The Worst Films of 2003Director: Jay Millikan
Cast: Stylus At The Movies
e try to be as open-minded as possible at Stylus At The Movies, but honestly some features are so horrible that they merit further discussion. It's our belief that knowing the enemy can help to defeat it in the future. And when you watch as many films as we do, trust us, we want the world to be vanquished of such filth. Additionally, there are two films that merit special mention: the best re-release in theaters and the best film that never got released. Read on to find out our choices for these venerable honors.
Ridiculous slogans: "The only way out is in!" "Earth has a deadline!" Hilarious trailers: "The Earth's core has stopped spinning!" Posters over arches at London Underground stations: "Next Stop: The Core" - and these are the arches through which the trains leave the tunnels. Best of all, a wonderful promotional gimmick obtainable at cinemas: four mocked-up Earth Times newspaper covers, with various appallingly written, um, articles, and headlines such as "Super Storms Strike UK - Reason Is Shocking!", "Terranauts Ignite The Core!", and the immortal sub-heading "Manned Mission Led By Woman". Really. Really. I hoped the film would be just as unintentionally hysterical. Instead, it's two and a quarter hours of spirit-crushing tedium, cynically constructed out of the worst clichés, characters and scenes from lumbering disaster movies such as Independence Day and Armageddon, with some world landmarks being perfunctorily destroyed ("Colosseum Explodes! Golden Gate Gone!", yells the Earth Times), and some sadistically drawn-out scenes of Our Intrepid Heroes in agonising pain. As I recall, the only decent line was stolen from another film; I can't remember which film, though, because I can't remember the line, which tells you everything. Do everything you can to avoid it. Here's more from The Earth Times: "Major Rebecca 'Beck' Childs was studying for the Space Academy since she was thirteen years old. Now 35, with the face of an angel and the eyes of a gun..."
Lawrence Kasdan must have been going through a severe mid-life crisis or something, because I cannot imagine another scenario in which such a respected director could cough up such an awesomely bad film. Based on a Stephen King novel about an alien invasion of Earth, this movie tries to merge the genres of science fiction and psychological character study, while managing to be stupendously incompetent at both. The acting is ludicrously over-the-top, the plot is straight out of an Ed Wood picture, and the script is responsible for more unintentional comedy than that video J-Lo did with Ben. Oh yes, did I mention that it features Donnie Wahlberg as a retarded man who transforms into a giant alien and saves the world? This movie is so bad it's almost worth seeing, in that "let's rubberneck at the awful ten-car pileup by the side of the road" kind of way.
School of Rock
I'm familiar with Martin Scorsese's "one for you, one to the pay the bills" approach to filmmaking, but Richard Linklater shames himself here. It's hard to believe that the same guy who made Before Sunrise and Waking Life also made this Kindergarten Cop/Big Daddy-like thing that tries too hard to be funny and cute without ever remotely managing either. Jack Black has to be one of the unfunniest "comic" actors working today. He doesn't crack jokes or deliver humorous lines; he pukes them up, all over the poor kids in this movie and, more importantly, the poor audience.
Best Older Film Re-released in the Theater
Having only ever seen the original Alien on television and DVD (I was born the same year it came out), I had for years regarded its James Cameron-directed sequel as the superior film, until the director's cut of Alien was recently screened in theaters across the country. On the big screen, with Ridley Scott's dark vision finally presented in its epic scope, this movie is positively suffused with existential dread. Gorgeously filmed, and with a stellar cast headlined by the great Sigourney Weaver, Alien transcends its "scary monster killing people on a ship" plot to become a creepy meditation on how alone human beings truly are. Intelligent, visually stunning, and frightening as all-get-out, Scott's film has to rank as one of the tour de force's of a brilliant filmmaking decade.
Best Undistributed Short
Paris Hilton Sex Tape
Without a doubt this year's breakthrough star is a privileged party princess named Paris. Her FOX reality show, The Simple Life, and tabloid-fodder relationships with high-profile personalities are secondary in her rapid ascension from infamous urban socialite to household notoriety. The real reason Paris Hilton is, at the moment, the name on seemingly everyone's lips is a 27-minute tape (seen mostly in a three-minute form easily available through online file-sharing networks), shot in night-vision green, of a then-19 year-old Hilton getting it on with then-boyfriend Rick Salomon. As the tape is, arguably, 2003's true must-see movie-no doubt a red-hot topic of water-cooler conversations from coast to coast-does that, then, make Paris the...entertainer of the year? All snarkiness aside, she does have quite a presence. Watching the PHST, surprisingly, doesn't leave one feeling dirtily voyeuristic the way the equally infamous Pamela-Tommy tape did (partly because it's too dark to be as graphic), but rather genuinely captivated by Paris, who simultaneously appears acutely self-conscious and oddly outside of herself. Effortlessly elegant and girlishly goofy, precocious to a Lolita-like degree, she's a star-and she knows it.
By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2003-12-29