LOS ANGELES — January traditionally is dumping time, when movies that have been held over from the previous year get thrust upon the multiplexes just as film lovers are catching up with higher-quality awards contenders. Some good movies do come out in January: Alpha Dog (2007), Cloverfield (2008) and Taken (2009) are a few recent examples — but those are the anomalies.
Here's a look at some of the worst January releases of the past decade — and it was difficult to choose just five. Hold your nose and let's go:
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009): It made more than $183 million worldwide, but that doesn't make it good. And what's so frustrating is that this dopey comedy is a dismal waste of the innate regular-guy likability of its star, Kevin James, who created the character. James plays a portly, Segway-riding shopping center security guard who longs for action, and finds it when he gets caught up in a holiday bank heist that's a cheap knock-off of Die Hard.
Bride Wars (2009): Clearly, 2009 was off to an inauspicious start. Bride Wars represents everything that's wrong with a) wedding movies and b) modern romantic comedies in general. Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway co-star as lifelong best friends who’ve obsessively fantasized about the ideal wedding since they were children in small-town New Jersey. Bride Wars offers cliched stereotypes of female, catty materialism. Shockingly, two of the film's three writers are women.
Kangaroo Jack (2003): Jerry O'Connell and Anthony Anderson play a couple of racially mismatched buddies
who go Down Under — to the accompaniment of Men at Work's Down Under, in case we couldn't figure out where they were — and hit a kangaroo with their Jeep. Said marsupial (who isn't dead, but isn't exactly alive either, no thanks to some shoddy CGI work) gets up and hops away with the $50,000 they're supposed to deliver in Australia as an assignment from O'Connell's mob-boss stepfather, played by Christopher Walken. That's right, Christopher Walken. Even he can't make this movie funny.
When in Rome (2010): Perpetuates yet another rom-com cliche: the high-powered woman who's married to her job and too busy to look for love. In yet another movie ostensibly for women, that peddles the insulting notion that a woman can't
be fulfilled personally and professionally at the same time, Kristen Bell functions in this role as an art curator who travels to Rome for her sister's wedding. There, she suffers a curse while splashing in a fountain which makes her irresistible to a cadre of creeps. Even the hunky Josh Duhamel, as the best man, couldn't make this tolerable.
Mad Money (2008): Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes have no business being in the same room with each other, much less co-starring in a heist comedy. And yet, here they are. It's essentially a chemistry-free rip-off of 1980's How to Beat the High Cost of Living. Here, the target is the Federal Reserve Bank where the three women work. Except for Latifah's character, who's barely scraping by and eagerly seeks a better life for her sons, it's tough to muster much sympathy for any of these people. Worst of all is Holmes, whose defining trait is bopping around at work with her headphones on, dancing as she listens to music. Ocean's Three, it ain't.
Photo: Queen Latifah