Day two of my film devotional brings me to the opposite of yesterday’s self-assignment – this time we’re talking the bad of the athletic feats of filmdom. Now, there are plenty of bad sports movies I’ve managed to avoid up to this point, but the following are the five worst I’ve seen – one in particular trumping the others in all around awfulness…
Summer Catch (2001, dir. Michael Tollin) – There’s nothing quite so bad as a thinly plotted “baseball” movie without a shred of quality acting or likable characters. Such is this unfortunate movie, which follows the story of poor little rich girl Jessica Biel romancing the schlubby wannabe baseball player Freddie Prinze, Jr. We’re meant to feel sorry for the lot, since they’re not able to get everything they want. Unfortunately, they’re terribly unlikable and unbelievable. It doesn’t help that the infuriating Matthew Lillard is around to make every scene obnoxiously over-the-top and annoying. I’d love to see the man perform sometime without acting like he’s intoxicated and has no control over his volume. And Biel, fresh off of her coming-out party in the skin mags after feeling too stifled by 7th Heaven, is disastrous here. You know it’s bad sign when Prinze is out-acting you by a mile. This “comedy” is simply no fun.
Kicking & Screaming (2005, dir. Jesse Dylan) – So, Will Ferrell can be entertaining in the right doses. In a sketch on SNL where he’s on-screen for a few minutes or in a low-key movie in which he’s not required to spazz out every five minutes – that’s when he’s most enjoyable. Take Kicking & Screaming, though – the title says it all. Ferrell plays a grown man who’s still pining for his father’s pride who takes over coaching a little league soccer team to prove he’s got the winning spirit. Only his character is such a hateful, detestable person, you judge whoever let him near those children. Perhaps the biggest crime being committed here is the casting of Robert Duvall as the hard-nosed father. A living screen legend relegated to such tripe is a downright shame. And Ferrell has never been more obnoxiously hammy and repulsive than in this movie. Give me Melinda and Melinda or Stranger Than Fiction Will Ferrell any day over this one.
Blue Crush (2002, dir. John Stockwell) – Even though it enjoyed some inexplicably positive reviews, this movie is a total dud. Aside from the fact that the producers were clearly overestimated the star-wattage of their lead actress – at the time Kate Bosworth was all the rage… still not clear on why – it doesn’t help that the movie is devoid of decent dialogue and has a grossly forced romantic subplot. Bosworth is Anna Marie, a built surfer chick who’s preparing for a big competition but falls for a pro football player after she cleans is grotesque hotel room (oh yeah, she’s a hotel maid). And say what you will about Michelle Rodriguez, but the woman has but one character to play – and it’s again evident here. But the real mar here is Sanoe Lake as the other best friend – all of her scenes are painful to watch, they’re so unconvincing. They might as well have had cue cards sitting in front of her for all the “acting” she was doing.
Happy Gilmore (1996, dir. Dennis Dugan) – Getting nervous? You know the number-one worst must be pretty awful to trump this sad excuse for a comedy. Perhaps it was the forced multiple viewings I endured on marching band trip buses, or perhaps it’s that Adam Sandler in the 90s = sickening man-children who get whatever they want. Playing yet another intellectually stunted baby, Sandler is Happy (yep, that’s his actual name), a has-been hockey player who picks up golf to win some money and save his granny’s house. And it plays out as ludicrously as it sounds. If you’ve seen Billy Madison, Big Daddy, or The Waterboy, you’ve basically already seen this movie… but with golf. And let’s not even mention the heinous decision to cast the wonderful Julie Bowen as the inexplicably doting love interest of this brainless wonder. Christopher McDonald does his level best to even out the suck as Happy’s rival Shooter McGavin, but the preposterous plot and duh gross-out jokes do nothing for this viewer.
Ed (1996, dir. Bill Couturie) – It’s a well-known fact that at the height of Friends hoopla, all of our favorite six-some made attempts to have major film careers. And with the exception of Courteney Cox landing the Scream movies, they almost universally flopped. But the worst of them all was this movie, which found Matt LeBlanc as Deuce Cooper, a baseball player who for some reason decides to befriend a chimp named Ed… who for some reason is really good at baseball. Perhaps what could’ve been a harmless throwaway kids movie turned into a god-awful mess – mostly thanks to the choice to use a mechanical monkey for many of the scenes. LeBlanc awkwardly goes through the motions of a meaningful “friendship” with the monkey robot as we watch in horror. Nothing interesting goes on, every performance is terrible (especially the robot monkey’s), there’s a loosely thrown-together storyline involving a plot to steal the monkey and this multi-Razzie-nominated picture has the distinction of being one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. This was definitely the worst birthday movie I ever saw. Damn you April, and you’re terrible release slate!