SPECIAL: The Worst Movies of 2015

Photo: Image Entertainment

Photo: Image Entertainment

Chris Luckett

As with every year, the day before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences celebrates the best films 2015 had to offer, the Razzie Awards will mock the year’s very worst cinematic turkeys. In much the same way, what better way to precede The Apple Box’s upcoming Best Movies of 2015 feature than looking back at the year’s very worst?

Whereas the biggest trend in the best films to come out last year was exceptionally crafted action, the most common theme in the worst ones were impotent sequels that nobody asked for. Of course, that still left plenty of room for cloying YA adaptations, sanctimonious religious sermons, and multiple Kevin James movies.

These are the worst movies of 2015.

DISHONOURABLE MENTIONS: Hitman: Agent 47, Home, Insurgent, San Andreas, The Transporter: Refueled, War Room


The fact it was adapted from E.L. James’ derided novel didn’t mean the movie would be bad. Neither did the recasting of Jamie Dornan as the titular lead after Charlie Hunnam backed out. And Steven Soderbergh proved with Magic Mike that a movie can be art and soccer-mom catnip. But every decision Fifty Shades of Grey makes is the wrong one. Every time it starts to become interesting, it stalls out. The script barely has an ending. And worst of all, it even fails at the single goal of the book, as the film removes any intimacy readers may have had within the privacy of their homes, creating an awkwardly voyeuristic – yet boringly neutered – viewing experience.


Like Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, Underworld: Awakening, and Transformers: Age of Extinction before it, the fourth Alvin and the Chipmunks movie exists beyond both the points of people caring and of there being any reason for the series to still be going. (Okay, that’s true of any Alvin and the Chipmunks movie.) The fatigue of everyone involved is painfully visible — which would almost make the movie inadvertently amusing, if it weren’t just so sad to watch great comic actors like Jason Lee and Tony Hale reduced to such pitiful depths.


Every year, a few religious movies do the biggest disservice they can to their subject matter by proselytizing with the subtlety of a sledgehammer — and subsequently end up preaching only to the converted. Last year, there weren’t as many atrociously self-righteous ones as in 2014, but Do You Believe? did the work of several. Cloyingly bad dialogue is desperately attempted to be fashioned into acting by once-great thespians like Sean Astin, Mira Sorvino, and Lee Majors in this intertwining “Crash for Christians” that’s insipidly insulting to the spiritual and secular alike.


The only thing worse than Adam Sandler’s usual sophomoric, racist, homophobic tripe is when he looks like he’s actually going to do a good movie — like Punch-Drunk Love, Spanglish, or Reign Over Me — only to slowly reveal it to be his usual sophomoric, racist, homophobic tripe. (Now, with added transphobia!) Unfathomably written and directed by Tom McCarthy (who also made Spotlight, one of the best movies of 2015), the worst Sandler movie in a year that had four of them sees his mopey protagonist finding an enchanted stitching machine that allows him to become everyone from a gangster to a transvestite by wearing their shoes, with all the open-mindedness you’ve come to expect from the man behind I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. (And that’s not even getting into The Cobbler’s brain-wrinklingly moronic ending.)


Normally, faith-based movies end up on this list by being smug sermons, but the prominent spirituality in Little Boy is actually handled quite competently and with skilled nuance. What makes Little Boy such a terrible film is the way it tries to use the deaths of tens of thousands as the backbone to the “charming” story of a young boy in 1945 who is told that with enough faith he can achieve anything. The pint-size Pepper wants nothing more than his father to stop fighting the Japanese in World War II and come home. Crediting Pepper with being able to move a drinking glass across a table is one thing; attributing a devastating catastrophe that took the lives of over 80,000 people to the spiritual wish of a little boy just wanting to bring his dad home is quite another. (The title should tell you what I’m dancing around here.)


The days of skillful erotic thrillers like Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct are long gone. Nowadays, we instead get dreck like Obsessed, No Good Deed, and The Boy Next Door, the most eye-rollingly awful thriller in at least a year. When a teacher played by Jennifer Lopez is seduced by a hot student and subsequently harassed, blackmailed, and terrorized when she won’t keep sleeping with him, she reaches the breaking point, gets pushed too far, and other clichés. Beat by beat, you know exactly how the plot will unfold — except when it makes even dumber moves than you’d expect a functioning movie to make. Before the movie even gets past its setup, you’ll be rooting for the psycho to win.


Remember when Shrek first came out on DVD, and they added that American Idol-y post-credits scene where the animated characters sang 30-year-old pop songs for no discernible reason? Imagine an entire movie of that. But wait, there’s more! Strange Magic also throws in animation cruder than a flipbook, a story that’s simultaneously worn-out and bizarrely complicated, and a soundtrack that would be outdone by a Kidz Bop album. George Lucas came up with the movie, having said in interviews, “Star Wars was for 12-year-old boys; I figured I’d make one for 12-year-old girls.” Strange Magic shows he’s got as little creativity these days as he does respect for girls, boys, or anyone with eardrums.


It’s movies like Hot Pursuit that epitomize the dearth of understanding from studio heads about women as a demographic. The whole thing functions as a “look, women can do goofy comedies just as well as the guys!” flick, but the one-dimensional caricatures played by Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara were already tired archetypes 30 years and these jokes weren’t funny then, either. Most crucially, movies like Midnight Run, The Rundown, or even 2010’s The Bounty Hunter at least have respect for their characters. Every joke in Hot Pursuit that isn’t making fun of Witherspoon’s height is making fun of Vergara’s age. In a time when movies like Baby Mama, Bridesmaids, and The Heat have shown gender has no relevance when actors are given proper respect and funny material, Hot Pursuit is a massive leap backward.


The first Paul Blart: Mall Cop was a pretty bad movie to begin with. A fat joke stretched out to 90 minutes, it was comprised of nothing more than Kevin James mugging for the camera, shoving food in his face, and falling down as often as he could. The sequel is about as worse as it could be. There’s no plot to speak of anymore; things just happen in a random-ish order until the movie feebly ends. Even the first film at least had jokes, as basic as they were; this time, there are so few moments or lines that could even be construed as attempted jokes, it’s like the cast just showed up to an abandoned set one day and started rolling the cameras. But hey, at least they managed to squeeze even more fat jokes in this time around, fitting 39 jokes about Blart’s weight, girth, and love of food into its lean 89 minutes — or one fat joke every 137 seconds.


It’s amazing how common it is for an actor or actress have a horrendous movie come out in theatres right when they’re about to win an Oscar. Eddie Redmayne had his own shame last February with Jupiter Ascending, but the more embarrassing was Julianne Moore’s Seventh Son, an action-fantasy so paint-by-numbers, its memorability is solely due to how painfully awful every bland aspect of it is. A sleepwalking Jeff Bridges plays a photocopy of a photocopy of a mush-mouthed character he’s been playing in every movie since 2010’s True Grit. Moore seems to constantly be looking for some scenery to chew on. Lead actor Ben Barnes could very well be a stagehand who accidentally wandered in front of the lens, for all the acting talent he exhibits here. The script feels like something your friend came up with in grade 4, the CGI is more primitive than in a 20-year-old fantasy like Dragonheart, and every two minutes something flies at the screen — irritating enough when seen in 3D, but all the more grating when watched normally. No movie last year was worse than Seventh Son.

Stay tuned tomorrow, for The Best Movies of 2015!

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