You can’t just write about how bad Neil LaBute’s remake of The Wicker Man starring Nicolas Cage is. It’s not that simple. The movie is so patently terrible, from the “acting” to the “suspense” to the “political themes” that talking about it as ‘bad’ is like referring to the Holocaust as ‘a bummer.’ I’m not actually comparing this stupid movie to the Holocaust, but I’m saying that it definitely has some Holocaustian elements in it. I’m not saying Nicolas Cage is Hitler, but I’m saying that he’s definitely caused suffering to millions of people.

The Wicker Man is based on a British 70s film of the same name. I haven’t seen the original, so I’m going to mostly leave it out of this analysis but acknowledge that it has a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, and is widely regarded as “good.” Fair enough. I’m tempted to sink the original to the bottom of Whoops Ocean anyway, because obviously it resulted in the remake, but the parents can’t be blamed for the sins of the child. Or at least that is what parents of shitty children are always telling everybody.

The movie opens with Nicolas Cage working as a highway patrolman. He stops a woman traveling with her daughter, but a semi-truck hits their car and it catches on fire and they die. Probably. No bodies are found. Sure. This makes Nicolas Cage sad. Then he gets a letter from an ex-fiance (even his friend didn’t know he had an ex-fiance, just to give you a sense of how good the set up is, everyone’s surprised and feels that details are being rudely forced upon them) telling him that her daughter Rowan is missing and she needs his help. He goes to the mysterious Summers Isle, which is populated almost entirely by Kathy Bates. She’s everywhere. So much Kathy Bates over there. He tries to find Rowan but all the women are like “Whut?” and he’s like “I’m horrible at acting,” and then he punches a woman in the face and no one will give him any Royal Honey. He dresses up as a bear and finds Rowan during a festival tied to a tree and he unties her and they run through the woods and then it turns out that Rowan was just bait and the pagans break Nicolas Cage’s legs and pour bees on his head and then they put him inside the Burning Man and set him on fire. Because of crops.

Nicolas Cage’s wig wearingacting has already been pretty handily dismissed by the internet. So let’s just get that out of the way.

Someone in Hollywood should report him to HR. I’m just saying, if I did my job as poorly as he does his this website would be called pinkslipgum.com, and I would be wearing my pajamas out of sadness, not because I just don’t have time to get dressed anymore.

There are other details of the movie that are hilarious as well. Such as the website Nicolas Cage uses instead of Google to get directions.

Or the part where he gets locked in a cistern and is probably going to drown, but just before he dies he manages to fall asleep and have a nightmare. Or the part where he’s a cop but he doesn’t follow any normal legal courses of action that a cop would follow when a child has been reported missing. Or everything about this movie.

But the real issue here is Neil LaBute’s bizarre misogyny (And beesogyny. He hates bees so much this guy!) His whole career has been built on the flimsy political platform that men will be men (read: horrible), and women either cruelly manipulative or easily manipulated cruelly, and love is just another form of hate, but as infuriating as he might have been, he was at least trying to make some sort of point, and you had to respect him for that. But now he’s just kind of a dick. Whether it’s Nicolas Cage sidekicking a teenage girl into a wall, or a Mother Goddess leading a parade of neutered male servants in a costumed fertility parade, LaBute seems to have lost the thread of his original ideas, and is just flailing out blindly hoping to accidentally reverse the tide of progress with a casual, intellectually misplaced bitch slap.

I think it’s fair to say that this is definitely in the running for the title of Worst Movie of All Time. It’s painful to watch and it seems to have ambitions towards something larger than itself, but ambitions that are so deeply flawed that it makes less sense than vagina dentata, which does not make any sense. You guys, there’s no such thing as a vagina with teeth. You’re being weird about this.

Next week: Zardoz. As always, leave your suggestions in the comments or send them in an email. And if you have not already, please consult the Official Rules.

Comments (40)
  1. You’ve obviously never seen my vagina.

  2. As someone who saw the original, this movie is much worse than you make it out to be. Do yourself a favor and watch the original and then re-review this. Certain movies and themes translate well over from one decade to another, this was not one of them.

    Besides fourfour’s reviews of ANTM, this is the only other thing that makes me look forward to Mondays…Thanks!

  3. Punky Brewster  |   Posted on Jul 28th, 2008 0

    Haha! I still can’t decide whether that vagina dentata movie is the best or worst movie ever made. I should probably see it first.

    I also have another nomination – Vantage Point – which was so bad that it cannot even be watched on a plane; with each moment I found myself progressively *less* invested in either the plot or the characters. When friend missed the denouement because the plane started to land, he refused to pick up the second half on the next leg of flight, and by refused I mean forgot.

  4. indieguy322  |   Posted on Jul 28th, 2008 0

    Hilarious. I’ve been meaning to watch this movie for awhile (I can’t pass up Nick Cage punching a woman in the face while dressed as a bear). Also, you need to take a good look at Batman and Robin. It is the worst.

  5. This one popped into my head this weekend: AMERICAN DREAMZZZ. Awful.

  6. It needs to be noted that the scene in the above photograph was cut from the original theatrical release. Which says a lot about Neil’s directing choices, he had SO MUCH HOPE for that scene he had to say fuck you to the gods of common sense and include it in the directors cut.

    • True, although in addition to adding that scene, the Director’s Cut also got rid of that silly twist ending in which two of the Summers Isle girls were in a bar in California trying to pick up rookie cops to impregnate them and start the whole mysterious, ridiculous cycle over again, so they kind of cancel each other out in terms of good and bad choices.

  7. kat  |   Posted on Jul 28th, 2008 +5

    how did it get burned? seriously.

  8. The original is really good in that f’ed up 70′s British kind of way. I don’t recall any bees. It’s definitely worth a watch.

  9. kushiro  |   Posted on Jul 28th, 2008 0

    Is that the Blind Melon “Bee Girl” on the right in that screen grab?

  10. I’ll suggest “Kangaroo Jack” for 400, Gabe.

  11. matt  |   Posted on Jul 29th, 2008 0

    Zardoz!
    awful. but in a “at least he tried” kinda way.
    but awful

  12. Hahaaha. “Oh no. Not the bees. Ahh. My eyes.” So bad. The original was all 70′s carnality and paganism and weird songs, but it was definitely creepy. Also there was no Nicholas Cage, so bonus points right there.

  13. ThisGuy  |   Posted on Jul 29th, 2008 +1

    Tank Girl. Seriously, Tank Girl. Get on it.

  14. Michael  |   Posted on Jul 29th, 2008 0

    White Noise. Michael Keaton still counts as at least B-list. Oh, and what a horrible movie.

  15. Michael  |   Posted on Jul 29th, 2008 0

    Oooo, oooo, I got it. Frequency, starring Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel. Discuss.

  16. The ban on superhero movies really should be lifted for Batman and Robin, which is easily in the running for the worst movie of all time. It has Chris O’donnell in love with a villain who is part plant, the batman credit card, and nothing but puns from Arnold.

  17. I am so glad you finally saw Wicker Man. I feel as if a burden has been lifted from me. Thank you. I would like to nominate 21 as a worst film. Not nearly as bad as this one, but god damn awful.

  18. Mark  |   Posted on Jul 29th, 2008 0

    I think this one breaks the rules, I enjoyed the hell out of this trainwreck. Unintentional comedy in the vein of Showgirls. The “comedy” trailers for it on YouTube.com speak for themselves…

    Bring on Ultraviolet Gabe.

  19. sam  |   Posted on Jul 29th, 2008 +1

    please do crash. i’d watch nicolas cage in a bear costume punching girls. crash just made me want to punch myself in the face.

  20. Lambnesiac  |   Posted on Aug 1st, 2008 0

    Oh, Frequency! Oh, yes!

  21. How about A SOUND OF THUNDER
    Ed Burns, Ben Kingsley, CGI good enough to make it a marquee film on Sci-Fi
    Meaning – the CGI is shit and the monsters are mixes of apes and lizards.
    Seriously, it’s ED WOOD bad.

  22. i watched this movie in a nearly-empty theater with my best friends. the first hour was horrid and awful and we were in the verge of boredom and exasperation. the last half hr of the film, however, it PURE HILARITY. me and my friends were on the floor laughing due to the “bear costume” and that whole scene were he dies. it was so bad and they were trying so ahrd to be serious we couldnt help but make fun of the film. Oh fond memories…
    im sorry u had to sit through that though. it is quite an awful film.
    i nominate STRANGER THAN FICTION. that movie suuuuuuuuuckeeed.

  23. i’ve been nominating this movie for a while …

    and it still sucks as bad as i remember.

    BEST UNINTENTIONAL COMEDY EVER!!!!

  24. Voxen  |   Posted on Aug 29th, 2008 -1

    I saw the original wicker man around five years ago without any knowledge going in, and found it to be ploddingly dull and anticlimactic. I’m surprised that it’s so highly rated. And that it merited an even-worse remake.

  25. I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard at a movie before as I did with Wicker Man. The original is so so but this is so gloriously bad.

    If you watch this with the commentaries it turns out that most of the really stupid stuff was Cage’s idea. Stealing the bike? Cage. Wearing a bear suit? Cage. Well actually LaBute put him in the suit but Cage didn’t want to take it off. He did keep the feet on though. Awesome!

    Here’s my dilemma though? Is Cage the biggest idiot in the world or is a he a Diabolical Genius playing some kind of decades long Andy Kauffman joke on the world? Maybe it’s too much to hope for. But his dumbass ideas truly made this movie about the most fun I’ve ever had hating a movie.

  26. Mike Hayne  |   Posted on Oct 7th, 2008 0

    Well, any Tom Cruise movie is bad except Rainman where he played a guy who showed no emotions who did not care about anything, basically himself. However, EYES WIDE SHUT has the worst detective sequence (he is a doctor who lives in that city and can’t even find his way around) and the most boring sex orgy ever filmed. I think Kubrik disliked Hollywood and wanted his own private joke so he made a terrible movie and relished hearing all the Hollywood people say it was good.

  27. The original Wicker Man is an awesome movie. I haven’t seen the remake and I don’t think I’m going to unless it’s good for laughs .. then maybe, one day. Most of the scenes in that youtube-video – such as Nicolas Cage stealing a bike at gunpoint, kicking a teenage girl into a wall, punching a woman in the face while dressed in a bear costume – are not even in the original. Seeing as they weren’t trying to make a comedy, I can’t really see why they made those scenes in the first place. Looks pretty damn awful!

    I still find it hard to believe that there are movies out there with a proper budget that are worse than Cat Woman (Starring Halle Berry, has a villain that is near invulnerable because she’s using a special skin-cream), but this certainly looks like a possibility or at least top contender.

    Thanks for a fun and informative review!

  28. Nicolas Cage in the worst film?! wow, it smels like i can be a great scandal. you are brave my friend! i’m proud of you!!!

  29. hate pissimistic movies about looooooooserssss.

  30. Thank You.  |   Posted on Jan 8th, 2009 0

    hahtahththahahah fucking- oh my god. I love stereogum for appreciating how fucking ridiculous this movie is.

  31. Adam Bruneau  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2009 0

    I really like the original and stayed away from this cos i heard so many bad things about it. But i’m glad i read this review, and that compilation of clips had me ROFL something fierce. Holy crap that is some bad acting, funny shit.

  32. HOW’D IT GET BURNED??!!!

  33. Ninjawookie  |   Posted on Feb 4th, 2009 +1

    this movie is actually too funny to truly be considered the worst movie ever made.

  34. Amanda  |   Posted on Mar 17th, 2009 -3

    Ok, so the remake was on TV the other night followed by the original. I recorded both just in case I wanted to watch the original too.

    So I settled down to watch what I thought was going to be a horror movie only to be faced with a movie containing the lamest dream/flashback thingys ever, the most pathetic acting ever, and the most horrible and non-satisfying ending ever.

    It actually quite annoyed me and disturbed me because it was so stupid and also because I myself was so stupid for watching the whole thing instead of switching it off halfway through and deleting it from my hard drive recorder forever.

    So after watching the remake I thought to myself “There is no way I am watching the original now!” so I switched it off. The next day, however I remembered that the TV guide had said that the remake totally missed the point of the ending of the original. So I had the bright idea of fast-forwarding through the original to get to the end to see what it was like. So that’s what I did, watching parts of it all the way through and then the ending.

    For everyone out there who hasn’t seen one or the other – the endings (and a whole lot of the dialogue!) are exactly the same, so I don’t know what that TV guide reviewer was on when he/she wrote that.

    Although I agree this is the worst movie ever – and I’ve seen some pretty crappy movies in my time, I have compiled below a list of things that were better in the original and vice-versa.

    Better in the original The Wicker Man movie:
    - The leading man’s hair.
    - The leading man’s teeth.
    - Being set on a British island in the 70s, I couldn’t shake the feeling that The Goodies were going to jump out at any second.
    - The acting generally.

    Better in the remake of The Wicker Man:
    - No lame singing.
    - The bees, a whole lot creepier than apples.
    - That women ran the island, also a lot creepier than in the original.

    It might also interest you to know that I found this page by searching for “Wicker Man worst movie ever” in Google.

  35. Joe  |   Posted on Oct 21st, 2009 0

    I dragged my poor little brother to the theatre to see the wicker man cuz I thought the trailer looked good. He didn’t want to go. I assured him it would be, I had a feeling. The saddest thing about the film is the way the story plays out its like some great horrific twist was always around the corner. Well there was a twist The twist was there was no twist and no discernable plot. As me and my bro sulked back to the car realizing we just wasted good beer money he looked at me with his ticket in his hand and said ” I’m going to keep this forever and if I meet somebody who saw that piece I’m gonna whip this out, show it to them and give em a hug.”

  36. I thought the “Nic Cage in a bear suit” thing was a joke that was just going over my head… but then I watched the YouTube clippy there, and, no, Nic Cage is actually in a bear suit.

    Seriously, what profound and moving drama DOESN’T feature a bear suit? Remember that scene in The Hurt Locker, when Jeremy Renner put on a bear suit and disarmed that bomb? What a taut, dramatic moment.

  37. I’m pretty supportive of movies, even if I have to resort to “well, it was well lit.”

    The remake of the Wicker Man is the only (rather, first) time in my life I have ever gotten mad at the movie and wanted that time of my life back.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post, reply to, or rate a comment.