In the rather awful movie Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead, one character explains to another that to “buckwheat” someone is to, without getting into the really disgusting details, shoot them in the intestines so they die slowly, in terrible agony. Since then, for my monthly VanderWorld e-newsletter, my wife Ann and I have rated movies as “buckwheat” or “not buckwheat”, or containing “some buckwheat” or “a lot of buckwheat”. If you feel like you were gut shot when you left the theater, that movie was buckwheat. So, as we gear up to honor the year’s “best” at the Oscars, I thought it appropriate to honor the year’s worst by posting the second annual winners of the Buckwheat Film Awards.
I’d encourage you to add your own year’s worst in the comments field.
P.S. I was tempted to add Babel to this list—a movie whose Japanese section has no real relationship to the rest of it, a movie in which there is so much hurly-burly that there’s often no drama.
#1 – MIAMI VICE (100 percent genuine American buckwheat) – Director Michael Mann must have forgotten the fact that what made the Miami Vice television series work, if work it did, was the cheese factor as much as the outfits. This two-hour Festival of the Boring looks like an extended commercial for aftershave or vodka. Mann has smoothed out the rough edges so thoroughly that you long for a character to burp or fart or even just go down to the local convenience store for a gallon of milk. The neon facade Mann has created here is so eroded from anything non-cliche or human that it makes American Idol look like some kind of indie traveling hippy troubadour show. The performances, if you can call them that, are as insipid as they are lazy. The relationship between Crockett and a drug dealer’s woman, meant to be poignant, is completely unbelievable. During the whole thing, Ann and I kept waiting for the movie to start. It never did.
#2 – TALLADEGA NIGHTS (97 percent genuine American buckwheat) – We must admit to liking Will Ferrell’s silly-stupid-hilarious vehicle Anchorman, so we started watching Talladega Nights with the expectation we’d be seeing something similar. Instead, we watched forty minutes of boring, awful humor akin to the sensibility that thinks shoving a stick up a bloated taxidermed toad’s ass, slapping the results on a little wooden pedestal, and then selling it to tourists is good idea. Even Sasha Baron Cohen is off his game in this movie, playing a Frenchman in a way that is so non-funny annoying that you want something awful to loom up behind him and tear his head off. For those who say “why, this is splendid parody,” I’d say “a parody of something that is intrisically self-parodying is…buckwheat.” After forty minutes of this unbearable piece of crap, we had to turn it off. It’s what little lord baby jesus would’ve wanted us to do…
#3 – LADY IN THE WATER (88 percent genuine American buckwheat) – A great example of assembling the pieces of a possibly good movie and then doing fuck-all with them, Lady in the Water provides further evidence of the disintegration of M. Night Shymalan’s talent. An obviously confused Paul Giamatti wanders through the scenes desolate not from the tragedy that has befallen him but because he, like the rest of the cast, has no idea what the hell is going on. See, there’s this mermaid creature who appears in the swimming pool. She’s at risk from a living chia creature that apparently can open doors with its paws and recedes into the grass when it doesn’t want you to show it to your friends. This is the Way it has been since the beginning of Time, O Readers. For it has been foretold that there will be extensive bullcrap mythology behind the movie’s setup. For it has been said since the olden days that if you put a fine ensemble cast in a weird apartment complex and start to tell certain of them that they are the Chosen Ones, your movie will become so boring and useless by about the forty-five-minute mark that your audience won’t care what happens any more than the confused actors do.
THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP (75 percent buckwheat) – Beautiful sets can’t save this self-indulgent piece of formless whimsy. Floppish tripe, this be. We wanted to slap the main character upside the head most of the time. Love? There’s no love here, just a director in the background moving puppets around. Worse, the backbone has been surgically removed from the plot, so everything just kind of drifts. A waste of even senseless beauty.