Home > Year in Review > 2019 IN REVIEW – The Worst of the Year (…and also the ones in between)

2019 IN REVIEW – The Worst of the Year (…and also the ones in between)

Alright, so 2019 wasn’t the year I wound up kicking back into high gear with my writing, but I’m determined to get my list of best and worst movies reviewed before this early Oscars ceremony, and, dammit, if I have to cut out talking about the ones in the middle this time, I will!

First, though, I want to give a preview of the films you won’t be seeing on either list. These are films I saw and either liked or disliked, but didn’t particularly find to be extraordinary. If they are on the following section, they are anywhere from just mundanely bad to good, not great — at least in my opinion, of course…

Escape Room1/04/192
The Upside1/11/192
The Kid Who Would Be King1/25/193.5
Cold Pursuit2/08/192
What Men Want2/08/192
Isn’t It Romantic2/13/193
Alita: Battle Angel2/14/193
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World2/22/193
Missing Link4/12/193
The Hustle5/10/191.5
Pokémon Detective Pikachu5/10/193
X-Men: Dark Phoenix6/07/192.5
Late Night6/07/193
Men in Black International6/14/192.5
Child’s Play6/21/193.5
Annabelle Comes Home6/26/193.5
The Lion King7/19/192.5
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw8/02/192.5
Dora and the Lost City of Gold8/09/193.5
Good Boys8/26/193
Pain and Glory10/04/193
Let It Snow11/08/192
Last Christmas11/08/192.5
Lady and the Tramp11/12/192.5
Charlie’s Angels11/15/192.5
Queen & Slim11/27/193.5

Right, so with all that out of the way, let’s get on to the real meat of this and present… my top 22 picks for the worst movies I saw from 2019…

My Top 22 Worst Movies of 2019

22.          Glass     1/18/19

This would-be attempt to be the next Saw franchise starts off well enough, If Split signaled the second coming of Shyamalan, it certainly was a short-lived one. Glass is pretty much the flaccid conclusion to the surprise trilogy that began with Unbreakable and continued with the aforementioned Split, pitting Bruce Willis’ David Dunn, Samuel L. Jackson’s Mr. Glass, and James McAvoy’s multiple personality-having Kevin Crumb (aka, the Hive or the Beast) against… well, not exactly one another, as you would expect from a trilogy that ostensibly deconstructs comic book superhero tropes, but rather a new character in the form of Sarah Paulsen’s Dr. Ellie Staple, a psychiatrist who has allegedly spent much of her career studying and treating people who believe they are comic book characters and who spends much of the movie offering up to the three other characters reasons for why they aren’t actually who they say they are, even though the movie makes no attempts to make us believe it for a moment and question all that we’ve seen previously in the other two movies – or even earlier in this very movie itself, for that matter. Despite having a script filled with long monologues about who these characters are and a great deal of buildup over the course of its runtime and the years of real world anticipation that led to its release, Glass winds up being long on unfulfilled promises of something greater and more interesting to come and short on having any interesting or intelligible insight into these characters and the comic book tropes that they purportedly represent. This, people, is what a truly disappointing conclusion to a trilogy looks like…

21.          Aladdin                 9/24/19

There are moments that one can find themselves enjoying this live-action remake of Disney’s 1992 classic musical, but there’s just no avoiding the fact that this movie is a very pale imitation of its predecessor (which is ironic, given the emphasis on being more culturally sensitive this time around). Will Smith is also a good enough casting choice to play the Genie, having enough of his own brand of energy and charisma that you’re not thinking too much about how he’s not Robin Williams. Unlike Williams, though, he can’t really sing all that well – and neither can lead actor Mena Massoud, whose voice so artificially tuned and flat that you’ll have flashbacks to Emma Watson in Beauty and the Beast and wonder why they even bothered to include songs in the first place. At least Naomi Scott seems to be able to carry a tune, and pretty much everyone outshines Marwan Kenzari’s breathy, flavorless Jafar, who is ostensibly made out to be even more of a threat this time around by plotting to attack a neighboring nation, much to the newly empowered Jasmine’s protest. It’s not the worst remake Disney released so far (keep reading…), but it’s probably the biggest deviation in terms of quality.

20.          Maleficent: Mistress of Evil         10/18/19

Well, it’s better than the first, if only because there are so many ridiculous turns that this movie goes in, and it’s not directly crapping all over a classic this time around. You can almost forgive this movie for at least offering up a much more entertaining psychopathic monarch this time around in the form of Michelle Pfeiffer, here playing the paranoid mother of Prince Philip who continues to hold prejudices against the magical creatures residing within Maleficent’s domain. (Yes, despite its subtitle, Maleficent is still a true hero this time around. Yes, it still makes no sense.) The story involves assassination attempts, genocide, an exploration of Maleficent’s background that can only lead to fan theories about the movie’s connection to the X-Men universe, a very awkward dinner party that goes horribly awry, and a very poorly timed wedding ceremony, considering all that comes before it. It’s a bonkers movie, but, again, it might be kinda fun to pick on with the right setting and people.

19.          47 Meters Down: Uncaged          8/16/19

I really only saw this movie because my friend that I went with has a fear of the things that lurk in the ocean, and, well… I guess these kinds of movies really strike a chord with her for whatever reason. Me? Not so much. Whereas the first movie was more of a loosely character-driven story that happened to play out in the deep sea and was at least partially carried by more than just shark-derived terror, this unconnected sequel is pure slasher movie, complete with potentially ancient mutant sharks that seemingly show up out of nowhere in the name of eliciting jump scares. It’s cheap entertainment, and, sure, it’s kinda fun, but it’s also very predictable, even when it’s trying not to be – perhaps even especially when it’s trying not to be. Props for making me never ever, ever want to go scuba diving in a cave, though. Screw that.

18.          Five Feet Apart                 3/15/19

What hath John Green wrought, you guys? … I guess that’s not really fair to lay the blame on him, though. While not being the first movie to do so, you just know that movies like this are trying to ape the success of The Fault in Our Stars while offering up none of the authenticity or heart that was ultimately found in that movie. At least Green had an intimate connection with his subject and was trying to put young people in the characters’ place. Movies like Five Feet Apart, Me Before You, and Everything, Everything however, basically just feel like tragedy porn for the healthy. Oh, to be special like them and fall hopelessly in love with a manic pixie dream boy and die young and in love and have our mutual friend suffer greater than us so that we may enjoy things more in our own lives! I’m sure that’s not the intent, especially since it was allegedly inspired by the true story of real life couple Katie and Dalton Prager, but it’s certainly the end result, and it left me feeling rather gross.

17.          Pet Sematary     4/05/19

The best thing I can say about this movie is that it led me to finally get around to seeing the original adaptation of Stephen King’s 1983 novel. I rather liked that one, despite its corniness. This one? Well, it makes some alterations to the story that make this adaptation little more than yet another creepy little girl movie. I will say, I enjoyed the mother getting much better characterization this time around, but while Jeté Laurence’s performance is good, making the resurrected child be the much older Ellie Creed rather than baby Gage seems like a copout to make filming easier. It’s hard to capture the lightning in a bottle that was the absolutely insane but memorable Miko Hughes as Gage in the original, and I can’t blame them for being tempted to go this route, as they likely would’ve had to resort to some really crappy CGI had they gone the other way, but that doesn’t really change the fact that this is a really cheap, undeniably bland cheat.

16.          The Secret Life of Pets 2                6/07/19

I’ll give the sequel this – it’s not a near remake of a Toy Story film this time around. Instead, it feels more like a series of episodes from a Secret Life of Pets Netflix show edited together to make a movie –the dog learning to be like a cat episode, the bunny tries to be a superhero episode, the dogs go to a farm upstate episode (… no really, they actually go to a farm and get a lesson about hard living from a dog voiced by Harrison Ford, I promise!) – only now we’re cutting back and forth between the various episodes and then watching them all come together in the season finale. Also, Tiffany Haddish, everybody. She’s in everything now. (I like her, don’t get me wrong, and good for her, but of course Illumination pounced on her while her fame is still burning hot!) It’s the bland, predictable, meme-able kind of stuff that Illumination excels at.

15.          Wonder Park     3/15/19

Why is this called Wonder Park if the theme park the characters live in is called Wonderland? Also, kids, if your parent is seriously ill and has to go to the hospital for an extended period of time, you know what you need to do? Cheer up, dammit, and act like everything is alright instead of worrying so much. I mean, really, what the hell is wrong with you?

14.          A Dog’s Journey               5/17/19

Didn’t get enough of watching a dog die repeatedly only to get reincarnated in the first movie, did you? Well, the adventure continues as Bailey the Josh Gadd-voiced dog now finds himself with a new purpose: protecting CJ, the granddaughter of his former owner, played by Dennis Quaid, after she’s whisked away by her absurdly negligent, alcoholic mother, played by Betty Gilpin. We get to watch as young CJ grows up into a young woman, her trusty dog by her side throughout its various lives, protecting her from abusive partners and ensuring she ends up with a good guy, just as he was told. … Yyyyyup, it’s a paternalistic by way of dog story where only father knows best and, in his absence, at the very least his dog will do. Ooph. Plus, there are way fewer lives that Bailey lives through this time around, so you don’t even get the excitement of a police pursuit halfway through. Also, if you’ve seen the trailer, yes, you probably guessed the ending. Bleh.

13.          Murder Mystery              6/14/19

These Happy Madison/Netflix collaborations have been popular enough for the studios to extend their deal for another four films/vacations for Adam Sandler, with Murder Mystery being the most streamed original film of 2019 for the platform. And, you know, at the very least, it’s better than I anticipated, which isn’t saying much. Sandler partners with Jennifer Aniston this time around as a couple that’s seeking to reinvigorate their lives by going on a tour of Europe and finding themselves entangled in a big murder mystery involving a millionaire’s inheritance and plethora of money-grubbing relatives who all have a motive for his eventual murder. There are plenty of “Men are like this, and women are like thiiis” type jokes, as you would expect, but, really, in a year when both Knives Out and Uncut Gems released, you could do better to get your Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery and Adam Sandler fixes elsewhere.

12.          The Addams Family        10/11/19

The amount of wasted potential in this is palpable. I really enjoy the 1990s movies that starred Anjelica Huston and Raul Julia, so I’m not averse to camp value and was really excited when it was first announced that Charlize Theron and Oscar Isaac were cast in the same roles, even if it was going to be in an animated film and thus waste such perfect casting. Sadly, the movie goes even further than that in its efforts to disappoint. The plot involves the titular family finding their dour abode being exposed from the surrounding fog, much to the horror of the idyllic town that has sprung up around them in the intervening years. The town, which – I kid you not – is called Assmilation is being run by a woman named Margaux Needler, who is basically your HOA worst nightmare, but on a massive scale. There’s even a song about how great it is to conform to societal expectations, something that the Addamses are naturally not accustomed to. Previous depictions had the family barely being fazed by their conformist surroundings, deriving much of the humor out of the fact that they’re not the fish out of water – everyone else is. Here, though, we have a predictably internet-era backstory revealed, showing that Morticia and Gomez fled persecution in their home country and are just as scared of everyone else as everyone else is of them, and … wouldn’t you know it, it would all be so much better if we just got along! Preach, Wednesday Addams! Preach! Not only this, but the character designs are terrible. Yes, they are based on the original comic drawings, but the style just doesn’t translate to modern 3D animation. They look like preliminary models that haven’t yet been finished. And the writing… God, the writing. There’s a character who walks into a party and says, “This party is lit!” and his head catches on fire. It’s not funny. The whole damn thing is just not any funny. Screw this wasted potential of a movie.

11.          The Intruder      5/03/19

A young couple, Scott and Annie (Michael Ealy and Meagan Good), buys the house of their dreams, but they soon find themselves repeatedly playing host to an unexpected guest: the house’s previous owner, Charlie Peck (Dennis Quaid), a widower who can’t quite seem to let the place go, and so busies himself by making repairs and keeping up the landscaping. Initially, it seems like he’s just a lonely man who can’t quite move on and is at least helping them out, but Charlie’s presence quickly becomes a nuisance, at least to Scott, who begins to see that Charlie has a sinister side to him that his wife just isn’t perceiving. Naturally, Scott’s right, but how can he convince Annie and keep Charlie away from the house that he rightfully bought from him, fair and square? This has all the makings of a potentially entertaining movie, but there are parts of it that just go way too over the top, from Charlie’s sharp turn into predatory mode to, particularly, just how freaking stupid Annie is when it comes to Charlie up until that point. We’re talking stupid baby levels of stupid here. The girl is quite possibly the biggest freaking idiot you’ll ever see in a horror film that isn’t also a parody, and it’s frustrating to watch the movie pretend like she’s anything other than the absolute moron that she is. Not that Scott’s that much better, but at least he’s seeing Charlie for what he is – you know, after the man shot past their faces to kill a dear upon their first meeting to buy the house. None of this is the fault of the actors, not even Meagan Good’s – it’s just the way the characters are written, and it ruins what was already was going to be a silly movie in the first place.

10.          Gemini Man       10/11/19

I managed to see this movie in 120 fps 3D just before the movie was taken out of theatres, and boy, can I tell you – that is a garbage way to see any movie, let alone this garbage film. If you managed to see any of The Hobbit films in their high frame rate versions, you have a good idea of what it was like with this movie. All effects shots look absolutely garbage, and all the stuff that is real looks fake because it reaches a level of fluidity that is just not real enough that it looks that way and yet also not cinematic, either. Flaws in the action also become readily apparent. The big motorcycle chase halfway through the film is rendered almost slapstick by the format, and this is a movie that takes itself way too seriously for that to be the result and be successful. I don’t know what Ang Lee was thinking with this, and I sure as hell hope that this isn’t seen as the way to go in the future with other directors, either. Not only that, the plot is just the pinnacle of predictable pap. The whole cloning thing is treated like some kind of mystery, for some reason, when it was plastered all over the trailers in the first place, and the debate of nature versus nurture that the film tries to bring up – the older character was an excellent assassin, you see, and so will his younger counterpart be destined to take on the same role, too? – is told in the most uninteresting fashion. Go watch Rian Johnson’s Looper if you want a better, much more fun take on this kind of thing.

09.          Breakthrough    4/17/19

I really don’t enjoy putting faith-based films on here. As a person of faith, I find them incredibly frustrating, because they’re all seemingly sub-mediocre narrative sermons at best or, more often than not, wind up being dangerously dogmatic in their message and terrible movies in their own right, too, just for good measure. Breakthrough, a film about how faith in God defied all medical science and doctor’s efforts and revived a boy who was on the brink of death after falling in an icy lake, is probably the latter, particularly since it’s based on a true story. Now, I’m not one to deny that God doesn’t intervene in cases like this, but I’m also not one to deny that God doesn’t intervene through the means of science and the people who practice it, either, and this movie has a very troubling attitude about the doctors who are taking care of the kid in the movie. When they tell the mother that his vitals aren’t looking good in one scene, she rebukes them and tells them that they will no longer tell her these things and will only speak good things over him, and it’s shown to work. Throughout the movie, she’s basically belittling anyone who dares to not have just as much faith as she does that God will save her boy, and the movie’s only attempt to temper this and find fault with her is in how she delivers the message in kind of a rude way, even though her attitude is actually one of the more forgivable things about her behavior. How much better would this movie have been if it had showed her wavering faith, at the very least, or dealing with the reality that she may actually lose her son? These movies are dangerous because it tells people who do lose their loved ones in situations like this, where the doctors truly cannot do more, that they basically did not have enough faith. And that’s why it’s dangerous. But, yes, it’s also just not very good as a movie, either. If you must, Miracles from Heaven is a bit more of a nuanced approach to this kind of story, and it’s much better acted, too.

08.          The Kitchen        8/09/19

Oh, I really wanted to like this one. The promise of seeing Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish – and I guess Elisabeth Moss, too – working together in a serious Scorsese-esque crime thriller (based on the DC Comics graphic novel by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle) was pretty high on my list of things I wanted to see this past year after I caught the trailer before Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Then I rented it. And I was bored to tears. All three actresses are good, don’t get me wrong, but I probably should’ve realized that what I initially saw as promise was going to end up being the movie’s biggest flaw – that apart from the fact that it’s about women, it’s not that much different from other wannabe Scorsese crime thrillers about underdogs who rise up in the ranks.

07.          UglyDolls            5/03/19

UglyDolls is what happens when you let algorithms decide which movies should get made and it all goes horribly wrong. Based on a semi-popular line of toys and featuring the voices of several celebrities, most of whom sing, UglyDolls is here to teach kids that it’s okay to break the mold and look different (even if you’re definitively ugly – I mean, their words, not mine, guys, it’s in the title) because that’s what makes you special, you ugly little person you. Here, the titular dolls find themselves living in a reject bin at a toy company, their existence owed to an automated toy assembly line occasionally making an occasional and inexplicable error that separates them from the more humanlike preppy fashionista babies that ultimately get sent no their way to being adopted by their one special kid who will love them forever.

(I say that the error is inexplicable because the UglyDolls are all blob-shaped, singularly colored beings who seem to share absolutely nothing in common with their more humanoid, clothed counterparts they apparently share an origin with. Wouldn’t an actual UglyDoll with the same shared lineage be more humanlike, only with a few extra eyes where their mouth should be and their plaid vest zipper stitched around their neck or something? Best not to overthink this…)

Of course, the UglyDolls all dream of being adopted by a child one day, too, but they are largely ignorant of the fact that they are rejects, and the pretty dolls don’t seem to take any pity on them, either, except for one named Mandy. Mandy has her own reasons for being so understanding of them – she secretly needs to wear glasses! Totally the same as being so deformed that you resemble something more akin to a cat and can only speak in gibberish and are thus even named Gibberish Cat by your UglyDoll compatriots. Songs are sung about acceptance, and the villain, who secretly wants to destroy the UglyDolls, gets his comeuppance, and… you know, this is getting out of hand. Just… maybe don’t let your kids take moral advice from a movie that equates the word “ugly” with “different,” okay? How about that?

06.          Overcomer         8/23/19

Terrible title aside, Overcomer is on this list not because it is a faith-based film, but because it’s ultimately not very interested or invested in the wellbeing of the character who deserves the most attention – the young black girl at the center of the story who has been raised by her terribly strict grandmother, is a loner, and an asthmatic who nonetheless aspires to be a long distance runner and deals with her problems through kleptomania. It instead finds itself more concerned with the girl’s coach and his efforts to train her (mostly off screen – we hear more about it than we get to see), dealing with the fact that all of his star athletes are moving away ever since a big factory that apparently employed 70% of the population shut down. It’s focused more on his coincidental befriending of a blind homeless man he meets while making the rounds at the hospital to pray for his fellow church members. So concerned is the movie with him that, even when his wife expresses a modicum of irritation at his inattentiveness towards her, she’s the one who apologizes to him for not telling him how wonderful he is more often.

The movie does begin to shift its attention more towards her in the latter half, but that’s only because that’s where the movie needs to have its climactic Come-to-Jesus moment. I joked to my friend during a period where I had to pause it that I’m about ready for a character in one of these movies to ask the question, “What’s a Jesus?” the way that they portray these moments in these kinds of films.

The whole movie is insultingly simpleminded and myopic, and I honestly kinda think it’s unintentionally racist, too, what with the way that every black character in the movie is actually connected to the girl by way of her absentee drug addict parents. It’s up to the white savior coach to go behind her grandma’s back and do something so extraordinarily unfair and wrong for the girl without her input, and yet the movie expects the grandmother to be the one to change. (SPOILER: The blind man is her father, and the grandmother went through hell to raise the girl when he dropped the girl off with her grandmother.) I guess I can’t say that I expected better, but I also can’t say that I expected that, either. Also, the true overcomer… is Jesus. Spoiler alert. I guess He’s the real main character of the story.

05.          Dumbo 3/29/19

A 64 minute sweet little movie about a cute baby elephant who can fly with his big ears and reunites with his mother has been stretched out to 112 minutes of Tim Burton-directed misery in what I can honestly say is quite possibly one of Disney’s worst remakes. At the very least, Maleficent was interestingly awful, and I absolutely hate that movie. Here, nearly every character is either suffering and seems to lack the ability to show any other facial expression except repressed sadness or blank stare or, if they’re the villain, basically twist an absent mustache and pretty much lay out what strangely sounds like the Disney corporation’s own plans for world domination – and right after they finalized their purchase of the formerly known as 20th Century Fox’s assets, too. That’s bold. The film does away with many of the fantastical elements from the animated film, apart from Dumbo’s flying, of course. Gone are the talking animals, including Timothy Mouse, and in are little girls who repeatedly tell their father in a flat voice that, no, they don’t want to be a circus performer and looked at; “I want to be a scientist, daddy, and why don’t you look at how I figured out that the baby elephant flies when he snorts up a feather, daddy, because I am so smart, instead of trying to earn a living after coming back from the war with PTSD and only one of your arms and no wife, huh.”

04.          A Madea Family Funeral              3/01/19

I would call a movie that ultimately ends up being about moving on from bad relationships having its family matriarch (not Madea, but another matriarch) run off happily with freaking Mike Tyson as being “tone deaf,” but, as with pretty much every Tyler Perry movie I have seen, that would just be me repeating myself. Anyone hoping that Madea herself would meet a violent and welcome demise here is going to be sorely disappointed, but Perry has promised that this is the final movie in which the character will appear, so there’s that. I honestly don’t’ think there was any more appropriate way to end this streak of trash movies than to make a movie in which another old lady character tries to sexually assault an erect old man who is dying from a heart attack as a result of having rough sex with the family maid. Death at a Funeral this is not.

03.          Hellboy                4/12/19

So, we get this terrible, edgelord reboot over a concluding film from Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro, huh? This is the darkest timeline… Now, I admittedly haven’t familiarized myself with any of the comic books, so I can’t say for certain whether or not Hellboy 2019 is more faithful to the tone and content of Mike Mignola’s comics than the two earlier films, but if they’re anything like this, I can honestly say that I truly wouldn’t care to. Mignola understandably wanted more control over the new film by comparison, but the resulting film proved to be both a critical and box office bomb. While David Harbour is a respectable replacement for Ron Perlman, neither he nor the rest of the cast can elevate the film above the excess of grotesqueries and a script that seems to throw in a lot of swearing just to make a point of being granted an R-rating rather than flesh it out an engaging plot with likable characters, seemingly taking all the wrong lessons from the likes of Logan, Deadpool, and the then-upcoming Joker. There wasn’t a single moment of this movie that I felt was worth seeing, and the only reason why it’s not any higher on this list is because at least I understood the rationale for making it, unlike with the last two films…

02.          The Haunting of Sharon Tate      4/05/19

Releasing a mere few months before Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, a film that also concerned itself with the fate of Sharon Tate and her group of friends who were brutally murdered by the Manson family in 1969, I can only imagine that the filmmakers behind The Haunting of Sharon Tate were hoping that their more artsy take on the subject matter would ride the hype train leading up to the release of Tarantino’s film and prove to be a more sensitive and lauded portrayal of those events while also perhaps confusing the few people who knew about Tarantino’s upcoming film but… couldn’t quite remember the title correctly, maybe? Or maybe it’s just a coincidence. Regardless, who would’ve thought that the independent arthouse film would actually end up being the more insensitive film of the two?

The film spends much of its time building up to the fateful night, beginning with a run through the property as the victims’ bodies lay dead on the ground before flashing back and showing us the days leading up to the grisly night. Hilary Duff plays Sharon Tate here, who is shown as growing increasingly tired of her freeloading houseguests in between having visions of their deaths. The film largely spins its wheels, reiterating all of this, while Tate is shown to become more and more hysterical with every vision she has. At times, though, there’s a sort of self-serious subtext about reincarnation that finds its way into the characters’ dialogue which becomes a lot more text as the movie goes on.

Yes, spoiler alert for this terrible movie, but I’m going to save you some time here, if you don’t dare to watch it – the characters are actually ghosts, and, much like with Tarantino’s film, they get to play out a sort of psychologically cathartic version of the night of their murder that will finally bring them peace and, presumably, move on into the next part of their existence, whatever that may be. The movie is basically a cheap, trashy horror film with a Sharon Tate murder framing, and the finale is a sort of imagined, boring Home Alone final act, only without all the intentional humor.

It’s supremely tacky stuff, and while the fact that it takes itself so seriously while simultaneously being such an unbelievably shitty movie overall could have made it into a cult classic, the fact that it plays so fast and loose with the events while not having a quantum of the respect that Tarantino’s own version of this story had will likely prevent that from ever happening. There’s really no reason to see it, and there was really no reason to have ever made it. You’ll understand in a moment why I didn’t offer this movie my number one spot as the worst of the year, but let it be said here that if it weren’t for my number one pick and the reasons why I picked it, this would objectively and undoubtedly be crowned the worst movie I saw in 2019.

#1.          Cats       12/20/19

Here’s a first for me: I’m not granting Cats my top spot as worst movie of the year because it’s objectively the worst movie of the year (please see the movie at #2). I’m actually placing this movie at the number one spot not so much for how bad it is as much as for how entertainingly bad it is. For reference, this is something I normally would count in favor of a movie, to a degree, and thus rank it lower on my list of worst as a result. But… Cats? Cats is something special – something so grandiose and so notably, bizarrely awful that it should be counted among the greatest of the bad major releases. This movie gets into your head and will linger with you for weeks. Words like “jellicle” and “Mr. Mistoffelees” will get stuck in your mind and echo periodically and without warning in the background of all your thoughts. People who prefer cats over dogs will suddenly find themselves understanding others’ aversion to our feline friends. You will sit and witness as a parade of prancing and preening furry people who call themselves “cats” introduce themselves to you in a series of twee, repetitive songs that describe the one thing that makes them what they are ad nauseum, and you will be expected to be delighted by the experience.

“All things we’ve seen before on the stage for decades,” you say? Well, people, let me tell you – the stage doesn’t offer up the kind of CGI nightmare that Cats will introduce you to. Technically, it works, but at what cost? Why couldn’t they have just gone with the more imaginative interpretations of the stage production? Because this is a movie, dammit, and they’re going to work their movie magic on it! WITNESS! (Also, the movie notably was actually released with unfinished effects that were patched in within a few days, so those who saw it early on were apparently treated to visual glitches like disappearing textures and fur. If only I were so lucky to have been able to make it to those showings! I could’ve used a distraction. One can only hope that this Unfinished Cut makes its way to the home release.)

The technical measures are also put to great use in augmenting some of the most wince-inducing but notably impressive performances of some very talented people, all doing their best to imitate cat posturing and behaviors and making outright fools of themselves. It’s glorious and repugnant all at once – though, sometimes one more so than the other, as is the case with James Corden’s gluttonous Bustopher Jones. Who wants to see Sir Ian McKellen debase himself by lapping up milk from a saucer and then go on to recite poetry to an audience of rapturous cat people as a furry Dame Judi Dench watches from her perch approvingly?

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a movie quite like this in the theatre before, a movie so alarmingly unaware of how off-putting and indescribably bizarre it truly is. I have never squirmed so much from a movie actively making me uncomfortable with nearly every choice it makes. It’s a true site to behold, one that you will never forget and wish you could afterward, but also kinda, definitely need to see to believe. It’s insufferable, uncomfortable… and you just might love it?

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