Over the weekend, Gerard Butler's new romantic comedy, Playing for Keeps failed to play well at the box office, debuting in sixth place with a measly $6 million opening weekend gross. But as disappointing as Playing for Keeps' drawing power was, it pales beside the film's stunningly awful critical reception — on aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, only 2 percent of critics reviewed it positively. Playing for Keeps may just be the last true critical flop of 2012, with already lauded films such as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Les Miserables, and Zero Dark Thirty scheduled to bring the cinematic year to a close. Here's a look back at the 10 worst-reviewed movies released in 2012:
1. A Thousand Words (0 percent)
This "comedy" earns the dubious distinction of being the only film released this year to earn universally negative reviews. Eddie Murphy stars as a fast-talking literary agent cursed with a magical tree: Every time he speaks a word, it sheds a leaf — when the leaves run out, he'll die. The high-concept film was so poorly received in America that a theatrical release in the U.K. was canceled altogether.
"You've got one of the funniest verbal actors in the business in Eddie Murphy, and you put him in a movie where he can't talk. It's already a recipe for disaster." — John J. Puccio, Movie Metropolis
2. One for the Money (2 percent)
Janet Evanovich has written 19 novels centered on bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, but it took nearly 20 years for the character to reach the big screen — apparently for good reason. One for the Money stars Katherine Heigl as Plum on her inaugural mission, chasing a wanted former vice cop who also happens to be the man who took her virginity in high school. The film's single positive review comes from a critic who credits his reaction to "extremely lowered expectations."
"Further proof that Katherine Heigl picks her projects by stapling all potential scripts to a wall and throwing a dart." — Shaun Munro, What Culture
3. Playing for Keeps (2 percent)
A former soccer player (Gerard Butler) agrees to coach his son's soccer team in an attempt to become a better father, yet still finds time to bed an array of beautiful soccer moms that includes slumming talents like Judy Greer, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Uma Thurman. After pursuing its sleazy storyline, Playing for Keeps suddenly (and unconvincingly) offers a hackneyed moral about the importance of family.
"An undistinguished, impact-free watch-checker that will soon be vaguely distracting transatlantic travelers who forgot to carry on their iPads." — Anna Hornaday, Washington Post
4. A Little Bit of Heaven (4 percent)
2011's 50/50 proved that a comedy about cancer could be simultaneously funnier and more affecting than most would have thought possible. This year's stab at cancer comedy — the maudlin, unfunny A Little Bit of Heaven — shows how easily 50/50 could have gone wrong. Kate Hudson stars as a carefree young woman who falls in love with her doctor after she's diagnosed with colon cancer.
"A little bit of hell." — Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News
5. The Apparition (4 percent)
An evil spirit plagues a group of people who have attempted to summon it in a parapsychological experiment. Will the idiots who populate bad horror movies like this one never learn? This by-the-numbers entry in the crowded genre stars Twilight's Ashley Greene and offers no scares or surprises over the course of its (mercifully brief) runtime.
"The whole ordeal only lasts 82 minutes, but that's still too long for a film with no ambition aside from lightening your wallet." — Chris Stuckmann, Moviedex
6. Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (6 percent)
This video game-based sequel, which hit theaters a full six years after a movie that wasn't particularly well-received in the first place, offers an incomprehensible narrative about a town plagued by monsters and an evil cult. Even using the very low bar set by previous films based on video games, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D is a disaster, earning even worse reviews than notorious flops like The Super Mario Brothers movie.
"It's never a good sign when the trailers playing before a film have richer, more complete narratives than the feature you've paid to see." — Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times
7. The Cold Light of Day (6 percent)
It's not clear what drew talented actors like Henry Cavill, Bruce Willis, and Sigourney Weaver to this dud of an action movie, which follows a convoluted narrative in which a string of interchangeable hit men attempt to steal a mysterious briefcase from Cavill. After an April release in the U.K., the film was dumped into U.S. theaters in September and almost immediately forgotten.
"Charging $10 for this movie is criminal; vouchers and letters of apology should be handed out at the exit for those stalwart viewers who stick it out to the end." — James Berardinelli, ReelViews
8. The Devil Inside (7 percent)
The found-footage genre may have reached its nadir with The Devil Inside, a low-budget horror flick that fails to do anything new or interesting with the played-out tropes of demonic possession. The Devil Inside's sins are legion, but its worst offense by far is its buzzed-about ending: The screen suddenly cuts to black and text appears encouraging moviegoers to visit a website to get the rest of the story.
"People of the world: If you find some footage, leave it be. You will likely be doing the rest of us a huge favor." — Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times
9. The Babymakers (9 percent)
This crass comedy stars Paul Schneider and Olivia Munn as a married couple who discover that Schneider's character may be infertile. They decide to rob a sperm bank to which he once made a (presumably more robust) donation. How bad is The Babymakers? Let's just say it resorts to having one of its main characters roll around the floor in a puddle of spilled semen.
"Every so often a movie comes along that's so lame you can almost make out a 'What the hell am I doing here?' thought bubble over an actor's head." — Sara Stewart, New York Post
10. Red Dawn (11 percent)
The remake of 1984's Red Dawn endured an unusually troubled production; in an attempt to make the film more marketable in Asia, editors retroactively changed the film's villains from Chinese to North Korean. That level of cynical calculation is emblematic of the philosophy behind Red Dawn, which plays out like the fever dream of a particularly deranged conspiracy theorist.
"Remaking an old film is rarely a good idea, but sometimes the ideal is so spectacularly bad that the reasoning behind it defies all comprehension." — Charlie McCollum, San Jose Mercury News
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 13 Urban Outfitters controversies
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- This is how the U.S. thinks China could invade Taiwan
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Can we lead spiritually fulfilling lives without religion?
- Obama knows he can't really 'defeat' ISIS. Americans need to wake up to that reality, too.
- Surviving a plane crash
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
Subscribe to the Week