Jack (1996): Some films are so uniquely terrible they could’ve only been made by a genius—someone either swinging for the gates and missing spectacularly, or simply blinded by hubris. Indeed, had someone less talented than Francis Ford Coppola made this dramedy about Robin Williams aging rapidly, it would’ve merely been a forgettably saccharine weepie. But Coppola, who was a mere director-for-hire, makes it idiosyncratic in its awfulness—a train wreck of tones with entirely too much Bill Cosby.
The Muse (1999): Albert Brooks’ first three films limn the dark side of neurosis, illuminating the self-absorption too often whitewashed by, say, Woody Allen. They’re also hilarious. By his sixth directing job, he’d lost both. As a screenwriter who hires a real-life muse (Sharon Stone) to jump-start his flailing career, he’s victim rather than oppressor. Moreover, the film is never funny. Luckily, 2006’s Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World served as a near-comeback.
The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001): Woody Allen’s 40-film run is filled with peaks and valleys, with the last decade mostly a deep chasm. There’s so many low points to choose from, but I’d go with this retro-comedy as his nadir—an absolutely juiceless hypnosis-related farce that feels like it’s under a narcotic spell.
The Dangerous Thread of Things (2004): Michelangelo Antonioni died before he could make a film better than his contribution to the omnibus film Eros . Alas, his final work will remain this laughably stiff bickering-couple saga, featuring cavorting naked babes, mysteriously ugly shots and bad actors stumbling over pseudo-profundities like, “It’s funny, isn’t it? You’re always lookng for purity and you end up in shit.”
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008): And David Fincher didn’t even win that Oscar. Expert filmatists: Stay away from bizarre, aging movies!
The Lovely Bones (2009): So awful it makes me question my love for Peter Jackson’s great films. Please hold up, Heavenly Creatures .
Six Long-Running Film Franchises