Fortunately, my travels save me from a lot of the worst movies dumped in January and September. I’m sure I’ll see some of them on HBO and want to revise this list, but I can only go by what I’ve seen. However, look for Queen of the Desert and The Witch on next year’s Worst Movies of 2016. I’m in the minority on The Witch but I’m in the minority on some of these too.
20. The Night Before – Didn’t make me laugh. Except for Michael Shannon. He was great.
19. Fifty Shades of Grey – It’s as ridiculous and disrespectful to BDSM as I’d been led to believe, but given the source material it’s kind of a miracle the movie makes any sense at all.
18. The Gift – The Gift lost me early on when the main character was such an aggressive A-hole. But, I could take a parable about A-holes being A-holes and getting their comeuppance. I was boring, but I understood it. The “twist” is just reprehensible, that storytellers would not realize the moral implications on them are far greater than anything it may add to the story. Even Gaspar Noe would say, “Not cool, guys.”
17. Fantastic Four – I think it’s nice that some people are looking for merit in the compromised vision of Josh Trank. I’m usually that guy, but I can’t be for Fantastic Four. It is truly a misguided mess from the initial concept, and the remnants of the film validate that. There’s no shred of a misunderstood masterpiece here, but it’s also too forgettable to rank any higher on the list.
16. Entourage – It’s not just the worst episode of Entourage. It’s the worst four episodes of Entourage.
15. Kingsman: The Secret Service – Enough has been written about the church scene to articulate the debate on both sides. What bothers me more about Kingsman is the idea that this is presumably aimed at me. I love action movies, spy movies and over the top absurdity. But the tone assumes I’m complicit in creative decisions of which I don’t approve. Kingsman doesn’t understand my love of action at all.
14. The Gunman – But at least Kingsman had a little more going on than this bore of a generic action movie.
13. Lila & Eve – The sad thing is Viola Davis, Jennifer Lopez and Charles Stone III thought this was their respectable Sundance drama. It blows it on even being a simple female Death Wish. Davis and Lopez play support group vigilantes but just mope around until plot twists that don’t work.
11. Pan – I probably liked the parts everyone else hated. The Baz Luhrmann-y contemporary music and indiscriminate murder of child extras actually gave it some edge. The lazy backstory turning Peter Pan into every other Hollywood hero journey was more offensive.
10. The Duff – I realize I’m not this movie’s target audience, but I don’t think tweens are either. It’s already behind on social media and mean girls, and I suspect the kids these days would resent that.
9. Aloft – The faith healing falconer movie of the year.
8. Tomorrowland – Instead of a movie about how awesome Tomorrowland is, how about a Nazi final solution fantasy where we explain everything for over two hours? Also, just a reminder, Tomorrowland is not an original movie.
7. The Nightmare – Horribly cheesy re-enactments to try to convince us that the visions people afflicted by sleep paralysis see are real. I was willing to go with them until the re-enactments.
6. The Hive – This could have escaped as just another undistributed first timer that didn’t work, but Nerdist decided to put it out so it’s legit now. The cast is good but it’s derivative of other amnesia and mind control movies, yet seems to believe it’s original. The shakycam combined with flickering strobe light just makes it impossible to watch. There is one big idea in The Hive but the film fails to support it.
5. Taxi Tehran – It’s an inspiration that Iranian director Jafar Panahi is still trying to make movies when the government has banned him from it. It only counts if they’re good movies though. Here, he puts a Taxicab Confessions camera in his cab and makes a pseudo-documentary, one in which it seems frustratingly pre-planned with characters playing to the camera. The pretense adds aggravation to otherwise dull proceedings.
4. Ricki and the Flash – Wow, here’s a whole lot of talent that can’t come together to make something entertaining. I guess it’s fun to hear Meryl Streep and Rick Springfield play covers of popular songs, but it’s a narrative mess with outdated humor and not a single redeemable character.
3. Hot Pursuit – I would have assumed this was one of Reese Witherspoon’s “one for them” movies, but it’s not. At least she says it was developed in house and it’s exactly the movie she wanted to make. So why does it undermine all the good will and strength Witherspoon’s brought to comedic characters before? It’s just so sloppy it’s offensive that they thought they could get away with it.
2. Danny Collins – Not a good year for celebrities playing rock stars. Pacino plays a sellout rock star looking for some original inspiration, in a movie that sells out its own characters with hackneyed cliches. When Danny Collins (Pacino) says goodbye and he left something behind in the room, I thought he took an upper decker in the toilet. That joke is the only good thing to come out of Danny Collins.
1. Ant-Man – Ant-Man is the worst of studio notes manifested as live-action. I’m not any kind of loyalist, though I suspect Edgar Wright’s version wouldn’t have constant exposition for the first 90 minutes, but I’ll evaluate the movie that was made. If you love Ant-Man, why would you want to be explained how Ant-Man works for an entire movie? And if you’ve never read Ant-Man comics, why would you want to be explained how Ant-Man works for an entire movie? You came to see Paul Rudd shrink. And the idea that talking fast = humor, enough. Tell actual jokes. I still can’t believe the only death that will actually stick in a Marvel movie is a damn ant. For now at least. You mark my words, that ant will be back in Ant-Man and the Wasp.