Have you ever watched a movie trailer that was so jaw-droppingly awful that you couldn’t believe the film got made in the first place? Of course you have. With the releases of ‘Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters’ and ‘Movie 43′, this week brings us two such apparent dogs. For today’s Roundtable, I thought it would be fun to discuss other movies that look or sound so incredibly dumb or awful that it seems inconceivable that they ever made it past a pitch meeting, much less were actually produced and released to theaters.
To be clear about the intent, we’re looking for movies that you made an immediate snap judgment against after hearing their titles or watching their trailers. Your first reaction should have been: “Why was this made? Who would ever pay to see this? This looks like the worst thing in the world.” It is not required that you’ve actually seen the movie. Frankly, the idea is that the movie looked so bad that you decided you never wanted to watch it.
One more criteria: These must be movies that were released to theaters, no direct-to-video or Syfy channel crap. Someone somewhere must have had to purchase a ticket to see it.
I remember that when I first saw the trailer for ‘Mirror Mirror‘, I wondered how anyone could have thought it was a good idea. Did someone at the studio see (steal?) a script for ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ and decide to rush a similar (albeit sillier) version into theaters first? Did Julia Roberts contractually owe a film to someone? Had Armie Hammer decided he was becoming too much of a respected actor? I actually have no idea how good or bad ‘Mirror Mirror’ turned out to be (it had decent global box office returns and mixed reviews), as the trailer turned me off from ever actually wanting to see the movie. I do know that whimsical fairy tale flicks rarely work. Alas, we’ve got another such film headed our way this year with Bryan Singer’s ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’. What’s next, ‘Goldilocks Bears It All’?!
When it comes to kids’ movies, I either love ’em or hate ’em. It’s obvious what makes the good ones good, and I can understand why families might even enjoy the bad ones – but there’s absolutely no excuse for ‘Gnomeo & Juliet‘. Unless the executive who greenlit it owned stock in Expedia, I can’t see why any intelligent studio would ever push this piece of colorful ceramic shit. The idea itself is horrible: In ‘Toy Story’ fashion, garden gnomes come to life when no one is looking. Two differently-colored families of gnomes feud exactly like the Montagues and Capulets. Olde English dialogue and dialects ensue. Shakespeare probably rolled in his grave when Disney released it. (The rumor is that Buena Vista acquired the film when purchasing another studio, and part of the takeover agreement required Buena Vista to release it under the Disney banner. Disney got screwed.) The trailers and promotional spots made it look awful, but even they couldn’t convey the despair that one would feel when subjected to actually watching it.
When I first heard the concept for ‘Unleashed‘, wherein an orphan has been raised like an attack dog to the point where he becomes an unstoppable killer/henchman controlled by his collar, I laughed at the absurdity that that the movie was ever made public. Mind you, I watched it the day it came out, loved it, and subsequently bought it on both HD DVD and Blu-ray, yet I can’t forget how stupid the concept came off to me originally.
M. Enois Duarte
It won’t open for another couple months, but the latest installment in the utterly idiotic ‘Scary Movie‘ franchise looks terrible and cringe-inducing. The movie is a who’s-who of has-beens and celebrities who really have no business in the industry anymore. If the title isn’t bad enough to scare away any respectable movie lover, then the unbearably painful trailer should do the job. Those two short minutes not only fail to induce a single smile, they make me want to run to the hills and cower in fear of the upcoming apocalypse. It’s a sign that if producers are capable of raising money for this sort of drivle, the end of the world is sure to follow. That’s a guaranteed certainty if the movie succeeds at the box office.
When I heard that J. J. Abrams was making a new ‘Star Trek‘ movie, I immediately thought, “Oy, another goofy reboot.” I hadn’t been all that thrilled with his latter day projects. (I’m more of a ‘Regarding Henry’ and ‘Felicity’ man. You heard me. Man.) Then I saw the movie and ate my words. It’s terrific, and just as much fun on each repeat viewing.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
Bleecch! How did dreck on the level of ‘E.T.’ ever get made?
Kidding, kidding. My pick does have kind of an A-list pedigree, though. It stars Gary Oldman, Kate Beckinsale, Matthew McConaughey and Patricia Arquette.
I’ve yet to witness the awe and glory of ‘Tiptoes’, but its trailer is just… there aren’t words. You’ve got Gary Oldman playing the dwarven, apparently-decade-older twin brother of Matthew McConaughey. You’ve got a preggers Kate Beckinsale learning the ins and outs of life in a family of dwarves. It’s hilarious! It’s insightful! It’s life-affirming! It’s… well, judging by the trailer, pretty much unwatchable. Tonally all over the place, slapped together with no consideration for pacing or rhythm, excruciatingly poorly acted no matter how many familiar faces are on the bill… Tiptoes is in the running as the worst trailer I’ve ever seen, and I’ve suffered through a lot.
When I saw the seizure-inducing trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s hyper-kinetic musical ‘Moulin Rouge!‘, I thought it looked like the worst thing ever. When the movie made lots of money and garnered award nominations, I thought, “Huh, that’s weird.” By the time I saw the first half-hour of the movie (and a half-hour was as much as I could take), I realized that I was right the first time and it was the worst thing ever. Still can’t figure out what anyone else sees in it.
Tell us about the movies you’ve made snap judgments like these about in the Comments.