Years from now, cinema fanatics will probably look back at 2012 fondly, remembering that this year brought us new films from Spielberg, Bigelow, Anderson (P.T.), Haneke, Affleck, Anderson (Wes), Van Sant, Arnold, Tarantino, Johnson, and many, many more. But amidst all the good stuff (and, rest assured, there was plenty of good stuff to go around), there were plenty of rotten, silly, messy, sloppy, boring, and insulting films to fill our theaters and empty our heads. The worst, if you will. Just the worst.
Settle in, gird your loins, and prepare yourself for The 12 Worst Films of 2012, as determined by your faithful Rejects. Oh, 2012, you really packed some doozies.
Who doesn’t love to party, right? Gather a few friends, drink a few beers, level half a city block as if the theme of the fete were “Bring Your Own Insurgents to The Party.” The worst aspect of Project X is not its wholly unlikable cast, teens who run the gamut from scamp to sociopath, but rather the crass and basic manner by which it celebrates consequence-free douchery. Or perhaps we need focus on the lascivious way the cinematographer lens-gropes female characters purported to be under eighteen. Ultimately, with all moral scruples lain aside, Project X is just plain lazy, uninteresting tripe. -Brian Salisbury
The Devil Inside
I don’t know what was more offensive about The Devil Inside: its softball non-ending or the fact that it made an unprecedented $33M on its opening weekend. (For the record, that’s more than the opening weekend for John Carter, The Expendables 2, Life of Pi, and Lincoln.) This year has seen some of the worst found footage movies, and things kicked off with this nonsensical exorcist film. Featuring scenes that rip off better movies (like The Last Exorcism), a creepy poster that has no relevance to the film itself, and Roman citizens who speak English with cheesy Mario and Luigi accents, The Devil Inside started 2012 out all wrong. -Kevin Carr
This Must Be The Place
This “surrealist” misfire from director Paolo Sorrentino is not only one of the worst movies of the year, but features one of the worst, most bizarre performances of the year from star Sean Penn. Penn plays Robert Smith-circa-The Cure lookalike Cheyenne, who lives in seclusion in a Dublin mansion with his firefighter wife Jane (Frances McDormand). Penn-as-Cheyenne talks like a brain damaged little girl on helium and creates an annoying, whiny character who sets out on a Nazi hunting extravaganza across the US of A. Not only is Penn absolutely insufferable, the film is aimless, boring, self-important and its loose ends wreak of re-edits. David Byrne contributed the score and appears in the film (re: the film’s title), which would normally be pretty damn awesome, if it weren’t for the fact that he turns in a terrible performance of his own. -Caitlin Hughes
One for the Money
Remember when Katherine Heigl was a hot property? Remember when most of the movie-going audience actually liked her? Well, her tenure as a headliner came to a close this year with the painfully trite paint-by-numbers crime rom com One for the Money. Based on Janet Evanovich’s best-selling book about a smart-talking female bounty hunter, it was a film adaptation that the fans, critics, and audiences rejected en masse. Sure, Tyler Perry may have been a turrible choice for this year’s Alex Cross, but Heigl’s arrogant delivery and community-theater-level New Jersey accent gave us a special kind of awfulness. -Kevin Carr
Rock of Ages
For a project that had decent promise (a popular stage production about rock n’ roll’s hairiest and most cosmetic era starring a self-deprecating Tom Cruise directed by the guy who did a swell job with the Hairspray remake) the final product was incredibly bland, unfun, and at least 6 songs too long. It’s very Non-Jovi. Tom Cruise’s role was not a role for Tom Cruise and everyone else does little more than perform bad to mediocre renditions of
cherished hair band classics. I can’t even imagine a retired WWE wrestler approving of this movie. -Adam Charles
The Odd Life of Timothy Green
Rarely does a movie come along that fails on every level as thoroughly and profoundly as The Odd Life of Timothy Green does. The characters Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner play are too uptight and geeky to be likable, their plight of raising a little plant boy who sprouted from their garden is too strange to be relatable, and all of the tear-jerking sentimentality that the movie goes for is too clumsily written to feel like anything other than pathetic attempts at manipulation. Too silly for adults, too depressing for children…who exactly was this ridiculous movie supposed to be for again? -Nathan Adams
Here’s a gem of a line from Oliver Stone‘s Savages that is indicative of its badness, “I had orgasms. He had ‘wargasms.'” Yep, this ludicrous line is one of many that Blake Lively‘s character unleashes in one of the worst character narrations EVER. Her near-braindead character, O, is in a polyamorous relationship with pot dealers Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Ben (Aaron Johnson), gets kidnapped for ransom and continues to enjoy smoking weed. Despite an entertaining turn by John Travolta as a corrupt FBI agent, the film’s eye-rollingly stupid fake ending, lurching 131 minute runtime, and terrible trio of young leads keep it on an even keel of terrible. -Caitlin Hughes
The Lucky One
The novels of Nicholas Sparks have a formula to them. The films based on Nicholas Sparks novels have a formula to them. You are a fan of these formulas, or you are decidedly not a fan. I am not a fan (though I’ll make allowances for The Notebook, which is elevated by surprisingly solid performances) of the Sparks’ oeuvre. Strangely enough, however, it seemed like this year’s The Lucky One had a fighting chance to change that – after all, it stars Zac Efron, features a pack of cuddly pups, and (spoiler alert) changes up the typical Sparks weep-by-numbers pattern to give its viewers an unexpectedly happy ending – but the final film is just dreadful. Sloppy, boring, unromantic, and frequently laughable, The Lucky One is perhaps the worst Sparks film yet, and that is saying something (moment of silence for Dear John). The lucky ones? Yeah, they’re the people who didn’t see this one (too easy and too true). -Kate Erbland
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Seeing as the first Ghost Rider is one of the worst comic book movies ever made, it seemed like a sequel would have nowhere to go but up. That wasn’t true for Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor’s ridiculous Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance though, which is an atrocity on par with the original. The script is an incomprehensible mess, the way the action scenes are shot and edited makes them incomprehensible messes, and, inexplicably, Nicolas Cage has been brought back to once again cheese his way through the title role. This sequel even commits the sin of being self-aware about its badness, so it’s not as much fun to mock as the original. There’s just no level this thing can be enjoyed on at all. -Nathan Adams
As you watch Flight, you get the impression that Denzel Washington might have made a phone call to Robert Zemeckis, to the tune of, “Bob, it’s me, Denzel. I want to get an Oscar nom…I was thinking I would play a drunk. Let’s do this!” Sorry, Denzel. His pilot-with-demons Whip Whitaker is one of the most unsympathetic film characters ever to grace the screen, as he taps some flight attendant ass, consumes inhuman amounts of alcohol and drugs and seldom learns from his many mistakes. While the plane crash scene is certainly well-executed and James Badge Dale turns in a brilliant supporting performance, the film is overlong, buckles under its heavy-handed direction, and features the most obvious soundtrack ever. Take note, dear readers – according to this film, all you have to do to sober up from a bender if just snort a few lines of coke. -Caitlin Hughes
That’s My Boy
Remember the days of Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore? Silly, maybe a little inappropriate, but always funny comedy that left you feeling good in the end? Despite being led by the same actor, That’s My Boy clearly does not remember either of these films and instead ditches their charm for raunch with no real reason why. More confounding still, That’s My Boy plays like it was pulled from years past rather than being one of this year’s recent releases. Played out jokes and un-funny gross-out humor makes That’s My Boy seem like an SNL sketch that never should have made it past the table read. But what is most offensive are the racist, sexist, ageist, and simply inexcusable digs thrown at anyone in the cast that happens to be of color, over-weight, or possibly suffering from a mental disorder. That’s My Boy is bad enough when the two leads are constantly picking on and harassing each other, but when you begin belittling serious situations, the film quickly goes from abhorrent to disconcerting. -Allison Loring
When Sacha Baron Cohen jumped to feature films with Borat, he seemed like one of the most vital, important comedic voices to hit the scene in a long time. His comedy was bitingly satirical of American ignorance, and it mixed fantasy and reality in ways that felt dangerous. All of that potential has very quickly faded away since he’s started making movies like The Dictator, though. Gone is the satire and danger of his early stuff and in their place is outdated gross-out humor and desperate attempts to shock with witless sexism and racism. The Dictator is profoundly unfunny. -Nathan Adams
(Dis)honorable mentions: A Thousand Words, Alex Cross, Lockout, Red Hook Summer, Won’t Back Down, Lay the Favorite, That’s What She Said, This Means War.