Watching a movie nominated for a Razzie may be one of the worst ways to spend a few hours, but actually attending the Awards turns out to be one of the best. Last night’s rousing, barb-flinging camp-fest handed Razzie repeat offender M. Night Shyamalan’s critically abhorred The Last Airbender the Worst Picture trophy (the movie led the pack with five “wins,” click here for a complete list of winners). But the actual wins were but a small part of what makes this annual pre-Oscars tradition such a fun, light-hearted pageant.
Given its tradition of embracing the best of the worst, the event’s self-aware kitsch is not only appropriate, it’s incredibly endearing. Forget the red carpet — the path to the door is dotted with “RAZZIES”-marked arrows scrawled on the pavement in fuchsia sidewalk chalk. Upon entry, the jovial staff hands you a program (two colored sheets folded in half) and directs you to the cozy, 299-seat Barnsdall Gallery Theatre auditorium. Hot pink spotlights shine on an onstage podium that displays the evening’s icon, self-proclaimed as “Tinsel Town’s Tackiest Trophy”: glimmering with an entrancing je ne sais quois, it’s the not-so-coveted Golden Raspberry. The paperweight-like trophies’ Hobby Lobby-infused charm comes courtesy of some plastic beads glue-gunned onto a clay ball and spray-painted gold. Manufacturing cost: $4.97.
“We’re like the kid at the back of the class with the spit wad while the teacher’s up at the blackboard,” said Razzies creator John Wilson. “We don’t take anything terribly seriously.”
The irreverent ceremony lampooned Hollywood’s highfalutin award shows. There was an opening musical number starring two guys in sparkly, New Year’s Eve top hats, lasciviously dancing with a Cher-styled mannequin. It sang “Welcome to the worst” to the tune of “Welcome to burlesque” as it flailed spread-legged with the dancers about the stage. Unflattering clips of Worst Picture nominees were peppered throughout, and there was even an “in memoriam” that lovingly abased greats like Dennis Hopper and Tom Bosley, running movie scenes from career low points. (The package ended with “M. Night Shyamalan’s career: 1999 – 2010.”)
The Golden Raspberry Award Foundation (GRAF) celebrated the Razzies’ 31st anniversary this year, honoring what they dubbed “an especially rancid string of movies.” The Last Airbender dominated with five awards out of a total of nine nominations, while septuple-nominated Sex and the City 2 (which the emcees regularly called “Sex and the City, Number Two”) was conferred three Razzies, landing as runner-up. Not far behind was “the ‘turd’ film in the Twilight series,” Eclipse.
“[The Last Airbender] is only an hour-and-a-half long, but it feels like a month.” Wilson said. “The dialogue was so unintelligible, it’s like a foreign film without subtitles.”
Comedian and guest star Russell Peters, who’s of Indian heritage, cracked some Airbender jokes after the final berry was bestowed, and took aim at floundering director Shyamalan: “So on behalf of my community, which spans the globe — in India alone at 1.3 billion people — way to disappoint over a billion people.”
“It’s one of those fabled things,” Peters said of his Razzie appearance. “You always hear about the Razzies, but you never know when and where they take place. You know they happen the day before the Oscars every year, but you never really see any coverage of it. It’s good to see the unicorn in real life.”
To make matters even more silly, the one and only Flavor Flav arrived toward the end of the ceremony, to support his friend, Eric Ortner, the Razzies Executive Producer. Said Flav: “I haven’t seen Sex and the City, but I’m always having sex in the city!” While none of the nominees pulled a Sandra Bullock this year, seeing the Flav, in all his clock-wearing glory, was almost as pleasantly surprising. (In addition to his developing chain of fried chicken restaurants, he says he’s also in talks for a new reality show, but he remained tight-lipped about that.)
“I don’t make fun of nothing,” Flav said. “The only thing I like doing is just watching. I would never make fun. There’s a lot of people putting their real, hard work into it. Who am I to make fun of somebody’s hard work?”
Though Flav may not agree with the Razzies’ churlish humor, Wilson is happy to see that the Razzies have become a durable Oscar weekend tradition that resonate with a lot of moviegoers. “I think that the general public has a certain element of revenge,” Wilson said. “With the 3-D thing, a single movie ticket is $14. The price keeps going up, and the quality keeps going down.”
With at least 27 sequels slated for release in 2011 – the most ever – along with remakes-a-plenty, exploitation of the superhero genre and more 3-D than your migraine propensity knows what to do with, it doesn’t appear that the Razzies will be slowing down any time soon.