It’s easy to bash an awful movie like After Earth or Grown Ups 2. But once in a while, a critic will find the beauty in a Razzie-worthy film.
The annual Golden Raspberry Awards highlight the worst films of the year. Looking over this year’s nominations in the worst-picture category, it seems that Hollywood’s poorest writers, laziest directors, and least talented actors have truly outdone themselves. The films range from offensive (The Lone Ranger) to super offensive (Movie 43). And then there’s A Madea Christmas. Still, we believe in innocent until proven guilty, even when it comes to Grown Ups 2. For all their abysmal reviews and career-ending box office numbers, each of these movies has a champion, willing to vouch for its (few) redeeming qualities.
The Lone Ranger
The Rolling Stones’ Peter Travers employed his most energetic curse words to take down The Lone Ranger, asserting that, “Unfortunately, this two-and-a-half hour obstacle course of cinematic horse turds resists redemption even from Depp. Harsh critics insist it's the film's tonal shifts that destroy it. Ha! Can you imagine a group of nine-year-olds bitching about "tonal shifts"? The fatal flaw in Jerry Bruckheimer's monumentally monotonous production is that it forgets its duty to entertain.”
In a review that speaks to the uniqueness of the British sense of humor as well as the un-watchability of The Lone Ranger, Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian declares, “Verbinski has surely modified this film's running time using dastardly new temporal-distortion technology, so that each of its 149 minutes contains 250 seconds. The South American landmass peeled off from the western seaboard of Africa quicker than this.”
Top Critics panned The Lone Ranger faster than you can say “cultural appropriation.” But despite the media takedown, or perhaps because of it, director Quentin Tarantino made the bold decision to include the Disney Western on his list of the top ten movies of 2013. Tarantino explains, “The first 45 minutes are excellent. The next forty-five minutes are a little soporific….Then come the train scene. Incredible! When I saw it, I kept thinking, ‘What? That’s the film that everybody says is crap? Seriously?’”
A Madea Christmas
A Madea Christmas is the seventh Tyler Perry film in the Madea franchise. Some (many) critics would argue that that is seven campy, poorly made, arguable offensive films too many. Richard Corliss of Time reports, “the one fascination of A Madea Christmas is how little care the country’s most popular and powerful indie filmmaker takes in shaping his own material. It’s as if he looked at the low bar set by his earlier films and decided the challenge was to Limbo under it.”
Variety’s Andrew Barker adds, “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas is an exceptionally poor piece of holiday cash-in product, rushed and ungainly even by the low standard set by Perry’s seven previous Madea films.”
But A Madea Christmas’ main champion isn’t a Hollywood director or a hotheaded film critic. The fact of the matter is that people love Madea; this latest installment in the wild granny franchise earned a 73 percent audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, easily surpassing the ratings of the other four worst-movie nominees.
After Earth follows a father and his teen son, played by Will and Jaden Smith, as they traverse a hostile, futuristic Earth. Or, in the words of Alonso Duralde at The Wrap, “After Earth tells the story of an inexperienced boy trying desperately to please his father while making one mistake after another, and as such, it becomes an uncomfortable metaphor for itself.”
While critics largely tore After Earth apart, Matt Zoller Seitz on RogerEbert.com actually came to its defense, arguing, “It's no classic, but it's a special movie: spectacular and wise…After Earth is ultimately too thin of a story to support all of its grandiose embellishments, but so what? It's better to try to pack every moment with beauty and feeling than to shrug and smirk. The film takes the characters and their feelings seriously, and lets its actors give strong, simple performances.”
Grown Ups 2
Grown Ups 2 is a clear Razzies frontrunner. The widely panned sequel earned a 7 percent Tomatometer on Rotten Tomatoes along with this concise, brutal consensus review: “While it's almost certainly the movie event of the year for filmgoers passionate about deer urine humor, Grown Ups 2 will bore, annoy, and disgust audiences of nearly every other persuasion.”
Laremy Legel of Film.Com confirms that Grown Ups 2 is “A movie of fools, by fools, for fools.”
Meanwhile, Detroit News’ Adam Graham defends the urine-soaked sequel as a raunchy family romp, declaring, “Friendship, family and breasts: Sometimes that's all you need.”
In this decisive review for RogerEbert.com, writer Richard Roeper describes the urge to roofie himself after suffering through the entirety of this star-studded turkey. “Since 1999 I've been carrying a blue pill in my pocket, holding onto it for the moment when I'd truly need it. The pill, I was told, would instantly erase the memory of any movie—but just the one movie, just the one time.
But I hung on to it, knowing something even worse was going to come my way one day.
Midway through Movie 43, I knew the day had come.”
Continuing the trend of reviewers choosing bodily harm or drug-induced amnesia over watching this movie, Marc Fennell of Triple J declares, “being punched in the face was easier than watching this movie.”
Cinema Crazed’s Felix Vasquez Jr. concludes that Movie 43 is “Absolutely disgusting, nauseating, misogynistic, racist, cruel, void of any common sense.”
And after scouring the Internet, we can honestly report that no one came to this movie’s defense, making it a real underdog to watch in this year’s competition.