5. Draft Day (2014)
It’s currently at 57 percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes, so it’s not highly rated. But it is highly amazing that anyone at all liked this football-illiterate soap about a Cleveland Browns general manager (a sullen-looking Kevin Costner) simultaneously having girlfriend problems (with Jennifer Garner, who plays his team’s salary-cap guru), dead-dad problems and personnel problems on the biggest day of year for general managers.
Sonny Weaver Jr. (Costner) trades three first-round draft picks at the annual NFL draft of top college prospects in order to move up six spots and select the hottest college quarterback in years. But then he worries he’s made the wrong decision because of a rumor that none of the jock’s teammates attended his twenty-first birthday party. Also he gets jittery because of a game in which the QB got sacked four times, though even a non-expert looking at the tape can see how the sacks were entirely the fault of poor blocking by the offensive line, not the quarterback.
In short, no one who knows anything about football can take this film seriously, and the romance between Costner’s character and Garner is flat and tepid. Their arc? They’re having difficulties because he’s not very nice to her. But then he decides to be nice. The end.
4. Blades of Glory (2007)
If you saw the trailer, or even the 30-second TV commercial, you saw the movie. Two male figure skaters (Will Ferrell, Jon Heder) in ridiculously campy costumes don’t seem to realize how homoerotic their routines are. So they keep skating into each other’s crotches and flipping each other around like a guy would do with a girl. Yet they’re straight!
We all know sixth graders who could come up with better gay jokes than this movie has to offer. As in several other movies, Ferrell’s improv comes across as blaring and desperate for laughs.
3. Rocky IV (1985)
At some point Sylvester Stallone’s movie persona went from a humble working-class guy who made good to an unbearably preening and self-loving, steroid-injected showboat. This movie is that point. Draping himself in the American flag and making a boxing match look like an important element of the Cold War, Stallone let his fantasy image of his own macho-man appeal destroy what was so charming about the original Rocky, which contained only a few minutes of boxing footage but featured a romance that was unforgettable because it was so halting and fragile, with that scene in the skating rink saying it all about Rocky and Adrian. Just as lovable were the scenes of Rocky in his Philadelphia hovel talking to his pet turtles and his dog Butkus. Rocky III turned a little bit triumphalist and Rocky IV was virtually self-parody.
Hey, Sly, those American-flag shorts that Apollo Creed wore? They were supposed to be funny. They were supposed to typify the ridiculousness and vanity of Apollo Creed.
2. The Karate Kid (1984)
Directed by Rocky helmer John G. Avildsen, this long, slow, completely predictably fable comes across strictly as a factory-produced imitation, with all of the honest charm and street-level grit removed and replaced by blowdried 1980s shallowness. Instead of Burgess Meredith being genuinely, interestingly irascible, we have Pat Morita being a stereotypical Asian wise man. Instead of Talia Shire being mousy and terrified by the idea of her man getting pummeled, we have gorgeous Elisabeth Shue. If he’s such an outcast, why is the hottest girl in school interested in him? And as a l’il Balboa, Ralph Macchio doesn’t do it. Acting-wise, he’s a 98-pound weakling. There’s a reason this guy had no career whatsoever outside of these movies.
1. Field of Dreams (1989)
Sorry, sports fans, but God doesn’t waste His time organizing fantasy old-timer baseball games, and sentimental rubbish like this film trivializes belief in the Almighty. This is a brain-dead ghost story that could have been written by the staff of a Hallmark commercial.
Kevin Costner plays an Iowa farmer who is personally ordered by God to build a baseball field in order to attract the likes of disgraced superstar Black Sox player Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) and to kidnap a famous writer (James Earl Jones) and melt his frozen heart by taking him to Fenway Park. Baseball isn’t so sacred that it’s okay to make as weepy, phony and hokey a movie as you possibly can.