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Hollywood Serves Up Reel Turkeys in 2011

"Bucky Larsen" and Palin doc "The Undefeated" vie for worst-reviewed crown

| BY Donald Liebenson

It's hard to say who are the biggest turkeys, celebrities or politicians? Kim Kardashian or the members of the Super Committee? Tough call.

But on Thanksgiving, it is customary to carve up Hollywood's biggest turkeys of the year (thus far). What are the ingredients that make for a movie turkey? Traditionally, it's a film roasted by critics (which doesn't necessarily mean it's a box office bomb—moviegoers love their reel junk food). It could also be a film that failed to live up to high expectations, or whose A-list cast did not deliver on their star power.

So grab a plate and help yourself to this smorgasbord of movies that audiences gave the bird: 

"The Beaver": Nope, not a remake of the beloved Jerry Mathers TV series, but a psychological drama starring Mel Gibson as an unhinged man who gets a new lease on life thanks to a beaver hand puppet. Considering the dark subject matter and Gibson's disastrous public image, this was the very model of a "tough sell." It earned less than a million on a $21 million budget.

"The Big Year": Not for this comedy with the dream-team cast of Owen Wilson, Steve Martin and Jack Black as bird watchers. It earned $7 million on a $40 million budget and quickly flew from theatres.

"Bucky Larsen: Born to be a Star": From Adam Sandler's Happy Madison factory came this ill-fated star vehicle for comedian Nick Swardson about a small-town rube who heads west to become an adult film star. Perhaps the worst-reviewed film of the year, it earned 0 percent from review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, as did the Sarah Palin documentary, "The Undefeated."

"The Change-Up": It was a good year for raunchy R-rated comedies ("Bridesmaids," "Bad Teacher," "The Hangover Part II") until this dud. Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds starred as pals who magically switch bodies and lives. It earned $37 million on a $52 million budget. Reynolds also starred in the disappointing "The Green Lantern," whose prospects for a franchise look dim.

"Cowboys & Aliens": With Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard as producers, "Iron Man" director Jon Favreau behind the camera and Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig in front of it, expectations were high for this sci-fi western. But reviews were tepid and moviegoers mostly stayed away. It earned $100.2 million on its $163 million budget

"Jack and Jill": "More than 24 hours has passed since I watched the new Adam Sandler movie, and I'm still dead inside," Time Magazine critic Mary Pols wrote. And this was one of the kinder reviews. Even Sandler's die-hard finds are passing on this comedy in which he plays a dual role as a successful ad executive and his brash twin sister. It has earned only $43.3 million on a $79 million budget.

"Larry Crowne": It doesn't get more A-list than Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, but this modest romantic comedy about a downsized retail worker who returns to school opened in fourth place its opening weekend. It did end up earning $35.6 million on a $30 million budget.

"Mars Needs Moms": Robert Zemeckis' animated film opened in more than 3,100 theatres, but made just $6.8 million on its opening weekend. It went on to earn $40 million on a $150 million budget. But there is a silver lining: it's poor reception sank plans for Zemeckis to remake "Yellow Submarine."

"The Three Musketeers": All for one and all for nothing. This souped-up version of the oft-filed adventure earned $19.6 million on a $75 million budget. Actress Milla Jovovich took to Twitter to chastise the studio for not marketing the film better.

"What's Your Number?": Everyone loves character actor Anna Faris; they just don't go to see her movies. Her bid for leading lady status suffered another setback with this R-rated comedy that also failed to ride the "Bridesmaids" wave. It earned only $14 million on a $20 million budget.

About the Author

Donald Liebenson

Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.  

A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.