Is Waiting for Forever the Most Hated Movie of the Year?
Technically speaking, Nicolas Cage's ridiculous medieval actioner Season of the Witch has earned the worst reviews of the year thus far, currently simmering at a robust 4 percent over at Rotten Tomatoes. But there's a difference between a cheesy period B-movie that's simply silly and a wannabe heartwarming film whose protagonist actively inspires revulsion, alarm, and twee murder fantasies among the critical mass. World, meet Waiting for Forever: the most despised movie of 2011!
Helmed by actor-turned-director James Keach (whose credits include episodes of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and that movie where Chris Pine is a blind dude who gets hit on, coincidentally, by Jane Seymour), the film follows a young free-spirited wanderer (Tom Sturridge) who seeks out his childhood sweetheart (Rachel Bilson).
Well, it's a bit more complicated than that; Sturridge is a homeless free-spirited wanderer who wears pajama pants and a bowler hat, juggles and mimes for cash, and is kind of, sort of stalking his beloved from city to city even though they haven't spoken in years and she's a TV actress dealing with a dying father and an abusive boyfriend. (Read Stephanie Zacharek's smackdown for more.) Some girls have all the luck.
Floundering at eight percent on the Tomatometer, Waiting for Forever (in limited release today), has stiff competition for the title of second-worst reviewed film of the year in the form of Frankie & Alice. Shockingly, the schizo boob-exposing mental illness drama that nabbed Halle Berry a Golden Globe nomination is tanking hard (and how!), neck and neck with Waiting for Forever in the race to match Season of the Witch's title-holding achievement. But where Berry's mentally ill protagonist is merely earning guffaws from critics, Sturridge's twee stalker takes critical repulsion to a whole other level. Let the eye-rolling and insane stalker comparisons roll!
· "If his twee bowler-hat/vest/checkered-pajamas get-up doesn't reel your eyes upward -- and make you mourn for the term 'Chaplinesque' -- then his irritatingly moony behavior, open-mouthed looks of infantile confusion and reality-challenged outlook should." -- Robert Abele, L.A. Times
· "With its ostensibly feel-good finale, where Emma finds Will and comes around to understanding his creepy, decades-long pursuit was a demonstration of pure and eternal love, Waiting for Forever goes from merely bad to truly dangerous. In a weird coincidence, Emma's an actress, and that along with the film's validation of Will's long-held feelings made me imagine John Hinckley Jr. giving Waiting for Forever two thumbs -- a copy of Catcher in the Rye and a snub-nosed .38 -- way, way up." -- James Rocchi, MSN Movies
· "A traumatic train crash, fights involving thrown household objects, and a recurring treehouse motif also flesh out Will and Emma's budding relationship, which blossoms despite the fact that he's a pajamas-wearing mentally handicapped homeless circus freak who's been furtively trailing her around the country for the better part of a decade." -- Nick Schager, Slant Magazine
· "[Sturridge's Will is] a hipster naïf who looks like he wore out his DVD player watching Johnny Depp in Benny & Joon. He juggles fruit, talks to his parents' ghosts, and woos her with backhanded compliments. She finds this irresistible. You probably won't." -- Adam Markovitz, Entertainment Weekly
· "He's smitten! It's true love! No, it's obsessive stalking paired with what looks to be a fairly severe personality disorder. Did I also mention that he's a mime? And habitually speaks out loud to his dead parents? In any place other than Hollywood, this love story would be grounds for a restraining order." -- Una LaMarche, NY Observer, who also adds that his affectations are "meant to be Chaplin-esque but read as mildly autistic." Ouch.
Still, most critics agree that the blame for Waiting for Forever's relentless twee-ness doesn't fall on Sturridge, but rather on screenwriter Steve Adams (career highlights: Donny and Marie; the Ben Stiller-Jack Black dud Envy). Sturridge, who appeared most recently in Pirate Radio and is best known to some as Robert Pattinson's real-life BFF, should emerge relatively unscathed; he next stars in Walter Salles' On the Road with plenty of other young stars who've had their own respective near-_Waiting for Forever_ level stinkers, and bounced back. And thanks to Pete Hammond's lone positive review, Waiting for Forever has eluded the infamous 00% rating, but the year is young yet. Bring on the zero percenters!