Last week, I covered the best films of 2015. Now it’s time for the worst.
You see, it isn’t always easy being a movie critic. To do it right, you’ve got to see everything. As with any form of art, most of the movies produced each year aren’t very good. Then there are the special ones that go so far off the mark that they aren’t just bad, they’re practically irresponsible. You know, movies that make you bang your head against the wall and question why you even watch movies in the first place. I’ve seen many of those this year, but now it’s time for me to narrow the list down to ten. I’m doing this for you. These ten sad excuses for movies aren’t fit for human consumption. No one should have to suffer through them like I did. Please learn from my mistakes. Avoid this nonsense at all costs.
10) ‘The Cobbler’
It’s not unusual for Adam Sandler to release a bit of overly sentimental schmaltz that lands on a worst movie list. However, it is incredibly odd for writer/director Tom McCarthy (‘The Station Agent’, ‘Win Win’) to be responsible for one. It’s unclear how their unholy partnership came to be or what they thought they were doing, but it happened. McCarthy, the man who focuses on painfully real human drama, somehow decided that he should make a movie about a cobbler who assumes the look and personality of anyone whose shoes he wears thanks to a magical sewing machine.
No, I’m not sure why that happens. I don’t think anyone else in the movie knew either. But this thing exists and it’s not even a goofy Sandler comedy with that premise. It’s an impossibly earnest dramedy that fails on every conceivable level. ‘The Cobbler’ is such a wild misfire that some might even wonder if McCarthy had lost mind as a filmmaker. Thankfully, he followed up this piece of junk with one 2015’s finest movies in ‘Spotlight’. So all is forgiven, Tom. As for the Sand-man? Not so much.
9) ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’
Bad jokes and gentle racism have returned! Once again, a selection of talented British actors who really should know better got a paid vacation in India to do potty humor and condescend to the local culture. It was offensive and awful the first time around, but since it appealed to an underserved elderly audience and capitalized on the love for actors like Judi Dench and Bill Nighy, ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ was an unexpected hit. So everyone reunited and made an even less inspired follow-up to capitalize on the success. Thankfully, this horrible sequel made less money than the original. Sadly, it still made enough to qualify as a hit. We may have to sit through a third ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ movie.
8) ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’
Yes, that paperback bondage romance that your mom loves made it to the big screen in 2015. Like me, you may have merely assumed that the book was garbage without reading it. Well, you were right and the movie is no better.
Hey, does it sound exciting to watch a horribly wooden actor talk about bondage with his shirt off and come close to acting out on it without ever really showing anything because the movie still needed to be rated R? If so, buckle up. This is an edgy, sexy movie for anyone who can’t be bothered to plug “BDSM” into Google. It’s an absolute trudge to sit through, yet was somehow a massive hit, enough so that two more ‘Grey’ movies are guaranteed. I’m going to have to figure out how to avoid gouging out my eyes while suffering through both of those. Sigh… Now that’s “fifty shades of fucked up.” (Actual line of dialogue from this atrocious movie, I swear.)
7) ‘The Forger’
Take a look at this picture of John Travolta, paying special attention to his ridiculous chin hair.
All you need to know is that’s an actual image from ‘The Forger’, a movie in which Travolta plays an art forger forced out of retirement to save his cancer-ridden son. No, it’s not a parody. It’s real. ‘Nuff said.
6) ‘Taken 3’
Look, by the third chapter in a cornball action franchise, it’s expected that everyone involved won’t exactly be invested. However, they could at least make it seem as though they’re trying. Not so with ‘Taken 3’, a movie made by such lazy and disinterested people that star Liam Neeson couldn’t even be bothered to do his own running, requiring ludicrous editing and bad stunt doubles to conceal his lack of effort. (Note: none of these tricks work.)
‘Taken 3’ is a 90-minute long insult to the audience who paid to see it. Instead of this horrible threequel, the filmmakers should have just released a tape of Neeson saying, “Hey assholes. You want Taken 3? Well, we don’t want to make it. But we’ll take your money. Thanks.” At least that would have been more honest than whatever the hell ‘Taken 3’ is supposed to be.
5) ‘Strange Magic’
Want to know why it’s a good thing that George Lucas is no longer involved with ‘Star Wars’? Watch ‘Strange Magic’, his contribution to cinema in 2015. That should clear things up.
Here’s the thing about ‘Pixels’: A movie about overgrown 1980s arcade warriors fighting off weaponized 8-bit characters sent by an alien race is actually a clever idea. This could have been a fun blockbuster comedy tapping into the videogame nostalgia that’s all the rage these days. Unfortunately, the movie fell into the hands of Adam Sandler. It was so lazily conceived in a sexist, stupid, unfunny, paint-by-numbers screenplay that all the visual effects in the world couldn’t save it. What a waste. Even by Sandler’s pathetic standards, ‘Pixels’ is an insult to paying audiences. Thank god Sandler went to Netflix. At least now when viewers suffer through his shenanigans, they won’t have to pay extra for the privilege.
3) ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip’
Hi, it’s me. We don’t talk much, but I really need your help. There have been no less than three ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’ movies now. I understand that they’ve made vast amounts of money distracting children and that some studio executives have gotten all the hookers and blow they’ve ever wanted out of the arrangement. However, no one really likes these movies and film critics are required to suffer through early morning screenings of them.
We hate those movies. Those movies hate us. They’ve really outstayed their welcome. I understand that a fourth one is coming out in 2015 called ‘The Road Chip’ or something. It’s pretty much guaranteed to be the worst Chipmunks movie yet and I just can’t take the pain anymore. Is there any way that you could make ‘Chipmunks 4’ open opposite ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ so that there’s no chance it would be successful enough to spawn a fifth chapter in the franchise? It would mean the world to me and, as you know, God, I’m your number one fan. Please make this happen.
For about a decade or so, Johnny Depp could really do no wrong. No matter what movie he slapped his name on, audiences would flock to the theater. Well, those times have changed and ‘Mortdecai’ might be the movie than finally kills off any good will that audiences have left for Mr. Depp.
It’s a movie based around horrible, sub-‘Austin Powers’ sex puns and a mustache. Seriously, Depp and everyone else involved in ‘Mortdecai’ somehow thought one moustache would be enough to justify the existence of an entire globe-trotting spy comedy. Shockingly, they were wrong. In fact, they made one of the least entertaining comedies ever conceived. The movie is so bad that even Jeff Goldblum can’t save it for a scene, and as we all know, that’s damn near impossible. ‘Mortdecai’ was such an instant pop culture punchline that some folks want to transform it into an ironic cult movie. I wish those people good luck. They’ll need it.
Finally, only one movie in 2015 was so completely reprehensible that it had to top this list – a film that took all the chauvinism, sexism, materialism, stupidity and moral bankruptcy of the ‘Entourage’ TV series and amplified it to such a nauseatingly earsplitting degree that it was offensive enough to upset viewers in neighboring theaters. Seriously, the movie managed to scrub away the faint hints of satire hidden in the TV series and deliver only the most rage-inducingly bro-tastic qualities.
The movie is so bad that even the show’s most diehard and braindead fans had to admit it was garbage. This vile work of lifestyle porn and base male fantasies should be deleted off every hard drive that ever housed it and removed from human existence entirely. Since that can’t happen, the fact that it finally killed off the ‘Entourage’ franchise will do. I can take some comfort there.
If the Top Ten list didn’t cover enough crap, here are 26 more piles of cinematic garbage that deserved a spot on this list, but didn’t make the cut.
‘Black or White’
‘The Boy Next Door’
‘By the Sea’
‘Everything Will Be Fine’
‘The Last Witch Hunter’
‘The Longest Ride’
‘Love the Coopers’
‘Playing It Cool ‘
‘Rock the Kasbah’
‘She’s Funny That Way’
‘That Sugar Film’
‘The Water Diviner’
Lol, nice list Phil. I agree with most of your selections from the ones that I’ve seen. I feel like Blackhat got a bad rap though. I’m a Mann fan and only recently caught up with this one on blu because of the bad reviews. I enjoyed it a lot and don’t think it’s among the “worst” movies of the year. It’s a more mediocre entry into the director’s canon but still enjoyable if you like his stuff.
Yeah…I hated it. But I’ve also always been of the opinion that Michael Mann is overrated. So that might be a personal bias slipping through.
Point taken, fair enough.
Of the 36 listed movies…I saw one (Exotic Marigold hotel) and indeed it was crap. I was either exceedingly lucky with movie choices this year or unusually spot on with my choices.
Yeah, I didn’t see any of the movies on that list. I toyed with giving ‘Blackhat’ and ‘She’s Funny That Way’ a chance at the time of their release, but at this point it looks like I’ll probably never see either of them.
Let it be known that I deeply regret not including The Wedding Ringer in the extended list. An egregious error that must be corrected with this comment.
For what it was, I thought 50 Shades of Grey was a perfectly passable (and surprisingly well-acted) film. It’s not like it had great source material to work with.
You’re not helping out anyone with that opinion 😉
Well acted though? Uh, not even close….
‘Alvin and the Chipmunks 4’ is still making quite a lot of money, actually. Phil’s prayers went unanswered.
Shhhhhh! Don’t say that out loud. Someone might be listening.
(whispering) I’m sorry! I’ll be good!
I quite liked Blackhat. It’s lower tier Michael Mann for sure, but it still has his great trademark style. It has some great action moments and more than a few visuals that made just sit back in awe of that man’s direction. It wasn’t great, but worst of the year? Not for me. I even bought the BD.
To be fair- Mordecai is an adaptation of the book The Great Modecai Mustache Mystery, so slagging it based on Mustache-centric-ness is like wondering “why all the Chipmunks?” in an Alvin and the Chipmunks movie. Not defending the movie (never saw it), but just explaining why the mustache was important.
Why choose that book to adapt into a movie? The idea sounds terrible on its face. (Get it? “On its face.” Like a mustache is on Johnny Depp’s face. Har har har har har har… Ohhh, mustaches…)
A novel’s promise reduced to a smoky ruin: thus must ashes taste bitter indeed.
Last night a friend informed me that she took her eight-year-old son to see The Road Chip, and he asked to leave the movie early. Now in all fairness, I should disclose that the lad is autistic, and as such he might be expected to have markedly atypical reactions to things—but on the other hand, (A) he did enjoy the only other two movies he’s so far seen theatrically (Inside Out and The Peanuts Movie) and (B) according to my friend, none of the other children at The Road Chip laughed.
The screening I attended was filled with children. No laughs. The kids were mostly restless. Many families left. So, I’m not surprised to hear that. I wish the boy had gone to Star Wars instead. 8 is a perfect age for that.
I don’t know—he used to be terrified of R2-D2. It was presumed that this was because of Artoo’s resemblance to a vacuum cleaner, a source of very distressing noise. Maybe that’s no longer an issue, for he has developed a love for robots—though come to think of it, that might be restricted to androids and cyborgs and exclude astromechs. I’d rather try first exposing him to the Star Wars, with no shot from Greedo, than to the half-baked also-ran currently in theaters. Any Star Wars might be too intense for him, though—Snoopy’s dogfights were a tad much on the lad.
We might be taking him to an upcoming big-screen showing of The Wizard of Oz. I’m planning on touting the Tin Man as a kind of robot.
Yeah. You should maybe be careful with Star Wars if Peanuts was too intense…but I’d still start the ball rolling with the originals just in case he likes it. The Wizard Of Oz should be a blast though.
Hot Pursuit doesn’t deserve to be on the DM list. It’s not that bad.
I’ve seen that on a bunch of worst lists so far, so I’m guessing most people dont agree with you 😉
Quite frankly, its up there with every other car chase / car racing movie I have ever seen. That doesn’t mean its good, it means all the others are bad. I have never seen a good car-centered movie, but my friends still insist on dragging me to them.
Hot Pursuit at lest seemed to have some story that SORTA made sense.
I actually liked The Cobbler quite a bit. It was a nice departure from his usual silly/forgettable comedies, and had some heart. I can think of MANY movies that came out in 2015 that were worse.
And if you don’t know why he has a magic stitcher machine, you must not have been paying attention. It’s explained at the beginning of the movie, along with the phrase “If you want to know a man you must first walk in his shoes” or something like that.
Yeah, I know the machine was hiding in the basement from his father. And yes, I heard that horrrrrrrrrible line about walking in another man’s shoes. Didn’t fix the stupidity and certainly didn’t actually explain why any of that nonsense happened. Glad you enjoyed The Cobbler though. At least that’s one person.
Sorry Phil. Nope, it’s not just one person who enjoyed the Cobbler.
The Cobbler allows for a truly unique experience for a viewer to witness a…
(Really spoils your unique experience, so don’t read if you haven’t seen it yet.)
…superhero origin story. Every other Marvel/DC origin story, you already know
the punchline to the joke. You don’t walk in knowing this film is a superhero origin
story. You get to be a kid again to first learn about that nerdy kid who gets bitten
by a radioactive spider and don’t already know what will happen next.
The Cobbler really does one of the best examinations of actual emotion and
exploration of the discovery of superpowers. When categorized as a superhero
origin story, it works.
Some films are misunderstood. But when properly categorized, it can change
the viewer’s perspective.
(I could be wrong.)
It’s not a superhero movie, despite the Men In Black ending. I’m glad that the immense boredom you felt watching the movie led to that theory though. At least that’s something positive to come out of the dreary viewing experience. Nice try.
Hi Phil, I speak to you in good faith.
We are not debating opinions on if vanilla or chocolate is best.
It’s pretty clear once one sees the superhero-origin-story angle,
it’s undeniable. It’s not a “theory.” It’s fair that you hated the
film. But it’s wrong, that you deny the genre.
And to be snippy with comments about “immense boredom”
and “dreary” when I clearly stated the opposite, confirms
Pedram and I stated factual in-film evidence against your
claims. Never did we argue against your opinion. We
pointed out where you were wrong in your argument. And
I was civil in my comments.
Hey, your opinion is in the consensus for critics of the film.
The film is hated by most. We know that.
Nonetheless, McCarthy made one of the more emotional
and nuanced superhero origin story films. (But I could be
You sarcastically ended with: “Nice try.”
I in good faith plead: “Try.”
Oh, I’m sorry Tim. I assumed that you enjoyed snarky and dismissive replies to writing about film. I’m not sure what you’ve done in the past that would make me think that though…hmmmmm…
Yeah, Phil, most of the net’s comments are:
“Your opinion is different from mine, so you suck!”
But that is not me. I will and do skewer you. But I
actually read what you write. Sometimes, I read it
too carefully. I comment on the content of your writing.
Let me demonstrate that:
You write about assumptions about the past corrupting
your present thinking. Yet thank goodness for McCarthy’s
Spotlight, you were able to judge it without your past
assumptions about the Cobbler.
Yet you weren’t able to read my present comments
without your past assumptions of me…
You can do it Phil. You didn’t see it at first. But you
do now. You do see that the Cobbler is a superhero
origin story. And once you get that perspective, try.
Maybe revisit it? Watch it like you are learning about
Peter Parker and his radioactive spider for the first
And maybe you’ll still hate it. And that’s okay.
And Phil, you suck, because your opinion is different
That wasn’t why. It was because the machine was given to his father by an angel who he took in and sheltered during a storm when no one else would.
This doesn’t make the movie sound any better.
If you have to ask why radioactive spiders bestow special powers,
that won’t make it sound any better, either.
In this genre, you don’t keep asking why.
It wasn’t supposed to make it sound better. It was just supposed to support the claim that there was an explanation to why the magic was happening, contrary to what Phil said.
And yes, how it sounds on paper doesn’t always determine the quality. Kinda like how timcharger said.
Oh and it was a huge mistake to leave out Hitman: Agent 47. I don’t know what I was thinking. That was a hot garbage fire.
I thought ‘Mortdecai’ was very funny. Sure, it was a bad movie, but I did laugh quite a few more times than I did with during other comedies that have received better reviews.
You seem frequently offended. We get it, sexism bothers you even in comedic context, you’re a progressive hero.
Sorry to say (given the derision it gets), but my girlfriend and I, with a couple of friends, really had a blast watching Pixels. 🙂 Seeing the poor reviews we didn’t have any expectations, but we were laughing our heads off. With all the lacklustre movies this year, I thought it was really great fun. Silly? Yes. It was a comedy about aliens invading in the form of 80’s computer games… (maybe we were blind, but where was the terribly offensive sexism?)
I’d personally put the new Star Wars pretty high on this list of year’s worst. It was also by far the laziest film I’ve seen this year. It wasn’t even a film that aimed high but failed in its aspirations. It aimed so low to avoid any criticism, but played it so safe it didn’t attain any worth at all. About the best that can be said, is it was shockingly mediocre and forgettable fan-fiction, failing on almost every level, from recycled plot to poor characters or throwing away existing character arcs… Almost nothing of visual interest or originality (Where were the new spaceship designs? Interesting new worlds? Strange and unusual aliens?) Even Pixels was more scientifically well thought out, At least Lucas never decided that all of the planets in the galaxy are within the distance of the average moon, and the speed of light is instantaneous… Bring back jar Jar!!!
I saw Hot Pursuit, Pixels and Fantastic Four. I though Pixels was a lot of fun, and Fantastic Four one of the best superhero movies of the last ten years!
Sadly, Hot Pursuit just left me bored