RazzieWatch 2011: The Worst-Picture Race Begins

It’s June, which means that Hollywood is readying another buffet of crap. Endless superhero sagas, pointless remakes, a third Transformers movie — 2011 just might be the worst summer movie season ever. But a lousy summer for movie-watchers is a great summer for Razzie-watchers, because everyone knows that summer is Razzie season.

The Razzies, of course, are the coveted Golden Raspberry awards, the brainchild of Los Angeles PR man John Wilson, who turned an Oscar-party roast of bad movies into a 30-year cottage industry celebrating the worst Tinseltown has to offer. The Razzies (dis)honor Hollywood the day before the Academy Awards in a ceremony that has even occasionally attracted some star power. (Two years ago Sandra Bullock accepted her Worst Actress Razzie for All About Steve in person, her good sportsmanship aided, no doubt, by the fact that she was a lock to win an Oscar for The Blind Side the next day.)

And while there is a universe of insider-y blogs devoted to Oscar season in the fall and winter, there are none that cover Razzie season — until now. This summer, Grantland’s RazzieWatch will take a close look at Hollywood’s duds, bombs, and rehashes, peering deep into our (RAZZberry-shaped) crystal ball to forecast which movies have the best chance at Razzie glory … and immortality.

The Year So Far

Some amateur Razzie fans think that, as with the Oscars and other lesser awards, movies that open early in the year get forgotten at awards time. But our research shows that’s just not true. In fact, in the past 10 years, 15 of the 51 Worst Picture nominees were released before June 1 — that’s 29.4 percent!

What does that mean for the 32nd annual Razzies? It means that one — or maybe even two — movies that have already opened will be among the Worst Picture honorees when nominations are announced on Monday, January 23.

But which will it be? Let’s take a look at the top contenders on the Razzie eligibility list.

Remakes and Sequels: Unlike snootier awards, the Razzies love remakes and sequels. In fact, these films have a leg up on original movies in Razzieland since the awards have an entire category just for prequels, remakes, rip-offs, and sequels.

Here are 2011′s rehashes released before June with Razzie heat, ranked by their current Tomatometer score:

  • Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son: 5%
  • Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil: 10%
  • Red Riding Hood: 11%
  • Just Go With It: 18%
  • Arthur: 27%
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: 33%
  • The Hangover Part II: 35%
  • Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family: 41%
  • Gnomeo & Juliet: 55%
  • Scream 4: 57%

What a lineup! What a year it’s going to be for Razzie-watchers! You could fill a Worst Picture category just from these worthy movies, without even waiting for summer. But history tells us that only one of these films has a shot at a coveted Worst Picture nomination. It seems likely that Red Riding Hood and Hoodwinked Too! will split the wolf vote, leaving both in the cold. Big Mommas‘ Tomatometer is eye-popping, but I think too many voters hide secret love for this genius franchise to doom it with a Razzie nom.

In the end, I’d put my money on Hangover II, a sequel that’s also, in its own way, a remake. Look for it to cash in on nomination day with nods for Worst Picture, Worst Director, and Worst Actor. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the monkey sneak off with a nod as well.

The Originals: It’s tougher to score a nomination without some kind of franchise backing, but it can happen. Let’s take a look at the original films under Razzie consideration, ranked by Tomatometer score.

  • The Roommate: 4%
  • Season of the Witch: 6%
  • Atlas Shrugged: Part I: 13%
  • Something Borrowed: 15%
  • Priest: 16%
  • The Rite: 19%
  • The Dilemma: 21%
  • Sucker Punch: 22%
  • Your Highness: 25%
  • Hop: 26%
  • Battle: Los Angeles: 35%
  • Drive Angry 3D: 46%

Those were some terrible movies, all right, but can any of them break through the clutter come December, when Razzie voters are casting their ballots? It’s only June and I already can’t remember whether The Roommate was a would-be comedy or a would-be thriller, or whether Nicolas Cage was in Drive Angry 3D or Season of the Witch. (Both, it turns out.)

But as a Razzie pro, I’d say this: Don’t sleep on Atlas Shrugged: Part I. It has a tiny profile, earning only $4.6 million at the box office, but it got a lot of highbrow press coverage for its awfulness. And unlike all these other movies, Atlas won’t confuse voters come nomination day. I think it might be this year’s The Hottie and the Nottie — a real Little Movie That Can’t!

New This “Weak”

After last weekend’s disappointing positive reviews served as a death knell for Super 8’s Razzie hopes, Razzie-watchers are eagerly anticipating Friday, when two high-profile openings compete for all the raspberries. Which will be the ballsiest summer release: Jim Carrey’s crotch-centric family comedy Mr. Popper’s Penguins or Green Lantern, starring Ryan Reynolds’ bulge? Both are strong contenders for multiple nominations. I’d say that Green Lantern has the best shot, since the Razzie administration’s shocking decision not to open discussion of Thor or X-Men: First Class for awards has left the fertile superhero genre wide open.

On the “Bore”-izon

What a year for Razzie-watchers! Which of these maybe-terrible movies will triumph on Razzie nomination day?

The Front-runners: Two sequels, both to Razzie-beloved films, look to dominate the nominations this winter. June 29’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon follows 2009 Worst Picture winner Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and should collect nominations for the film, director Michael Bay, Shia LaBeouf, and whoever is playing Megan Fox this time around. But I have a hunch even that total will be “eclipsed” by November 18’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1. Last year Eclipse was upset for Worst Picture by Razzie favorite M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender; Breaking Dawn’s hilarious trailer suggests this chapter should garner at least nine nominations, including dual Actor nods, Worst Actress, and two Worst Couple nominations.

The Solid Bets: Two movies coming this summer, despite no franchise connections, have strong Razzie pedigrees and a great chance to ride bad reviews all the way to awards season. Take the Kevin James comedy The Zookeeper, which comes out July 8. The studio’s clearly hoping James will score another Blart — a movie with a stupid premise (in this case, talking animals help a guy score chicks) that nonetheless makes gazillions. I think it looks like Razzie bait for 2007 nominee James. And the sci-fi/Western mishmash of Cowboys & Aliens (July 29) makes it a dead ringer for one of the all-time Razzie greats: Wild Wild West, which won four awards (out of eight nominations) in 1999.

The Toss-ups: We hope Bad Teacher (June 24) will be stupid and awful, but maybe it’s just shockingly funny. The Smurfs (July 29) seems reminiscent of the dismal 1980s cartoon, but we’re worried the presence of Neil Patrick Harris means in fact it’s a delightful romp. And we assumed Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22) would get bogged down in uber-patriotic claptrap, but its production design does look — sigh — kind of awesome.

The Dark Horse: Don’t count out Cars 2 (June 24). The Razzies have thus far been allergic to Pixar fare, with the company’s frustratingly excellent films never achieving a single nomination in any category. But maybe this time — with an unnecessary-seeming sequel to the company’s least-beloved movie — Pixar will finally taste some sweet, sweet raspberry.

That’s all for this week! But the summer’s just begun, and you never know what turkeys might fly come Razzie season! Join us soon for another edition of RazzieWatch.

Dan Kois is a veteran Razzie guru and the co-author of the bestselling 30 Years of Razzie: The Official Guide to Hollywood’s Most Important Award.

Filed Under: Arthur, Cars 2, Cowboys & Aliens, Green Lantern, Razzies, Razziewatch, The Hangover Part Ii, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, Thor, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Zookeeper