Posted January 10, 2017 | Updated February 13, 2017

 

Contrary to popular opinion...I don't expect much out of the movies that I see.  

I really don't.

All I ask of them is one simple thing: be good.  

That's all.  

I think that's a modest request to place upon today's filmmakers.  Many people have this narrow minded viewfinder through which they construct an opinion of critics.  More often than not, people think that critics want to go out of their respective ways to hate a film.  That's categorically untrue.  I've screened well over 1500 films during my 12 years as a critic and I can emphatically state that I wouldn't spend so much time in darkened cinemas with complete strangers every year unless I loved movies.  I want every film I see to be great.  

Alas, every year a multitude of films supremely disappoint me...and 2016 was no exception whatsoever.

I fancy myself to be an awfully fair and open minded chap.  I like giving every film the benefit of the doubt going in, but when some (especially the ten that I will get to below) seem to go out of their respective ways to make me either unintentionally laugh or inspire my gag reflex while watching them (or, in worst case scenarios, offend me)...there's no redeeming them at all.  The year that was - much like every year since I began this modest film review site - offered up a predictable smorgasbord of cinematic mediocrity, with films ranging from wrongheaded sci-fi sequels, insipid comic book inspired sequels, idiotic action sequels, charmless comedy sequels, ineptly rendered swords and sandal fantasies, star-studded inspirational dramas, hammy book-to-screen adaptations, and two films starring Zac Efron.  He deserves a special Wall of Shame award for appearing in two films that made the cut here.  

No matter how you proverbially slice it, there's no getting around these ten films and their startling and indefensible wretchedness.  Let the following list of my TEN WORST FILMS OF 2016 serve as a reflective warning as to why you should have stayed away from the cinema during the last twelve months.  I'll begin with the most putrid offender of them all and then follow that up with nine very worthy - and dubious - contenders:

 
 

COLLATERAL BEAUTY

 

 
 

I can easily say - and without any hesitation or regret - that COLLATERAL BEAUTY was the worst film that I had the displeasure of seeing in 2016.  

It was also a film that was just...plain...wrong. 

It was wrong for having one of the most fraudulent trailer marketing campaigns in recent memory.  It was wrong because it used very touchy and sensitive themes of child death, grief, cancer, adultery, and infertility as cheap tools to dispense would-be tear inducing melodrama (that, and it threw in the accoutrements of Christmas for good measure as well).  Worst of all, COLLATERAL BEAUTY was wrong for the manner it wasted the superlative talents of multiple award nominated and winning actors (almost too many to count) in a work of such pathetically obvious Oscar nomination bait that didn't even have the decency to be any good.  I loathed the manner that this film lured me in and deceived me, and for those reasons - and far too many more that are frankly to painful to bring up here - COLLATERAL BEAUTY easily deserves top placement as the most criminally awful movie of the past year.
 
 

MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES

 
 

 

MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES belongs on an awfully long list of modern comedies that mistakenly believe that chronic vulgarity and wanton crudeness equals cutting edge high hilarity.  I've seen many teeth grating nuptials-themed comedies before, but this has to be one of the most mind numbingly obnoxious that I've ever experienced.  The fact that it's based on true story makes the resulting film all the more eye rollingly shameful. 

Zac Efron (an actor that I have admired in comedies like NEIGHBORS) and Adam DeVine (an actor that - after watching this film - I'll be glad never to see in another film for as long as I live) spent so much time here hammering home telegraphed punch lines by boisterously screaming and yelling in hyperactive fits while somehow pathetically thinking that it came off rather amusingly.  They bellow out their dialogue exchanges like petulant nine-year-old boys that haven’t achieved puberty yet, which was one of the many reasons why the excruciatingly intolerable MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES made me flee for the cinema exits after it ended like a frightened toddler. 
 
 

DIRTY GRANDPA

 
 

If your idea of a good time at the movies is to see the legendary Oscar winning actor of such films as RAGING BULL and TAXI DRIVER aggressively masturbate, drop n-bombs multiple times, insult homosexuals, make jokes about child and prison rape, and drape his penis and testicles right next to his grandson’s head at his pillow while in bed...then DIRTY GRANDPA is most assuredly for you.   

For everyone else with some semblance of taste and decency…flee for your very lives away from this film like the plague that it is.  I felt dirty while watching DIRTY GRANDPA, and very few comedies as of late have instilled in me feelings of worthlessness as much as this one did. 
 
 

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

 
 

 

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE came 20 frustratingly long years after its 1996 original, which was an agreeably enjoyable ode to 1970's disaster cinema and the alien invasion/flying saucer pictures of the 1950's.  Unfortunately, this massively expensive effort was an excruciatingly bad work of soul crushing disappointment and might be one of the most tediously written, ineptly acted, and aggressively moronic big budget Hollywood summer sequels in an awfully long time.  It's an embarrassing alien mother ship sized waste of talent and financial resources.   

There's a reason Will Smith declined to appear in this schlock...and movie scheduling conflicts weren't the primary reason.  INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE felt like one big overproduced and ill conceived...cheat.  I expected a worthy follow-up to the problematic, but guiltily enjoyable original, but what we got instead – if you ignore its visual effects sheen - barely registered above the awful moniker of a direct-to-Syfy Channel/TV sequel.  The first INDEPENDENCE DAY was an event film not to missed.  INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE was a stupefyingly abysmal non-event film that was best left avoided and ignored. 

 

 
 

GODS OF EGYPT

 
 

I'm not sure what's more utterly depressing about GODS OF EGYPT: the fact that it was made or the fact that it was made by a proven filmmaking talent.   

Just knowing that GODS OF EGYPT was directed by Alex Proyas is staggeringly disheartening, seeing as he was the man behind such dark, moody, and forebodingly memorable films like THE CROW and DARK CITY, not to mention compellingly constructed sci-fi thrillers like the crazily underrated KNOWING.  GODS OF EGYPT utterly failed to evoke what made Proyas’ past work so aesthetically rich and intriguing.  The film was garish, bombastic, mindless, and wholeheartedly soulless...and a categorical mess for all involved.  And this film was ambitious (oh, was it ever!) in terms of being a $150 million fantasy that tapped into Egyptian mythology, but this would-be epic of gods and mortals felt more like a cold and antiseptic video game with a chaotically rushed visual sheen than a fully realized piece of cinematic escapism.  Proyas had no business making a film so wasteful and ultimately wretched as what's on display here.  

 
 

THE BOSS

 
 

I grow increasingly tired of putting putrid Melissa McCarthy comedies on these yearly lists because, quite frankly, she's above their mediocrity.  She's an easily likeable soul with bona fide comedic chops. 

Yet, she continually allows herself to partake in one cringe inducing, laugh-free endurance test of will after another like the grotesquely awfully TAMMY and the equally dreadful IDENTITY THIEF, all of which featured the obligatory McCarthy on-screen persona: the outwardly atrocious, toxically dislikeable, and verbally abusive slob that, deep down, just wants to be understood and loved because – gosh darn it! – she's a really nice soul with deeply hidden emotional wounds.  THE BOSS was not only just as predictably unfunny as her previous intolerable efforts, but it also represented her returning back to a creative well that's been dry for years.  This movie was mercifully short at 90 minutes, but it often felt like 90 minutes too much during my screening of it. 
 
 

INFERNO

 
 

INFERNO was one of the dumbest films featuring smart people in front of and behind the camera that I saw not only in 2016, but perhaps in the last several years.  It's the third film in the Robert Langdom cinematic universe of films - based on the massively popular novels penned by Dan Brown - and it just happens to be its dopiest.   

I was in a state of toleration for the introductory Langdom film, THE DA VINCI CODE, but found myself in driven to head shaking incredulity with the wrongheaded awfulness of its follow-up. ANGELS AND DEMONS.  INFERNO achieved the dubious honor of being even more laughably preposterous than its predecessor, and perhaps committed the largest indefensible sin of all by rendering star Tom Hanks - one of our greatest actors - into an exposition dispensing machine.  The sleep and giggle inducing blandness that tainted this frankly exhausted franchise was staggering, but it's all the more shocking that the typically assured and confident Ron Howard was at the directorial helm of it all.  INFERNO is not on the worst film of his long career, but it's also one of the most insipidly produced films of the year that was.  

 
 

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS

 
 

   

The second Michael Bay produced TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLE movie.  

Yeah.  'Nuff said.  Next...

 
 

MECHANIC: RESURRECTION

 
 

If I were going to teach a movie studies class on how not to make a sequel then MECHANIC: RESURRECTION would be at the absolute top of the curriculum. 

One of the central baffling mysteries of this film is the fact that someone out there legitimately felt that the general filmgoing public was ravenously clamoring for a follow-up entry to the 2011 original.  Now, pondering why a studio - or any studio for that matter - would enthusiastically green light this completely unnecessary sequel is beyond me, but the script for MECHANIC: RESURRECTION was so assaultive to the collective intelligence of its viewers in its attempts to turn this franchise into a lame duck James Bond clone.  Don't get me wrong...I love me some Jason Statham and have largely been an apologist of his work for years, but I was in a far less forgiving mood while watching this tedious watching checking bore of an action thriller.  That, and the manner that the screenwriters used real world social strife as a simplistic plot device to drive the idiocy of this film's story forward was patently offensive.   
 
 

RIDE ALONG 2

 
 

 

RIDE ALONG 2 is not a movie.  It's barely a movie.  It contains a premise as flimsy as they come and is so mournfully bland and derivative that I felt like getting out of my theater chair while watching it to reach out at the screen and check for the pulses for those starring in it to see if they were actually alive.   

Not only is RIDE ALONG 2 a movie that was pathetically dead on arrival, but it's a sequel that didn't have a kernel of modest originality to it, opting for repetitious copying of the previous film's formula and premise as opposed to doing something fresh and novel with it.  Even though this was a monumentally embarrassing comedy for all involved, I do get why it was made.  The first film earned well over a hundred million dollars on a modest $25 million budget.  This sequel grossed well over one hundred million dollars as well.  That means RIDE ALONG 3 will frighteningly become a reality.  

Be afraid...be very afraid.

 

 

Watch me discuss some of my picks from above... 

Well...that felt good.  My TEN WORST list is complete...but I'm not done yet!  Here's a few more films that were not terrible enough to make the TEN WORST, but were easily forgettable all the same.  Consider these:
 

CrAiGeR's NEGLIGIBLE FILMS OF 2016

 
 

MASTERMINDS:  From the director of NAPOLEON DYNAMITE came this criminally unfunny mess of a comedy that squandered an exceptional group of gifted actors.      

 

NOW YOU SEE ME TOA charm-free sequel that was more unintentionally giggle inducing than thrilling.  

 

CRIMINAL: How could a film starring the likes of Kevin Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Gary Oldman, and Tommy Lee Jones be so eminently dull and wasteful?    

 

THE DIVERGENT SERIES - ALLEGIANT: This third entry in the monumentally disposable and forgettable dystopian young adult sci-fi series did little to improve upon the sins of its predecessors. 

THE 5TH WAVE:  Hey look!  Another remarkably disposable and forgettable young adult sci-fi film.    

ASSASSIN'S CREED:  Relax, everyone.  This latest video game to movie adaptation did little to improve the long suffering genre.    

BILLY LYNN'S LONG HALFTIME WALK:  Ang Lee's latest effort pushed the boundaries of movie making technology without ever really pushing the boundaries of storytelling.   

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC:  Viggo Mortensen's performance was top notch, but this dysfunctional family drama lacked nerve in dealing with its compelling themes.

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN:  A beyond obvious and desperate attempt to be this past fall's GONE BABY GONE, but with far less evocative direction, intriguing scripting, and enthralling performances.

ELSTREE 1976:   Funny, but for a documentary about Elstree Studios and the making of the very first STAR WARS in the mid-1970's you learn very about the studio and film in question. 

BLAIR WITCH:  If you were expecting this to be an audaciously original new installment in the BLAIR WITCH cinematic universe then you were setting yourself up for mighty disappointment with this one.

MORGAN:  From Luke Scott (son of Ridley) came this sci-fi thriller about artificial intelligence that lacked scripting intelligence.

STAR TREK BEYOND:  This third film in the somewhat ill conceived STAR TREK reboot movie series was fun in modest dosages, but failed to capitalize on its meditative themes.  

THE LEGEND OF TARZAN:  An impressively mounted, but ultimately lackluster retooling of Edgar Rice Burroughs' iconic literary character; it failed to make this centuries old property relevant.

KNIGHT OF CUPS:  As beautifully shot as just about anything else that Terrence Malick has made...and arguably just as self-indulgently impenetrable.  

RATCHET AND CLANK:  With subpar computer animation and and clumsy scripting, this adaptation of the classic Insomniac Games series literally put me to sleep while watching it.  

THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER'S WAR:  An utterly unnecessary sort of a prequel, sort of a sidequel, and mostly sequel to SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN was a watch checking endurance test.

13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI:  Michael Bay's attempt at a military/political thriller left me predictably cold with its soulless approach.

     
  And finally, here's a dishonorable mention list of films that I felt were more disappointing than truly awful.  Consider these:  
 

CrAiGeR's MISSED OPPORTUNITIES of 2016

 
 

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS:  Tom Ford's sumptuously shot thriller with multiple story threads was visually opulent, but unevenly written.

PASSENGERS:  This sci-fi space exploration romantic thriller had a wondrously captivating - and somewhat fraudulently advertised - premise that was never executed to the fullest possible manner.

RULES DON'T APLLY:  Director Warren Beatty's return to screen after a long period of creative dormancy contained multiple stellar performances in a narrative that was far too busy for its own good.. 

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDRENA peculiar Tim Burton fantasy?  Yes?  A captivating and awe inspiring Tim Burton fantasy?  Not really.

 

JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK:  A problematic and undisciplined sequel to the exceedingly well crafted original.  

BEN HUR:  An ambitious and decently acted remake of a remake of a remake that stumbled out of the gate just when it was generating some serious momentum.

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN: Yet another remake from the year that was that benefited from an exceptionally assembled cast that never found a way to subvert and improve upon the original. 

BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE:  This R-rated animated adaptation of one of the greatest Batman graphic novels of all time was mostly faithful to the source material, but made some abysmally foolish additions to it.   

NERVE:  A thriller with an intriguing premise, but no idea how to pay it off handsomely in the end.  

JASON BOURNE:  The long awaited return of star Matt Daman and director Paul Greengrass to this storied franchise netted surprisingly disappointing results.  

THE BFG:  A highly rare Steven Spielberg misfire - also from the writer of E.T. - THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL - that seemed like it was working overtime to make me care about its underlining story.   

SWISS ARMY MAN:  One of the most bizarre films of 2016 benefited by two very game and thankless performances, but its rampant weirdness held me at a cold distance.  

GHOSTBUSTERS:  Proof positive why remaking an iconic and cherished comedy classic is never really a solid idea.   

FREE STATE OF JONES:  A noble minded and well intentioned Civil War era drama that lacked narrative symmetry. 

THE SHALLOWS:  A shark attack thriller that began promisingly, but devolved rather quickly with its lackluster execution in the latter stages.  

ME BEFORE YOU:  This romance drama contained decent lead performances, but its handling of themes regarding the plight of disabled people was condescendingly shallow.   

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE:  This third film in the robustly assured X-MEN reboot film series was easily its weakest entry.   

NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING  A moderately funny, but generally not very innovative comedic sequel to the rousingly amusing 2014 original.. 

MONEY MONSTER:  Timely and provocative themes couldn't help overcome this film's wildly uneven tone and pacing.   

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENTS:  This Netflix Original Film from proven funnyman Ricky Gervais played it achingly safe as a news satire.   

HARDCORE HENRY:  This action thriller had impeccable filmmaking craft on display, but it never once overcame its one note gimmick status.  . 

EDDIE THE EAGLE:  A noble minded and well intentioned reality based sports film that wallowed in overused troupes.   

LONDON HAS FALLEN: Anyone else remember this half hearted follow-up to the infinitely better OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN?  Yeah, didn't think so. 

ZOOLANDER 2:  This long gestating sequel to the 2001 original wasn't nearly as really, really, really, really good looking...or funny. 

JACKIE:  Natalie Portman shines in this messy and chaotic film about the most famous First Lady in American history. (Updated February 13, 2017)

 

 

 
 
     
 

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