Calamity Jim’s Most Disappointing Movies of 2011

George Clooney doesn't know it, but he is in Hell.

Well, I’m back for another installment, buoyed by the fact that my father, mother, and aunt all read this blog, and disheartened by the fact that Calamity Jane doesn’t seem to.

Anyway, yesterday you saw my favorites, today I’ll share a much shorter list of the movies that I found the most disappointing in 2011. I’m not claiming these are the WORST films of 2011; I probably didn’t see those, because I wasn’t looking for pain.  I knew enough not to see Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, for instance.  These are the ones I DID see, and was least impressed with. We’ll just bite the bullet and start with:

THE DESCENDANTS

I hated The Descendants. It was a terrible movie, and everybody else seems to love it, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to win best picture at the Oscars. So that makes me sad. To be fair to the movie, I’ll start with what I think are the good things about it.

GOOD THING #1: the scenery is very pretty. I know, damning with faint praise, but I mean it. Hawaii is gorgeous, and you get to see a lot of it. There was some top-notch location scouting that went into The Descendants if nothing else. Part of the plot is that there’s this piece of land that Clooney is deciding whether or not to sell, and it’s a breathtakingly beautiful cove that I really want to visit now.

GOOD THING #2: the acting is really good across the board. Clooney is great. Whoever plays his daughter is great. Judy Greer as the wife of the man who had an affair with Clooney’s wife is great.

So, you ask, if the acting in this movie is universally good, why did you hate it? Because, mom, dad, and aunt MJ, the poor actors are proving their chops by doing their absolute best with a horrible horrible script. There’s not  single line in this entire movie that sounds like anyone an actual human would ever say. That’s the simple answer to why this movie was terrible. Humans don’t talk like these people talk. They don’t act like these people act. It’s awful; it’s like watching a movie written by someone who learned how to talk by watching daytime television or something. It’s just infuriatingly unreal.

That’s the big one, but there are other reasons this movie made me so annoyed. One is that it’s all about the travails of the very rich. Clooney is supposedly the descendant of the original Hawaiian land barons, so he’s mega-wealthy and owns all this land, which is the major subplot of the movie, as I said. Their trust is expiring or something, so they’re figuring out whether to sell their last remaining huge chunk of land to developers to make even more money.

I’m aware that there are a lot of very good movies about rich people, but this one has a truly bizarre attitude about it. The rich have it harder than us, it seems to argue, they have to make these big decisions. And then at the end, when Clooney decides not to sell the land [spoiler alert, I guess, who the hell cares] we’re supposed to feel that he’s doing a heroic thing by not letting there be a hotel development because his youngest kid wants to go camping there. Too bad if someone’s kid who isn’t a land baron wants to go camping there. I don’t know, it just rubs me the wrong way. And there are lines like, “you should give your children enough money to do something, but not enough to do nothing.” Very witty, chortle chortle, went all the audience I was with at the Coolidge Corner Cinema. How many people does that advice apply to? Go to hell Alexander Payne.

And finally, I like slack-key guitar, but an entire soundtrack of it is infuriating. That is all. If this movie wins best picture, I hope that Payne and Clooney are devoured by Peter Dinklage and Uggie the dog.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

I also thought Midnight in Paris was very stupid, though I ultimately don’t think I loathed it quite as much. But again, everyone seems to love it. Am I the jerk here? And to be honest, I didn’t come to this completely unbiased, having sort of given up on Woody Allen, but… I don’t know, I think it’s bad regardless. I’ll start again with what I liked.

GOOD THING #1: Hemingway. That’s all. The plot of this movie is that Owen Wilson is a wealthy Hollywood script doctor in Paris with his horrible fiancee and her horrible parents, and he starts traveling back in time to the 20s every night. This allows him to spend time with a lot of historical figures, but none of them are terribly amusing except Ernest Hemingway, who is absolutely hilarious. He talks like Hemingway’s prose style and gets really drunk and challenges people to fight and is generally very funny. I don’t know who the actor is, but he’s pitch perfect and the only good thing in the movie.

Everything else is awful. First of all, just to get it out of the way, all these people are all very rich again. Why? I think just because Woody Allen is. The fact that they are rich doesn’t matter to the plot; they could be middle class people and the movie would be otherwise identical. So again it pisses me off.

The movie is also terribly written and not very funny. Besides Hemingway, there were like like three lines that got a chuckle out of me. For Woody Allen, who wrote friggin’ Annie Hall, that’s pathetic. The film is also horrifically misogynistic. Owen’s fiancee is this harpy caricature of a woman with whom we’re supposed to feel no sympathy and does nothing except tell Owen not to follow his dreams and to buy her more stuff. It’s embarrassing. So Owen escapes into the arms first of a 20s Parisian prostitute/all-purpose mistress, and then ends up with a properly subservient art seller. Hooray, he dumped the harridan! Somewhere, Mia Farrow is wringing the neck of a puppy.

And Owen Wilson is decent, but his character is this drippy sad-sack whom I at least wanted to punch in the face all the time, so it never becomes clear why the Fitzgeralds and Hemingway and Stein and Bunuel and everyone find it any fun hanging out with this loser. I certainly didn’t.

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN

I’ll spend much less time on this, because I didn’t loathe it like the other two. I just found it really dull. But it’s in the same league of disappointment, because I was hoping it would be great. I have a lot of trust in Spielberg, possibly because I’ve never seen Hook, and I love the Tintin books, so I was genuinely excited. Plus, the movie has a pretty great cast, and it was written by Steven Moffat and Edgar Wright.

But it just never amounted to anything. It wasn’t pretty or visually interesting by any means; Captain Haddock looked weird and scary. The plot sort of chugged along and nothing vital ever seemed to be at stake. Tintin himself is a cipher, and Captain Haddock isn’t very interesting, and not very funny either. The villain is completely bland and unengaging, and I just kept waiting for something to happen. Nothing ever did.

You didn’t get the beauty and excitement of a Tintin comic; the thrills and mystery of a Spielberg movie, or much of anything. Bianca Castifiore is transformed from a brilliant running gag to a lame device to further the plot. It’s all just a huge pile of meh.

Again, it’s not an awful movie, but the gap between my expectations and reality probably made it the biggest disappointment of the year for me.

***

More is still to come. Leave comments. What was your biggest movie disappointment?

Advertisements

One thought on “Calamity Jim’s Most Disappointing Movies of 2011

  1. The Descendants is the only one of these I’ve seen, and I hated it too, for many of the same reasons. I really hope it doesn’t win best picture, although I’m sure it will. And is definitely does have the most irritating soundtrack I’ve ever heard. The whole thing just felt so smug and precious, it was nauseating.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s