By Steven Rea The Philadelphia Inquirer
They could have fed a Third World nation, or poured money into cancer research, or tried saving those polar bears stuck on itty-bitty ice floes.
But no-o-o-o-o, Hollywood had better things to do with its hundreds of millions of dollars, like letting Adam Sandler make “That’s My Boy.”
Sure, the film biz isn’t in it for the philanthropy and no one intentionally sets out to make two or three hours of stupefying dreck, right? “Right?! RIGHT?!!”
Herewith, the 10 dumbest, most misguided, wasteful, indulgent, soul-crushing, life-robbing films of 2012.
They’re in alphabetical order, except for the last one. Peter Jackson’s first installment in his new Middle-earth trilogy isn’t really that awful, but it is an unexpected journey.
“Cloud Atlas”: Cross-dimensional, time-traveling cosmic hooey, although Tom Hanks and Halle Berry’s postapocalyptic patois would make for a great comedy sketch. The gods of reincarnation should sue.
“John Carter”: Pixar animator Andrew Stanton tried his hand with live-action in this $250 million Disney fiasco, an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “John Carter of Mars” — or Barsoom, as the pulp scribe was wont to call the Red Planet.
Lynn Collins is Princess Dejah, who hails from Helium, and some of the warring creatures she and Civil War-era Earthling Taylor Kitsch contend with are Tharks, Therns and Zodangans. Look out for those Barsoomian subtitles.
“Lola Versus”: The charming and goofy Greta Gerwig (“Damsels in Distress,” “To Rome With Love”) gets the title role in a hopelessly cliched post-breakup/single-in-New-York character study.
Wait for the gorgeous, black-and-white post-breakup/single-girl-in-New York character study from Gerwig’s real-life companion, Noah Baumbach. And then let’s hope Gerwig can move on.
“The Odd Life of Timothy Green”: A fertility-clinic fantasy, with Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton as the parents who want so, so much to have a child but can’t — and then one pops out of the vegetable garden, a boy with leafy shins.
“Playing for Keeps”: A pack of soccer moms — Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Judy Greer among them — throw themselves at former soccer pro Gerard Butler, who only wants to throw himself back into the life of his ex, Jessica Biel.
“Red Dawn”: In John Milius’ teen militia fantasy, released in 1984, the Soviet Union drops platoons of paratroopers down on the Midwest, but luckily Charlie Sheen and Patrick Swayze are there to save the day.
In this ill-advised redo, North Korea is the enemy, and Chris Hemsworth leads a couple of Joshes (Josh Hutcherson, Josh Peck) in a battle to save Washington state. Somehow, it’s not the same.
“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”: Don’t know what’s worse, Keira Knightley’s pseudo-hipster cool (and that vintage vinyl she lugs around), or filmmaker Lorene Scafaria’s phony Delaware and New Jersey locations. Giving the apocalypse a bad name.
“That’s My Boy”: Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg as estranged father and son — what could be funnier? Waiting in line to pay your electric bill?
A warm and fuzzy embrace of all-American values: incest, statutory rape, strip clubs, obesity and homophobia.
“Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie”: Even if you were stoned, this cheap and surreal shopping-mall farce wouldn’t be funny. In fact, if you were stoned this could be dangerous: You actually might go ahead and really stick forks in your eyes.
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”: All this from J.R.R.’s little book? Two hours and 49 minutes of dwarfs and elves, orcs and wizards, goblins and trolls chasing each other across flimsy rope bridges — with two more installments to come?
The beginning, and end, of 48 frames-per-second technology. Watch the Air New Zealand in-flight safety video instead. It’s a lot shorter and smarter.