Here are my 20 worst films of 2016 (in no particular order)
1). Why Him? (2016)
Ned Fleming (Bryan Cranston) is having a bad year. His printing company may be going out of business, and his only daughter (Zoey Deutch), whom he thought was safely tucked away at college, is dating an older man, Laird (James Franco), who runs a video game company. Now, Ned, his wife (Megan Mullally) and his young son (Griffin Gluck) are going to spend Christmas at Laird’s mansion. Now that Adam Sandler is over making films for Netflix (which means I, thank goodness, don’t have to watch them), I think James Franco is bound and determined to fill the void. I love Bryan Cranston, but it pained me to see him have to deliver lines from this horrible script. The movie is unfunny, stupid and has a plot that could have been written by a cat. The only saving grace in this drivel of a film is the performance of Keegan-Michael Key, who breathes a little life into the movie playing Laird’s right-hand man. Please James Franco, quit making every movie they offer you and slow down enough pick some better scripts.
2). Blair Witch (2016)
After seeing a video of his sister and her experiences in the woods of Blair Witch, James (James Allen McCune) sets out with friends to find his sister. It could be the last thing he does in his life. If you are prone to motion sickness, then pass this film by because just like the first “found footage” film, The Blair Witch Project (1999), this is a movie that is all hand-held camera-work. Instead of just one camera, this film has more than you can count, including little ear piece cameras and a drone that allow the director, Adam Wingard, to get even more angles to add to the scary parts of the film. Unfortunately, the film comes off as almost a retelling of the first (with just more camera viewpoints), and I never really got scared. The first film was groundbreaking and scary as heck, but this movie comes off as a tired copy.
3). Ben Hur (2016)
A nobleman, Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), is falsely accused of an assassination attempt by his childhood friend and adoptive brother, Messala (Toby Kebbell). After years of being a slave under the Romans, Ben-Hur returns home to seek revenge, but, instead, he finds redemption. The problem is when you remake a big, old-school Hollywood spectacle like Ben-Hur, you have to be bigger, more spectacular than the original, and this movie does the opposite. Other than a dazzling, impressive chariot race, this film feels and look flat, almost subdued. One of the mistakes is when we meet Jesus, we never feel that he is different than other people, except that he is preaching a nonviolence message. We should believe he is the son of God, but I never got that feeling. The water scenes in the 1959 film were much more moving, mostly because we never see Jesus’s face, just the reactions that everyone has when they see him. I was most disappointed in the screenplay because I greatly respect one of the screenwriters, John Ridley, but the storyline is slow moving, and the ending seems to have been written by a ten-year-old. I never thought Charlton Heston was a great actor, but he had a great “movie star” presence and charisma, which Jack Huston doesn’t have. Ben-Hur (besides the race) is dull and lifeless, so maybe they should call it Ben-Blah.
4). Ice Age: Collision Course (2016)
Manny (Ray Romano), with the help of Buck (Simon Pegg), must lead his family and friends on a journey to try and find a way to stop an asteroid from hitting the earth. Can Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox please stop making these films? The series wasn’t the strongest of animated ideas, to begin with, but now it’s downright annoying. The film features the weakest of the Ice Age characters, Scrat, the acorn-addicted squirrel. This movie isn’t fun or funny, and the kids that were at my screening couldn’t care less about the film. You know it’s a bad film when you look at your watch two hours into the movie, and it’s really only been thirty minutes.
5). Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016)
Edina (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) are having to hide out in the south of France after causing a worldwide incident by knocking Kate Moss into the River Thames. I was a big fan of the TV show so I’m sorry to say that the Ab Fab girls should have stayed away from the big screen. The laughs are too few and far between, and the humor is very broad, which most of the time lands with a thud. The film feels as if it was only made for a British audience. I didn’t recognize some of the countless cameos in the movie that maybe were lost on me. I guess we just can’t revisit the 90’s, at least not with these two.
6). The Purge: Election Year (2016)
U.S. Senator Charlene Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) has fought to stop the annual purge, the one day anyone can kill anyone else without fear of arrest. On the night of the purge, she and her security agent (Frank Grillo) are forced out on the streets and must try to survive the night. I did not like the first film in the series The Purge (2013), but I really enjoyed the second film of the series, The Purge: Anarchy (2014), which was a quick moving “video game” style of film. Unfortunately, the script for this movie is horrible, with predictable outcomes, bad dialogue and some crappy acting thrown in to help make this film boring and almost unwatchable. Let’s hope the studio “purges” this film out of its rotation.
7). Wiener-Dog (2016)
A dachshund passes from one owner to another as their lives are impacted in different ways by the dog. The film is written and directed by Todd Solondz, who gave us films like Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995) and Happiness (1998). If you like those movies, you will probably like this one, but if you didn’t like those films, you will probably hate this one. As with most of his films, the characters in this film are all unhappy with their lives and looking for something more fulfilling. The film is made up of four stories, all centering around the ownership of a dachshund. The film has a strong cast with outstanding performances by Greta Gerwig and Ellen Burstyn. I enjoyed the 2nd and 3rd sections of the film but hated the 1st and the 4th sections. I especially hated the ending of the movie, feeling that Solondz created this ending (which I saw coming) just to make an impact, not caring if it helped or hurt the storyline. Most of the characters in this film are highly unlikable people, and when the film ended, I was happy I didn’t have to spend any more time with them.
8). Free State of Jones (2016)
During the Civil War, a Mississippi farmer (Matthew McConaughey) decides to quit the Southern army and lead a rebellion against the Confederate army. While watching this film, I looked at my watch thinking the film was about fifteen minutes away from ending. Instead, to my despair, it had only been playing for an hour, and we had an hour and twenty minutes to go. The film is incredibly slow placed. Even the dialogue seems slow people make speech after speech in this movie. There are very few action sequences, and the best one is used in the trailer, so the element of surprise is gone when you watch the scene. Over the past ten years, Matthew McConaughey has become one of my favorite actors, but he isn’t given much to work with in this role. I didn’t recognize Keri Russell, who plays McConaughey’s wife, until near the end of the film. There is a strange side story that is set in the 1950’s that makes the film stop and start with glaring suddenness and almost no explanation. If you want to explore that time, rent 12 Years a Slave (2013) or The Birth of a Nation (2016).
9). Now You See Me 2 (2016)
It’s been eighteen months since the Four Horsemen stole all that money from a Paris bank. They decide to make a comeback appearance, but their plans are thwarted by a tech prodigy (Daniel Radcliffe). He threatens to kill them if they don’t pull off a major heist. I liked the first film, mostly for the magic scenes which I thought were creative and fun. That’s the problem with this film: it’s a movie about magicians that doesn’t have any magic in it. The closest to believable magic in the movie is when the cast throws a playing card around during a heist. The film is boring, predictable and just not much fun. I did enjoy Lizzy Caplan’s performance as Isla Fisher’s replacement in the “Four Horsemen” because she looks like the only one in the cast who is having a good time. Most of the cast look like they are just going through the motions for a big paycheck. It makes me wonder if Isla Fisher didn’t really appear in the film because she was pregnant but because it was such a bad script.
10). Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)
After being away for three years, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to Wonderland to save her friend, The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). I hated the first film of the series, Alice in Wonderland. I can say that this film is better than the first, but it’s still a bad film. The film is too long with its almost two hour run time. I didn’t care about the characters in the first film, and I certainly don’t care about what happens to The Mad Hatter or Alice. I enjoyed the beginning, though, as Alice, captain of her father’s ship, evades pirates by navigating through a perilous reef. Unfortunately, the film goes downhill from there with a story-line that is boring and un-imaginative. It’s sad when the one character you really like is a church mouse that is rarely on-screen. The movie was not shot in 3-D, so save your money.
11). The Angry Birds Movie (2016)
Red (Jason Sudeikis) has an incident at kid’s birthday party and is sentenced by a judge to take anger management classes. There he meets the teacher, Matilda (Mya Rudolph), Chuck (Josh Gad), Bomb (Danny McBride) and Terence (Sean Penn), all of who soon go on an adventure with Red. I hated this very unfunny and annoying movie. I didn’t like that several times there were very inappropriate adult puns uttered by the birds. The only thing going for this film is that the animation is very cool looking, and it was done with 3-D in mind. Let’s put it this way; I looked at my watch thinking the film had about 10 minutes left but discovered it was only half way through. The film made me angry, angry enough to give the film the bird.
12). Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016)
Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are expecting their second child and need a bigger house. The problem is they are never going to be able to sell their current house with the new neighbors next door, a hard partying sorority, led by Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz). Mac and Kelly are going to need reinforcements, and Teddy (Zac Efron) is the man for the job. I didn’t like the first one, as there were some funny parts, but that film never could keep its momentum. I feel the same about this film; I think mostly because I don’t like Mac and Kelly. Why should I root for them when I don’t like them? I did like Zac Efron’s performance, though.. He is consistently funny in the part of the un-grown-up frat boy. Efron is willing to make himself look ridiculous or stupid on the screen, and most of the time it works. I usually love Chloe Grace Moretz performances, but, to me, she mailed this one in. Do not take the kids as there is lots of drug use, a bit of nudity, cartoon-like violence and lots of cussing.
13). Mother’s Day (2016)
As Mother’s Day nears, a group of seemingly unconnected people come to terms in their relationships with their mothers. This is a film that I call a “watch” film. I looked at my watch convinced that the film was almost over, only to discover that we still had an hour to go. Garry Marshall also directed Valentine’s Day (2010) and New Year’s Eve (2011). If you liked those films, you will probably enjoy this one. For the rest of us, the film is too long, filled with one-dimensional characters, a plot that a fifth grader could come up with and wastes the talents of a cast filled with actors like Julia Roberts, Timothy Olyphant, Sarah Chalke. Britt Robertson and Margo Martindale. Probably the most interesting characters in the film, are the gay couple played by Chalke and Cameron Esposito, and they have the least amount of screen time. I can’t wait for Marshall to bring out his next film. I hear he is choosing between Arbor Day and President’s Day.
14). Papa Hemingway in Cuba (2016)
In 1959, a young journalist (Giovanni Ribisi), travels to Cuba to meet his literary idol, the legendary Hemingway (Adrian Sparks). I loved Hemingway, the writer, but not the man, himself. I can say the same thing about this film. The film was written by the late Denne Bart Petitclerc, based on his own experiences with Hemingway, but I feel that the subject matter was probably too close to the writer for him to see the problems with this film. The dialogue feels very stiff and just doesn’t flow naturally as characters don’t talk to each other but seem to make speeches every time they converse. Some of the plot points just don’t make sense which makes the film feel very contrived. Sparks, while looking exactly like Hemingway, doesn’t have the charisma to fill the very big shoes of Papa. Ribisi puts his heart and soul into the role of the hero worshiping reporter but is let down by the script in the big scenes. If you really want to see a film about Hemingway, then rent the excellent documentary, Ernest Hemingway: Wrestling with Life, instead of this film,
15). Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
The Gotham City-based Batman (Ben Affleck) travels to Metropolis to take on Superman (Henry Cavil), whom he feels has become an endangerment to humans. Little do the two superheroes know another person in Metropolis is plotting their deaths, the mysterious Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). What a big mess of a film. I had no clue what was going on in the first hour of this movie. We didn’t get any backstory on Lex Luthor, so we have no idea why he hates Superman, and I guess Batman too. Batman has a dream sequence that I don’t know what the heck it was about. The film wastes great talent, like Amy Adams, who plays Lois Lane, who is used as Superman’s rescue (multiple times). Holly Hunter plays a senator who is questioning if Superman is a good guy or a bad guy, but that never goes anywhere. The brilliant Diane Lane is wasted as Superman’s adopted mom, Martha, who also is just in the movie to be rescued. Cavil as Superman does a lot of posing in his suit but gives out very few lines. Affleck as Batman is given a bit more to do, but the feud between Superman and Batman is just stupid, and their big fight just sort of peters out. The only saving thing about this film is Wonder Woman, played excellently by Gal Gadot. Gadot give’s life and energy to the movie’s big finish and makes me want to see a Wonder Woman movie. Gadot also looks like the only one in this film who is having a good time, and she looks the part of the warrior princess. This is a very dark film with daddy issues and death hanging all over it. It’s a film that never has any fun, which makes this film feel much longer than its 158 run time.
16). My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016)
Toula (Nia Vardalos) and Ian (John Corbett) have been married for a while and have a daughter (Elena Kampouris) who is about to go off to college. A family member is about to be married in even a bigger Greek wedding, and family secrets are about to come out. I liked the first Big Fat Greek Wedding, mostly due to the great chemistry between Vardalos and Corbett, and the fact that Vardalos’ character was adorable. What I didn’t like about the first film was her family and how stereotypical they were portrayed. It’s hard to get lightning to strike twice, and this sequel is a big disappointment, mostly due to the film centering around Toula’s family and not about Toula and Ian. The jokes aren’t funny, some of the scenes with the family are insulting (especially to women), and Ian/Toula’s relationship takes a backseat to her parents’ impending wedding plans (her parents find out that they aren’t married). The film just doesn’t have the wit or charm that the first film had. So skip this film and go back and watch the first movie instead.
17). Gods of Egypt (2016)
Bek (Brenton Thwaites) joins the god Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) in a battle to save the world from the god of darkness Set (Gerard Butler). This is a mess of a movie. It’s as if the writers decided to throw most of what we know about ancient Egypt and create superheroes from the Egyptian gods. The gods are twice as big as the humans, so the scenes between the two species look weird, the Gods bleed gold when cut and not to mention that Sun God Ra (Geoffrey Rush) flies around in a spaceship. Set’s chariot is pulled by giant beetles, and the bad guys ride on the back of giant sand serpents. The specials effects are so dreadful I could almost see the “green screen” used for almost the entire film. Some of the actors, Rush especially, look downright depressed that they agreed to make this mess of a movie. This is a bad film, and, because it takes itself so seriously, it’s not fun to watch. It’s the kind of film that, thirty minutes into it, I wished it would end. My wish was granted an hour and thirty-seven minutes later.
18). Zoolander 2 (2016)
The “world’s most beautiful people” are being assassinated and left with the “Blue Steel” look on their faces. Interpol recruits Derek (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) to find out who is doing this murderous deed. To make matters worse, Derek’s rival, Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell), has been set free from prison and is out for revenge. I was not a big fan of the first Zoolander film, so it should not be a surprise that I am not a fan of this movie either. I will give the filmmakers props for creating a whole new storyline and not just carrying on from where the first film left off. The jokes are too far and few between long stretches of unfunny material. I am not a fan of the fashion lifestyle, so I am sure a few of the jokes went over my head. There are quite a few cameos, just like the first film, some working better than others, and few are so quick you might not notice them. The Justin Bieber death scene at the start of the film is quite funny. I just wish that they had kept that up.
19). Dirty Grandpa (2016)
Jason (Zac Efron) is an uptight guy about to marry the girl of his dreams. He is tricked into taking his grandfather (Robert De Niro), a retired Army general, to Florida for spring break. After this trip, Jason will never be the same. I hated this film. I have never seen a movie that uses more F-bombs, and most are when the Efron and De Niro characters interact. If you think jokes about pedophilia, selling drugs to minors and that it’s nothing to get arrested are funny, then this film is for you. Only Zac Efron fans should see this movie, and that’s only because you see a lot of Zac naked or without a shirt. Oh, and it has one of the worst endings that I have ever seen. This film is causing me to reconsider my respect and profound love for Robert De Niro.
20). Norm of the North (2016)
Norm (Rob Schneider) is a fun-loving polar bear who loves to dance. With the help of three lemmings, Norm travels to New York City to try and stop a real estate developer from building homes in the Artic. Unfortunately, this is another in a long line of dull and unimaginative animated films. Only small children will like this film, and anyone over ten will start looking at their watches thirty minutes into it, wondering when it will end. The story-line is stupid (think a plot-line from a bad 70s Saturday morning cartoon), and you see the ending coming from almost the start. I should have been clued into how bad this would be by the actor in the starring role, Rob Schneider.
Almost bad enough to make it:
Ghost Team, Being Charlie, Criminal, Knight of Cups, The Neon Demon, High-Rise, Independence Day: Resurgence, Morgan.