All We Ever Got From Them Was Pain: The Worst Movies of 2015

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worst-movies

No matter how good any year at the movies may be, there are still bound to be plenty of abysmal pieces of the cinematic art form, movies that make critics want to gouge out their own eyeballs and introspectively ponder their life decisions. The fact is, as with every year, there were a number of great movies to hit the theaters. Declinist sentiment is typically expressed for those who merely catch a handful of movies. Great movies are out there. But today isn’t the day to discuss the great ones. Today is a day where I have my own dark moment of introspection, looking towards those movies that left me with a searing distaste in my mouth, where I doubted numerous life choices and look to my thumbs as a possible source of salvation.

Then there are those that didn’t make the cut for the Bottom 10. Those earning the dishonorable mention for Worst movie include the grating animated feature Home, the tedious and unfunny Vacation, the ugly and unnecessary Hot Tub Time Machine 2, and barely missing a trilogy of terrible for Adam Sandler, Pixels.

Without further ado, here are the worst movies of 2015.

10) (Tie) Hitman: Agent 47 and The Transporter Refueled

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The doldrums of late-August brought us this pair of borderline indistinguishable and unnecessary reboots. Hitman: Agent 47 tried to revive the failed franchise from ’08, casting Rupert Friend in the role of the borderline anonymous killer with a barcode tattooed on his head. Despite a few moments of some well-choreographed gun fights, Agent 47 operated with an increasingly absurd and incomprehensible plot that at times played like a dimwitted retread of the original Terminator.

Similarly, The Transporter Refueled featured Ed Skrein taking over Jason Statham’s Frank Martin, but this time the Transporter has daddy issues that he must deal with while transporting a small harem of damsels in distress in this ridiculous and grating action film from Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp.

Both of these film peddle in the most reprehensible set of clichés that the action genre has to offer without the benefit of compelling visual action that might justify their existence. In both cases these films don’t exist from a place of necessity, but to try and squeeze a few bucks from those that are holding hope for a fun, albeit stupid, action flick.

9) American Ultra

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When the final box office numbers came in and it became apparent that American Ultra was a flop, the film’s screenwriter, the outspoken Max Landis, took to Twitter to lament that the film’s poor performance indicated the death of creativity at the cinema. Unsurprisingly, the film’s creator might’ve been overselling just how original American Ultra was. After all, the Nima Nourizadeh-directed film basically transported the concept of The Bourne Identity to suburbia and injected a bit of weed, but the resulting film is an action-comedy where none of the jokes work, and the action is resoundingly flat visually.

Despite a spirited performance from Topher Grace and another strong showing from Kristen Stewart, the few standouts could do little with the tired film that was led by Jesse Eisenberg doing that thing that he does, combining a bit of smarmy sarcasm and intellectual arrogance. But that arrogance is the ultimate downfall of American Ultra as the film is never as witty as it thinks its witless spy fare actually is.

Maybe in the Hollywood studio system a half-baked knock off with a slight variation might count for creativity, but in the rest of the world it doesn’t always work that way. If that’s creativity, let it fucking die.

8) Entourage

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Oh yeah! The boys from Entourage are back in a movie that came years too late and runs ways too long. Did you miss the casual homophobia? What about the rampant misogyny? And how about cameos, cameos, and more cameos? Those are the qualities that define Entourage, a film that exists to give its faded cast one last time to jerk off on the screen at the expense of a studio. Adrian Grenier isn’t a movie star, but at least he’s now played one in one of the worst movies of 2015.

The extent of humor in this so-called comedy is an enraged Jeremy Piven yelling various racial and homophobic epithets at his former assistant, played by Rex Lee. But, hey, they got George Takei to officiate the gay wedding at the end so that washes away the previous repellent aspects. Of course, this film is entirely inert with its drama, a collection of characters that live a life devoid of consequences. This unabashed lifestyle porn that has nothing to offer aside from the moronic thrill of famous people playing themselves. The formulaic quirks of Entourage might not be as noticeable in half-hour chunks spread out over weeks at a time. In one two-hour movie, it morphs into such an unbearable experience that tries to trudge along on its charm when, in fact, its brain has been rotting from syphilis for far too long.

7) The Gallows

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The subgenre of found footage horror films has its fair share of misses. On numerous occasions I have professed my disdain for this gimmicky form of storytelling. Even the worst found footage film usually presents some smattering of effort, like there was an interesting concept that was consumed by its gimmick. However, there are no kind words for The Gallows, the found footage film from the writing-directing duo of Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing. Had the gimmickry been removed, The Gallows would’ve run all of a 15 minutes, and that’s being mighty generous. But using the power of found footage, this film was able to run for 90 minutes with enough shots of feet and shoes to rival the entire filmography of Quentin Tarantino.

There aren’t any good scares in The Gallows, just lots of morons yelling into the darkness when they damn well know that there’s danger surrounding them. The Gallows is a film that wallows in clichés without any self-awareness to elevate the idiocy into at least base thrills.

6) Don Verdean

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With so many aspects to riff on, the topic of religion, specifically goofy Evangelicals, is a subject ripe for satire. Don Verdean, the latest comedy from Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess, can’t find a tone or joke that works in his mean-spirited attempt to lampoon those willing to jump through hoops to validate their faith. It really takes a lot of work to get such a dull, lifeless performance out of the typically energetic Sam Rockwell, but Hess does that while also wasting the subtle charms of Amy Ryan, the comedic chops of Jermaine Clement, and simply putting Will Forte and Danny McBride into ill-defined roles that squander their immense talents.

Don Verdean is a film with such an ugliness to every character that doesn’t know how to utilize that ugliness for laughs. Instead it just takes out its rage like a teenager who just discovered atheism and message boards.

5) Soaked in Bleach

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Of all the reviews I wrote this year, none had the entertaining backlash that my pan of Soaked in Bleach garnered. I was accused of being paid off by Courtney Love by a number of passionate fans that remain convinced that Kurt Cobain was murdered by his wife in 1994. This laughably inept film attempted to present its case, but was neither coherent in its arguments or its cinematic form. What those that hurled their accusations failed to recognize, this is an incredibly poor film with some of the most tragically misguided reenactments outside of an E! True Hollywood Story.

Soaked in Bleach fails because it cast too wide a net for the evidence it has. It doesn’t just revolve around inconsistencies in the official story, it flat-out states that Courtney Love is responsible for his murder. Had Benjamin Statler and company focused on just bringing new questions to the forefront, it might be forgivable. But this is a film that interviews about four people and puts forth the case that Courtney Love, a well-noted trainwreck, has committed the perfect murder and kept it under wraps for 20 years. It’s a theory that’s as a laughable as the film.

4: Some Kind of Beautiful

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Long ago, comedy abandoned approaching issues of class with anything resembling an intellectual light. As a matter of fact, comedy has become a playground for well-to-do characters to live a life practically free of consequence (what did I just say about Entourage?). But the Pierce Brosnan-led  romantic comedy Some Kind of Beautiful not only is incredibly horrible in its handling of class – after all, Jessica Alba’s character is able to afford a mythical mansion in the Malibu hills solely because of her unseen rich father – but it carries a strong streak of misogyny in its comedy-free affair.

Brosnan is an aging lothario who exploits his position as a professor in an elite college to sleep with his students, but when one of those students becomes pregnant (Alba), he settles down before she’s able to betray him so we’re forced to feel sorry for this person who had no issue abusing their power for sexual gains. It only gets worse when Brosnan finds himself falling for Alba’s half-sister, played by Salma Hayek. Though its sexual politics are sophomoric and repellent, Some Kind of Beautiful finds its extra-gear of awfulness in its pure negligence towards the class issues that should be inherent in its story. No, this is merely a story of a serial abuser who is able to skate on by for years on end with only the most mild of inconveniences – even worse, it has Brosnan sneak across the Mexican border in a moment of bullshit false humility.

3: The Cobbler

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If I were to have begun penciling in my Bottom 10 in January, I would’ve predicted that at least one Adam Sandler vehicle would make it into the Worst Of list. But I would’ve predicted that spot would be occupied by Pixels, which is a bad movie, no doubt, but not bad enough to warrant inclusion on this list. I certainly didn’t expect that this movie would be helmed by Tom McCarthy, whose late-year film Spotlight is among my Top 10, but The Cobbler is simply that bad. It’s a well-intentioned indie where Sandler sleepwalks through another role, this one as a noble Jewish cobbler with the ability to walk in the shoes of his customers. In the baffling tone of this universe, Sandler uses these powers to go on a crime spree but only when wearing the shoes of black men in what is an astoundingly tone deaf piece of work.

Among some of the more baffling aspects of The Cobbler isn’t just Sandler’s race-based crime spree, but one moment where his character stabs a thug, played by Method Man, in the throat with a stiletto heel. The Cobbler also has a moment where Sandler’s character steps into the shoes of his father (a slumming Dustin Hoffman) and comes dangerously close to living out his oedipal fantasies. Seriously, for a moment there I thought he was going to fuck his mother.

The Cobbler operates on an escalating scale of good intentions gone horribly awry, and concludes with a reveal that is immensely ludicrous and idiotic. The neighborhood barber (Steve Buscemi) removes his shoes and reveals that Sandler’s long lost father has merely stepped into the shoes of another, keeping his watchful eye on his son for decades. He then introduces his son to an underground world where tradesmen perform various civic duties anonymously, except for Chinese dry cleaners for some reason. The reunited father and son drive away in a car with the unforgettable license plate “2Cobble.” If the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, The Cobbler has adopted a lengthy stretch of that particular highway.

2: The Ridiculous 6

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In what is truly a herculean feat, The Cobbler isn’t even the worst Adam Sandler movie to appear on this year’s list. If The Cobbler was made with good intentions, The Ridiculous 6 was made with nothing behind it but pure apathy and contempt for his audience. In the first film of a four-picture deal with Netflix, Adam Sandler gathers a group of his friends to hang about in the southwest for a number of weeks while he sleepwalks through another abysmal performance in a wholly abysmal movie.

There may actually be a few things that were intended to be jokes in The Ridiculous 6, but I was unable to figure out what they were. The things that count for jokes in the humorless affair is a donkey with projectile diarrhea, Vanilla Ice as Mark Twain constantly misusing the word satire, and dire wordplay like “poke-her-hot-tits.”

Perhaps The Ridiculous 6 could’ve avoided inclusion on the worst-of list had it merely played out as a 90-minute comedy. But it doesn’t. For reasons that nobody could possibly answer, The Ridiculous 6 runs an ungodly two hours and never once justifies its bloated running time, especially when a lengthy baseball scene could easily have been excised to slightly dull the assault of blunt-force awfulness. With three more movies due, Sandler promises what the future holds for himself and the streaming service – he’ll apathetically collect their money while tarnishing their brand and sinking their stock prices.

1: Mortdecai

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Despite his best efforts, or lack thereof, Adam Sandler doesn’t have the misfortune of headlining the Worst of 2015 list. That honor belongs to the Johnny Depp vehicle Mortdecai, a one-note comedy devoid of humor aside from endless mustache gags. Directed by David Koepp, who has written some phenomenal movies in his career, Mortdecai was based on a series of comic books by Kyril Bonfiglioli with all of the humor from its source material lost in the adaptation.

Mortdecai takes on an extra layer of tragedy, as Johnny Depp reportedly turned down the lead in the wonderful Grand Budapest Hotel in order to play the mustachioed rogue. Inflecting a dreadful British accent, Depp’s character is in search of a valuable lost painting, but all anyone really gives a damn about is that stupid fucking mustache.

When sitting in the theater last January, it struck me that I may very well have been watching the worst movie of 2015. 12 months later and those suspicions were confirmed. Mortdecai is a witless abomination with humor and performances as dry as the Sahara. And like so many bad movies of this year and the past, Mortdecai runs well past the point of reason, and drags down fine actors in its facial hair-inspired humor. Jeff Goldblum and Paul Bettany deserve better. Johnny Depp, however, does not.

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