If you’ve ever read my site, or any other movie review site, you can see the thick level of cynicism that engulfs movie reviews. The thing is, none of us (critics/part-time reviewers/bloggers) hate movies. We get paid little-to-nothing (or nothing) to write approximately 400 words when deconstructing every movie in hopes of finding those movies that challenge us or teach us about the rhythm of filmmaking.
My apathy generally arrives as I write reviews for movies that are just okay, which is the overwhelming majority. I like okay movies, but seeing nearly 80 a year can make your creativity more than a little stagnant. Vanilla movie reviews are not fun to write. The joy enters when I’m passionate, one way or another, about cheesy flicks or quality film.
So, forgive me if I put too much passion into the movies I hated the most in 2015. I sadly put in far too much work to create this specific list. In the past few weeks, I’ve purposely put myself through the alleged worst movies of the year. As I write this list, I have Johnny Depp’s misfire Mortdecai playing in the background.
There’s little reason to explain the subjectiveness of this worst list. These 10 flicks may not even be technically the worst, they’re just the most painful, boredom-inducing, eye-rolling experiences I had with cinema this year. So let’s begin.
10 – Avengers: Age of Ultron
My original review: “Age of Ultron feels like a movie created by committee. It takes everything that has ever worked in Marvel movies and multiplies it by seven. The outward fanboy/girl/person may squeal in delight at Hulk running through swarms of goons, but a deep inner voice will quietly say “Obligatory.”
Why it deserves to be on this list: You can almost sense the exhaustion Joss Whedon felt with his return to the Avengers. He was forced to insert so much content to prepare for future installments, but in 2 1/2 hours. That leads to awkward scenes of Thor in a magic pool, Black Widow being sterile and a comedic villain who wants to use a meteor to destroy Earth. It was unnecessary in every way. One of my big problems is that every character in the Marvel universe speaks with Tony Stark’s voice. The formula for Marvel is clear – big action scene with constant jokes injected throughout. The humor helps the pace, but shows the flaws in the formula.
9 – The Good Dinosaur
My original review: “Worse than Cars 2. Quite an accomplishment.”
Why it deserves to be on the list: The Good Dinosaur is Pixar’s first real disaster. It was originally set for release for November 2013, then pushed back to May 2014, and finally November 2015. Apparently, nothing was working well for the first version of the movie. The original voice cast, composed of Neil Patrick Harris, Bill Hader and Frances McDormand, among others, was cut, as was the director. In a quick turnaround, they hired a new director and cast and rewrote the movie. The end result was a western…for kids. Because kids love slow-moving westerns? Pixar is lucky they scheduled this after their “return-to-form movie” Inside Out. They once again have the street cred that will be burned off with this and more Pixar sequels.
8 – Hot Pursuit
My original review: Insert Sofia Vergara scream here…
Why it deserves to be on the list: Reese Witherspoon was so good in last year’s Wild. I saw that as her comeback movie and couldn’t wait to see what she did next. Sadly, her next project was Hot Pursuit, a buddy comedy vehicle with Sofia Vergara. It’s meant to be similar to Midnight Run, except there is zero chemistry between the two leads. Witherspoon has comedic chops, but in Hot Pursuit, she showed up for the paycheck. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Hot Pursuit was made by the Farrelly Brothers in the early ’00s (when they made consistent garbage) and delayed until now.
7 – 50 Shades of Grey
My original review: “To everyone who fears that this movie will ruin society as we know it, please stop worrying. Yes, I know that this is a very popular book with a certain crowd. It will also be a successful movie this weekend. Yet, it is a total bomb that will only be taken seriously in a bizarro world. People may be curious about the phenomenon, but they’ll walk out of this flick feeling like they wasted $10.”
Why it deserves to be on the list: The fact that this movie/book inspires any type of cultural conversation is annoying. This isn’t zeitgeist, it’s abusive behavior. Obviously, I didn’t expect much from fan fiction based on the Twilight books, but there was no attempt to make these characters anything more than robotic. Somehow, this movie about sexual deviancy manages to make sex seem boring.
6 – Chappie
My original review: “If Chappie was meant to say anything deeper, it’s that science is easy. You can recreate life using 12 Playstation 4s. Chappie could follow last year’s Lucy if you ever care to have a dumb science marathon.”
Why it deserves to be on the list: Director Neil Blomkamp is sure squandering any equity he earned with District 9. He has proven to be a one-trick pony that can’t quite get out of the South African ghettos, yet this time he brings his friends along. A South African rap group, Die Antwoord, are the two main stars and they play themselves. Johnny 5 was alive. Chappie is dead on arrival.
5 – Jupiter Ascending
My original review: “I wish that someone had rocket boots to save me from this enjoyable (for all the wrong reasons) trainwreck. The story might be original, but originality does not equal quality.”
Why it deserves to be on the list: Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is the reincarnated mother of three spoiled space brats. They try to kill her/kidnap her/marry her, but she is saved by half man/half dog Channing Tatum, who rides around on rocket boots. The Wachowskis may have changed action movies once upon a time with The Matrix, but now they’re drinking their own psycho-babble Kool-Aid and making movies that only they want to see.
4 – Fantastic Four
My original review: “Fantastic Four is a giant missed opportunity that should have been better. The actors showed up. The costume designers and effects guys did a decent job, but director Josh Trank and the writers had no idea what to do with it.”
Why it deserves to be on the list: This selection is obvious. No other movie this year has received such hate, both before and after its release. We see now that it was doomed to fail. Fox only made the movie to keep the worthless rights. The thing about this movie is that I didn’t hate it halfway through. I was bored, but it seemed average. But when the “One Year Later” screen comes up, it becomes a dumpster (full of kittens) fire. There’s an evident change from director’s vision to the studio wrap-up that made this a rushed, uninspired mess.
3 – Hot Tub Time Machine 2
My original review: “They made a second one???”
Why it deserves to be on the list: Okay, I’ll admit that I watched this trainwreck knowing that it would make my worst list. In that way, it lived up/down to my expectations and then some. John Cusack rightly chose not to star in this sequel to the already terrible movie. Instead, we have three very unfunny D-listers (sorry Rob Cordry) making poop and sex jokes for 93 excruciating minutes.
2 – Entourage
My original review: “More deplorable than The Human Centipede.”
Why it deserves to be on the list: Writer/Director Doug Ellin must have not finished his story on the mediocre Entourage series, because he felt compelled to bring it to the big screen. All that was accomplished was seeing a group of D-bags loving life and enjoying amazing success just when you think everything will go wrong. It relies on cameos, which don’t make for a good movie. Also, it had about 87 subplots that were never resolved, just so in the end, the Bros can let you know that “It’s all good, bro!” I held on to my hate for Entourage for months and was sure that it would take the number one spot. Then I saw the following movie…
1 – Sisters
My original review: “If you like this movie, please don’t tell me. I want to value our relationship.”
Why it deserves to be on the list: Tiny Fey and Amy Poehler are funny women. Yet, somehow when they are on the big screen together they create a toxic mix of unwatchable tripe. Sisters feels like a movie that they made up on the spot. Most of the movie takes place at a big high school-esque party. Seriously, 3/4 of this flick is made up of one joke. That joke is basically, hey remember American Pie? What if it starred two menopausal women???
The pitch meeting for Sisters basically went like this –
Producer 1: “Hey, we need a solid comedy to end the year.”
Producer 2 (Tina Fey): “I’ve got a great idea! What if we get the unstoppable comedy pairing of Poehler and Fey!?”
Producer 1: “Okay, I’ll bite. What’s the story..?”
Producer 2: “No story necessary. It’s Tina Fey and Amy Poehler…and they’re sisters!”
Producer 1: “What should we call it?”
Producer 2: “Tina Fey and Amy Poehler!”
Producer 1: “A little too on the nose. How’bout Sisters?”
Producer 2: “Generic titles work for me! Just as long as Amy and I….mean Tina Fey…get to wow audiences with their classic humor and banter.”
Producer 1: “I’ll greenlight it, but I’ll release it the same day as Star Wars so no one notices it.”
To finish, I’ll paraphrase what my friend said immediately after the screening.
To be clear, that wasn’t just a failure of a movie. It was a failure of us as human beings – doing something, creating something, being something. It was an absolute atrocity. I seriously don’t think I’m capable of getting away from it fast enough. Excuse me while I carve out my eyes.