The thing about bad movies is how rarely they stick with you, how utterly forgettable they are.
Anybody remember “Clown Town,” “Max Steel,” “Incarnate,” or the last ever “Divergent” theatrical film? Me either.
“Run the Tide?” Yeah, that one starred Taylor Lautner.
I recall the grim deja vu of ” The People Garden,” an utter bust of a thriller set in Japan’s spooky “suicide forest.” But that’s because I remember “The Forest,” a better-budgeted horror film using that same setting and a similar story and starring Natalie Dormer. This one had…Pamela Anderson, and only in a glorified cameo.
Was the disappointing (yet box office dominating) “Suicide Squad” one of the worst pictures of the year? Close. But so is “Why Him?”, which along with “The Infiltrator” finally ends the great run Bryan Cranston has had in choices of projects, and successes with those choices. “Collateral Beauty” should be the end of Will Smith’s Oscar dreams.
Others could name “Passengers” one of the worst of the year and I’d resist the urge to argue.
We had sequels nobody wanted — “Bridget Jones,” “Blair Witch,” “Inferno,” etc. We had bio-pics that seriously let down Hank Williams, Hemingway and others.
Actually, I could build a Worst Ten list out of animated awfulness and bad video game adaptations alone, as you will see below.
But let’s see what stands out in a year with its share of misguided movie moments.
“Independence Day: Resurgence”reminds me of how much I love just love Jeff Goldblum. But even the Great Goldblum should know “you can’t go home again.” One of those sequels nobody begged for, this inane aliens-invade adventure was just sad, sloppy sci-fi all the way round.
“Man Down” is, as the ads say, “Another Debacle by Dito Montiel.” The cut-rate Scorsese landed Shia LaBeouf, Kate Mara and Gary Oldman for this all-in-his-head dystopian fantasy about a combat vet (Shia) who imagines one last “World War Z” styled mission to “save” his wife and son. Laughably bad on every level.
“Keeping Up with the Joneses” had the worst script of any Hollywood-budgeted action comedy of the year, a disastrously ill-conceived packaging of Zach Galafianakis and Isla Fisher as suburbanites whose new neighbors turn out to be “Mad Man” Jon Hamm and “Wonder Woman” but never funny Gal Gadot. The New Yorker endorsed this tripe, the fools.
“The Do-Over” can be appreciated for being proof positive that Adam Sandler’s big screen career is over. Because this, like his other recent “projects,” went straight to Netflix. Co-starring his pal, David Spade and with a plot that was worn out before either of them was born, this is some sort of nadir for one and all.
“The Wild Life/The Angry Birds Movie/Sing!/Ice Age: Collision Course” all remind us that they won’t be contenders for the Best Animated Feature Film Academy Award. I’m guessing “The Secret Life of Pets” and “Finding Dory” and “Storks” and “Trolls” and “Sing” won’t be in contention either. It was a record year for big screen cartoons, and almost all of them were bad to middling. It’s become one of the few reliable places a studio can put its money, these days. Parents are still taking kids to cartoons, even at 3D prices. So every half-baked idea and cut-rate start-up can get their film financed and onto the screen. But “Kubo and the Two Strings,” “Zootopia” and “Moana” should be vying for the Oscar, with “Sausage Party” the odd-man out, so it’s not all bad news.
“Dirty Grandpa” pairs up the legend Robert DeNiro and the aging but still callow Zac Efron for an R-rated farce about a geezer who cons his about-to-be-married grandson into driving him to Florida for Spring Break. Icky, seriously unfunny, even with Aubrey Plaza taking her best shot at playing one more man-eater.
“Cafe Society” is the off-putting Jesse Eisenberg film/performance that stuck with me this year. Not his nattering nabob Lex Luthor turn in the widely-mocked “Batman v. Superman” mashup. Woody Allen gets a pass from most critics, and has been getting that pass for years. The odd bright spot (“Midnight in Paris”) leads to years of carry-over good vibes and good reviews for whatever pap the old man cranks out afterwards. This period piece “comedy” is a doddering farce, a laugh-starved/love-lorn dog, distasteful, stagy, with never-been-worse turns by Kristen Stewart and this year’s Allen alter ego, Eisenberg.
“Warcraft/Assassin’s Creed/Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XXIV” should be the final nails in the coffin of “Let’s make this hit, branded video game into a movie.” They never hire a good screenwriter, never figure out a story to take us beyond first-person shooter/slayer on a quest, and every actor involved winds up embarrassed. Worst of all, movie reviewers endure endless waves of, “Hey, you can’t say that about my favorite game!” from fanboys and girls, who have to be reminded that this is a movie — the rules are different.
“Nine Lives” is the worst non-animated kids’ movie of 2016, featuring Kevin Spacey, Christopher Walken, Jennifer Garner and Cheryl Hines in the story of a callous dad who has to switch bodies with a cat to learn his lesson. Spacey as a cat?
“My Dead Boyfriend” lets Heather Graham, Gina Gershon and John Corbett try to pretend that the first 25 years of their careers never happened. Especially Graham, who has played endless variations of this sexy-cute and quick to strip bimbo ever since “Boogie Nights” and “Bowfinger.” The DVD comes with a “may cause potentially injurious eye-rolling” warning.