Bombs Away: The Worst Films of 2003
Oh, what a year it was for bad movies! I counted more than fifty films that belong on anybody's worst list, but in the interest of saving your valuable time I've included only twelve here. Please note that I don't count the simply inept or bizarre; these are major motion pictures that had no redeeming qualities. They're listed in alphabetical order.
Anger Management - What bothered me most about this film is - well, are - first, the premise that anyone this side of a Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker film could be as totally ingenuous as Adam Sandler is here; and second, the ending in which everything we'd watched was reversed for no reason. Wasn't there a grownup around when this film was being made?
Beyond Borders - This belongs in the tradition of pukka-sahib, or rather pukka-sahibette films in which the whites save, or try to save, our dark-skinned brothers and sisters. Fortunately they don't always succeed; in this case it's Angelina Jolie who gets her well-deserved comeuppance.
Cold Mountain - Unhappily "Cold Mountain" is the bomb of the year. Sensuous Charleston beauty, Kidman, meets local mute, Law, for long-distance romance. As in the book he undertakes a thousand-mile odyssey to cover the 100 miles or so between them. He survives everything from ambushes to attempted sex with the beautiful Natalie Portman, gets home and dies, but not until he's impregnated Kidman with his namesake to carry on the farm. Note to Frazier and director Minghella: Why bother with the trek if you're just going to kill him when he gets there? I hate people who misuse irony.
The Core - Not really worth putting on this list except for its marvelous premise: that we can build a, well, a machine for want of any better word, out of that rare metal unobtainium (no kidding), that can carry six people into the center of the earth, set off nuclear bombs down there, and return at least a few of them safely to the surface. Hey, why not? It's only the movies.
Down With Love and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days - The alpha and omega of bad sex comedies, each guaranteed to offend at least one gender. And each badly written, badly directed, badly acted - two triple threats.
A Man Apart - Mindless shooting by Vin Diesel and a raft of bad guys, followed by mindless shooting by Vin Diesel and a raft of new bad guys, followed by - oh, excuse me, I believe I already said that.
Matrix: Reloaded and Matrix: Revolutions -Two for the price of one, nonsensical and uninvolving. Why did the Wachowski brothers forget that they had a perfectly good story going in the first film? All action and no thinking makes Keanu a dull boy.
Open Range - Ever since "Waterworld" a lot of us have been hoping that Kevin Costner would be wise enough to see that he is best at playing nice smart guys. Here he plays a nice stupid guy who learns early in the film such important information as that ten years makes a decade. The dialogue is all downhill from there, and then there's the final shootout that would make a Roy Rogers western look like a classic.
Phone Booth - Included here because everything that leads up to the final reveal is undone by the last line of the film, which destroys everything we've seen before and which no doubt some studio suit must have thought was a great idea. "Hey! Let's try for a sequel!"
Tears of the Sun - Near the end of the film, an Ibo woman tells Monica Bellucci: "God will not forget you." Apart from the theological furor that would be raised if in fact God's memory turned out to be faulty, her wish is misplaced. Monica, or rather Doctor Monica, since that's what she plays, as in 'let's play doctor,' with her shirt open to her bellybutton, has already lied about an essential fact, and when trouble really strikes she has fainted at a crucial moment. Remember when Bruce Willis could carry any film? Not these days.