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2004: The Year's Worst Films

Suffering in the Dark

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

While I tried hard to see all of the year's best films, I couldn't help but avoid many of the year's worst. Nevertheless, circumstance and bad luck led me to the following turkeys.

1. Van Helsing
Hollywood's most putrid and vulgar instincts made solid. Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale hunt noisy, ugly, computer animated monsters, while Richard Roxburgh plays the very worst screen Dracula ever filmed. Bela Lugosi must be spinning in his grave. Not even Ed Wood could have conceived of something this bad.

2. Surviving Christmas
I did not see Christmas with the Kranks, but let's not forget the year's other holiday bludgeoning, starring Ben Affleck as a creepy, abrasive corporate stooge who pays a family to let him stay with them. It's enough to turn even Santa into Scrooge.

3. White Chicks
The Wayans brothers' dress up not as anonymous white girls, but specific white girls, and mingle among their friends and family. This was the only 2004 movie in which the characters are dumber than anyone could possibly be in real life. The lead actors' plastic blue eyes gave a new meaning to the word "soulless."

4. Connie and Carla
Wouldn't it be funny if two girl singers pursued by criminals disguised themselves as lesbians, taught the gay community how to love itself and learned important life lessons in the process? Um, no.

5. Ben Stiller
Sucking the life out of six movies this year alone, notably Along Came Polly, Dodgeball, Envy and Meet the Fockers, (he didn't completely ruin Anchorman or Starsky & Hutch) this actor uses the same shtick over and over again: a combination of arrogance and ineptitude, with too much emphasis on the former and not enough on the latter.

6. Shrek 2
How this collection of aging pop culture references and toilet jokes charmed $400 million from the public's wallets is a mystery for the ages. Can anyone explain why Mike Myers' CGI troll has a Scottish accent, or why Eddie Murphy plays his donkey as obnoxious instead of funny?

7. (tie) Alexander, King Arthur and Troy
Why do characters in epics have to talk in monotone drones, and for so many hours? These stale movies desperately needed Tony Curtis and his campy Spartacus Brooklyn accent.

8. Welcome to Mooseport
The perpetually unfunny Ray Romano runs for mayor of a small town against an ex-United States President. Depending on which ex-president, I think I would decline to vote.

9. Blade: Trinity
The Matrix Revolutions gets a run for its money for the worst final third of a trilogy. Blade I and II were dark, energetic and fun, but this one didn't even try. Even Wesley Snipes' stoicism can't mask his boredom.

10. House of Flying Daggers
The antithesis of Hero, Zhang Yimou took everything he once did right, turned around and made it wrong with this awkward, murky, over-the-top love triangle.

Bad Runners-Up

Chasing Liberty, Closer, The Chronicles of Riddick, Enduring Love; I, Robot; The Motorcycle Diaries, My Architect, Ned Kelly, The Phantom of the Opera, The Polar Express, and She Hate Me.

See also the year's ten best films.

December 30, 2004

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