2016 - The Year's Worst Movies

I call this my “ten worst” list but that's not really fair. First, there were movies that – thankfully – I missed that were far worse than at least some of these. Second, there are films that others enjoyed but that I found excruciating. As I've said in previous years, you may agree or disagree but I'm glad I never have to sit through these again.

DIRTY GRANDPA – Remember when Robert DeNiro was hailed as the finest actor of his generation? Hard to believe as he's mostly been showing up for the paycheck for more than a decade. He hits what we can only hope is rock bottom as a randy widower going with his strait-laced grandson (Zac Efron) on spring break. It's hard to believe this is the man who was in “The Godfather, Part II,” “Taxi Driver,” and “Raging Bull.” It would be like Meryl Streep doing a “Porky's” remake.

ZOOLANDER NO. 2 – There was no reason to do a sequel after fifteen years but Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson came back as the two dimwitted fashion models in a movie of low humor, inexplicable cameos (Donald Trump had one in the original), and without any real purpose. This was so bad that even film critics had trouble remembering it at year's end.

LEGEND OF TARZAN – Here was the most embarassing action reboot since “The Lone Ranger,” complete with Alexander Skarsgård as Tarzan, Margot Robbie wasted as Jane, and Samuel L. Jackson as an American diplomat trying to expose the slave trade. The movie was a complete mess with several competing agendas cancelling each other out. And the CGI was better in “The Jungle Book.”

MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES – Apparently taking career advice from Robert DeNiro, Zac Efron popped up in this after “Dirty Grandpa” and “Neighbors 2.” His fans got to see him take his shirt off again, but otherwise this was a movie about two brothers hiring two opportunistic women to be dates for their sister's wedding. It offered up one embarrassing R-rated moment after another in what some contemporary fimmakers are insisting passes for humor.

GHOSTBUSTERS – The movie was an unfunny, incoherent mess, proving that the alleged talents of Melissa McCarthy and Kristin Wiig are vastly overrated. Hack director Paul Feig (of “Bridesmaids” infamy) was so unable to control the material – which he co-wrote – that much of the third act was left on the cuttng floor except for what was salvaged for the closing credits. The one saving grace was Kate McKinnon who stole the movie and desperately needs to get a starring vehicle.

STORKS – In a year of great animation it's hard to say what the worst was, especially since I managed to avoid “The Angry Birds Movie” and “Norm of the North.” It was a toss-up between this and “Trolls,” but this gets the edge with a lame story about a delivery operation run by birds that used to handle babies but now seems more like Amazon. The story goes in several directions without any of the characters being the least bit sympathetic, including a young woman who has grown up with the storks when she was never delivered to her human family. Really.

DEEPWATER HORIZON – Some of my colleagues have been attacking “Patriot's Day” which, whatever its problems, at least tells a cogent story. This movie about a real life oil rig disaster also has director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg but can't figure out how to make sense of what happened. Watching the movie it's hard to tell what's going on, or where the characters are in relation to each other. What happened and who is to blame for the real disaster? Don't watch this movie for the answers.

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN – A waste of time. This would-be thriller is muddled from start to finish to the point that you begin to wonder why the victims of the story are doing so much to put themselves in danger. The main character – a woman, not a girl – obsesses over her ex-husband and his new wife, and their babysitter and her husband. When a crime occurs it's hard to care what happens to any of them.

LA LA LAND – This year's critic's darling (the Boston Society of Film Critics, of which I'm a member, shamefully named this best film) is a musical for people who don't know or care anything about musicals. A miscast Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone sing and dance through a Los Angeles love story, with a forgettable musical score and dance numbers that owe more to older (and better) movies. You can see the filmmakers straining to get it right and falling short.

SILENCE – Martin Scorsese, one of the greatest of American filmmakers, shows how nobody bats 1.000 with this leaden saga of Catholic priests being persecuted in 18th century Japan. One might have a bit more sympathy if a.) these European priests weren't part of an imperialist assault on Japan, b.) the Catholic Church didn't have to answer for the Spanish Inquisition, which did much the same in torturing and killing “heretics,” and c.) the movie wasn't an overlong and unfocused mess. If this was Scorsese's attempt to atone for “The Last Temptation of Christ” it failed miserably.
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Published on December 30, 2016 08:29 Tags: 2016, movies, worst
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Daniel And here's my ten best list.


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