Nathan Rabin’s My Year of Flops

Here at Modest Movie world headquarters, I sometimes take time off from watching movies to do something entirely different: read books about people watching movies.

In Nathan Rabin’s My Year of Flops, the A.V. Club author chronicles his experiences with some of Hollywood’s most maligned films. This sorry list of cinematic failure includes the likes of relationship-ruining Gigli, tween superficiality masquerading as morality in Bratz: The Movie, and the eyeball-gouging consequences of sitting down to watch the extended cut (177 minutes!) of Waterworld, the water-logged epic that sank Costner’s career and the coffers of Universal Pictures. While doing so, he uncovers a surprising truth about some (emphasis on some) of the films – they’re actually misunderstood masterpieces.

Rabin rates the films into three categories: Failure, Fiasco, or Secret Success. Even though most of the films fall into the first two categories, the sarcastic and detailed descriptions of the on-screen insanity that Rabin witnesses makes it enticing to seek out these bastard children of celluloid and see for yourself if it really is true that John Wayne donned yellowface to play Genghis Khan in Howard Hughes’ misogynistic epic The Conqueror. Or if Rosie O’Donnell really did wear S & M gear as an undercover detective in Exit to Eden (okay maybe the cartoon depiction in the book was enough). Or experience the bizarro-world film Paint Your Wagon with Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin singing and dancing in choreographed numbers rather than acting gruff and kicking ass (how does this actually exist?).

Brando in "The Island of Dr. Moreau" - Failure, Fiasco, or Secret Success?

Despite being a collection of previously published (i.e. free) material, the book doesn’t feel like a quick cash-grab, and Rabin includes 15 never-before-seen Case Files including the Jim Carrey flop The Cable Guy, Schwarzenegger’s Last Action Hero, and the infamous Uwe Boll’s Postal. Reading Rabin is a refreshing adventure in the oft-neglected realm of film criticism – reviewing horrible, horrible films rather than the overdone praising of usual suspects like Citizen Kane, The Godfather, and Taxi Driver. A highly recommended read.

Now excuse me, but I’m going to go watch The Rocketeer and Hulk again with new-found eyes.


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