Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Boo! It’s the five #$*!est films of the decade.

You haven’t escaped from this end-of-decade stuff, yet. Oh no, my friend. There’s a great deal more of this idiotic list-making still to come. Obviously, picking the worst films released theatrically this decade is — for those of us infected …

Sun, Dec 6, 2009, 19:04


You haven’t escaped from this end-of-decade stuff, yet. Oh no, my friend. There’s a great deal more of this idiotic list-making still to come. Obviously, picking the worst films released theatrically this decade is — for those of us infected by snark, at least — a particularly delicious activity. If, however, you write about film for a living then you are presented with several difficulties. For starters, we see a great deal of obscure garbage that only stays in cinemas for minutes and, were we composing an entirely objective list of the most unspeakable ordure, it could end up looking something like this:

5. FeardotCom 4. Botched 3. I Want Candy 2. Paparazzi 1. The Calcium Kid.

“Huh?” I hear you say. If you don’t watch films as part of your job — and you’re not an inmate of a mental institution — then I wouldn’t boast about having seen too many of that bunch. One or two of the titles above do, it is true, pass into that near-mythical so-bad-it’s-good territory — I wouldn’t have missed Botched for the world — but, for the most part, they induce such discomfort they should be banned by a UN directive.

It seems unfair to include stuff that was really aimed at the straight-to-DVD market (such as FeardotCom) or pictures made on a very low budget (Botched, again). What we want is spectacular catastrophes from major studios orĀ  films that have genuinely malevolent intent. Here, then, is the real bottom five. Having issued that proviso in the opening paragraph, I am aware that at least one of these films was seen by virtually nobody, but sometimes you have to sacrifice your principles for the greater good. That’s the Realpolitik of filth documentation, comrade.

5. PUFFBALL (2007)

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It gives me no pleasure to reveal that one of most appalling films of the decade was by a truly great director. Nic Roeg came to Ireland and, rather than delivering a new Don’t Look Now, spewed up a borderline-racist pile of quasi-satirical hokum. The late-night screening at the Galway Film Fleadh seemed to last about 12 hours.


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This, you’ll be surprised to hear, is the real answer to the question: “What’s the worst film ever based on a John Grisham book?”. Christmas with the KranksĀ  stands in for a whole raft of gut-bustingly unholy Christmas films — The Santa Clause 3, anyone? — that fouled up December throughout the decade, but, with its quasi-fascist argument for suburban conformity, it comfortably takes the mince pie.

3. REVOLVER (2005)

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Is that the sound of clattering bullet shells or is it the noise of the audience’s jaws collectively dropping to the floor? For those of us who defended Guy Ritchie in the early days, this fantastically pretentious, monumentally boring voyage up his own ring-piece constituted a kind of awful betrayal. Maybe Sherlock Holmes doesn’t look so promising after all.

2. SEX AND THE CITY (2008)

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“Just get me a really big closet?” Okay. Then I’ll lock all four of you in it, put a breeze block against the doors and listen happily as you starve to a deserved death. A controversial choice? It shouldn’t be. The movie — to a significantly greater extent than the series or book — is witless, reactionary bilge that seems intent on going to the lavatory over the most significant achievements of feminism. I’m so looking forward to the upcoming sequel.

1. WHAT THE #$*! DO WE KNOW!? (2004)

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What now? Yes, this mind-numbingly dishonest, consistently deranged slice of new-age propaganda did actually play in a commercial cinema during the last decade. An attempt to use the physics of the subatomic to prove that big macroscopic objects such as you, me and that woman out of Children of a Lesser God interact in ways outlined by Dr Bonkers of the Mumbo Jumbo University, the picture would be funny if it didn’t have such sinister undertones. Featuring a great many students of something called Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment, this terrible, terrible film — the dramatised sequences have to be seen to be believed — makes arguments that increasing numbers of otherwise sane folk take seriously. For all the wretchedness of, say, Norbit, you couldn’t say it pointed the way towards global collective insanity. Mind you, The Da Vinci Code was a different matter.

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