Weekend Movies: 2016’s First Wave of Bad Movies

January is often the home of some of the new year’s very worst releases – movies so bad they didn’t belong in either the fall awards season nor in the blockbuster summer season. The only other potential burial ground for these catastrophes is the barren month of September, but for some reason the studios decided to push their little embarrassments to a place where the following 11 months of the year can make you forget about them.

The widest release of the weekend is Lionsgate’s attempt at crude R-rated comedy, ‘Dirty Grandpa‘, a movie whose title is so close to that of Johnny Knoxville’s hybrid hidden camera/scripted comedy ‘Bad Grandpa‘ that it’s certainly going to cause confusion. Lionsgate very likely decided to release this in January after the last attempt at boosting Zac Efron’s career (‘We Are Your Friends’) was an epic flop for the record books. The contrived plot has a stick-in-the-mud twentysomething (Efron) driving his vile grandfather (Robert De Niro) on a cross-country trip to a spring break party. This gem has so little promise that Lionsgate uninvited press to the advance screening in my region. Aubrey Plaza and Julianne Hough co-star, giving us two more reasons to avoid it.

Even with YA adaptions on a downward trend, Sony is attempting to kick off another potential franchise with ‘The 5th Wave‘. As bad as the Syfy network’s cheesy original movies are, they’re not as bad as when YA writers attempt to place their angsty tales in science fiction settings. (See: ‘The Host‘). ‘The 5th Wave’ is set on Earth after an alien race has bombarded humankind with four waves of a deadly takeover. Like an EMP, the first wave took out all electronic devices. The second wave was of the literal variety, an oceanic wave that destroyed cities and caused widespread death across the globe. The third wave was disease, which killed off most of the human population. After taking over human bodies, the fourth wave was an army of “body snatchers.” Their mission was to seek out remaining humans for execution. The impending fifth wave is identical to the fourth, only with better-trained killer body snatchers that are hell-bent on making the human race extinct. With only one wave remaining, a survivor (Chloe Grace Moretz) finds a fellow handsome teenager who she’s leery to trust out of fear that he might have had his body taken over by the aliens. Don’t feel pressured to race out to see ‘The 5th Wave’, because it’s sure to end up playing every Saturday afternoon on Syfy starting in 2017.

Just as ‘The Forest’ did with ‘Games of Thrones’ actress Natalie Dormer a few weeks ago, ‘The Boy’ is a big-screen test for Lauren Cohan from ‘The Walking Dead’. The PG-13 horror flick follows a woman who accepts the job to nanny for an older couple’s child. Upon arriving and hearing the strict list of rules she must follow, she learns that their “son” is actually a creepy doll – but when she fails to comply with the rules, terrifying events start to occur that cause her to question whether the doll is actually alive.

Following the ridiculously dumb ‘Knock Knock’, Keanu Reeves is back on the big screen with the small crime drama ‘Exposed‘. When a detective’s partner mysteriously dies, he starts digging down a rabbit hole that’s likely to also land him in the grave. The only thing that might reveal the truth and keep him alive is an unsuspecting girl. ‘Exposed’ reunites Reeves with ‘Knock Knock’ co-star Ana de Armas and, like that previous film, is likely to end up on subscription streaming services in no time at all.

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