Pirates Of The Caribbean: At Worlds End (2007)
Inching toward the merciful ending of perhaps the most bloated sequel of modern times, viewers are treated to what appears to be a girls grammar school re-enactment of one of those rousing speeches you often see at the climax of Hollywood movies. ‘They will know what we can do’? Pout and look fetching in a tri-corner hat? Bah.
“We can’t fight the Hollywood sentimentality – the clichés are too many!” Remove the rabid patriotism and English-as-arrogant-villains schtick and basically Mel Gibson’s crowning career moment looks a lot like a post-football match pub turnout complete with streaked facepaint and blared swearing, with a thirteenth century Francis Begbie blowing a gasket about a battle the Scottish then went on and lost.
Independence Day (1996)
It’s not just the thunderously myopic ‘America: centre of the world’ perspective of Bill Pullman’s presidential fanfare, or the fact it bastardises Dylan Thomas into some Happy Meal of a rhyming couplet, but that it’s such brick-thick corn-feed nonsense that Pullman himself barely seems able to spit it out without bursting into tears, laughter, or both.
Man, The Lord Of The Rings has got a lot to answer for. Namely – all the significantly worse battle-strewn epics that followed in its sizeable wake, which include Oliver Stone’s metrosexual, Blarney-kissing Alexander, starring Colin Farrell on a horse making blah speeches like this.
F For Fake (1973)
Orson Welles reflects painfully and very probably not honestly on a career and life characterised by flawed greatness.
It’s beautiful, the images flashing over the cathedral at Chartes, but also sad and doomed, with Welles’ vibrating whisper contemplating how everything will eventually ‘wear away into the great and ultimate ash.’
Notting Hill (1999)
Richard Curtis’ schmaltz-heavy fantasies constantly tread a thin line between heartbreaking and monstrously heavy-handed. The best of them are a guilty but cosmically uplifting pleasure.
Julia Roberts’ ‘love me?’ chirp as film starlet Anna Scott is the opposite – a black hole of fumbled, toe-curling fail.
Maybe it’s because Kurt Russell is wearing the swept sideparting of a Lego-built accountant, or maybe it’s because the film’s about ice hockey and, well, it’s just not very important, but the locker room climax of USA’s Olympic adventure falls several raised hairs short of blood-boilers in the likes of Any Given Sunday, Friday Night Lights and, shamefully, even Escape To Victory.
The Pursuit Of Happyness (2006)
Dramatic decks are cleared in this true-life inspire ‘em up to give Will Smith the room to impart Vital and Important life information to his young son. But when the info arrives it’s fortune cookie weak. “You want something, go get it”? That’s the kind of revelation we have every time we make a sandwich.
This differs sharply from most of the entries on this list in that it’s not a bungled high-note, but a compelling and subtly played sour note that’s often ironically misread.
Yes, ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore’ is a chord-striking rallying cry, but the film is about the exploitation of a man who’s losing his mind, and as such the speech is about as bleak as it gets.
Rocky Balboa (2006)
The low point in what is otherwise an (admittedly relative) return to form, this confrontation between Rocky and his grown son should be a touching moment of understanding and a peak into Rocky’s bull-headed drive.
Instead, as Stallone gets angrier and angrier, it looks like a giant baby made of steaks having a tantrum.