In which we carve up the worst movies we've seen this year.

Contributors: Mark Ashley, Chris Dashiell,
Lovell Mahan-Moutaw, Devin Rambo,
Rolando Recometa, Bill Reiser, and Sasha Stone

I could smell its stench before the end of the first reel. Helen Hunt: a racoon-eyed alcoholic. Kevin Spacey: a burn victim whose mother was, no doubt, a racoon-eyed alcoholic. They want to love each other, but he's afraid. She's pushes -- she needs a man in her bed, preferably a screwed up one who rejects her. But will she recoil in horror at the sight of "the flesh"? Still, through all the pain and suffering one kid decides to pay random acts of kindness forward and practically saves the world doing it. Perhaps it was the glaze -- which practically overwhelmed the bird. Or maybe it was just that the turkey got left out of the oven and never really cooked at all, which would account for the stench. Or maybe, and most likely, the stuffing - which was too mushy, too sweet, and too much - was stuffed too tightly into the bird, thus causing it to burst while cooking, leaving an exposed wound instead of a presentation. So we all left still hungry and rather disgusted by the whole experience.
- Sasha Stone

It's about this kid Haley Osment. He still sees dead people. He sees them everywhere. They're not really dead this time. They're just dead inside. They're sick and they don't even know it. But Osment knows because he has the sick sense. Anyway, there's this class project he needs to do for Kevin Spacey (who also doesn't know that he's "dead"). So he thought of this project where you help one of these "dead" people and instead of paying you back, he helps three other "dead" people. Hence, Pay It Forward, the movie's title. It has a twist ending, too, like the other Osment movie. Audience reaction has been mixed. I know men who've admitted crying during the movie and were willing to gay it forward. Others were pissed. I, for one, vowed to pee it forward. Maybe I'm just dead inside and don't even know it.
- Rolando Recometa

Rules of Engagement
To win this award it's not enough to have a lot of bellicose bellowing, crappy courtroom drama, or Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson giving the worst performances of their careers, all of which this movie has. No, it takes a special kind of foulness to achieve the Evil Movie Award.

Jackson plays a Marine colonel who fires on a crowd of Yemeni demonstrators while evacuating an embassy, killing a few dozen of them, including some women and children. He's brought up on charges for this massacre, and Jones is his defense attorney. We don't know why the Yemenis were demonstrating - as one character explains, "The people are mad about something, darling." But don't trouble your little head about that - foreign affairs are complicated and should be left up to our boys in uniform. Anyway, it turns out that some nasty bureaucrats are just looking for a scapegoat again. You see, those women and children were actually terrorists. That little kid on a crutch was packin', man. So remember, never presume to question what the military is doing, never trust a wog, just shut up and salute. Be stupid if you know what's good for you.
- Chris Dashiell
A farcical comedy portrayed as historical adventure. It's not until the dinner scene that we really get to see the true nature of the movie. The captain and officers sit around a simple wooden table in what appears to be a pretty rough storm and they're eating soup followed by whole oranges. Something that runs and something that rolls, perfect food for your comedy submarine. After that it's just cliché piled upon cliché piled upon cliché until the end where one minute they're lost in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the next they're saved by an aircraft too big for an aircraft carrier and too far from land to have enough fuel to get home. A film to have you rolling in the aisles - laughter or nausea, take your pick.
- Mark Ashley
Book of Shadows:
Blair Witch 2

sucks more than any movie has ever sucked before. OK, OK, except maybe for Manos: the Hands of Fate. They couldn't leave well enough alone. They had some success with the first movie and decided they had to capitalize on it by turning it into a franchise. They just forgot to make a decent movie out of it.
Incomprehensible, derivative and just plain stupid, this movie will have you screaming in horror at the thought of all the better ways you could have spent your $8.50.
- Devin Rambo

The best thing about this movie was its send-up at the MTV Video Awards.
Style over substance. Little, itty, bitty bits of this and that to dazzle the eyes but nothing else. To quote Prince, "Beautiful people smash the picture, always every time." You cannot simply rely on beauty. Beauty always gets old. And conceited. And thoughtless. And self-involved. It becomes boring. There has to be something more. There wasn't.
- Lovell Mahan-Moutaw

I'm almost relieved that Abbie Hoffman is dead - just so he doesn't have to endure this movie about him. The real Abbie was smart, funny and Jewish, and he made a difference. The Abbie played by Vincent D'Onofrio in this film is made to look like a sour, belligerent, obnoxious idiot. And he's a goy to boot. The picture has no sense of history, and its politics are about as subversive as Misterogers' Neighborhood. Here's a real picture of Abbie for you to remember instead of the one from the movie. - Chris Dashiell

brought to you by Bill Reiser

Isn't She Great
(truly one of the most excruciating moviegoing experiences of my life)
Pay it Forward
Eye of the Beholder
Gun Shy / 28 Days
(and I think Bullock is, like, totally dreamy)
The Watcher
(perhaps the funniest movie of the year)
Gossip / The In Crowd
(somehow they seem right bundled)
Mission to Mars / Red Planet (ditto)
Bless the Child
Lucky Numbers
The Legend of Bagger Vance The Crew
Boiler Room
The Ladies Man

Beautiful (I hated it, I really hated it)

Puke it Forward, the kind of movie where you tell three other people that you puked while watching it. - RR

The Next Best Thing, or How To Be a Yoga Instructor and Still Go Out with Julia Roberts' Boyfriend (and Wear Haute Couture). - LM-M

The Patriot - If this is liberty, give me death. - CD

Where the Heart Is - I love Oprah, I love the idea of her book club, I even love many of the books in her book club. I also really detest many of the books in her book club. If you could pick the worst of the lot, and then make it into a movie, this would be it.
- LM-M

The Cell - Hotshot advertising director Tiresome unveiled a new commercial for serial killers this year. Hip, pretentious serial killers wearing the latest designs. - CD

I'll wait for the video so I can Play It Fast-Forward. - RR

Best in Show - au contraire. - CD

This is an almost criminal waste of Brendan Fraser's comedic talent as well as even more proof that models should just stick to, well, modeling. And be very good at managing the money they get from modeling. And not get too greedy. And not take advantage of their boyfriend's public infidelity to further their career. Or perhaps I'm just talking about Elizabeth Hurley. Maybe Ms. Hurley is simply better suited to something other than comedy. I will give her the fact that she seemed to be having fun. She wasn't suited to this, but then there wasn't much there to be suited to. Basically they took a good idea and a good comedic actor and threw it on the ground, spat on it, kicked it, jumped on it, pounded it in the ground with a sledge hammer, dumped gasoline on it, lit it, pissed on it and then walked away from it.
- Lovell Mahan-Moutaw

If you like watching a bug-eyed idiot stare into space for two and a half hours, or else staring at ugly people having brutal sex on the floor, then this is the movie for you. The main character is supposedly a police inspector investigating a murder. It looks to me like he can barely tie his shoes. This film won awards at Cannes. Critics talked about how profound and moving it was. I could barely keep my eyes open. I'd like to think that this is all a put-on, but the problem with that theory is that the film is too boring to be a good joke. Oh yeah, the guy interrogates suspects by sniffing them. Deep, man, deep.
- Chris Dashiell

CineScene, 2000