#10 — “Little Big League” (1994)
Sure, skimpy payrolls and watching David Ortiz’s career have been hard on Minnesota Twins fans, but this stinker came up with an alternate reality that was far, far grimmer.
A preteen inherits the franchise and proceeds to install himself as the team’s manager and suddenly the moribund team gets hot. (Note to the Royals: it’s worth a shot.) And can you believe the players even help their skipper with his math homework?!
If this is the kind of family comedy you have to watch with your kids, dying alone might not be such a bad alternative.
#9 — “Summer Catch” (2001)
Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Matthew Lillard playing in the Cape Cod League? What could go wrong? Other than the acting. And the baseball scenes. Oh, and the dialogue. And the soundtrack featuring Semisonic and Fastball.
Still, this one could have been a hit if the producers had marketed it properly. Who could turn resist the allure of “Brian Dennehy and Wilmer Valderrama … together at last!” on a marquee?
#8 — “MVP 2: Most Vertical Primate” (2002)
That’s right, someone watched “MVP: Most Valuable Primate,” the story of a hockey-playing chimp, and thought: “Let’s see how we can develop this character in a sequel.”
So Jack the chimp came back, only this time, he was wearing sunglasses and tearing up the skateboarding circuit. Honestly, it’s like the phrase “From the director of ‘Air Bud’” can’t even assure you that a movie is high quality anymore.
Just how splendidly horrible is “Most Vertical Primate”? The trailer makes no less sense if you watch it in a foreign language:
#7 — “Ready To Rumble” (2000)
Finally, an answer to the age-old question: what would happen if Oliver Platt wrestled Diamond Dallas Page? Not only did this World Championship Wrestling vehicle bomb at the box office, David Arquette won the WCW‘s heavyweight championship as part of the film’s promotion. Even normally shameless announcer Tony Schiavone seems vaguely embarrassed to be there. Never thought we’d say this, but we really thought pro wrestling had too much integrity to make something like this:
#6 — “Side Out” (1990)
C. Thomas Howell’s character Monroe Clark just wants to spend a quiet summer working at a law office. Instead, he gets sucked into the fast-paced world of early ’90s professional beach volleyball. Doesn’t sound like a million-dollar premise to you? It wasn’t. The film only grossed $450,000, which probably didn’t even cover Kathy Ireland and Courtney Thorne-Smith’s hairspray bills.
#5 — “Stroker Ace” (1983)
“Deliverance” co-stars Burt Reynolds and Ned Beatty were reunited for this NASCAR comedy, only this time it was the audiences who squealed like pigs while (metaphorically) taking it in the tailpipe.
Reynolds plays the titular Stroker, a NASCAR driver who’s stuck in a rotten contract to fiendish team owner Beatty, and hilarity fails to ensue.
It’s tough to be the weak link in the “Burt Reynolds Drives Fast” genre, but this one takes the title. Adding insult to Reynolds’ injury was that he actually turned down a part in “Terms of Endearment” to make this flop. Jack Nicholson took the role after Reynolds passed and won an Oscar for it.
On the plus side, if you’ve ever wanted to hear both Loni Anderson and Jim Nabors (of Gomer Pyle fame) say “scrotum,” this is your lucky day.
#4 — “Johnny Be Good” (1988)
It’s 1988. Who’s the hottest quarterback recruit in the country? You guessed it: Anthony Michael Hall. College recruiters are clamoring to recruit Hall’s character, Johnny Walker, while he takes advice from his wisecracking best friend (Robert Downey, Jr.) and his studious girlfriend (Uma Thurman.) Toss in the best Jim McMahon cameo since “The Super Bowl Shuffle,” and you’ve got bad-movie gold.
If you want to get a good idea of just how crappy this movie is, take a look at the trailer. When part of your “this team is awesome at football” montage includes a punt, you’re probably on the wrong track.
#3 — “No Holds Barred” (1989)
You’ve seen Hulk Hogan act like he’s fighting; now see him act like he’s acting! This glorified B movie starts out promisingly with a credit reading “Executive Producers: Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan,” but things fly off the rails pretty quickly.
Hogan plays popular pro wrestler Rip — the role was a real stretch for him — who gets involved in a rivalry with the unstoppable Zeus, played by “Friday”‘s Tiny Lister. The movie was so bad that even the WWE now mocks it with on-air jokes like “No Holds Barred? More like No Profit Allowed.”
#2 — “Ladybugs” (1992)
When Rodney Dangerfield’s boss forces him to coach a girls’ soccer team, Dangerfield quickly decides to fall back on the most tired comedy crutch of them all: dressing a male player in drag. Dangerfield gussies teen dream Jonathan Brandis up as a female player and proceeds to dominate his league.
Honestly, we could have used “Juwanna Mann” in this slot, too, but “Ladybugs” reaches awfulness nirvana by shoehorning a fairly overt child rape/molestation joke into a movie aimed at children. Horrifyingly classy! Look for it at around the 55-second mark here:
#1 — “Matilda” (1978)
Remember when Elliott Gould was an Oscar-nominated leading man who hosted “Saturday Night Live” six times? Yeah, neither did the producers of this film.
Gould portrays Bernie Bonnelli, a small-time agent who makes the leap to fame by managing … a boxing kangaroo. It’s a shame the movie flopped, because it’s obvious that the producers spent at least five bucks and 10 minutes trying to convert a horse costume into a kangaroo costume.