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Film failures: 2015's movie misfires

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One of my favorite parts of the 'year in review' issue is looking back at all of the movies I've seen over the past year. And while it's nice to remember the good movies, it's arguably more fun to think back on the terrible ones.

And 2015 saw plenty of terrible movies.

This list is by no means all-inclusive; there were lots more awful movies that could have warranted specific scorn and derision. I won't even go so far as to say that these are hands-down the worst movies of 2015, though I think it's fair to say that this is a pretty representative cross-section of the year's cinematic calamities and I think you'll agree.

As always, in no particular order:

Mortdecai

We've long known Johnny Depp to be weirdly obsessed with hiding behind extreme costuming and makeup effects. Sometimes - as in this year's 'Black Mass' - it works wonderfully and helps anchor his performance. Other times - as in this mustachioed turd - it simply doesn't. 'Mortdecai' is the very definition of a misfire, perhaps the most devoid-of-laughs comedy (sorry - "comedy") of the year. It's almost as if they intentionally set out to make a terrible movie. It isn't interesting, it isn't funny and it DEFINITELY isn't good.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

If you're looking for proof that civilization is crumbling, look no further than the $23.8 million that this movie made in its opening weekend. Anthropomorphized margarine tub Kevin James revisits the inexplicably successful character again - he's still fat, he's still stupid, he still rides a Segway. That's really about it. He's in Las Vegas this time and somehow manages to fail upwards once more, both professionally and personally. It's an ideal example of aiming for - and hitting - the lowest common denominator.

Aloha

Cameron Crowe has some pantheon-level movies on his resume; films like 'Say Anything' and 'Almost Famous' served as generational touchstones. So I was rooting for him on this one, but the truth is that 'Aloha' is a muddled mess. It feels like several different movies - none of them good - pasted together in a slapdash way. Add to that some racially tone-deaf casting and narrative inconsistency and you've got a recipe for disaster. In this case, aloha means "Good riddance."

Pan

File this one in the "Completely Unnecessary" pile. 'Pan' has a lot of problems - a thin and rushed narrative, slathered-on CGI, uneven performances, tonal inconsistency - but perhaps its biggest is its lack of magic. This is Peter Pan, after all - one imagines there should be a sense of wonder in there somewhere. Not even Hugh Jackman camping it up as a pirate can save the day. The spirit of J.M. Barrie's original story is naught but a distant memory here. There's no sparkle in this film's eye.

We Are Your Friends

It cannot be stressed enough how utterly unnecessary this Zac Efron-as-a-DJ film feels, a cautionary tale regarding the dangers of listening to focus groups and stupid studio execs. While one can't fault Hollywood for its efforts to make Efron into a leading man, there is still no excuse for the undeniable emptiness of this movie. It isn't even that it's a bad movie - although it absolutely is - so much as it feels like a complete waste of the time of everyone involved.

Fantastic Four

I wanted this movie to be good. I'm in the bag for superhero movies, so I was primed to be forgiving of this one. And hey, it had a great cast and a director (Josh Trank) whose 'Chronicle' remains one of the better super-movies of the past decade. It could have been good - but it wasn't. Instead, it was a labored slog. If you're wondering how to make incredible superpowers dull to watch, well ... Josh Trank has basically given you a master class. One of the year's bigger disappointments.

The Boy Next Door

Nothing like an erotic thriller that is neither erotic nor thrilling. This film - apparently intended to remind us that Jennifer Lopez is a person who did movies once upon a time - is a vast cornucopia of unpleasantness, featuring weird sex stuff between J-Lo and a dude (who's totally 18, we swear - we even explain it at length, which somehow makes it weirder), contrived situations and some of the most wooden dialogue this side of Tommy Wiseau. Just terrible.

Self/less

Use/less, life/less, list/less, worth/less - you name it. 'Self/less' is a film that could have explored interesting ideas about identity but instead chooses not to make even the slightest effort, opting instead to go full-on bland with human scoop of vanilla Ryan Reynolds. It's a generic action movie pretending to be high-concept that's not even bad enough to enjoy. It's not even that 'Self/less' is terrible - it's terribly mediocre, which is much worse. Completely and utterly point/less.

Entourage

What's that you say? You find it hard to believe that a film based on a TV show that disappeared years ago after hanging on too long would be a failure? It's shocking, I know, but it turns out that Vincent Chase and the 'Entourage' gang haven't grown more interesting or pleasant in the years since the show ended its run. This movie - basically an extended episode of the show - is a reminder that however fondly we might remember a thing, there's always a good chance that our memory is very, VERY wrong.

Poltergeist

If you have seen the original 'Poltergeist,' this film will seem very familiar to you. That's because the story is essentially unchanged; all the beats that you remember from the first film are still here. Seriously - this is probably the easiest money any screenwriter has ever made. There's almost nothing even remotely new here, lending the entire film an air of redundancy that mostly induces deja vu headaches. This movie simply has no reason to be.

(Honorable mention: 'The Longest Ride;' 'The Gunman;' 'The Woman in Black 2;' 'Rock the Kasbah')

Last modified on Friday, 29 March 2019 17:23

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