The 5 Worst
"Nick of Time" dir. John Badham (1995)
There was a time between his oft-missed indie roles in Tim Burton's earlier work and his very memorable roles in blockbusters like "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Alice in Wonderland" when Johnny Depp did a couple of movies that seem so far beneath him given his potential. "Nick of Time" is the prime example, featuring Depp as an average Joe whose daughter is kidnapped and won't be returned to him unless he kills a state governor. The movie was noted for taking place in real time, but that may be the only noteworthy thing about it. The "High Noon" sense of urgency is lost on the fact that the story is terribly formulaic, presenting lame twists where seemingly innocuous characters turn out to be part of the conspiracy. And what's worse is that this ordinary everyday guy, played by a very un-ordinary Depp, is dull as dirt and fails to become any more interesting throughout the plot, even when he reaches his heroic climax.
"Can't Hardly Wait" dir. Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan (1998)
Where "American Graffiti" championed, "Can't Hardly Wait" fell flat on its face. One night of watching a group of teens partying could potentially entertain in the way that so many 80s classics have -- if its plot had any form of meaning or style whatsoever. Unfortunately, this film didn't. Using one cliche after another and presenting an endless number of archetypal and stereotypical characters -- the pretty popular girl, the lovable geek, the jerk jock -- the only thing we can hardly wait for is the moment this movie either ends or becomes self-aware enough to parody itself, as others have done in later years (watch "Not Another Teen Movie" to understand how this movie went wrong). Jennifer Love Hewitt's Amanda is especially annoying, and it somehow seems as though we're expected to feel sorry for her despite how brainy and beautiful -- and unbearable whiny -- she is throughout the whole film.
"Dude, Where's My Car?" dir. Danny Leiner (2000)
Remember when "The Hangover" made its way into theaters and became an instant hit? It may owe a lot of credit to "Dude, Where's My Car?" -- which has virtually the same plot -- in that it seemed to learn the do's and don't's (mostly don't's) of how to make a hangover movie into as much fun as the drunken night that preceded it. In "Dude, Where's My Car?," two idiots (played by none other than Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott) try to figure out where they left their car despite their complete lack of memory of the previous night's events, leading them on a -- and I use this term loosely -- comical journey to find it. As proven by the aforementioned "Hangover," the concept definitely has some entertainment value and the element of relevance (who hasn't gone through exactly the same thing at least once?), but the absurd science-fiction elements in "Dude" and the overabundance of idiocy was more than most people could handle.
"Enter the Void" dir. Gaspar Noe (2009)
The title here speaks really speaks for itself. Gaspar Noe called the film a "psychedelic melodrama," which may be true if "psychedelic" meant headache-inducing and "melodrama" meant downer. The director certainly brings his own filmmaking style to the film, but that inevitably places it into the frustrating category of "all flash, no substance." The story details the out-of-body experience of an American drug dealer living in Tokyo the night he's been shot by the police. What follows is some panoramic cinematography that is supposed to emulate a drug-induced experience and a disturbing (and not in a good way) set of flashbacks of the protagonist in question and his creepy relationship with his sister, which includes a spiritual entry into both her head and her vagina. Naturally.
"Project X" dir. Nima Nourizadeh (2012)
An epic night of fun at a teenager's birthday party where things -- gasp -- begin to spiral out of control. That's the logline for "Project X," a very wild movie that unfortunately glorifies stupidity as much as it likely influences it. The film's ill-fitting camera work is enough to make you scratch your head, but the main problem here is the excess of pretty much every form of self-indulgence you can possibly imagine. It's been described as "Superbad" on crack, when in reality it's more along the lines of "The Wolf of Wall Street" on crack, only without any character development or deft social commentary that leads you to believe this film may actually have a justification for its existence that doesn't force you to roll your eyes.
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