Dinner for Schmucks: Most failed comedies fail big time. This one—although based on a French farce that itself wasn’t particularly funny—seemed to have potential, then blew it. Steve Carell went over the top as a tornado of well-meaning idiocy, and some of the cringing subplots felt just as desperate.
Oceans: Pierce Brosnan’s oh-so-serious narration didn’t help a bunch of pretty pictures that weren’t significantly better than what you’d find on any given night of Discovery Channel.
The Millennium Trilogy: Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander books (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, etc.) became more ubiquitous in airports than unnecessary pat-downs; despite Noomi Rapace’s fascinating Lisbeth, the movie versions plodded along through exposition-heavy conspiracy theories and drawn-out running times.
The Expendables, The Losers and Takers: Testosterone-y movies about badasses doing badass stuff don’t have to be plodding and tedious. These would-be celebrations of manliness in action couldn’t be bothered with seasoning the explosions and interminable chases with anything resembling fun.
Ramona & Beezus: Anyone who’s read Beverly Cleary’s books knows that Ramona Quimby is endlessly interesting. So, of course, the movie based on her sanded away all those interesting edges in favor of generic warm-n-fuzziness that never felt as though anyone involved knew how to turn it into a cohesive movie.
The Kids Are All Right: Yes, and don’t even get me started. Lisa Cholodenko’s story of a lesbian couple coping with the appearance of their kids’ formerly anonymous sperm donor, despite strong performances, is filled with sitcom nonsense that no self-respecting critic would stand for in a domestic comedy that didn’t happen to be about lesbians. As a piece of writing—notwithstanding its “edgy” setup—it pretty much defines “mediocre.”