Bad movies can be a lot of fun, and the annual Golden Raspberry Awards (“The Razzies”) celebrate the very worst the film biz has to offer. For 28 years The Razzies, the brainchild of one John Wilson, a portly, avuncular film buff and author, has, in sly and hilarious fashion, taken Hollywood to task over its ceaseless outpouring of big-budget mind-rot.
The Razzies also offers breezy yet pointed critiques of films that cross the line from bad to downright shameful – this year’s gay-bashing Adam Sandler “comedy” I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and Eddie Murphy’s racially offensive turns in the wince-fest Norbit come immediately to mind. Those two films, along with a list of other turkeys, got a dose of well-deserved comeuppance at the ‘08 Razzies. The competition was stiff, but this year belonged to Eddie and Lindsay Lohan as they nearly shut out their rivals in each and every category. But more on that later.
The hour-long ceremony was held at Magicopolis on 4th Street. The opening number, performed with slightly off-key gusto by Paula Einstein and Dan E. Campbell (in drag) set the “we don’t take this seriously and neither should you” tone for the show. Next Bill A. Jones, an MC with more smarm than charm, greeted the audience, and what followed was a campy “anti-Oscars,” replete with well-scrubbed men in tuxes, and fetching young women in evening dresses opening shiny envelopes containing the names of the winners.
One conspicuous but not surprising difference between The Razzies and the Oscars was the complete lack of acceptance speeches. With the notable exception of Halle Berry, who in 2004 showed up clutching her Best Actress Oscar to accept the Worst Actress Razzie for her work in Catwoman, as a group the acting community avoids the Razzies like a vampire avoids sunlight. When Ben Affleck was presented his Razzie on Larry King Live honoring his work in Gigli, Paycheck, and Daredevil – a rare trifecta of bad acting – he promptly smashed it to bits. But as good fortune and irony would have it, the shattered statuette, valued at approximately $4.98, sold for enough money on eBay to cover the hall rental for the next year’s ceremony.
The Razzies might also be subtitled “The Revenge of the Critics,” as the ceremony’s most entertaining moments were the many savagely funny review quotes from media outlets ranging from the Internet to major print and TV. Here’s what a critic had to say about Bratz, the film based on the successful line of dolls that teaches so-called ‘tweens that you’re never too young to start dressing like a slut:
“I’m tempted to say Bratz was the work of Satan, but that would be a cheap shot at the Dark Lord.”
On Evan Almighty, the painfully unfunny and bloated sequel to Bruce Almighty starring Steve Carell:
“There are more laughs in the Book of Job than in this movie.”
On I Know Who Killed Me, Lindsay Lohan’s good twin/bad twin thriller:
“The Parent Trap with pasties.”
On Jim Carrey’s work in The Number 23:
“[Like] casting Jerry Lewis in Hamlet.”
On Daddy Day Camp, the sequel to Daddy Day Care:
“Makes Meatballs look like Ingmar Bergman.”
And: “Cuba Gooding Jr.’s performance is not so much acting as epilepsy.”
Playing twins (we think) in I Know Who Killed Me, Lohan won a pair of Worst Actress statuettes when she received the same number of votes for both roles. For the scene in which she appears opposite herself in the movie’s finale, Lohan also pulled off a win for Worst Screen Couple. With eight wins out of nine nominations, I Know broke the long-standing record for most Razzies won by a single film, besting previous champs Showgirls and Scientology sci-fi epic Battlefield Earth, each with seven wins. I Know basically ran the table, copping awards for Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Excuse for a Horror Movie, and Worst Remake or Rip-Off, where it competed as both a rip-off of the Hostel and Saw horror flicks and a perverse remake of the 1960s sitcom The Patty Duke Show.
Eddie Murphy, only a year earlier a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee for his spectacular performance in Dreamgirls, became the first performer ever to win three of the four Worst Acting trophies in a single year — all for his multiple roles in Norbit. As the nerdy title character, Eddie was named Worst Actor, and for his ethnically insensitive portrayal of Mr. Wong he nabbed Worst Supporting Actor. Finally, Murphy took home the trophy for Worst Supporting Actress for his work as Rasputia, 400 pounds of shrieking, latex-encased evil. Nice!
It’s playful spirit notwithstanding, The Razzies place into perspective what it truly means to be a bad movie. There is a world of difference between, say, sincere well-intended Ed Wood-bad (Plan 9 From Outer Space), and teen torture porn-bad (Saw, Hostel). There is “we really wanted to make a great film but we failed”-bad (There Will Be Blood), and the kind of poorly conceived and sloppily executed bad that in its own witless fashion holds the audience in contempt (Evan Almighty and Daddy Day Camp).
Could The Razzies be trying to tell Hollywood that dung heaps like I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, despite their huge box office, are beneath the intelligence of the average lemur, and that people will actually pay to see smart, well-made, and thoughtfully entertaining films? Probably. Will the decision-makers in Hollywood ever take heed? The wonderful Juno grossed over $130 million, more than Bratz, Daddy Day Camp, gore-a-thons Hostel II, The Hills Have Eyes II, and Hannibal Rising combined! Doesn’t that tell the suits out there something? Hey, I’m sure they’ll listen. After all, they just made Witless Protection and Jumpers, right?