Razzies 'honor' the worst that Hollywood has to offer

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The Razzie must be the only award in Hollywood nobody wants to win. But that doesn't make the competition for it any less fierce.

You say you were one of the miserable wretches forced to sit through Son of the Mask last year? Congratulations, you endured the early Razzie favorite for worst picture of 2005. Of course, that was before The Dukes of Hazzard came along and became the picture to beat. Which is not to neglect House of Wax and Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo, which were assuredly bad, but perhaps not spectacularly bad enough. And then there's Dirty Love, written by and starring erstwhile Playmate-of-the-Year Jenny McCarthy, which hardly anybody has seen (it only brought in about $36,000 at the box office, and never even opened in Baltimore), but by reputation alone is safely entrenched among the year's worst.

One of those five movies (and I use the noun guardedly) will be named worst picture of 2005 during ceremonies at Hollywood's Ivar Theatre on March 4, the night before what the Razzie folks refer to as "that other awards show."

Additional dishonors will be heaped on the year's worst actor, actress, supporting actor and supporting actress; worst director and worst screenplay; and worst remake or sequel.

There's even a new category, most tiresome tabloid targets ("Saluting the Celebs We're ALL Sick & Tired Of!"). Here's betting the race is between "Tom Cruise & His Anti-Psychiatry Rant" and the equally overexposed "Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Oprah Winfrey's Couch, The Eiffel Tower & 'Tom's Baby.'" Oh, the pain of choosing between those two contenders.

For 26 years, the Golden Raspberry Award Foundation has been lauding the worst in Hollywood with the Razzie, which it proudly labels "Tinseltown's tackiest trophy." The award, a gold-spray-painted, golf-ball-sized raspberry atop a mangled Super-8 film reel, has an estimated value of $4.97. But in terms of notoriety, the award is priceless.

Over the years, such cinematic misfires as Howard the Duck, Leonard: Part 6, Striptease, Showgirls, Battlefield Earth and Freddie Got Fingered have been ensured a dishonorable mention in Hollywood history by "earning" (if that's the correct verb) the foundation's worst picture Razzie. Sure, it was good of the Oscars to fete Million Dollar Baby as last year's best picture, but it was just as important for the Razzies to rat out Catwoman as the year's worst. Surely, immortality is deserved at both ends of the quality spectrum.

The Razzies trace their history to 1980, when founder John Wilson decided to liven up his annual Oscar-night party by toasting the worst movies the year had to offer. Ballots were distributed among his guests, and the awards ceremony took place in his living room. Can't Stop the Music, Neil Diamond (The Jazz Singer) and Brooke Shields (The Blue Lagoon) were the night's big "winners."

The awards have only grown in stature since. This year, more than 725 ballots were mailed to GRAF members, and the awards ceremony will be held just a few blocks from the Kodak Theatre, where the Oscars will be handed out March 5.

Last year, the awards even enjoyed a touch of glamour, when worst actress "winner" Halle Berry (Catwoman) actually showed up to claim her award - the first time a performer has ever done so. (You can see video of her hilarious acceptance speech on the GRAF Web site, razzies.com.)

This year's worst picture competition should prove quite the duel - not to mention quite the ordeal for voters determined to sit through all five nominees. The moronic Dukes of Hazzard, which accomplished the near-impossible by making audiences long for the glory days of the original TV series, will likely walk away with the trophy. Razzie voters aren't big on big-screen TV adaptations, and it has the advantage of bringing in more paying customers than any of its competitors ($80.3 million at the box office).

But Son of the Mask deserves consideration, if only because it was a sequel more than 10 years in the making that thoroughly trashed its source material, which was actually a pretty good movie. (The Mask, with Jim Carrey, was released in 1994.) It also earns damnation for featuring a dancing baby, dragging fine actors like Alan Cumming and Bob Hoskins into its morass and - on a personal note - taking 94 minutes of my life that I'll never get back.

Compared to the two frontrunners, House of Wax was just unnecessary, and Deuce Bigelow was ... well, what did you expect? (Like the rest of the world, I haven't seen Dirty Love, and so must refrain from giving it the thrashing it no doubt deserves.)

Sadly, the worst film of 2005 - in this beleaguered critic's opinion - wasn't even nominated: Alone in the Dark, starring Christian Slater as some sort of expert on the paranormal who's called on to unravel the mystery of nasty creatures that seem to have some connection to a long-vanished tribe of Native Americans. A tortured genius, Slater's character is aided in his mission by respected scientist Tara Reid (you can tell she's smart because her hair's pulled back and she's wearing glasses) and a group of indistinguishable Marine types, who spend much of their time looking off-camera for direction.

Then again, all is not lost: Alone in the Dark's director, Uwe Boll (how does this guy keep getting work?), is up for worst director, and Reid is in the running for worst actress. God love the Razzies. They know the opposite of genius when they see it.

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

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