The post awards season malaise continues unabated this week with the release of two contenders for Worst Film of 2012. The ludicrously monikered McG scores a hatrick of stinkers with This Means War, which follows Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and Terminator Salvation into an unenviable pantheon of awfulness. Vying for the turkey of the week prize is Project X, a film that will make you hate teenagers. Elsewhere, Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston once again team up,15 years after starring together in The Object of My Affection, in Wanderlust, Putin’s dirty politics are exposed in Khodorkovsky and Austrian film Michael portrays a discomfiting tale of paedophilia.
Somehow McG still has a career. One wonders for how much longer after his latest effort This Means War, which despite the presence of the red-hot Tom Hardy and genre darling Reese Witherspoon fails to distinguish itself as one thing or another. Ostensibly a romantic, action comedy that pits best bud spies Foster and Henson (Chris Pine and Hardy respectively) against each other when they discover that they’re dating the same woman. Expect the usual McG blend of insipid set pieces, hackneyed humour and style very much over substance.
The ‘found footage’ premise is almost as tired as 3D and although Chronicle went some way towards highlighting what it can offer, Project X lazily undoes any of that film’s good work. Presumably based on the antics of this guy, Project X is 90 tiresome minutes of ‘epic’ party footage, including a midget getting shoved in an oven, yes really. Think of the likes of American Pie or Animal House sans the loveable characters, humour or charm.
Our third helping of comedy arrives in the form of Wanderlust. David Wain pulls off something of a coup for his fourth feature, reuniting the arguable king and queen of light comedy, Rudd and Aniston, for this hippie commune set romp. Said stalwarts play George and Linda, an urban couple who having lost everything head for the country and happen upon a community where free love and hallucinogens abound. Standard fish out of water fare, but Rudd and Aniston are normally good value, so expect solid, if unspectacular chuckles aplenty.
More earnest but utterly compelling nonetheless is Cyril Tuschi’s Khodorkovsky, which unravels the fascinating story behind the political persecution and eventual imprisonment of Russia’s richest oil oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. This is murky, corrupt politics at its very bleakest, but it’s a telling insight into the shady machinations of Putin’s modern Russia.
Darker still is Michael, a hauntingly uncomfortable tale of the eponymous paedophile who keeps ten-year old Wolfgang locked in his basement. Eerily echoing the infamous Kampusch and Fritzl cases that blighted Austria’s recent history and shocked the world, Markus Schleinzer’s pic is sure to disturb and intrigue in equal measure.
Go forth and choose wisely, because there be dragons…