Almost everybody loves to recount their favorite movies. But it takes a brave soul to remember the worst movies of the year, because those are the types of films you never want to think about again, let alone rewatch.
But these are things I do for you, dear readers. If you happen upon any of these movies in the future, proceed at your own risk.
10. This Is 40
It's a Judd Apatow movie starring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann — sounds like comedy gold for the holidays, right? Wrong. What the movie delivers is an overlong, disjointed, mostly depressing look at two people confronting their impending middle age. There's a place for such a story, but don't try to sell it as a comedy.
9. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
The premise is just wild enough to spark curiosity; who wouldn't want to see the 16th president kicking ass while also going about his legislative duties? Unfortunately, director Timur Bekmambetov treats the subject matter almost as if it were actual history instead of trying to have fun with the premise. What's left is a so-so action movie that never thrills.
8. John Carter
The biggest problem in this Disney debacle was not the jettisoning of the "of Mars" portion of the title or Taylor Kitsch's relatively anemic acting skills. It's that writer/director Andrew Stanton and his co-writers decided that the Edgar Rice Burroughs story was familiar enough that they didn't need to fully set up the premise or the characters. Consequently, it's halfway through the film before you can get your bearings, and by then it's too late.
7. The Avengers
Yes, The Avengers made more than $1.4 billion worldwide, so it obviously has plenty of supporters. But it's yet another movie that takes way too long to get to the point, and then only makes a halfhearted attempt at putting forth a comprehensible story. The only saving grace is that the Hulk actually gets to have fun this time around; too bad he's the only one. Joss Whedon is one of the more creative people in the industry, but this just seemed too big for him.
6. Total Recall
One in a slew of remakes to come out recently, Total Recall seems especially unnecessary in hindsight. The original Arnold Schwarzenegger film is no classic, but at least it had a sense of fun about it. This version tries to be ultra-serious from the get-go, but it never succeeds as a thriller. Throw in a bland Colin Farrell and a waste of the talents of Bryan Cranston, and you have an utterly forgettable film.
5. Magic Mike
Otherwise known as "the male stripper movie," Magic Mike is actually really entertaining — for the first 20 minutes or so. But once you realize that director Steven Soderbergh is disguising the lack of a good story and an abundance of poor acting with the occasional striptease, things get boring pretty quickly.
4. Thin Ice
This little-seen indie starring a few big names — Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, Billy Crudup — should stay little-seen. The story about an insurance agent who gets in over his head on a potential deal is basically Fargo-lite. Writer/director Jill Sprecher is never able to balance the tone between comedy and drama, so the movie's twists and turns never have impact.
3. October Baby
If you're saying to yourself, "I've never heard of that movie," count yourself lucky. An anti-abortion story that cloaks itself in Christian pop songs and a plot of a young girl looking for answers about her heritage, October Baby is about as subtle as a jackhammer. The twists and turns get more and more unbelievable as the film goes along; the film may be pro-life, but it's actually nonsensical. If you're going to try to sell an issue this hard, at least have the common decency to give us good filmmaking.
2. This Means War
This Means War was released close to Valentine's Day to capitalize on couples looking for a romantic option. What they got was a love triangle between two CIA agents and an ordinary girl, where the epitome of cleverness is having the spies use their abundant resources to outwit each other instead of, you know, doing their jobs. But none of that would matter if their efforts were actually entertaining. They rarely are, making this a dud from beginning to end.
Steven Soderbergh gets the ignominious distinction of having not one but two films on this list. Haywire is an action thriller that never gets off the ground for a host of reasons, including star Gina Carano's lack of acting skills, dull fighting scenes and a failure by Soderbergh to adequately explain what the hell is going on. Instead we dutifully follow Carano's character from country to country, never sure of why we should care about her in the first place. And so we don't.