Monday, February 22, 2016

The Worst Movies Of 2015

Since my “favourite scenes” list is one of the Markademy Awards’ most treasured highlights, it only makes that my near-annual post of the year’s worst films also features a “least favourite scene.”  This year, the choice was beyond obvious — the excruciatingly unfunny scene from Trainwreck that featured the motley true of Matthew Broderick, Chris Evert and Marv Albert being recruited by LeBron James to give Bill Hader some love advice.  Where do I begin with this horrifying scene.  Evert looks ashamed to be there.  Albert couldn’t have been less cliched in spoofing his catchphrases.  Broderick continued his streak of no longer being able to hide the fact that he’s seemingly a creep in real life.  As always, this was a Judd Apatow film that was a good 20 minutes longer than it had to be, and if Apatow was looking to trim some fat, this awful scene should’ve been the first cut in the editing room.

Anyway, with the worst scene decided, onto the list proper!  This is a list of the year’s worst movies as culled from everything I actually saw, and we run the gamut here from movies that were bad by dint of being disappointing to bad by dint of simply being bad.  To re-use my criteria from last year’s post…

See, 'disappointing' isn't the worst thing in the world for me.  I'm generally positive going into every movie I see, yet while I may expect something great and only get something good (or, even worse, meh), that's not necessarily enough to make my list.  I'm highlighting the movies that either were arrogantly striving for excellence or, even worse, assuming greatness and then getting smacked down like Icarus.  I'm highlighting the movies that aimed low and didn't even hit that benchmark.  I'm highlighting the movies that drown in their own pretension and create the stereotype of "artsy-fartsy films that Mark likes."  This is the true lowest of the low.  A piece of crap like Expendables 3 might waste my time but I knew what I was getting going into it.  These stinkers managed to either disappoint to a GREAT extent, or even sunk beneath my already-low expectations.”

So there you have it.  Let’s see what made this year’s anti-cut…

Dishonourable mention at #11: Sicario.  In the tradition of “Noah” from last year, here’s a poor movie that had a few interesting things going for it but was overall just a misfire.  Without getting too deep into spoiler territory, the problem with having a film where the whole message is “this is ultimately meaningless” is that unless you put a lot of style into the telling, the audience can’t help but feel the whole thing was pretty damn meaningless.  At some point, I feel the filmmakers should’ve just realized that Del Toro’s character was the only interesting part of the whole proceedings and just made the entire thing about him.  This is kind of a controversial pick on my part since “Sicario” drew a lot of critical praise but in my opinion, it was a very empty movie.  Maybe I needed one more closeup of those rubber wristbands, since otherwise, I wouldn’t have gotten it — thanks for assuming I’m an idiot, movie.

Now, onto the bottom ten….

10. Tomorrowland: George “Miscast as an Old Grump” Clooney and a discount-store version of Jennifer Lawrence try to salvage a thoroughly weird movie that attempts to add pathos to (essentially) a theme park attraction.  It’s no Pirates of the Caribbean, that’s for sure.  Brad Bird has made about a dozen things that I’ve loved so this was a real disappointment on everyone’s part.

9. The Overnight: A sex comedy that was neither sexy or funny, which is a bit of a problem.

8. The Danish Girl: I get the feeling that everyone involved in this film felt very earnest about making a true statement in support of the transgender or cisgender community, and I almost feel like excusing the final product since the intentions were well-meaning.  Then again…well, you know what they say the road to hell is paved with.  Miss Piggy is an actual pig and is still less ham-handed than this film.  Alicia Vikander does her best to save the material and she is probably technically deserving of her Oscar nomination, despite the MASSIVE CATEGORY FRAUD of it being nominated as a ‘supporting’ performance when it is an outright lead.  Eddie Redmayne, on the other hand, was 100 percent undeserving of a Best Actor nomination, to the point that I’m wondering what’s up with this guy.  Great in Theory Of Everything and Les Miserables, downright awful here and in My Week With Marilyn….is Redmayne a Jekyll-and-Hyde kind of actor?  Find some consistency here, lad.

7. Chappie: Neill Blomkamp is turning into the band whose first record you really liked, until you realize that all of the songs sound kind of alike.  Then the songs on the next couple of records also sound alike except increasingly worse.

6. Bridge Of Spies: HOW is this movie so bad?  This was the real disappointment of the bunch, as I’m aghast that a Steven Spielberg film (!) co-written by the Coen Brothers (!!) and starring Tom Hanks could be so stupefyingly dull.  Even Spielberg’s poorer films have a certain energy to them but this one is just DOA.  There’s no suspense (for anyone who knows the actual story of the U-2 crash), there’s no intrigue and everything is just stultifying.  Bridge Of Spies joins the proud tradition of Benjamin Button and Tree Of Life as Best Picture nominees that earned a more fitting slot on my ‘Worst Movies’ list.

5. Z For Zachariah: Here’s another snoozer, set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where apparently humanity was doomed by everything moving at a snail’s pace.  I’ll sound like SNL’s Jebidiah Atkinson with this line but screw it…..Z for Zachariah?  More like Zzzzzzzz for Zachariah!

4. Ted 2: If the first Ted movie seemed like it was from the first four seasons of Family Guy, Ted 2 seemed like it was from a deleted scene from something in Family Guy’s 10th or 11th season.  Aside from Michael Dorn’s role/Comic-Con costume and the genuinely amusing Liam Neeson cameo, this one was garbage.

3. Taken 3: Speaking of Liam Neeson and garbage in the same sentence….I mean, nothing was even TAKEN here!  The premise imploded in on itself!  Why not just have Forest Whitaker wear a t-shirt that says “Phoning It In” written on it?  (Actually, Whitaker spent literally half this movie on the phone, so maybe it was a subtle dig.)  The first two Taken movies were goofy fun but this was a franchise-ender right here.

2. Hot Tub Time Machine 2: “Mark, did you really expect HTTM 2 to be good whatsoever?”  To be frank, no.  But I was figuring it would just be as harmlessly dumb as the original, not one of the most mean-spiritedly unfunny movies I’ve ever seen.  There were waaaaay too many actors I like in this movie, which made it all the more depressing.  I thought Scott Aukerman ripping on the movie to Adam Scott’s face during their U2 podcasts was just jokey fun, but no, Aukerman was warning us the whole time.  Also, reverse-standing ovation to Adam Scott for appearing in two movies on this godforsaken list.  I think he and Neeson are the only ones who manage that dubious feat.

1. A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence: Thanks to my film degree, I’m often forced to defend “artsy” movies against people (i.e. my friends) who often see them as self-indulgent claptrap.  And sometimes, they’re completely right.  APSOABROE is such a film, beginning with its stupid title and going downhill from there.  If you’ve never seen or heard of this film, here’s the idea — it’s a Swedish film made of a series of vignettes set in various repeating locales and usually based around some theme of loneliness or alienation.  In theory, some of these are supposed to be amusing in a macabre sort of way.  In practice, after 20 minutes I was ready to walk out and after 40 minutes, I was planning to sue the director.

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