Worst Criminals

| December 30, 2013

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2013 was a year obsessed with making criminals of the least of us. These weren’t smart people taking advantage of a situation or desperate normal people choosing to break the law to survive. They weren’t motivated by sick children or exorbitant medical bills, they were fools grasping at thin air like hungry infants. As pervasive as this theme was this year, some of these movies were good while others left me completely unfulfilled.


Before Spring Breakers came out every still or sneak peek seemed so bizarre that I could hardly believe that the movie was real. I was very intrigued by it. In the end it became a very divisive movie. Even before I got a chance to see it our friend Matty O’Connor came on the show and praised it, and I’ve heard people talk about loving it simply because of how crazy it is, and while I can appreciate that it doesn’t make me like the movie any more. I think that all the themes that Spring Breakers is playing with and the idea behind what this movie could have been is really great. Juxtaposing the empty, consumerist dreams of spring break beach parties with the sleezey and pathetic world of drug dealers and second-rate larceny seems really interesting. Dropping these girls into that criminal world and seeing how they react to it is a brilliant premise for exploring characters. But unfortunately the movie commits the same sin as it’s protagonists; it becomes more concerned with style and being an outlaw than it is with the content of its characters. At some point it just starts spinning its wheels, repeating the same dialogue over meandering scenes of parties or late-night drunk teens in a way that suggests that Harmony Korine believes that simply repeating James Franco’s voice whispering “spring break” over images of partying or violence is the same thing as thoughtful analysis. The movie is wild and different, but ultimately frivolous.

Spring Breakers also following in Wreck-It Ralph’s footsteps by winning the 2013 Award for Use of Skrillex. Congratulations?

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The Bling Ring takes a similar set of bored teens and tells the true story of how they slipped into a life or crime. Based on a true story, these teens simply start off stealing wallets from cars that are left unlocked in wealthy parts of L.A. but eventually start sneaking into the houses of the rich and famous and stealing their valuables. The kids are stupid but not because they are incompetent, just because they are committing serious crimes for petty rewards. Sure they are smart enough to get into people’s houses, but it appears that the wealthy are so confident that they are safe that it wasn’t really that hard to get in–looking up a house on Google maps to decide how tight security is is not the work of a master thief. The real reason that these kids are so stupid is the same thing that motivates them to steal; they are vain and so obsessed with fame and fashion that they really sacrifice everything in their lives, including their friendships, in order to spend just a few hours combing through Paris Hilton’s coats and pilfering panties. The movie does a good job analyzing these fame-crazed teens and the world they are surrounded with–though not as great a job as the features on the Bluray do–but unfortunately it feels like it pulls it’s punches at the end, getting so obsessed with the crimes that I stop caring about the criminals, which means that as friendship fall apart, I really didn’t care.


Pain & Gain was exactly what I wanted and more. The movie is insane and, all kidding aside, if anyone other than Michael Bay had made it it wouldn’t have been as good. Not only does his manic, bombastic style fit so well with the stream of nonsense coming out of these characters’s brains, but it almost feels like Bay is venting frustration on the screen, turning all his old trick up to 11. And as somebody who knows how derivative Bay’s films have been lately but also finds them completely enjoyable, watching him flex his muscles doing something crazy and fresh was really fun. There are plenty of people who will flat out ignore this movie because of his name, and I’m not saying that it’s a great film because as funny as it is it’s not easy to watch, but it would be a real shame if this silly thing went completely unnoticed. Hell, Bay might even win a few naysayers back to his side with this one [Zach Eastman].the-wolf-of-wall-street-jonah-hill-leonardo-dicaprio1Jordan Belfort is a pathetic imbecile who surrounds himself with what seems to be the stupidest, most morally devoid people he can find because he can seemingly turn any empty vessel into a malicious salesman. Unlike everything else on this list The Wolf of Wall Street actually succeeds at not just being trite or superficial. This is a movie that actually delivers an interesting character and story and uses that to clearly analyze what kind of human being is driven solely by money. The performances from everyone involved are fantastic and the it is genuinely entertaining and fun throughout. If any of the other movies on this list were three hours long I would not have finished them, but you just don’t want to look away from The Wolf of Wall Street. Belfort would actually be disqualified from this list because he is so successful at getting rich if not for the fact that he is still an idiot, so he sabotages himself left and right by refusing to get out early when given the chance and failing to understand the nature of his situation, so in the end he gets caught and is punished for it, like all stupid criminals will be.

Check out our other awards for 2013:

Use of The Rock

Best WTF! Moments


Be a Part of the Celebration!

On Friday, January 3rd we’ll be recording this year’s Filmsplosion where we celebrate all the movies of 2013. Be sure to send in your votes for best film or your top ten lists or any other comments you have from this year and be entered to win free tickets to the Alamo Drafthouse and other awesome prizes.


About the Author:

Every week Ryan, James, and Brad of Denver based Reel Nerds Podcast attend a new movie and then we podcast our experience to the world. We also share news, opinions and reviews of movies, comics, video games and pop culture! Turn off your cell phones and save the chatter for after the credits!
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