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All Seth Rogen Movies, Ranked By Tomatometer

One-season wonder Freaks and Geeks had a startling amount of its young alums go on to have successful Hollywood careers, Seth Rogen chief among them. He followed mentor Judd Apatow into the movie game with The 40 Year-Old Virgin, starring in a memorable supporting role. Rogen was then upgraded to lead status for Apatow’s follow-up Knocked Up, and the movie’s critical and box office success showed Virgin was no fluke, heralding a significant sea change in mainstream American comedy. Rogen has remained the face of this bong- and bro-tastic style of comedy, also featuring big rips of heartfelt emotion – like Animal House by way of James L. Brooks – in repeated movie hits like Superbad, Pineapple Express, This Is the End, Neighbors, and The Disaster Artist.

He’s been amassing an impressive résumé as producer (not just on his own starring films, but also the likes of Blockers and Good Boys) and director, helming This Is the End, The Interview, and episodes of Future Man and Preacher. His latest comedy was An American Pickle. And now we’re looking at all of Seth Rogen’s movies, ranked by Tomatometer!

#32
#32
Adjusted Score: 14708%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The Compson family struggles to adjust to the changes in society during the early 20th century in the Deep South.... [More]
Directed By: James Franco

#31

Zeroville (2019)
23%

#31
Adjusted Score: 23035%
Critics Consensus: Potentially an ironic favorite for cult film fans, Zeroville is a fundamentally misguided -- and descriptively titled -- passion project for its director and star.
Synopsis: With two tattoos of Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor on his shaved head, Vikar rides a bus into Hollywood and... [More]
Directed By: James Franco

#30

The Guilt Trip (2012)
37%

#30
Adjusted Score: 41025%
Critics Consensus: Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand have enough chemistry to drive a solidly assembled comedy; unfortunately, The Guilt Trip has a lemon of a script and is perilously low on comedic fuel.
Synopsis: Before embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime road trip, Andy Brewster pays a visit to his overbearing mother, Joyce. That proves to... [More]
Directed By: Anne Fletcher

#29

The Green Hornet (2011)
44%

#29
Adjusted Score: 53339%
Critics Consensus: It's sporadically entertaining, but The Green Hornet never approaches the surreal heights suggested by a Michel Gondry/Seth Rogen collaboration.
Synopsis: Britt Reid (Seth Rogen), the heir to the largest newspaper fortune in Los Angeles, is a spoiled playboy who has... [More]
Directed By: Michel Gondry

#28

The Interview (2014)
51%

#28
Adjusted Score: 55950%
Critics Consensus: Unfortunately overshadowed by controversy (and under-screened as a result), The Interview's screenplay offers middling laughs bolstered by its two likable leads.
Synopsis: Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) are the team behind the popular tabloid-TV show "Skylark... [More]
Directed By: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 59740%
Critics Consensus: Though it has a mean streak, and does not cater to all tastes, Observe and Report has gut-busting laughs and a fully committed Seth Rogen in irresistible form.
Synopsis: As head of security at the Forest Ridge Mall, Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen) takes his job very seriously, enforcing mall... [More]
Directed By: Jody Hill

#26

The Lion King (2019)
52%

#26
Adjusted Score: 78227%
Critics Consensus: While it can take pride in its visual achievements,The Lion King is a by-the-numbers retelling that lacks the energy and heart that made the original so beloved--though for some fans that may just be enough.
Synopsis: Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny on the plains of Africa. But... [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 60414%
Critics Consensus: Brisk, funny, and sweetly raunchy, For a Good Time, Call... adds to the recent string of R-rated female comedies while serving as an overdue coming out party for the charming Ari Graynor.
Synopsis: Reserved Lauren (Lauren Anne Miller) and bubbly Katie (Ari Graynor) are polar opposites and past enemies. However, when both gals... [More]
Directed By: Jamie Travis

#24
Adjusted Score: 75833%
Critics Consensus: Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising may not be strictly necessary, but it still wrings a surprising amount of humor from a recycled premise with a distaff twist.
Synopsis: Life is good for Mac Radner (Seth Rogen) and pregnant wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) until the unruly sisters of Kappa... [More]
Directed By: Nicholas Stoller

#23
Adjusted Score: 73012%
Critics Consensus: Zack and Miri Make a Porno is a modest success for Kevin Smith, due in large part to the charm of Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks.
Synopsis: Lifelong friends and now roommates, Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) are buried under a mountain of debt. When... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Smith

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: 76191%
Critics Consensus: Both funny and scattershot, this loose-knit action/buddy/stoner comedy bridges genres and keeps a steady tempo of low-ball laughs.
Synopsis: Stoner Dale Denton's (Seth Rogen) enjoyment of a rare strain of marijuana may prove fatal when he drops his roach... [More]
Directed By: David Gordon Green

#21

Funny People (2009)
69%

#21
Adjusted Score: 77832%
Critics Consensus: Funny People features the requisite humor, as well as considerable emotional depth, resulting in Judd Apatow's most mature film to date.
Synopsis: Recently learning that he has a fatal disease, comic George Simmons (Adam Sandler) spots a struggling performer named Ira (Seth... [More]
Directed By: Judd Apatow

#20

The Night Before (2015)
69%

#20
Adjusted Score: 74217%
Critics Consensus: The Night Before provokes enough belly laughs to qualify as a worthwhile addition to the list of Christmas comedies worth revisiting, even if it isn't quite as consistent as the classics.
Synopsis: For the last 10 years, lifelong buddies Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie) have gathered on... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Levine

#19

Paul (2011)

#19
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: For the past 60 years, a wisecracking alien named Paul (Seth Rogen) has resided at a top-secret military base in... [More]
Directed By: Greg Mottola

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 83247%
Critics Consensus: An American Pickle lacks the tart snap viewers might expect given its creative premise, but Seth Rogen's dual performance makes this a low-key comedy to relish.
Synopsis: Preserved in pickle brine for 100 years, an Orthodox Jewish factory worker wakes up in New York City and tracks... [More]
Directed By: Brandon Trost

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When a meteor full of space gunk transforms Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) into a giant, the government renames her Ginormica... [More]

#16

Neighbors (2014)
73%

#16
Adjusted Score: 81521%
Critics Consensus: With plenty of bawdy humor evenly spread between its well-matched stars, Neighbors earns its R rating -- and filmgoers' laughs.
Synopsis: New parents Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) move to the suburbs when they welcome an infant daughter into... [More]
Directed By: Nicholas Stoller

#15

Take This Waltz (2011)
79%

#15
Adjusted Score: 83634%
Critics Consensus: Featuring excellent work from an outstanding cast, the bittersweet drama Waltz proves that in the right hands, a familiar tale can still ring true.
Synopsis: A young woman (Michelle Williams) is torn between the husband (Seth Rogen) that she loves and a new man (Luke... [More]
Directed By: Sarah Polley

#14
Adjusted Score: 84142%
Critics Consensus: Horton Hears A Who! is both whimsical and heartwarming, and is the rare Dr. Seuss adaptation that stays true to the spirit of the source material.
Synopsis: Animated elephant Horton (Jim Carrey) finds a speck of dust floating in the Jungle of Nool. Upon investigation of the... [More]

#13
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Of the three Grace children, Jared (Freddie Highmore) has always been thought of as the troublemaker. So when strange things... [More]
Directed By: Mark Waters

#12

Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)
81%

#12
Adjusted Score: 86841%
Critics Consensus: The storyline arc may seem a tad familiar to fans of the original, but Kung Fu Panda 2 offers enough action, comedy, and visual sparkle to compensate.
Synopsis: Now known as the Dragon Warrior, Po (Jack Black) protects the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung... [More]
Directed By: Jennifer Yuh Nelson

#11

Long Shot (2019)
81%

#11
Adjusted Score: 99821%
Critics Consensus: A sharp and deceptively layered comedy that's further fueled by the odd couple chemistry of its leads, this Long Shot largely hits its marks.
Synopsis: Fred Flarsky is a gifted and free-spirited journalist who has a knack for getting into trouble. Charlotte Field is one... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Levine

#10

Sausage Party (2016)
82%

#10
Adjusted Score: 95817%
Critics Consensus: Sausage Party is definitely offensive, but backs up its enthusiastic profanity with an impressively high laugh-to-gag ratio -- and a surprisingly thought-provoking storyline.
Synopsis: Life is good for all the food items that occupy the shelves at the local supermarket. Frank (Seth Rogen) the... [More]

#9

This Is the End (2013)
83%

#9
Adjusted Score: 91205%
Critics Consensus: Energetic, self-deprecating performances and enough guffaw-inducing humor make up for the flaws in This Is the End loosely written script.
Synopsis: In Hollywood, actor James Franco is throwing a party with a slew of celebrity pals. Among those in attendance are... [More]
Directed By: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 92447%
Critics Consensus: Steve Carell's first star turn scores big with a tender treatment of its titular underdog, using raunchy but realistically funny comedy to connect with adult audiences.
Synopsis: Andy Stitzer (Steve Carell) is an amiable single guy who works at a big-box store. Living alone, 40-year-old Andy spends... [More]
Directed By: Judd Apatow

#7

Steve Jobs (2015)
85%

#7
Adjusted Score: 98216%
Critics Consensus: Like the tech giant co-founded by its subject, Steve Jobs gathers brilliant people to deliver a product whose elegance belies the intricate complexities at its core.
Synopsis: With public anticipation running high, Apple Inc. co-founders Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) and Steve "Woz" Wozniak get ready to unveil... [More]
Directed By: Danny Boyle

#6

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
87%

#6
Adjusted Score: 96901%
Critics Consensus: Kung Fu Panda 3 boasts the requisite visual splendor, but like its rotund protagonist, this sequel's narrative is also surprisingly nimble, adding up to animated fun for the whole family.
Synopsis: Living large and loving life, Po (Jack Black) realizes that he has a lot to learn if he's going to... [More]

#5

Kung Fu Panda (2008)
87%

#5
Adjusted Score: 94513%
Critics Consensus: Kung Fu Panda has a familiar message, but the pleasing mix of humor, swift martial arts action, and colorful animation makes for winning Summer entertainment.
Synopsis: Po the panda (Jack Black) works in his family's noodle shop and dreams of becoming a kung-fu master. His dream... [More]

#4

Superbad (2007)
88%

#4
Adjusted Score: 96000%
Critics Consensus: Deftly balancing vulgarity and sincerity while placing its protagonists in excessive situations, Superbad is an authentic take on friendship and the overarching awkwardness of the high school experience.
Synopsis: High-school seniors Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) have high hopes for a graduation party: The co-dependent teens plan... [More]
Directed By: Greg Mottola

#3

Knocked Up (2007)
89%

#3
Adjusted Score: 100057%
Critics Consensus: Knocked Up is a hilarious, poignant and refreshing look at the rigors of courtship and child-rearing, with a sometimes raunchy, yet savvy script that is ably acted and directed.
Synopsis: Rising journalist Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) hits a serious bump in the road after a one-night stand with irresponsible slacker... [More]
Directed By: Judd Apatow

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 116545%
Critics Consensus: Oh, hai Mark. The Disaster Artist is a surprisingly poignant and charming movie-about-a-movie that explores the creative process with unexpected delicacy.
Synopsis: The incredible true story of aspiring filmmaker and Hollywood outsider Tommy Wiseau as he and his best friend defiantly pursue... [More]
Directed By: James Franco

#1

50/50 (2011)

#1
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Adam Lerner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has always tried to take good care of his health, so it comes as a cruel... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Levine

Thumbnail image: Columbia Pictures, Universal / courtesy Everett Collection 

The movie business is difficult; that shouldn’t surprise anyone. A lot of thought and care and preparation — not to mention money — goes into the filmmaking process, and sometimes the end result just doesn’t quite turn out the way its creators intended. But even when a film production goes sideways, for whatever reason, there’s often a glimmer of something incredible hidden beneath the botched line deliveries, mediocre special effects, and general ineptitude on display. Sometimes, there are great scenes to be found in truly Rotten movies.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled an initial list of 30 examples in which an inspiring exchange, an ingeniously staged action sequence, or a hilarious performance helped shine a light on otherwise mediocre productions. We’re talking about genuinely outstanding moments — not ones we find ironically amusing — that might feel right at home in more expertly crafted films. There are, of course, countless more we could have included, but we’ll save those for the next installment of this series. And, if there are any that you think belong here, let us know in the comments!


20th Century Fox

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace (1999) 52%

DARTH MAUL vs. QUI-GON AND OBI-WAN
The long-awaited Star Wars prequel introduced us to such inexplicable horrors as Jar Jar Binks, midi-chlorians, and mind-numbing Galactic Senate debates, but the film did offer an awesome glimpse of what it could have been. The final battle pitting Darth Maul against Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of the most dynamic lightsaber duels we’ve ever gotten, thanks in part to the martial arts talent of Ray Park as the Zabrak Sith Lord. Not only is the fight kinetic and inventive, who can forget the iconic moment when that second crimson beam emerges from Darth Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber?


Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) 35%

WINGSUIT FLIGHT
The Transformers franchise is largely a jumbled mess of CGI, explosions, stilted dialogue, and perfunctory storytelling. That said, Michael Bay knows his way around visual spectacle, and while Dark of the Moon features its fair share of incomprehensible robot mayhem, there is one practical stunt (read: they did it for real) in the film that is genuinely thrilling. Bay enlisted the aid of experienced wingsuit flyers to jump off the Sears Tower and soar between Chicago’s skyscrapers as chaos unfolds all around them. It’s impressive, it’s majestic, and it’s just cool as hell. If only the rest of the movie could match this three-minute sequence…


Final Destination 2 (2003)

OPENING HIGHWAY PILEUP
None of the Final Destination movies is particularly well-reviewed (Final Destination 5 is the only Fresh one at 62%), and for the most part, they all feel like a series of morbid Rube Goldberg-esque vignettes strung together by the thinnest of plots. A few of those gory scenarios, however, are surprisingly inventive, and none of them tops the opening to Final Destination 2, which sets its wheels in motion with an immaculately staged, over-the-top highway pileup that is equal parts ridiculous, harrowing, and literally explosive. Nothing else in the film even comes close.


Distant Horizon

(Photo by Distant Horizon)

Flashpoint (2007) 40%

DONNIE YEN vs. COLLIN CHOU
You may know Donnie Yen from Ip Man or Rogue One, and you may know Collin Chou as Seraph from the Matrix sequels, but chances are you haven’t seen this Hong Kong action thriller by Wilson Yip (who also directed the Ip Man movies). The story is a predictably rote potboiler about a loose-cannon cop who takes on a crime syndicate, but the climactic battle between Yen’s Detective Ma and Chou’s gangster Tony is savage and visceral, with bone-crushing stunt work and Yen adding MMA techniques to his more traditional martial arts style.


Death Sentence (2007) 20%

PARKING GARAGE SINGLE TAKE
Since directing and co-writing the first Saw, James Wan has introduced the world to the Conjuring universe, brought us the best-reviewed Fast and Furious movie, and earned the right to bring DC’s Aquaman to the big screen. Before all of that, though, he did direct this fairly absurd action thriller about a grieving father (Kevin Bacon) out for revenge against the gang who murdered his son. It’s a violent film with a ridiculous plot, but it does feature one sequence that demonstrates Wan’s potential for greater things. A two minute-long single take follows Bacon’s character as he attempts to lose his pursuers in a multi-level parking garage, with seamless camerawork that weaves up and down the ramps and alongside the outside of the garage to capture perfectly timed appearances by different characters. It’s impressive, and it far outshines everything else in the movie.


The Ridiculous 6 (2015) 0%

ABNER DOUBLEDAY INVENTS BASEBALL
Adam Sandler began his stint on Netflix with a bang, garnering a rare 0% with this joyless — and casually racist — spoof of The Magnificent Seven. There is one gloriously effective moment of inspired comedy, though. In a scene that riffs on the invention of baseball, John Turturro cameos as Abner Doubleday, who invites the titular sextet and a dozen others to play a new game with him, only to make up all of the sport’s rules and terminology on the spot just to ensure he wins. It may be the only joke in the movie that lands, but it lands superbly.


New Line Cinema

(Photo by New Line Cinema)

Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) 53%

AUSTIN GOES TO HOLLYWOOD
By the time the third installment of Mike Myers’ Austin Powers series hit theaters, the world had just about had its fill of “Yeah, baby!”s and shagadelic double entendres, but the cameo-filled opening scene of Goldmember is pure magic. The film begins with an action-packed Hollywood adaptation of Austin Powers’ life story, starring Tom Cruise as the titular spy, Gwyneth Paltrow as Bond girl stand-in Dixie Normous, Kevin Spacey as Dr. Evil, and Danny DeVito as Mini Me. To top it all off, as the scene ends, the cameras pull back to reveal the man at the helm is none other than Steven Spielberg. Genius.


Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) 53%

THE FIGHT FOR THE KEY
The first Pirates of the Caribbean film was a pleasant surprise, able to silence most of those who thought it silly to build a movie around an amusement park attraction. Every film since then has been a gradual step down, and it all began with the first sequel, Dead Man’s Chest, an overstuffed bombardment of spectacle with little but Johnny Depp’s performance to hold it all together. That said, the extended swordfight for the key to the titular chest is the high point of the film, making use of some fine stuntwork and clever setpieces to deliver a top-notch action scene.


Scream 3 (2000) 41%

“I WAS UP FOR PRINCESS LEIA.”
The Scream formula was getting creaky by the time they shifted the setting to Hollywood for the most meta entry in the series (the cast of a Stab film, based on the real events of Scream, start getting plucked off by a real-life ghostface). The laughs were still there, thanks mostly to a killer performance by Parker Posey as Jennifer Jolie, the actress playing Courteney Cox’s Gale Weathers; the scares, not so much. But kudos to Wes Craven and whoever else convinced Carrie Fisher to make a cameo as the disgruntled, and loyal-to-a-point, studio archivist Bianca. When approached by Jolie and Weathers on the hunt for details on a former starlet, Bianca stops them before they even get a chance to ask if she’s you know who. “I was up for Princess Leia,” Fisher explains. “I was this close. So who gets it? The one who sleeps with George Lucas.”


Universal Pictures courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Universal Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

Mr. Bean's Holiday (2007) 51%

“LA MER” ON THE BEACH
It’s hard to deny that Mr. Bean is something of a cultural icon, and it’s essentially defined the career of Rowan Atkinson. While the early-’90s series was hugely popular, the character’s big screen outings didn’t quite measure up. 2007’s Mr. Bean’s Holiday found the endearing man-child stumbling his way through France, and it largely consisted of watered-down slapstick and his trademark buffoonery. But it was also intended to be an unofficial send-off for the character, and the film’s final moments absolutely shine in that respect. As Bean makes his way across a picturesque beach, everyone around him joins him in an uplifting rendition of “La Mer,” and it’s equal parts triumphant and bittersweet. Love him or hate him, his goodbye was perfect.


Burlesque (2010)

CHER’S SOLO
If you thought Cher singing “Fernando” to a man named Fernando in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was as good, cheesy, and Cher-y as it gets at the movies, you clearly didn’t stick around for the second half of 2010’s Christina Aguilera vehicle Burlesque. The movie, which is Rotten at 36%, overflows with small pleasures for those in the just right mood (read: at least three Chardonnays into your evening), among them Kristen Bell as the vampy, villainous dancer Nikki. But when club owner Tess (Cher), fretful for the future of her business, belts out the Dianne Warren-penned survival anthem, “You Haven’t Seen the Last Of Me,” singing it to no one in particular, but somehow touching anyone who hears it, well… all hail the queen.


I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) 45%

THE CHASE
Poor man’s Scream, rich man’s Urban Legend, I know What You Did Last Summer was one of the defining slashers of the mid-to-late ’90s – even if it was one of the most generic and uninspired, sitting at 35%. Most remember it for its laughably hysterical moments (“What are you waiting fooooor!?”) and that weird Anne Heche business, but even the most discerning of genre fans give credit to director Jim Gillespie for the sequence in which the guy with the hook chases Sarah Michelle Geller’s Helen Shivers all over town. It’s genuinely scary (beware the mannequin jump scare), giggle-inducing (did she really just drop the keys), and a tiny bit moving in the end. Why the hell did she turn around?


20th Century Fox

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

LOGAN AND VICTOR THROUGH THE WARS
X-Men Origins: Wolverine was Fox’s first attempt at a solo story based on one of their beloved Marvel properties, and other than hiring Liev Schreiber to star opposite Hugh Jackman, the film has precious few things going for it. (Seriously, who thought letting will.i.am speak — and shutting Ryan Reynolds up — was a good idea?) At least we got a pretty great opening credits sequence out of it: after revealing the origin of Logan’s (Jackman) relationship to Victor Creed (Schreiber), the film depicts the half-brothers fighting alongside each other in the US Civil War, both World Wars, and the Vietnam War, illustrating Victor’s violent descent in the process. That’s the movie we all wished we could have seen.


Hannibal (2001)

GARY OLDMAN WAXES NOSTALGIC ABOUT DISFIGUREMENT
Neither director Jonathan Demme nor star Jodie Foster returned for this 10-years-later sequel, but most assumed it was in capable hands, with Ridley Scott taking the helm, David Mamet penning the script, and Julianne Moore taking Foster’s place as Clarice Starling. The end result wasn’t expected to live up to its predecessor, but few foresaw the smug, unsatisfying tale of gore we ultimately got. However, in an initially uncredited role, an unrecognizable Gary Oldman plays disfigured Lecter victim Mason Verger, whose macabre retelling of his encounter with Lecter is chilling, gruesome, and a testament to Oldman’s ability to captivate an audience, even with a slab of play-doh stuck to his face.


Gamer (2009)

“I’VE GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN”
Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor made names for themselves with the Crank series, so it was evident from the start they weren’t exactly interested in high art. Right after Crank: High Voltage, in fact, they came back with this futuristic thriller starring Gerard Butler that plays more like a CGI-blasted update on The Running Man, but with far fewer genuine thrills. Rotten at 28%, the movie is kind of a slog to get through, but when Butler’s Kable infiltrates the mansion of evil game developer Castle (Michael C. Hall), something almost magical happens. Castle reveals himself to Kable via a choreographed dance routine set to Sinatra’s “I’ve Got You under My Skin,” complete with a troupe of mind-controlled brawlers. As Kable fends off his attackers and Castle continues lip-syncing in the background, you can’t help but wonder, “Why couldn’t the rest of the movie have been this interesting?”


Columbia Pictures

(Photo by Columbia Pictures)

White Chicks (2004)

TERRY CREWS LOVES VANESSA CARLTON
Despite the cult popularity of In Living Color during the early 1990s, the various members of the Wayans family have struggled to achieve the same kind of success on the big screen. Much of their output has been defined by spoof movies and sub-subpar comedies like White Chicks, built from interesting enough ideas for a sketch or two, but a bit too flimsy for an entire movie. In this case, though, the presence of Terry Crews does help liven things up, and he is at his absolute best when he gleefully lights up as Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” comes on the radio and he begins to lip-sync with it. It’s a small chunk of comedy gold in the middle of a stale, moldy, powdered-sugar donut.


Doom (2005)

THE “FIRST-PERSON SHOOTER” SEQUENCE
Back when he was still going by “The Rock,” Dwayne Johnson paid his dues in stinkers like 2005’s Doom, which did little to inspire confidence in video game adaptations on the big screen. At a measly 19% on the Tomatometer, Doom is an incoherent mess of a sci-fi action flick and an unfortunate stain on the resumes of all involved. But there is one instance of blatant fan service that, well, actually kind of works. The camera takes on the first-person viewpoint of Karl Urban’s character, Reaper, for several minutes as he tears through the research facility, blasting mutated baddies along the way. It’s a carefully planned and choreographed sequence that’s not only true to the game, but incredibly ballsy to attempt, and they managed to pull it off with pizazz.


Ong Bak 2: The Beginning (2008) 49%

THE 15-MINUTE FINAL BATTLE
After he brought a fresh new take on martial arts films with 2003’s Ong Bak, Tony Jaa co-directed and starred in its “sequel,” Ong Bak 2, which was neither set in the same time period as the first nor really related to it in any way outside of its title. Ong Bak 2 left much of its predecessor’s playfulness by the wayside in exchange for an overly serious and familiar tale of revenge that exposed Jaa’s shortcomings behind the camera. With that in mind, it’s still worth fast-forwarding to the final battle of the film, a glorious display of Jaa’s martial arts prowess that sees him utilizing multiple fighting styles and weapons techniques to take down an entire village of assassins over 15 brutal minutes of non-stop action. It’s visceral and awe-inspiring, and it highlights not only Jaa’s immense skill but also the dedication of his stunt team, who no doubt took a massive beating during the shoot.


Lou Faulon/STX Entertainment

(Photo by Lou Faulon/STX Entertainment)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) 47%

OPENING SCENE
This is not Luc Besson’s first space rodeo, but working with a $200 million budget, he evidently felt compelled to throw every wacky idea he ever had at the screen. The end result is a visually exquisite but narratively slipshod adventure, but it features another standout opening scene that hints at the film’s true potential. Set to the music of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” it chronicles the history of technological advancement that eventually leads to the film’s intergalactic setting, and it reflects a refreshingly hopeful, wholesome future of peace and cooperation that’s both touching and clever. And then the rest of the movie happens.


Hot Rod (2007)

ROD’S QUIET PLACE
Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer have amassed a huge following, thanks to their work as The Lonely Island, and fans of their brand of humor are often quick to come to the defense of this cult comedy (we get it; some of you love it). Unfortunately, critics didn’t quite feel the same way, calling Hot Rod a loosely threaded collection of hit-or-miss sketches that fails to live up to its stars’ potential. The biggest “hit” of the lot, though, is clearly the scene when Rod (Samberg) escapes to his “quiet place” in the woods to blow off some steam and ends up tumbling down a hill for nearly a full minute. It begins as a spoofy Footloose homage before it suddenly turns into one of the greatest — and probably the longest — pratfalls ever filmed, and it’s pretty glorious.


The Boondock Saints (1999) 28%

“THERE WAS A FIREFIGHT!”
Perhaps the only good thing about The Boondock Saints is the opportunity to see Willem Dafoe at full tilt (though, to be fair, when is that ever not a good thing?). Much of the film is dedicated to macho posturing and childish fantasy wish-fulfillment — not a surprise considering its notoriously toxic writer-director — but there is a brief moment that lingers long after the credits roll. As Dafoe’s FBI agent Smecker arrives on the scene of a shootout, he begins to visualize what took place, passionately conducting a chorus that only exists in his mind and proclaiming, “There was a firefight!” The whole scene falls somewhere between unhinged and insane, and Dafoe’s exclamation is the cherry on top.


Warner Bros.

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995)

A RHINO GIVES BIRTH
Before he really began to demonstrate his range in movies like The Truman Show during the 1990s, Jim Carrey had to wade his way through a number of films that almost solely relied on his gift for physical comedy. His outlandish antics weren’t for everyone, though, particularly when you’d seen them before, and so the Ace Ventura sequel, When Nature Calls, settled at a measly 33% on the Tomatometer. While the movie feels like a somewhat stitched-together series of vignettes, the scene when Ace becomes trapped in a mechanical rhino, strips naked, and escapes through a tiny hole in the rear is… Well, as Simon Pegg put it, “It is one of the single most genius pieces of comedic writing that will never be given its due because it’s part of a ridiculous, vaguely racist, silly comedy.”


The Interview (2014) 51%

THE  EMINEM INTERVIEW
Eminem is no stranger to controversy, and his most recent album reignited a familiar one about his use of homophobic slurs in his lyrics. Say what you will about his word choice, but the man is essentially besties with Elton John, and he even skewered himself on the issue in what is certainly the best scene in the 2014 comedy The Interview. As James Franco’s talk show host Dave Skylark interviews Em on his show, the contentious rapper casually reveals that he’s gay, and that he’s surprised no one has figured it out yet, considering the “breadcrumb trail” he’s left behind in all his lyrics. It’s a rather surprisingly effective moment that only works because of all the controversy he’s attracted, and his deadpan, matter-of-fact delivery is pitch perfect, making him the funniest man in the room.


Speed Racer (2008)

FINAL RACE
After the success of the Matrix trilogy, the Wachowskis had carte blanche to work on whatever they wanted, and they chose to take on this long-in-development feature adaptation of the classic animated series. Despite their impressive technical wizardry and the candy-colored dreamscape they brought to life, the film bombed both critically and commercially. Even if you don’t love the movie as a whole, it’s hard to deny the power of the climactic race, an unexpectedly heartfelt finale bursting with top-notch special effects that not only boasts kinetic thrills but also provides closure on a key plot point. The film has gone on to inspire a cult following, and this ending is a big part of it.


20th Century Fox

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

THE WET BANDITS GET BRICKED
The law of diminishing returns is very real, but when it comes to movies, it’s difficult to argue with a moviegoing public that saw something it liked and simply wanted more of the same. Enter Home Alone 2, which essentially repurposes the story from its predecessor but changes its setting from Chicago to New York. The silly shenanigans here are so familiar that it all essentially feels like a lazy rehash of the same movie. That said, the scene where little Kevin (Macaulay Caulkin) displays Hawkeye-level brick-throwing accuracy just gets funnier with every painful crunch, if only because Daniel Stern’s googly-eyed desperation and concussed mumbling reaches vaudevillian heights.


Reign of Fire (2002)

QUINN AND CREEDY DO STAR WARS
Nowadays, a fantasy action film headlined by Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale might be met with fierce anticipation, but that’s exactly what we got in 2002’s Reign of Fire, and it was far less than the sum of its parts. Despite an intriguing, if somewhat goofy, take on post-apocalyptic humanity and some fairly successfully realized CGI dragons, the film bombed with critics and audiences alike. But in one scene, Bale’s Quinn and Gerard Butler’s Creedy reenact the climactic battle from The Empire Strikes Back for a crowd of awestruck children, playing it as an oral tradition, a campfire tale told from generation to generation. It’s an inspired nod to the power of Star Wars and a wink to the audience that hits its mark much more effectively than much of the rest of the film.


Jurassic Park III (2001) 49%

THE MISSING PHONE
By the time the third Jurassic Park movie came along, it was already clear the franchise was starting to run out of ideas (gymnastics battle, anyone?), and putting dinos onscreen was deemed sufficient. At least JP3 had a pretty formidable new breed in the Spinosaurus, and one scene in particular hints at how much better the film would have been with a bit more ingenuity. After Paul Kirby’s (William H. Macy) satellite phone goes missing earlier in the movie, his newly reunited son Eric reveals it was the sound of that phone that alerted them to their location. Cue the ominous ringing of the phone… and the Spinosaurus that swallowed it.


Universal Pictures

(Photo by Universal Pictures)

The Mummy (2017) 16%

MEET MR. HYDE
Last year’s reboot of Universal’s classic monster movie franchise performed so dreadfully that the studio’s plans for its own “Dark Universe” were almost immediately eighty-sixed. That was, in itself, a pretty incredible feat, considering they had the talents of Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe to work with, but at the very least, the latter provided arguably the one standout moment of the movie. Crowe brought a complex intensity to the dual role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, sophisticated in one breath and savage the next, and it left many of us asking if we couldn’t at least see a bit more of him, regardless of what happened to the Dark Universe.


Any Given Sunday (1999) 52%

PACINO’S SPEECH
Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday could have been so much more than it was, and at over two and a half hours, it was already a lot. Its overlong run time isn’t the only issue the film has, though; it also reiterates timeworn sports movie cliches and attempts to cast a critical eye on pro football even as Stone fetishizes it. All that aside, when you’ve got Al Pacino at your disposal, the smartest thing you can do is set him loose on some meaty lines, and that’s exactly what happens when Pacino delivers a pregame pep talk late in the film. It’s a powerful moment that really cements what Stone saw when he cast Pacino in the role of a head coach. Who wouldn’t follow that man?


The Perfect Storm (2000)

THE BIG WAVE
It’s always a little tricky to turn real-life tragedy into a blockbuster production, but Wolfgang Petersen gathered a top-notch cast and gave it a go anyway. The Perfect Storm provided a pre-Pirates opportunity for Petersen to practice his nautical storytelling skills, but he proved he was more interested in the spectacle of it all. At the very least, he delivered an epic climax that ramped up the drama and pitted George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, William Fichtner, and the rest of the Andrea Gail crew against a monster wave they couldn’t hope to survive. It’s an amazing image, and the fact that it isn’t an exaggeration of what the open sea may hold makes it that much more terrifying.

This week on home video, we’ve got a few Oscar contenders, a controversial comedy, an acclaimed documentary, a wildly popular HBO series, and a number of other notable choices. Read on for details:



Birdman

91%

Unless you’ve been completely oblivious to all of the awards season buzz, you’re probably already well familiar with Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman. Featuring a powerhouse performance from Michael Keaton, the film centers on a washed-up actor named Riggan Thomson (Keaton) who, eager to reestablish himself, is on the verge of making his Broadway debut. But his past continues to haunt Riggan, and he may be slowly losing his grip on reality. Certified Fresh at 92 percent, Birdman has already won numerous awards, and it’s currently nominated for nine Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, among others.



The Theory of Everything

80%

Another film that caused quite a stir this past year was James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything, which features another remarkable lead performance. Eddie Redmayne plays famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, beginning with his early days at Cambridge — where he meets his first wife Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) and is diagnosed with ALS. The film depicts Hawking’s relationship with Wilde, as well as the progression of his condition through the years, and both Redmayne and Jones earned Oscar nominations for their superb work. Certified Fresh at 79 percent on the Tomatometer, The Theory of Everything does hit some familiar biopic notes, but the film’s subject is such a fascinating man — and its performers are so good — that it succeeds pleasantly.



The Interview

51%

Maybe you weren’t paying much attention to all the awards gossip, but you probably at least caught something about Sony being hacked late last year allegedly by the North Koreans? The impetus for the digital invasion — so the story goes — was this comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, in which a talk show personality who’s been invited to North Korea to interview Kim Jong Un is approached by the CIA and asked to assassinate him. Apparently, North Korea didn’t take it so well, but according to about half the critics, there wasn’t much worth talking about anyway. At 53 percent on the Tomatometer, The Interview isn’t the strongest collaboration between Franco and Rogen, and it’ll probably be remembered more for the controversy that accompanied it.



Games of Thrones: Season Four

It’s unlikely you’ll be interested in picking up season four of Game of Thrones if you’re not already a fan, and if you’re picking up season four, it’s also unlikely you haven’t already seen all of it. But for those of you who like to own physical copies of your favorite shows, and for those of you who are interested in the bonus features you can’t get on HBO Go, your wait is over. Season five will begin airing in April, so that gives you plenty of time to rewatch all the darkest, most exciting, and most heartbreaking moments from last season and check out all the extras. Season four is available on DVD and Blu-ray this week.

Also available this week:

  • Best Animated Feature Film Oscar nominee The Tale of Princess Kaguya (100 percent), a Certified Fresh Japanese animated adaptation of a famous folk tale about a woodcutter who finds a young princess inside a bamboo stalk and raises her as his own child.
  • Life Itself (97 percent), the Certified Fresh documentary that chronicles the life of celebrated film critic Roger Ebert.
  • Tommy Lee Jones’s The Homesman (81 percent), starring Jones and Hilary Swank in a Certified Fresh western about a woman who hires a drifter to help her transport three suffering women across Nebraska.
  • St. Vincent (77 percent), starring Bill Murray and Naomi Watts in a comedy about a curmudgeon who forms an unlikely friendship with a 12-year-old he’s been charged with babysitting.
  • V/H/S: Viral (38 percent), an anthology horror film sequel that focuses on home video footage taken over the course of a single night.
  • The Farrelly brothers’ Dumb and Dumber To (29 percent), starring Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey in a 20-years-in-the-making sequel to the 1994 comedy hit about two dimwits on a road trip.

This week on streaming video, we’ve got an Academy Award-nominated thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal, a feelgood story from the UK, and the controversial James Franco-Seth Rogen comedy that irked North Korea, plus more. Read on for details:


Nightcrawler
95%

In this Certified Fresh thriller, Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a freelance TV journalist who sells lurid crime footage to a local station. But as his career progresses, and his scoops become ever more explosive, Bloom’s shaky ethics threaten to overwhelm him.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play


One Chance
63%

This inspirational drama is based on the true story of the amateur opera singer who became an overnight sensation on Britain’s Got Talent.

Available now on: iTunes


Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League vs. Bizarro League

In the latest animated collaboration between Lego and DC Comics, Bizarro returns to Earth when Bizarro World is threatened by Darkseid, and he clones the Justice League to create the Bizarro League.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes


The Interview
51%

Dave Skylark (James Franco), the host of a trashy talk show, and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) land the biggest interview of their careers: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (Randall Park). But before they journey to Pyongyang, the CIA recruits them to assassinate the Dear Leader. The film became newly available to stream on Netflix on Saturday, January 24.

Available now on: Netflix


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
85%

Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace star in the first part of the original Swedish trilogy, based upon Stieg Larsson’s bestselling novel.

Available now on: Netflix

Few industries enjoy taking really, really, really long extended holiday vacations quite like Hollywood. So when we get to this time of the year, there’s really not much in the realm of “movie development news” to discuss, especially not in a weekly column which normally includes 10 different stories. So, last week, we instead reviewed 12 of the year’s top “Fresh Development” stories, and this week, we’re looking at 12 Rotten Ideas, presented to you in monthly chronology. Our retrospective begins with one of the year’s biggest stories (or series of stories), which was…


 Top Story of the Year

HOLLYWOOD CYBERATTACKED OVER THE INTERVIEW

In appraising the Rotten stories of 2014 (or any year), one tricky question is whether you’re looking at the eventual result, or what the story felt like at the time. Since the Weekly Ketchup is about film development news, we’re also likely to think foremost about how the story impacts the future of movie production. The Franco/Rogen comedy The Interview led to so many news stories this year, almost all of which have negative implications, that it was something of a no-brainer. First, there were the many e-mail leaks, on a wide, wide variety of topics. Fortunately, a few different sources have compiled timelines of it all, so you can take your pick of New York Magazine, Business Insider, or Deadline for such breakdowns. How all of this was Rotten can be interpreted in various ways: the views expressed in some of the corporate e-mails, the decision by Sony to pull The Interview from theaters, or the concurrent decision by New Regency to scrap plans for Pyongyang, directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Steve Carell. Of course, some of that was turned around when Sony ultimately decided to release The Interview in a few hundred theaters and on VOD services like YouTube, Vudu, and various cable companies. Even so, for that week before Christmas, it looked like the bad guys had won, and Hollywood had started down a very slippery slope, where the world would be prevented from watching whatever sophomoric comedy they want. Even Rotten ones.

JANUARY: WHEN THERE IS NO MORE ROOM IN HELL: PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2

Admittedly, this story might actually be a Fresh Development if it did indeed involve a zombie apocalypse (that movie was already made twice, and it was called Dawn of the Dead), but it will probably just be more of the same. “The same” being whatever it was that attracted the hordes of moviegoers who invaded cineplexes in 2009 to see the Kevin James comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop. James and Adam Sandler (via Happy Madison) are once again teaming up to produce the sequel to Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which James will also cowrite. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 will be directed by Andy Fickman, whose streak of green splotches on RT has included She’s the Man, Game Plan, Race to Witch Mountain, You Again, and Parental Guidance. And it’s a streak that’s unlikely to be changed by Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, which Sony Pictures has scheduled for April 17, 2015. That wasn’t the only sequel-to-a-Rotten-rated-movie we heard about in January, however. There was also The Nut Job 2, which will be released on the same day (1/15/16) as another Rotten Idea sequel announced this year, Ride Along 2, and a week before yet another one, Mechanic: Resurrection.

FEBRUARY: R.I.P. PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, HAROLD RAMIS, AND ROBIN WILLIAMS

Obviously, Hollywood celebrities are humans, and humans die. Hopefully, it happens for most after a long, fruitful life and a long and happy retirement. Since the Weekly Ketchup is about film development, the deaths of actors and directors who are retired doesn’t necessarily fall within our purview, but this year, there were three major deaths involving actors whose passing very much changed the future of movies. First, in early February, there was the shocking drug overdose of Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose position among our most talented actors had been difficult to refute. Hoffman had just been announced to direct a drama called Ezekiel Moss with Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal, and he had filmed a Showtime pilot called Happyish (his role has now gone instead to Steve Coogan). Hoffman’s last released film will be The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, to be released on November 20, 2015. Also in February, we lost comedian, writer, and director Harold Ramis, who had long been attached to star in Ghostbusters 3. Later in 2014, Sony Pictures announced new plans for Ghostbusters 3, which will now be a reboot featuring a female team of supernatural combatants. Then, in August, we also lost Robin Williams, who took his own life at his home in Marin County, California. Right up until the end, Robin Williams stayed prolific in his film work, which included A Merry Friggin’ Christmas and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (both currently still in theaters), and next year’s Absolutely Anything. Plans for a Mrs. Doubtfire sequel had also topped the Weekly Ketchup back in April. Here are retrospectives of those we lost in 2014, courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter, The Wrap, and Deadline.

MARCH: NOSTALGIA BRINGS BACK JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS

When we start calling new movie projects Rotten Ideas, we need to immediately acknowledge that we’re not always right. And so, we’re going to do that right here: we don’t know if Jem and the Holograms will be eye-stabbingly horrible, or a new pinnacle of filmmaking genius and a rousing entertainment that will live on for generations. Having said that, we’re still calling it one of the Rotten Ideas of the year. There are only so many hours in the day, and in the mid 1980s, this writer just didn’t have enough of them to spend on a cartoon series like Jem and the Holograms, so you’re not going to be seeing any nostalgia here. Not everyone, however, apparently agrees, because at least three people got together to announce that they’re working on a live action Jem and the Holograms movie. Those three would be director Jon M. Chu (Justin Bieber’s Believe, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) and his producing partners Scooter Braun (a record producer) and Jason Blum (of Blumhouse, the horror production company behind the Paranormal Activity franchise). The new movie about a pop singer aided by a “holographic computer” is looking for help from fans, and you can watch their video pitch at the newly launched website. Besides other, possibly more obvious reasons, this is one of the year’s Rotten Ideas because Justin Bieber: Never Say Never is the only Fresh movie on Jon M. Chu’s resume. Jem and the Holograms also made the news in May, when it was announced that Juliette Lewis and Molly Ringwald would also be in the film, along with the young stars Audrey Peeples, Hayley Kyoko, Stefanie Scott, and Ryan Guzman. Universal Pictures has scheduled Jem and the Holograms for October 23, 2015.

APRIL: THE PINK PANTHER GETS A REBOOT, SANS CLOUSEAU

Yes, there is an animated character called The Pink Panther, and yes, he’s appeared on TV a few times over the years, but when you look up “pink panther” on Wikipedia, he’s not even what comes up. No, of course not, because The Pink Panther is a comedy classic, as were a few of its sequels, and the “Pink Panther” of the title was basically just a joke that didn’t have anything to do with the actual movies (except appearing in the credits). The true main character of the Pink Panther movies is, of course, Inspector Clouseau (most famously played by Peter Sellers and, most recently, by Steve Martin). So, of course, it would just be silly to imagine a movie called The Pink Panther without Inspector Clouseau. With that in mind, MGM has announced plans for an animation/live action hybrid comedy about The Pink Panther, with absolutely no French police detectives named Clouseau. Perhaps most oddly, the movie is still being described as a “caper.” This version of The Pink Panther will be directed by David Silverman (The Simpsons Movie, The Road to El Dorado).

MAY: A BIG KERFUFFLE OVER A TINY HERO: EDGAR WRIGHT LEAVES ANT-MAN

Among “fan” circles, there were basically two “Rotten Idea” stand outs in 2014. One involved the reboot of The Fantastic Four (discussed below), but that was more of a series of stories than one single announcement. The winner in that category would have to be Edgar Wright’s departure from directing Marvel?s Ant-Man, which came some eight years after he first started work on the film. In other words, he actually predates most of what we now know as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Having said that, it’s admittedly debatable how bad this news actually is. Two weeks later, Peyton Reed (The Break-Up, Yes Man) was announced as the new Ant-Man director, working from a new script rewrite by Anchorman creator Adam McKay. The popular reason offered for Wright’s departure is that his vision didn’t fit what Marvel wanted, and by the hiring of both Peyton Reed and Adam McKay, we can be fairly certain that what Marvel wanted was a big, mainstream comedy. Edgar Wright’s films are always comedies, but he has yet to deliver any sort of mainstream box office success close to what Marvel is aiming for, with his top film Scott Pilgrim vs the World only earning $31.5 million in the USA. Of course, the same argument could have been made (even more so, actually) about director James Gunn before Guardians of the Galaxy.

JUNE: FACE FRONT, TRUE BELIEVERS? A YEAR OF BAD NEWS FOR THE FANTASTIC FOUR (‘NUFF SAID)

As noted in the Ant-Man story, there wasn’t exactly just one single horrible story about this August’s reboot of The Fantastic Four (via 20th Century Fox). It was more like a whirlwind of little cuts. In February, there was the casting of the four leads, two of whom had (at that point) just costarred in the critically panned comedy That Awkward Moment (Miles Teller as Mister Fantastic, and Michael B. Jordan as Human Torch), along with Jamie Bell as The Thing and Kate Mara as Invisible Woman. The online reactions to Michael B. Jordan were particularly nasty, and he reacted to it. This was followed by the casting of Toby Kebbell (Koba from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) as Doctor Doom, which was followed later in the year by the news that the reboot “Doom” is an “anti-social programmer” who calls himself Doom on blogs. There was also the story about The Fantastic Four utilizing “found footage elements” (director Josh Trank made his mark with the superpowers found footage movie Chronicle). This was also the year Kate Mara mentioned that the movie’s not based on comic books, Michael B. Jordan said they’re just kids who had an accident, and we got our very unofficial first glimpse of The Thing in who sort of looks like a clinically depressed rock monster from The NeverEnding Story. Finally, this was also the year when Marvel Comics announced the cancellation of the Fantastic Four comic, which some perceived as a reaction to the way that 20th Century Fox has handled the movie rights. (It’s worth noting that this will not be the first time that Marvel has stopped publishing a Fantastic Four comic.) 20th Century Fox has scheduled The Fantastic Four for August 7, 2015.

JULY: THE GRUDGE AND THE RING REMAKE FRANCHISES TO GET REMAKES

In the late 1990s to early 2000s, a hot trend was Japanese horror, especially featuring young girls with straight black hair. Specifically, we’re talking about movies like Ringu, Ju-on: The Grudge, and Audition. This was soon followed by Hollywood remaking some of those movies, and spawning their own franchises (which was particularly confusing when the original films were also producing sequels). The Ring Two was released to a 20% Tomatometer score in 2005, and the third American Grudge movie went direct-to-video in 2009. This year, however, both American franchises announced plans for returns. The Grudge was first, back in March, with Jeff Buhler (The Midnight Meat Train) working on a remake/reboot, ostensibly because there’s a whole new generation that hasn’t seen a spooky little girl lurking in the background, all out of focus and spooky-like. Then, in July, there was news of a planned prequel to The Ring about Samara, the girl in the spooky VHS tape (never mind that her story has already been told in previous films). It’s also going to be 3D, or so one would presume by the title The Ring 3D.

AUGUST: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES SEQUEL QUICKLY GREENLIT, INCLUDING RIDICULOUS VILLAINS

Regardless of its reviews, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opened to over $65 million this August, so of course, there’s a sequel coming. This news came around the same time that there was also talk that the sequel will include the big-brained villain Krang (sort of the TNMT equivalent of both MODOK and Arnim Zola). This was followed by further talk of including Casey Jones, as well as the animal-themed henchmen Bebop (the pig guy) and Rocksteady (the rhino guy). And finally, we learned a few weeks ago that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 will be directed by Dave Green, who this year gave us the 48% Rotten movie Earth to Echo.

SEPTEMBER: I KNOW WHAT 1990S MOVIE YOU’RE REMAKING NEXT SUMMER

As much as writers (like this one) might bemoan the waves of remakes, reboots, and retreads, it’s something Hollywood has been doing since (20 years) before someone at MGM got the idea for a color musical version of The Wizard of Oz. Something that you notice, however, when you write about these projects week after week is that the average dates for the original movies (somewhat logically) gradually creep forward with the passing of time. Every movie from the 1980s is already optioned? Great, move on to the 1990s. And there really were few movies with casts as definitively “nineties” as 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer. Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr, Ryan Phillippe, Johnny Galecki, and Anne Heche all appeared in the slasher movie (the success of which also inspired a sequel). Producer Neal Moritz has hired Oculus writer/director Mike Flanagan to start work on the remake, which, like the first film, will be adapted from the 1973 novel by Lois Duncan. This is one of the year’s Rotten Ideas not because of Flanagan’s credits, but because, sometimes, an idea is just “rotten” on its own merits (i.e. enough with the horror movie remakes). Hardly anyone ever remakes pirate movies. How about trying that for a while?

OCTOBER: THE ADAM SANDLER/NETFLIX DEAL, AND ITS RAMIFICATIONS

2014 was another big year for Netflix and other online streaming sites, as they collectively move towards more and more original content. On one hand, it’s great news for their customers, but on the other hand, there are signs that the trend might shift some forms of movies away from being theatrically released, in lieu of focusing on streaming (The Interview ended up being an example of this). First, there was the announcement for the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel, which now has the full title of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend. We’ve known for a while that the sequel was being produced by The Weinstein Company, but what was much less expected was that the sequel will premiere exclusively on Netflix (and in selected IMAX theaters). This was also something of a big deal for the Weekly Ketchup, because our rule has always been not to (knowingly) cover “direct to video” movies, but where does “direct to Netflix” fall in that definition? This announcement was also closely followed by news of a boycott from AMC, Regal, and Cinemark, which account for the majority of IMAX theaters in the USA. You can (figuratively) smell the tension in a quote like this one: “No one has approached us to license this made-for-video sequel in the U.S. or China, so one must assume the screens IMAX committed are in science centers and aquariums.” Truthfully, this isn’t the Rotten part of this story. No, that came later in the same week, when Netflix also announced the online streaming service has signed a four movie deal with Adam Sandler. If Sandler (and his contemporaries) start making deals with services like Netflix to bypass theaters, what does that mean for the future of movies? Will there even be certain genres at the cineplex ten years from now? Or… was Adam Sandler inevitably going to start making “direct to video” movies soon anyway, and this is just how it happens?

NOVEMBER: MELISSA MCCARTHY TO STAR AS TINKER BELL

Melissa McCarthy is certainly a box office phenomenon, with Bridesmaids, The Heat, Identity Thief, and The Hangover Part III all making over $100 million domestically (also, breaking news: Melissa McCarthy was in The Hangover Part III). But her record seems a lot less impressive when you look at her Tomatometer, which shows that, of her last eight films, only Bridesmaids and The Heat earned Fresh Tomatometer scores. And don’t even get us started on director Shawn Levy (Just Married, The Internship), who, by this point, we sort of wish would lay off announcing new films so we could stop including his stories in the Rotten Ideas section. Having said all that, we haven’t even gotten to the really crazy part, which is that Melissa McCarthy is attached to star as Tinker Bell in an untitled comedy that Shawn Levy is attached to direct. J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is now in “public domain,” which unfortunately means that Tinker Bell is pretty much fair game for this sort of comedy. On the bright side, November was relatively light on truly rotten ideas, or this particular story wouldn’t have even been included here. Overall, that was this writer’s take on Rotten Ideas in 2014: outside of January, February, and March, there seemed to be a lot fewer of them this year. There were a few weeks where I didn’t even list one “Rotten Idea.” Progress!

For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.

Merry Christmas! This week at the movies, we’ve got unlikely CIA operatives (The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco), a resilient war hero (Unbroken, starring Jack O’Connell and Domhnall Gleeson), an indebted English professor (The Gambler, starring Mark Wahlberg and John Goodman), fractured fairy tale characters (Into the Woods, starring Meryl Streep and Anna Kendrick), and a subjugated artist (Big Eyes, starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz). What do the critics have to say?


The Interview

51%

Look, we know you’ve probably heard all about how The Interview sparked an international incident. Now that it’s popping up online and in a few theaters, it’s fair to ask: is it any good? Well, critics say The Interview is pretty funny in spots, but its tone is more sophomoric than politically astute. Dave Skylark (James Franco), the host of a trashy talk show, and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) land the biggest interview of their careers: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (Randall Park). But before they journey to Pyongyang, the CIA recruits them to assassinate the Dear Leader. The pundits say The Interview works better as a bromance than as a political farce, and while the cast (especially Park) gives its all, the movie ultimately falls short as a satire of international relations and the media.



Unbroken

51%

The life of Louis “Louie” Zamperini seems tailor-made for a big-budget biopic. Unfortunately, not every great story makes for a great movie, and critics say that’s sadly the case for director Angelina Jolie‘s Unbroken, a well-meaning, occasionally stirring epic that suffers from conventional storytelling and a lack of tension. Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) was a track star who served in World War II, where he survived a plane crash by clinging to a raft for more than a month before being captured by Japanese troops and held in a prisoner of war camp for more than two years. He’s undoubtedly heroic, but Unbroken frequently feels too similar to other inspirational war films.



The Gambler

44%

Plenty of contemporary films borrow from the gritty imagery and moral ambiguity of mid-1970s thrillers, so a remake of The Gambler sounds like a solid bet. However, critics say that this slick, well-acted film never fully lures the audience into its protagonist’s plight. Mark Wahlberg stars as Jim Bennett, a self-destructive English professor whose gambling habit could cost him his fortune — and that of his family. Bennett turns to a loan shark for help, but he continues to sink into a hole, with potentially dire consequences. The pundits say The Gambler is slick and reasonably tense, but it lacks the existential moodiness of the classic crime flicks that inspired it.



Into the Woods

71%

The time seems right for a big-screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, a meta-musical that deconstructed fairy tales long before Frozen or Once Upon a Time. Critics say Rob Marshall mostly does right by the play, maintaining its dark spirit and bringing an imaginative touch to the sets and costumes (though it’s still a little on the long side). A mashup of Cinderella, Jack And The Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel, Into the Woods finds all your favorite childhood characters converging and intersecting in a story about a baker and his wife who try to lift a curse that’s been placed on them by a malevolent witch. The pundits say Into the Woods is sometimes uneven, but it’s well-staged and features fine performances from a star-studded cast. (Watch our video interviews with stars Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Christine Baranski, and Tracey Ullman.)



Big Eyes

72%

Once in a while, director Tim Burton departs his beguilingly wacky fantasyland for the real world; Ed Wood, a biopic of the notoriously incompetent filmmaker, is one of his most beloved films. With Big Eyes, Burton takes on another strange-but-true story, and while critics say it’s thoughtful, visually striking, and well-acted, its overall tone is sometimes hard to define. Amy Adams stars as Margaret Keane, a painter whose images of children with oversized eyes were big sellers in the 1960s. There was just one problem: While Margaret painted, her husband Walter (Christoph Waltz) took the credit and reaped the rewards, keeping his wife a virtual prisoner. The pundits say Big Eyes shows that Burton’s taste for black comedy is still strong, even if he never fully gets to the heart of his characters here.

What’s Hot on TV:


The pundits say The Missing (Certified Fresh at 96 percent) turns a routine premise into a standout thriller, thanks to heartfelt, affecting performances.


The critics say that a talented ensemble raises Benched (67 percent) above its trite writing, resulting in a nicely diverting half-hour of comedy.

Also opening this week in limited release:

The week right before Christmas is supposed to be a joyous one, but Hollywood was an industry rocked by surprising decisions about the comedy The Interview that set scary precedents. The Weekly Ketchup covers those events, and seven other of our usual, more entertaining and less controversial news stories, like who will direct Star Trek 3 and casting news for Suicide Squad and Doctor Strange.


 This Week’s Top Story

CYBER ATTACKS SHUT DOWN THE INTERVIEW

Right in the middle of December, we’re supposed to be in a festive spirit, with Christmas a week away. It’s a time for family movies, big epic films, and awards contenders. Although there were the usual Hollywood announcements this week, which you can read about below, the biggest news involved Sony Pictures and their decision not to release The Interview. The comedy stars James Franco and Seth Rogen and tells the story of an American media personality invited to interview North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (which the CIA sees as a chance to “take him out”). The events happened quickly over just a few days, and when the dust settled, Hollywood and the United States realized a scary precedent might have been set. It’s more than we can detail in this single column, but this timeline at Deadline might help fill in the details. The escalation began on Tuesday when the cyber-terrorists calling themselves the “Guardians of Peace” sent out an email threatening any screening of The Interview with language such as, “The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.” The next day, the top five exhibitors (AMC, Regal, Cinemark, Cineplex, and Carmike) all announced that they would not screen The Interview, and within a few hours, Sony Pictures completely scrapped its Christmas day theatrical release. Speculation then began online that perhaps Sony would release The Interview as a VOD exclusive, but a Sony representative told Deadline, “Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film” (including VOD). It’s not as if Hollywood has never attempted material like this before. Charlie Chaplin was able to produce The Great Dictator, the South Park guys were able to make Team America: World Police (more about that below), and the 2012 remake of Red Dawn reimagined one of the invading armies as North Koreans (instead of Cubans). For the rest of the story, please continue reading the Rotten Idea of the Week.

Fresh Developments This Week

#1 FIVE SURPRISING DIRECTORS UP FOR THE STAR TREK 3 JOB

Switching now to our usual pop culture obsessions, we thought we’d get some big news early this week when Roberto Orci departed as director of Star Trek 3 (he will stay on as producer) and Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) was rumored to take his place. Such a hiring would have allowed Wright to work with frequent collaborator Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty. A new shortlist was revealed this week, and the first surprise is that Edgar Wright isn’t on the list, at all. Instead, the front runner is now said to be Rupert Wyatt, who delivered an effective reboot with Rise of the Planet of the Apes and also directed the new Mark Wahlberg drama, The Gambler. Three other names on the list are Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game, Headhunters), Daniel Espinosa (Safe House, Easy Money), and Justin Lin (Fast & Furious, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6). The fifth director listed was Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code), who quickly replied that, following his upcoming Warcraft movie, he “absolutely MUST make my own thing next, or I’ll die of old age!” Looking at the work of the directors Paramount is considering, we can detect an emphasis on either dramas or action films, but none of them are particularly humorous in the style of Edgar Wright. Having noted that, there was a rumor this week that Paramount might be trying to sculpt Star Trek 3 into something more like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

 

#2 PETER JACKSON’S POST-HOBBIT PLANS: NEW ZEALAND TRUE STORIES (BUT WHAT ABOUT TINTIN 2?)

The third and final film in director Peter Jackson’s eight hour adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit was released this week, and so as one would expect, he was out doing press for the film. After such an ambitious project, Jackson said, “We really feel a bigger urge now to not continue with another Hollywood blockbuster for a while, but to go back and tell some New Zealand stories.” To that end, he and writing partner Fran Walsh are now considering several true stories set in New Zealand “similar in tone and scope” to his 1994 film, Heavenly Creatures. We don’t know what New Zealand true stories Jackson and Walsh might be working on. Asked about whether he would ever return for more Tolkien stories (such as the many legends Tolkien concocted for The Simarillion), Jackson said, “ask me in two or three years, and I’d probably say yes.” What is missing in the article completely is any mention of Jackson’s previously announced intention to direct the second Tintin movie (Steven Spielberg directed the first film) after wrapping up The Hobbit. Does this mean the Tintin franchise is on hold, or will another director take over? We don’t know.

 

#3 LUPITA NYONG’O AND DAVID OYELOWO TO STAR IN IMMIGRANT LOVE STORY AMERICANAH

David Oyelowo, who is Golden Globe nominated for portraying Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, is now attached to star in a romantic drama with Lupita Nyong’o, the young actress who earned last year’s Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years a Slave. Oyelowo and Nyong’o will star in Americanah (based on a novel by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) as “young Nigerian immigrants who face a lifetime of struggle while their relationship endures.” David Oyelowo is a British actor of Nigerian extraction, and Lupita Nyong’o was born in Mexico City to parents of Kenyan extraction, so one can speculate that this story resonates strongly for both actors. With two stars attached, Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company is now seeking both a screenwriter and director to bring Americanah to the big screen.

 

#4 TOM HANKS DRAWN TO INTERNET DRAMA THE CIRCLE

Amidst all of the craziness in Hollywood this week, Tom Hanks and his Playtone production company made the rounds this week, shopping to the studios their adaptation of the novel The Circle by David Eggers (A Heartbreaking Story of Staggering Genius). Tom Hanks will star in The Circle, which will be his second adaptation of a David Eggers novel, with the adaptation of Hologram for the King expected to be released in 2015. The Circle will focus on a young woman who is hired by an Internet company with a monopoly on the new industry of connecting all personal information into one global network, with the story eventually becoming a thriller. It’s not known which role Tom Hanks will be playing. James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) will both write and direct The Circle.

 

#5 VIOLA DAVIS WILL BE AMANDA WALLER IN SUICIDE SQUAD

After previous stories that Oprah Winfrey and Octavia Spencer were also in the running, it was announced this week that Viola Davis (The Help, TV’s How to Get Away with Murder) has landed a key role in the new DC Comics cinematic universe. Davis will costar in Suicide Squad (8/5/16) as Amanda Waller, the government agent who works as the handler to the team of criminals and super villains. In many ways, Amanda Waller much like Suicide Squad‘s version of Marvel’s Nick Fury. Therefore, it’s expected that Viola Davis could appear in multiple films for Warner Bros and DC Comics, but this week, no multi-picture deal was mentioned (“yet,” we’re going to speculate). Amanda Waller was also one of the DC characters to receive the most drastic renovation as part of “The New 52” in 2011, with the character appearing to have lost at least 100 pounds. The “New 52” Amanda Waller therefore resembles Viola Davis much more than she would have a few years ago.

 

#6 MARVEL RUMOR OF THE WEEK: MORGAN FREEMAN AS THE ANCIENT ONE IN DOCTOR STRANGE?

A key figure in the origin story of Marvel’s Doctor Strange is the Ancient One, who in the comics was originally depicted as an elderly Asian mystic hidden away in a sanctuary in the Himalayan Mountains. Based on the three actors Marvel is reportedly considering for the role, the studio may be looking at a variety of ways to portray the Ancient One in their Doctor Strange movie. Those actors are: Morgan Freeman, Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai, Godzilla), and Bill Nighy (Love Actually, Underworld: Evolution). The search is also on for an actor to play another student of the Ancient One, Baron Mordo, who becomes one of Doctor Strange’s most dangerous foes. This news follows the recent confirmation that Benedict Cumberbatch will star as Doctor Strange (11/4/16).

 

#7 MARVEL STARS J.K. SIMMONS AND TOM HIDDLESTON TO STAR IN KONG: SKULL ISLAND

In preparing their upcoming prequel/reboot of the 1933 monster movie classic King Kong, Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures are thus far choosing exclusively from the pool of actors who have appeared in multiple adaptations of Marvel characters. This week, J.K. Simmons, who is currently “hot” in Hollywood because of Whiplash, joined the already cast Tom Hiddleston in the newly titled film, Kong: Skull Island. We also learned this week that Legendary has bumped Kong: Skull Island back three months from November, 2016 to March 10, 2017. This move helps make way for director Zhang Yimou’s (Hero) Untitled Great Wall Project, which is now scheduled for release on November 23, 2016.

Rotten Ideas of the Week

#2 THE INTERVIEW CATASTROPHE CONTINUES: THE STEVE CARELL MOVIE YOU WON’T SEE – PYONGYANG

Continuing our Top Story, as Hollywood recoiled from what was happening to The Interview, the “Twittersphere” was particularly aflutter with comments. Possibly the most noteworthy response to the news came from New Regency, a major production company housed on the 20th Century Fox lot. New Regency has pulled the plug on their their project called Pyongyang, based on a graphic novel (and true story) about a French-Canadian artist who worked in North Korea for a year. Steve Carell was attached to star in Pyongyang, with Gore Verbinski (the Pirates of the Caribbean films, The Ring, The Lone Ranger) directing. As one can guess, the graphic novel portrays life in the capital city and the rest of North Korea harshly. This is a movie that was in the works, and now it isn’t. The implications are stunning and scary.

 

#1 THE INTERVIEW GETS PULLED: POSSIBLY THE WORST STORY OF THE YEAR

Faced with the economic reality that a week before Christmas day, they would have one less film to show, exhibitors across the nation began exploring possible alternatives (other than just giving Annie or Exodus: Gods and Kings another screen). Several, including the Alamo Drafthouse chain, decided that an appropriate response would be to show the marionette political satire Team America: World Police instead. Paramount Pictures, however, denied permission for theaters to screen the film on Christmas Day instead of The Interview. In that film, Kim Jong Un’s father is portrayed as the main villain, and (spoiler from 2004!), he dies (sort of) graphically in the film. In this story, we now have two major exhibitors who have backed down because of the threats. We soon learned that George Clooney led an effort to rally all of the major studios in support of Sony… and no one signed on. Some of the latest news is that the F.B.I. has released a report concluding that “the North Korean government is responsible for these actions.” Finally, President Barack Obama addressed Sony’s decision to cancel the release of The Interview thusly: “It says something interesting about North Korea that they decided to have the state launch an all-out assault on a movie studio because of a satirical movie starring Seth Rogen and James Franco. I love Seth and I love James, but the notion that that was a threat to them, I think, gives you some sense of the kind of regime we’re talking about here.” Finally, on Friday afternoon, we received a news story from Sony Pictures which can be seen as something of a reaction to all of this. Sony’s next big franchise might be Robert Rodriguez’s long-in-development adaptation of Frank Frazetta’s animated fantasy film Fire and Ice. The nice thing about portraying prehistoric troglodytes as your movie’s villains is that they have horrible wireless access, apparently.

For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.

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