By pretty much any standard I can think of, 2015 has been a poor year for cinema, at least so far. While we’ve had several great films, which were highlighted last week, it feels like more often than not, the films of 2015 have been mediocre at best and absolute trash at worst. This week, we’re going to celebrate the bottom of the barrel – the trash that is so awful it sticks there even when you try to dump the trash into a dumpster. Sorry, we’re getting off track. To the list-mobile!
Directed by Chris Columbus. Produced by Adam Sandler, Chris Columbus, Allen Covert, Mark Radcliffe, and Michael Barnathan. Written by Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling. Release date: July 24, 2015.
The more I think about Pixels, the less I like it. Truth be told, by the end of the year it could wind up lower on this list than it currently is. Pixels gives us an interesting premise and ruins it by turning it into a generic Adam Sandler comedy, complete with a mean-spirited tone toward its subject matter, so few jokes that it’s hard to tell it’s even a comedy, inconsistent in-universe rules, and bland characters for whom it’s impossible to root. The only thing that saves it, right now, is its visual effects, which are interesting and not the type that you see every day. They don’t save the movie from being a boring slog, but at least there are occasionally things to watch.
Directed by Gil Kenan. Produced by Roy Lee, Sam Raimi, and Robert G. Tapert. Written by David Lindsay-Abaire. Release date: May 22, 2015.
It’s possible that Poltergeist will serve as the new standard when people talk about remakes that we most definitely did not need. The original film doesn’t exactly hold up the greatest nowadays, but it’s conservatively 100 times better than the remake, which is filled with telegraphed jump startles, annoying characters, horrible CGI, and not a moment when you’ll feel either scared, excited, or entertained. Insidious was a better Poltergeist remake than Poltergeist.
Directed by Boaz Yakin. Produced by Karen Rosenfelt. Written by Sheldon Lettich and Boaz Yakin. Release date: June 26, 2015.
A friend of mine called Max “Manic Pixie Dream Dog: The Movie,” which is a demeaning way of saying that the eponymous dog fixes all of the characters’ problems simply by existing. That might even be too kind to the film. It’s a movie that’s incompetent from start to finish. From its lead child actor who can’t figure out the emotion he needs to convey in every scene to the manipulative and cheesy tone the film takes, there’s nothing to like about Max other than the dog, and only then since it outshines all of the humans in the film.
#7: Hot Pursuit
Directed by Anne Fletcher. Produced by Dana Fox, Bruna Papandrea, and Reese Witherspoon. Written by David Feeney and John Quaintance. Release date: May 8, 2015.
We’ve had a whole host of strong female-centric comedies in 2015, but Hot Pursuit wasn’t one of them. A movie that’s funny even if it fails everywhere else can still be called a successful comedy, but when you’re not laughing, these flaws can’t hide. Hot Pursuit is a standard buddy road movie, but with two actors who aren’t putting in any effort, filmmakers who don’t seem to care, jokes that struggle to even procure a smirk from an audience, and some of the blandest action scenes you can see at the cinema. It mostly comes down to Hot Pursuit not being funny, and Hot Pursuit is really, really not funny.
#6: The Boy Next Door
Directed by Rob Cohen. Produced by Jason Blum, John Jacobs, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Benny Medina, and Jennifer Lopez. Written by Barbara Curry. Release date: January 23, 2015.
It’s easy to forget about The Boy Next Door, mostly because it came and went early in the year and was dominated in popularity by something else, but this was one of the dullest “erotic” thrillers in recent memory. The problem here is that it’s neither erotic nor a thriller, so it mostly just exists to kill a couple of hours of your life with meaningless, pointless, forgettable drivel that won’t titillate or excite.
#5: American Heist
Directed by Sarik Andreasyan. Produced by George Malkov, Sarik Andreasyan, Ghevond Andreassian, Tove Christensen, Hayden Christensen, and Vladimir Polyakov. Written by Raul Inglis. Release date: June 19, 2015.
I almost feel bad for including American Heist on this list, if only because it was released direct-to-VOD, and it never once felt like it was trying. But it’s one of the worst films of the year thus far, and as such deserves its spot on this list. This is one of the most generic heist movies you can watch. It can’t thrill, it can’t make you care about its leads or their quest, and it really doesn’t even seem like it made an effort. What is an actor like Adrien Brody doing in something like this? He was in The Brothers Bloom, a far better heist movie!
Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda. Produced by Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy. Written by Brian Lynch. Release date: July 10, 2015.
The Minions as characters are marketable, something to which anyone who bore witness to the onslaught of its merchandise can attest. It makes sense that they would get their own movie. It would have been swell if that movie was good. Even if you didn’t like the Minions going in – like me, which is perfectly fair given that this judgment is based on previous films in the series – this is the chance for the filmmakers to turn that opinion around. Unfortunately, quirky side characters can’t often successfully become the leads, and Minions wound up being a bumbling, incoherent mess of a film.
#3: Unfinished Business
Directed by Ken Scott. Produced by Arnon Milchan, Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch, and Anthony Katagas. Written by Steven Conrad. Release date: March 6, 2015.
It’s with Unfinished Business that I looked back at the comedies of Vince Vaughn and came to the realization that the last good comedy of which he was a part was Wedding Crashers a full decade ago – and he wasn’t even the best part of that movie. When will we finally give up on him and his films? Unfinished Business is insulting and repulsive from beginning to finish, barely containing a plot and struggling to generate any sort of laughter. It doesn’t know what it wants to do except give Vaughn and his crew a paid vacation. Gee, doesn’t that sound like someone else we know?
#2: The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence)
Directed and written by Tom Six. Produced by Tom Six and Ilona Six. Release date: May 22, 2015.
Okay, if Unfinished Business was repulsive, I’m not entirely sure what word to use for The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence). It goes out of its way to offend its audience, to top the previous entries in the series, and ensure that it is memorable, even if you’re wishing to wash away that memory with bleach. But this time, we also get to throw its director, Tom Six, entire scenes of self-congratulatory worship. Hooray.
#1: Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
Directed by Andy Fickman. Produced by Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Jack Giarraputo, and Todd Garner. Written by Kevin James and Nick Bakay. Release date: April 17, 2015.
When Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 came out, I called it the worst movie of the year. Just over halfway through the year, that prediction has stood up. While it’s possible it’ll be dethroned, it’s hard to imagine so. This is the most unfunny, boring, meandering movie I’ve seen in a long time, and I sat through all three Hangover films. The first film sucked, but it at least had a few chuckles scattered throughout. This one just sees Kevin James fall down and act like an abrasive jerk for the entire running time. It’s “daddy knows best” coupled with arrogant superiority. Why should I be rooting for him? I’m embarrassed to admit I saw this movie; I can’t imagine how anyone could claim to like it.
If you want more of Matthew “Marter” Parkinson, you can follow him on the Twitter @Martertweet and check out his weekly movie podcast.