The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration – and generally speaking, they are. However, lurking just beneath the brightly lit veneer of Christmas trees and colorfully wrapped presents, there’s an evil – something so distressing, so terrible, so…horrific, that it threatens to destroy our faith in humanity and all our feelings of goodwill toward our fellow cinephiles. Yes, we’re talking about Redbox’s annual awards list.
2011 wasn’t a particularly great year for cinema, but even with that in mind, this year’s “winners” in Redbox’s most popular films categories are particularly unsettling. Reading this list is sort of like opening a giant package on Christmas morning only to discover that your gift is an enormous fruitcake covered in monkey poo. How else can one describe an awards announcement championing the Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston flick Just Go With It as the most rented film of the year? What does that say about us as a culture? Why do we even bother writing movie reviews anymore? That movie has a 19% on the Tomatometer for crying out loud. We eagerly await next year’s list – when Jack & Jill and Bucky Larson will almost assuredly battle it out for the top spot.
The terrifying look into America’s rental habits don’t stop there, though. Just Go With It was not only the most rented title of 2011 at the ubiquitous red boxes, but it also won the comedy category. The disappointing (and also rated rotten) Seth Rogen film The Green Hornet took home action film honors. The absolutely dreadful (20% on the Tomatometer) Johnny Depp/Angelina Jolie film The Tourist was the most-rented drama.
Renters did at least exhibit better taste when it came to family films – giving Rango the win – and horror flicks, where Insidious was the most popular title of the year.
This led us to wonder what it all means. Redbox presents a sort of “chicken or the egg” conundrum for anyone really thinking about the numbers. Do these terrible films get huge rental rates because the public’s taste is so questionable and Redbox carries these titles solely based on demand, or does the public rent these terrible titles because it’s the only option Redbox really gives them? Having never actually rented from Redbox, but having perused the machines a few times, I can’t give a definitive answer. I’m really hoping it’s the latter.
The list of “winners” would be bad enough if it ended with those category announcements – but Redbox came bearing tidings of disappointment and aggravation this year, and they’re going to keep doling out gifts until everyone is miserable.
In what surely has to be a sign that the world will really end in 2012, actor Kevin James has been given Redbox’s Lifetime Achievement Award. We’d be 100% behind James winning this prestigious honor if it was for “having a career built on starring in comedies that aren’t even remotely funny,” but alas, it is not. Instead, Redbox has given James this award for “having delighted Redbox renters for years in movies like Grown Ups, Zookeeper and The Dilemma.” Did anyone at Redbox actually watch these films? They add further insult to injury by pointing out that Paul Blart: Mall Cop was the “fastest movie in Redbox history to reach 1 million rentals.”
Redbox rounds out the misery by sharing some “snapshots” from their user survey. Think of this like getting hit by a bus as you leave a doctor’s appointment where you just learned you have terminal cancer. Then imagine that the bus crash doesn’t kill you – it just breaks most of your bones and makes you suffer more than you already are. That’s the effect these snapshots have.
45.6% of respondents voted Transformers: Dark of the Moon the film “that made destruction totally exciting.” We’re guessing there wasn’t a category for “Most Awesome Slow-Mo Explosions.”
Angelina Jolie’s work in Salt earned her enough votes to win the “Female Who Kicked the Most Butt” award.
Sandler and Aniston return yet again, as the “Most Loved Comedy Couple.” If Kevin James winning a lifetime achievement award wasn’t a sign of the apocalypse, this surely has to be. We thought maybe Redbox had at least come to their senses when they gave Aniston a "Best at Being Bad" award, but it wasn't for her string of terrible performances -- it was just an acknowledgment of how "awesome" she was in Horrible Bosses (and, to be fair, we like Aniston more in that film than anything else she's done lately.)
And finally, more Redbox users wanted to be friends with Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph’s characters in Bridesmaids than any other film duo this year.
And there you have it, Redbox’s 2011 best of the year winners. We can only imagine how exciting 2012’s announcement will be. We’re already locking up our lethal prescriptions and hiding the razor blades in anticipation…
If, for some reason, reading about all this didn’t make you despondent enough, swing by the Redbox site for an actual awards video.