Winter Movie Preview: First 5 No-Nos of the New Year

Winter is a season where bad movies are like landmines. These are all the movies every year that the studios lost confidence in so they release them during months when the box office historically does so-so and cross the fingers on making money back through a surprise hit. The only exception is usually Valentine’s Day weekend, which has become competitive since Will Smith and Hitch broke records back in 2005.

The reason for the landmine analogy is that a lot of these movies seem either cute, cool, funny or good in premise (the reason the studio made them in the first place) but they’re actually something terrible.

That’s where I come in. More critical than ever is my winter list of movies not to see for this reason (at least so I believe). I think some of them speak for themselves, but some of them are ever so deceiving, using techniques like hot (as in currently popular) actors/actresses and excessive trailer shenanigans.

5. Valentine’s Day (Feb. 12)


The Word: Can you count the number of stars in this film? I would venture a large population of Americans can’t – and so a large population of Americans will go see Valentine’s Day, the more explicitly named version of last year’s star-studded He’s Just Not That Into You. Let’s see how I do: Bradley Cooper, Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Biel, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Alba, Patrick Dempsey, Topher Grace, Taylor Swift, Taylor Lautner (gasp!), Emma Roberts, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Queen Latifah, Shirley MacLaine, George Lopez and … Julia Roberts! Okay, I cheated. The trailer is like a visual word search of stars and then it tries to sneak in Roberts right at the end, who probably agreed because the man who made her famous, Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman) directs.

My Thoughts: I certainly trust a guy like Garry Marshall to properly direct a romantic comedy, so this could end up being watchable, but it really bothers me when studios sign a dozen or so big names to be in a film because they’re only in it for several minutes so they can pay them less. Then they expect us to go because it has “so many good people in it.” If He’s Just Not That Into You had been well-received last year, maybe I sing a different tune, but I’m not about to get starry-eyed and blindly shell money out for this one.

4. From Paris With Love (Feb. 19)


The Word: The Taken team of director Pierre Morel and writer Luc Besson brings us a Hollywood style buddy detective action comedy set in Paris and starring an American (John Travolta) and an Irishman (Jonathan Rhys Myers).  After The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Travolta has found yet another way to wear his facial hair and be batsh*t crazy. I suppose if unlikely duo was the idea Lionsgate had in mind, then they found it. Travolta and Rhys Myers are about as opposite and random as you can get. Together, they try and stop a terrorist plot using unorthodox methods.

My Thoughts: I’d normally be the first to jump on the wagon of the follow-up film of a director who does really well as Morel did with Taken, but this smells of sell-out. I don’t have a feeling that Travolta will be better than his annoying performance in “Pelham” and I don’t think Rhys Myers, as much as I enjoy his work, has enough to balance him. I sniff another typical buddy comedy from Besson, along the lines of Taxi more so than Taken or The Transporter.

3. When in Rome (Jan. 29)


The Word: The lovable petit blonde, Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) gets her first star vehicle, only it’s Disney and was written by the guys who wrote Old Dogs. It also happens to have a completely ridiculous premise: an unlucky bachelorette goes to Rome for a wedding and steals coins from the fountain, which it is said will make the former owners of those coins fall madly in love with her. Soon she has more suitors than she can handle, most notably Josh Duhamel (Transformers), Jon Heder and Will Arnett.

My Thoughts: Even if Bell and Duhamel had the star-power to carry this film to any semblance of box office success, Disney kills it with the Old Dogs writers (obviously they didn’t expect that film to tank when they made this one) and Mark Steven Johnson, director of – believe it or not – Ghost Rider and Daredevil. Top it off with a cliché title/excuse to film in a romantic city and you have formula garbage. No thank you.

2. Tooth Fairy (Jan. 22)toothfairy_poster

The Word: Dwayne “I guess he’s no longer The Rock” Johnson stars as a minor league hockey player famous for knocking players’ teeth out who gets punished for being such a douche bag by the leader of the tooth fairies (Julie Andrews) and is sentenced to serve as a tooth fairy himself. Yes, they pay people in Hollywood to come up with this stuff, six writers, in fact.

My Thoughts: Dwayne Johnson must have some serious debt. The dude has no problem being in these horrific kids movies such as Race to Witch Mountain and The Game Plan when he could be making action movies that better suit his talents. Tooth Fairy looks to be another flop for him, shrinking him down with horrid green screen technique among other things with only a Billy Crystal joke in the trailer as the saving grace. If you need me to convince you not to see this, your mommy or daddy probably restricts your Internet usage.

1. The Spy Next Door (Jan. 15)


The Word: Speaking of action stars in kids’ movies, here we have yet another comedy with the premise of a spy/navy seal/ass-kicker who has done incredible things and will now face his toughest challenge yet – babysitting. Jackie Chan is the latest to try this concept, a spy who must protect a family and learns to babysit using his super spy tools.

My Thoughts: Does Lionsgate honestly think they have people fooled? This movie has been made before, at least once (The Pacifier with Vin Diesel) and more times in slight variations. Nothing is more annoying at the movies than obviously recycled trash and that’s exactly what The Spy Next Door is. Jackie Chan hasn’t done comedy well if it hasn’t co-starred Chris Tucker or Owen Wilson. I sincerely doubt we have another Paul Blart: Mall Cop on our hands with this one. If we do, that’s outrageous and America should be ashamed.

I’ll finish up my Top 10 movies worth looking into tomorrow, so keep checking back.


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