2001: Worst Year Ever for Movies?


Get ready to see a lot of Shannon Elizabeth in 2001.

Kevin: Every movie buff often assumes that films were better “back in the day.” Hell, in 1989 I remember seeing articles lamenting the quality of the then-current crop of films compared to 50 years earlier, and this was in a year that produced “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” “Field of Dreams,” “Dead Poets Society,” “Do the Right Thing,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “Parenthood,” and “The Abyss” ( and those were just the summer movies). But then you have 2001, a year that is infamous for historical reasons obviously, but should be equally infamous cinematically for foisting a seemingly endless stretch of horrible movies on the public week in and week out.

To demonstrate this, I have listed all the major wide releases month by month along with their Rotten Tomatoes score, as well as at least one outlier film that month in terms of quality. Note that to be listed here a film had to have been easily viewable for most Americans at the average multiplex, so nothing that was in fewer than 500 theaters. That means that even though films like “Donnie Darko” and “The Tailor of Panama” were life preservers in a river of shit for those of us who caught them, they did not qualify for inclusion. So let’s take a stroll down memory lane and remind ourselves of the absolute garbage that moviegoers faced when walking up to the ticket booth for much of 2001:



“Antitrust” (Ryan Phillippe, Tim Robbins) – 24%

“Double Take” (Eddie Griffin, Orlando Jones) – 12%

“Save the Last Dance” (Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas) – 53%

“Sugar and Spice” (James Marsden, Marley Shelton) – 28%

“The Wedding Planner” (Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lopez) – 16%


Best alternative: “The Pledge,” a failed piece of Oscar bait starring Jack Nicholson and directed by Sean Penn, managed a 78% after being dumped into January. But since no one remembers this thing exists, the best bet for most audiences was “Traffic,” which went wide into the rest of the country following a limited December release.

Overview: January started with “Antitrust,” starring Ryan Phillippe and Tim Robbins in one of those “young star of the moment plays new hire at sinister tech company run by obvious Bill Gates/Steve Jobs stand-in played by established older actor” movies. Hollywood keeps making these even though they are stupid and always bomb (see “Paranoia” with Liam Hemsworth and Harrison Ford or the recent “The Circle” with Emma Watson and Tom Hanks; no really, see them because no one else did).




“Head Over Heels” (Freddie Prinze Jr., Monica Potter) – 10%

“Valentine” (David Boreanaz, Denise Richards) – 8%

“Saving Silverman” (Jack Black, Jason Biggs) – 18%

“Hannibal” (Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore) – 39%

“Down to Earth” (Chris Rock, Eugene Levy) – 20%

“Sweet November” (Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron) – 16%

“3000 Miles to Graceland” (Kevin Costner, Kurt Russell) – 14%

“Left Behind” (Kirk Cameron, Brad Johnson) – 16%

“Monekybone” (Brendan Fraser, Bridget Fonda) – 10%


Best alternative: Nothing. Seriously, this is it folks.

Overview: Yes kids, there was a time when Freddie Prinze Jr. and Monica “future Julia Roberts” Potter were seen as movie star material, and a time when you could still see Kirk Cameron on the big screen (nearly 900 to be exact!). “3000 Miles to Graceland” is mainly notable for featuring Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell as bank-robbing Elvis impersonators and yet is still boring.




“The Mexican” (Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts) – 56%

“See Spot Run” (David Arquette, Leslie Bibb) – 23%

“15 Minutes” (Robert De Niro, Kelsey Grammar) – 33%

“Get Over It” (Ben Foster, Kirsten Dunst) – 44%

“Exit Wounds” (Steven Seagal, DMX) – 32%

“Heartbreakers” (Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt) – 53%

“The Brothers” (Morris Chestnut, Bill Bellamy) – 63%

“Say It Isn’t So” (Heather Graham, Chris Klein) – 9%

“Enemy at the Gates” (Jude Law, Joseph Fiennes) – 54%

“Someone Like You” (Ashley Judd, Hugh Jackman) – 43%

“Spy Kids” (Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino) – 93%

“Tomcats” (Jerry O’Connell, Shannon Elizabeth) – 15%


Best alternative: “Memento” by a factor of a thousand, although as it expanded into more theaters most people probably didn’t have a chance to catch it until April or May.

Overview: This was such a shit month (and year so far considering “Spy Kids” was by far the best-reviewed wide-release film up to this point) that competent WWII flick “Enemy at the Gates” seemed like the second coming of “Saving Private Ryan.” Although I’ll always find myself watching “Heartbreakers” on TV if only for Jennifer Love Hewitt’s outfits.




“Joe Dirt” (David Spade, Dennis Miller) – 11%

“Along Came a Spider” (Morgan Freeman, Monica Potter) – 31%

“Just Visiting” (Jean Reno, Christina Applegate) – 33%

“Josie and the Pussycats” (Rachael Lee Cook, Rosario Dawson) – 53%

“The Forsaken” (Kehr Smith, Brendan Fehr) – 7%

“Kingdom Come” (Jada Pinkett Smith, LL Cool J) – 28%

“Blow” (Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz) – 55%

“Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles” (Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski) – 11%

“Driven” (Sylvester Stallone, Kip Pardue) – 14%

“One Night at McCool’s” (Liv Tyler, Matt Dillon) – 33%

“Town and Country” (Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton) – 13%

“Freddy Got Fingered” (Tom Green, Rip Torn) – 11%


Best alternative: “Bridget Jones’ Diary” I guess, I’ve never seen it cause I’m like a dude and stuff.

Overview: Although it’s been almost completely forgotten, “Along Came a Spider” (a sequel to “Kiss the Girls”) was the highest-grossing movie of this month. We also got Stallone failing to turn Kip Pardue into the next Tom Cruise in “Driven,” Warren Beatty’s last movie until the recent “Rules Don’t Apply,” and “Freddy Got Fingered,” which apparently has developed a cult following, although so did David Koresh and that doesn’t make him good either.




“The Mummy Returns” (Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz) – 47%

“A Knight’s Tale” (Heath Ledger, Alan Tudyk) – 58%

“Angel Eyes” (Jennifer Lopez, Jim Caviezel) – 33%

“Pearl Harbor” (Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett) – 25%


Best alternative: “Shrek.” Once again a kids’ movie is the best-reviewed option of the month.

Overview: Not much to say other than noting that, yes, these were your only new choices at the multiplex in May 2001.




“The Animal” (Rob Schneider, Colleen Haskell) – 30%

“What’s the Worst that Could Happen?” (Martin Lawrence, Danny DeVito)– 10%

“Moulin Rouge!” (Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor) – 76%

“Evolution” (David Duchovney, Julianne Moore) – 42%

“Swordfish” (John Travolta, Hugh Jackman) – 26%

“AI: Artificial Intelligence” (Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law) – 73%

“Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” (Angelina Jolie, Daniel Craig) – 20%

“Baby Boy” (Tyrese Gibson, Ving Rhames) – 71%

“crazy/beautiful” (Kirsten Dunst, Jay Hernandez) – 63%

“Dr. Dolittle 2” (Eddie Murphy, Kevin Pollack) – 42%


Best alternative: “The Fast and the Furious.” If only we knew back then what we were in for

Overview: If you don’t know Colleen Haskell’s name, you’ve apparently forgotten that she was the kind of cute girl on the first season of “Survivor” who parlayed that status into a lead role in Rob Schneider’s comedic classic “The Animal,” which in turn lead to even bigger roles in movies like … [checks IMDB] … anyway, moving on.




“Scary Movie 2” (Anna Faris, Marlon Wayans) – 15%

“Cats and Dogs” (Voices of Sean Hayes, Jeff Goldblum) – 54%

“Kiss of the Dragon” (Jet Li, Bridget Fonda) – 51%

“Final Fantasy: The Sprits Within” (Voices of Alec Baldwin, James Woods) – 44%

“Legally Blonde” (Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair) – 68%

“Jurassic Park III” (Sam Neil, Tea Leoni) – 50%

“America’s Sweethearts” (Julia Roberts, John Cusack) – 32%


Best alternative: I guess “The Score,” the little-remembered heist film that teamed up Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, and a walrus nicknamed “Marlon Brando” that they apparently trained to regurgitate human-type noises that sounded like dialogue.

Overview: It turned out that the most memorable thing in theaters this month was the original teaser trailer for Sam Raimi’s upcoming “Spider-Man,” which however found itself yanked from theaters just a couple of months later after 9/11 for obvious reasons:



“Bubble Boy” (Jake Gyllenhaal, Marley Shelton) – 30%

“Original Sin” (Angelina Jolie, Antonio Banderas) – 12%

“The Princess Diaries” (Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews) – 47%

“American Pie 2” (Chris Klein, Jason Biggs) – 52%

“Osmosis Jones” (Bill Murray, voice of Chris Rock) – 55%

“American Outlaws” (Colin Farrell, Scott Caan) – 14%

“Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” (Nicolas Cage, Penelope Cruz) – 29%

“Rat Race” (Cuba Gooding Jr., Jon Lovitz) – 44%

“Ghosts of Mars” (Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube) – 21%

“Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” (Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes) – 53%

“Jeepers Creepers” (Justin Long, Gina Phillips) – 45%

“O” (Julia Stiles, Josh Hartnett) – 64%

“Summer Catch” (Freddie Prinze Jr., Jessica Biel) – 8%


Best alternative: Probably a tie between “The Others” and “Rush Hour 2.” Yep, a Brett Ratner movie was one of the best films of a summer.

Overview: I had totally forgotten what “O” was about. Apparently it’s a re-telling of “Othello” but set in high school and featuring Josh Hartnett as Iago. It was a weird time folks. I also find myself watching the baseball scenes anytime “Summer Catch” is on TV to see the lengths the editors go through to avoid showing that Freddie Prinze Jr. obviously can’t throw a baseball.




“The Musketeer” (Justin Chambers, Mena Suvari) – 11%

“Rock Star” (Mark Walhberg, Jennifer Aniston) – 52%

“Soul Survivors” (Eliza Dushku, Wes Bentley) – 4%

“Two Can Play That Game” (Vivica A. Fox, Morris Chestnut) – 43%

“The Glass House” (Diane Lane, Leelee Sobieski) – 21%

“Hardball” (Keanu Reeves, Diane Lane) – 39%

“Don’t Say a Word” (Michael Douglas, Brittany Murphy) – 24%

“Hearts in Atlantis” (Anthony Hopkins, Anton Yelchin) – 49%

“Glitter” (Mariah Carey, Max Beesley) – 7%


Best alternative: “Zoolander.”

Overview: “The Musketeer” at least deserves a footnote in cinema history as the last new release to top the weekend box office before 9/11.



on th line.jpg

“On the Line” (Lance Bass, Emmanuelle Chriqui) – 19%

“Joy Ride” (Paul Walker, Steve Zahn) – 73%

“Max Keeble’s Big Move” (Alex D. Linz, Jamie Kennedy) – 29%

“Serendipity” (John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale) – 59%

“Bandits” (Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton) – 64%

“Riding in Cars with Boys” (Drew Barrymore, Steve Zahn) – 49%

“Corky Romano” (Chris Kattan, Peter Berg) – 6%

“The Last Castle” (Robert Redford, James Gandolfini) – 52%

“K-Pax” (Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges) – 41%

“Thirteen Ghosts” (Tony Shalhoub, Shannon Elizabeth) – 14%


Best alternatives: “Training Day” and “From Hell,” which apparently is considered “bad” now but seemed pretty damn good to me after some of the crap I had to suffer through.

Overview: “Training Day” was originally set to open in September but got pushed back a few weeks after 9/11. Going to the movies was a weird experience at this time, no one knew if the next movie they saw was going to be their last, so you sure as shit didn’t want it to be “On the Line,” in which Lance Bass for some reason failed to generate any romantic sparks with his sexy as hell co-star.




“Domestic Disturbance” (John Travolta, Vince Vaughn) – 24%

“The One” (Jet Li, Jason Statham) – 14%

“Life as a House” (Kevin Kline, Hayden Christensen) – 47%

“Shallow Hall” (Jack Black, Gwyneth Paltrow) – 51%

“The Wash” (Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre) – 8%

“Black Knight” (Martin Lawrence, Tom Wilkinson) – 14%

“Out Cold” (Jason London, Zach Galifianakis) – 8%

“Texas Rangers” (James Van Der Beek, Usher) – 2%


Best alternatives: Finally we are getting at least a few movies ranging from basic competence to actual quality: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “Spy Game,” “Heist,” “Monsters, Inc.,” and even “Behind Enemy Lines.”

Overview: The most entertaining part of “Domestic Disturbance” were the TV spots ahead of its release, which showed Travolta saying things such as “My son may be afraid of you, but I’m not!” and ending with a shot of him punching the camera. It was extremely obvious, and later confirmed, that these shots had been filmed  a few weeks prior to release to make the movie look more exciting than it actually was:



At last, a month where the good films outweigh the shit shows: “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Lord of the Rings,” “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Vanilla Sky”, “In the Bedroom,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “Black Hawk Down.” Hell I’ll even go to bat for “Not Another Teen Movie” as being quietly one of the funniest parody movies of the last 20 years. Still, not even that last-minute rush of quality could counteract the fact that January all the way to at least late September 2001 was an absolute graveyard of cinematic quality at the box office.

Year in review: Shannon Elizabeth starred in four movies in 2001. FOUR! What the hell else needs to be said to prove this was the worst year in movie history? So let’s close out this trainwreck in the most appropriately awful way possible, with Smash Mouth’s performance of “All Star” during the closing credits of “Rat Race”:

11 thoughts on “2001: Worst Year Ever for Movies?

  1. While part of me feels like I should vigorously defend the movies on this list that I did like, the truth is, even the “good” ones weren’t that good. I’ll admit I own three of them – “A Knight’s Tale,” which actually is a pretty amusing comdedy, and “American Pie II,” and “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” both of which are neither the best nor the worst films in their respective series’, though that doesn’t explain my decision to purchase them.

    And, yes, I, too will stop and watch “Heartbreakers” whenever it’s on.

    Also, I don’t own it, but “13 Ghosts,” while not a great movie, had some of the coolest special effects. And the website, oddly, was downright creepy.

    Oh, almost forgot. I caught the very end of “The Animal” about three years ago (apparently, whatever channel it was on had just given up), and it’s impressive that as bad as it was, Colleen Haskell was still the worst thing in it. The “Speak n’ Spell” I had as a kid had a more nuanced delivery.

    • Yes taken on their own plenty of these movies are perfectly okay, but week after week of some okay mixed with a lot bad with very little good sprinkled in makes for one bad cinematic stew.

  2. Pingback: Following “Baywatch” and “Pirates” Box Office Debacle, TGD Highlights Previous Memorial Day Hits and Misses | Tough Guy Digest

  3. Pingback: This 4th of July, Let’s Celebrate “Living in America” with Apollo Creed in “Rocky IV” | Tough Guy Digest

  4. Pingback: Happy Birthday Sylvester Stallone! TGD Ranks Sly’s Best One-Two Punch | Tough Guy Digest

  5. Pingback: True American Heroes Kevin and CJ Fight Through an Army of “Rick and Morty” Fans to Watch “Black Hawk Down” | Tough Guy Digest

  6. Pingback: With Awards Season Kicking Off, TGD Celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the Trainwreck Oscars Ceremony from “The Bodyguard” | Tough Guy Digest

  7. Pingback: Shit Just Got Real: “Bad Boys II” Returning to the Big Screen in May at the Alamo Drafthouse! | Tough Guy Digest

  8. Pingback: After Watching “Field of Dreams,” TGD Pits Kevin Costner’s Baseball Skills Against Those of Sheen, Quaid, and … Freddie Prinze Jr.? | Tough Guy Digest

Leave a Reply