02cinpic_hyde

Every movie sends a message. Some filmmakers are intentional with what they say with their work. Too many aren’t. But whether intended or not, there are ideas encoded in the stories we tell. If a writer does their job well, then they can use their film to call people to act better, or to reconsider the world they live in, or push for some other manner of positive change. But if there’s no one thinking behind the helm, then a film can end up saying something truly ugly. Here are the movies of 2012 that, whether through a simple lack of thought in the writing or spectacularly misaimed intent, sent the worst messages to audiences.

Project X

“WOO YEAH! Boozin’ it up and punchin’ neighbors and BITCHES FOR EVERYBODY”

Of course the king of the douchebros Todd Philips produced this odious chunk of tripe. A giant, oozing Akira-esque monstrosity of every antisocial, misogynistic, vaguely (ironically) homoerotic, idiotic party trope ever devised, this piece of footage should not have been found. Of course it’s getting a sequel.

God Bless America 

“Society is too mean. NOW WATCH THIS ANGRY GUY WASTE THESE CHUMPS!”

It’s so baffling that this came from Bobcat Goldthwait, who’s historically done such a great job of balancing a compassionate nature with some really dark humor (Check out Sleeping Dogs Lie and World’s Greatest Dad). This is a cruel film that calls for kindness, excoriating the lack of civility in American culture while at the same time basing most of it’s humor in having various icons of that incivility viciously gunned down by the protagonists. It’s baffling and ugly.

Ted

“Hold on to your childhood forever. Cling to it like grim death”

All throughout Ted, the eponymous Seth MacFarlane-voiced CGI teddy bear acts as a millstone around Mark Wahlberg’s neck, continually thwarting his attempts to finally become a grown-up. The bear is a symbol of Wahlberg’s immaturity, exemplified most in the recurrent “bros before hos” attitude on display. In the end, when it looks like Ted has died or whatever, Wahlberg lets him go… only for Ted to come back. And so the hard partier goes on, with Walhberg somehow suddenly able to have balance in his life. The movie is trying to have its cake and eat it, too, at the expense of any kind of thematic coherence. Coming from a writer who leans on 80’s references so hard they get smothered, this is not at all surprising, really.

The Amazing Spider-Man

“The best promises are the kind you can’t keep.”

Ugh. UGH. One of the two lessons in this article that are so terrible that I didn’t even need to add anything to what was already said in the films themselves. Compare this to “With great power comes great responsibility.” Given the choice between two heroes who abide by those respective mantras, which would you prefer? The line is emblematic of how wrongheaded this film is, and how badly it misses what makes Spider-Man a great superhero. For reference, this is said by Peter Parker when he decides to continue to romantically pursue Gwen Stacy, breaking the promise he made to her father as he died. That scene might as well have been followed by Peter taking an unholy defecation on the man’s grave.

Frankenweenie

“Don’t worry, children – you don’t have to learn to deal with death.”

This is basically Ted‘s lesson, but for the kiddos. A really, really good thing for youngsters to learn is how to understand and cope with mortality. We do not teach our children this, however. Ours is a society that worships youth, and goes all Three Wise Monkeys when it comes to dealing with death. So it’s rather unfortunate that Frankenweenicontinues the trend. Apparently, young Victor Frankenstein will be able to continue to resurrect his dead dog in perpetuity. All because he loves little Sparky so much that his science can bring him back (seriously, the movie tells us that his playing god works because he loves his pet). Imagine how that’ll make Junior feel when their love can’t bring the parakeet back.

Atlas Shrugged: Part II

“Treat the rich better OR THEY’LL GO ON STRIKE.”

As befits everything about the work of Ayn Rand, the plot of Atlas Shrugged plays like masturbatory fodder for stoned libertarians and people who cry themselves to sleep because Mitt Romney wasn’t elected. Big mean gubmint and the worthless peons of society are oppressing the rich, so the rich all run away to a secret valley to teach those ingrate parasites a lesson. It’s no exaggeration at all to say that this movie preaches absolutely everything that is wrong with America today.

Life of Pi

“Everyone was tigers, therefore God. Or something.”

Look. It’s impossible to say that your story will “make [the listener] believe in God” and live up to it. There’s just no way. But even so, Life of Pi‘s baffling, barely-has-anything-to-do-with-the-plot-anyway homily about the nature of faith will appeal to people who think Oprah is deep, and no one else. “You have heard two stories – which do you prefer, the ugly but realistic one or the fantastical but uplifting one?” That’s a call for delusion, not a good defense of faith or proof of God. It’s all so silly.

Hyde Park on Hudson

“No promises were broken, because none were made.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt spends this movie treating the women in his life like dirt and getting away with it scot-free. This is because none of him can stay mad at him, the scamp! So what if he treats your emotions the way a cat treats a mouse toy and breaks all his promises to you? That just goes to show that it was foolish of you to believe his promises, you silly goose! It’s not him, it’s you! He’s a Great Man, and you can’t really hold Great Men to a higher standard of behavior. After all, he had important work to focus on. What if they’d run out of hot dogs at their picnic with the King and Queen? Ugh.