Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Worst Movies Of 2016

Of all the dozens of films I watched in 2016, these were the bottom dozen.  Some outright terrible, a few more ‘really disappointing’ than bad due to higher expectations, but all in all, twelve movies you can feel safe in avoiding for the rest of your life.

12. Batman vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice….As I wrote last March, the last hour or so of this movie is a legitimately entertaining battle, culminating in the cool moment of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman all teaming up to take on Doomsday.  “But Mark,” you might ask, “if you enjoyed a whole hour of the movie, why does it still make your bottom 12?”  Because, hypothetical strawman question-asker, everything before that last hour was complete and total garbage.

11. Central Intelligence….Perhaps an important moment in cinema history, as it could mark the dual moment that both Kevin Hart and the Rock’s acts both started wearing thin at the same time.

10. Jason Bourne….In a way I feel like this film should be higher (lower?) on the list since it’s certainly the most pointless movie of 2016.  I think humanity as a whole had comfortably moved on from the Bourne franchise, with even the returns of Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass not enough to rouse much interest.  This was less a movie than it was a set of Jason Bourne madlibs.  “Bourne gets into a big chase in LAS VEGAS.  The word ‘Treadstone’ is mentioned SEVENTY-ONE times.”
9. I Saw The Light….Tom Hiddleston plays Hank Williams in a retread of every musical biopic you’ve ever seen.  Get this, as Hank becomes more famous, he starts to lose sight of his family!  And he develops a bad drinking problem!  This is completely unexplored territory!  I mean come on, “Walk Hard” already mocked all these cliches into the ground ten years ago.  All this was missing was a scene where Hank has a dream about his brother being cut in half.  It’s amazing that Hiddleston dated Taylor Swift and that somehow was only the second-most joyless country music-related experience of his year.

8. Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates….Make no mistake, this is a very bad movie.  It does, however, have one scene that admittedly made me laugh, involving Kumail Nanjiani as a very thorough masseur.  I went to see Nanjiani perform a standup show a few months ago and, during his audience Q&A section, I almost considered asking him about this scene.  I ultimately decided against it for multiple reasons, including the fact that I didn’t want to admit to a crowded auditorium that I’d actually seen this film.

7. London Has Fallen….Your typical brainless action movie, made all the more brainless by the fact that the heroes win just about the most pyrrhic victory possible.  It’s one of those “well, the terrorists caused untold damage and killed several world leaders in an event that surely caused incalculable global political damage, but the main good guys survived, so yay, happy ending?!” types of movies.  If you’re upset at me for more or less spoiling the plot of London Has Fallen for you, then you need to get out more.

6. Masterminds….This one only ranks sixth on the master list, but #1 in the sub-category of Completely Unfunny Comedy Starring The Most Comic Actors Who Mark Usually Finds Hilarious.  The general rule of thumb for Zach Galifianakis is that he’s funny in any role aside from the “emasculated southern man” character that he insists on shoehorning into basically everything he does.
5. It’s Only The End Of The World….Speaking of actors I like in bad movies, this one has Marion “Mark’s Favourite Actor” Cotillard and it’s STILL in the bottom five.  This film seems like it’s always a hair away from becoming a spoof of a family melodrama where everyone is either openly yelling at each other or having emotionally-loaded conversations, except no, it’s actually just a family melodrama where everyone is either openly yelling at each other or having emotionally-loaded conversations.  Virtually the entire film is shot in closeups or medium closeups, to boot, since Xavier Dolan is a lousy director wants to make things as uncomfortable as possible for the audience. 

4. Demolition….With a nod to Peter Griffin’s review/dismissal of The Godfather, ”it insists upon itself” is easily the Family Guy line I use the most often in day-to-day life.  It is also the subject of another sub-category, the “Insists Upon Itself” award for movie that is way too impressed with its own pretensions.  I’m shocked that IOTEOTW didn’t take this award since Xavier Dolan probably has “Insists Upon Itself” tattooed across his chest, but Dolan didn’t reckon on a Jake Gyllenhaal movie where Jake mourns his dead wife by breaking things and writing customer complaint letters about a vending machine.  I was bitterly disappointed that this wasn’t a biopic about the old WWF tag team champions, with Gyllenhaal playing Ax and Naomi Watts playing Smash.

3. Suicide Squad….Whereas the studio heads behind the DC Comics movie universe can’t help micro-managing films about Batman and Superman, the thought was maybe they’d leave the lower-tier characters of the Suicide Squad alone and actually let the movie be good?  Oh, what a naive thought that was.  David Ayer has made good films before (Fury, End Of Watch) but he should be embarrassed for having directed such a sloppy movie.  From the editing to the terrible acting* to the incoherent story, this was honestly one of most amateurish movies I’ve ever seen.  It’s very easy to pile on the nonstop dreadfulness that is the DC Comics movie universe, but remember this, I was a childhood comic book nerd.  I *want* these movies to be good.  Why does DC insist on making this so hard?   

* = Margot Robbie seems to have escaped criticism but I include her in the ‘terrible acting’ category as well.  I’m not sure what character she was playing, but it wasn’t Harley Quinn.

2. Dirty Grandpa….In case you thought “Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates” was going to be the only raunchy comedy on this list starring Zac Efron and Aubrey Plaza, think again.  This is less a comedy than it is humanity crying for help.  This film is the alpha and the omega of the “Anything For A Paycheque” era of Robert De Niro’s career.  The biggest laugh I got from this movie was my buddy Dave telling me he watched it with his parents. 

1. The Bronze….I thought about ranking this as the #3 movie just for the “Bronze in third place” joke but I can’t help but think that Dirty Grandpa and Suicide Squad are slightly better movies.  Just look at that sentence: “Dirty Grandpa and Suicide Squad are slightly better movies.”  I never thought I’d write such a thing but, here we are.

This might be the least-known entry on the list, so here’s a recap of the premise.  Imagine if Kerri Strug was a terrible person and had been leaching off her fame for the last 20 years.  End premise.  This is thin gruel for satire, and The Bronze manages to make the least of it.  It’s one of those jokeless comedies that is so convinced that its premise is so inherently funny that it doesn’t feel the need to stoop to actually getting laughs.  It’s 90 minutes of Melissa Rauch acting like the worst person on earth before a (spoiler alert) Mr. Burns-style change of heart has her back in everyone’s good graces by the movie’s end.

Acting awards!

Worst Actor: Robert De Niro, Dirty Grandpa
Worst Actress: Melissa Rauch, The Bronze
Worst Supporting Actress: Nathalie Baye/It’s Only The End Of The World
Worst Supporting Actor: Jesse Eisenberg/Batman vs. Superman
Worst Supporting Actor: Jesse Eisenberg/Batman vs. Superman…this wasn’t a mistaken duplicate, I just think Eisenberg was so bad that he deserves two awards.

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