The GOP continues to make headlines as Republican candidates seek the party’s nomination for US president, but the political right could soon find itself leading another race altogether. Two films aimed at conservative moviegoers are among the year’s worst reviewed and could find themselves in the running for multiple Razzie Awards.
The ironically titled documentary “The Undefeated” tracks the career of unsuccessful 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin from her Alaska origins to her rise to national notoriety. But the film is “less a documentary than a glowing two-hour infomercial for Sarah Palin, Presidential Candidate To-Be,” according to Anna Merlan (Village Voice). Time’s Richard Corliss derided, “The movie may tempt even the most ardent conservatives to emulate their idol’s tenure as governor and walk out halfway through.” The film received a score of 32 out of 100 on Metacritic and 0% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes.
Palin herself could be nominated for Worst Actress. Though the subject of a documentary and not an actress playing a role, per se, the Razzies are not greatly concerned with such distinctions. In 2005, President George W. Bush won Worst Actor and then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld won Worst Supporting Actor for Michael Moore‘s scathing political documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Britney Spears made a brief cameo appearance in that film speaking in defense of the much-maligned leader, but that was enough to earn her Worst Supporting Actress honors.
“Atlas Shrugged Part I” might also be on Razzie’s hit list. The film, the first installment of an intended trilogy based on the epic novel by Ayn Rand, imagines a dystopian America in which government regulations restrain society’s innovators and cause an economic depression. The story espouses Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, whose tenets include a rejection of altruism in favor of self-interest – or to put it another way, it’s better to be Mr. Potter than George Bailey.
That pro-free market, anti-government ideology is popular among libertarians, but the film was thoroughly lambasted by critics, who objected to its execution more than its message. According to Variety’s Peter Debruge, it “would have Ayn Rand spinning in her grave, considering how it violates the author’s philosophy by allowing opportunists to exploit another’s creative achievement – in this case, hers.” Roger Ebert called it “the most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone’s vault. I suspect only someone very familiar with Rand’s 1957 novel could understand the film at all, and I doubt they will be happy with it.” It rates a 28 on Metacritic and only 12% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes.
But the film’s box office performance may be even deadlier. It earned only $4.6 million, less than a quarter of its $20 million production budget. Nominating it for Razzies may seem like kicking it when it’s down, but even though the awards often target blockbuster hits like the “Twilight” and “Transformers” films (both of which are in the running this year), they often can’t resist a high-profile flop, like Worst Picture winners “Battlefield Earth,” “Gigli,” and “The Postman,” to name just a few.
Adding yet more fuel to the fire was the recent controversy surrounding the film’s DVD release last month, when more than 100,000 copies were recalled for cover jackets that misrepresented Ayn Rand’s philosophy as promoting “self-sacrifice.” Such an ironic twist could make the film too good – or too bad – to resist.
Watch trailers for both films below:
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