his tired old shtick; removing everything adorable about penguins and replacing it with gross-out humor; showing that parents must spoil their children even if it means ignoring the practical safety of exotic animals (all they need is love!); and saying that a rich guy with access to YouTube and a thermostat is more capable of taking care of penguins than a competent zookeeper.  Mr. Popper’s Penguins took something that should have been simple and good-hearted and threw it away in favor of Jim Carrey squeezing the penguin shit out of a flightless bird.

2.) SUCKER PUNCH

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Sucker Punch is pathetic.  It puts so much effort into the design, the special effects, the skimpy costumes, and exploitation, but then it wants to turn around and chastise the audience for their lusty gazes and fetish for violence and mayhem.  The movie succeeds at neither its pretext nor its subtext and all that remains is a pretentious bore.  The movie has a great premise and the critique has potential, but director Zack Snyder ended up botching his own damn story.  Imagine the premise of Sucker Punch in the hands of someone like Terry Gilliam who could bring a Brazil-like flavor to the proceedings and perhaps add some imaginative ugliness and thoughtful criticism of the “ass-kicking female sex-object” action sub-genre.  Instead, Snyder wanted the audience to feel ashamed of enjoying action scenes even though he ended those scenes with a hold for applause (and only came up with deafening silence).  Sucker Punch was intended as an intelligent critique cloaked in a glossy action movie, but it’s more like an immature 13-year-old trying to engage in an adult conversation.

1.) WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER?

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I didn’t think there was a way for romantic comedies to get any worse.  I expect them to stay trite and predictable, but I was dumbfounded to see one with such an ugly subtext.  I don’t really care how much consensual sex an adult woman has or how many people she has it with.  It may speak to some aspect of her personality, but that same judgment could just as easily applied to a man who screws every woman in sight.  What’s Your Number? didn’t bat an eye at telling women that they’re only allowed to sleep with up to twenty different guys, but at the same time the film gave a high-five to its male lead lothario.  I’ve seen 1950s educational films that are more open-minded.  I showed up for Anna Faris, Chris Evans, and the solid supporting cast because they all have the potential to be charming and funny, but the best actors in the world could never salvage such an unrelenting ugly, unfunny, paternalistic, sexist piece of hateful shit.

Monday: Top 10 Posters of 2011

Tuesday: Top 10 Trailers of 2011

Wednesday: Best Performances, Directing, and other Miscellany of 2011

Thursday: Worst 5 of 2011

Friday: Top 10 of 2011




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  • Nick

    Wait…. no Bucky Larson?

    • Liam_H

      He probably didn’t see it or didn’t qualify as having “at least one enticing aspect: the talent involved, the premise, the success of previous entries in the franchise”. Bucky Larson certainly looked terrible from the start.

    • Hiro the Eighth Samurai (and 14th Assassin)

      If we’re talking the absolute worst, and without any qualifications or limitations, I’d be quick to include Bucky Larson, Jack and Jill, and I Don’t Know How She Does It.

  • Patrick

    Only saw The Art of Getting By (Emma Watson is cute). Your critique is spot on for the 15 to 20 minutes I was able to stand.

    • Patrick

      *Emma Roberts

  • Vitor

    I couldn’t disagree more about the fifth position. Restless is beautiful.

    • schoolfigures

      Totally agree. One of my favorite films of the year. I realize it has a certain deliberate quirkiness to it that is grating to some, but to see it as a bottom 5 film of the year is pretty harsh and something I obviously disagree with.

      • Josh

        You mean the hipster, “unique”, shitty movie “Restless”. These movies need to stop. They’re getting tired.

      • schoolfigures

        I have no idea what your sentence even means Josh.

    • JP

      Agreed. Restless had its flaws, but it was better than expected and Mia Wasikowska was perfect in it, and unlike Emma Roberts in the blah “Getting By,” she can easily carry a movie. Her chemistry with Schuyler Fisk was awesome (the seizure scene near the end – I cried).

      It shouldn’t be in anyone’s bottom 5 but considering Matt’s blowhard review earlier this year, I guess I’m not surprised in this case.

  • John

    Glad to see Sucker Punch made the list.

    • News Hit

      Yeah, it’s one thing to make music vid-inspired misogynist crap: it is another to make misogynist crap that is entirely sexless and lacking in any energy. Please, Paul Verhoeven, come back to Hollywood and show Snyder how this is actually done.

  • nelson

    sucker punch directors cut fleshes the film out alot more and i mean alot

    ending makes alot more sense

  • ipolos

    I’ve only seen sucker punch on this list (thankfully) and I agree that it’s crap. Makes me worried for Superman…really worried

    • nelson

      dont know why lol

      zach is a director not a writer sP proved this

      snyder is as good as his script

      and he did’nt write superman script nolan/goyer did

      watchmen proved with a great script he can deliver

      • Matt

        He’s as good as his script AND his actors are. Every Malin Akerman was in was ruined by her performance as were the scenes featuring Carla Gugino. SPOILER I also don’t know if it was Snyder or Goode who failed to grasp the character of Ozymandias. They played him as a cliche plotting villain through out the film with the exception of the last scene, making the twist reveal of his character at the end totally obvious to the audience. Ozymandias should be played as a superman type character, an earnest hero, who is forced to make a tragic decision for the sake of man kind, Snyder didn’t do that.

      • ScottX

        That would mean Watchmen is on of the best movies ever made by human kind.
        But surely he is a great director, with his overused and in-justified slowmotions, and his amazing artificially to the top photography. And off course he is such a talented actors director. Oh and right, he have used existing comic books as his storyboards, so, we can know his mastering of film language is unique… yeah.

  • alex

    “Worst 5 films of 2011?”

    This list wasn’t written by Matt (we know that he hates almost EVERY MOVIE!!! save for the ones with muppets in it).

    Had this list being written by Matt, it would’ve been called “Worst 148 films of 2011″

    • alex

      Please excuse my english: i’m from Spain. And I’m not attacking Matt; I’m just making a little joke. :)

      • alex

        I was attcking Matt but I am in love with the guy, I want his babies….

  • News Hit

    “I think they do a great job of expanding the world, providing bigger and better action scenes, and ground the story by letting Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann develop as characters and then let Captain Jack Sparrow be the spice of the recipe.”

    You’re joking, right? I have more time for Pirates 2 and 3 than most, but the films suffered from Will and Elizabeth’s presences. Their arcs were tide up in the first film, so that you are frustrated that they can’t get their shit together. That’s not character development: it’s delayed gratification.

  • Tweek

    Sucker Punch was great, one of my Top 10 Movies this yeas. My opinion. :-D
    The other four: Agreed, crap.

    • Andrew

      I also enjoyed Sucker Punch.

      POTC On Stranger Tides does deserve to be on this worst list though-it was soooooooo borrrrrring!(yawn!)
      I’ve rarely been happier to see the final end credits roll up the screen!

      • Tweek

        You say it.
        And the final final final scene after the credits…boooooooring

        Btw: Battle L.A. must be on this list. Trailer rocks, movie sucks.

  • davidsimple

    I can’t agree with a Worst 2011 Movies List that doesn’t includes ‘Your Highness’, ‘I don’t know how she does it’ and ‘Breaking Dawn’.
    And I think ‘Sucker Punch’ is a good film. A little bit too long but not as bad as everybody says.

  • Weshkeprochi Smith

    Me too, Because I don’t think so “PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN” was a worst movie of 2011. There were some movies which can be but not all .
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20111223230419AAXyhAJ

  • Hunter D.

    What’s Your Number? has a confusing premise. A never-married 30-year old woman with 20 guys in her rogue’s gallery…isn’t that *normal*? Hell, that number might even be low.

    • Martin

      They want to create the illusion that “as lower the number of sex partners is, the better the girl si” … and it’s not the only illusion they want to create. “only bad guys, gangsters and really old dudes are smoking cigarettes” and “everyone own’s an iPhone”, to name a few

  • kurjak

    For me the worst films of 2011 were: 30 minutes or less, A Dangerous Method, Page Eight, Captain America, Bad Teacher, Midnight In Paris, Your Higness, Arthur, Limitless, Battle Los Angeles, Just Go With It, The Mechanic, The Green Hornet, The Dillema.. these are the just the ones that flat out sucked, there are so many more that were pretty bad but maybe not the worst. HOLY CRAP, what a weak year for films. 2012 might deliver the goods though.

    • Norbert

      I dont understand how can you hate Midnight in Paris. It’s a great postcard movie and one of the best from allen in the last 20 years.
      Also Limitless was decent.

      The year isn’t also that bad(it’s not super good either) if you count non US movies like: Troll Hunter, 13 Assassins, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Rare Exports, Melancholia, Shame, Headhunters, The skin I live in, Attack on the Block( a bit dissapointing given the hype but still good)
      Other good movies are: 50/50, Crazy Stupid Love, Bellflower and we are just on the verge of the oscar season. I think people complain because last season was so strong.

      • jimbo

        Yeap, I agree

  • magnoliafun

    what about abduction

  • Joseph

    I find it hard to negetively critique any movie…it’s all in the viewers perspective. A lot of guys don’t like chick flicks, same can be said for women and action/horror flicks…I think the biggest problem we face today is that if someone doesn’t like a movie, they bash it until it stops breathing, instead of trying to un-biasly show the bad and the good. Only a few world renowned critics get this right, which is why they’re world renowned.

    I think PotC 4 wasn’t the best in the series by far, but it did add a little more to the story of Jack Sparrow. Pelelope Cruz wasn’t that believable as a cut throat pirate, but Ian McShane portrayed Blackbeard really well. They took Barbosa down a path that made absolutely no contribution to the movie, but still expanded the love/hate relationship between Barbosa and Sparrow.

    I also don’t understand what everyone is so uptight about concerning all the comic book movies…As a die hard fan, I should be in uproar about them missing key elements in each one. But I also understand that there is a big difference between two years worth of comic books and two hours of film time to make the story work…sometimes things just have to give.

    Lesson of the day, if you go into the movie without any preconceptions of whether you’ll like them or not, chances are you’ll find movies more to your liking…There are very few movies that I can actually say I couldn’t watch from beginning to end, but I look more at the art of film making vs what I personnally prefer to watch…

  • paycheck

    Regarding #5: Oh this is such an old saw…when are people going to realize that the saying is ‘Could NOT care less’? Saying you ‘could care less’ does not make sense…think about it for one second, parse it out.

  • Dodge_hickey

    I wasted 2 and a half hours watching TF:DOM and was bitterly dissapointed!

  • Dictionary

    “Imagine the premise of Sucker Punch in the hands of someone like Terry Gilliam…”

    Right! Because if there’s one person guaranteed not to make a mess of a film these days, it’s Terry effin’ Gilliam. It may pain you (it certainly pains me), but Gilliam hasn’t made something as good as Sucker Punch in quite some time. If anything, he’d probably make an even bigger mess out of “the premise”.

    • TNez

      Hey now! Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus may have been messy and overambitious but it was a still a stunning movie – one of the best of the decade imo.

  • Sugreev2001

    Not even a single Happy Madison film ?

    PS. Sucker Punch was okay,douche.If you expected more than CGI frazzle than you need a mental check up.

  • Pradeep

    Green Lantern ??

  • Tarek

    Are U kidding me Matt ?

    Dude! Where’s The Green Hornet ? I’ll give it 6 stars over 5.

    Here is my top 5:

    1- The Green Hornet ( hands down)
    2- Sucker Punch
    3-Source Code
    4- Transformers 3
    5-Conan the Barbarian

    • Sal

      Agree with your list more than collider’s list.

  • Jake

    This is a rare event, but i agree with you Matt Goldberg. About the Pirates movies i mean, i enjoyed 2 and 3 very much and don’t get all the hate for them, it was a very fun trilogy of films. I have not even watched 4 yet because it just seemed kind of old/boring now, plus my sister said it sucked, and she loves the Pirate movies.

    • rachel

      The Pirates 3 wasen’t very good and you know what? ..POTC4 GROSSED more money than 3 ..and Will and Elizabet weren’t there,Johnny did all the work alone and grossed $1Billion .So that’s mean the movie is still interesting to the people around the world and it grossed more than BD part 1 of Twilight SAGA…only $650 worlwilde!.That’s for all the morons that love to criticize Johnny and all his movie .(hey 777, Jake and Matt Goldberg too) And I dont care about your replies…

  • Lee

    I do not understand all of this hate against Pirates of the Caribbean. No, it wasn’t as good as the first one, but it was definately better than 2 or 3. And I liked those.

    It’s like people complaining about Indy 4 because it was unrealistic. Jump off of the fanboy-hate bandwagon, and actually go see these movies. Keep an open mind. You have more fun in life that way.

    • Liam_H

      One reason the movie sucked is because they made Jack Sparrow the straight man. He works best as a character that does something to push his own needs but then comes around to save the day.

  • L.

    Where the hell is Green Lantern

    • Krazy Joe

      Green Lantern was one of the year’s best.

  • Joey

    Where’s green lantern? This writer doesn’t know what’s up it’s a good thing this is only an opinion of somebody…..nobody out there can really say what was the best and what was the horrible…….who’s to decide that? It will comes down to opinion and taste in movies..in my opinion: …I thought potc4c was the best of the series…I loved the fact that will and liz weren’t in it….. Instead of being a sappy love story with pirates on the side….this one was all about pirates…I don’t get how people hated that fact……

    • ScottX

      So you watched a copy without the boring subplot abut a mermaid and a priest?

  • Joey

    People really aren’t happy anymore unless it’s got blue monkeys running around protecting trees

  • Dude

    Wow, Goldberg, the fact that you enjoy Pirates 2 and 3 says it all: You are a completely tasteless and insipid moron completely unfit to critique cinema. Those are all-time horrible movies, and you are a buffoon.

    • hey777

      take it easy, he didnt say he loved the franchise. and he is right, the first 3 pirates were good or at least entertaining, but this forth one was just wasted and pointless.

    • trick

      wow, angry!

      Pirates 3, in particular, was a good expansion of the lore.
      Also, Verbinksi knows how to handle his set pieces..

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  • hey777

    I also think green lantern should be there. you should expand the list to 10. there were much more horrible movie this year.

  • Anthony

    there were way worse movies this year
    i think you are forgetting that Happy Madison Productions released 4 movies this year
    Jack and Jill, Just Go With It, Zookeeper and Bucky Larson
    those belong on the top 5 worst movies of the year

  • dogg

    The action scenes in Sucker Punch were worth watching. The action of Captain American paled by comparison. The rest of the film was crap, but Sucker Punch billed itself as an action flick and should be judged accordingly.

  • boo boo

    Green lantern! enough said.

  • spongefist

    I agree with the list apart from Poppers Penguins which myself and daughter thought was great fun.

    There is however a sixth…. Inception. The biggest load of pretentious, underwhelming, pseudo-intellectual bore of a movie I have seen for a long time. Only second to Avatar.

    Oh, and a seventh, Captain America. A let down of epic proportions. The bad guys technology was just shit, the action was shit and compared to Thor it was just an embarrassment.

  • sirius23

    Any Adam Sandler TV promo gives me heaves.

  • ozzie

    Not everyone fits into your cookie cutter world. This generation needs movies like Restless and The Art Of Getting By. You may be too old and jaded to be reviewing movies.

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  • Krazy Joe

    Sucker Punch was one of the year’s best films.

    Critics claim they want originality, but then when you actually give them something original like ‘Sucker Punch’, they trash it.

    Well done, Zack Snyder…’Sucker Punch’ is a film to be proud of. Someday the critics will finally get it, and it will get the recognition it deserves.

  • godzilla’s_foil

    The worst film I saw last year was Bridesmaids, and by far. There’s nothing remotely redeeming to that unfunny, badly scripted pile of shit.

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