Critics Everywhere Agree: These Were the Stinkers of Summer

By William Booth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 12, 2007

LOS ANGELES Ahh, summer, how it smelled.

'Twas the most lucrative season ever for Hollywood, with more than $4 billion in gross domestic ticket sales. Yet it was also a summer for some serious slop. So let's honor the low, the rank and the really not good. Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you the Ten Worst Summer Movies of 2007, as scientifically tabulated by the review-aggregating Web site Rotten Tomatoes.

First, hey, here's some good news for Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr., whose "Daddy Day Camp" was not the most fetid pile of the summer, as we might surmise from reading the critics. It was only third worst. "Poison ivy would be less painful," wrote the Hollywood Reporter.

"Not quite as funny as a perforated ulcer," piped the Toronto Star. The Philadelphia Daily News suggested screening the film for death row inmates -- to make their final hours feel like weeks. Richard Roeper urped: "Just horrible."

Of the 61 reviews of "Daddy Day Camp" counted by Rotten Tomatoes, 60 were (deeply) negative. That is quite a feat. Think about it. The positive response was not quite 2 percent. The lone applause line comes from a critic named Fred Topel on Hollywood.com, who awards the August bomb two (of four) stars. "If you loved 'Daddy Day Care,' " says Topel, seemingly without pity, "you might find 'Daddy Day Camp' a mildly amusing sequel, even if Eddie Murphy isn't in it." And if Eddie Murphy were in it? What is that, Fred, a threat? (Then it would be "Norbit.")

Rotten Tomatoes, owned by News Corp., tracks all film reviews from its list of more than 250 critics in print and online and rates their appraisals as either "rotten" or "fresh." The site provides an instant groupthink rating for a movie and also allows a viewer to graze through the work of some of the best (and dumbest) reviewers in the business.

The RT engineers were happy to crunch the summer numbers for The Washington Post. To make the Ten Worst list, Rotten Tomatoes required that a film receive at least 50 reviews (thereby sparing generally ignored indie film turkeys). In addition, the RT engineers employed a weighted Bayesian formula to account for the variation in the number of reviews per movie -- meaning if Movie A and B are equally appalling, but B has more reviews, then B is worse, or more simply: (r ? (r+m)) ? t + (m ? (r+m)) ? a = "License to Wed," starring Robin Williams as a cordless power drill boring holes into your forehead.

No, for real, the tag line for the No. 1 worst-reviewed movie of the summer was: "First came love . . . then came Reverend Frank." We won't even go there.

How vile? The San Francisco Chronicle began its "License to Wed" review: "There's bad, there's awful and there's horrible, and then somewhere beyond that." Even Christianity Today got in a punch: "If ever there was a ceremony or ritual that needed to be called off, it is the one that begins with the act of buying a ticket for this movie." (In a courageous act of self-immolation, The Washington Post's Stephen Hunter praised "LTW" as "highly amusing.")

Scanning the Ten Worst, you notice a disturbing pattern, and that pattern is Lindsay Lohan, who manages to appear in not one but two of the worst-reviewed films of the summer. First, there was Lohan in "I Know Who Killed Me" (the critics?), which, shhhh, was very quietly released while Lohan was in (or out, depending on the time of day) of Malibu rehab. Please, couldn't the media allow her to heal in private during this difficult time? Clearly what the studio preferred.

"Sony dumped this sleazy, inept and worthless piece of torture porn into theaters yesterday without advance screenings for critics," starts the New York Post review. No matter. According to the New York Daily News, "The truth is, no review could really do justice to the monumental trashiness of this mess; it really has to be seen to be believed."

Perhaps this summer may mark the beginning of the end for the once-popular torture porn genre, because not only did Lohan bomb in the bra-and-panties slasher, so did "Captivity," which comes in at No. 4 among the most critically reviled. Imagine the blurb on the DVD: "A spirit-sapping exercise in female degradation fantasy! -- Los Angeles Times." Quite the stocking stuffer.


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