CHICAGO – They are out there, lurking…the movie land mines that film critics occasionally step on, which explodes utter crap onto their sensibilities. Yes, it’s time for Ten of the Worst Films from 2015, as compiled by four brave and intrepid writers from Film Autonomy. The players in this game will be designated by their initials in each of the summaries…LMP for Lauren Marie Paterson, MM for Michael Muniz, AS for Austin Sanders and PM for Patrick McDonald. There is no numeric countdown, as all are equally at fault. And away we go…

 

Get Hard  (d. Etan Cohen)

pats top ten - get hard

Image: Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. executives must have a dartboard with bankable stars, and two magic darts to throw, and that’s how they get their slate of film projects (as you will see other examples below). This time it’s Will Ferrell and yes, Kevin Hart, together again for the first time. This clunky comedy dances the fine line of wacky hijinks and borderline stereotyping, and succeeds only in the latter. There were four “creators” on this one – three screenwriters and one extra story developer – which usually means the kiss of death through comedy by committee. There is also obviously sweaty improvisation between Will and Kevin, which mostly flop sweats. (PM)

Pixels  (d. Chris Columbus)

Image: Sony Pictures Releasing

Image: Sony Pictures Releasing

As it turns out, Pixels may not have been the worst movie Adam Sandler released in 2016 (that dubious honor may well go to The Ridiculous 6), but it was certainly one of the worst I saw. Combining the typically effortless, slouchy and blindly offensive humor Sandler has become known for, with the even more frustrating easy-laugh 80s nostalgia jokes, Pixels amounts to a film that makes no effort to properly utilize the classic video game properties it features as its main selling point. Basically, Pixels is Adam Sandler at his schlubiest. More than ever, he just doesn’t seem to care about his performance or even the movie as a whole. It’s getting harder and harder to watch him scoot through his lazy, unfunny work, so I pray that he just decides to hang up the ol’ comedy pen. Sandler had a good run, but if his output in the last half-decade is any indication of what’s left, his best years are long behind him. (AS) Austin Sanders’ entire review: https://filmautonomy.com/pixels-2015/

Ricki and the Flash  (d. Jonathan Demme)

Image: TriStar Pictures

Image: TriStar Pictures

All the ingredients were in place for a stellar outing – Meryl Streep (who really can sing) as the Ricki-the-aging-rocker, a top drawer cast, a screenplay by Diablo “Juno” Cody, and direction by the legendary Jonathan Demme. Somehow, the result was a mess, and I blame Diablo. The script, which is based on her mother-in-law, had a witless soap opera plot with no reality-based characters. What happened to Diablo’s jokey ease-of-style from Juno? Jonathan Demme, who used to a radical visual stylish, is invisible in this rendering. The film proves the old adage, “great actors can’t save a bad script” – Oscar winners Kevin Kline and Meryl Streep can’t revive this turkey. Why, oh why, did Rick Springfield choose this film for his acting comeback? (PM) Michael Muniz has a counterpoint review: https://filmautonomy.com/ricki-and-the-flash-2015/

Rock the Kasbah  (d. Barry Levinson)

Image: Open Road Films

Image: Open Road Films

It’s an aging rock-n-roller TWO-FER! Like most people, I love Bill Murray, which is why I was so disappointed with Rock the Kasbah. Loosely based on the true story of a singing talent show in Afghanistan, this was really a chance for writer Mitch Glazer and director Barry Levinson to help us understand our relationship with the Middle East and America’s obsession with celebrity culture, or at least laugh a little along the way. Instead, all this film offers is a sloppy story that endeavors to make use of Murray’s talent as a down-on-his-luck rock promoter, which in the end makes this lovable loser undeserving of any applause. (LMP) Lauren Marie Paterson’s entire review: https://filmautonomy.com/rock-the-kasbah-2015/

The Intern (d. Nancy Meyers)

Image: Warner Bros.

Image: Warner Bros.

Robert De Niro definitely has some bills to pay, because he makes at least one – if not more – awkward “comedies” per year, playing off the various images of his movie personas. This one pairs him – by Warner Bros., natch – with Anne Hathaway as a Miranda Priestly-esque dot com owner, which might have been relevant in 2003. Of course Bobby D is the older retiree who is an “intern” in the fashion company, and ends up saving the day. Full of typical character types – wacky fat guy, clueless senior citizen, sassy gay assistant – and epic miscasting (Anders Holm of TV’s Workaholics portrays Anne Hathaway’s “husband”), this is a perfect example of writer/director Nancy Meyers not having a clue about modern businesses…or life. With Renee Russo as a girlfriend character for Bobby D, tiresomely insisting all the while that she is old. (PM) Patrick McDonald’s entire review: https://filmautonomy.com/the-intern-2015/

Poltergeist (d. Gil Kenan)

Image: 20th Century Fox

Image: 20th Century Fox

The recent Poltergeist remake isn’t just a bad movie; it’s a movie that never needed to exist. The Spielberg/Hooper 1982 original is still legitimately great. And if there’s one type of movie I have little tolerance for, it’s the unnecessary remake. A movie — especially one universally regarded as classic — should only be remade if the team behind it has proper motivation, if they have a new perspective or if they plan to update the story. The folks behind Poltergeist of 2015 did not approach the project with that mentality at all. Instead, they went for the cash grab, and that is not a meaningful reason to remake a movie. However, that’s precisely what it was – a lazy, inept attempt at pulling in nostalgic moviegoers. Unfortunately, the picture was critic proof. Audiences nearly tripled its budget at the box office, ensuring a fresh deluge of unnecessary remakes coming our way. (AS) Austin Sanders’ entire review: https://filmautonomy.com/poltergeist-2015-yet-another-horror-remake-no-one-needed/

Hot Pursuit (d. Anne Fletcher)

Image: Warner Bros.

Image: Warner Bros.

This is a film that propels itself on the premise that screaming every line makes them funnier, and one of the dialogue screamers is Sofia Vergara. A “buddy” comedy (by the dart throwers of Warner Bros.) of the lowest form, it teams Vergara with…wait for it…Reese Witherspoon. Both actresses have proved adept at comedy before, but it’s obvious that they need decent material to deliver. Some of the “gags” include a rolling suitcase that Vergara’s character keeps dragging around, a cocaine truck that explodes (uh-huh), menstruation jokes and Witherspoon dressing up as Justin Bieber (which emphasizes once and for all how girlish JB looks). Also the winner of the laziest movie title of the year – it should come with its own hammock. (PM)

Minions (d. Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin)

Image: Universal Pictures

Image: Universal Pictures

In a world where Pixar still exists, there should be no excuse for blockbuster animation releases that are devoid of any real storytelling, character development or life lessons. People love to moan and groan about how distracted children are “these days” by shiny things and electronics, and also wring their hands when kids can’t seem to focus on a task – yet Minions is a perfect example of the colorful, noisy, beeping media drawing them to the bright lights and not much else. If you want your kids to learn anything from a movie besides corporate buzzwords, forget about Minions – watch Inside Out. (LMP) Lauren Marie Paterson’s entire review: https://filmautonomy.com/minions-2015/

Entourage (d. Doug Ellin)

Image: Warner Bros.

Image: Warner Bros.

One of the most anticipated TV-series-to-movie transitions became one of the biggest bombs of the year, by exposing the sins of the original HBO series in a confined two hour format. What began in 2004 as a mid-level adventure of four New York City street guys in the soft environs of Los Angeles movie stardom devolved into this junk, revealing the misogyny, male menopause and weird agendas of the aging characters – Jerry “Turtle” Ferrara, for example, wanted his weight loss pointed out about thirty times. It was all just very uncomfortable within a two hour story, with Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osment lending their six names to an already crowded cast list. It begged for Billy Bob and Jeremy Piven’s toupees to come to life and have a drain clogging contest. Distributed by Warner Bros., you guys stay classy. (PM) Patrick McDonald’s entire review: https://filmautonomy.com/entourage-2015/

The Ridiculous 6 (d. Frank Coraci)

Image: Netflix

Image: Netflix

There’s this age-old question people ask each other – “If you could go back in time and kill Adolf Hitler as a baby or small child, thereby preventing the Holocaust and saving millions of innocent people’s lives, would you?”  Here’s my suggestion – find an adolescent Adolf, tie him to a chair, pin his eyes open and go full Ludovico Technique on his ass with Adam Sandler’s entire filmography. The Ridiculous 6 is an Old West comedy that has a basic plot riddled with more holes than Bonnie and Clyde’s V8 Ford. It’s heavy with racial stereotypes – Native American actors famously walked off the set and Rob Schneider (Filipino and Jewish) is portraying a Mexican – and it’s a painfully boring movie, incomprehensibly categorized as a “comedy” that clocks in a life-wasting 113 minutes. It’s just downright distressing to remember a time when Adam Sandler was at the top of his comedic game – actually cracking up audiences – and now having to witness his erosion and decline. (MM)  Michael Muniz’s entire review: https://filmautonomy.com/the-ridiculous-6-2015/

 

For better 2015 movies, click Michael Muniz’s Top 10 Films of 2015: https://filmautonomy.com/pixels-2015/  Patrick McDonald’s Top 10 Films of 2015: https://filmautonomy.com/patricks-top-ten-of-2015/  and Cori Heyman’s Top 10 Horror Films of 2015: https://filmautonomy.com/top-ten-horror-films-of-2015/  Variations on Patrick McDonald’s worst-of summaries originally appeared on HollywoodChicago.com.