2016 IN REVIEW – The Worst Movies of the Year
Alright, so… I went a bit off the deep end this year, I think. I think I’ll exercise a bit more restraint for 2017. No point in stopping this year, though, when I’ve already started!
2016 was a crappy year, so here’s a list of all the crappy films I saw from it – all 43 of them, complete with answers for why I hated them, in approximately the order in which they sucked, in order of increasing suckage – though, really, what’s the difference between placement in 35 and 36? So, some of these are practically draws. Also, as always for these lists, I have included the Rotten Tomatoes score as of this writing, ’cause it’s always fun to see just how hated (or, in some movies’ cases, how confusingly liked) a movie is compared to my own ranking, right?
Anyway, forgive me if I’m a bit jaded and out of it this past year. I think I might write my list of favorite films while having a few beers…
43. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 3/18/2016 27%
Yeah, I’m putting this here, among the worst films of the year. While this movie used to sit on my list of films that ranged from merely bad to good alongside Suicide Squad, after some contemplation, I decided this movie deserved worse. Thus, it moved to my list of the worst films of the year. Not because I’m some DC hater (I grew up watching their stuff, not Marvel’s, and I want both to succeed, dammit!), and not because I’m being hyperbolic, but because this movie really was a profound letdown. I genuinely think that Man of Steel is a decent, if flawed, Superman flick, and I said from the beginning that Ben Affleck was a prime choice for a slightly older Batman. I wound up feeling completely vindicated in and was happy to discover that Gal Gadot ended up being this movie’s shining beacon of charisma as Wonder Woman in a what was ultimately a morass of morose. I seriously cannot wait for her solo movie.
But this movie has some serious tonal issues. I didn’t think Superman was that dour in the first movie – serious, perhaps, but nothing too off-putting. Here, though, all those complaints make much more sense, as Henry Cavill is tasked scowling or pursing his lips in judgmental disappointment for most of the movie – even more so than Batman, who is still pretty angry in this film – and even murders quite a few people, completely against character. The plot is like a labyrinth of thorny, black bushes, too, and the only exit from this maze is through a too-narrow crawlspace that’s also been pissed on. (Get it? Because that’s kinda like that thing Lex does to one character in the film…) Sure, you’ll survive the ordeal, but the damage is done, the scars apparent, and yet you’re also left baffled, wondering why everything suddenly smells so bad. This movie has its moments, sure, but it’s mostly a case of wasted potential. So grandiose was its failure to impress with its depiction of the first cinematic meeting between these comic book titans that it somehow made the even messier Suicide Squad seem downright refreshing later on.
42. Trolls 11/04/2016 74%
I hated this movie. So very much. On a scale of obnoxiousness family movie clichés, this movie is basically Dance Party Finale: The Movie. It’s not so much that I hated its cheerfulness, but rather that the movie was so idiotically devoted to pushing its cheerfulness that it winds up denying the legitimacy of feelings like sadness and fear through Branch, a character who’s already experienced a personal tragedy as a result of the trolls’ careless tendency to put on huge musical productions, despite trying to hide from monsters called the Bergens, who believe eating them is the only source of happiness. I know I’m probably thinking too much about this, but the plight of these morons is actually pretty freaking serious. Their entire happy-go-lucky race was forced to flee their homeland or else face being wiped out completely by the Bergens. And yet, despite Branch’s warnings that their loud dance parties will give them away, they persist. And, wouldn’t you know it? A Bergen finds them and takes a large number of them. The rest of the movie is, oddly, one big parade of positivity propaganda, as Branch is basically forced into joining the perpetually scrapbooking princess to go on a quest to save the idiots who got themselves kidnapped – you know, the ones who thought it was a great idea to put on a huge production with a lightshow that can be seen and heard for miles.
This is one of the few films where I felt no guilt discretely and quietly cracking jokes at the movie’s expense with a friend sitting next to me. When the whole reason for Branch’s depression is revealed, I actually had to stifle my laughter. It’s meant to be earnest, but it’s so ridiculously silly in its execution, I just couldn’t help it. This movie is a mess, and I don’t know how it got such unusually good reviews. Sure, the animation is often quite beautiful – a lot of DreamWorks’ stuff is – and the voice acting is fairly competent, but it’s still one of those movies where it thinks cheap platitudes about staying happy and singing songs is profound in itself, and also that characters speaking in autotune and saying, “Oh snap!” is the height of comedy. Also, it’s basically also a jukebox musical, so there’s that, too. This is basically the opposite of Inside Out in more ways than one.
41. The Family Fang 4/29/2016 81%
Something about this movie just did not click with me. It was too quirky for a serious drama, and too morose to be a proper comedy or even dramedy. The problem that the two central figures face – having performance artist parents who are so untrustworthy and quirky that they can’t even be sure whether their sudden disappearance is an act or not – just serves to make their situation even more unrelatable. Director and star Jason Bateman does admittedly do his best to make up for this by getting solid performances out of himself and Nicole Kidman as the two siblings trying to work out what happened, all the while reminiscing about their unusual upbringing, but apart from the ending scenes where all the secrets are revealed, it still somehow feels like everything here exists in a parallel reality that can’t quite connect emotionally with our own but is trying its hardest to. I don’t know. I really didn’t like not liking this movie, but I didn’t. The movie was generally well-liked by others, however, so I am obviously an outlier in my distaste for it.
40. The Bronze 3/18/2016 33%
I actually really love the concept of The Bronze. A dark, nasty comedy about a former Olympiad, Hope, who was forced into an early retirement due to a much-publicized injury she endured in an event, resulting in her winning only third place when she could’ve otherwise won gold. She has let her bitterness over her lost potential metastasize ever since, no longer speaking to her coach and having no qualms about taking her wrath out on her overly-doting father, though she has no problem taking advantage of those in her small town who still regard her as a local hero. When her once beloved coach dies, however, and leaves behind a request for Hope to mentor her newest protégé, Maggie, Hope sets out to sabotage Maggie’s career before it really has a chance to begin, ensuring her place in this admittedly tiny spotlight. The only catch? Hope actually begins to care again.
The Bronze has all the necessary ingredients to create a sort of Bad Santa for gymnastics, wherein its foul-mouthed and self-centered lead perhaps learns the true meaning of sportsmanship and to care about others and all that. This really could’ve worked much better than it does, but it doesn’t for one reason in particular: Hope is just so nasty that you kind of stop caring about whether she’s going to get better and kind of start wondering when something cathartic is going to happen, like her getting smacked with a police baton… or something. She’s such a horrible person to literally everyone, and the movie does so little to alter her trajectory, that it feels like too little when she does make an abrupt turn. Even her nemesis, Lance Tucker, feels like a character more worthy of this kind of redemption arc. At the very least, I do think that Melissa Rauch is very good in the role of Hope, but the movie, which she co-wrote with her husband Winston Rauch, just does not do justice to the performance nor the concept.
39. How to Be Single 2/12/2016 47%
Four interconnected women deal with their various anxieties and coping mechanisms of being single in the city. One is confidently single, the other wants to be, the older one is starting to feel as though she’s possibly aging out of singlehood, and another is fixated upon finding the proverbial Prince Charming. Though the film has a few moments of clarity and keen observances, it’s just not very funny, and the plot is unfocused and loses characters at times, leaving them to feel extraneous and even detrimental to the others. It just did not click with me, and because it’s also one of the more forgettable films of this past year, it’s on this list.
38. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children 9/30/2016 64%
This movie feels like a really awful knock off of X-Men: First Class with a dash of Harry Potter. Swap out mutants for “Peculiars,” the mansion for a smaller house, Professor X with Miss Peregrine, an evil group of Peculiars bent on destroying everyone else that the other Peculiars must defeat, and throw in a child who didn’t know he descended from a Peculiar only to find out that he himself is a particularly special Peculiar who happens to be the key to stopping all this. This wouldn’t be so bad, I suppose, had the film itself been more interesting. Better humor, better acting, better action – something. Instead, Tim Burton’s movie, an adaptation of the 2011 Ransom Riggs novel, just feels like yet another cash-in YA novel adaptation that failed to capture the same lightning that The Hunger Games and Twilight did.
37. The Huntsman: Winter’s War 4/22/2016 17%
I doubt many people were clamoring for a sequel to the dark and gritty Kristen Stewart-starring Snow White retelling, a movie that became more famous for her behind-the-scenes affair with the at-the-time married director than anything else. The first turned out to be an okay flick, however, which was mostly saved by the fact that Charlize Theron can overact the hell out of her role as the evil queen. Unfortunately for us, she only really returns in the latter parts of this film, with the female leads instead going to Jessica Chastain as Chris Hemsworth’s returning hutnsman’s ass-kicking former love/partner in medieval fantasy crime fighting, and the villain role is now occupied by Emily Blunt, a more tragic villain than Theron’s was and who is thus given a much more somber but ultimately dull treatment. Again, things really don’t liven up until Theron comes in, and even then, it’s much too late. The film has no standout action sequences and squanders its talented cast, who really should’ve all been filming something more worthwhile.
36. Ice Age: Collision Course 7/22/2016 15%
I didn’t see anything past the second of these films, though I know there were a couple more in between that one and this one. After Ice Age 2, I kind of stopped trying to care, as I really hated the lazy character designs and writing. Scrat was still pretty fun, sure, but most of his parts were released separate from the movie – either serving as the de facto trailer or even appearing in independent shorts before other movies. Sometimes they were just made available via YouTube, so I had no reason to go to see these movies. I rented Collision Course with very little knowledge of what happened previously, beyond perhaps knowing that they made contact with dinosaurs at one point and that the female lion, I ascertained from recollections of the trailers, came from a band of pirates that showed up once… I think. Despite this, these characters felt as they had when they first began. So, I guess the series has remained pretty static for a while, including the quality of the filmmaking. Now, you may tell me, “It’s just a movie for kids!” Which, you know… really? Does it have to be reiterated again? Movies for kids shouldn’t just be excused for being crap. You can excuse, perhaps, a movie’s tone or general simplicity for its being aimed at primarily kids, but that’s no excuse for overall crappy quality. Pixar and even DreamWorks have illustrated before that you can have quality storytelling and still entertain kids and the adults in the audience. There’s just no excuse for this.
35. Ratchet & Clank 4/29/2016 17%
Boring, generic, and running on empty in the laughs tank, this animated adaptation of the video game series feels much more like a failed pilot for an expensive animated series than a feature length film. Or perhaps more like a promotional video more suited to being a pack-in disc or even feature within the video game of the same name, which also came out last year and used the same artistic assets as the filmmakers. Something like a collection of all the cutscenes woven together that unlocks after finishing the game or something. Fans of the series will likely want to flock there, instead, as it’s the same plot and has the bonus of interactive gameplay to make up for its narrative shortcomings.
34. The Boss 4/08/2016 22%
It shouldn’t be an argument that Melissa McCarthy is a funny person, but it seems like every time a movie of hers comes out and doesn’t live up to high expectations, this point needs to be emphasized. To be honest, though, she often brings it upon herself, relying far too much on leaning into her loud big lady image to get some laughs when she really should be above doing the same thing over and over again. She can even be a pretty decent dramatic actress when she wants to be, as in St. Vincent. The Boss is one of those comedies, however, that thinks taking something mundane and wholesome like Girl Scouts and mixing in profanity and over-the-top cartoon violence is just, like, soooo funny. It’s not, and it especially doesn’t work when much of the abrupt violence doesn’t even have the decency to give us a funny reaction shot. It does that really annoying thing where characters get punched really hard in the face and then calmly turn back toward their assailant with a serene smile, and say, “Oh, it’s on now,” prompting immediate escalation. It’s the comedy equivalent of when action movies execute a stunt, only for everything to slow down and the sound to cut out for a moment, before everything suddenly rushes back into realtime chaos. It’s lazy, and this movie, needless to say, wasn’t McCathy’s strongest showcase. Heck, it wasn’t even Kristen Bell’s best showcase for comedy this year.
33. Lazer Team 1/27/2016 56%
YouTube and Red vs. Blue studio Rooster Teeth partnered to bring us this story about four smalltown losers who are mistakenly tasked with saving the world after a spaceship crashes in front of them and they try on various parts of an alien armor that forms a permanent bond with their bodies. Now the man who was literally born and raised to use it must instead train the idiots in how to use the various pieces together as a team against the evil Worg, an alien race that are on their way to destroy Earth. A fun enough premise for a comedy, ruined by amateurish, sophomoric humor. It’s an impressive production for its budget, I’ll grant, and some of the actors are actually committed to their roles, to varying degrees of success, but the movie just doesn’t have the wit to make its concept work and instead relies on the kind of comedy where the film is just kinda nudging you in the ribs, saying, “Eh? Eh? Funny, huh?” with a dumb, expectant grin on its face.
32. The Legend of Tarzan 7/01/2016 36%
Oh boy, did this movie look like it was going to suck from the very beginning. It’s basically like the movie Hook if it was about Tarzan instead of Peter Pan. And if it wasn’t fun. It has John Clayton III returning to his storied roots and reclaiming his abandoned identity of Tarzan in order to save the jungle and his animal family from the rule of Léon Rom, who seeks revenge against Tarzan for some past event, as well as control over the area and its supply of diamonds. Despite decades of adaptations that should obviously inform our knowledge of the character, The Legend of Tarzan strangely feels like a sequel in a movie series that never actually had a first entry and feels kind of incomplete for it. Apart from recounting Jane meeting Tarzan for the first time – arguably the most familiar backstory in the whole film – I don’t feel like we ever really get a concrete reason for Rom being Tarzan’s Hook. Why not focus more on the secondary antagonist, Chief Mbonga, who wishes to avenge his son’s death at Tarzan’s hands? He’s a lot more interesting, and it would’ve saved Djimon Honsou from being wasted in yet another supporting role. The weight of these grudge with Rom feels merely implied than felt through the storytelling. Are we supposed to know about the brutality of the real Léon Rom, perhaps? Why make the villain a real life figure from history and then make him like any number of generic villains who seek the same thing as him? It doesn’t add depth, that’s for sure. Speaking of lacking of depth, Margot Robbie is once again wasted in as someone’s girlfriend. Woo.
31. The Other Side of the Door 3/04/2016 39%
Sarah Wayne Callies unfortunately became the posterchild for “shrill, annoying wife” character on The Walking Dead, but at least here in The Other Side of the Door, she gets to prove she’s actually quite capable of elevating some really shit material into something almost worthwhile. I do mean that as praise – she’s quite good as Maria, a mother who must deal with the grief and guilt of having had to choose between her two children after their car is plunged into a river. She’s then haunted and left suicidal by the pleas of the son she had to leave behind in the sinking car. That’s some really heavy stuff that could actually make for a great drama, but this is a crappy horror film, so, naturally, some supernatural element is introduced that makes Maria hopes will allow her to once again speak to her son and, hopefully, give both of them the peace they need. And, naturally, it’s introduced by a sage Indian housekeeper, who also warns Maria about the dangers inherent to the information she’s now privy to – namely, that Maria should not open the door of the ancient temple that physically separates her departed son from her.
As is to be expected, Maria completely botches this and disobeys the rule when his pleas become too much to bear, thus unleashing a violent force that may or may not be the corrupted soul of her little boy. While still not the worst premise, it’s as amateurish as you would fear a cheap horror film to be, too. Jump scares, stupid decisions, needless secrets, and cheap tension building tactics abound. Also, throw in a bit of cultural exploitation courtesy of the Mumbai setting for good measure, why not? Though the film attempts to be an allegory for grief, I’m not really even sure it makes much a sense, given the insane direction in which the story goes. You want some great horror that deals in grief? Go watch J.A. Bayona’s The Orphanage instead.
30. The Forest 1/08/2016 10%
Speaking of culturally exploitative horror films that attempt to be allegories for emotional trauma and mental instability, remember this Natalie Dormer film from early last year? The one about a woman who goes searching for her troubled twin sister after she was spotted walking into a Japanese forest where people go to kill themselves? Yeah, that one! Man, that looked pretty shitty, huh? And, sure enough, it was. A large portion of this film involves a strange fixation on a quasi-“Will they?/Won’t they?” relationship between the seeking twin, Sara, and a man who may know how to find her sister but who may also be the one who caused her to disappear in the first place. There’s also a subplot about the trauma of the two sisters losing their parents as children, but due to a psychic link the two share, one of them suspects the other is hiding something from her that would expose the truth about what actually happened. I wanted to kill myself from having watched it all actually play out as expected. It’s just seriously awful. Don’t see this movie.
29. Criminal 4/15/2016 30%
Kevin Costner really wants in on that midlife crisis action hero wave Liam Neeson was riding for a while there. Here, he plays an outrageously dangerous criminal named Jericho, whose mind is implanted with that of a dying spy, last name Pope (a bit on the nose with the naming there, guys), who obtained some crucial information the U.S. government needs before being fatally injured. Post-operation, however, it seems to have failed – that is until Jericho uses his newfound knowledge to escape. Slowly, however, he becomes more and more conflicted in his morality. He’s even [gasp] polite to strangers sometimes! Ultimately, he winds up reconnecting with Pope’s wife and daughter and, thanks to the help of Pope’s daughter and her sickeningly angelic innocence, he begins a journey into redemption. … Or, rather, not really, because is it really redemption in this case, or is it more like erasure of his consciousness? Why bother contemplating it, though? This movie is a mess that does little that’s interesting with its potentially interesting premise.
28. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 3/25/2016 30%
This is one of those incredibly lazy sequels where the so-called “creative minds” asked themselves what made the first so successful and then just doubled down on referencing it a lot without realizing the context in which those jokes worked in the first place. Nia in the first movie dealt with her family’s over-involvement in her life, so it’s only natural that, now that she has a teenage daughter, she’s repeating the same mistakes her parents did, complete with their lines and anxieties transposed onto her. Meanwhile, the family’s also dealing with the fact that Nia’s parents aren’t actually married to each other thanks to a mishap in the past that had long been forgotten about until just now, thereby justifying the title of this movie maintaining the whole “Wedding” part. I guess they thought that was what tanked their sitcom spinoff, My Big Fat Greek Life? Yeah, that must be it.
27. Nine Lives 8/05/2016 11%
This movie is like a relic of the ‘90s that’s been forgotten before being recently discovered in an archive, long forgotten and released merely because it had some recognizable stars and might make a few bucks. Kevin Spacey plays a hardworking but self-absorbed millionaire who is obsessed with chasing the dream of getting the tallest skyscraper in the world, but at the expense of spending time with his family – his current family, that is. He’s on his second marriage and even second daughter, who only wants affirmation from him that he loves her. An altercation with an angry employee, however, results in his near-death experience. He wakes up, however, to find that his consciousness has transitioned into that of a cat he intended to use to bribe his daughter back into loving him. As explained by Christopher Walken – pretty much playing the same character as in Click, only now running a pet store – he has to learn the true meaning of life and family togetherness if he’s going to make it back into his own body. Oh, and also hopefuly stop the potential suicide of his adult son, too. Because that’s a subplot.
I’m fairly certain that director Barry Sonnenfeld knew what he was making and likely aimed low. It’s a bad movie, but it’s honestly one of the more entertaining bad movies I’ve seen in quite a while. Apart from its contrived premise and moralizing, we get to witness the antics of a poorly CGI’d cat, its quality somewhere between an uncanny animatronic and Garfield in the Garfield movies – but only resembling an actual cat when the camera’s gawking downward at a sitting cat. There’s also some really strange, almost purposely cheap-looking production design. And a lot of adult humor mixed in with material that would only entertain very little children, as if they forgot there was a middle ground. It’s a lot like Sonnenfeld’s other family movie disaster, RV, only at least in this one you don’t secretly wish for the dad to go ballistic and have the movie shift gears into being about him covering up the murder of his awful family. All that being said, it’s probably one of the more entertaining films on this list if you’re up for a booze-fueled bad movie night.
26. Zoolander 2 2/12/2016 23%
It’s yet another late-coming sequel to a cult classic comedy that turned out to be better off leaving us wanting more than actually getting it. Zoolander 2 takes the ridiculousness of the first film and cranks it up to absurd levels, to the point where there is no ground for the film’s humor to stand on. Everything is just so obnoxiously silly and every character so over-the-top that it starts to make you feel numb. The first movie was ridiculous, yes, but it felt more like it was exposing an underground part of our own world as seen through the eyes of its inhabitants and those who are as equally fascinated and perplexed by it all as we are. Here, though, the entire world shares the same level of absurdity, with huge fashion prisons and spy agencies prominently featured. Derek and Hansel no longer feel quite so silly when they’re not just contending with a returning Mugatu, but a cadre of insane characters, some of whom are even more absurd than they are. Many of them are participants in an insane plot to kill off the world’s pretty celebrities – which is an excuse to one-up the previous film’s number of celebrity cameos, as if that’s also inherently amusing. There are a few moments that made me smirk (Kiefer Sutherland playing himself as part of Hansel’s codependent, spouse-like orgy comes to mind), but I still laughed more at what the trailers implied (and even the voiceover teaser trailer) than I did anything that happened in the context of the actual film.
25. The Do-Over 5/16/2016 5%
I’ll give The Do-Over this: it’s the most engaged Adam Sandler performance in quite some time. Yet another product of the agreement between Netflix and Sandler’s Happy Madison production company that I’m sure is starting to look like a bad investment to at least one of the companies, this movie casts David Spade as a long-suffering middle aged family man, Charlie, who is about had it up to here with his family and how his life has turned out. As luck would have it, he reconnects with his old best friend Max, played by Sandler, who seems to be living the high life. That Charlie is going through somewhat of a depression is not lost on Max, and so Max does the only thing that makes sense: he fakes their deaths so that the two of them can start life anew in paradise. Yep – queue another vacation paycheck for Sandler and friends. Even though both leads are actually trying to do something interesting with their characters, for once, The Do-Over still doesn’t manage to overcome its shortcomings as yet another one of Sandler’s ploys. You’d think studios would know better by now.
24. The Brothers Grimsby 2/24/2016 37%
You know how for a while there, horror movies were fixated on torture as a means of scaring people? I feel like the comedy equivalent is the type of gross-out humor featured here in The Brothers Grimsby, which dispenses so much scatological humor, it just kind of loses all distinction from anything that might put it in relief with reality to become humorous. To be clear, I do think that raunchy and shock humor is funny, but this movie goes to that well so often and executes it so haphazardly, I didn’t laugh but simply sat in my seat and pondered what the hell I was watching, uttering the occasional “Huh…”, as with the scene wherein the two brothers use an elephant’s vagina as a means of hiding from pursuers and finding out that, surprise, it’s mating season… As with a lot of the comedies on this list, the concept – an idiot reconnecting with his estranged brother who abandoned him years ago to be a superspy – isn’t a bad idea, but it’s overshadowed by too much random and gross spectacle to function.
23. Dirty Grandpa 1/22/2016 10%
Most of the comedies on this list, as you may have noticed, were decent in concept but were merely poorly executed in the end product. Dirty Grandpa is probably the one exception to that rule. Perhaps in an earlier era, this might’ve worked, but in 2016, the concept of humor derived from elderly people being raunchy and using modern lingo strains the very concept of what is considered comedic, made all the more tiresome by said elder being played by Robert De Niro. Getting De Niro to play against type as a source of comedy was also perhaps still novel back in 2000, when the first Meet the Parents was released, but at this point, it feels almost exploitative of an aging legend. Give the man his dignity back, guys, and stop taking it away from him in the first place! (Also, stop taking these roles, De Niro! You’re not incapable of making your own decisions yet!) Here, he plays a widower who decides to get back into action, taking his adult grandson on a long road trip of booze, sex, fighting, and… grandpa sticking his thumb up his grandson’s butt… because dirty grandpas think weird things like that are funny, I guess? This movie is a lot more disturbing than it is amusing, really. For example, is it really funny for a grandpa to casually get naked and share a bed in a hotel with his grandson and then teabag him in the middle of the night? I dunno. I think that’s taking it into some truly strange territory, particularly since the movie expects us to find grandpa endearing and the grandson too uptight – and also the grandson’s fiancée is apparently a bitch who won’t tolerate his shenanigans. It’s all just… really gross.
22. The 5th Wave 1/22/2016 16%
With The Hunger Games having ended the year prior, the Divergent movies just about to sink themselves into TV-movie, and The Maze Runner series stuck in limbo due to an unfortunate accident that hospitalized its lead actor, you’d think that the path would be clear for something like The 5th Wave to come in and save the young adult novel adaptation trend with something interesting. Alas, I don’t think the filmmakers were ever quite ambitious enough to put that much effort into yet another attempt to be the next big thing. While the film does have one of the more promising lead actresses to take on yet another world-ending apocalypse scenario in Chloë Grace Moretz, here taking on a budget-friendly alien invasion of human lookalikes, it can’t escape the fact that it’s merely yet another cookie cutter sci-fi romance drama that refuses to rise above its pedigree.
21. The Divergent Series: Allegiant 3/14/2016 12%
Of course, there’s also this piece of crap, the final film in which everything fell apart and led to this series imploding on itself, the planned fourth movie being scrapped for a TV series pilot that will apparently, someday, continue the story of Tris – albeit without its lead, Shailene Woodley, who knows she has better things to do than feel obligated to a series that perhaps, yes, kept her employed when it first began but more than likely now just got in the way of her actually being a pretty good actress. Good for her. Allegiant is perhaps better than the second installment, Insurgent, if only because it embraced a level of winking absurdity that cut through the strained seriousness of the previous two films and, more importantly, lacked the last film’s obnoxious theme of Tris learning just how much more special and cool she is than everyone else. I have a feeling this series was aiming to go so off the rails from its original concept, it could’ve ended up resembling the Resident Evil movie series with its post-apocalyptic micro-citiies established within larger cities scattered amidst a wasteland.
20. Alice Through the Looking Glass 5/27/2016 30%
Hey, ever wondered why the Mad Hatter likes hats so much? Ever wondered what happened to his family? Want the film to set an arbitrary ticking timeclock to save the life of the most annoying character in the movie by using a time travel gimmick that ham-fistedly explains all this to us and the characters? Then, hey, you probably have really bad taste in movies! Honestly, though, I don’t know what the thought process is for these things. The first one was a grave and strangely serious film, and this sequel introduces the concept of feeling the need to explain things in a world where madness is the friggin’ way of life. I don’t care about the Hatter and his daddy issues. All I wanted was to stop watching the freaking thing. I hated the first film, and despite the change up in director (Tim Burton merely produces), I think I might hate this one even more. It’s been a while, but, then again, I haven’t felt compelled to watch the first one since it first came out six years prior, either.
19. A Hologram for the King 4/22/2016 70%
I never thought I’d see the day when a cyst is used as a relatively serious, symbolic plot device, but here it is, the movie that thought this was a good idea. Tom Hanks here plays Alan Clay, who is attempting to sell a highly advanced holographic teleconferencing system to the Saudi government. In his meantime, he spends time reflecting sorrowfully upon his crumbled marriage and unfulfilling work. When he’s not doing that, he’s spending time out in the local culture, which includes a cab driver with a fondness for old, familiar American songs – the point being, basically, “Hey, they’re just like us!” The cyst comes into play by being a barometer for how things are going in Alan’s life – painful, hard, and ready to burst, leading then to a drunken and misguided attempt to remove it himself before sobering up and seeking actual help, going through the removal process, and then ultimately reaching the healing phase. I guess it is kind of amusing as a concept, in retrospect, but the film is so hamfisted with the symbolism that you can basically mark the beginnings of character development and plot directions anytime the freaking cyst is brought up. It’s freaking weird. The movie is ultimately a dramedy but rarely uses its more tragic aspects for a few moments of true-to-life levty, either. The result is actually kind of unbearable, and the film is so plodding in its pacing and predictable in its trajectory, I was ultimately left agonizing for the 97 minute runtime to just be over with already.
18. Me Before You 6/03/2016 58%
Q: What’s worse than a Nicholas Sparks movie?
A: The wannabe Nicholas Sparks movie!
Q: What’s worse than a wannabe Nicholas Sparks movie?
A: A wannabe Nicholas Sparks movie that is also basically the movie version of someone on the internet telling someone else, “Why don’t you just kill yourself already?”
Yes, I do believe that this was perhaps not the intention of those who made the film, nor the author of the 2012 novel upon which it is based. I am neither that cynical nor unrealistic. I think it’s far more likely that this film is merely the product of general human stupidity and lack of consideration regarding the exploitation of human tragedies and conditions as a means of telling a hackneyed tearjerker romance for a few million bucks. But, even so, that’s ultimately what it ended up becoming in its exploitation of tragedy, and the filmmakers are doubly at fault for having (presumably) read the novel and still deciding, “Yes, let’s repeat this bad idea!”
The story seems to be aiming at taking a progressive stance on euthanasia as a means of humanely ending a suffering person’s life, but what it doesn’t take into account is the actual experiences of those who actually are going through what the characters are going through here. The condition it focuses on doesn’t even make sense, since Will, a former athletic thrill seeker who was paralyzed in an accident, isn’t actually dying, nor is he even unable to make basic human connections, as evidenced by the romance aspect of the story. Instead, he’s just frustrated and unwilling to make any progress, and so he wants to just end it all, in spite of all that he can still do. It would make more sense if he were suffering and was going to die inevitably in the first place over an indeterminate amount of time and could have only expected a few months at most with the girl he begrudgingly falls in love with. But, no, this movie –already poorly made and featuring an Emilia Clarke performance that is at once aggressively charming and equally irritating in how much she overacts with her trademark eyebrows – is apparently made by people who, at least with this movie, did not care to be introspective enough to think about what it was that they were putting together.
17. Special Correspondents 4/22/2016 13%
This movie earns its place by having completely dislikable characters. Playing at least entertaining versions of such characters is usually Ricky Gervais’ forte, but Special Correspondents casts him and Eric Bana as Ian, a cameraman, and Frank, a reporter, respectively, both of whom are so unlikable that it’s unbelievable that the film expects us to root for them in the end, regardless of whether or not their wives are selfish or unfaithful. The two of them, desperate for a good story, pretend to be in Ecuador during an uprising after misplacing their passports and plane tickets to cover the actual story. This eventually leads to the two of them staging their own kidnapping, a story that sweeps all the national news networks and goes all the way to the U.S. government. The movie would be better if it had dealt with them facing the consequences of their actions, but, instead, they are rewarded throughout, including getting to keep all the money donated to the effort to save them, and Ian even getting a much younger love interest who likes him just the way he is – which is, I remind you, an unrepentant liar, as the truth never comes out, not even to the new lady in his life. On top of it all, the movie isn’t even funny. While Vera Farmiga stands out a bit as Ian’s philandering wife, who also takes advantage of the news spotlight for her own benefit, the rest of the film is basically spent basically asking us to empathize with these two and be amused by their antics. It’d be one thing if the movie were aware of their terrible natures, but, if it is, it isn’t nearly clever enough to make that work.
16. Gods of Egypt 2/26/2016 16%
This was undoubtedly one of the more painful experiences I had in theatergoing last year. Most of the movies on this list were ones that I’d seen after their theatrical release, often because I knew they would be awful and released early enough in the year for me to merely rent or stream them at a cheaper rate. Not Gods of Egypt, though, which I saw with a friend, who shall remain nameless but knows who he is, who insisted it might actually be good and ultimately broke me when I decided, “Yeah, I haven’t seen an awful movie in the theatres for a while. This might be fun!” Funny enough, the joke was on us both – it was nowhere near bad enough to be entertaining, and he also ended up worrying alongside me whether we would actually make it to the end of the movie. At one point, I turned to him and asked, “When the [expletive] is this movie going to end?!” His laughter at this was about the only sign of enjoyment between the two of us. Gawdy CGI effects that don’t even attempt to merge reality and fantasy abound, as do unengaging performances – particularly from perpetual mannequin Brenton Thwaites. The plot – which sees our heroes, the god Horus and a young thief named Bek, traveling from one setpiece to another in order to restore Horus to the throne, taken by his brother Set, and return Bek’s love to the world of the living after she is murdered – relies upon us actually giving a damn about these bland characters, given its simplicity, and yet we ultimately just can’t wait to be rid of them ourselves so we can just get out of the damn theatre and at least feel vindicated that our money was well spent on justifying why we were angry without anyone telling us we didn’t see the whole thing. We saw the whole damn thing, I assure, you…
15. Brahman Naman 1/24/2016 75%
I don’t know if it’s that I have to see this one more time or what, but I can’t seem to understand why people like this movie. Set in Bangalore in the 1980s, Brahman Naman follows a group of guys on a high school trivia team who are absolutely obsessed with sex. The four of them love to talk about girls and what they would do to them, often acting it out in public. When they do encounter a group of girls during the competition, however, their success with them does not necessarily match up with their boasting. I’m not docking the movie any points or anything for being sexist – that’s kind of its point, as it’s also riffing on the sex comedies of the era in which it’s set – but the movie isn’t even all that witty, and its characters remain annoying throughout – at no point did I care about whether they would learn a few lessons and perhaps grow as people – or even not, if that was the joke. As with Special Correspondents, if you’re going to make us focus on annoying or awful people in your story, at least make them compelling and/or entertaining in spite of it – or even because of it.
14. Ride Along 2 1/16/2016 14%
You know, this movie didn’t really bother being a different movie from the first, so I see no reason why I can’t just reiterate what I said about the first movie two years prior: “Kevin Hart, I don’t know what to do with you. I’m sorry, but I do not find your movie roles funny. Why must you be so shrill? Why must you always play the guy who acknowledges his diminutive traits in passing but then seemingly doesn’t know his limits when the time comes to, you know, shut up for your own good? I hear you can be funny – it’s just apparent that you’re not when you’re playing a character in a mainstream film. Seriously, be funny, dammit. … Okay, it’s not all Hart’s fault here, though. I’m not very good at summing up why comedy might be bad apart from a post-viewing gut feeling, I admit, but this movie gave me that painful, unfunny gut feeling, and I’m sticking to it. The film is your typically outrageous situation comedy film, where Hart’s loudmouthed, ineffective security guard has to prove to his fiancée’s brother that he’s worthy by following him on a police ride along that has them getting tangled up with some gangsters. Ride Along doesn’t quite deliver on the situations nor the proper execution of the jokes it throws the audience’s way, despite Hart and Ice Cube’s combined screen presence having the potential to at least be amusing. The movie seems to think that wackiness and volume of dialogue are enough to carry a comedy. It’s not.”
13. Mother’s Day 4/29/2016 7%
I like Garry Marshall. I do not like his movies, but I liked the guy. It’s truly a tragedy that this ostensibly nice and likable man died with this as his final film. A capper to the holiday-themed, interconnected subplot-ridden, ensemble movie trilogy he started making in 2010 with Valentine’s Day followed up on with 2011’s New Year’s Day. The cast is made up of what I can only assume are actors who either owed Marshall something or who genuinely loved being around him, as evidenced by the presence of actors he’s previously worked with. I’m going to assume mostly the latter because, again, Marshall really seemed like quite a nice guy, and, again, I hated hating his directorial work. (Okay, the first Princess Diaries I remember being decent enough – but then he had Julie Andrews do a duet with Raven-Symone in the sequel…) Mother’s Day is pretty much about what you’d expect, with way too many subplots visited at random, as if the film was saying, “Oh, you’re bored with this one now? Perhaps we should check with this one? No? How about this one? Okay, we’ll come back to this one later. Oh, shoot, forgot about this one, too. Hey remember these guys?”
12. Ghost Team 7/21/2016 13%
This movie just kind of ended up in my Google Play Video collection one day, and I don’t remember activating it, but I must have, as there was no U2 album-levels of complaining. Or maybe just too few people actually use Google Play Video for that to happen. (I rent movies on there sometimes when I get enough credits through the Google Rewards app, for the record.) The movie follows a group of various losers who decide one day to participate in producing a ghost hunter video to submit to a TV show, choosing a remote farm silo as their location to capture some paranormal activity. Naturally, they encounter more than they ever bargained for, and, because this is a comedy, some situational hilarity ostensibly follows. I’ve seen far worse pathetic genre satires, but Ghost Team can’t just rest upon its paranormal premise and unremarkable morality story about living the dream, despite where you ended up in life. Amy Sedaris is an almost singular dim spot of light amidst a dark and dreary landscape of easy jokes that attempt to say something, only I’ve already been put to sleep by it.
11. Cabin Fever 2/12/2016 0%
A remake is supposed to have a purpose, but while I haven’t seen the original Eli Roth film, I know it was only marginally well received, so this remake was a perfect opportunity for some improvements. From what I hear, though, if I’ve seen the remake, which was produced by Roth, I’ve basically seen the original. And if that’s the case, I really don’t think I care to indulge. Roth’s style isn’t my cup of tea in the first place, relying on gore more than anything to achieve chills, and the characters here are basically just a bunch of self-absorbed douches I neither cared to see make it through and also didn’t hate enough to stick it out until their grisly ends. Cabin Fever is also a little too self-aware of itself without being clever or funny about it. It’s, like… winking at you, but awkwardly, thinking this is just something people do, and not really having any point behind it. I’d rather watch Zombeavers again. That movie got it. Also, while this isn’t a knock against it, but – holy crap, when did we start remaking movies from the 2000s?
10. Fathers & Daughters 7/08/2016 28%
A Pulitzer Prize-winning author and single father struggling to raise his daughter on his own after the death of his wife, her mother, while also coming to terms with a newly diagnosed disease that will affect both his writing and his role as a parent. After his death, the daughter grows up into a headstrong and intelligent woman who has also become semi-famous for being the subject of her father’s best selling book. Despite this, however, she struggles to make connections with anyone and secretly fears anyone she loves will inevitably leave her. The two stories are told in parallel, admittedly making the most of the casting of Russell Crowe as the father, Jake Davis, and Amanda Seyfried as the adult version of Katie, also known as “Potato Chip,” a cloying and supposed-to-be-cute-but-is-actually-super-weird nickname given to her by her father.
That actually kind of describes the movie as a whole, which seems to buy into the idea that fathers are their daughters’ first true love. I understand that there’s a modicum of truth to this, but it’s the kind of mentality that also leads to fathers feeling as though they own their daughters until handing them off to some man they deem worthy of taking over, which is really gross. Fathers are a model of a man, yes, but are not preliminary substitutes for lifelong partners. That aside, the actors, including Aaron Paul as one of Katie’s and Jake’s admirers (… you know, for two different reasons), try their best to make this material work, but the movie really just can’t shake the strangeness of its parallels and the Lifetime-levels of forced melodrama that permeates the movie.
09. Mothers and Daughters 5/06/2016 19%
Daughters got two films this year examining their relationships with mothers, and, as the old cliché goes, the one involving the mother is inevitably the one that’s most problematic. Whereas Fathers & Daughters intended to create a heartwarming portrait of how important those a single father and daughter are in each other’s life to ensure happiness as a means of exemplifying what all ideal, the unrelated Mothers and Daughters takes the ensemble, many-connected-plots formula and winds up exemplifying the complicated mess often ascribed to these relationships in both its subject and form. There’s also a subplot about one character discovering her sister is actually her mother, who was determined to be too young to raise her when she was born. Because… that’s totally relatable? I can’t really say that I’m able to determine whether this mélange of actresses is good or not, as the film they’re in is so terrible and bland. I will say, however, that girls get off pretty easy in these types of stories, where their relationships are just cute or complicated. You make a movie about a guy’s close relationship with his mother, and you get one of the most famous murder scenes in cinema history…
08. Assassin’s Creed 12/21/2016 18%
What the hell happened here? Hot off their success with the 2015 adaptation of Macbeth, director Justin Kurzei and stars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard feature in their second collaboration – an adaptation of the Assassin’s Creed video game series, a series that practically screams for a flashy, stylish, and entertaining film adaptation thanks to its intriguing premise and overall cinematic feel in the first place. Heck, the first few games even featured Kristen Bell as a character that she not only voiced, but who also bore her likeness! This film adaptation at least wisely focuses more on the concepts behind the games – the idea of hacking into DNA to retrieve a subject’s ancestors’ memories to unlock the true historical events and change the course of humanity by locating an ancient artifact, as well as the constant war between the Assassins and the Templars to be the ones to do so – and creates an original story out of it. Here, it’s a convicted murderer, Callum Lynch, who becomes the unwitting subject of the experiment, and his ancestor an assassin, Aguilar, during the Spanish Inquisition. The film also concerns the search for the Apple of Eden, the aforementioned artifact that can give and take away free will that is also a major component of the games.
I love the games, and I was honestly pretty invested in this being a good movie – or at least decent enough action flick. At times, it does look quite nice, and it definitely screams “This is Assassin’s Creed!” in its overall production design. The cast assembled is unreasonably good, featuring Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, and Michael K. Williams in supporting roles – and all of them are wasted on a supremely dull story. Poor Ariane Labed, too, gets lost as Aguilar’s assassin partner in the historical segments, showing up merely to perform some flashy fighting moves and then fade into the background afterward until she’s needed to further his story. She is ultimately just window dressing. The film, which is supposed to exist within the same continuity as the games but is ultimately not afforded anything of note to do, is also pretty much inconsequential, likely to prevent it from interfering should it bomb (which it did) and be deemed retroactively irrelevant. The movie is beyond boring, and when it does finally kick into action mode, it merely shifts into becoming tiresome. I swear, I left the movie theatre feeling as though I had occasionally gone into a fugue state, just throwing popcorn into my mouth. This was awful, and such a waste of a good property.
07. Fifty Shades of Black 1/29/2016 7%
Jane Seymour singlehandedly provides the most laughs in this movie, not just from her unexpected presence, but also for giving more life to the bawdy and racially-charged humor she’s given than anyone else in this film, writer/producer/star Marlon Wayans included. The late Florence Henderson also pops up for a few more forced laughs, but nothing’s as funny as the conviction Seymour delivers her few lines here. … I can’t find them to quote them, mind you, and I’m not spending money again to see what they were, but it was at least funny. Or maybe it just resembled something funny. It’s hard to determine when things are so dire all around it.
A Fifty Shades of Grey parody was inevitable, and perhaps it was only inevitable that Marlon Wayans would be the one to bring it to us. It was also inevitable that the humor would be about as obvious and lazy as the play on words going on in the movie’s title. It really doesn’t do anything with its premise beyond replaying the film it’s sending up and throwing in a few jokes and gross-out gags throughout. As I said before, Seymour is really the only reliable source of creativity, here playing Christian’s adoptive mother who has also assembled for herself a whole family full of adopted people of color who must endure her various deadpanned racial insensitivities, not even recalling or even caring what specific ethnicity her Asian daughter is. But other than that, this movie is a wasteland of jokes that fell too hard and died upon the corpse of Wayans’ previous satirical efforts.
06. Meet the Blacks 4/01/2016 13%
Know what’s funny about this movie? Its whole point of being is basically to point out that minorities are often the victims in movies like The Purge, the film upon which this satire is mostly based, and yet does not seem to realize that that’s kind of the point behind those movies. Meanwhile, it provides us with a protagonist who we’re expected to care about and want to survive, despite the fact that he tells his wife that she just needs to chill out and let his creepy cousin ogle her from a distance while masturbating. The movie only barely knows what to do with itself. After a long slog of characters talking at one another and an oddly long amount of time spent in a den while Mike Epps explains how he got this mansion in Beverly Hills (he basically stole it, ‘cause – ha ha, black people committing crimes? Eesh…), the film switches into a series of action bits, with the family trying to figure out how to survive the night while also throwing in as many pop culture references as possible, punchlines to jokes that never began. While this one perhaps attempts to be a bit more topical with its premise than the previously listed Fifty Shades of Black, this is not in its favor, as I must reiterate that the film kind of misses its own points in the chaos. It doesn’t even have an ace up its sleeve in a Jane Seyour-like standout performance, unless you count Mike Tyson cameoing in funny makeup. It also looks significantly cheaper and sloppier. This movie had ambition, but apparently only enough to start up production. After that, I guess everyone just felt obligated to commit to their contracts or something.
05. Norm of the North 1/15/2016 9%
Speaking of movies that lose their point midway through, Norm of the North starts off as a story about a bear named Norm trying to make humans stop destroying his home, the Antarctic, with their housing and commercial development and ends up being more about Norm playing mascot to the company before returning to the whole sabotage plot, which also becomes a rescue mission for Norm’s grandfather, for some reason. The movie features Rob Schneider in the lead voice acting role, which should be about all you need to know about this movie, but it does get worse, as Ken Jeong, who has seriously whittled down his goodwill as of late, plays the spastic housing developer villain, Mr. Greene – one of those supposedly humorous cartoon villains whose weird movements and the volume in which they deliver their lines is an attempt at being funny. Same goes for the lemmings in this movie – diminutive little nuisances who do random things like pee in aquariums and speak in gibberish while assuming nonexistent competency at what they do. They’re also apparently indestructible, a play on the legend of lemmings being suicidal, I guess. That the animation is horrible goes without saying, even for a direct-to-video release, which this film was originally slated to be before someone apparently got hit in the head with a frying pan and decided this was worthy of a more grandiose release.
04. I Saw the Light 3/25/2016 20%
Biopics can’t be easy to pull off. You’re more often than not going to be portraying someone whose life is at least well-known enough for people to dissect the portrayal for inaccuracies, and regardless of whether you’re trying to honor or disparage your subject, you still have the expectation of doing them justice, regardless of your obligations of good storytelling and any creative license deemed necessary. So hats off to the filmmakers who made this Hank Williams biopic and attempted to tell the whole story, warts and all. Unfortunately, in their attempt to have an honest portrayal about Williams’ complications with his wife and alcoholism, they also forgot to show us why the man, who died with six more Top 10 Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers hits in his career than he had years in his life, became such a renowned figure in country and music in general in such a relatively short amount of time. Despite following the acclaimed Walk the Line’s example, including star Tom Hiddleston’s commitment to imitating Williams’ singing, I Saw the Light feels less like a meditative film about the complicated life of a man who became a legend and more like a nihilistic and torturous endurance test in watching someone wither way into delusional obscurity.
03. God’s Not Dead 2 4/01/2016 9%
The only reason why I don’t rank this higher is because of expectations, namely that I expect any Pure Flix production to be complete crap, and so they do not even register as being worthy of recognition for being so bad that they make the top of the list. The God’s Not Dead series, however, will more than likely forever produce films worthy of at least being towards the top of year end “worst of” lists. While not as putridly judgmental and hateful as the first film in that it lacks a stereotypical and violent portrayal of Muslims and even provides us with a sympathetic non-Christian character, God’s Not Dead 2 still remains a vile example of the problems with the modern American church and the tendency to feel like a victim at every turn, often to the point of absurdity. Here, the film takes on the ACLU and government censorship, with a teacher being sued by the school district for the mere mention of Jesus in the public school classroom, regardless of whether it was actually not preachy and relevant to a student’s question. The world that Pure Flix portrays in these films is one where nearly all atheists and non-Christians are wolves waiting in the grass to pounce no poor old little Christian bunny rabbits at the mere suggestion that their beliefs exist.
The film also features a subplot featuring the pastor from the first film refusing to submit his sermons to the government to ensure they are suitable and, in a post-credits scene, being arrested for his disobedience, hinting at where the third film is headed. All this, the film maintains, is already happening and will only get worse, providing cases in the credits upon which it states its plot is inspired. The problem here, however, is that most of those cases are ones in which Christians sued school districts, not the other way around – and in all but the still pending ones at the time of the film’s release resulted in the Christians winning their case because the courts actually found the schools at fault for overstepping their boundaries. The others, for some reason, were cases in which gay couples sued businesses for refusal of services – a topic that’s not even addressed in the film and is irrelevant to the central subjects of Christianity being taught in schools and state-governed sermons within churches. That latter one, by the way, is based on the 2014 subpoenas issued by the city of Houston, which was intended to determine whether pastors were using their pulpits as a means of collecting signatures to oppose anti-discrimination laws – laws which, ironically, also held that you could not discriminate based on religion alongside gender, ethnicity, sexuality, etc.
This kind of tone deaf and willfully misleading portrayal of reality, as well as the perpetuation of the “us vs. them” mentality, is to be expected, but the continued embrace of these films by Christians will never not be maddening. And do I even have to mention that this is overall just an awful film apart from all this? Nah.
02. Yoga Hosers 9/02/2016 20%
Kevin Smith was once considered an indie darling, but since about 2010, he’s been more known for his seeming disillusionment with filmmaking, even once announcing his retirement after making 2011’s Red State and vowing to complete the Clerks series with a third and final film, both for the series and himself. Of course, this didn’t last too long. He’s since done some TV and comic book work and even continues to write and direct films, albeit making films that sound like something horrible, created by the unholy merging of Eli Roth with Edgar Wright. The first was the horror comedy Tusk in 2014, which featured Justin Long as a podcaster who flies to Canada and ultimately becomes the victim of a madman’s grotesque scheme to transform him into a walrus whom he had befriended on a deserted island but ultimately had to eat in order to stay alive. Yoga Hosers is a spinoff of that film, the second in a planned trilogy, featuring two teenage convenience store clerks who appeared in Tusk briefly. Here, the Colleens, as they are known, are defending their hometown from Nazis – or, rather, little sentient sausage Nazis that like to crawl up people’s anuses and, when destroyed, explode in a shower of poorly rendered sauerkraut. Created by a Canadian Nazi during World War II using bratwurst and his own DNA, these clone soldiers were supposed to incubate for 100 years in an underground chamber beneath the convenience store, only for the girls’ band practice to short a circuit and cut it short, which… is I guess a good a reason as any for why these little potato-looking things exist as they do?
If that even sounds mildly entertaining in even a sort of ironic, insane way, please stop reading this and go check yourself into a hospital. You need help. I understand that it’s an attempt to be avant garde and all, a middle finger to conventional film logic and plotting, but Yoga Hosers is nothing but one insipid and nonsensical scene after another, featuring all the easiest Canadian jokes you can think of and annoying little R-rated Minions who scream the same German phrases over and over and over again. The girls, I might add, are played by none other than the daughters of Kevin Smith and Johnny Depp – Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp – with Johnny Depp also reprising his manhunter Guy LaPoint role from Tusk for an extended period of time. He’s one of the less annoying aspects of the film, I’ll give him that, despite feeling a lot like a side character from Mortdecai. The girls are especially annoying, with Kevin Smith treating them like less clever Juno knock-offs, yet another one of those films that thinks the mere mention of cultural touchstones of any era is inherently funny, particularly if said by an unapologetically vapid teenage girl.
I know that Smith is attempting to make an amusingly trashy and stupid film, but Yoga Hosers fails even at that, because it doesn’t subvert anything – it just presents random things mixed with toilet humor that are neither so outrageous that we’re shocked, nor are they so clever that they begrudgingly work in spite of themselves. This is a film in which the Nazi begins monologuing and begins randomly doing impressions of celebrities and getting hung up on whether his captives are impressed or not. This has neither any bearing on his past, the present, nor anything in the future. It was thrown in because Ralph Garmin was cast in the role and is known for this kind of schtick. Oddly enough, the arbitrary inclusion of this bit makes Garmin’s casting feel oddly arbitrary and unwelcome, despite the fact that he’s also probably one of the better performers in the movie. This is grading on a curve, mind you, but I guess I perked up at any semblance of relief from what had been happening prior. This movie seriously would’ve been at the top of this list if not for the fact that it wasn’t nearly as disappointing as my top pick.
#1. Warcraft 6/10/2016 28%
This was seriously one of the most disappointing movies of the year. Duncan Jones hasn’t directed much, but his first wo movies – Moon and Source Code – were both two very thoughtful, original sci-fi favorites, with Moon being a superlative example of what can be done with one truly gifted actor and some thoughtful characterizations and Source Code being a charming, gripping and, if ultimately flawed, then at the very least intriguing time travel story that also made good use of its concept and the limited settings. I was eagerly awaiting whatever it was that Jones would release next. Though I was taken aback at the idea that it would be a video game adaptation, I thought to myself, “Well, if there’s anyone who can prove that such a thing can be good, it’s Duncan Jones. He’s no Uwe Boll or Paul W.S. Anderson, after all!” Jones is undoubtedly an aficionado of the mythology of the series, even eschewing the more popularly acknowledged World of Warcraft era and going back to the franchise’s roots with a story based on the original 1994 game. No doubt a lot of care and passion went into this film.
Unfortunately, the curse struck again in a big way, wiping away whatever hope it was that I held onto that Jones’ involvement meant it could potentially be great, regardless of whether I’d played the games or not. Perhaps it was the studio, or even more likely the video game developers’ owner, Activision, calling all the shots and ruining whatever artistic vision Jones had for the film. Perhaps even Jones himself is to blame, having engrossed himself too much into the series and finding it irresistible to throw in every single bit of detail he found compelling and losing the audience’s attention in the end result, not realizing that those games have countless hours to build it all up and not just the two Jones had to work with.
Regardless of where the fault lies, there’s no questioning that Warcraft is honestly one of the most painfully boring and disappointing films released in 2016. In more than one instance, beginning early on, I seriously thought about leaving the theatre and getting my money back. Watching this cause physical discomfort. Despite remaining silent throughout, my friend was also visibly straining to continue the agonizing experience, fidgeting in his chair and sighing through his nose. This wasn’t just a disappointment – it was a catastrophe of a film. I have no idea what compelled us to sit through two hours of this beyond perhaps the hope of seeing if it could redeem itself – or maybe that it might at least provide us with something humorously bad. Perhaps it was even pride that misguided us to sit through every discussion about a fictitious war with fictitious stakes in which fictitious people and monsters will die. I mean, sure, most of the time movies are fictitious – even the ones based on true stories – but somehow with Warcraft, I began to think to myself, “Why should I even care about this? None of this matters! I should be spending my time elsewhere.” Which is saying a lot, because I used to sometimes watch my friend play World of Warcraft back when we were roommates, and I’d ask questions about what it was that engaged him in it and what certain things were, and why certain things were. All of these times were more entertaining than watching this obvious labor of love from a director whose work I have admired greatly in the past and hopefully will again. If anything, though, Warcraft reminded me that even admired and talented directors – Duncan Jones, Steven Spielberg, Barry Sonnenfeld, Tim Burton, Terrence Malick, Bryan Singer, Kevin Smith, Ron Howard, Ang Lee, Robert Zemeckis, Ben Affleck – can release something mind-bogglingly disappointing. And, at least in that sense, Warcraft was seriously the worst of the films released in 2016.