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We tried to stay away from the likes of Saw 5 and Prom Night, instead targeting movies that had pretensions to quality.

Worst Films of 2008 

We asked our writers to come up with a few of the worst movies they saw this year. We tried to stay away from the likes of Saw 5 and Prom Night, instead targeting movies that had pretensions to quality. Of the several hundred films released in Triangle theaters this year, these nine films are among the worst we remember.

27 Dresses—This excruciatingly predictable romance features a perennial bridesmaid (Katherine Heigl) who falls in love—with a "hero" who callously exploits her for his own gain. A deal breaker, I'm sorry. But, she forgives him. Grrr. —Laura Boyes

click to enlarge American Teen
  • American Teen

American Teen—Nanette Burstein's dubious documentary about a group of Indiana high school students was as phony as they come. Her cast of characters conformed to—rather than challenged—stereotypes (the jock, the geek, the rich bitch, the stud, the artist), and all behaved according to those expectations. Worst of all, Burstein indulged her subjects' hyperawareness of the theatrics and rules of reality television: Accordingly, her most charismatic and clever camera subject shewdly plays the role of the artsy outsider, staging an emotional meltdown and obliging an audience primed for catharsis by delivering a cruel line to her well-meaning but provincial parents. —David Fellerath

Changeling—Of Clint Eastwood's 2008 directorial double bill, Gran Torino might be more offensive, but this clunker is the most insulting. So banal, so cloying is this rendering of a Prohibition-era mother's search for her missing son that the presentation of this true story actually lacks verisimilitude, relegating a would-be period drama to a hackneyed bit of Oscar bait whose trailer would fit well as one of the mock previews preceding Tropic Thunder. Eastwood further indulges his chronic nihilism, while a wraithlike Angelina Jolie spends most of 140 long minutes weeping and intoning endless variations of "I just want my son back," some set to the same prestige primal scream she brayed in A Mighty Heart. —Neil Morris

Chapter 27—Ordinarily, it's not worth calling out low-budget indie films that only played one week on one area screen. But this movie was offensive: Jared Leto gained 60 pounds to transform himself into Mark David Chapman, the delusional idiot who murdered John Lennon. Sure, Leto was creepy, but this was an actor's vanity project that had no other reason to exist. The film offends both Lennon, by needlessly restaging his death, and J.D. Salinger, by turning Chapman into a self-styled Holden Caulfield. —David Fellerath

The House Bunny—A couple of boob shots shy of Skin-a-max, this execrable mess sets back the medium of cinema, not to mention Anna Faris' burgeoning career. Allow me to quote my own review: "When the Taliban holds their next recruitment drive, this film will be their most valuable tool. When the apes finally rise up and seize control of the planet, this will play on a continuous loop in their museums to demonstrate the inferiority of the beast Man. And, anytime I forget where I put my car keys, I'm cursing this crud for bludgeoning my brain cells." —Neil Morris

Miracle at St. Anna —The biggest casualty in the war of words between Spike Lee and Clint Eastwood over World War II movies turns out to be those subjected to this bloated, meandering misfire. James McBride's lunkheaded screenplay, adapted from his own novel, is as tone-deaf as it is insulting, reducing the whole of WWII to an extension of America's race war using ridiculously broad stereotypes. Toss in haphazard battle scenes and Terrence Blanchard's nail-on-a-chalkboard score, and you've the most disappointing film of the year, and one of the worst. —Neil Morris

Righteous Kill—Robert De Niro and Al Pacino star as aging, tough-talking NYPD cops teetering along the moral dividing line. However, with its obvious typecasting and palpable joylessness, this macabre spectacle is 20 years past its expiration date. Director Jon Avnet helms this police procedural with the dexterity of a lumberjack. Toss in De Niro's animatronic line readings, poorly written supporting roles, and consistently stale repartee between the two leads, and you're left with a geriatric revue kept on life support way past the point somebody should have pulled the plug. —Neil Morris

WALL-E—The cautionary environmental message of this film would be better served, and the target audience arguably just as entertained, by a movie entirely about WALL-E's post-apocalyptic clean-up job, rather than the condescending baby-talk of oversimplified issues and unfortunate fat jokes. This journalistic and tender study of a clean-up robot living alone on a garbage-filled Earth abandoned by human life is ruined by the arrival of WALL-E's one-dimensional love interest. The rickety, unnecessary plot also blames the obesity and laziness of the individual instead of the truly culpable corporate interests for Earth's environmental collapse. —Nathan Gelgud

The Women—Who asked for this remake/ travesty of the bitter 1939 bon bon? The fierce actresses in that version were unafraid of playing unlikable or ambitious vixens and put the cowardly modern ones, nattering their gummy, indigestible lumps of female empowerment platitudes, to shame. —Laura Boyes

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Hi,

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Really glad Meek's Cutoff got a mention! Reichardt is a burgeoning talent.

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