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What you are about to read is not a celebration of the worst, nor is it a celebration of the best. As films go, those are the ones people typically remember. And that’s the exact opposite of what we’re going for here. What we’re going for here is, well, we’re shooting to find ten 2010 films that no one will remember even existed in ten years. In 2020, I want to randomly meet you on the street, person reading this article and say, “Hey, remember X?”, and I then went you to stare at me blankly, like I just said, “Hey, remember Magi And The Pagan?”. Magi And The Pagan doesn’t exist; so, that’s not eligible for inclusion, but these other 10 I narrow down definitely need to have existed. You also need to have at one time been aware that they did exist. So, in addition to Magi And The Pagan, anything too indie or underground is gone, as are things dumped by the studio without a shred of marketing like The Warrior’s Way. What we’re looking for here are movies so unmistakably nondescript and unoriginal in every single conceivable way that your brain deleted them on principal.
In keeping with this logic, sequels are out. If someone put a gun to my head and asked for the plot of Major League 2, there’s no way I could come up with it (IMDB just told me it’s colon-ed Back To The Minors, so I could now wager a solid guess), but I’m still aware there was a follow-up to the original. That’s why, as much as it pains me to say it, Nanny McPhee 2: She Did Something New is not eligible for inclusion, nor are Little Fockers, the new Narnia or Predators. We’re looking for original films here, but as weird as it may sounds, star power does not prevent a film’s potential selection among these regrettable ranks. Remember the Nicholas Cage/ Samuel L Jackson/ David Caruso film Kiss Of Death? Wanna give me a plot summary on the Jeff Bridges/ Rosanna Arquette, Oliver Stone-written 8 Million Ways To Die? How about Seraphim Falls? That one had Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson.
There’s no way to forecast the future perfectly. Now and again, a cable network will randomly pick up a film and shove it down viewers’ throats. If one of these films randomly turns into the next 13 Going On 30, consider its selection here a complete failure, but if it slowly disappears, never again gets a new Blu-Ray release and ultimately becomes a 2000 dollar question on Jeopardy, shoot me an e-mail praising my virtuoso predicting powers. Without further bloviating, here are the ten 2010 theatrical releases that will be entirely forgotten in 10 years.
With nearly a hundred million dollars in domestic revenue and a four star review from Roger Ebert, Green Zone seems like a bizarre admission, but rightly or wrongly, because of Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass, it will always be compared with the Bourne films. Not enough people saw it, though those who did, tended to think it was pretty good. Pretty good just isn’t going to cut it when there are plenty of other action films starring Matt Damon, as well plenty about the war in Iraq. Add a below-average title to the already shaky footing, and it’s very unlikely people will randomly give it a go on Netflix down the line. Staying power isn’t all about quality. In fact, it’s mostly about originality. Even though Michael Moore called Green Zone the most honest depiction of the war in Iraq ever made, it still never created any man on the street buzz. Remember how everyone who saw The Hurt Locker immediately rushed out and begged you to see it? That didn’t happen with Green Zone, and barring an obsessive campaign by Spike or some other male-dominated cable channel, it never will happen.
Sometimes it really is just about a film sucking. With a premise already done by Repo! The Genetic Opera and less than stellar performances from both Jude Law and Forest Whitaker, there’s really no reason for anyone to see this film. Ever. The majority of America stayed away, but somehow Repo Men did end up making nearly twenty million dollars. That, along with a marketing campaign that did exist, means you probably are aware this mess happened, but ten years from now it’ll be a different story. Sometimes people are in the mood for shitty science fiction. In fact, there’s an entire network based around this premise, but honestly, if you did have a hankering to watch a bad organ replacement film, there’s no reason Repo Men should ever be chosen over The Island. At least that one had Scarlett Johansson and Steve Buscemi acting all weird.
Remember that time Denzel Washington passed out, woke up on the set of Wristcutters: A Love Story and wandered around for a few hours with a Bible while Commissioner Gordon tried to steal it? You might, now, on sheer weirdness alone, but as soon as Denzel gets off his high horse and makes something a little more outside the box than Unstoppable, you’ll move on with your life and eliminate any trace of this mess. It’s like when Johnny Depp made Dead Man, except that movie had real Jim Jarmusch weirdness, not just a strange set to lure unsuspecting people in for the religion thumping.
I tried to hold off on the romantic comedies. I really did. Cable chews up and recycles romantic comedies with a single-minded fervor known only to those cookie elves, but when it comes to Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl, the same rules do not apply. Kutcher has made more shitty Rom-Coms already than you can count on two hands, and Katherine Heigl is so close to being dismissed by the entire world that it’s amazing she can still find movies to back out of. Plus, Killers is beyond just any normal level of awful. It’s awful plus. It’s an excruciating hour and a half, filled with unoriginal hijinks that are obvious ten minutes in advance. I reviewed the damn movie, and I can remember like three facts about it. Catherine O’Hara has a comically large drink. Tom Selleck’s moustache is involved, and I’m at least eighty percent sure Ashton Kutcher drives a truck that he may or may not talk about being proud of.
Cinema Blend Head Honcho Josh Tyler asked that I include this film, and I initially told him no because I was only picking from 2010 theatrical releases. Turns out The Wolfman came out this past February. Had this conversation never happened, I would have gone on thinking it showed up and left without much fuss some time between late 2008 and early 2009. I realize this is a regrettable mistake for a film critic, but between the release of You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger and incessant previews for Thor and the truly miserable-looking The Rite, The Wolfman seems like forever ago. Hollywood has yet to make a worthwhile werewolf flick. Maybe it’s impossible? You would think Benicio del Toro could have, considering he both owns at acting and sort of looks like a prime candidate to secretly be a wolf man, but no such luck.
Some people are just meant to have hair. John Travolta is one of them. Some people are only believable as the smarmy villain. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is one of them. Some films never should have been made. From Paris With Love numbers among them. It’s not so much that From Paris With Love is terrible, it’s more that it’s terrible in the completely obvious ways films have already been terrible in. Two secret agents, one an old hat, one an up and comer, foster a nervous relationship, while the younger is unwilling to accept someone close to him (his girlfriend) is playing for the other side. Come on, people. At least fall down trying to do something original. From Paris With Love plays like a copycat suicide. At least those assholes from Heaven’s Gate bothered to coordinate sneakers.
It’s simply astounding how many poor choices the filmmakers made here. Somehow, through bribery, threats of violence or simply over-paying, they ended up with at least five diverse and wonderful comedic side characters: Jim Norton, Patrice O’Neal, Angela Kinsey, Rob Riggle and Dr. Ken. The first two are barely given any lines at all, and the latter three are constantly forced to defer to Brendan Fraser. Why even bother casting them? It’s like filming an action movie and making Jason Statham and Jet Li make jokes while watching Eugene Levy and Leslie Ann Warren try and beat up faceless henchman. I guarantee a reality show about making this film would have been way funnier than the preachy, bullshit final product. I’m pretty sure this movie was supposed to make viewers feel bad for animals, but there’s actually a scene where a squirrel forces a car off a cliff. I think Hummers are just as stupid as the next guy, but I’m not ready to commit manslaughter over my annoyance.
Normally, there’s no way in hell I’d ever pick a Kevin Smith film for this list. His movies tend to inspire a level of cult fanaticism that fuels longevity. It’s because they’re so goddamn quotable. Every Kevin Smith film has at least thirty hilarious, original lines of dialogue that get brought up over and over again. From Cousin Walter to sucking dicks on the way to the parking lot, Smith’s films are typically a refreshing change of pace, but Cop Out isn’t really a Kevin Smith movie. It’s a bullshit, made-for-money retread that he didn’t even write. It’s lazy and obvious, and honestly, I suspect he’d rather everyone forgot too. It’s like those random few years where Mark Messier played for the Canucks or that time Mountain Dew tried to convince us the weird purple-black flavor was drinkable. Sometimes people try shit, it doesn’t work and they move on. Kevin Smith won’t be defined by Cop Out, and in ten years, most of us won’t even remember it happened.
Extraordinary Measures is a nice message film about corporations, disease and individual struggle. So is A Civil Action and Awakenings and dozens of others that are better than just nice films. It’s sad to say, but other than sex, hope is probably the most recycled, overused commodity in Hollywood, and in order to gain more than temporary relevance, you need to do more than just fight the good fight. Movies like this need nominations or strong word of mouth to stick around, and Extraordinary Measures opened in eighth place. It was out of theaters within four weeks, and outside of those actually suffering from the disease of affected by it, it’s hard to imagine anyone choosing this over so many other worthy candidates in the future.
People will blame this film’s irrelevance on Mel Gibson’s epic personal downfall, but Edge Of Darkness was headed for purgatory long before anyone heard those tapes. This, more than any other film on this list, showcases why being super famous can be a double-edged sword. Yes, being an A-list actor means people will notice when you release a movie, but unless it’s truly wonderful, there’s little reason anyone will care to remember in ten years. Think about all the Mel Gibson movies you can. What Women Want, Braveheart, The Patriot, Conspiracy Theory, Lethal Weapon, Ransom, Mad Max. You could go on for another ten without listing Edge Of Darkness. That’s not shot against the film itself, it’s just less good. It’s like Meg Ryan’s French Kiss. Why the hell would anyone ever watch that when You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless In Seattle and When Harry Met Sally exist?
Close But Didn’t Quite Make The Cut: Hereafter, Legion, Faster, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, The Prince Of Persia, The Bounty Hunter, The Joneses, The Losers, Dear John, She’s Out Of My League, Just Wright, Marmaduke, Takers, The Switch, Legend Of The Guardians, My Soul To Take
For more of Cinema Blend's 2010 wrap-up go here.