The 2008 Flaming Hobbit Award
The Flaming Hobbit is presented each year or so (unreliability is the sheer essence of the FH) to the best bad movie of the year. You know... the one you're afraid to admit you own when talking to your friends. The movie you keep hidden WAY at the back of your DVD collection. Be afraid no longer! We aren't.
Flaming Hobbit's are admittedly horrible or flawed films that, for some reason, still have something to offer. Trust me it is simpler than it sounds. Just remember that this is NOT an award for the WORST MOVIE OF THE YEAR!!! Believe it or not, we're actually recommending these crummy flicks.
Speed Racer - Oooh, shiny things. That seems to have been the Wachowskis' entire motivation in making Speed Racer, and for at least some of that endless running time, that's enough. The eye-popping colors are all the movie has going for it, but by god, can you ever get caught up in those Crayola-colored whorls and torrents as the Mach 5 speeds by. The acting is terrible, the plot is nonsense, and somehow even Emile Hirsch manages to look terrible here, which gives you all the more time to try and count just how many colors that crazy racetrack is. Sure, it's a little too long to totally enjoy from start to finish-- but that's what Blu-Ray is for.
In the Name of the King - It doesn't have much of an effects budget, it's miscast, it's derivative, the script appears to have been written by a black hole, and oh it's directed by Uwe Boll, a man almost universally acknowledged as the worst filmmaker of all time. So why the hell did I have so much fun watching it? Maybe it's the way Burt Reynold's crown always seems to be perched on his head at an odd angle… or maybe it's the fact that Burt Reynolds is in it at all (and most of the time appears to be drunk). Or maybe it's Jason Statham, who kicks ass even when there's no script. Whatever it is, there's something weirdly entertaining about In the Name of the King, an admittedly awful movie which seems to be having so much fun that it doesn't care if its good.
Zombie Strippers - You've got to give credit to a movie that knows what it is, sticks with a poundingly obvious title, and actually seems designed to win one of these Flaming Hobbit majigs. You probably didn't see Zombie Strippers in theaters, since it's really the kind of thing designed to be stumbled upon at Blockbuster, exclaiming to your friends "Oh my God, does this really exist?!" Oh yes, it exists, and it features Jenna Jameson performing a striptease as the skin literally falls off her body, Freddy Krueger as the good guy (kinda), and more blood and gore than would fit inside most normal strip clubs. Rent it, be amazed, and since it's so short, thoroughly entertained.
Death Race - It's actually probably high praise that Death Race was nominated for (and almost won) the Flaming Hobbit. After all, the original Death Race 2000 is one of the movies that comes immediately to mind when the concept of this strange award is discussed. Unfortunately this remake doesn't live quite up to the camp of the original, even with Jason Statham at the wheel. It is its own creature, not similar enough to the original cross-country road race to compare the two side-by-side, but not distinctly separate enough to completely avoid comparison. Ultimately it's a Paul W.S. Anderson movie, which means it instantly earns a spot here. Better luck next time Paul.
JOSH: Bottom line, Hamlet 2 isn't just a Flaming Hobbit, it's about the making of a Flaming Hobbit. That must be rewarded. It's a no-brainer. Steve Coogan plays a drama teacher desperate to do something significant. He's not talented enough to do that (though he doesn't seem to know it), so he writes a sequel to Hamlet instead. The result is a Flaming Hobbit for the stage, Hamlet 2, the most ludicrous, insane piece of weird, ultra-offensive pop-art the world has ever seen. This is a play in which Jesus comes back to Earth in a time machine to perform a rocking dance number. This is a movie with Flaming Hobbit written all over it. Many of our nominees on this list were bad yet somehow enjoyable in spite of themselves. Hamlet 2 is so bad, so awful by design that it falls through a wormhole and comes out the other side as hilariously good.
Rafe: It's dramatic. It's exciting. It's stupid. It's all of these things and more, because ultimately the message behind the movie is that we bring our own meaning to things like this. If they are offensive, maybe it's because we see them as offensive. If they are silly, maybe it's because we see them as silly. Maybe, in the end, we're all victims of abusive parents or whatever else our past may hold, and we need to investigate what we hold within ourselves when something offends or pleases us. That's a lot of depth to attach to a Flaming Hobbit, but I calls 'em as I sees 'em. For those who don't want that depth... well, there's a lot of Steve Coogan's ass to look at.
As for Hamlet 2, I see it as incredibly entertaining - a counter message to the very movies Steve Coogan's teacher character aspires to be like - Dead Poets Society, Dangerous Minds, etc. It's also highly reminiscent of other movies I'd award the Flaming Hobbit to - Waiting for Guffman for the theatrical commentary, Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical for the rocking musical numbers, etc. With songs like "Rock Me Sexy, Jesus," this is a movie that never really had a chance with many people, which is a real shame, because ultimately the movie is really enjoyable and deserved better. Hopefully with the prestige of the Flaming Hobbit Award, Hamlet 2 will get what it deserves.
Each year The Flaming Hobbit Spirit Award is presented to the actor or actress whose body of work is most consistently in keeping with the ideals and principles of The Flaming Hobbit.
RAFE: Jason Statham is an action guy who is right on the cusp of becoming the next great thing. Unfortunately he's been on that cusp for almost a decade now, gathering a cult following but failing to fall completely into mainstream attention. Ask the average moviegoer who stars in The Transporter series and I would almost bet money they wouldn't know Statham by name. Yet, the actor keeps cranking out movies: three Transporter flicks, two Crank pictures, and underappreciated gems like The Bank Job. If Statham had fallen into Hitman like he should have, maybe he would have found that stardom that keeps eluding him, or maybe it would have crushed him outright. For now, we'll keep appreciating the guilty pleasure action-fests Statham stars in, waiting for the day he finally crosses over to find huge success.
KATEY: Jason Statham is an Adonis. I mean, not really. He's balding, after all, and has a face that's somewhere between mid-80's Mickey Rourke and Mickey Rourke today. But some combination of the bald spot, rough British accent and rockin' bod makes Jason Statham irresistible, which gives him license to star in as many bad movies as he damn well pleases. It's not like he's Samuel L. Jackson, with catchphrases out the wazoo, or Christopher Walken, who exudes a "don't fuck with me" cool. Statham has made the quality of being Statham enough reason to watch him, and as a result we'll be seeing Transporter movies until we die. In a world that's supposedly being taken over by nerds, it's good to have one undeniable badass to rule them all.
JOSH: Statham has made an entire career out of starring in nothing but bad movies. Bad movies which, always seem to end up going the same direction. It doesn't matter whether he's in medieval England, modern day New York, 70s London, or wandering around Europe in a precision automobile: Somebody is gonna get punched in the head. And really that's why we like Jason Statham. There's certainty there. No matter how awful his movie you know there will be soul satisfying violence. Can Jason Statham act? I don't care. I don't think he does either, and that's why he starred in 3 of this year's Flaming Hobbit nominees. Jason Statham doesn't care what movie he's in. He just wants to rip off his shirt and punch some bitch in the head, and if that's not Flaming Hobbit worthy I don't know what is.
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