Rated PU, Unfit for Any Audience

By William Booth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 29, 2007


'Tis the season for critics to brighten our lives with earnest little lists of their favorite films of the year, to celebrate the tippiest toppiest cinematic achievements that have blessed our big screens -- however fleetingly -- with tales of star-crossed love, psychotic mayhem and quality French medical care. But we have decided to go in another direction. My, what is that smell?

Gather round, haters, there's a turkey in the oven. Welcome to the annual review of the Worst Movies of 2007, as scientifically tabulated for The Washington Post by the pallid gnomes at Rotten Tomatoes, the aggregating Web site that gathers thousands of movie reviews penned by more than 250 critics (online and off) and then through a complicated, weighted logarithmic formula (math) assigns the rating of "fresh" or "rotten." (To play fair, we include only films that have been widely released.)

Even so, what a fiesta of the fetid. Just get your minds around this: A much-loathed piece of female mutilation fantasy, "Captivity," doesn't even crack the Top 10 Worst. Nor does the operatically lame "Epic Movie," which impressed the critics so completely not. The cloyingly odious tweener offering, known optimistically as "Bratz: The Movie," as opposed, say, to "Bratz: The Past-Expiration Date Poultry Product"? So steep is the competition in the annual race for the bottom that these dolls are only the 16th stinkiest.

So hold your nose. Drumstick please. First, the good news. Diane Keaton will always be beloved for "Annie Hall." No one can take that away from her, though they are trying, actually, to take that away from her. Because it is with no joy that we announce that her mom-rom-com "Because I Said So" is the worst movie of the year. But don't take our word for it.

"Unusually toxic waste" is the blurb from the usually decorous Wall Street Journal. The Christian Science Monitor used the term "wince-inducing." The general lament: Why, Diane, why? As in, "Diane Keaton has a lot to answer for," according to the Toronto Star. Richard Roeper called it "the worst performance of Diane Keaton's career." Or as the Rotten Tomatoes "critical consensus" puts it: "an unfunny cliche-ridden mess that manages to make Diane Keaton temporarily unlikable." Temporarily, we must hope. (Early next year Keaton bows in "Mad Money," a bank heist caper with Katie Holmes and Queen Latifah that, well, pre-smells.)

"Her work had an unbearable finger-across-the-blackboard effect on me," wrote the film site Internet Reviews. "It's so derivative, unfunny and thuddingly bad that it's one of the more cringe-inducing movies of a genre chock-full of clunkers," thought USA Today, which just had to remind us that the film "sinks to a new low when it resorts to humor employing a good-natured golden retriever who gets excited when Keaton stumbles on an online porn site." Yikes.

Though the condemnation was almost universal for a film that the site Metromix called "the worst date movie since 'Saw III,' " there was a lone voice in the cream of the crop of "decent." Time's Richard Schickel liked it. "If you don't expect too much of it," he wrote, as coy as a schoolgirl, "you may find yourself pleasantly -- all right, soothingly -- surprised by it." Or as soothing as a family pet watching some porn can be.

Speaking of beloved national treasures, how many of us want to see Jim Carrey having sex? Anyone? Apparently not the critics, who placed his creepy (literally) thriller "The Number 23" -- which is, umm, about the number 23 -- in the No. 2 spot. "It's so cheesy that it's almost transcendent," marveled the Minneapolis Star Tribune, looking on the sunny side of the Joel Schumacher project. Or not. "As scary as Britney Spears in a hair salon." That was the Fresno Bee. The entity known as "Rex Reed" in the New York Observer wrote, "contrived, incomprehensible gibberish that exists for the sole purpose of exposing a miscast star in a career stretch for which he is pathetically unprepared. It's the worst kind of flop, a flop for its own sake."

Of course, the title also proved irresistible to the pack. The Houston Chronicle: "How do we loathe thee, 'The Number 23'? Let us count the ways." The Salt Lake Tribune: "There are 23 letters in . . . 'Joel Schumacher can bite me.' " Finally, the Boulder (Colo.) Weekly might have hit just the right note when it said, "There are any number of ways to scare audiences, but numerology isn't one of them."

Speaking of numerology, a close examination of the Top 10 Worst list reveals some conclusions, unfortunately:

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