Can a cute movie about a famous movie director starring popular, award-winning movie stars really be so terrible, you ask? Yes, and here’s why: Because Hitchcock thinks it’s cute, and even clever. Because it starts with a phony, unproven premise (ooh, Alfred Hitchcock was a weirdo! That’s how he made Psycho!). Because, in showy prosthetics and mannerisms, Anthony Hopkins turns Hitchcock into a cartoon. Because, given little insight into the motivations of Hitchcock’s wife and creative collaborator, Alma Reville, Helen Mirren comes up with an imitation of a copy of a Helen Mirren performance. And because this is what the devil looks like at the movies: mediocre, self-amused filmmaking riding the coattails of genius. (See also: Hyde Park on Hudson.)
2. That’s What She Said
Meet an unpleasant, neurotically insecure woman (Marcia Debonis) with a stubborn case of vaginal yeast infection and her sisterhood of unbearable friends (among them Anne Heche). Better yet, don’t. This femme-owned-and-operated comedy makes it onto this chart in exasperated recognition of its outstanding tastelessness. That women can tell stories as crude and crappy as their brethren isn’t excuse enough for this dumb raunch. And yes, while we’re at it, the movie is self-loathing, too.
3. Hyde Park On Hudson
Want to know why a heedlessly rude, frocks-and-titters historical drama about a weekend in the life of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gets an R rating? Because, out of a historically documented if unspecified romantic attachment between FDR and a distant cousin, the makers of this Downton Abbey-era piffle have sought fit to ”imagine” the sexual nature of the bond. For extra faux-classiness, the movie panders to the King’s Speech crowd by sudsing together FDR and cuz and King George and his wife, all together in the Roosevelt family’s country house. Eleanor Roosevelt and FDR’s mother are laughed at too. Way to keep it classy.
Americans on the political right who want backup for an argument that those on the political left use popular culture to treat the right with condescension are in luck: Butter is exhibit A for the prosecution. A rancid political comedy about a butter-carving showdown between a pageant-pretty, scheming, conservative wifey played by Jennifer Garner (marshaling her cheapest Sarah Palin mannerisms) and a clever little African-American foster child, the movie is set in the dairy-producing heartland of the USA, where folks are portrayed as rubes who, you know, carve butter! Ha-ha!
5. Trouble With the Curve
We’ve seen Clint Eastwood do this growling-old-geezer routine once too often: He squints and makes pirate sounds, but inside he’s an okay guy, true to his code, more upstanding than many whippersnappers, and blah blah blah. In this derivative sports-redemption drama — can a baseball movie for once just be about baseball? — Eastwood is a crusty baseball scout. He’s awful to Amy Adams as his adult daughter. But we’re meant to excuse him: He misses his dead wife, he’s losing his hearing, and he’s — nope. Three strikes. Trouble With the Curve is O-U-T.