An inordinate amount of crap hit the big screen in September, but thanks to Rolling Stone movie critic Peter Travers, it’s all destined for the dreaded Scum Bucket. “You probably stayed home,” our reviewer says of the 10 films in his latest bad-film round-up. “But I saw all these sucky movies.” Thy bucket runneth over.
The first film to face Travers’ scorn is the third installment of sci-fi/drama trilogy Atlas Shrugged, the film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s 1957 literary opus. Travers “(lets) this one off easy” at Number 10 since at least “there’s no more of this crap” in the pipeline. But he has harsher words for musical-drama The Identical, which follows a set of twins separated at birth during the Great Depression – with one becoming an Elvis-styled rock star of the Fifties. “How come the estate of Elvis just didn’t sue?” Travers asks. “I just don’t know why Graceland allows these things.”
Travers hates to criticize his buddy Jason Bateman, but it was a bad month for the comedic actor, who slummed it up in the lukewarm dramedy The Longest Week. (“Jason, what are you thinking? Get back here – I want you back here on this show. I want you to explain yourself.”) Even worse is Good People, a predictable thriller starring Kate Hudson and James Franco. And even more disappointing is The Zero Theorem, an incoherent sci-fi disaster from filmmaking master Terry Gilliam.
At Number Five is The Maze Runner, which aims for The Hunger Games but only offers narrative hunger pangs. “Everyone wants desperately to be The Hunger Games, and none of them are,” Travers says, reminding filmmakers that movies need to be “interesting.” The next bucket-bound film is Forrest Gump 3-D, an unnecessary cash-in which updates that 1994, Tom Hanks-starring classic for the IMAX crowd. “Your mother told you ‘life is like a box of chocolates,'” Travers says. “It’s really a box of greed.”
Which brings us to September’s scummiest flicks: At Number Three is Dolphin Tale 2, a “sickly sweet and saccharine” which aims to please (but is bound to disappoint) all members of the family. This Is Where I Leave You boasts an all-star cast – including Travers’ pal Jason Bateman and Tina Fey – but its Shiva-sitting story ultimately leads nowhere, with a family “sitting around, complaining about their lives.”
But the film scraping the bottom of the Scum Bucket is the inappropriately disturbing thriller No Good Deed, which follows an “escaped convict who gets off on beating up women.” Travers looks uncomfortable even talking about the movie, which he says “revels in watching women be tortured.”
Travers is realistic about cinematic scum, and he’s keeping his trusted bucket handy. “Bring on October,” he says. “I’m ready for you.”