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Holding the Razzies Accountable: Vern on the Other Great Awards Injustice

Okay, so at the Oscars Jerry Seinfeld pissed off the documentarians, the theater owners, and if I were one of those minimum wagers who have to clean up theaters I don’t think I’d be too happy with him either. We know you’re a millionaire bud, if the popcorn is too expensive just bring some caviar from home. But pick up your own garbage, asshole.

Me, I’m thinking bad thoughts about a different set of awards. Every year around Oscar season you see articles and discussions popping up about “when Oscar got it wrong,” usually pointing to The Unfortunate Dances With Wolves Over Goodfellas Affair as well as the career-long snubs of Hitchcock and Kubrick (please remember to delete references to Scorsese not having an Oscar before recycling that essay next year). Coinciding with those writings are the annual blurbs on the Golden Raspberries, which can be summed up as “ha ha, that crazy bitch Sharon Stone made a bad movie, ha ha.” You don’t usually see complaints about the Razzie people getting it wrong, but they do it all the time. I know it’s all supposed to be in fun and nobody really thinks about it too much, but still – these people have been getting attention this way for 25 years. Either we hold them to a certain standard or maybe it’s time we gave this smarmy tradition the gong.

I enjoy a good bad movie as much as the next guy. Probaly more than the next guy. I’m sure I’ve seen Road House more times than many of you, and I guarantee you I’ve seen On Deadly Ground (1995 Razzie winner, Worst Director, Steven Seagal) more than you have. Now maybe I’m laughing at these movies in places where it wasn’t intended, but I still have to admit that I am genuinely enjoying them. You’d think if bad movies was gonna be your thing for a quarter century you’d want to really love watching them, but that doesn’t seem to be the approach here. Instead it’s a much less clever version of the smug, superior attitude those wiseass puppets used to have on that show Making Jokes Over Old Movies Theater. My feeling is that if you’re enjoying the movie you oughta respect it at least a little bit. Who gives a shit what they were trying to do with Road House, the point is they ended up with a crazy over-the-top tone that nobody else has quite captured. I say give them credit, don’t point at them and call them retards.

Of course, most of the Razzie targets aren’t as unique as Road House. The awards were founded by a publicist, so they’re an extension of that celebrity culture cycle – build them into royalty and then slit their throats. So it’s mostly obvious choices either with a bad reputation (Heaven’s Gate, Catwoman) or starring a major Hollywood star that people think is dumb (most often Sylvester Stallone). It’s easy to assume that most of the voters don’t actually see the movies, which is how an obvious choice like Basic Instinct 2 wins out over a more nuanced one like The Wicker Man.

And going after a favorite target takes precedence over an honest assessment of the movies, like when Bruce Willis was nominated Worst Actor for Armageddon. Now, I fucking hate Armageddon. If it were a person, I would consider it my enemy. I believe that Armageddon is a multiple stabbing of the art of action cinema, and that the language of action scenes are still scarred from the attack. But Bruce Willis didn’t do anything wrong other than to sign onto the fucking thing. It’s not a bad performance. How does he get the blame? Or Sylvester Stallone winning Worst Actor for Rambo. I don’t like that movie too much either, it’s such a blight on First Blood. But Stallone embodies that character with every cell in his body. The guy is not eloquent. The guy doesn’t have range. But the guy is fucking Rambo. You can’t tell me that’s a bad performance.

Reading through a history of Razzie winners and nominees, some of it seems like a witch hunt. Everybody hated Heaven’s Gate at the time so of course Michael Cimino had to get worst director. Prince got reamed for directing Under the Cherry Moon, which is actually not too bad a movie. Of course they had to join the pigpile on Sofia Coppola for Godfather III (her and Roberto Benigni are two of the “Worst New Star” winners who went on to acclaim and Oscars). Looking back, doesn’t it seem funny that the original Friday the 13th was nominated for worst picture? They didn’t know how good they had it.

There are a whole lot of movies and performances that I would argue those squares just don’t get: not just Showgirls but Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Freddy Got Fingered, Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element, and especially Marlon Brando in Island of Dr. Moreau. Yes, he was a weirdo in real life and in the movie. And that makes it bad acting? Put down the torch and the pitchfork and watch that movie again. It’s so full of hilarious insanity, almost definitely improvised, and clearly coming out of Brando’s unique mind. How can you not enjoy the part where David Thewlis is shocked by the animal-human hybrids at the dinner table and Brando thinks he’s talking about sunblock, or when the good doctor interrupts his big speech about genetic engineering to tell his little buddy Nelson de la Rosa to get his feet off of the table? The Razzies gave a “Worst Screen Couple” award to Brando and de la Rosa, but they called them “Marlon Brando and that ‘darn dwarf’.”

Go back further and you can see major lapses in judgment from early on. How the hell did Ennio Morricone’s eerie Carpenter-ish music for The Thing get nominated for Worst Musical Score? Maybe you can’t bring the record home and dance to it, but it sure is effective in the movie. Brian DePalma has been nominated for Worst Director three times, but not for Mission to Mars or anything like that. He was nominated for Dressed to Kill, Body Double and Scarface.

Scarface! I should report these assholes to the rapper union. I know some people don’t like the excess and cartoonishness of that movie, but worst direction? That scene where the chain saw’s about to hit flesh and the camera floats outside to show the lookouts flirting with a girl in a swimsuit? You think that’s the worst directing?

How about this one though: in the very first Razzie ceremony in 1981, another worst director nominee was Stanley Kubrick for The Shining. A quarter century later that’s still one of the scariest movies ever made. Razzie got it wrong.

I should probaly rest my case after that one but I think I have actually left my most damning piece of evidence for last. Clearly the Razzie foundation can be unfair, they can be thick, they can have bad taste. But their worst quality is their lame sense of humor. Sure, they have a point about Leonard Part 6, but how can we take their assessments of comedies seriously when they willingly use puns like “Basic Instinct 2, a.k.a. Basically, It Stinks, Too”? What is this, Cracked Magazine?

Since I don’t like the bitchy negativity of the whole thing, I will try to set an example by saying something positive about the Razzies. In 1995 they had a really good idea for a category, “Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Millon.” I’m not really sure how Twister beat out Independence Day in that category, but I’ll live. I was also really impressed that they nominated A Time To Kill. That movie is ridiculous but generally gets a pass since it’s a Schumacher-Goldmsan joint without rubber muscles or people dressed up in pink gorilla suits.

But if Matthew McConaghey’s appalling summation speech shouldn’t keep getting a pass, the Razzies shouldn’t either. Next year maybe we should leave the Razzies on the theater floor next to Jerry Seinfeld’s half-eaten hot dog and tobacco spit cup (or whatever it is that is so god damn difficult for him to carry to the garbage can after he’s done with it).

Originally published at Screengrab: http://www.nervepop.com/nerveblog/screengrabblog.aspx?id=107e9566#9566

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, March 5th, 2007 at 5:12 pm and is filed under Other Sites, Vern Tells It Like It Is. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

29 Responses to “Holding the Razzies Accountable: Vern on the Other Great Awards Injustice”

  1. So THE EXPENDABLES is up for razzies. Carry on.

  2. I hate to say it but the Razzies got it right with that one – the disappointment from The Expendables STILL lingers with me months after its release. It’s like the Episode I of testosterone action cinema (it’s about 80% boring and then one decent action sequence at the end).

    Oh, and I unfortunately saw All About Steve the other day; they got it right with that one too – damn near unwatchable.

  3. They’ve had it in for Stallone for decades. He could put out a movie that cured cancer and he’d still get 12 nominations. Fuck those hacks.

  4. It really has nothing to do with the movie, it’s just that those weiners are stuck in the ’80s and still think it’s funny to make fun of Stallone. He has won for Rhinestone, Rambo First Blood Part 2, Rocky IV, Rambo III, Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot, The Specialist, Spy Kids 3, plus Worst Actor of the Decade, Worst Actor of the Century and numerous other nominations that he didn’t “win.”

    The Razzie people know nothing about movies good or bad, or art or comedy. They’re just a bunch of annoying gossip columnist hacks who even do a shitty job at making fun of bad movies. I mean how can your job be to just be a smarmy douchebag asshole and you still lower the bar for that kind of material? They’re just the worst there is to offer and don’t deserve any more of our attention.

  5. p.s. in case it is not clear in the above post I don’t like the Razzie awards

  6. Well personally I think they were totally biased against Britney Spears. Just my take.

  7. I actually liked all of the movies Vern listed above way more than The Expendables (except for Stop or My Mom will Shoot). Stallone is actually REALLY good in Rhinestone, I don’t get why people don’t understand what he was trying to do. Actually, now I think about it, is Stallone (or Schwarzenegger) ever actually BAD in anything? I mean I can name a few bad Van Damme performances and MANY lazy, disinterested Seagal performances, but I don’t think I can name a bad Stallone performance off the top of my head.

    Oh, and speaking of which – LOCK UP. Finally caught it on cable and damn if it’s not an awesome movie, and Stallone is fucking great in it. Which of course means it was up for 3 Razzies.

  8. I wouldn’t exactly expend much energy defending RHINESTONE, but the Razzies and others have laid into it as an “ego trip” for Stallone, as if he were seriously trying to launch himself as a country star with that movie, which is an absurd claim to make if you’ve actually watched it

  9. Get Carter was extremely lazy.

  10. That’s part of what’s so shitty about it, Zod. In the ’80s Stallone was doing lowbrow genres and sequels that you can get away with lazily picking on because they’re not considered respectable in our culture, it doesn’t matter if he was good in them or not. Worse, they pick on him because he’s good at playing inarticulate lugs. Some dipshits even think he’s a “bad actor” in FIRST BLOOD because he plays a guy who barely talks and then starts blubbering at the end and he’s hard to understand. But of course that’s why he’s great.

    I’m surprised they didn’t nominate the fourth RAMBO, though. Maybe even the Razzie people started getting nostalgic for the movies the Rambo sequels they had picked on and wanted more of that.

  11. I’ve always felt Lock-Up is very under-appreciated. Not here most likely though.

  12. They didn’t nominate RAMBO (IV) for worst picture, but they did call it the worst film of the week. I only mention this because, as you may or may not remember, MEET THE SPARTANS was also out that week

  13. Did I mention fuck the Razzies? Because seriously, fuck the Razzies.

  14. When I was young, I found the Razzies pretty funny, but then I noticed that many of their nominated (and often winning) movies were not nearly as bad as their reputation and sometimes even pretty good.
    I completely gave up on them though, when Madonna won “Worst supporting actress” for her one word cameo in that one Bond movie. I think they can’t make their real agenda even more obvious than in that case. (Also it annoyed the shit out of me, that they suddenly referred to Arnie only as “Ah-nuld”.)

  15. But don’t you get it? He pronounces his words differently because he’s from another country! That’s HILARIOUS!

  16. CJ – that’s one of the things I noticed. I was joking about Britney Spears (although she didn’t do much wrong in “Crossroads” considering she was pretty much playing an idealized version of herself in it) but they do seem to have a down on anybody who goes from one field to another, such as from singing to acting. (Although Justin Timberlake seems to have gotten a pass ever since he left N’Sync, and frankly, having seen “The Social Network”, I can understand why that would be.)

  17. Don’t worry about Timberlake. He made Yogi Bear last year. This target should be easy enough for the Razzie jury.

  18. No doubt. I think it’s appropriate that they’re named after raspberries because all they do is go after low-hanging fruit.

  19. I think they were to some extent “legitimized” when Halle Berry and Tom Green turned up to graciously accept their awards. Which, considering some of the punning and general childishness, might be a bad thing.

    I will make the point here though that I think the Oscars are no less idiotic, albeit for somewhat different reasons. Time and time again mistakes have been made. (No noms for “Fight Club”? No “Best Actor” wins for Peter O’Toole? Really?)

    But I think the Oscars have had a worse influence in that each year we seem to get a huge glut of films that are made ONLY for the sake of winning Oscars – there’s no attempt to entertain the audience. It’s got to the point where I actually avoid certain films (“Crash”, “Cold Mountain”) because of that. At least the Razzies haven’t resulted in a load of films made specifically to win Razzies (although watching some films, it certainly feels that way occasionally.)

  20. When it comes to picking up your Razzie in person, like many, many other awesome things, Verhoeven did it first.

  21. I vaguely recall being disappointed in Stallone in a movie I watched while very drunk a few months ago. It’s called EYE SEE YOU, and features a killer who carves “ICU” at the crime scene or on the victims or something. Sigh. This is why I very rarely drink these days. Now I realize I need to watch it all over again, without the Dewar’s White Label and Moet & Chandon.

    P.S. Fuck the Razzies.

    P.P.S All the RAMBOs are awesome.

  22. You know when I said I couldn’t name any outright BAD Stallone performances? I just realized I can name two bad Brad Pitt performances off the top of my head. I also just realized I’ve never seen Brad Pitt be GREAT in anything. He’s been good, sometimes VERY good, but he’s never come close to Stallone in Rocky or First Blood.

  23. Brad Pitt was awesome in Burn After Reading. Kinda stole the movie, imo.

  24. grimgrinningchris

    March 6th, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    And Ouceti wins the Razzie for “Worst Spam Post On A Movie Site”

  25. What did Seinfeld say in 2007 that Vern is referring to?

  26. Something about people who don’t know how to use Google, I think.

  27. So this may be a weird place to discuss this movie, but Inaugural “Worst Director” nominee THE SHINING is pretty incredible, as if you all didn’t know that. I probably haven’t sat through the whole thing until the other day, but HOLY SHIT this movie is the bee’s knees. Every shot composition, every edit, every horrible sound is so meticulously crafted that you’re just in awe of the accomplishment of this crazy, nutty movie. (The last movie that had me this tickled by pure crazy filmatism was Stoker). And no, I’m not a Kubrick fan-boy – 2001 kinda bores me to tears and I’m one of those people who only watches Full Metal Jacket for the R. Lee Ermey scenes, so sue me. But this is a beautiful, scary, funny, and iconic movie, it makes me finally GET Kubrick.

    And as an added bonus – somewhere in this directorial tour de force is Jack Nicholson’s INSANE performance. It’s not even MEGA, it’s beyond Mega. It’s beyond over the top. There are no metaphors or hyperboles to describe this performance. I can see why people don’t like what he’s doing – he’s literally doing a parody of himself, like a really good standup comic’s impression of Jack Nicholson, but hoo boy does he commit. This is Nicolas Cage-in-Deadfall-levels of crazy, except this time it’s surrounded by a great movie! (I’m kinda surprised he DIDN’T get a Razzie nom for this – I mean if you’re the type of person who hated this movie, i’d expect Nicholson’s performance to be at the very top of the reasons why you hate it)

    It seems fruitless to even discuss this movie, as I’m sure I’m preaching to the crowd (or is this old enough to be missed by the younger generations here?) but there’s a few things worth discussing – 1) I didn’t recall the movie cutting away this much to the outside world, which it does ALOT. I totally misremembered Scatman Crothers living a few miles down the mountain, not in freaking Miami. The airplane/airport/gas station scenes seems like a lot of pointless trouble to shoot when they’re pretty much the type of stuff that would end up in Deleted Scenes today, but whatever, at this point in the movie I kinda never wanted it to end.

    2) As a kid I didn’t get why they crossed a haunted house movie with a psychic kid movie (whose powers are pretty ill-defined); it seemed like a weird mashup that didn’t really pay off the pyschic kid story, it’s not like he uses his powers to defeat Jack at the end anyway. But now I get that the hotel sees the power the kid has and wants him. For what? What will happen if they do get him? Any other movie would make that the actual PLOT, like “if it gets this kid, a portal to hell opens/the spirits will free themselves” or some shit; i like that in this one it’s so subtle alot of people think it’s just ghosts and/or Jack going crazy.

    3) The scene where the doofy/clumsy waiter reveals himself as the proxy for the hotel is astonishing. I wonder if that’s the granddaddy of all scenes where an evil force takes a non-threatening form to speak exposition in plain English (the little girl/computer in Resident Evil, Helena Bonham-Carter as Skynet in T4, etc…)

    4) Maybe it’s because I was baked out of my mind, but I kinda love how fake alot of shots looked. The infamous “naked lady in the bathtub” scene looked to me like her and Jack making out in front of some Episode I-style matte background in a set, not that they were in a bathroom. Not sure which is the case but i love the way it made me feel uneasy. Also if you watch the scene with him and the bartender – the weird difference in lighting and composition makes them look like they’re not shooting the scene at the same time (it really looks like one of those split-screen “twin” movies like Double Impact or something).

    Yeah there’s just absolutely genius stuff going on in this movie. I wonder if the Razzies ever apologized for getting it wrong, or if they kind of pride themselves on taking this classic down a peg?

  28. Oh one more thought about Nicholson’s performance – my brain cells are so lacking at this point that I literally thought to myself while watching this – “Holy shit this guy would be fucking AMAZING as a comic book villain one day….oh wait….”

  29. Is there a Razzie for Worst Documentary? Because I’d like to nominate Room 237. So excited to watch a documentary all about fan theories/hidden meanings in Razzie Nominee The Shining, but I honestly felt I got more out of the special features on The Shining’s bluray. And no, it’s not one of those “you don’t get it, maaaan” situations – it’s just a poorly made, boring documentary that goes on way, WAY too long and only contains about 8 minutes of actual content. The movie is SO SLOW making it’s relatively few points, it makes The Shining look positively fast-paced. And the theorists are terrible – most of them all sound alike (it doesn’t help it’s ALL voiceover and you never see any of them), a ton of them just aren’t very good interviewees (“um…um…uhhh….”), one of them is so pleased with his theories but admits he’s holding back and isn’t going to tell us too many of them. Why the fuck not? Are you holding back for part 2 or something?? One of them actually stops to take care of a crying kid halfway through his voiceover=, which shows the care taken into making this thing. “But…but….they left that in to show the artifice of perspective and blah blah”. Whatever, this honestly should have a been a 10 minutes -tops youtube video with a link to The Shining IMDB page at the end.

    I can’t believe this played the Cannes film festival. I’d honestly rather see one of Mr. Plinkett’s reviews play Cannes if we’re headed in that direction (And as a kicker and sign of how far we’ve fallen, this was nominated for way more awards than The Shining itself. Unbelievable)

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