There was a time in my life where I swore by the Razzies and Razzie nominations. While the Oscars promote some of the best movies of the year, the Razzies are the polar opposite. They talk about the worst movies of a previous year and revel in beating up a popular target. As I grew up though, I stopped caring about the Razzies and which movies got nominated. Oh sure, I would still look up the nominees and laugh at which movies were chosen, but the award ceremony just doesn’t do it for me anymore.
Making fun of a Razzie movie is usually not hard to do. More often than not, the movies that are nominated are pretty terrible and either were destroyed by critics, had a poor box office performance, or most importantly, are easy targets. The Razzies just felt too easy for me. Back when I was reviewing movies independently, I would usually see a bunch of the Razzie nominees throughout the year just by chance, so I already got my fill of bashing a bad movie. I had my fun, and I moved on. Since the Razzies mime the Oscars so much, they announce their nominees and have their awards ceremony the day before the Academy of Motion Picture’s events.
And look, I know that there’s a whole discussion to have about the Oscars (we’ll have that next week), but at least you can make a case about celebrating and championing the movies that have succeeded and are culturally relevant. There’s a reason to celebrate the movies that get Oscar nominations. Usually they’re pretty good movies. Usually (coughCrashcough). The Razzies just seem like they’re beating a dead horse. These movies are bad, we know they’re bad, so let’s just make fun of them one more time. It’s kind of a moot point.
But there are those times where the Razzies are just plain wrong when they pick on a movie. The Razzies can lambaste a movie as much as they want, but sometimes the movies are actually pretty good despite all of the hate that they get. Why do these movies get all of the hate? I’m not too sure to be quite honest. Maybe the acting is weird, maybe the movie is dumb, maybe there’s a weird concept or a stupid scene thrown in? Regardless, I’m here to defend the movies that the Razzies decided were either the worst movie of the year or was a nominee for the worst movie of the year. Someone needs to watch out for the little guy!
Friday the 13th
1980: Worst Movie Nominee
Horror movies usually get a bad wrap when it comes to reviews. If you’re making a horror movie, you have a pretty good chance at making a generic shlock fest with poor characters, lazy jump scares, over the top action instead of terror, or maybe a mix of all three. Then if you’re making a movie in a horror franchise, you run the risk at being “lazy” or “derivative”. Think about how we roll our eyes whenever we see a new Paranormal Activity, Final Destination, or Insidious movie.
You could make a case for the later Friday the 13th movies being lazy, dumb, not scary, and absolutely ridiculous (Jason! In! SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE!), but the original? Not so much.
The original Friday the 13th is still a pretty damn effective horror movie. The killer is brutal, the ending is great, and there’s a reason that this kickstarted the horror movie franchise with the most entries, spinoffs, and video games. Has it aged well? It really has! I recently watched Friday the 13th for a horror movie marathon last Halloween and thought that it was legitimately scary and had a great sense of tension and dread.
The reasons behind it’s negative reception was that it was “low budget” and had terrible characters, which I can understand to a degree, but those are trademarks of the slasher genre. No one really cares about the characters, we care about the monster/villain/bad guy killing them. Granted it’s nice to have characters that we care about, but we usually see slasher films for the bad guys. We don’t care about seeing the counselors at Camp Crystal Lake, we wanna see Jason slice up some people!
Oh, and the icing on the cake? Friday the 13th is the only movie in the franchise to be nominated for Worst Picture. So Jason Takes Manhattan is technically, in the Razzie’s eyes, a better movie than the original Friday the 13th.
Last Action Hero
1993: Worst Picture nominee
Fun Fact, this is actually one of my favorite Schwarzenegger movies. What’s not to love about it? A movie where a kid enters a Schwarzenegger movie, teams up with him, deals with constant movie tropes, and eventually brings him into the real world and Arnold is forced to deal with an existential crisis that he’s a fictional character? This is the kind of high concept action movie that I love!
If you’re a fan of movies and making fun of classic Hollywood tropes, this is the kind of movie for you. It rewards you for being a film lover and makes the movie a much more enjoyable experience. That being said, wow the main kid is annoying here. He’s one of those kid characters that thinks he’s smarter than everyone else, so when he’s in the movie world, he’s always pointing out the tropes and how to solve them, stop them, or just make fun of a person for using them. Here’s a tip writers, if you’re going to try and make a kid likable, try not to have him point out the flaws in logic of your script and make him proud as hell that he did it.
Everything else though? If you’re looking for a Schwarzenegger movie that takes itself a bit more seriously and is a bit more goofy at the same time, give it a watch. Just don’t go into it expecting Commando levels of action. Think of it as a mix between Total Recall and Kindergarten Cop.
Wild Wild West
1999: Worst Movie Winner
So this is probably the most “bad” movie on this list. I can’t fully say that Wild Wild West is a good movie. It has a lot of jokes that don’t land well, can get really stupid at times with giant mechanical spiders and other weird bits of technology, and Kenneth Branagh is just so wrong for his role as Loveless. Trust me, I can get why this movie got the hate it did. But remember, this is a summer blockbuster movie. It’s not meant to be a cinematic tour de force, it’s just meant to be entertaining. It that regard, it succeeds in spades.
Will Smith is our leading man here, and this was at a time where Will Smith just exuded coolness. He was great in Fresh Prince, Men in Black, and was pumping out fun songs to go with his movies still. When you had this Will Smith as your leading man, you’re not going to be making a movie to make people think is what I’m saying.
“But Jesse, you pro giant mechanical spider lover, what about the Transformers movies? Those try to be entertaining without much story and those are some of the worst movies ever! Are you also implying that the Transformers are actually good because they’re entertaining?” Well first off, no, the Transformer movies are still awful. They’re not entertaining because each movie does the same shtick over and over again. Slow mo explosions, military jingoism, more explosions, asshole male characters, low brow humor, and did I mention explosions? But most importantly, they play everything super seriously. It’s like they’re embarrassed that they’re from a toy line and are trying to make the characters edgy and mature. For crying out loud, this is a movie franchise based off an 80’s franchise with talking robots that had a Linkin Park song as the big end credits single.
Wild Wild West is aware that it’s dumb and has a blast with it. No one was trying to take it seriously when it was released. You have a Shakespearean actor as a Confederate amputee that pilots a giant robot spider because that was somehow his grand master plan. There’s a ton of style, flash, and fun on display in nearly every scene. Do they work? Not always, but they hit more than they miss. This is the textbook definition of turning off your brain and enjoying the film without letting facts or logic get in the way.
Plus Phantom Menace was a Worst Picture nominee in 1999 and really should have won without question.
2016: Worst Picture Nominee
So this was a bit of a mess when it came out, wasn’t it? A giant sci-fi epic that failed to make back it’s budget and became one of the biggest flops of 2015 would sure get beat up on by critics. Strangely enough, I can at least appreciate Jupiter Ascending for trying something new and different.
The plot is… a mess to say the least. It’s a bunch of intergalactic politics revolving around Mila Kunis inheriting the Earth, Channing Tatum is her half human, half wolf body guard sent to protect her because Eddie Redmayne wants to take her inheritance from the Earth, and it just gets weird and stupid real fast. However, the movie is absolutely breath taking to look at.
I’m not a fan of The Matrix in the slightest. I think it’s too pretentious and takes an eternity to say what it wants to say. Plus visually, it’s drenched in green and just not appealing to me. Jupiter Ascending at least feels compelling to watch. I can easily mute the movie and just watch the visuals and enjoy the worlds that this movie creates. Even if I want to keep the sound on, at least I’m able to get one of the goofiest performances Eddie Redmayne has ever given.
2016 was the year where the Razzies gave two Worst Picture awards. One went to Fant4stic and the other one went to 50 Shades of Grey. Both easily deserved the awards and were the worst two movies of that year, but Jupiter Ascending was put on the short list over Minions, Hot Pursuit, and United Passions? Remember United Passions? The FIFA propaganda movie about how amazing the World Cup and FIFA are that earned less than $1,000 at the North American box office? But clearly it’s better than the sci-fi misfire of Jupiter Ascending. Booooooo! Hiiiiiiisssssssss!
1981: Worst Picture Winner
And here’s the movie that makes me the most angry. Mommie Dearest is not only on the best movies that has ever gotten the distinction of being a Worst Picture nominee, let alone winner, but it’s one of the most uncomfortable movies I’ve ever sat through. And I mean that as a compliment.
Mommie Dearest is a biopic of sorts about the (in)famous Joan Crawford, the definition of Hollywood royalty. She was elegant, beautiful, and was well beloved by thousands of fans. Behind the scenes though? Completely different story. Child abuse, mental manipulations, wire hangers, and literally replacing her daughter on a soap opera when she fell ill not out of motherly love, but to prove that she was better than her. Yeah, it’s kind of a messed up story, culminating in Joan leaving her children out of her will entirely. It’s a legitimately great film that I highly recommend.
So why did the Razzies not only nominate it for Worst Picture, but give it the award? Because they viewed it as a campy comedy. It’s a movie so over-the-top that it’s impossible not to laugh at it! Look, Joan Crawford is yelling about wire hangers! Isn’t that so funny! Granted, it’s in a scene where Crawford is using them to beat her children, but isn’t that just so wacky???
Mommie Dearest has no place being on a Worst Movies list in my humble opinion. The same can be said for most of these movies. I don’t view them as bad, but more like misfires. They could have succeeded and parts of them actually do work. If you liked these movies, more power to you! Don’t let a small group of people dictate the movies that you should like or hate. If you hated these movies, I can totally see that too, but do these five movies truly deserve to be called the worst movies of each year?
That was fun and cathartic! Now tune in next week where I look at what a small group of people think are the best movies of 2017!