Irish poet and critic Edward Dowden once wrote, "A noble failure serves the world as faithfully as a distinguished success." We're pretty sure this has been stitched on some pillows and given out to a whole host of celebrities this year as flopping hard was one of the biggest trends of the year. From mega bomb films that failed to launch franchises to musical comebacks that were met by the listening public saying, "Go back where you came from," to shows that people didn't even want to Hulu when they were bored, the entertainment year was just a big dumping ground of fail in a lot of ways as newcomers became never-weres and superstars quickly found themselves knock, knock, knocking on has-been's doors.
Some rose above all the obstacles and managed to triumph. And we find that really thrilling and wonderful and excruciatingly boring to comment on.
So let us look back at a year of failures because even though they flopped hard, they still made more money than any of us did.
"Sex and the City 2: Botox, Boniva and Boobies in Abu Dhabi"
So many things that were so terribly wrong about the second "Sex and the City" film can be found in this poster. The costuming was even more ridiculous than usual as the girls wore couture through the desert while on camels like the spoiled American princesses that they've slowly morphed into, the "2" being a bunch of diamonds also a hint at the new levels of crass commercialism that series found itself wading in as one of the key plot points was for the ladies to run and make it to the airport so they wouldn't have to withstand the ungodly trauma of not flying first class, and the fact the photo just has Sarah Jessica Parker, who turned down playing the title character in "Secretariat" for SATC 2, just so oddly plopped within her surroundings; the Photoshoppers must have taken a cue from the writing of the script since the whole film was just wildly unnecessary.
The plot basically consisted of, well, we don't really remember. We just recall a lot of product placements, a lot of SHUT UP CARRIE moments, Samantha Jones finding new ways to offend other cultures, Stanford and Anthony getting married basically because they are the only two gay characters on the show, the writers trying to make us sympathetic towards Charlotte's plight of being a stay-at-home mother with nanny service and the grave misfortune of her child ruining her vintage dress that she stupidly decided would be the most appropriate thing to bake in. And pod person!Miranda spent most of the film just smiling awkwardly.
Oh and Aiden showed up to kiss Carrie because everybody's in elementary school and thus finds this to be the HEIGHT of scandal. Plus there was little SEX nor CITY to be seen in most of the film, and what little of it we did see in the beginning was ruined by Alicia Keys defiled version Blondie's "Rapture."
You know, we complained the first go-around about the first "Sex and the City" film, which was overly long, melodramatic and ridiculously out of step with what had come before it on the TV series. But we take all of that back now after having to sit through SATC 2: Electric Dune-aloo as the characters pretty much just walked around, prattling off tired one-liners and waiting for their checks to be cashed. Seriously, the second movie made us long for the bad acting skills of Jennifer Hudson. That just ain't right.
Before we leave the Middle East entirely, we'll stick around to sit through the shit-fest that was "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" starring Jake Gyllenhaal, who has been having terrible luck with films of late.
"Love and Other Bombs."
You know Jake, we're not even going to be mad at you for signing onto "Prince of Persia." A lot of stars have inked deals to star in big blockbusters in the hopes of getting some of that franchise money. Fine, whatever. What we won't forgive you for is making such a basic-ass film like "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," made from the "Prince of Persia" video games.
Featuring Oscar winner Ben Kingsley in ten tons of eyeliner, the film is about Jake being some street urchin adopted by the king and then framed for the king's murder by Evil!Ben Kinglsey and driven out of Persia. He teams up with some bratty Princess in order to stop Evil!Kingsley from using some special sand that controls time, all the while everybody uses vaguely British accents to let you know it's taking place in ancient times.
And on the back of the middling performance of "Prince of Persia," Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway teamed up for the film "Love and Other Drugs," which tanked at the box office in spite of a whole ad campaign basically built around seeing the two stars naked together. The blander-than-bland trailer didn't help.
Elsewhere, it was a bad year to put out a normal-girl-meets-spy film with
"The Spy Who Flopped Me."
We don't quite know how the idea got greenlit once, let alone twice but somehow a quartet of annoying stars all managed to be in two films with suspiciously similar premises.
Over in one corner you had "Knight and Day" starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, because that pairing did oh-so-well in "Vanilla Sky." Girl meets guy on plane, guy takes out a bunch of people on plane, guy finds girl to go on wacky adventures while falling in love. The falling-in-love with Crazy Eyes Cruise is probably the thing that takes the most suspension of disbelief. That or the fact that somebody still thinks that Cameron Diaz is somehow a box office draw.
In the other corner, you had "Killers" with Ashton Kutcher, who momentarily stopped basing his whole career around Twitter/selling cameras/Demi Moore, and Katherine Heigl, fresh off of annoying everybody on the set of "Grey's Anatomy," teamed up for the "action" "comedy" about how a woman ends up marrying Kutcher and finds out he's secretly a spy. ~Insert wacky gun hijinx now~
Both of the films tanked at the box office because no1currs about Tom Cruise or Cameron Diaz and people REALLY don't care about Ashton Kutcher or Katherine Heigl, who seemed to be on on her own one-woman crusade to destroy the romantic-comedy genre as she also fronted the terrible "Life as We Know It" film with milquetoast leading man Josh Duhamel.
We love how romantic comedies are just filled with parents who are forever dying and leaving their children in the hands of completely incapable people. We also love that Josh Duhamel was mad at the posters for "Life as We Know It" as they played on his sex appeal.
We're so sorry that they didn't highlight all your thespian qualities as exhibited in such craptacular films this year as "When in Rome," "The Romantics," and "Ramona and Beezus." Whatever, you being half-naked didn't help sell the film any more than Megan Fox's cleavage stopped "Jonah Hex" from being one of the biggest box office bombs of the year.
The biggest winner in this contest was "The Tourist" starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp as they somehow managed to score Golden Globe nominations for a film that people are still Google searching to find out whether it's a comedy or not.
We'll give Jolie and Depp credit for being the closest to approximating the magic of 1960s caper films like Audrey Hepburn's "Charade," which is clearly a spiritual antecedent to all of these films.
We now briefly pause and mourn the sad state of Michael Cera's career with
"Career in Revolt"
It is often said that baseball is America's favorite national pastime. It could be argued that hating Michael Cera became a close second in 2010 as the blogosphere continued to harp on his steady, post-"Juno" decline at the box office as everything he touched turned to awkward, mumbling fail.
Since breaking out in "Juno" as well as "Arrested Development," Cera's career has taken a sharp nose dive with the following box office disappointments: "Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist," "Paper Heart," "Year One," "Youth in Revolt," and the actually awesome bad but sadly flopping at the box office "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World."
It wasn't just Michael Cera's hyper-quirky, deadpan delivery of lines that annoyed people so much. Michael Cera has become sort of shorthand for the whole hipster movement. And with "The Social Network" star Jesse Eisenberg quickly becoming the newer, cuter version of Cera, we're pretty sure Michael is eager to see the "Arrested Development" film come to fruition and help salvage his career.
We now have a commercial break, featuring flop political candidate Christine O'Donnell.
Bonus, footage of O'Donnell back in the early 1990s, talking about the evils of masturbation
Christina Aguilera proved to be a triple flop with the fail of her marriage, the tanking of her album "Bionic" AND the critical drubbing "Burlesque" took.
We'll give the "Beautiful" singer credit, when she put out the lead single of "Not Myself Tonight," she was at least telling the truth as she stopped being Christina and had instead turned into some Lady GaGa/Madonna fused nightmare of try-hard proportions.
Ugh, Christina. WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU. Seriously, I adored everything about "Back to Basics" and eagerly anticipated your return with "Bionic" as you kept running to the press to talk about working with indie darlings like Peaches, Sia and M.I.A. And then after all that noise, you drop a megaton bomb like "Not Myself Tonight," the obvious stillborn bastard child of Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack." The song itself was bad enough as there is no real sense of melody and instead just a bunch of yelps and dance beats. But then you put out that video.
During your promotion of the album, Aguilera performed at the MTV Movie Awards. How she went from this:
We'll say that Aguilera sort of redeemed herself with "Burlesque" as it did better than expected the box office, sort of, and managed to snag some Golden Globe nominations for its songs. And "I"m a Good Girl" brought back the Christina we loved from the "Back to Basics" era.
We have to say that the best thing that came out of this whole era would have to be the Kidz Bop version of "Not Myself Tonight." Only they could take a song about being a slut and pretty much reduce it a brilliant schoolyard chant of "If you don't like it, boo hoo."
Christina Aguilera wasn't the only singer struggling with sales this year. The Black Eyed Peas, fresh off the mega success of "The E.N.D." album, rushed out a new album "The Beginning" with the lead single of "The Time (Dirty Bit)."
"The Time (Dirty Bit)" is no "I Gotta Feeling." Hell, it's not even "My Humps." Sounding like some god awful mash-up done by a drunk DJ, Will.I.Am blends together the chorus of "I've Had the Time of My Life" with some sub-Benny Benassi beats FOR NO APPARENT REASON. Seriously, the sample has little or nothing to do with the actually sort of catchy "Dirty Bit" section other than to get drunk people to attempt the grand lift while on the dancefloor.
The Black Eyed Peas debuted at number 6 with their album with about 119,000 albums sold in the first week, down considerably from the 304,000 they sold in their first week last year with "The E.N.D."
Somewhere Ciara is giving us the side-eye at the idea of 119,000 in one week is bad album sales as the "Goodies" singer found herself continuing a fail streak with the release of her album "Basic Instinct," in what we're calling
Ciara's career is in a bit of free fall with horrendously bad promo. While her equally basic competition Keri Hilson was all over the Macy's Parade and the Today Show and VH-1 doing her "Pretty Girl Rock," Ciara didn't do single live performance of her ten million singles for her album until the week it came out.
Also flopping, Susan Boyle, when it came to getting through live performances:
Ciara can take comfort that she sold more than Kelis' "Flesh Tone" album, which has managed to only sell a truly abysmal 8,000 or so copies while albums from the likes of Jason Derulo, Ne-Yo, and Nick Jonas all found themselves flopping on the charts.
Even Katy Perry, with her massive "California Gurls" and "Teenage Dream" singles had some difficulties pushing her actual album this year. And this is in spite of giving such AMAZING live performances like this:
COMMERCIAL BREAK. A promo for ABC's flop "My Generation," a show so revolutionary that it staged a coup against getting good ratings and won.
While 2009 was a year filled with breakout hits with "Glee" and "Modern Family," 2010 has been filled with a surprising lack of breakout shows. "Treme" and "Boardwalk Empire" on HBO didn't grab the cultural imagination as many had thought while AMC stumbled with "Rubicon." Will Arnett tried to make a return to television with "Running Wilde" and found himself being run off the network.
But the biggest television flop of the whole year, without a doubt, would have to be NBC's handling of the Conan O'Brien/Jay Leno situation.
The whole situation was jank from the moment the TV season began as Jay Leno managed to get himself his own talk show at 10/9 central, effectively destroying scripted shows on NBC for a period of time. Then there were mumblings that Leno's show was going to be moved to the later time period of where Conan's stint as "The Tonight Show" was currently at, shifting Conan into Jimmy Fallon's time period and Jimmy into Carson's time period and nobody really cared at all what happened to Carson Daly at all during any of this.
So then the back and forth began as it turned into a big ole pissing match among NBC, Jay Leno and Conan. Conan let NBC know that if they moved his show, he'd quit. Lots of gossip and threats thrown about from all sides eventually led to Conan giving up the show, Leno coming back to it and everybody in the world wondering if NBC and Leno could have found ways to handle the situation more badly than they did.
The best thing to come out of the situation, outside of Conan's tour as well his current stint on the infinitely more relaxed TBS, was the Super Bowl commercial featuring Oprah, David Letterman and Jay Leno, as Letterman threw in his own two cents about Leno given their own troubled late night history. See, everybody can temporarily bury the hatchet if there is enough money involved!
And with that, we have take on all the flops that this sad little post can handle before collapsing into itself from the weight of all the misfires, bad decision makings, and general jankness that happened in 2010. Come back tomorrow when we take on the politics of 2010! We leave you with Conan's Tonight Show farewell speech!