Tag Archives: worst movies

The 10 Worst Movies of 2022

In 2021, I happily avoided writing a worst of the year list. It’s not that there were no movies worthy of such a list — Tom & Jerry, I see you. I just don’t revel in the opportunity to take filmmakers and their casts and crews down a peg. On the other hand, movies are entertainment we pay money to see. Somewhere within that transaction is a tacit understanding that failing to deliver a good end product could result in the film appearing on these sorts of lists. All’s fair in love and celluloid (or DCPs, I suppose).

2022 was particularly rough in the major studio releases department. Many would-be blockbusters came and went with little fanfare … sometimes they came and went twice. But a number of smaller genre pictures also failed to impress. Here’s my bottom 10 movies of the year.

10. Spirited

I don’t know if Spirited, the contemporary riff on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, is a bad movie, per se. It has a reasonable premise (when you decide to ignore the strange, soupy mess of pro-conglomerate ethos embedded within), and the second act reversal that complicates who is Christmas Caroling whom is an intriguing idea. But this film is aggressively not for me. The song and dance numbers are consistently a distracting mess, and Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds fail to charm their way around the bloated scenes and middling quips. The simple, enduring emotional core of Dickens’ story is here somewhere, but it takes a lot of hurdling to get there. By that point, I was already out.

A lot of people are enjoying this one. So don’t take my word for it that it’s bad. Earlier this month I tried, twice, to watch Black Adam and could not do it. So if you want to pretend like Black Adam is on this list instead of Spirited, be my guest. I’m pretty confident Black Adam is a worse movie in this case.

9. The Bubble

I remember so little of this movie that I’m not confident I can write a full blurb on it. An unfunny misfire from Judd Apatow. I suppose it had the right idea – a topical comedy satirizing the privilege of Hollywood elites from the inside. But the COVID-related humor is annoying, and the self-mockery is toothless and lazy. If you watch anything from Apatow this year, let it be his George Carlin doc, or better yet watch his Garry Shandling doc from a few years back if you haven’t already. The latter is the best film Apatow has made.

8. Mother Schmuckers

You know a movie is intentionally provocative when it opens with its two idiotic leads cooking up a pan of feces and then forcing it into their mother’s face until she vomits. You know it’s not good at being provocative when not four months since first seeing it, the only thing I can remember about the film is said opening sequence. Mother Schmuckers is the type of movie seemingly made with the hopes that people will hate it (because the people who “get it” can chide the rest who gag at it). I’m all for gagging at a movie; I’ve gagged at some great ones. And when the water’s the right temperature, I am all for provocation for provocation’s sake. This, however, is really nothing of note. It is 70 minutes of tiring, trifling idiocy.

7. Uncharted

A movie this long in the making was never going to stick the landing. And Uncharted really had a nothing-burger of an opening. It’s as bland and rote as any other action movie programmer. I’m not a huge fan of these games (I’ve only played through one of them, and it was just fine), so I’m not the right critic to identify what went wrong here. But I would bet that fans of Nathan Drake consider this a bovine scatological word I shouldn’t repeat in polite company.

Despite a script desperately trying to conjure up some form of rapport between these characters, there is zero chemistry between any of the actors. And nothing about the action itself is particularly compelling. Save for competent editing holding the mediocre mess together, there is not much here worth celebrating.

6. Texas Chainsaw Massacre

I feel like I have exhausted this argument, but I will reiterate it once more just to justify my placement of this otherwise fairly inoffensive slasher reboot on this list. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is my favorite slasher film. That said, I don’t hold it sacred. Reboot it if you wish, but know that you are coming up against an inevitable problem. What makes the original film so terrifying and effective has very little to do with a man in a human skin mask waving a chainsaw. The iconography of the film is not the film. But most of the sequels, remakes, and reboots of the property assume that it is.

Including this one, which tosses Leatherface into a half-baked gentrification narrative with flat cinematography and ill-conceived set pieces. The reveal of Leatherface in the 1974 film is a fierce bit of staging and editing that makes your blood run cold. The Leatherface in the 2022 film butchers Gen-Zers on a bus to unintentional hilarity.

5. They/Them

At the core of They/Them, the directorial debut of playwright and Oscar-nominated screenwriter John Logan, is a genuinely intriguing play with genre. Merging the cabin in the woods slasher with the horrors of conversion camps could be a rich space for flexing what the horror genre can do in the way of sociopolitical commentary. Instead, Logan has made a thinly-drawn cast of characters dropped into a rote psychological thriller/slasher hybrid. As a result, the politics are muddy and the genre play is toothless.

Without meaningful depth provided for these campers, save for a few canned monologues and bits of backstory window dressing, the meaningful core of this story loses said meaning. So by the time the group breaks into an a cappella rendition of a P!nk song, it is not the empowering moment that it sets out to be but a thudding realization that integral elements of storytelling are missing from this movie.

Juan Barquin wrote a piece which echoes many of my issues with this film, and more eloquently so. So go check that out.

4. Jurassic World: Dominion

I’m going to sound like a broken record, but there is nothing about Jurassic Park to me that screams “sequel material.” Nothing, that is, save for the fact that the notion imprints dollar signs on executive eyeballs. The mainline Park sequels at least attempt to be exciting films in their own right (while in my view honestly not being all that great). These Jurassic World movies, though, read so clearly as soulless cash grabs that it is hard to take them seriously from the jump. But I’ve tried. Three times now, I have tried. And while Jurassic World is bland and bloated, it has its moments. And Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a glorified B-movie, which is interesting in its own right.

Jurassic World: Dominion, however, is so creatively bankrupt as to be next to unwatchable. The hollow characters from previous entries somehow appear here more flat-line vacant, and the new ones are tossed in without much thought. The story is a mangled mess of mindless adventuring and boring globe-trotting. Trevorrow impresses here in solely one regard: he has accomplished the feat of making dinosaurs cinematically inert and mind-numbingly boring.

3. Morbius

Everyone on the internet has already taken their turn obliterating Morbius, so I can keep this short. I went into this one long after the razzing had begun on this dreary beast of a movie, and I did my best to go in open minded. I went out of my way to find something of value in here, and while I don’t find it as egregiously terrible as some, it is still a highly non-valuable piece of filmmaking. Moreover, it is utterly forgettable.

It is such a strange comic book movie, in that it in some ways feels so disconnected from everything else going on in blockbuster cinema that it appears to hark back to the 2000s era of comic book movies. But not a good 2000s comic book movie. Less Spider-Man 2 and more Jonah Hex, you know. Morbius is a baffling film — baffling that it was made in the first place, to be frank. Maybe what it added to meme culture is enough of an ROI for some, but I just found the whole culture cycle of this thing tiresome.

2. Dashcam

I feel like I defend found footage more than most horror fans. I also feel like I tolerate the “Screenlife” gimmick of recent years more than some horror fans. But I do not defend nor do I tolerate Dashcam, the single most grating film experience of my year. It is loud and obnoxious and largely devoid of discernible story. There is a story there, to be clear, but it is hard to decipher it amongst the cacophony of profane shouting and horrendous rapping. Rob Savage – director of the mildly overrated Host – certainly achieved what he was going for, if what he was going for was a migraine of high-volume dialogue and bodily fluids.

Simon Abrams possibly said it the best when he opened his review by claiming one’s tolerance for “braindead provocation” will determine their enjoyment of the film. Often, my tolerance is quite high in this department. Something about Dascham really irked me, though. Maybe it was the unlikeable and entirely unwritten characters. Maybe it was the ugly aesthetic and uninteresting use of the found footage format. Maybe it was the sinking suspicion that this movie was tossed together as a series of improvisations with nothing but a flimsy treatment to guide it along. No matter the case, braindead provocation this is, heavy on the braindead.

1. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

It’s wild that these Fantastic Beasts movies keep getting worse (and keep getting made). The first one was fairly dull, but mercifully watchable. This new installment is rough. Visually, it is drab and flat. Narratively, it is comprised of hollow world-building and fantasy world political intrigue that feels unimportant and culminates in the most groan-worthy climax of the year.

I know that I asked this last time one of these came out, but does any fan of Harry Potter care about these movies? The lore comes off vacant and the characters lack any sort of dimension or interiority. There are 11 characters on the poster for this film, and I cannot say that any of them have something resembling an arc (either within this film or across the trilogy). The magic of the Wizarding World is slowly draining with each film. The more I learn about this universe, the less I care.

As always, thanks for reading!

—Alex Brannan (Twitter, Letterboxd, Facebook)

The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: Best Night Ever (2013) and Superfast! (2015)

This is the sixth and final installment in “The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: How Two Men Single Handedly Destroyed the Parody Genre.”

In pursuing this project, I did not set out to unilaterally pan the Friedberg and Seltzer oeuvre (as much as the hack, clickbait adjacent title might suggest). Sure, I find almost all of their work indefensible. But I endeavored to get closer to the heart of who these two writers are and what they wanted to get out of their filmmaking. Unfortunately, this is difficult knowledge to gain, considering they are on the record as being almost entirely off the record. The duo almost never give interviews, and, aside from a great Matt Patches piece at Grantland, I could not find a source where they were seriously interviewed.

All the same, I wanted to move beyond the easy insults that have been hurled their way. I wanted to move beyond the perception of them as Continue reading The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: Best Night Ever (2013) and Superfast! (2015)

Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle — Fantastic Fest 2022 Movie Review

A phenomenon occurs when a cult bad movie becomes big enough. The reputation grows to the point where it becomes implausible that the director would not grow aware that their film is not enjoyed for the reasons they intended. When and if they do become aware, they have a choice to make. They can go the Claudio Fragasso (Troll 2) route and insist that they made a good movie in spite of the criticism, or they can go the Tommy Wiseau (The Room) route and claim that they set out at the beginning to make a dark comedy.

I cannot tell for the life of me if Birdemic 3′s James Nguyen has reached this self-aware state. The quality of his filmmaking has not Continue reading Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle — Fantastic Fest 2022 Movie Review

The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: Vampires Suck (2010), The Starving Games (2013)

This is the fifth installment in “The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: How Two Men Single-Handedly Destroyed the Parody Genre.”

In this penultimate installment, we will examine two of the late career parodies of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer: Vampires Suck and The Starving Games. As I see it, Friedberg and Seltzer’s career can be separated into two distinct phases. There are two reasons why I think about it this way.

For one, there is an easy delineation one could make between the writers’ 2000s output and their 2010s output. As I outlined in previous articles, the 2000s saw a healthy resurgence of the spoof movie, but by the end of the decade it was starting to become clear that the poor quality of these films were catching up with them. Through the 2010s, parody films grew increasingly less popular at the box office.

As such, Vampires Suck serves as a crucial turning point in Friedberg and Seltzer’s career. It was the last of their films to Continue reading The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: Vampires Suck (2010), The Starving Games (2013)

The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: Meet The Spartans and Disaster Movie (2008)

This is the fourth installment in “The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: How Two Men Single-handedly Destroyed the Parody Genre.”

Following the profitable Epic Movie in 2007, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer saw two of their films released in 2008. If one was skeptical about the over-saturation of spoof films at the box office in the second half of the 2000s, that sentence should alleviate any further suspicion.

These parodies were being churned out like a factory assembly line product. Mere months after Meet the Spartans opened, it was announced that the pair were in pre-production on what would become Disaster Movie (the project started life as an ill-advised Superbad send-up). Disaster Movie filmed in late spring and was released before the year was out.

One could theorize that studios were eager to rapidly produce and ship to theaters these parody films while someone (anyone) was willing to Continue reading The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: Meet The Spartans and Disaster Movie (2008)

The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: Epic Movie (2007)

This is installment three in “The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: How Two Men Single-handedly Destroyed the Parody Genre.”

Here we go. This is the point after which discussing the works of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer becomes an arduous chore. Epic Movie signals the beginning of the end for the blockbuster parody film. This is not to say that the Friedberg-Seltzer movies stop making a profit after this movie. But Epic Movie embodies all of the things that detractors of the parody genre point to when they argue for its extinction. And while Friedberg and Seltzer (mostly) weather the severe backlash to their films through the 2000s, the parody genre as a whole starts to fade away.

Since 2007, major spoof releases have grossed the following worldwide, in millions (Friedberg and Seltzer titles in bold):

  • Epic Movie (2007) – $86.8
  • The Comebacks (2007) – $13.5
  • Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007) – $20.6
  • Meet the Spartans (2008) – $84.6
  • Superhero Movie (2008) – $73.0
  • Disaster Movie (2008) – $36.7
  • Dance Flick (2009) – $32.2
  • Vampires Suck (2010) – $81.4
  • Casa de Mi Padre (2012) – $8.4
  • A Haunted House (2013) – $59.9
  • Scary Movie V (2013) – $78.6
  • A Haunted House 2 (2014) – $21.2
  • Fifty Shades of Black (2016) – $22.1
  • Meet the Blacks (2016) – $9.1
  • Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016) – $9.5

There hasn’t been a major theatrical parody since Continue reading The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: Epic Movie (2007)

The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: Date Movie (2006)

This is installment two in “The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: How Two Men Single-handedly Destroyed the Parody Genre.”

In the first installment of this ill-conceived series, which shamelessly adds on to the immense online discourse that has made writer-directors Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg Hollywood’s favorite punching bags, we took a look at the 2000 film Scary Movie. The film was a massive financial success, and the amount that Seltzer and Friedberg contributed to that success is debatable. Some have questioned whether they had any creative hand in that film, at all.

No matter the case, the duo certainly used the writing credits they received on the film to launch themselves into the comedy film game. Date Movie, the pair’s first directorial effort, proudly displayed a slightly disparaging poster tagline: “From Two of the Six Writers of Scary Movie.” The home video release would go one step further in comically diminishing the writers’ prior credit by placing “2 of the 6” as a parenthetical caret above the tagline.

At the same time as this tagline downplayed the writers’ contribution to Scary Movie, it also reinforced that Continue reading The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: Date Movie (2006)

The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: How Two Men Single-Handedly Destroyed the Parody Genre

This is installment one in “The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: How Two Men Single-handedly Destroyed the Parody Genre.” The series, a career retrospective on the works of parody film writer-directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, aims to put their heavily maligned work into perspective. Why were their films equally successful and hated? And why did the pair disappear from Hollywood? Moreover, can anything good be said for the directors, whose films are widely considered to be some of the worst of all time.

Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer achieved their first credit as a writing team on Spy Hard, the 1996 Leslie Nielsen espionage spoof. Their names appeared in the credits for the hit horror parody Scary Movie. Then, they went on to write and direct some of the worst comedy movies of the 21st century. Date Movie. Epic Movie. Disaster Movie. Meet the Spartans. Vampires Suck. The Starving Games.

Let’s not dwell on these parody clunkers, though. Not yet, at least. Let’s begin with Scary Movie, a very successful film that had a hand in reinvigorating the parody genre for a new generation. It launched a franchise. It launched the career of Anna Faris. It was truly influential in steering the broad comedy into the 21st century, at least in the short term.

Scary Movie was an ambitious pitch. Not because it was a parody of the entire slasher genre with the audacity of having a name as blunt as Scary Movie. But because it is a beat-for-beat broad comedy re-enactment of Scream, which had already Continue reading The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: How Two Men Single-Handedly Destroyed the Parody Genre

The 15 Worst Movies of 2020

2020 is a difficult year to write superlatives about. Especially coming on the heels of a few bountiful years of media consumption, doing a list series for the cinema of 2020 is something I considered skipping entirely. Previous best of the year lists have witnessed a wealth of films which I greatly enjoyed (20 in 2019, 25 in 2018, and 50 in 2017). I may be able to string together a list of 20 this year, but it just feels as though I am missing some great films, some of which that aren’t even on my radar. There are always blind spots on these lists, but my access to films this year is far more limited than in previous years. But I will give it a shot, based on the 150 or so movies I’ve seen.

On the flip side, I’ve seen plenty of below average films this year. Those are inescapable. In the days of Armageddon, the media industries will continue churning out subpar claptrap filmed close enough to in focus to be considered a movie. I generally like to Continue reading The 15 Worst Movies of 2020

Top 10 Worst Films of 2019

Update – December 21, 2019, 8:00 pm: Cats was added to Dishonorable Mentions

2019 was a very good year for movies. In my opinion, there are (at least) three masterpieces coming out of this calendar year. But every film cannot be a masterpiece. Some films fail, are made poorly, or are downright offensive. 2019 had plenty of those, as well.

You can like what you like. I won’t stop you. If you like any of the films on this list, that’s fine with me (if you like the number one film, though, maybe we shouldn’t hang out). These are simply my personal least favorite films of 2019.

Dishonorable Mentions: The Angry Birds Movie 2, Cats, Fractured, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Guns Akimbo, Hellboy, The Lion King, Miss Bala, Pet Sematary, Replicas, The Upside, What Men Want

10. The Curse of La Llorona

There is a long history of La Llorona, or “The Crying Woman,” in film. But the figure of urban legend was not well known by American audiences before Continue reading Top 10 Worst Films of 2019