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Scott Lucas Picks His Least Favorite Movies Of 2013

By Scott Lucas in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 8, 2014 7:00PM

The Way, Way Back was not way, way good.

I don't really go out of my way to see bad movies. Who would? So there's no The Hangover: Part 3 or Grown Ups 2 on my list—you will find Will Smith's kid, though—but having said that, I managed to sit through my fair share of junk this year. I swear to God, brothers and sisters, I went to every movie on this list with the best of intentions. I really did. If you're interested in a synopsis for any of these fine features, Google 'em. I really can't bring myself to rehash the gory details. Bring on the snark!

10. The Internship

Listening to Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson shovel bullshit has been one of the great pleasures of American comedies since the mid '90s—and Vince Vaughn still has some of the best reaction shots in the business—but this is a long way down from Swingers and Bottle Rocket.

9. Oldboy

It's not like I'm the biggest fan of Park Chan-wook's original, and I'm not necessarily opposed to remakes, but what's the reason for this neutered version by Spike Lee? Do people hate subtitles that much? American remakes of beloved foreign cult films have been successful in the not too distant past (The Departed was Scorsese's superior take on Infernal Affairs from Hong Kong), but usually they end up like this or that lame carbon copy of Let The Right One from a few years ago. Apparently, it's not all Spike's fault—the studio made Lee pare down his original edit from 140 minutes to 105, even making him insert a blasphemous cut in the middle of his take on Chan-wook's legendary single take hammer-fight sequence (really the only time Lee's version comes alive), but I have a hard time believing there's anything in those 35 minutes that could save this mess.

8. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Can we all admit that this isn't even a real movie, for chrissakes? It's a glorified TV show that nobody on screen seems to give one shit about. I understand the concept of 'serialized films' but can someone tell me what the climax is here? Kill Bill Volume 1 had the fight at the House of Blue Leaves. The Empire Strikes Back had the light saber duel where we find out that Vader is Luke's father (sorry for the spoiler). This has nothing even close to those sterling examples of pop catharsis. It's like somebody lost the last 20 minutes. Yes, I know there's going to be another one, but where is the emotional pay off in THIS one? And if one more person tells me, "Oh, it helps to read the books" I'm gonna go Battle Royale on their Katniss. We're not talking about books here, we're talking about movies, and if you can't enjoy a movie without reading the book then that movie probably shouldn't exist. Unless, of course, its sole reason for being is to make a butt-load of money.

The Great Gatsby
7. The Great Gatsby

Outside of maybe Tommy Wiseau, Baz Luhrmann has to be the most tone-deaf director working today and I can't think of a worse choice to direct F. Scott Fitzgerald's unassailable masterpiece. Armed with such sturdy source material, it should be impossible to go completely wrong—but Luhrmann just can't get out of his own way. He pushes his actors to be cartoons and his editing style that chases after some MTV aesthetic that is long gone. At times, it seems like he's straining to be Russ Meyer, but with all the joy replaced by pomp and pretense. Of course, Meyer made a career out of elevating trashy porn into high art, while Luhrmann has made his living on turning high art into shitty music videos for the ADD book club set.

6. Maniac

A pointless remake of William Lustig's scuzzy slasher classic brought to you by a bunch of French guys who brought you pointless remakes of The Hills Have Eyes and Piranha. Ripping off the point of view gimmick from Enter The Void is not some "innovation" that justifies this lazy rehash of the original's spunky sadism.

5. After Earth

It really says something about how far the once mighty M. Night Shyamalan has fallen that he's been reduced to directing birthday presents for Will Smith's son. What? A new car's not good enough? I would say that the Smith family must be stopped, but I think they just did that to themselves. (And speaking of Jaden Smith, have you seen that kid's red carpet photos? What the hell is that thing he's doing with his eyebrows?)

4. You're Next

Adam Wingard invites his mumble-core buddies to go slumming in the horror genre and the results are predictably self aware and cutesy-clever. That either sounds like a good idea to you, or it sounds like the worst idea ever. Guess where I stand?

3. Machete Kills

Look, I get the gag, Robert Rodriguez. But this latest installment in a joke that's getting less and less funny barely rises to the level of one of those cheap pieces of crap they make for the SyFy channel. If you can't be bothered to care, why should I?

Man Of Steel

2. Man Of Steel

It's a comic book movie, so let's not get too bent out of shape here. But three things:

1) We were promised a deconstruction of the Superman myth. What we got was an hour and a half of shit we already knew, followed by an hour of explosions and empty technique that was like listening to an Yngwie Malmsteen guitar solo while watching somebody else play a video game.

2) I've said this before, but does EVERYTHING have to be dark now? Jesus Christ! When did Superman get so humorless and dull?

c.) I hope Sears, 7-Eleven, U-Haul, and IHOP got their money's worth. It's a little hypocritical to lecture us about Truth, Justice, and the American Way while turning our greatest superhero into a corporate whore. Although, I suppose that actually IS the American Way.

Oh, now I get it.

1. The Way, Way Back

Shameless pandering of the worst kind "from the studio that brought you Little Miss Sunshine and Juno" (um…who gives a shit?). Nat Faxon and Jim Rash's directorial debut—after winning Oscars for co-writing The Descendants with Alexander Payne—only makes me realize what a genius Payne must be. What kind of Herculean efforts did Payne undertake to prevent his film from being even half as hacky as this one? Who talks like these characters? Who does the things these characters do?!? There is not one honest or un-manufactured moment to be had. I'm not fucking kidding, but there is actually a scene where the dorky but good-hearted teenage hero ingratiates himself with the cool kids by break dancing. BREAK DANCING!! What?!? WHAT?!? I'm done. Fuck this movie.


And finally, three more movies that are either the worst of the year, or some bizarro version of the best. They're like car wrecks. No. Train wrecks! So awful, but I couldn't look away.

3. Pain & Gain

Michael Bay moves up from movies taken from a series of toys to a movie taken from a series of magazine articles. This true crime farce with Marky Mark and the Rock has already garnered a loyal cult of apologists, but Bay's got a lot of nerve making fun of numbskull body builders and and vapid chicks with breast implants when his entire oeuvre is the cinematic equivalent of fake tits. Or maybe that's the genius part. Who better than Michael Bay to tell the story of a trio of 'roided out stooges who'll do anything to get millions of dollars to buy drugs with? That's some choice irony right there, man.

2. Only God Forgives

This might be the most boneheaded movie of the year. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Not stupid and awesome, the way Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling's previous collaboration, Drive, was. This one is just stupid and stupid. But, of course, I couldn't stop thinking about it, and that kind of pissed me off. Virtually nothing happens in this movie (at least nothing that makes any sense), but it's all done with a beautiful and narcotic style straight out of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, and unlike some of Refn's earlier work—I hate Valhalla Rising—I was never really bored. A lot of blame was placed at the godly feet of Gosling for his supremely vacant performance, but I think he was just using his character to embody the ethos of the movie: pretty and dumb.

The Counselor

1. The Counselor

So, does this mean this is the best or the worst of the three? The least offensive or the most deliriously misbegotten? Beats me. If you were to tell me you liked this freak of nature I'd say, "You're nuts! And I don't care who wrote the screenplay (Cormac McCarthy), or who had the stupidest haircut (Javier Bardem again), this is no No Country For Old Men!" Now on the other hand, if you said it was awful I'd probably be all like, "Now hang on a minute. We might have a screwy cult classic on our hands." And in theory, it's not too far from director Ridley Scott's late brother Tony Scott's film of Tarantino's script for True Romance, another movie that was able to attract a gaggle of A-listers hoping to recapture lightning in a bottle with a cinematic hand me down. Maybe McCarthy's no screenwriter, and Scott's no Coen brothers—but Cameron Diaz does fuck a windshield.