Once again, green font, you ask a pointed question. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gained the resources and experiences to better spot and avoid a turd of a film. Additionally, I’ve found that many movies are okay to bad, but worst is an entire level unto itself. Separately, my friends and I adore playing the risky game of “so bad it’s good” (okay, some of my friends adore it while the rest get drug along). Those films will one day get their own train wreck of a post. Below, however, are the films that I was too foolish, unlucky, or bullish to have the misfortune of completely watching.
Much like My Five Favorite Films post, I consulted Flickchart. There I rank every film that I have ever seen. They fight each other to the death, and the most bloated, fetid corpses burble to the top, entering the only theater appropriate: autopsy. These films are so feculent that they rank below such “masterpieces” as the 1894 film Record of a Sneeze and 1891’s Men Boxing. I would rather sit through Nicolas Cage’s The Wicker Man or any of the Air Bud sequels—YES, the ones where the puppies talk! That bad. Behold…
Inspector Gadget 2 finds our titular hero has become an anal-retentive rule-worshipper, arresting the mayor’s mother for going 33 in a 32 MPH zone. Tired of Gadget’s unpredictability, the Chief of Police unveils G2, an android replacement who works alone. Gadget gets a series of unsuccessful odd jobs while his niece Penny investigates Gadget’s old nemesis, Dr. Claw. Claw immediately captures Penny and uses a time-freeze ray to rob Gadget’s city, then Fort Knox. Coincidentally, Gadget and G2 escape the time-freeze ray blast and agree to team up, stopping Dr. Claw and returning things to normal. Gadget kisses G2 in front of the Police Chief and the Mayor, which sets off fireworks in Gadget’s head. The fireworks hit the city servants, setting the mayor and chief ablaze.
One blessing with the other movies on this list is that I’ve only had the (dis)pleasure of seeing them once. Not so with Inspector Gadget 2. Thanks to much younger siblings that needed babysitting, I’ve seen this movie twice! After that, it got “lost” along with Return of Jafar. The entire cast (even the dog) was replaced for this movie, so I should’ve been prepared for a rough ride going in, though I didn’t have much sway with the ravenous duo of ankle-biting gremlins that I had to please.
If I had to describe this movie in one word, it’d be “BOIOIOING!!!” Looking at the poster to the left, you can probably tell what I mean: Everything that can stretch or spring does so with cartoon effect. Worse, that motion is oftentimes the joke. “Isn’t that so funny, kids? How his arm goes back and forth and makes a funny noise?” For those that do enjoy that noise, common bedsprings or novelty giggle sticks cost less to rent, provide more interactivity, and don’t cut into one’s daily allotted daily screen time.
Examining this nose-wrinkling experience as an adult, I think what rankles me the most about this film is that it adds a female counterpart to Inspector Gadget. While on the surface, this appears to be an attempt to engage the young female demographic, the sinister reality is that the character serves as merely a love interest for the protagonist. Even worse, Inspector Gadget already HAD a female protagonist in Penny, Gadget’s niece. She was the smart one who solved all the crimes, but she’s relegated to a minor role, getting immediately captured while the “romance” takes center stage. I haven’t even talked about how Gadget is the world’s first cyborg in the first film, but G2 is an android. What are the rules in this world? Why is this police force the only one with these capabilities?
These are clearly questions that I care about more than the filmmakers did. While the old adage “kids will watch anything” is true to a point, that saying cuts both ways. Because kids will watch anything, they won’t hesitate to pick something else, especially if it’s got a better hook. Case in point, my siblings barely noticed this movie had dissappeared and promptly moved on to Barbie: Fairytopia and Bionicle tie-ins. In case anyone was wondering, yes, both of those franchises were more tolerable than this film.
Johnny Blaze signs a deal with the devil to cure his dad’s cancer. In an obvious, monkey-paw twist of fate, Blaze Senior becomes healthy, only to die in a stunt accident the next day. In return, Johnny must become the Ghost Rider, collecting souls bound for hell. Meanwhile, the devil’s son Blackheart is looking for a contract containing 1,000 souls. Blackheart is supposed to bring those souls back to his dad, but he betrays his father to use the soul power to rule the earth! Johnny, teaming up with an old ghost rider from the Wild West, uses his “penance power” to ignite the souls Blackheart has absorbed, killing him. He then tells the devil that he’ll be Ghost Rider forever so that no one else has to.
Oh, Nicolas Cage, with so many over-baked performances, how can I pick just one for you? While Cage has talent and has whipped up some delectable performances, the infamous actor’s talents MUST fit into the recipe or else the final product—like toothpaste and orange juice—will be a taste that will haunt the reader long after. Unfortunately, Ghost Rider was already both the orange juice AND the toothpaste; Cage is the pound of saffron snorted immediately afterwards.
While I won’t be first in line to defend the character Johnny Blaze, the bones of his premise scream rock ‘n roll/metal. At every turn, however, the movie pulls its punches. Johnny doesn’t ACTUALLY sign a deal with the devil, he slips and a drop of blood gets on the contract. See? We’re not rooting for a BAD guy… When Johnny first transforms into the Ghost Rider, the viewer is treated to a frankly amazing VFX sequence of flesh stripping off Johnny’s skull… which then becomes a weirdly clean floating head. You know? Because a dirty skull would be too gnarly. The project reeks of sanitization, of corporate hand wringing, making Ghost Rider a victim of the gluttonous studio attitude of the 2000s: We can turn any film into an all-audience hit.
Strangely, I ended up watching the Ghost Rider sequel five years later. Why? I coincidentally read a positive review that claimed the follow-up committed to the lunacy of the concept. While I can’t say that I enjoyed the second movie, I respected it more than the first for that reason. If a movie can’t be good, it should at least be entertaining. If not entertaining, a movie should at least have flavor. Ghost Rider has a bizarre flavor, but then apologizes for it, trying to wash it out of our mouths as it feeds it to us.
Sarah is visiting her dad and uncle at the old house the two are renovating. Things are normal, and Sarah even visits with a nice neighbor. Then Sarah sees weird things in the house, like a toilet on the wall and a ghost girl. The ghost girl gets raped and photographed, and Sarah must watch in horror! Why? Because these are Sarah’s repressed memories! With her memory regained, she kills her father and maims her uncle. Also, the neighbor wasn’t real.
Yes, only 88 minutes, but by minute 10, the promise on the poster came true. The silence was killing me. Absolutely nothing had happened. She walks into the house, looks at a weird hole, walks outside, then walks back in to find that her uncle had knocked a hole in the sheet rock. “Oh, that’s right, they’re remodeling. I don’t know why I thought the hole was weird…“
Every few minutes, some new idiotic “twist” rears its head along with mysterious imagery—except that the mystery is super obvious. Adding insult to injury, a tasteless portrayal of mental illness and clumsily handled childhood trauma offend any viewer’s sensibility. Characters appear and disappear at random and the “real time” gimmick is continuously violated. The uncle “goes into town for some tools,” but appears in the movie ten minutes later. Really? Does the Mom & Pop store do drive-by delivery and receive their orders psychically? Imagine a basic question like this popping into your head every three minutes during the movie.
Thankfully, I am not alone in my detest of this film. It received the “rare honor” of an “F” from Cinemascore, the audience polling service. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn that until after I’d watched the movie. The silver lining here is that this ankle sprain of an experience didn’t roll Elizabeth Olsen’s career path. She remains a surefooted talent.
Mandy Lane was so-so looking, but got hot over the summer, so the popular guys invite her to a pool party. She invites her friend Emmett along, but he gets bullied. As revenge, the two plot to kill these jocks the following year at a cattle ranch. After some fun times and a strangely paced sex scene in a barn, the teens get offed. Mandy and Emmett have won, but Emmett wants a suicide pact , so Mandy kills him too and pretends to be a victim. Notably, disgraced actor Amber Heard made her acting debut here (Update 6/1/22: HA!). Sadly, she’s the only watchable person in this movie.
The main problem with this movie is that it’s a glorified student film. Student films are normally the domain of young artists experimenting and learning from their successes and misfires. Unfortunately, the mid-2000s were so bloated with bottom-of-the-barrel horror content that All the Boys passed the floor-level bar for distribution. Therefore, it must be judged as a released piece of art. Not only is the pacing and editing slow enough to make snails jealous, it’s littered with random effects templates and filters. The performances are woodier than uncooked asparagus, and I was left wondering what the point of the film was until the final five minutes. Apparently, the message is that everyone loves Mandy Lane because she’s an unattainable hot virgin.
What’s galling about the conclusion, besides that asinine observation, is how smug the film is about its “truth.” Arrogant filmmaking that infantilizes its audience is one of the worst sensibilities in cinema. Once again, many student films project such a sensibility, but those that do, quickly cringe at its results. Some sleazy distributor decided to validate whatever know-it-alls made this movie, though, so it slithered its way onto the screen and into my pupils. I suppose that’s the true horror of this film: assaulting unaware passersby with its flaccid, dysfunctional sensibilities about women.
Edit: So, after writing a draft of this post, I looked up this film’s distributor—Harvey Weinstein! Not surprising! He personally offered to buy the film after seeing it at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 2006. Jonathan Levine, the director, has since gone on to direct better projects like 50/50, Warm Bodies, and Long Shot. All the Boys, however, was an idea he began writing and developing in—you guessed it—college.
Chris Thorne is a wealthy banker who’s agreed to escort Diane Lightson to Atlantic City. After taking a detour through the small town of Valkenvania, they’re caught in a speed trap by Dennis Valkenheiser, a traffic cop who takes them to see Judge Alvin Valkenheiser. 106 years old with a penchant for hating bankers, Judge Valkenheiser sends Chris and Diane through his underground death maze and threatens to feed them to his roller coaster of death. After meeting the Judge’s grandchildren who are literally “made of poop,” Chris tricks them and escapes, but must return to rescue Diane. There, the two are forced into a wedding, but thankfully, an underground coal fire obliterates the courthouse. Back in New York, Chris discovers that the Judge has survived—with Chris’s driver’s license—and is coming to live with him. Chris flees from his apartment, making a cutout-shaped hole behind him.
Logan, how in the world did you find out about this movie, much less watch it? For my 15th birthday, I received this as a gift from a friend. She said that it was really funny, so she thought of me and bought it. One of my best friends at the time got the same speech from her for his gift: Caddyshack 2. When we confronted her after our respective miserable experiences, she confessed that she’d forgotten to get either of us presents, and picked these up in a two-for-one deal at a gas station on the way. This was the same friend that I saw Ghost Rider with in theaters by the way.
This DVD sat in my family’s basement for three years until my cousin came over for Thanksgiving.
“Oh, wow! Is that Nothing but Trouble? Can I borrow it?”
“Borrow it?” I responded like a victim who’d found someone to watch a copy of The Ring on day seven, “You can have it! Why do you want this movie, much less know about it?”
“My girlfriend is having a party next week and inviting a bunch of people that I don’t like. I want to play this movie so that they’ll leave.”
I offer these anecdotes because, though you may be repulsed by the synopsis of Nothing but Trouble, I don’t believe a mere description can fully articulate the adverse effect the movie has on one’s mind. Unlike entries five through two, all of which are rooted in toxic or moronic attitudes and beliefs, this film comes from another dimension beyond human understanding. During the film, I softly chuckled exactly twice—both because of Demi Moore’s timing. That means Chevy Chase, John Candy, and Dan Ackroyd got exactly zero.
Unlike the other entries, of which I remember awful moments from and the overall plot, Nothing but Trouble has been seared into my mind. I haven’t seen the film in 15 years, but upon writing this post, I immediately remembered the plot, order of scenes, sets, and 20 character moments. My brain has it perfectly preserved so that it’ll know what to do if ever in that situation again. Only one word fits that experience: trauma. This movie traumatized me. Hopefully, my warning today will save you.
I offer no recommendations because I refuse to continue the cycle of abuse.