Keeping Up with the (Crap) Classics #2

Warner Bros.

As COVID-19 keeps all of us indoors, I've taken advantage of the time by viewing as many films considered to be the worst of all time as humanly possible. Most of the films below deserve their reputations, but two of them were completely undeserving.

These are the films I've viewed over the past week.

Battlefield Earth (Dir. Roger Christian, 2000) - Based on the novel by L. Ron Hubbard (founder of Scientology), BATTLEFIELD EARTH could write the book on how not to make a movie. BATTLEFIELD was a passion project of John Travolta (who gives one of his most outrageously over-the-top performances as the villain), and everything about it is executed incorrectly. Every shot is on a Dutch angle (tilted), the visual effects are cut-rate, the dialogue is laughable, the plot makes no sense, and the performances can barely be called performances. This is without a doubt one of the five worst films I've ever seen.

A Fine Mess (Dir. Blake Edwards, 1986) - Somehow, someway the great Blake Edwards (VICTOR/VICTORIA, THE PINK PANTHER series) managed to write and direct a misfire this major. Without a shred of wit or genuine humor, A FINE MESS truly lives down to its title and lowered my IQ with each mindless minute.

Freddy Got Fingered (Dir. Tom Green, 2001) - Tom Green's FREDDY GOT FINGERED is so insane that I cannot believe any studio agreed to finance it. Despite being widely maligned, I laughed myself silly and had my jaw on the floor due to the sheer audacity on display. While not every gag in this gross-out comedy works, a large portion of it does, and the film is directed and performed in such a go-for-broke manner, that I couldn't help but admire it. It's understandable why many hate FREDDY, but I richly enjoyed it.

Glen or Glenda (Dir. Ed Wood, 1953) - Well-intentioned and ahead of its time (but in some ways woefully dated), schlockmeister Ed Wood's infamous drama on transsexuality and cross-dressing, GLEN OR GLENDA, is cheap-looking and dated and without an ounce of proper filmmaking and storytelling craft. GLEN OR GLENDA was personal for director Wood (he was a cross-dresser himself and stars in the lead under a pseudonym), but it doesn't hold a candle to Wood's later disasterpiece, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. (If you want to see a great film about Wood, view Tim Burton's 1994 biopic, ED WOOD.)

Glitter (Dir. Vondie Curtis-Hall, 2001) - No matter how hard director Vondie Curtis-Hall tries, he cannot save this stale A STAR IS BORN ripoff starring Mariah Carey. Hopelessly contrived and downright tedious, GLITTER is best left to the garbage pail.

Ishtar (Dir. Elaine May, 1987) - Quite possibly the most famous box office and critical flop of all time, Elaine May's ISHTAR is a hoot if taken on its own terms. Featuring game performances by Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman in the leads, ISHTAR is as idiosyncratic and kooky as its director. It may not be a work of immense intellectual value, but ISHTAR is quite genuinely funny and completely undeserving of its terrible reputation.

The Love Guru (Dir. Marco Schnabel, 2008) - The bottom of the comedy barrel. Without a single non-ironic laugh in its mercifully short 87-minute running time, this Mike Myers vanity project about a love guru who must help a hockey player and his wife reconcile is as juvenile and pointless as it gets, no thanks to its remarkably stupid screenplay.

Perfect (Dir. James Bridges, 1985) - John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis give solid performances, but they're lost amidst this dull and under-directed true-life drama about journalistic ethics. There is a very good story lurking in PERFECT, but this is just not it.

Raise the Titanic (Dir. Jerry Jameson, 1980) - One of the costliest flops of all time, RAISE THE TITANIC is a bizarre curio that was despised by Clive Cussler, the author of the novel upon which the film is based. RAISE THE TITANIC's visual effects are impressive, and the film is mostly well-performed, but it is its intense committment to its ridiculous premise - raising the Titanic to obtain a rare material that will help the United States in the Cold War - that makes it sink gloriously to the bottom.

Reefer Madness (Dir. Louis J. Gasnier, 1936) - Considered by Leonard Maltin to be the "granddaddy of all 'worst' movies", this intermittently humorous feature-length PSA on the "horrors" of marijuana use is indeed terrible (and supremely inaccurate) but also very dull.

Sliver (Dir. Phillip Noyce, 1993) - Hot off of the smash success of BASIC INSTINCT, Joe Eszterhas continued his smutty streak with another Sharon Stone-starrer, SLIVER. Absurd, dumb, and tremendously boring, this would-be erotic thriller is a complete waste of time.

Town & Country (Dir. Peter Chelsom, 2001) - Plagued with production problems, TOWN & COUNTRY is horrendous and hilarious (in ways it didn't intend to be) and is one of the biggest box office bombs in cinema history, grossing $10 million on a $90 million budget. This isn't a big blockbuster-style film with action sequences and explosions, though; it's a sex comedy about wealthy middle-aged couples who sleep around and stars Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, and Garry Shandling. Lurching from one scene to another, TOWN & COUNTRY has no flow whatsoever and feels like a rough cut of an adult-oriented sex comedy written by a juvenile. That being said, it is hellishly amusing to watch.

The Villain (Dir. Hal Needham, 1979) - Essentially a live-action Wile E. Coyote story stretched to nearly 90 minutes, Hal Needham's THE VILLAIN is profoundly dumb and lacking in any comedic buoyancy (Needham was riding high after the back-to-back hits of SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT and HOOPER). Starring Kirk Douglas, Ann-Margret, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, this Western "comedy" is so committed to its stupidity that I couldn't help but chuckle. At the same time, it's depressing that this much talent went into something this flat-out bad.

You Light Up My Life (Dir. Joseph Brooks, 1977) - Another wretched story about a singer/songwriter trying to make it in the music business by Joe Brooks, YOU LIGHT UP MY LIFE is best-known for its Oscar-winning smash hit title song. The only things that can be said for this film are 1) Didi Conn rises above the material, and 2) the film isn't as brutally bad as Brooks' follow-ups, IF EVER I SEE YOU AGAIN and HEADIN' FOR BROADWAY (those two films may be more inept, but they are far more entertaining to watch). The aforementioned films and this one essentially have the same story - YOU LIGHT UP MY LIFE and IF EVER I SEE YOU AGAIN are especially similar - which shows how little imagination Brooks had as a filmmaker.