While Darren Aronofsky’s film The Fountain may be many things to many people, I can tell you what it is not: it is not the Worst Movie of All Time. It may be an odd, pretentious bit of adolescent poetry written on celluloid jeans, but have you seen Baby Geniuses? This movie was recommended for inclusion in our Hunt by one Lindsay Robertson, so take it out on her. But to be fair, I had heard that it was horrible from others as well, so take it out on others, too. And while we cannot seriously consider this one of film’s greatest mistakes, it’s definitely not very good, so there’s that.

The Fountain is so aggressively “unusual” that I’m not sure it has a plot. It centers around a tragic love story played out in three different time periods. There’s the contemporary love story in which Hugh Jackman plays a scientist who is conducting experimental surgery on monkeys to cure brain tumors. He is in love with Rachel Weisz, a writer who’s terminally ill. Then there is the past love story in which Hugh Jackman is a conquistador to Rachel Weisz’s Spanish Queen, and then there is the future story, in which Hugh Jackman is a bald pre-cog in Holocaust pajamas and Rachel Weisz is a CGI tree, traveling together in an indestructible magic bubble to outer-space? Think Sliding Doors meets Project X meets a Jamiroquai video.

Since plot has been eliminated, the movie’s main engine of progression is visual and dialogic leit motifs. There is the surgery lamps/candelabras/solar systems leit motif, and the “let’s go walk in the snow” leit motif. And then there is my favorite leit motif, the gross sentient hair leit motif.


Once gross.

Still gross.

Will always be gross.

While the movie is visually interesting and even has some decent moments in it, it’s less Jorge Luis Borges and more M.C. Escher. It’s the type of pathos and philosophical musing that belongs in college dorm rooms, over a round of mini-fridge-chilled Natty Lites. When the only reason that you know that a character is worth loving–in this case Rachel Weisz–is because another character says “She’s amazing,” it’s hard to get invested. “At first I thought she was just a poorly drawn two-dimensional stereotype of the terminally ill muse to a tortured and therefore more important man. But then I was told she was amazing. Your movie has touched me, sir.”

Not to mention the comprehension problems. I’m all for interpretive wiggle-room in my movies, but you could drive a wiggle-truck through the wiggle-holes in this one. For example, the past-life storyline in which Hugh Jackman is a Spanish conquistador is actually the plot of a book that the terminally ill Rachel Weisz is writing? So that means it’s just a metaphor? But then what is up with BALD HUGH JACKMAN IN PAJAMAS FLOATING INTO SPACE WITH A TREE INSIDE A MAGIC BUBBLE? According to wikipedia he is traveling through space in an ECOSPEHRIC STARSHIP. Oh duh. I can’t believe I didn’t realize that he was traveling through space in an ecospheric starship the whole time. I’m so fucking stupid.

I do love that Rachel Weisz is writing her novel about a Spanish conquistador by hand?

It’s 45 pages long. In Michiko Kakatuni’s New York Times review, she wrote “Nope.”

Anyway, whatever. I can imagine that someone likes this movie. It’s the Must Love Dogs for someone who took too many semiotics classes in college. Fair Enough. But I don’t care how much you love subtlety or visual poetry, this scene made me L out L.

After this he lays down on the ground and SPOILER ALERT his entire body ruptures into a bunch of plants. So, the moral of The Fountain is don’t be a magical tree-cum guzzler. Got it.

Next week, we cool it with the things that are just kind of bad and get back to things that are probably The Worst with Southland Tales.

As always make your suggestions for TWMOAT in the comments or in an email. If you have not before, please consult the Official Rules.

Comments (66)
  1. Natty Light? Puh-lease, my college dorm parties had Bacardi and Captain Morgan. But we were also more likely to convince our sober friends to drive us to restaurants than drunkenly discuss philosophy and watch movies.

  2. Wait, I just saw the new worst movie of all time: Don’t Mess With the Zohan. It was so confusingly bad that it hurts to type this.

  3. How could this possibly be considered worst movie of all time? Cinematography alone gives the film a 4/10.

  4. Every time Rachel Weisz’s character trotted outside to make snow angels or whatever, i prayed she’d get locked out and freeze to death. Her brain cancer took entirely too long.

  5. Goon  |   Posted on Jun 9th, 2008 -1

    You obviously haven’t seen Exterminators from the Year 3000:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085514/

  6. K  |   Posted on Jun 9th, 2008 +2

    I’d like to nominate some “movies.” First: Boondock Saints. Every drunk Irish (not Irish–American) retard at my Boston area college loved this shit because it was in Boston and had drunk Irish retards shooting guns. It’s like if The Departed was written and directed by Paul Haggis.

    • Boondock Saints may not be the greatest movie ever made, and Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flannery may have hilariously bad Irish accents, but that movie is awesomely badass with great gun-batte-ly scenes. And the scene with the cat… I loled.
      If Troy Duffy ever does make a sequel, that will probably be the worst move of all time.
      PS, Boondock Saints is only one movie, not “some ‘movies’”

  7. The fact that Lindsay suggested this explains everything.

  8. RJ  |   Posted on Jun 9th, 2008 -8

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Rodrigo  |   Posted on Jul 14th, 2008 +3

      Noted. You’re very intellectual.
      Everyone else shut up now!

      Your comment has hereby inoculated the film from any criticism.

      Thread over! Circle jerk begin!

    • Mish  |   Posted on May 30th, 2009 -2

      Thank you! I do really feel bad for people that don’t have the freedom of mind to enjoy this movie. Don’t blame the movie if your mind can’t wrap around abstract ideas, that’s your fault for never trying.

  9. jesus, even *i* knew it was an ecospheric starship

  10. Wicker Man HAS to be next…….. it’s just…. i can’t even muster up the words.

  11. Finchmeister  |   Posted on Jun 9th, 2008 +1

    This movie is a forgivable experiment, come on. I wasn’t psyched by it but I thought it was a worth-while once-through (the guy directed Requiem, for goodness sake), you are just easily obsessed with your asshole aura you’ve built up so far. I’ve never called anyone an asshole on the internet before, so I’m not one of these troll people. You should stop being such a dick to Lindsay at most every possible moment, also.

  12. May not be worst evs but I highly recommend/don’t recommend at all “The Dying Gaul” by Craig Lucas starring Peter Sasgaard, Patricia Clarkson and Campbell Scott. I KNOW HOW COULD THAT BE BAD, RIGHT? Wait until Peter IMs his dead boyfriend in 1995.

  13. I would like to nominate Three to Tango, a romantic comedy which features Matthew Perry, tuna melts and vomiting as a romantic leit motif (to steal Gabe’s phrase of the day).

  14. what! i loved chandler: the movie

  15. Dante’s Peak.

    • WHAT! No way! that movie should have got an Oscar based on the magic of Peirce Brosman’s hair! A volcano was erupting, yet he somehow managed to keep his hair perfect.

  16. caringiscool  |   Posted on Jun 10th, 2008 0

    miami vice.

    that movie was the kind of bad that just makes you feel sad and tired. it wasn’t even funnybad, it was just unrelentingly, LONG-ASS, earnest terribleterrible bad.

  17. caringiscool  |   Posted on Jun 10th, 2008 0

    miami vice.

    that movie was the kind of bad that just makes you feel sad and tired. it wasn’t even funnybad, it was just unrelentingly, LONG-ASS, earnest terribleterrible bad.

  18. The Perfect Storm. Unintentional homoeroticism would probably have made it a BETTER movie.

  19. MikeS  |   Posted on Jun 11th, 2008 0

    You HAVE to take a look at Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. I can’t think of any movie that went so wrong in so many ways.

  20. Laura  |   Posted on Jun 12th, 2008 0

    I love that there was a “Must Love Dogs” reference in here. Now, that movie sucks. Hard.

  21. Um, did you see 27 dresses? Okay, maybe not the worst of all time but the worst in a long while? Can I get a witness?

  22. Joe  |   Posted on Jun 12th, 2008 0

    You have to check out The Hot Chick with Rob Schneider, unless of course Mr. Schneider doesn’t even count as B-grade, or Happy Madison movies are considered “intentionally horrible”…seriously, that movie is the least funny comedy of all time hands down.

  23. Chris  |   Posted on Jun 12th, 2008 +1

    This feature sucks.

  24. morgan  |   Posted on Jun 14th, 2008 0

    wtf ever. even cowgirls get the blues was bangin. underlying female homosexuality? and drag queens? and peyote? and a little asian man.

    come on. gus van sant owns your face.

  25. Anon  |   Posted on Jun 16th, 2008 +3

    “Leitmotif”. One word.

  26. elvis  |   Posted on Jun 18th, 2008 0

    nominations congo ,eon flux, black snake moan, meet joe black with brad pitt , reign over me , harold and kumar 2 , blair witch 2 , the one with robert deniro and dakota fanning ,night at the roxbury ,but nothing will beat johnny numonic fuck them i want the thirty minutes of my life back that i tried watching that 7 miles of hammered dog shit movie.

  27. this movie sucked so much booty it should be called the booty fountain. your hunt should here…with this movie…today.

  28. PS

    any movie nominated that has Bruce Cambell in it (no matter how minor the role) should be dismissed.

  29. bradpitt  |   Posted on Jun 26th, 2008 -4

    This movie is worse than baby geniuses.

  30. scale  |   Posted on Jun 26th, 2008 0

    Worst is so subjective also. I think this movie is worse than baby geniuses and lindsay lohan movie because it tried to be something so great. That has got to be worth some points on the worst movie scale.

  31. Ty  |   Posted on Jun 30th, 2008 0

    This movie may have lacked in the story telling element, but it was stunningly beautiful. I dont think i blinked the entire 2 1/2 hours.

  32. depends on the school I think. I went to Columbia and this is right up the alley of 95% of students.

  33. agreed on the meet joe black side, but brad pitt already has a special corner of this site dedicated to him…

  34. christian  |   Posted on Jul 7th, 2008 -3

    wow, somebody missed the whole fucking point.

    this is one of the best movies i’ve seen in a long long time. it is visually arresting, and the story is intriguing. yeah the past is a metaphor, but the future is the future. sure it gets all sci-fi at the end, but if that means a movie is bad…well…you are lazy. i’d like to know what your best movies of all time are. let me guess, garden state? donnie darko? boondock saints?

    let’s tear some shit out of donnie darko for once. that movie is so overwrought and pretentious and poorly written and poorly acted that i’m amazed every time i see it on someone’s facebook under the “movies” heading. ew.

  35. Nick  |   Posted on Jul 9th, 2008 +6

    I thought this movie was pretty weird, but beautiful like lots of others and then someone offered an interpretation of the plot that made it seem a million times better for me, the college dorm room kid I guess. So the part she writes, of the past, is how she feels he is addressing her cancer, i.e. running off like a hero but essentially leaving her alone when all she wants is for him to be with her while she is dying – and the future part is what he thinks, that when he is researching for a cure and all that jazz he is actually in that little eco-starship with the tree, i.e. that he is with her the whole time he is trying to save her. To different perspectives on the same event from different genders or people on different sides of the coin. Worth re-watching I think.

  36. SGGS  |   Posted on Jul 9th, 2008 -2

    i can hardly believe the poor quality of motive for deciding what either makes a good or poor film with regards to the comments above. WHAT ARE YOU ALL? A BUNCH KETAMINE INFESTED Pepsi advert addicts?

    When you combine such cinematography with graphic portraits of emotive lurking, subtle hints into other sensory dimensions, intense plot that goes over the head of 99.99% of all who watch the movie matched with one of the best soundtracks Clint Mansel has ever created – you get a movie that may not look that good to most of you, because it wasn’t made for most of you, it was made for a discerning eye that can see true creative reflection when it comes around, which my dears, is the exact reason FILM WAS EVER USED AS A FORM OF ENTERTAINMENT, that an propaganda, which is what ‘most of you’ seem to find worthy of a good review.
    PATHETIC! oh wait, this is an American site right?

  37. scott  |   Posted on Jul 12th, 2008 +2

    I think the reason many people don’t like it is cuz they just don’t understand it. which has been made abundantly clear in this article. the guy clearly wasn’t paying attention. the problem isn’t the movie. it’s that american audiences go to the movies to be entertained, not to watch a good film. I saw this with 5 other friends and we all loved it.

  38. m00ng  |   Posted on Aug 28th, 2008 +1

    Visually impressive film accompanied by an equally impressive score by Clint Mansell. The movies story was a breath of fresh air to all that other manifactured bollox being churned out today by production companys. I’m not saying the movie as a whole is amazing! It’s just different. Different is good. So for that reason alone it cannot be the worst movie of all time.
    Now if you want to watch terrible, TERRIBLE movies then look no further than this list of gems i acquired over the years. I Will not take responsiblity for rage that might ensue shortly after viewing! Tough shit.
    Throll 2 (It’s about Goblins hence the title ;o )

    Speed Demons (Megolith! nuff said)

    Highlander 2 (Where they took the iconic characters of Juan rafael villalobos ramirez + Duncan McCloud and made them alien criminal refugees from the planet Zoist! No thanks.)

    Locust the eight plague.

    Mean guns

    Ghost Lake

    deadmans island

    Starship Troopers 2

    Streetfighter the movie.

    Cutthroat island. :(

    Indiana Jones 4.

    Invaders from Mars (Tobe hooper remake. The cringe worthy acting is intense.)

    Half past Dead

    Alien versus hunter.

    The list goes on but I’d say most have skipped the post by now ;p. But If i get only one person to watch anyone of those movies for the first time, then my job is done here. :)

  39. If someone first told me that this was a spoof movie, like “Scary Movie” but for for David Lynch-type films [I like Lynch mostly], I would have found it hilarious. I’m going to re-watch it from that perspective, now that it’s on HBO.

    No I’m not. But the sentient hair tree could be interpreted as seriously awesome gross-out humor.

  40. ufff… i feel as if don’t want to watch this movie… shots made by you didn’t impressed me so much…

  41. That clip sealed the deal for me. When I was trying to relate that part to someone I couldn’t explain it without laughing.

    Also, STEPMOM made me want to hang myself. Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts fighting for the best mom title… and too many sing alongs of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. Ugh. I feel a gag reflex just thinking about it.

  42. Eric  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    I liked this movie, a little. I’ll own up to it. I remember the overweight people in sweatpants walking out, and I didn’t want to be like them.

  43. Maddie  |   Posted on Mar 30th, 2009 -2

    Gabe pointed out what I hate the most about this movie: it’s too pretentious. And personally, it’s one of the few movies I’ve ever seen that left me feeling completely unfulfilled (I think the other two were “Serving Sarah” and “The Black Dahlia”).

  44. Monkey  |   Posted on Apr 23rd, 2009 +1

    The part where they dress normal is mostly real. The part where he is looking for the fountain of youth is the book his dying wife wrote. The part where he is in space is the dream; he falls asleep reading the book. The point of the movie is that he comes to terms with the transience of life. The man in his dream dies and he wakes up and finishes the book for his wife by killing the man who found the fountain, because there is no eternal life. Now that he has come to terms with his fear of death he is able to “be there” for his wife as she dies. Thats why he wispers into her ear at the very end of the movie.

  45. Asha  |   Posted on Apr 30th, 2009 +2

    Just because you don’t get the film (due to sheer stupidity) doesn’t make it bad. It just means that you might be a moron.

    The film is about the concepts of self deception and failing ourselves through subjugation of our values for delusional needs. I go into a full explanation of the plot, but it’d require the use of words that are too big and scary for you.

    The fact that this is put beside a truly terrible film like The Lady In The Water hurts a little.

  46. I find this entry exists as a way to sort out some obnoxious postmodern irony issues. I call extreme bullshit on this.

  47. Audrey  |   Posted on Jul 9th, 2009 -1

    THANK YOU GABE.

  48. Bubby  |   Posted on Jul 12th, 2009 +1

    What a horrible movie review! I felt like I could trust the decisions pretty much up to this point… If you can’t get “The Fountain,” your credibility on critiquing film just went way down in my book! “The Fountain” is about accepting death. “Pre-cog” Jackman is his enlightened self coming to grips with his wife’s death… at least, that’s how I interpret it. He keeps clinging onto hope, in denial that death was inescapable… and then, moment of epiphany. Death is a cycle of life. Accept it, but know how to love the moment, as Weisz’s character did, but her husband did not. Until she was already gone.

  49. Shaz  |   Posted on Jul 17th, 2009 +1

    Everybody knows that this film is not the usual cohesive narrative. But that is not the reason it is hated by many people. It is pure and simply badly made and terribly acted (especially by Jackman). By the way, if you “got” this pretentious pile of poo that doesn’t make it good, either.

  50. Jazz  |   Posted on Jul 21st, 2009 +1

    This review has some valid criticisms (I think the point about Weisz’s character being distant from the audience was one of the main things I disliked about The Fountain), but it definitely leaves out many of the strengths of this film – such as the imposition of structure in many non-traditional ways, the beautiful score, and visual composition and editing.

    Imposing structure in unorthodox ways is one of the hardest things to achieve in any artistic medium.

  51. Kent  |   Posted on Oct 14th, 2009 +2

    The WORST?????? WTF!?!?!?!?!?!?!? You have not seen Kung Fu Hustle, you did??

    The Fountain is one of the best movies filmed in this times.

    Maybe a good movie to you is: Fast & Furious, AVP, High School Musical, Rocky Balboa, Scary Movie, etc.

    Your point of view is so small, The Fountain was art, was inner peace, was love, was rebirth, was accept!!!! The Fountain is a very good movie, so I buy DVD.

  52. Kent  |   Posted on Oct 14th, 2009 0

    The WORST?????? WTF!?!?!?!?!?!?!? You have not seen Kung Fu Hustle, you did??

    The Fountain is one of the best movies filmed in this times.

    Maybe a good movie to you is: Fast & Furious, AVP, High School Musical, Rocky Balboa, Scary Movie, etc.

    Your point of view is so small, The Fountain was art, was inner peace, was love, was rebirth, was accept!!!! The Fountain is a very good movie, so I buy DVD.

  53. I didn’t completely get it the first time around, but on a partial rewatch I liked it and thought it had some pretty powerful themes about death. I also want to point out that the tree wasn’t CGI… There were only a few parts of the film where computers were used for more than composting.

    The whole space travel thing, for example was created using layered macrophotography of chemical and biological reactions. I’m sure most people would find it boring, but I thought the making of was really incredibly interesting.

    So yeah, pretty effects might be a lame reason to like it compared to oh, plot or character… (which I did actually also like) but that alone makes me really respect the film.

  54. “used for more than composting.” AH DURRR I meant to say compositing. No, I am not usually that dumb.

  55. The guy who wrote this article is probably the most idiot person I have seen/read both in real life and internet. Hey, that’s a prize, so stand up and be proud of yourself.

    The Fountain is easily one of the greatest movies ever, one of the very few one that makes you think a lot, even years after you have watched it. Of course, it’s not made for all audience, in fact only a minority would be able to truly understand it’s greatness. But then again, most people have a lower IQ that a human being should have, so no wonder the critics for this movie are too much.

  56. The fountain is not for everyone, leave it to the sophisticated movie watchers to judge it, Gabe, and go watch your brainless action films.

  57. Thank you, Mihajlo, I have never been so butt-hurt by a movie review.
    The Fountain has to be one of the most impressive films I’ve ever seen. Yes, visually stunning but more-so it has one of the best plots I’ve ever had the pleasure to cry all over.
    I get that people don’t get it & they say it’s boring. But holy fucking shit, no one has ever written a better screenplay about the human fear of death & biblical trees of life (& not to mention love)!
    If I could, I’d get the whole goddamned movie tattooed all over my body. Maybe..
    Eat my shit gum, and your followers. Dear lord, if you’re witty & grammatically correct you really gain a lot of know-it-all asshole minons.
    Come at me bro.

  58. worst site to find worst movie’s ;)

  59. Best review on the film ever. The theme of the movie is blatantly obvious – the acceptance of death theme, which only 15 minutes into it you’d realize. But seriously, it is boring as hell because it wasn’t well made and presented. The acting was off even though the visual is amazing. I L out L too when that tree cum scene was on, needless to say, the CG at the floating in a giant shiny ball thing really killed it for me. It’s not that i didn’t GET it, it’s more like i was NOT convinced.

    I remember watching it with my friends after a whole day of lectures and honestly, it was the worst 2 hours I spent in a cinema. EVER. I never fell asleep on any horrible movies since I’d want to see just how bad can one movie gets….. but this one…… i managed to do so half way through it. I have no problem understanding what they’re trying to deliver, but it wasn’t engaging enough even though I’m normally the type that won’t blink when it comes to amazing visuals (e.g. I loved The Life of Pi and Cloud Atlas)

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