There’s a dark side to movie blogging/podcasting that they don’t tell you about in Fake Movie Podcasting School: even in great movie years like 2015, there are still a lot of bad movies and you have to see some of them. Now, let’s start off by saying that I’m pretty good at avoiding really bad movies. We’re in an era of media saturation where it is very difficult to not know anything about a movie that opens in wide release. So I’m rarely caught off guard by a movie that just comes out of nowhere to completely suck the life out of me. As such, I mercifully avoided cinematic classics such as Mortdecai, The Cobbler, Victor Frankenstein, Jem and the Holograms, The Boy Next Door, Hot Pursuit, Rock the Kasbah, 50 Shades of Grey, and most importantly, Paul Blart 2 this year and thank the Lord, because that right there would be a who’s who of indescribably bad films from 2015. Nevertheless, if you see 100 films in a given year, you’re going to get involved with some stinkers and for all of its many merits, boy did 2015 have some stinkers. Here are the ten that stuck out the most for me.
DISHONORABLE MENTION: Trumbo (Box Office Total: $7.3M, 70%)
To be fair, Trumbo is not nearly as bad as nearly as bad as the rest of the films on this list and I probably could swap it out for a handful of others that may, in fact, be worse. I have Trumbo as a “C” and there’s a big difference between a “C” movie and a “D” movie in my book; it takes a lot to earn a sub-C grade from me. This movie deserves a mention here, however, because it’s gotten good reviews and even taken up a healthy amount of award chatter (including an Oscar nomination for its star) in spite of the fact that it’s basically a Hallmark Channel movie with a good cast. The script is a mess, the preachy-ness would seem heavy handed coming from a TV evangelist, and almost all of the acting outside of Cranston is cringe-worthy. It’s just a bad movie. Maybe not a terrible movie, maybe not a “worst of the year” movie, but a bad movie nonetheless and for some reason, we’ve decided to give it a pass. Well, the buck stops here for all six of you who’re reading this post.
10. Get Hard/Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (Box Office Totals: $90.4M/$12.3M, Rotten Tomatoes Scores: 29%/14%)
In 2009, The Hangover reinvigorated the R-rated comedy with a huge take at the box office and a ton of respect from critics. We are still paying the price for that success (as if two poorly received Hangover sequels weren’t enough). 2015 was rife with poorly conceived, even more poorly executed raunch-coms that felt tired and unnecessary (Ted 2 and Vacation also spring to mind). But for me, Get Hard and HTTM2 were the real “winners” of this malaise. Both are unfunny, horribly offensive, and populated by too many gross out “jokes” that seem beneath everyone involved. I need more from everyone involved in both of these movies. Except Kevin Hart. Less Kevin Hart. ALWAYS less Kevin Hart.
9. Pan (Box Office Total: $35.1M, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 26%)
I wasn’t excited about Pan (and judging by its box office take and almost immediate disappearance from theaters, neither were any of you) but I expected it to be at least decent. I was so far off. This is the most recent film on this list so its particular awfulness is still fresh on my mind. There really isn’t anything positive I can say. Pan is unnecessary, ugly, poorly acted (you’re better than this, Hugh Jackman), and ill-conceived. Hook is a divisive film and it seems like the entire pitch for Pan was, “What if we made Hook thoroughly unwatchable?” Success!
8. Aloha (Box Office Total: $21.1M, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 20%)
This one actually, physically hurts me. Cameron Crowe is one of my three favorite filmmakers of all time and he has proven that he is capable of creating not just a good film, but a total masterpiece. Unfortunately, he’s also now proven that he’s capable of creating a total piece of garbage. The signs were there that Aloha was a major misfire: the trailer was awful, the movie got pushed back multiple times, Sony basically tried to bury it, etc. But I just couldn’t bring myself to accept that Crowe, with a cast that includes Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, and Bill Murray could make a terrible movie…until about 10 minutes into the movie when I started crying and tearing my clothes in anger. And if we’re being honest, the first 10 minutes might be the best part of the whole movie. There’s a major subplot involving a satellite that neither makes sense nor even begins to fit in the fabric of the narrative. Aloha is, point blank, a disaster that I may never personally recover from.
7. Chappie (Box Office Total: $31.6M, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 31%)
Coming off of the smashing success of 2009’s District 9, Neill Blomkamp could’ve had his pick of just about any sci-fi project he wanted (including the Alien spinoff movie that is perpetually on again, off again). Then Elysium was a huge disappointment in 2013 and now we’re down to Chappie, one of the most singularly confusing big budget films I’ve ever encountered. What should’ve just been a Short Circuit remake instead turns into a Die Antwoord music video staring an obnoxious, ridiculously hokey, blinged-out robot with attitude. Nothing about Chappie makes even a lick of sense.
6. Blackhat (Box Office Total: $8M, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 32%)
“From the year that brought you Aloha comes another really depressingly bad movie from a director you love!” Michael Mann has made some INCREDIBLE films in his career, not the least of which is Heat, one of my ten or 12 favorite movies of all time. Somehow he’s now also responsible for Blackhat, a cyber-thriller that is light on both the “cyber” and “thriller” aspects of that combination and somehow makes Chris Hemsworth dull. I can forgive a storied director dropping a flop that seems like a passion project (Aloha probably fits that category) but in this case, I can’t even comprehend how or why Mann got involved with a film like Blackhat that seems so incredibly far out of his wheelhouse.
5. Entourage (Box Office Total: $32.3M, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 32%)
There are people whom I like and respect who think Entourage is a great TV show. (Those people are wrong, by the way; it’s the worst.) But no hit show has ever aged faster or more poorly than this one. I have to believe that even hardcore Entourage truthers found the movie to be an utter mess of frat boy braggadocio and appallingly misogyny. Then again, misogyny, pointless plots, aggressively bad acting (there’s a good reason why no one from this cast has done anything of substance outside of this world), and stupid cameos are what the Entourage empire are built on so maybe it’s exactly what cool Entourage bros were looking for. OOOHHHHH YEAHHHHHHH!!!
4. Pixels (Box Office Total: $78.7M, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 17%)
I could tell you any number of terrible things regarding Pixels. I could tell you that it might be Adam Sandler’s most mailed-in script to date. I could tell you that it somehow makes Peter Dinklage unlikable. I could tell you even Sandler himself seems tired of this bit. I could tell you there’s a plot point that involves Michelle Monaghan hiding in her closet, drinking wine from a sippy cup even though her youngest child is 12 years old and no one thought that was weird. All that and so much more. Instead, as an example of the brutal, embarrassing nature of the Pixels experience, I’ll simply tell you that in this movie, Kevin James is the President of the United States. That’s enough, right?
3. Fant4stic aka Fantastic Four (Box Office Total: $56.1M, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 9%)
Bad superhero movies are nothing new. Catwoman, Daredevil, Spider-Man 3, and dozens more could make up a list that would bring even the most fervent fanboy to tears. But Fantastic Four is a special kind of terrible. It was supposed to be a reboot for a franchise that had already suffered some heavy damage due to the previous films and instead, it set Dr. Incredible and his friends back even further. It was supposed to be Josh Trank’s stepping stone between the delightful, small sci-fi hit Chronicle and a crack at the Star Wars universe. Instead, he had an utter melt down and lost both control of Fantastic Four and his spot in the Star Wars chair. It was supposed to be Miles Teller’s opportunity to take the momentum of Whiplash and turn him into a household name of star quality. Instead, he came across like a petulant child performance is wholly dependent on the work of others around him. In short, Fantastic Four is a complete and utter disaster; the kind that ruins studios; the kind that ends franchises; the kind that could very easily make its director unemployable. Fantastic Four might really and truly be the worst superhero movie of all time. Let that sink in.
2. The Ridiculous 6 (No Box Office, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 0%)
Oh, Adam Sandler. You really are the MVP of Worst of the Year lists. 12 year old Brian is so disappointed in you, Adam. While Pixels is atrocious, I will say at the very least, it has a mildly funny “one line” concept: “What if aliens sent a bunch of video game characters to fight us and our only hope to survive is a group of arcade nerds?” (Notice I said “mildly funny”; maybe “VERY mildly funny.”) It just happens that everything else about that movie is terrible, including (or especially) the writing of every line after that “one line” concept. In comparison to The Ridiculous 6, Pixels is a masterpiece. A painfully obvious send up of The Magnificent 7 (in case you are dumber than this script and couldn’t figure that out), the lack of jokes in this thing is STAGGERING. I truly don’t know that I’ve ever laughed less during a “comedy.” The best part of The Ridiculous 6 is Taylor Lautner’s horribly offensive portrayal of a “simple” man. Think about how bad the rest of the movie must be if that’s the worst part. *Gives you a minute to think* EXACTLY. There’s an entire subplot revolving around Rob Schneider’s diarrhea-riddled burro. That’s also sort of a high point, if I’m being honest. I physically hate this movie and everything in it.
1. Jupiter Ascending (Box Office Total: $47.3M, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 26%)
I’m going to give Jupiter Ascending one thing before I eviscerate it once more: It is so incredibly bad that it’s almost fun. Like, if in 20 years, this movie is a regular feature at an alternative theater’s midnight screenings for cult classic movies, I’d get it. It is BEGGING for the Mystery Science Theater treatment. That said, all things considered, Jupiter Ascending is the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Look, I’m sure there are worse movies out there; maybe there were even worse movies this year. But I’m pretty good at avoiding total stinkers like this and in truth, there are very few movies that have ever had money, resources, and a good cast at their disposal like this one that have turned out this badly. At one point, the Wachowskis could have gotten funding for any movie they wanted…and they did, three times in a row (Speed Racer, Cloud Atlas, and now Jupiter), all of which were MASSIVE flops that have combined to essentially end their careers. (That’s a bit of hyperbole but not by much.) Some of the high points of Jupiter include Channing Tatum playing a space werewolf with angel wings, Eddie Redmayne sleeping through an entire movie in which he was starring, “visually stunning” creatures that look like the Koopas in the Super Mario Brothers movie, and gripping dialogue like, “You’ve never been stung by a bee before, have you, your Highness? That’s because bees can smell royalty.” If someone strapped me to a polygraph machine, put a gun to my head, and demanded that I name one honestly good thing about Jupiter Ascending or face death, I would simply say, “Tell my family I died with dignity” and greet death as an old friend. This movie is so bad that if I’d won Powerball, I would’ve rented the world’s largest theater and forced all of my friends, family, and acquaintances to watch it so we could all talk about how bad it is. Jupiter is an unmatched, uniquely awful experience that can only be appreciated by the few of us who suffered through it and lived to tell the tale. I will never be the same as I was before Jupiter.