It was a pretty good year to be a moviegoer and a pretty rotten one to be an inhabitant of planet Earth.
That being said, there were some particularly lousy films released during the past 12 months. Although my top 10 best films of the year won’t likely be ready until right before the New Year, it’s never too early to part ways with the year’s worst.
You might wonder if the films I’ve listed are really all that bad. Perhaps you’ve run across a review somewhere on the internet that has positive things to say about any of them. In the words of Robert Christgau, “I dare you to spend money to find out who’s right.”
10. The Brothers Grimsby – The gags mostly fell flat in this Sacha Baron Cohen comedy, so the filmmakers attempted to make up for that by including grotesqueries so outlandish that they’d make John Waters run for the exit.
9. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – With a title so ridiculous as that (yes, I’m aware it’s based on a novel), it can’t be that bad, right? There’s a clever satire hidden somewhere in there, correct? Answer: no.
8. Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie – Although I never watched it religiously, the popular British TV show starring Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley was clever and funny. Sadly, this obvious cash-grab way past its prime is neither.
7. Warcraft – Duncan Jones, the talented director of Moon, took a catastrophic detour with this mostly miserable adaptation of the popular video game. The picture was overflowing with special effects and bad dialogue, but was noticeably short on purpose.
6. Suicide Squad – It was a pretty mediocre summer for blockbusters and David Ayers’ overstuffed comic book adaptation was a clunky hodgepodge that never settled on a dominating tone, and featured more groan-inducing sequences than any other film of its type during the season.
5. Careful What You Wish For – One of the year’s most appropriately-titled movies, this corny romantic thriller featured Nick Jonas as a young man getting caught up in a Double Indemnity situation with an older woman. When not being completely ludicrous, the picture was busy dropping absurd plot twists.
4. The Forest – Gus Van Sant’s The Sea of Trees was panned by critics and, although certainly not one of his better films, it couldn’t hold a candle to The Forest, which was also set in Japan’s notorious Aokigahara forest, which is reportedly one of the world’s top suicide spots. The movie may prompt a similar response.
3. The Greasy Strangler – Boasting two funny scenes (one involving a free drink and the other the pronunciation of a word), The Greasy Strangler is of the type that somebody somewhere thought would be a midnight movie sensation of the Pink Flamingos variety. That person was, most likely, the filmmaker. The film aims to be visually disgusting and it mostly is. It’s also monotonous, repetitive and, although only just north of 90 minutes, punishingly long.
2. Dirty Grandpa – It pains me to put any movie starring the great Robert De Niro this high on a worst-of list, but seriously: it’s that bad. Dirty Grandpa is another in a long line of films where elderly people with perverted, foul mouths are supposed to instantaneously lead to nonstop hilarity. With its unrelenting un-P.C.-ness, it’s the perfect movie to encapsulate the rise of Donald Trump. That’s not a compliment.
1. Yoga Hosers – Kevin Smith, once a great writer of low-budget comedies (Clerks and Chasing Amy) is now officially in the club of directors in need of a career intervention, although his three prior movies were no great shakes either. Past filmmakers to join the club include Eli Roth, whose Knock Knock was my worst movie last year, and M. Night Shyamalan, whose The Last Airbender ranked last in 2010. But Smith’s latest is a major bomb. It’s unfunny, juvenile, pointless and features little to no actual conflict. Yoga Hosers is apparently the second in a trilogy of horror movies set in Canada. My suggestion is that he abandon it immediately.
But that’s not all. Some other films I could’ve done without in 2016 include: Peter Greenaway’s Eisenstein in Guanajuato, the silly thriller Mojave, the even sillier horror movie The Darkness, Michael Bay’s ridiculous Benghazi drama 13 Hours, Ben Stiller’s unnecessary sequel Zoolander 2, the typically reliable Nicolas Winding Refn’s disappointing The Neon Demon, cynical cash-ins My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 and The Huntsman: Winter’s War, the overrated Hardcore Henry and Independence Day: Resurgence.
I’d also be remiss if I failed to include among my worst movies the 2016 U.S. presidential election, which played as a terrible piece of entertainment – because, let’s be honest, that’s what it was for most who tuned in – that featured an unstoppable villain, endless scandals, international intrigue, misogyny, racism, nonstop cliffhangers perpetuated by a miserably prepared media, a mostly terrible supporting cast and a relentlessly awful ending. In fact, I’d watch virtually any movie on this list over and over again for the next year than relive it.
Keep an eye out next week for my best movies of the year list.