2014 Films that Gobbled

There are so many mediocre movies these days that it's a distinction to be worthy of being singled out as a turkey. For me, the gobblers fall into two categories: those rated I for Incompetence and H for hyped beyond any virtue they might have had. Here's a digest of films I saw in 2014 that should be stricken from your Netflix cue.

August Osage County  (Rated H)

Okay, so it is possible for Meryl Streep to give a bad performance! She plays Mama Violet to a trio of screech daughters, but ain't nobody gonna out-yell Streep in this histrionic Oklahoma buffalo turd masquerading as a drama. I wished she had been a shrinking Violet.

Dallas Buyers Club (Rated H)

I'm willing to cut a deal. I'll admit that Matthew McConaughey has made himself into a decent actor if you promise not to tell me that this trite film is serious commentary on the 1980s, the AIDS crisis, sexual identity, or an awakening social consciousness. It's really like an episode of the TV series Dallas with too many swears and "adult themes" to have been green lighted. I will allow you to tell me that it is commentary on Texas.
Exscape from Tomorow

Escape from Tomorrow (Rated I)

Oh my goodness what a good director could have done with this material! Alas, the only thing interesting about Randy Moore's film is that he had to fend off potential lawsuits from Disney and Siemens to get it released. Dad Jim (Roy Abramsohn) comes unglued at Disney World when he finds out he's lost his job. Filmed in black and white, we see how Disney World is the vehicle for a descent into madness–its robots, faux dreamscape, and hyper-capitalism a gateway to debauchery, creepy stalking, and perhaps something even more sinister. It's hard to know if Moore was making social commentary or the worst sci-fi film since Plan 9 from Outer Space. Moore's film reminds me of ones we used to view and reject for a local film fest after commenting, "He might become a decent filmmaker if he ever grows up." Special actor horns to Abramsohn, who seems to be auditioning for a Chevy Chase bio-pic.

Force Majeure  (Rated H/I)

Other than offering a peek at the peaks of the French Alps, I can't think of a single reason why this Swedish snoozer should have been made. Nuclear family goes on ski holiday, where the raveling seams of a bad Yuppie marriage come apart when dad gets scared. That's about it. Oh, I forgot, there's also a very annoying soundtrack. This one pretends to be subtle, but that's because its director has no idea how to create believable tension.

Labor Day (Rated I)

Can Kate Winslet find love in a pie? Especially one baked by the convicted murderer and prison escapee that's holding her and her son hostage? Well… he is mighty handy as a carpenter as well, so sure, that could happen. This risible Jason Reitman film is an insult to the intelligence of a concrete block.

The Lego Movie (Rated H)

I'm officially baffled. Lots of people had this on their best-of lists. I've heard it called clever, subversive, and visually stunning. The film I couldn't watch any more after a half hour was obvious, saccharine, blocky, and dull. Check out the similarly named Logorama if you want to see subversive and clever; that 2009 short says more in 16 minutes than Lego manages in 100. All The Lego Movie really manages to do is confirm my thesis that movies are in serious trouble. It also made me wonder what happened to the CGI evolution. The herky-jerky movements and garishness of Lego make the old Rocky and Bullwinkle 'toons look prescient.

Wolf of Wall Street (Rated H)

Okay, I'll make another offer. If you will agree with me that Leo DiCaprio will never make us see anything other than his smug supercilious self on the screen, I'll agree to give Marty Scorsese one more chance before I declare him yesterday's bagel and toss him to the birds. Leo plays a sleaze ball. What? You expected Mary Poppins? Watching three hours of Leo behaving badly is like being stuck in a waiting room with nothing but People Magazine to read. 

A final note: I didn't hate Boyhood, which was okay. It was, however, way over-hyped. I found its central hook of filming real people over a long period puzzling within a fictional narrative. Recent viewings of Michael Apted's magisterial 7 Up series drive home the differences.

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