After posting my list of the Top 10 films of 2012 yesterday, I realized I’d forgotten to append a sub-list that emerged during research: The five worst movies I saw this year, the kind of movies you spend virtually every moment of wondering “But really, how did this happen?” To me, noble failures like Cloud Atlas or John Carter don’t belong in this kind of roundup—they may be too long and fussed over by too many cooks, occasionally even risible, but there’s a sense of intention there, a good film that’s trying to get made. The five movies below (in alphabetical order, not order of nonpreference) never even had a chance. May the good Lord have mercy on their souls.
Battleship. When an action movie’s only remotely enjoyable scene involves that action movie jokingly referencing the rules of the Milton Bradley board game it’s based on, you know you’re in trouble. Liam Neeson’s performance wasn’t phoned in, it was mailed in, late, with insufficient postage on the envelope.
Darling Companion. The chance of my not at least secretly liking any movie involving Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, and dogs is virtually nil. This syrupy, dramatically static, bafflingly pointless drama beat the odds.
Friends with Kids. I know some viewers really responded to Jennifer Westfeldt’s indie rom-com about yuppie procreation anxiety in Manhattan, so let me address those people directly: Do you know actual humans who speak, live, and behave like the characters in this shrill, clichéd, existential-shame-inducing movie? If so, I can try to introduce you to some better friends.
Taken 2. Surely the follow-up to the primally satisfying Taken was going to be another dopey-but-cathartic dad/daughter rescue fantasy? Alas, no. I adored Liam Neeson in The Grey this year, and would move heaven and earth to liberate him if he were ever, in fact, imprisoned in a dungeon by vengeful Albanian mobsters. But between this and Battleship, Neeson may want to think about starting to say no to at least every other action-blockbuster script.
The Words. There are no words.