There were a lot of bad movies released during the past decade. That’s not anything that distinguishes the aughts from any other decade before it, but then most of these movies were bad in the usual, torturous ways. There is, of course, a lot of room for debate over these picks and readers should be aware that for my own sanity (sorry Rob Schneider), I purposefully skipped many top contenders. Without further ado, in descending order, our worst 15:
The Dukes of Hazzard (2005)
I’m not a fan of movies about really stupid people behaving stupidly, and that’s all that happens in this smoldering pile of TV adapted junk. Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott indulge their worst instincts in a laugh free assemblage of moronic Southern stereotypes and car crashes that’s like a horrible, Z grade 80s comedy nightmare come to life. It’s even got Burt Reynolds.
Lady in the Water (2006)
M. Night Shyamalan began his epic, unending cinematic masturbation session by casting himself as a writer destined to save humanity in this horribly miscalculated, lifeless bedtime story. Historians will look back on Lady in the Water as the moment in which Shyamalan stopped pulling the wool over his audiences’ eyes with twist endings and began exposing himself for what he is: a trickster in desperate need of a cinematic makeover.
Battlefield Earth (2000)
John Travolta’s grand folly, this movie launched a thousand parodies and became a punchline for all time. If there’s one good thing to have come from this awful, grimy action slog it’s this: We’ll never see another L. Ron Hubbard novel brought to the big screen. Dianetics: The Movie? Not gonna happen! Thank Thetan!
Down to You (2000)
Remember Freddie Prinze Jr.? He was pretty huge in the late 1990s, a real teenage heartthrob and then he made Down to You, an insipid romantic comedy in which, seized by depression after being spurned by Julia Stiles, he downs a bottle of shampoo. He and we have never been the same.
The Babysitters (2008)
Most of you likely haven’t heard of this movie, which opened in a few major markets and disappeared without a trace. You’re lucky, unless you’ve always wanted to see creepy middle age men played by John Leguizamo and others seduce and bed underage babysitter prostitutes. And if you have, Chris Hanson might be waiting.
Couples Retreat (2009)
Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau have collaborated on a lot of quality movies, so they’ve earned the right to fail. But not this spectacularly, not in a movie so utterly devoid of wit, soul and humor that it actually devolves into an extended Guitar Hero commercial. What a cheap, amateurish sell out.
Back in 2002, people were actually looking forward to Roberto Benigni’s Pinocchio. As his follow-up to Life is Beautiful, which earned him the Academy Award for best actor, it had even been positioned as an awards contender by Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax. Then people saw the thing and realized what a cruddy, creepy slapdash venture it was (future adapters of the iconic story, here’s a tip: don’t have a middle aged man play a little wooden boy) and the film earned Benigni an award, all right: the Razzie.
Because I Said So (2007)
I’ve always thought it a shame that so many men dismiss the romantic comedy genre outright, banishing it to the “chick flick” ghetto. Thankfully, few movies are as bad as Because I Said So or I’d have to rethink things. This is the romcom from hell, a movie filled with the shrillest, most unbelievably irritating, self-absorbed women stereotypes imaginable. That the worst of all is played by Diane Keaton still fills me with sadness, almost three years later.
House of the Dead (2003)
And so we come to Uwe Boll, the master of the unwatchable video game adaptation. If there’s one gift the decade’s given us that it can definitely, undoubtedly take back it’s the German maestro, who’s shown himself more proficient at boxing his critics in the head than his ostensible profession. This movie, a torturous assemblage of machine gun fire, shock cuts, ridiculous pans, video game footage and Jürgen Prochnow, launched Boll to prominence and earns a spot on here because of it.
Alone in the Dark (2005)
Yet it’s not even the worst movie he’s made. While one could easily make a case for including Bloodrayne and In the Name of the King on this list, no movie in recent memory compares to Alone in the Dark in sheer, utter incompetence. The endless opening crawl that’s now the stuff of legend is but the beginning salvo in what is, unquestionably, a masterpiece of mystifyingly bad decisions (how about some action scenes we can see? Why is Tara Reid playing an archaeologist?) and some jaw dropping, I don’t believe what I just saw caliber stylistic flourishes. On some level, however, the movie stands out: It’s the only one on this list I’d consider watching again, though certainly not sober.
Surviving Christmas (2004)
Ben Affleck tries so hard to seem zanily funny in Surviving Christmas — one of the biggest precipitators of his mid-decade flameout — he seems to literally be losing his mind on screen. I empathized while I watched this disastrous “comedy” go up in flames, dying before my eyes in a mass of slapstick stupidity.
Flashy junk and one of the most unnecessary remakes ever made, starring charisma challenged Chris Klein, torturous action and sub-sub Fast and Furious style slick pizzazz. Director John McTiernan nearly went to federal prison this decade. Sadly, it wasn’t for this.
Freddy Got Fingered (2001)
The Pièce de résistance of the brief, bizarre sociological experiment that was Tom Green’s career in show business, this is less a movie than a collection of performance art pieces imbued with all the wit and subtlety of the mind of a particularly stupid 7-year-old. If you’ve always wanted to see a movie filled with jokes about anal rape, daddies liking sausage, soap on a rope and umbilical cords, not to mention cheese sandwiches, well, here it is.
Fear Dot Com (2002)
The explosion of torture porn was perhaps the most contemptible mainstream Hollywood trend of the decade. For my money, this barely remembered, skuzzy Internet thriller — vile sadism captured on celluloid — was the worst of the bunch.
And the worst movie of the decade was…
Epic Movie (2007)
Here’s a handy guide to making your own version of Epic Movie, or any of the other astoundingly lazy, lame brained genre spoofs from the Jason Friedberg-Aaron Seltzer team: Take a scene from a favorite movie, recreate it on a lesser, cheaper scale, and end it with a fart joke or a pratfall. Honestly, anyone can do it, and do it better than these guys, who had the audacity to demand your money to watch them goof off in comedies that make your everyday home movie look like The Godfather.
That does it for the past decade of horrors. On to the next!