Golden Raspberry Awards: 2011
The Golden Raspberries started off as an informal joke. Something for a publicist and his friends to do after the Oscars had ended. Over time, it has become and enduring and irreverent tradition. In theory, The Razzies poke fun at the worst movies of the year. But like any awards ceremony, the Razzies frequently make the wrong call. We’re going back and looking at the history of the Golden Raspberry Awards one year at a time.
The thirty-second annual Razzies nominated the movies of 2011. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon were the top movies of the year. The silent comedy, The Artist, took a lot of the top prizes including Best Picture. And Meryl Streep won her third Oscar for The Iron Lady. At the Razzies, every single award was won by one of two movies starring Adam Sandler.
- Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star (written by Adam Sandler, Allen Covert and Nick Swardson)
- Jack and Jill (screenplay by Adam Sandler and Steve Koren, story by Ben Zook)
- New Year’s Eve (written by Katherine Fugate)
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon (screenplay by Ehren Kruger)
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg, based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer)
Winner: Jack and Jill
This is the 32nd Golden Raspberry Awards ceremony. After 31 articles, I think we all have a pretty good idea of how the organization operates. They are not necessarily looking for the worst movies of the year. Razzie voters are out to achieve two things. First, they need to get publicity. If the Razzies stop getting headlines for their little ceremony, they will turn into the The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards (which actually predated the Razzies by two years).
Beyond continued relevance, the Razzies are looking to send a message. Typically, the Razzies will fire off a few warning shots before giving a performer an award. Sure, there are cases like Tom Green or Elizabeth Berkley where the Razzies disapprove of someone so strongly that they just go ahead and give them an award right out of the gates. But more often than not, there is a build-up to Razziegeddon.
The Razzies first targeted Adam Sandler in 1996 just as his movie career was taking off with Happy Gilmore. Since then, he has been on and off voters’ radar. Sandler’s box office success has kept him from being a perennial nominee like Sylvester Stallone. Although Sandler and his Happy Madison friends have never been far from Razzie voters’ minds, there were frequently bigger targets that needed to be taken down first.
2011 was the year in which the Razzies decided to come down on Sandler hard. Typically the former Not Ready For Prime-Time Player could be counted on to star in one a lazy comedy just about annually. More often than not, his movies were box office hits despite being derided by critics. Additionally, he was always producing movies starring his less successful friends. But in 2011, Sandler upped the ante with two starring vehicles for himself and co-writing and producing a movie for his nobody pal, Nick Swardson.
Let me say up front I have never been a fan of Adam Sandler. I didn’t think he was all that funny on Saturday Night Live. I don’t consider Happy Gilmore or Billy Madison to be comedy classics (although the fight scene with Bob Barker was funny.) I have been mystified by Sandler’s continued status as a box office draw which has endured for over a decade. Sandler’s comedies appeal to the lowest common denominator. No one in them appears to be trying very hard. Or trying at all. They are all just hanging out. Which I guess is what some audiences are looking for in a comedy.
My point is that over the course of his career, Adam Sandler has set the bar very low. His movies aren’t supposed to be good. At best, he aims for “good enough”. And yet, his output in 2011 came in below even the low expectations of Sandler’s fans. These movies were so bad that people who like bad movies said “No, thanks. I’ll pass.”
This year, it’s a really tight race to the bottom of the barrel. Jack and Jill is the worst movie of Sandler’s career – a career filled with terrible movies. And yet, Bucky Larson is just as bad and made on a shoestring budget. Trying to pick between them is a real “pick your poison” situation. I choose whatever is behind curtain #3. I don’t care if it’s Twilight or Transformers as long as Sandler’s fingerprints aren’t on it.
- Michael Bay for Transformers: Dark of the Moon
- Tom Brady for Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star
- Bill Condon for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1
- Dennis Dugan for Jack and Jill and Just Go with It
- Garry Marshall for New Year’s Eve
Winner: Dennis Dugan
I glossed over the other nominees in Worst Screenplay because we’re going to be talking about these same movies in almost every category. The five Worst Screenplay nominees are also the nominees for Wost Director and Worst Picture. Dennis Dugan directed both of Sandler’s 2011 releases, so Just Go With It got thrown into the mix as well.
We’ve got some Razzie regulars nominated in this category. This is Michael Bay’s fourth Worst Director nod. He won previously for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in 2011. Dennis Dugan had been nominated twice before. In 1999, he was nominated for Big Daddy by lost to Barry Sonnenfeld for Wild Wild West. And he was nominated for I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry in 2007, but lost to Chris Sivertson for I Know Who Killed Me.
The other three nominees are all newcomers. No, Bucky Larson was not directed by the quarterback for the New England Patriots. This Tom Brady directed Rob Schneider movies like The Animal and The Hot Chick. Kind of puts Deflategate into perspective, doesn’t it?
Gary Marshall is an exceptionally accomplished guy. As a TV producer, he was responsible for hit shows like Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Mork & Mindy and Joanie Loves Chachi. Okay, he had some clunkers in there too. As a film director, Marshall had a smash hit with Pretty Woman. But his sitcom sensibilities didn’t always serve him well on the big screen.
In 2010, he had a hit with the mawkish rom-com, Valentine’s Day. Marshall followed that up with New Year’s Eve which tried and failed to duplicate the formula that made the previous movie a hit. This year, Marshall stepped back up to the plate after a five-year hiatus with Mother’s Day which is bound to be a front-runner at the Razzies when the nominees are announced.
That leaves Bill Condon who directed the final two installments of the Twilight Saga. When the first movie in that franchise was released, it was shut out of the Razzies. But as the saga approached its conclusion, Razzie voters paid more and more attention. This is another year of Twilight nominations with no wins. Those will come next year.