2015 IN REVIEW: The Worst Movies of the Year
Here it is! I know, it’s been a long time coming. But it’s finally here: my list of Worst Movies of 2015.
These are the 2015 movies I hated most, for one reason or another. Most of them lost points for being boring, while others lost points for being just plain stupid. There’s a good chance that you will not be entertained by any of these films, and if you do, then it’s most likely for ironic reasons. I saw a lot of bad movies in 2015, though – almost 40 of them! – and while I could’ve just narrowed it down to a Top 10 list or something, I chose instead to just flat out warn you about all the terrible movies I saw from 2015 until the time of publishing this.
I’ve ranked them in order of approximate awfulness, but, as always with these things, ranks can change probably in the future. There’s one thing I’m certain of, however, and that these are just… just terrible. Don’t see the movie on the list? I guess I didn’t hate it that much. Or I didn’t see it. I’m sure that there were plenty of other films I missed that were much worse than these. Heck, I’m sure that my list of favorite movies of the year will have some that people think belong on this list for one reason or another. That’s the internet for you. That list is coming, though, and you can feel free to complain then. Until that time, though, here are the movies I hated most from 2015…
39. The Age of Adaline – 4/24/15 – 54%
Blake Lively stars as Adaline, who is one day in a car accident that leaves her nearly frozen and struck by lightning, thus stopping her aging process seemingly indefinitely, causing much tragedy for her romantic life, as well as that of her daughter, who you would have probably already guessed ends up out aging her, physically. The Age of Adaline is another one of those movies with a decent enough premise, but terrible execution. There’s a narration that seemingly only shows up at convenient times when the story needs perfunctory exposition that the film knows it can’t work into natural dialogue to make anything comprehensible. Furthermore, it’s another one of those needlessly complicated romance stories that involves the much coveted Adaline falling in love in multiple eras, leaving behind the One in the process, only to fall in love with another one who all too conveniently seems to be the One. No prizes for guessing why. Blake Lively is probably a decent enough actress, but here’s she found the subtlest ways of getting on my nerves, such as how she talks normal when she’s playing the younger Adaline but then modulates her voice into this obnoxious youthful girl doing an old lady impression poorly voice as the more wizened, modern era Adaline, which makes little sense when you consider much of that affectation is more because of the aged vocal chords, not world weariness. This was just a terribly dull, irritating, and slow movie that never managed to wring out the best possibilities of its own story. I do think that guy who played the younger Harrison Ford has a decent shot at playing young Han Solo, though.
38. No Escape – 8/26/15 – 46%
There was a point during this film in which I was actually thinking to myself, “This is actually kind of decent!” Owen Wilson here plays an American businessman, Jack Dwyer, who relocates with his family to an understandably unidentified Southeast Asian country due to striking a deal with the government for the American water systems company he works for – just in time for the political upheaval at the hands of those who disapprove of the government’s fraternization with Western countries and companies. And then the rest of the film has Jack and his family attempting to escape the country into friendlier territory. At times, the first half of the film is admittedly pretty intriguing, if only through the level of intensity, but once Pierce Brosnan reenters the picture, I feel like the filmmakers felt as though they needed to have him be a badass – you know, like James Bond. Only, here it’s like midlife crisis James Bond who makes a lot of really dumb decisions – like having the family sleep on the rooftop of a building in a city where they are being hunted down by groups of people, including snipers. And he essentially makes the movie even less intense since he and his buddy turn the odds in favor of the family with their presence. What a terrible character that completely derails the movie.
37. Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos – 9/04/15 – 71%
I really didn’t understand why this movie was reviewed so well until I looked at the sources of the reviews – two from parental aid site Common Sense Media, and two from Mexico City’s Reforma, one of which calls it technically “perfect.” I guess it is technically pretty decent, considering it was the first CG production from a small Mexican studio, Huevocartoon Producciones, but it’s far from a pretty film, particularly from a character design standpoint. The film was the first Mexico-produced animated film to get a U.S. release and even played exclusively in Spanish the first two weeks. (I rented from Redbox and watched it in Spanish, too.) The movie may not have been entirely awful, but I did find most of the characters outright annoying. Not only loud, they’re also not especially endearing, with one character even being teased about being abused as a child. Then again, it is a PG-13 family film (a very soft PG-13) that centers on cockfighting as a nationally celebrated pastime…The story is a cliché-ridden mess with lazy, pop culture referential humor about an underdog chicken who needs to save his farm by winning his owner some cash in the ring and learning to find his voice – literally, since the wimp also can’t crow in the morning like he’s expected to. He’s helped along the way by a hen he’s got his eye on as well as a few formerly superhero anthropomorphic eggs and a strip of bacon – which is seriously insane, since our hero used to be an egg, too, and hatched into a little chick who acts like a child, despite acting adult as an egg, but then there are adult-acting chicks, too, and one weird half-hatched duck egg character who also acts like an adult… and… there’s a mute piece of bacon, which… I don’t know where he’s come from, but I’ll tell you now that there are no pigs on this farm, which brings up some serious questions about life and even the afterlife in this universe. Can you separate a wing from a chicken while it’s still alive, deep fry it, dunk it in Buffalo sauce, and watch as the one-winged chicken becomes fast buddies with his now sentient and Buffalo-style wing?! What about after digesting it?! OH GOD, WHAT COMES OUT THE OTHER SIDE?!
36. Project Almanac – 1/30/15 – 34%
A kid discovers along with his friends that his late father invented a time machine, and so he and his friends decide to use it to… go to concerts they missed… and play pranks on their enemies. Yeah, most people would want to kill Hitler or see the creation of the universe. These guys live it up. Fair enough, though! They’d probably screw up history and the Big Bang with the consequences they wind up facing through their mundane shenanigans, anyway. Project Almanac could’ve at least been a mediocre sci-fi coming of age high school thriller, but it’s ultimately most held back by an obnoxious puppy love focus as well as the fact that it’s filmed in that abominable found footage style that’s hardly ever used properly, least of all here, when it actively interferes with the already shaky believability levels, such as when a character is standing several yards away from her brother and the girl he’s interested in while at the concert, and yet the music and the crowds conveniently fade out so that we can hear the two talk intimately with one another, or, while in the same scene, they’re hopping from one location off to the side of the concert area, to back stage, and then out into the crowds with the characters dancing without the live performance of Imagine Dragons ever having their music interrupted throughout the various cuts – which includes footage of characters singing along at the various venues. Just… what!?
35. The Ridiculous 6 – 12/11/15 – 0%
I don’t think this movie deserves to be called the worst Adam Sandler movie of 2015, though I do certainly understand why one might get confused, considering the amount of crap released this year bearing his name. The Ridiculous 6, Netflix’s first in a four picture deal with Sandler’s Happy Madison production company, was a salvage of a movie that was being shopped around and rejected by other studios who presumably had enough of his silliness, regardless of the money he brings in. Netflix swooped it up and made it their second feature film release after Beasts of No Nation, and now it’s their #1 most streamed film of 2015. [sigh] Here he plays the leader of a posse of men who just so happen to be half-brothers, each the son of the same man but different mother, and each having reason to want to go save their philandering father from the bandits who have taken off with him in search of some treasure he knows there whereabouts of. This was the latest Sandler release of the year and also the second most ambitious after Pixels, and the wear on Sandler really seems to show. I have a feeling the stoic badass who is good and calm and cool under all sorts of pressure was chosen by him, for him because he just lost all emotional connection with his work and other passions in life. But, again, it’s far from the worst Sandler film of the year, as his costars are at least game, and there are a few so-stupid-they’re-kinda-funny-but-you’re-now-complicit type jokes here and there, such as the guest star playing Mark Twain. If anything it was worth it for the chuckle-worthy escalation of disgusting uses for Steve Buscemi’s ointment and the out of nowhere little bit of genius that was John Turturro playing Abner Doubleday, who is found randomly in the middle of nowhere trying to teach a group of Chinese laborers the rules of baseball. It’s the one bit of silly, non-embarassing humor in a film that will haunt your Netflix recommendations for years.
34. Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse – 10/30/15 – 44%
Haha! This movie puts two things that you don’t expect to be together into a movie together! Hahaha! So funny! Except, not really. Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse desperately wants to be the next Zombieland, and that was just never going to happen – and not just because it lacks an awesome and unexpected celebrity cameo. (Cloris Leachman doesn’t count, sadly.) It’s a movie that tries to infuse the violence and sophomoric humor (and I really mean “sophomoric,” since this is a movie both starring and aimed at high schoolers, despite its R-rating that just screams, “Watch this when your parents aren’t at home!”) with a bit of ethos by having the film center around three boys who have spent far more time in their scout group, with two of them only staying because the fatter of the three has a bad life and they felt as if they would be abandoning him – until one night when the other two are invited to the ultimate party, with the promise of sex looming at the end of the night. So, basically it’s trying to tap into that Superbad style of “no homo” bromance storytelling, only with zombies. I guess it’s only appropriate then that the film’s heart is in the right place, it’s just kind of rotten. The two more sympathetic characters aren’t nearly as charismatic or at least nervously entertaining as someone like Michael Cera was in his role, while the obligatory douchebag friend who talks him into ditching the fatter friend is nowhere near as likeable as Jonah Hill was, who at least had both the bad family situation as well as the realization that he was kind of pathetic to make him a lot more tolerable. The film is also nothing but gross out gags (Zombie penises and boobs, ladies and gentlemen!) and women as both plot devices or props – even the supposedly badass girl is both a stripper and a deus ex machina plot device to encourage the guys to go forth on their sexual conquests. It’s watchable enough, I guess, but also about as obnoxious as one would expect a film like this to be.
33. Little Boy – 4/22/15 – 21%
God works in mysterious ways, which apparently means that he might just let America bomb the hell out of two entire cities full of Japanese citizens with an atomic bomb if it means reuniting one little boy with his father if he just believes it enough. That’s… kind of the message of Little Boy, a film from the production team behind The Bible miniseries and, thus, Son of God. While perhaps not nearly as overt about its religious inclinations as other films released in this ubiquitous subgenre, Little Boy is based on the Biblical ideal of having the faith like a mustard seed, which will inevitably grow into a mustard plant, with the little boy of the title believing against all odds that God will bring back his recently drafted father during World War II. It’s also, I think, about believing delusions about your own power over these situations, since the kid really only feels this way thanks to a magician convincing him that he could – and the movie doesn’t really refute it, either, since he even causes a freaking earthquake. His only real struggle, as a result, is accepting the town’s single Japanese occupant, who apparently managed to not be placed in a camp. Probably so this kid can learn his lesson about racism being bad. Little Boy did have some potential, however, as the performances aren’t all that bad, apart from Kevin James quite literally creeping around every now and then. I don’t even really find fault in the faith message, either, apart from the magician stuff being rather extraneous. I do, however, think it’s incredibly tacky for the film to be built upon a freaking pun about the name of one of the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan, directly correlating his faith with the destruction of Hiroshima, rather than even being tactful enough to just have it connected to the end of war. No, see, this film has the audacity to even play “This Little Light of Mine” while the whole town celebrates the boy for his prayers leading to the dropping of the bomb. I mean, my God, okay, regardless of your perspective on whether it was justified or necessary, what the hell!? This is seriously the most tone deaf, tactlessly wholesome attempt at the endorsement and celebration of widespread death and destruction ever. Gross.
32. Get Hard – 3/27/15 – 29%
Get Hard is basically one big, long, elaborate prison rape joke. I’m not joking. It’s about a white businessman played by Will Ferrell being tricked into taking the heat for his boss at his company and having to go to prison. He then hires a down on his luck, pintsized black man, played by Kevin Hart, to teach him how to endure the hardships of the prison, assuming Hart had gone to prison just based on his race. Insulted but desperately in need of money, Hart agrees to teach him some rules of survival before his day comes, making up the training along the way. Naturally the two end up bonding and come to a sort of tenuous understanding of each other’s situations. Yay. The best I can say about this movie is that, of all the Kevin Hart movies I’ve seen with him in a starring role, this was at the very least my least problematic movie that I’ve seen him physically. That being said, the film really doesn’t provide any greater insight beyond “white people be like this, black people be like this” type humor we’ve all become accustomed to, and the movie, while containing a few moments that might make you smirk, is ultimately just not that funny. I’m not certain it’s worth your time.
31. Max – 6/26/15 – 36%
I knew this movie was going to be cloying just by nature of this being a family film about a war dog being rescued from euthanasia by the family of the man he worked alongside before his untimely death in combat. I did not expect, however, that the film would transform halfway through into one of those 90s films where kids took on some crazy evil villains with their diversity-increasing friends and animal sidekicks. But that’s pretty much what Max does, with the kid losing his brother in combat, adopting the dog, and then taking on an illegal gun cartel that also coincidentally is indirectly connected to his brother’s death. It is just the silliest direction they could’ve taken it. The film is basically a means of showing the kid that he’s too self-absorbed to recognize real sacrifice by putting him through a symbolic (and eventually literal) battlefield to understand the cost of freedom. The problem is that the film portrays the kid as being ignorant not just because he resents his brother for leaving him behind to deal with his heel of a dad, but by also showing him to not be patriotic enough because, you know, he likes to do stuff on his computer. Heaven forbid! The resentment thing I can understand the movie faulting him for, but you don’t really expect a movie in 2015 to be so judgmental about using freaking computers. Yeah, sure, he’s stealing game, but the fact that he has the technical knowhow to crack it on his own is impressive and could’ve at least been followed up by a recognition of how he should channel his abilities into something more productive – hell, even within the military. Instead, the movie’s content to basically shout “NERD!” and then put him through a family-friendly meat grinder. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised from a film that thinks $200 for a DRM-free copy of the latest Assassin’s Creed is something a gangster would actually pay some kid to provide him, though…
30. Aloha – 5/29/15 – 19%
Cameron Crowe has fallen pretty hard from grace since Almost Famous, but with each new movie, fans of his still hope that his next film will be the one to adjust course. Unfortunately, Aloha ended up just further solidifying the director’s reputation for producing nothing but maudlin feel-good stories that aren’t worth the effort of trying to sit through. Aloha is pretty much an incoherent mess of a film that is seemingly missing bits and pieces of transition that would have made the story flow a lot better. We’re whisked away from stories about Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper) trying to negotiate some deal with the native Hawaiians to allow for a satellite launch, him trying to reconnect with his ex-wife while sometimes thinking maybe he might be into his military liaison, played by Emma Stone – who will now forever be immortalized as the latest unfortunate case of whitewashing, with her character Allison Ng being ¼ each Hawaiian and Chinese – while he’s also dealing with a personal identity crisis… and I’m fairly certain there were other touched upon threads that were merely intended to provide further complications for Brian, but by the end of the film, none of it seems to add up to what ultimately and inexplicably happens in the finale, and we’ve had very little explanation as to why we should care beyond the admittedly effervescent performance of Emma Stone, who I at least wanted to like.
29. The Boy Next Door – 1/23/15 – 10%
Remember when this movie was all the rage because the guy in the film bought Jennifer Lopez’s character a first edition of The Iliad, which is over 3000 years old? Good times… The Boy Next Door is your typical stalker movie where a passionate one night stand turns into a nightmare scenario for a successful woman who must now conceal their relationship in order to maintain her credibility and job and such. Here, it’s Jennifer Lopez as high school teacher Claire Peterson, who sleeps with the titular boy next door, who turns out to be one of her new students – or, at least, that’s how it ends up, since that detail arises after he becomes obsessed with her and moves in on her turf. Also worth noting: he’s not a minor. So, while totally inappropriate, it’s hardly illegal. But, sure, I get it. He gets all creepy with her, warming up to her son and ingratiating himself with everyone but her, as she is beginning to get weirded out by his increasingly threatening behaviors. At one point, he defends her son by laying into the kid’s bullies – and I mean laying into, because the principal clearly states that he fractured the kid’s skull. Do the cops get called? Nah – they just expel him. And when he shows up at the school dance and spends some time paining the walls with insults towards Claire? Nobody believes he was there ‘cause they expelled him. [slow clap] Yeah, that sounds like today’s modern paranoid school system, doesn’t it? The Boy Next Door is a cheap, throwaway thriller that I’m not sure I can even recommend for being so bad.
28. The Divergent Series: Insurgent – 3/20/15 – 29%
“Hey, Tris! You know how awesome you are?”
“No! I’m not awesome! I get people killed!”
“Noooo, no, you’re awesome! You just don’t know it!”
“No, I’m not! I can do awesome things and am the only one who can fix everything, but I’m not awesome, and my mom is dead because of it!”
“Oooooh, hey, that’s not true! Chin up! Nobody blames you for anything! Look, even the evil lady wants you to get better and realize how awesome you are!”
“She just wants to use me for my awesomeness!”
“Well… yeah, but she at least acknowledges it, doesn’t she? That’s gotta count for something!”
“[sniffle] I… I guess.”
“Yeah, totally! Now then, tell me – who is awesome?”
“That’s right. Now say it like you mean it!”
“I— I am awesome.”
“Really believe it now!”
“…I AM AWESOME!”
“That’s the spirit! Feel better?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I do! I feel like I’m alive again!”
“Shh, sshhh… spoilers. Anyway, I’m glad to see you know that now.”
“Me, too. Thanks!”
“Yeah, no problem. So, uh… tell me… If you’re so awesome, why does your movie suck so freaking much, huh?”
27. Magic Mike XXL – 6/26/15 – 62%
Those who reluctantly watched the first film in what is now a series of films and wound up pleasantly surprised to find that there was an actual story to tell and that they also had to eat their words for criticizing the film’s existence will be happy to know that expectations regarding the sequel being an overall inferior product that more resembles their initial concerns over the first have been proven to be completely true. I’m not really certain why even 62% of critics would have found enough to enjoy here to recommend the film to anyone, even with the bodies on display. There’s barely a plot – it’s basically the old gang getting back together, minus the younger guy and McConaughey, to have one last show because Mike’s furniture business isn’t doing as hot as he had hoped and is getting the urge to join them again, resulting in scene after scene of them basically just talking about stripping. I know that might sound like what the first film was, but whereas that film portrayed the highs and lows and risks and philosophies of being in that line of work, XXL is basically just a series of stripping scenes suspended by a thin plot that’s as pointless as one could imagine a story in a film about male strippers could end up being.
26. Playing It Cool – 5/08/15 – 16%
As with Unfinished Business, Playing It Cool was also a coupon rental, but this time it was mostly because I was curious as to what a movie that was obviously filmed long ago, failed to generate studio interest, and was only now releasing to cash in on Chris Evans’ Captain America popularity. Here, he plays a wannabe action film screeewnriter who is instead told, by none other than Falcon himself, Anthony Mackie, to instead first make a romantic comedy. He feels ill equipped, however, not believing in love, until he falls in love with Michelle Monaghan, who is already in a relationship. There’s an okay cast here, which also includes Aubrey Plaza, Topher Grace, Ioan Gruffudd, Martin Star, Philip Baker Hall, and Luke Wilson, but Playing It Cool is as bland and predictable as you could imagine a romantic comedy can get. There’s no reason to watch this, unless you would like to see some likable actors flounder a bit and then move on to better stuff.
25. Survivor – 5/29/15 – 7%
I think the worst thing about this film is the fact that I watched it pretty intently and still barely remembered anything about it within minutes of returning it to Redbox. It mostly came back to me, though, upon watching the trailer, though. I’m honestly kind of shocked that it released theatrically in the first place. It looks and feels like a bargain bin direct-to-DVD knock off that would have been released around the time Salt came out to cash in on that film’s own brief popularity. Milla Jovovich, God bless her, is trying her hardest to take this espionage thriller material seriously and is mostly fine enough for the film, while Pierce Brosnan switches roles from spy to a spy villain – which is so gimmicky, it was probably the main reason why he was cast – who frames the hero for a bombing that kills her entire team and several civilians. This necessitates that she then evades capture by her colleagues while trying to prove and capture the guy who really did it. I’m really overselling the film just by the mere fact that I bothered to summarize it, honestly. This isn’t even laughably bad – it’s just bad in the dullest way possible.
24. Unfinished Business – 3/06/15 – 11%
Vince Vaughn plays Dan Trunkman, who leaves his job after he’s made to feel as if he’s not as valued as he believes he should be. He then leads a team of three – himself, Tim Mcwinters, who is an aging, cynical sex addict who is near retirement, and Mike Pancake, who is an inexperienced but eager young go-getter with a funny name – in a business venture to… I don’t really know, honestly. That’s not really important. There’s a lot of business talk, sure, but the movie is trying to be about the characters, as well as a lot of raunchy comedy going on. Just wait until you get to Nick Frost’s big reveal, if you get my drift… I guess this is because it’s mostly set in Berlin, and, you know… crazy Europeans! This movie was honestly one of the most nondescript movies I watched last year. Dan learns he can succeed, Tim learns he’s not too old to live, and Mike learns that… he’s young and can have sex and be popular? This was a waste of a rental for me, honestly, and I’m fairly certain it was rented with a coupon.
23. Vacation – 7/29/15 – 27%
Don’t call it a remake. That’s pretty much all the trailers tried to get across with their trailers, even though the film does, in fact, follow the same basic ideas behind the original, including the disastrous trip to Walley World. Yes, this is one of those non-remakes that is the same basic premise but tweaked just so. By doing this, the filmmakers were promising a return to form for the series, which hasn’t had a theatrically released film since the innocuous Vegas Vacation. Part of that promise was a return to the R-rated comedy of the first. The problem arises in the fact that this film doesn’t understand the exaggerated reality portrayed previously was at least rooted in real family dynamics and the anxieties of trying to have a perfect, memorable family vacation. Here, however, everything is taken to ridiculous and vulgar extremes, to the point where the new Griswold family never resembles a potentially loving family, and it’s not even sensible enough about how to make it be funny. The two new Griswold kids are a prime example of this. While younger Rusty and Audrey always bickered in the previous films, regardless of who was playing them, they weren’t out of the realm of usual sibling squabbles. Here, Rusty’s two sons consist of an awkward, geeky older son and a malevolent little sociopath, who at one point outright tries to suffocate his brother. Rusty and his wife Debbie pretty much do nothing about it because the humor is supposed to derive from their being “used to it” and trying to not stifle their kids. Yeah… Christina Applegate, meanwhile, may as well have not been in the film since she barely even functions as the stereotypical motherly role of the voice of reason. Apart from a quick visit to her old sorority, which stands apart on its own, they could have basically made the same movie had Rusty been a divorced father trying to maintain his relationship with his sons. To top it all off, Ed Helms as Rusty, is an off-putting, annoyingly self-absorbed, whiny presence whose characterization is all over the place. At one point, he’s willing to ignorantly make up overly saccharine crap on the spot in order to look good to his son when he asks what certain terms are that – hee-hee – are actually graphically sexual, and then, at other points, he’s perfectly willing to just blurt out totally inappropriate things that are otherwise accurate. Vacation completely misses the mark when it comes to both comedy and fitting in with the rest of the series, and not even an appearance from Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo late in the film can redeem it. Hopefully, if there is a sequel, they can just go with tradition and pretend like this version of Rusty and his family never existed.
22. Terminator Genisys – 7/01/15 – 25%
Even if you didn’t know the big twist about John Connor turning out to be the main villain of the film, which the trailers so readily gave away (Congratulations on avoiding those, by the way. Sorry to be the one to spoil it, though. You’ll thank me later when you avoid seeing the movie.), Terminator Genisys offers few other surprises beyond yet again explaining that the timeline has been altered and inexplicably moving the series’ pivotal Judgment Day, yet again, while also once again changing the nature of what Skynet actually is without explaining why it keeps freaking changing dates and natures – which, yes, is in fact a plot hole when you’ve invested this much time and energy in following the series throughout its various, official permutations. Here, in an attempt to be prescient, it’s reduced down into a piece of software that disguises itself as a social media network-like operating system that is set to debut in 2017 and, to nobody’s knowledge but our heroes and villains, cause Judgment Day to happen. Thus, it requires that 1984 Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese save the day. Reese is purportedly the same one we met in the original film, only he’s now confronted with an altered timeline where John Connor dies in the future before his time leap, which… doesn’t make much sense. I could go on about the ways in which this doesn’t make sense, but I just remembered now why I abandoned my efforts to try to figure out the timelines with these films the day after I saw it. Jai Courtney stars here as Kyle Reese, looking buffer and acting more or less upbeat than the battle-weary Michael Biehn, despite playing the same character, but at the very least he adds some charisma to the proceedings. The same cannot be said for Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor. Clarke is a vacuum of personality in this film and displays absolutely no range of emotion. I’d blame this on the fact that this version has been raised by a Terminator, played by a returning Arnold Schwarzenegger, but part of the running gag is how she was at least old enough when she came into his care to have the wherewithal to teach him some rudimentary social cues, from which a running gag is borne: Arnold’s purportedly hilarious, exaggerated grin, which is acknowledged as being terrifying, but in that annoyingly self-aware way that makes it not funny. I just… I really hated this movie. It’s stupid, and I’d much rather watch freaking Terminator Salvation than this. It may have been dull, but at least that wasn’t a really awful remix of previous films.
21. Pixels – 7/24/15 – 17%
Great stylish special effects and a fun, if silly, premise can’t pull this Happy Madison production out from the gravitational force created by Adam Sandler’s soul-sucking black hole of charisma. 2016 is the year that seemingly broke Sandler, who delivered some of the most bored performances you’ll ever see in a comedy film. I feel like it might be time for him to concede defeat, ditch his friends, and go on to the better things that I know he’s capable of, because his production company basically just eviscerated the original short of all its novelty and charm in its transition to the big screen. Now it’s just a bunch of video game references strung along by a narrative about how awesome Adam Sandler’s slacker character is, if he could only realize it. I’d say that he could get along with Divergent’s Tris, but that girl has some issues that he’s surely mock before hitting on her or something. Anyway, this movie sucked because it could’ve been fun and was not, and not even the people who made it were having any fun, which, by those standards, makes Pixels a bit worse than freaking Grown Ups!
20. Chappie – 3/06/15 – 31%
This movie has become a trigger for my outrage. It’s this year’s Maleficent, in that it’s not the worst movie of the year, but it is probably the one that makes me most angry. I suppose that it’s possible that I just resent the fact that the film further solidifies the fear I have that the once promising director Neill Blomkamp is tragically doomed to be a one-hit wonder, something that even Fox is convinced is a possibility, considering how fast they put his Alien 5 project on hold almost as soon as they announced it. But not even the disappointment of the mediocre Elysium could’ve prepared me for the ugliness and absurdly inept storytelling present in Chappie. This is a film in which Blomkamp cast South African rap group Die Antwoord to play fictional versions of themselves and who wound up to be so annoying on the set that even Blomkamp could no longer tolerate them, despite his being their champion at the start. They’re basically portrayed as misunderstood outcasts fighting an unfair system when, in fact, they are freaking criminals who are willing to steal and kill in order to make names for themselves, and the film doesn’t even provide us with a means of understanding why they think it’s necessary beyond them just being like, “Screw everyone else.” And they’re the heroes! Meanwhile, the real villains here ends up being the robotics company that manufactures the law enforcement machines that Chappie was once a part of. Hugh Jackman is laughably one-dimensional, and it’s absurd the kind of crap he gets away with in the name of making sure the audience knows he’s villainous while also ensuring the plot can go on with him as the main villain – though he’s really no worse than the gangsters, so… I don’t really know. I just know that I hated this movie.
19. The Wedding Ringer – 1/16/15 – 27%
This movie is basically Hitch for best men rather than hookups. Kevin Hart here plays Jimmy Callahan, a professional best man – mind you, not a professional who can play any role, including a best man, but rather an actual professional whose sole career is predicated on the idea that there are enough guys in his geographical area who apparently have tons of money but absolutely no social lives and therefore absolutely no friends to even be considered for the role of best man by default – whose latest case has him pairing off with Doug Harris, a tax attorney who is marrying a woman he doesn’t know is actually awful and to whom Jimmy will for some reason forge an actual friendship with, as opposed to all his other clients. I guess because none of them were marrying someone as awful as Kaley Cuoco’s character? Or maybe they weren’t nearly the special brand of endearingly awkward Josh Gad types as josh Gad is here? Or maybe he’s just a closeted gay man who exudes an energy that makes everyone in the movie make those jokes so that he doesn’t have to in order to hide the fact that he’s interested? (Now that’s a weird mutant power. Take notes, Bryan Singer.) Anyway, The Wedding Ringer is about as lazy as these types of implausible comedies come. I saw someone once defend it as being a remnant of Kevin Hart’s pre-breakout career, but if that’s the case, then I’d like to see those people justify his other cinematic failures.
18. Mortdecai – 1/23/15 – 12%
Without a doubt one of the most pathetically desperate films I’ve seen in a while. It’s like watching some awkward person crack a bunch of really bad, ribald jokes in front of a bunch of people and then pausing for applause, mugging at everyone, expecting people to acknowledge how utterly delightful they are and never getting a response. Honestly, Mortdecai, we can only take so much of your effete mannerisms and obsession over your own mustache so many times before we want to scream at you, rip it off your face, and make you eat it. I’ve seen Bone Tomahawk now, and I think I could do it on a smaller scale, dammit! Or I could just get Jock to do it for me. That poor character is bound to snap someday. While Black Mass was dull, it was at least serves as confirmation that Depp should stick to playing serious, straight roles for some time, while Mortdecai is just further proof of just how far the dire madness can go if you continue to let this man be convinced that he’s that charming.
17. Hot Pursuit – 5/08/15 – 7%
I’ll give Hot Pursuit this: I didn’t expect the twist that came towards the end. I didn’t think it was adventurous enough to pull off anything but the most basic, expected story developments you could imagine, and for this one little instance, I wanted to applaud the movie. That still doesn’t help the fact that this is a painfully obvious rip-off of The Heat. I’m not saying that just because it stars two well-known women, but that is admittedly part of it, since you just know that the film is aiming for that Paul Feig fan crowd by pairing off the straight-laced Reese Witherspoon with the loudmouthed eccentric Sofía Vergara in a buddy cop movie that has the two unlikely heroes figuring out they’re an unconventional but effective team and potentially best buddies. Funny how the novelty of the gender swap alone isn’t enough to carry a comedy movie when most of your jokes are based on the idea that men just don’t get women’s problems and the mistaken idea that lack of talk about it means men don’t know what a period is.
16. Seventh Son – 2/06/15 – 13%
Years in the making, Seventh Son is based on the folklore about seventh sons of sevenths sons being granted special powers – here the ability to vanquish evil witches. (Fans of Orson Scott Card, breathe a sigh of relief. Fans of Joseph Delaney’s The Spook’s Apprentice? Brace yourselves…) Here, the seventh son is Tom ward, played by the charisma-free Ben Barnes, replacing the equally charisma-free Kit Harrington, who was John Gregory’s previous apprentice before he got bored to death with his existence. John Gregory is a Spook, tasked with exterminating and exorcising witches who threaten the existence of normal folk. He’s played by Jeff Bridges, so he basically sounds like an even older Rooster Cogburn after a few too many swigs of whisky and punches to the mouth. I swear, he’s nigh on incomprehensible at times, which is kind of a problem when you’ve tasked him with the responsibility of delivering so much exposition for the apprentice and audience to absorb. The movie began production all the way back in 2011, and they couldn’t figure out a time to schedule for him to come back and redub his lines when he was a little more comprehensible? Together, John and Tom (exciting names) are taking on Mother Malkin, a witch and former lover of Cog—er— John, who once sealed her away to save the world, but now she’s out and about again and promising to do more bad stuff. Julianne Moore attempts to salvage her character by vamping it up, but it’s not enough to recommend the movie. I mean, seriously, guess what happens between Tom and the young witch he saves? Yep! You’re right. You don’t need to see this.
15. Barely Lethal – 5/29/15 – 23%
I admit, I streamed this for free on Amazon Prime one night out of blatant morbid curiosity and from having a few beers on a Friday night just before going to bed afterward. I was hoping it was going to be at least amusing under those circumstances. Instead I was just immediately regretful for having put myself in that position to struggle to keep awake. Needless to say, I lost that battle. But I’m not one to quit on movies, usually, and I picked it back up from where I last remembered that morning and finished it off. Of course, it was no better under those circumstances, either, though I did get a small kick out of seeing Jessica Alba play a supervillain – an unconvincing one, but a villain, nonetheless. This movie is centered on the idea of there being a secret spy organization set up that exclusively recruits orphan girls and trains them up to be unlikely super spies. Hailee Steinfeld is Megan, one of their top spies, but who is also beginning to resent her line of work, wishing she could just be a normal girl. A mission gone awry offers her the opportunity to make her break, of course, and so she enrolls herself into a high school exchange program, moves in with an average family and does average teenage things that average teenage films typically show, with the added novelty of knowing that a spy fight might break out at any point. I’m making it sound more fun that it is, though. Most of the jokes are basically about Megan being a fish out of water and knowing more about how to kill people, which could be funny, except it’s basically the same shoulder-shrug joke repeated in different forms. I also felt like there was a significant lack of depth, with the movie not even trying to balance out the wackiness by acknowledging the kind of screwed up situation Megan was escaping except to just be like, “What? A five-year-old holding a flame thrower?! Haha! Oh man! Five-year-olds shouldn’t be holding flame throwers! Now let’s watch them kick ass!” Even when the family learns it, it’s still treated as something kind of awesome and which Megan learns to accept as being an awesome part of herself, which is a bit ludicrous. And even those fight scenes are all terribly shot – the finale even has a hilariously bad use of green screen, with a washed out static shot of the family’s house in the background and an evil henchman standing implausibly downhill from the house, which was never established to be up on a hill, right in what must be the middle of the street as Megan comes in from out of the shot from the bottom right corner to take him out. This is a terrible movie, needless to say, but apart from the laughably low budget stuff, I feel almost nothing towards it. It’s only included here because this list would be incomplete since I technically watched it.
14. Taken 3 – 1/09/15 – 10%
There’s a scene in this movie in which Liam Neeson, who is on the run from the authorities after he is framed for the murder of his ex-wife, nearly faints and explains to his daughter that he hasn’t had much to eat in a while and is exhausted. This is after the man sets up an elaborate plot to get her to him that involves entering a convenience store, tampering with some yogurt that he instructs her to drink, which then gets her to be sick in the middle of her class and therefore gets her to run into the bathroom, where he meets her, as planned. In this whole entire plot, he doesn’t have any qualms about not only tampering with products he never paid for and leaving them in the store in the hopes of her getting the right one and nobody else taking it before her, but also no issues with drugging her in the first place with something he has the antidote to so as to not make her incredibly sick, and yet, for some reason, he doesn’t ever think to simply steal some chips or something so that he can stay alive and alert. This is also prior to him finding out that his daughter is pregnant, which, sure, he didn’t know that, but he still risked her health and now finds out that he has also risked the health of his grandchild. The movie expects us to take this elaborate scheme as a sign of Neeson’s badassery and uncanny levels of forethought and planning, but after seeing Neeson interrogate a guy by shooting and torturing his uninvolved wife in the first film and then instructing his daughter to use grenades to blow up the personal property of innocent civilians so that he can echolocate his own location in the second film, I’m seriously beginning to wonder who the real hero is in these films. But at least they’re consistent. And, by that, I mean that they’re all crap. And don’t believe the lies – this isn’t by any means a final movie. They totally left it open to more films. I’m pretty sure they’re just considering it the final film in the Famke Janssen-costarring trilogy.
13. Strange Magic – 1/23/15 – 16%
When Disney purchased Lucasfilm from George Lucas a few years ago, naturally all the attention was on the fact that they now owned Star Wars. That so little attention was paid to the fact that they also bought Indiana Jones in the deal is kind of understandable, so it’s even more so that even less attention was paid to the fact that they also bought this strange little animated fantasy musical Lucas was working on. I guess the film was so far along that they decided to simply finish it and release it early in the year and hope that the jukebox soundtrack and admittedly technically impressive animation would carry the film. It didn’t. And anyone who did see the film would most assuredly not spread the word about this bizarre little movie about a fairy princess fleeing an arranged marriage with a cheating scumbag her dad clearly fancies more than she does, and then her sister being kidnapped by some evil fairy thing that she then realizes is just misunderstood and falls in love with herself. I guess I wasn’t expecting that, but nothing in this film progresses as you think it would in the most haphazard way – you can tell the writers were brainstorming and realized they had to make changes in order to avoid the clichés, but in ways that makes it feel similarly contrived. And the characters’ random breaks into song and dance numbers are equally forced, with the camerawork and animation making awkward positions throughout, and not to mention the fact that there seems to have been no care in getting the best performances from its cast. The visuals are, again, technically impressive, but it’s wasted on ugly, boring character designs and doesn’t use the animation medium to its fullest. If the team had been less concerned about realistic textures and put some effort into better choreography, I maybe could’ve at least recommended it as a curious film with a lot of glitz to make up for it, but sadly, like most of Lucas’ late career efforts, Strange Magic ends up being a whole lot of effort for little payoff.
12. Blackhat – 1/16/2015 – 34%
I hate dull thrillers, and ones that are predicated on the idea that computers can do almost anything tend to be the worst. Full disclosure: Blackhat comes from Michael Mann, a director who is frequently lauded among many critics alongside filmmakers like Brian De Palma, and yet who I find to be completely hit-or-miss when it comes to my taste in movies, usually falling in the “miss” category. For instance, I was completely bored with Heat, which I know a lot of people consider to be one of his best, so, you know, if that’s the case with you, you might want to check this film out, too. That’s fine. Me? I was bored out of my mind, and it felt as though I was watching a relic of the 90s, when the internet was this big scary new thing, resulting in films like Hackers and The Net. Honestly, though, I would much rather watch those films than this, where Chris Hemsworth plays a hotshot hacker named Nick Hathaway, who is brought out of prison to assist in capturing the terrorists who blew up a Hong Kong nuclear plant and crashed the stock exchange using only their computers. And yet the whole thing is totally unexciting, no matter how much it tries to get into the personal lives of the team members, and a lot of the action takes place with people sitting at computers, at least until the maddeningly slow climax, where seemingly nobody notices the people being killed right in the middle of a festival. If you want an idea of how dull this movie is, here’s a bit of how Google summarizes the film: “After a Hong Kong nuclear plant and the Mercantile Trade Exchange in Chicago are hacked by unknown perpetrators, a federal agent (Viola Davis) proposes that the FBI work with China to find the cyber-criminals. […] it becomes evident that the hackers have a sinister motive for their actions.” Naw, you think!? This movie probably would’ve been far more interesting had they been trying to track down members of Anonymous, who merely did everything for the fun of it. I’m sure the Twitter conversations would be far more engrossing, not to mention the fact that the 140 character limit would probably chop the film’s excessive runtime of 2 hours 15 minutes to a more reasonable 1:30.
11. United Passions – 6/05/15 – 0%
Apparently FIFA thinks its organization is a religion, which might explain not only certain actions taken by the people working there, but also the tone of the film they commissioned to be made about their history. United Passions is not too dissimilar to a lot of the terrible Christian propaganda films released these past few years. The sport is constantly referred to in glittering superlatives such as “this great sport of ours.” It also spends much of its runtime explaining just how progressive and historically significant FIFA has been since its inception, starting with the noble goal of uniting all the nations’ various soccer leagues under a single umbrella in the name of world peace, purporting that FIFA was, like, totally against racism and could’ve prevented so many deaths during World War II, you guys. You just don’t even know. There are even hints of how it combats sexism through the frequent cutting back to modern day children playing the game, with a sole girl taking the center stage amidst a bunch of boys. The film even draws comparisons between one of its Presidents, played by Sam Neill, and God, with the character not even refuting the comparison but cheekily smirking at the thought, as if the ego was somehow charming. To make matters worse, his protégé is portrayed as being so selfless that he isn’t even willing to give away the identities of his underlings who have been embezzling money in the name of forgiveness, a controversy that may cost him his presidency, but he rises from the ashes with everyone seemingly unified under his leadership. Sound similar to Someone you may have heard of, anyone? I mean… what the hell, FIFA!? This is the kind of movie I would have expected David Miscavige to have commissioned and have distributed as mandatory viewing within the Church of Scientology, not something about the formation of an international, multibillion dollar industry that seeks to control the very existence of a game that existed prior to its inception. And it’s not even very good, though I admit it totally could be seen as an unintentional comedy – albeit a pretty boring one. Thank God I waited until this showed up on Netflix so that I didn’t have to directly contribute to refuting the film’s record breaking profit bomb.
10. Old Fashioned – 2/06/15 – 21%
I’m only putting this awful film at a lower ranking than its hedonistic counterpart, Fifty Shades of Grey, because it’s objectively a much better looking and, at least in part, better acted movie. That’s not to say that both of them aren’t batshit insane in their premises, though. They are, and if I was going based on that, it’d be almost a straight tie, because while Old Fashioned has more outwardly wholesome appearances, it’s still supremely disturbing in concept, just in a different way. Here a girl finds herself attracted to her landlord, only he won’t reciprocate those feelings except if she is willing to do things his way. And by “his way,” I mean “His way,” because this guy thinks that Jesus wants them to not date but instead go straight to the wife and mother training necessary for her to be his wife and bearer of their children in the not too distant future. Their “dates” consist of reading from a book that’s basically as much about consensual torture as anything in Fifty Shades, with him taking her to his friends’ house so that he can ensure she has proper baby feeding and diaper changing skills, for example. I don’t know about you, but while he thinks she’s the one with the carnal ideas, it’s still pretty clear what he’s got on his mind. Apart from the lead actress, who is actually a charming and capable actress throughout the movie, Old Fashioned is a disturbing endorsement of an extremist take on romantic relationships that basically assumes that all men are rapists who must hold themselves back until marriage. Charming.
9. Fifty Shades of Grey – 2/13/15 – 25%
The first in what is inevitably going to be a series of films, Fifty Shades of Grey is yet another entry in the softcore porn aimed at women market, though I can’t imagine many women are actually fantasizing about actually being tortured and humiliated by someone as psychotic as Christian Grey is in this film. Both moralists and hedonists were quick to call out the psychotic nature of the relationship portrayed in the film as being a dangerously one-sided fantasy that would never work in real life, unless you were the one inflicting the relationship upon the other – in which case you’re psychotic and should be arrested. Even putting morals aside, Fifty Shades of Grey is a stupidly plotted film with wooden acting and a really horrific but hand-waved away explanation for Christian Grey’s sadomasochistic proclivities: he was raped in this fashion by his mother’s much older friend when he was a child, but he’s totally okay with it and even keeps in touch with his rapist, even though now he can only get aroused when he’s causing physical harm to another human being. Which is apparently very sexy for a lot of people. It’s not, of course, and he’s in desperate need of psychological help, but the movie really only draws a line when he does it to Anastasia Steele, the audience surrogate. Kind of makes you pine for the days when mental disorders meant that you had a delightful personality, developed psychic powers, and/or fell in love with an eccentric Johnny Depp character, doesn’t it?
8. Do You Believe? – 3/20/15 – 18%
I do. I just can’t believe that this film was made, however. Or maybe I can – this film did come from the people who brought us God’s Not Dead. Do You Believe? is yet another exercise in portraying atheists as jerks, agnostics as being merely not understanding, and Christians as persecuted angels to whom all miracles are bestowed to make their lives that much more comfortable. The primary jerk here is a doctor who literally starts the movie off emphasizing how he basically doesn’t care whether his patients die or not because they always tend to thank God instead of him when the procedures are successful. Honestly, while I don’t appreciate the attitude, I can understand his frustrations to an extent. Christians should be thankful towards those who help, too, since they chose to. I can’t help but think that he doesn’t understand why people do nice things for each other as being directly linked to Christians in this weird universe he exists in being so simplemindedly unwilling to show graciousness towards their fellow humans whenever things go well while blaming non-Christians for persecuting them when things go poorly. The film is another one of those connective anthology films, where each little story ends up tying together in the end. Here the plot also involves a homeless mother and daughter, a dying convict who is on compassionate release, an unwed teenage mother, a husband and wife who cannot conceive a child, a grieving husband and wife who lost theirs, a paramedic who is being sued for witnessing to a dying man, a suicidal war veteran, a suicidal lonely woman, and two gang members. (No points for guessing who the only two prominent black cast members are.) The stories are all meant to show how God works throughout our lives to make them for good if we only believe, but the film is incredibly slow to come to its inevitable, predictable conclusions. (Now guess the characters who die! Hint: I’m not counting the character who is miraculously resurrected and completely healed of his illness in order to humble the arrogant doctor.) I’m not certain the mind-shorting slowness is worth enduring to get to the suddenly insane climax on a bridge, either, in which all the rest of the story threads intersect and are basically tied up nice and tidy (albeit some more tragically than others). Do You Believe? isn’t nearly as egregious as some of the other Christian films, I’ll admit, but it’s still an incredibly terrible film.
7. The Cobbler – 3/13/15 – 8%
And now we’ve reached the pinnacle of this year’s Adam Sandler slogfest, The Cobbler. Oddly enough, though, this film is probably worse than any of Sandler’s own Happy Madison productions, and is instead directed by Tom McCarthy, whose other 2015 release, Spotlight, has been nominated for so many awards, while The Cobbler earned itself… well, I think most people at least forgot about it, so it can at least live in relative obscurity – although, The A.V. Club did choose it as their top worst film of the year. The film has Sandler playing a cobbler who discovers that his cobbler father, who abandoned him and his mother years ago, left behind a magical machine that, when used on the shoes he repairs, allows for him to not only step into their shoes, but literally into their bodies, as well. As a result, he goofs around a bit, considers raping a woman at one point (She wouldn’t know, though, since he was wearing her possibly gay boyfriend’s shoes, you see!), and then decides instead to basically take on organized crime and make some positive changes for his community using his new ability. Oh, and he also poses as his father so that his ailing mother can have some closure with him and have one more happy night, which is pretty creepy. The Cobbler clearly intends to be a silly fantasy comedy that means well, built upon the premise of walking a mile in another man’s shoes before you judge them, except… it really doesn’t evoke any empathy whatsoever. This works more like a really dull superhero film where the hero’s able to transform into someone else and solve problems – oftentimes not even for the people he’s usurping the identities of. I’m not very certain what the whole point is, as a result, and the film isn’t even funny enough to justify overlooking the other negatives. This is one of the dullest comedies I’ve seen in a while.
6. The Longest Ride – 4/10/15 – 30%
I had a high school teacher who once describe romantic comedies as being “emotional porn for girls” when we were talking about responsible film watching in one of my elective classes. (It was a Christian school, if that sounds weird to you and you didn’t know.) Honestly, Nicholas Sparks adaptations really do prove that to be true, since they’re based upon the same basic premise with only certain differentiations in the types of characters featured. Sailors! Doctors! Soldiers! Athletes! Fathers! … Abuse victims… Christian… leukemia patients… Dying old people reminiscing about the good ol’ days… … What the hell?!… Oh, hey, cowboys! He… he finally got to cowboys here. I guess I should be relieved that he wasn’t involved in that one movie where the lead guy was a 9/11 victim, as I thought. The Longest Ride is basically like any romance movie you’ve seen before, and it doesn’t even have the decency to be a novelty with a niche appeal quotient. It runs too long, it has the melodrama, the characters are pretty but boring, and there’s a bit of PG-13 sex thrown in. It’s boring stuff, and I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Let’s see what the 2016 model, The Choice, has to offer! [looks it up] Ah ha – a veterinarian! The bitches must surely be celebrating. And I’m sure there are plenty of women are excited, too. … What did you think I was doing there?
5. The Lazarus Effect – 2/27/15 – 13%
The best performance in this film is from a dog, who goes mad from having been brought back from the dead by some of the dumbest smart people you’ll see in a film. You see, they’ve developed a way of bringing dead bodies back to life, which is a real feat, but the protocol they follow is laughable – characters vaping casually around their experiments, taking mysteriously reanimated animals home with them and letting it have free reign of the house, and breaking into a university in order to continue doing their research on the premises after their unsanctioned experiments – get this – offend the religious beliefs of some members of the school board. They then use the experiment on one of their own people after their ineptitude gets her killed on their little clandestine mission. Naturally, if a dog is going to get aggressive, imagine how poorly a calculating human being is going to feel when she can now read the thoughts of her boyfriend and annoying colleagues! Jump scares, creepy lighting, and illogical motivations then ensue as the film plays out the other characters freaking out and trying to figure out what’s happening while the culprit literally just stands there and covertly kills them all off, sometimes right in front of the other characters, for stupid reasons (something, something childhood trauma) before the film comes to a thudding conclusion. What’s strange is that, for such a small, terrible film that was easily overlooked, it has a surprisingly packed and recognizable cast: Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde, Donald Glover, and Evan Peters should be fairly recognizable to a sizable number of people (Sorry, Sarah Bolger, I don’t know how relatively recognizable you are, but I’m sure you’re better elsewhere, too!). Even more disappointing: David Gelb directed this, whose work in documentary film and TV is freaking masterful – Jiro Dreams of Sushi was his movie and was so fantastic, it was the first documentary I was inspired to review, while his Netflix show Chef’s Table carries on in the same vein. Go watch those instead.
4. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 – 4/17/15 – 5%
Six years after the original film was released, we get this sequel, which was the first recipient of Nevada’s film tax credit and the first to film in Steve Wynn’s Wynn Las Vegas hotel in Las Vegas. I know these repetitive facts because they were some of the most talked about details about this film in the media when it was first coming out, which shows you just about how interesting the film itself actually is. And in case you had any residual goodwill towards the first film, Paul Blart 2 sets out to destroy all possibility of liking that one, too, by explaining that the girl in the previous movie divorced Blart after six days because it turns out she really was that superficial, his mother died not from old age but due to a bus accident, and now his daughter wants a better life for herself in college, only Paul is not having any of that and is upset that she won’t stick around and live a much less educated and sociable life with him. He decides to isolate her further from existence by taking her on a trip to a Las Vegas mall cop convention, where she then, to his horror, takes an interest in a boy who works at the hotel who also seems to dig her. Because he is now a possessive prick, he sets out to sabotage everything for her while also uncovering a secret plot to steal the hotel’s priceless works of art alongside some mall cop sidekicks. This movie is so obviously bad that it was one of the first times I ever saw a trailer for a comedy and actually heard the entire theatre groan when it was over. I’m serious. Usually there’s at least one person in the auditorium who finds a movie so unreasonably funny they can’t stop laughing and talk openly about how funny it is and how they want to see it. Not here, though. For once, I found myself unified with everyone around me in declaring to the world, “This is too stupid. We will not be seeing this.” It gave me a bit of hope. I think the biggest laugh I got out of this movie was from the Rotten Tomatoes page, which helpfully reminded me of the demographic this film was targeting:
3. War Room – 8/28/15 – 34%
A common, disparaging joke you hear about Christians is that we’re the kinds of people who will command women to be submissive to their men while letting men get away with everything ‘cause boys will be boys. War Room is pretty much the morality tale version of that joke, only as told by Christians themselves as a sort of justification for the stereotype. The Kendrick brothers, they who brought us such classics as Fireproof and Mom’s Night Out, have bestowed upon us this story about how a woman named Elizabeth rediscovers her faith in God while attempting to overcome her anxieties over a potentially cheating and definitely verbally and emotionally abusive husband, who also happens to also be an inattentive, emotionally abusive father. (So far, no real issues with this. Going on…) Her only real respite from this is in her work as a realtor, where she meets Miss Clara, an elderly woman and widow of a Vietnam War vet. Miss Clara is selling her house and shows Elizabeth her favorite room: the bedroom closet, which she converted into something she calls a “war room,” wherein she sets up her prayer plans and goes to combat against evil through prayer. Intrigued, Elizabeth lets Miss Clara in on her situation, and Miss Clara offers some sage advice: “Don’t do anything to upset your husband. He’s a man and will do as he pleases. Just pray that God will stop him, and he will.” … I’m paraphrasing, but, yeah, that’s… that’s the strategy. No marriage counselling, even within the church. Not even a recommendation to work on it together. Nothing like that – just good old fashioned attempting to ignore the problem and let God handle it. I mean, I don’t doubt God can handle it, but come on – how is this healthy? And what’s more, the man is revealed to also be a thief who has stolen his company’s assets and sold them on his own. The man has serious issues, and Elizabeth is just required to hunker down in her closet and pray for the best. I can tell you right now that, as someone who came from a household where abuse was a regular occurrence for years, that concept and that imagery is frightening. And I do not believe it to be representative of Christian beliefs, either. Now, granted, that was possibly not the intention, but then that just means that this film was poorly made. That’s not out of the realm of possibility, either, as this is a film that really doesn’t know how to structure a proper, compelling story – particularly considering the extraneous, extended detour into an apparently all ages double dutch tournament – but that doesn’t make the film any more redeemable. The film attempts to lighten the heavy subject matter with plenty of humor, though it won’t likely register as an attempt to make you laugh until it’s far too late. There’s even a gag about the husband at one point finding out that she knows he was cheating on her, and so he thinks her sudden turn of niceness (which, again, is just her believing she is spiritually mandated to ignore his issues) is a façade to trick him into eating poisoned food – which he then swaps out for hers. It’s played for laughs, but when you consider the fact that this paranoia is basically the beginning of his first steps towards repentance, the movie is easily understood as coming from either a very disturbing perspective on marriage relationships or just a very poorly thought out film from inept filmmakers. As always, it’s probably a mix of the two, but it’s all equally bad.
2. Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife – 1/09/15 – 17%
Like Barley Lethal, this was another one of those movies I randomly decided to watch from Amazon Prime late one night because, why not? The movie’s title was eye-catching enough for me to be intrigued, as I enjoy a good dark comedy as much as the next guy. Once I started watching, though, I am pretty sure I was only continuing to watch to see how terrible the movie would become. Directed by first timer Scott Foley, who also co-stars and wrote the screenplay, the movie is about the titular Ward being married to Stacy, a shrill, abusive woman who always belittles her husband in front of everyone. Everyone loves Ward, though, so they put up with Stacy just to be around him – until one day, one of them decides they’ve had enough and chokes her to death. Luckily, they’d all discussed it previously, and so they’re not too shocked or dismayed to see the dead body lying there and agree to conspire to dispose of the body all around the city so that nobody is a suspect. In the process, they learn just how much better their lives are as a result. Ward is free to raise his son as he sees fit without worry of humiliation (and in fact takes great satisfaction in urinating one night on his wife’s corpse, still in the bathtub), one couple finds that their sex lives are even better now that they could potentially be in danger of being arrested, while the other finds that they are now happy to be around one another again or something. One of them does begin to crack under the pressure, but, in the end, the attempts at macabre humor pay off and… everyone’s lives are better, still. No repercussions. No remorse. No grieving family. Nothing. Which is something that this movie is a whole lot of. This movie is maddeningly inconsequential and is grotesque without any punchlines. I’m not surprised to find out that most of the cast is made up of celebrity friends who are in some way related to Foley (or appeared alongside him in back on Scrubs), as I’m not certain how else this could’ve been made except by familial obligations and maybe the threat of blackmail or something. Considering what Foley apparently sees as humorous, I’m not going to put it past the guy.
#1. Fantastic Four – 8/07/15 – 10%
This is it – my worst movie of the year. The only movie this year that enraged me so much, I immediately went home and published a review on it within the same day, on opening weekend. The experience of seeing this movie – the lowest rated superhero flick in quite some time, despite years of top quality examples to mimic, including some within their own studio – was so excruciating I couldn’t help but squirm in my seat and actually bring out my phone to check the time to see how long until it would all be over. Why is this the worst movie of the year? Well for one thing, it’s mind-bogglingly boring. The movie doesn’t know the meaning of the word “pacing.” Had the projector frozen on a single frame from the movie due to a malfunction for the entirety of the movie’s runtime, I don’t think anyone would have noticed. The movie also squanders the opportunity to take a page from Marvel’s own homegrown films and embrace the comic book origins for once, backpedaling on the previous Fantastic Four films’ at least admirable attempts to be fun by presenting us with a Dark Knight-influenced slog through the horrors of these characters’ existence, most of all Ben Grimm, whose resounding call to action, “It’s clobberin’ time!” is revealed to have been taken by his much older brother, who used to say the phrase prior to abusing him on a regular basis when he was a child. Also, they transformed Doctor Doom into a whiny blogger and let him also take Sue Storm’s place on the mission that gives the team their powers, with Sue being relegated to a bookish stick in the mud character who always wants to pull the plug on the guys’ fun and games. The film also has basically no action sequences until the big finale, in which Doom is using a portal to suck in the world while the Fantastic Four struggle through the occasional thrown rock so that they can reach him and make him stop. And… that’s the movie, though in most cases, this would simply be the first 30 minutes or so to set up the basic plot and then move no to more impressive, more fun things. Instead, the film ends exactly as soon as the team is official and they have all their stuff, assuming the preceding the events were interesting enough to compel audiences to anticipate a sequel and the originally planned crossover with Fox’s only other Marvel franchise, the X-Men, which would’ve only sullied that universe. Thankfully, the film was so bad and production on this film was so troubled, with issues with director Josh Trank being so pronounced that Disney removed him from a future Star Wars spinoff film, all plans for a sequel have all but officially been cancelled at this point, causing Marvel fans to once again reset the clock and count down the years until Fox decides to give this franchise up and put it back where it belongs: into the capable hands of Marvel, so that they can use Doctor Doom and Galactus to their fullest extent – you know, being rulers and destroyers of worlds, pitted against teams of heroes daring to take them on, rather than angry bloggers and destructive sentient clouds.