It was Caesar’s soothsayer who warned, “Beware the scum of March” – ok, maybe not in those exact words, but centuries later, the Ides isn’t half as horrifying as the ten miserable movies Peter Travers tosses into this month’s scum bucket. And please do “Boo” along at home, Travers requests. “They kind of give me strength.”
First off is God’s Not Dead, a new Christian indie film about students that buck against their professor who’s teaching in his philosophy class that God no longer exists. The whole idea is to critique the American university system, but Travers says it’s nothing more than horrible, awkward and pointless.
Next is a string of terrible movies with excellent actors: In the unoriginal Better Living Through Chemistry, Sam Rockwell stars as a sad, small-town pharmacist who meets a sexy married woman (Olivia Wilde); they take a bunch of pills and plot to kill her husband. The Face of Love falls at number eight, and it finds Annette Bening as a woman who meets a man (Ed Harris) with the same face as her dead husband. It’s a movie Travers can only describe as “a horrible Hallmark nightmare.” At number seven is Cesar Chavez, which does star the terrific Michael Peña as the titular activist. The earnest film suffers from “biopic disease,” putting Chavez on a pedestal instead of painting a believable portrait of the man who unionized farm workers, warts and all.
Tyler Perry makes his triumphant return to the scum bucket thanks to his latest effort, Single Moms Club, while the truly bizarre Maladies follows a multimedia artist named Carter (just one name, like Cher) who’s made a movie about a disturbed Seventies soap opera star played by James Franco; he lives in a beach house with Catherine Keener, who likes to dress as a man. “What?” asks an incredulous Travers. “I’m sorry, maybe as a multimedia experiment, it’s good. But as a movie, Maladies made me sick.”
Eva Green is the only thing remotely real, or redeeming, about the fake digital world of 300: Rise of the Empire, while, Breaking Bad‘s brilliant Aaron Paul makes too many wrong turns in Need for Speed. “It made me nostalgic for all the Fast and the Furious movies, and that shouldn’t happen to a movie critic,” Travers sighs.
The film adaptation of the young adult book Divergent lands at number two, despite its blockbuster status. And while Travers wanted to like the movie, he says it’s nothing more than a plodding, Hunger Games rip off (though he’s holding out hope for the next two films in the series). And, with trumpets blaring, the worst film March had to offer: Sabotage, in which former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ostensibly battles every drug cartel in the world. “I don’t know who’s sabotaging what, I just know that Arnold gets to shoot a lot of people and you sit there watching the movie numbed!” Travers says. “When I saw it I said to myself, ‘Go back, see your friend the scum bucket…and make this number one.”