1. TIE: Lego Batman Movie / The Lego Ninjago Movie
In “The LEGO Batman Movie,” everything is decidedly not awesome. Not by a long shot. This sequel to the 2014 runway hit “The LEGO Movie” is repetitive, annoying, stale, and will most certainly make my shortlist as one of the very worst films of 2017.
Everybody wants to see gags at the expense of infallible superheroes, but the movie misses just about every opportunity to poke fun at Batman, his cohorts, and his enemies. The film is not amusing, the jokes not funny enough to warrant more than a few polite chuckles, and the satire not biting nor irreverent enough to make any meaningful impact.
There are too many pop culture references masquerading as jokes and the shallow plot (Batman must rise to the occasion and save the city from a group of super villains) makes for a dull evening at the movies. The film tries but sputters, and never quite gets off the ground.
Not helping matters is the animation. I really hate the way this movie looks, with its ugly, chunky and clunky animation. I understand that the animators are trying to capture the look and feel of the popular LEGO brand building toys, but the unpleasant-featured facial expressions come across as shoddy and junky looking. The movie is crowded with repetitive, rapid cut action scenes, and animated action scenes rarely work on a film of this scale (or any, for that matter). Here they are overdone to the point where they feel junky and obnoxious, nothing more than extended scene fillers that stink of desperation.
The voice talent is surprisingly uninspired, especially Rosario Dawson‘s irritating Commissioner Gordon and Michael Cera as the wide-eyed orphan boy who will soon be Robin, Dick Grayson. Will Arnett‘s raspy-voiced, arrogant Batman, while very amusing — briefly — in the original “The LEGO Movie,” just gets too irksome far too rapidly here. It’s a laborious gimmick that’s quickly tiring to the point of no return.
Kids won’t like this movie and adults won’t like this movie. Just like the lead hero’s voice, this one is one big, long, boring monotone.
And then there’s “The Lego Ninjago Movie.” Come and get it folks! Come and get your nice, steaming pile of the latest Hollywood slop. This time it’s in the form of the inexcusably apathetic and offensively lazy latest movie in the already tired Lego franchise, “The Lego Ninjago Movie.” This animated kid flick is the very definition of throwaway entertainment (and that’s using the word “entertainment” very, very loosely).
I sat through this whole movie and I can’t tell you what happened — that’s how disengaged I was and how half-hearted the film’s plot and message are. The whole project feels unenergetic and cheap, with ugly animation, unamusing jokes, and flat voice acting (by talented people who should’ve known better and could’ve done better, like Justin Theroux, Fred Armisen and especially you, Dave Franco). This year will be a first: I can guarantee not one but two films in one franchise will appear on my Worst Movies of 2017 list (the other is “The Lego Batman Movie“).
Everything is unfunny, exhausting, and repetitive; a weak, uninspired, and utterly pointless movie that’s devoid of any and all fun. It’s so bad that there’s no point in writing a review. After 90 minutes of this exasperating stupidity, why bother?
Once in a while that one special film comes along: one that is so odious, so dreadful, and so incredibly lousy that you’ll find yourself asking how on Earth did this garbage ever get the green light from a major studio? Well folks, we have the first entry into what will undoubtedly be vying for the top spot of the worst films of 2017, and I won’t be surprised if it lands at or near the very top of the trash heap.
What a waste of a great concept! “CHIPS” is the lame attempt by actor (and here also the writer and director) Dax Shepard to bring the popular buddy motorcycle cop show of the same name to the big screen. Most of us 70s kids loved Ponch and Jon, two iconic television characters who should’ve been a true goldmine for a comedy film — but Shepard manages to completely ruin it for everyone with his unfocused direction, lackluster plot, and his sad excuse for humor.
The casting is on point, with Shepard stepping into the role of daredevil turned highway patrolman Jon Baker and Michael Peña taking on Erik Estrada’s iconic Frank ‘Ponch’ Poncherello. The two should’ve made the perfect onscreen duo, but their chemistry is sorely lacking and their endless riffs feel stiff and unnatural. Shame on Shepard for squandering the talented Peña, a crime against movie lovers everywhere which in itself should be a punishable offense. Let’s hope his career can recover from this dreck.
I honestly hate trashing on Shepard because I truly do like the guy, and I usually respond to his brand of funny. But the lame excuses for jokes in this movie are really, really lousy. Everything is lowbrow in the worst possible way. The attempts at humor are so abysmal that Shepard repeatedly resorts to homophobic, sexist and racist wisecracks — and none of it is funny. Case in point: he attempts to make Ponch’s sex addiction and gross objectification of women into a running slapstick gag, which plays as extremely vile and obnoxious. There are plenty of outdated anti-gay one-liners too, and to top it off, it’s mean-spirited towards cats.
The storyline is one that’s loaded with indifference. In between the forced clashes between the inexperienced rookie and hardened veteran, there’s a half-baked plot about corrupt cops, undercover FBI agents, and more, none of which makes much sense or gives the audience a reason to care. Even the motorcycle chase scenes are poorly done, with lame stunt driving and even worse staging. Geez Dax, I know you love choppers and cars, couldn’t you even get that right?
If I force myself to say something positive about the movie, all I can come up with is that at least Shepard’s time spent at the gym surely shows (he’s buff and shirtless for many scenes), but even that’s not nearly enough to hold anyone’s interest.
There was so much potential for this film that is completely wasted. Instead of taking a straight-laced approach or even better, a tongue-in-cheek, spoof-filled approach, Shepard simply cannot decide on the tone he wants for the movie. He gives us a comedy that lacks any elements of comedy.
This movie is so lazy, so unfunny that it’s actually an insult to anyone who purchases a ticket and subjects themselves to two hours in a darkened theater. Mindless cinema can be fun, but not when it’s this awful.
3. Pitch Perfect 3
I’m really glad I was able to squeeze in a screening of “Pitch Perfect 3” before the end of the year because it is a serious contender for Worst Movie of 2017. I was this close to walking out of the theater in disgust because this one is so aca-awful.
Milking the last remaining drops out of characters who were unappealing to begin with, the plot centers around the all-girl acapella singing group the Barden Bellas. Their college glory days are over and the girls are now out in the real world. Missing their glory days, the Bellas reunite for an overseas USO trip to entertain the troops and find themselves competing in a contest to see who can become the opening act for a major world tour. If you think this story sounds ridiculous, just wait until the movie veers into action territory with explosions and hand to hand combat (no, really).
The one thing these films have going for them is the show stopping acapella musical numbers featuring fun costumes and hit songs. Sadly, the songs in this one are just awful and the singing, while proficient, is boring. When paired with a meandering, unfocused story, all of the elements come together to make it utterly unbearable.
There’s an absurd and ridiculous side story with Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) and her long-lost criminal dad (John Lithgow) that makes absolutely no sense. There are random supporting characters who are briefly introduced and then don’t show up again until the final moments of the movie. Series stars Brittany Snow and Hailee Steinfeld are more cloying and annoying than ever before, a remarkable feat I didn’t think was possible until now. Even our hero Beca (Anna Kendrick) looks as if she’s sleepwalking through this mess.
Huge chunks of plot seem to be randomly missing, and several times I was thinking that something important story-wise was left on the cutting room floor. It’ll leave you asking “huh?” more often than not.
The big budget production values are otherwise decent, but this was definitely filmed for the short attention span set. The movie looks like it was edited in a blender by a three year old hopped up on Red Bull.
Not only does almost nothing happen in this movie, but the many unfunny attempts at humor are awkward and unpleasant. There are more sex-related and PG-13 jokes here than in previous installments, but they aren’t humorous and are included in the script for no discernable purpose other than simply “because we can.”
The most odious element of “Pitch Perfect 3” is also its most disappointing. For a film franchise that originally started as a bubbly serenade to female empowerment and fierce independence, there are far too many jokes about and references to decidedly anti-feminist things like getting “slutted up” to go woo an important man to the ladies all finding their “dreamboat” perfect match in the form of a cute soldier or British music executive. The women spend most of the movie trying to please superstar DJ Khaled (whose acting ability is about the same as your living room sofa) or sneering at a rival all-girl band called Ever Moist (yep).
This movie is so awful that I wouldn’t recommend it to my worst enemy. The Bellas have succeeded in hitting the lowest of the low notes, a sad farewell to what was once a lively and fun franchise.
Please don’t think I’m a weirdo, but I actually had high hopes for the dreadfully unfunny “Baywatch,” the big screen version of the popular ’90s California lifeguard television series. Oh, how I wanted the film to take the campy road, loaded with silly sight gags and over-the-top acting. Sadly, this movie plays it completely straight and is completely awful.
In what feels like a completely unfunny, half-baked straight to video mystery, hulking lifeguard Mitch (Dwayne Johnson) butts heads with a prettyboy new recruit Brody (Zac Efron). The rest of the lifeguard team, including spunky Summer (Alexandra Daddario), sexy CJ (Kelly Rohrbach), and I’m just here to be the butt of everyone’s lame wisecracks chunky nerd Ronnie (Jon Bass) must set out to uncover a dastardly criminal drug empire that threatens to overdevelop the bay. (Yeah, that’s the actual plot of this drek).
The story is mediocre and, in an attempt to make the most of its R-rating, the film goes a bit overboard with unnecessary nudity and language. Not that this is offensive: the most offensive thing about this project is the total waste of Johnson. Even in the worst of films Johnson is still a charismatic, lovable guy. He plays it straight and has a great sense of comedic timing, but even he can’t save this disaster.
As expected, “Baywatch” is a dumbed down recipe of mean-spirited, gross-out humor and lame action sequences. It’s so god-awful that I wish I had walked out. What a waste.
5. I Do…Until I Don’t
The cookie cutter “I Do…Until I Don’t” quickly falls victim to crappy directing, lousy writing, and indifferent acting. The lackluster ensemble comedy of marriage is the brainchild of the usually funny Lake Bell, and it’s so bad that this one can’t simply be dismissed as a case of the sophomore slump. The film is so bad that if she doesn’t bring it with her next effort, this could end her career as a director and screenwriter.
Premise-wise, the movie doesn’t even start off with a good one. A jaded British documentary filmmaker (Dolly Wells) comes to Florida to find three dysfunctional couples as subjects for her movie. Alice (Bell) and Noah (Ed Helms) own a window coverings store and are unhappily trying to get pregnant, Harvey (Paul Reiser) and Cybil (Mary Steenburgen) are long-time marrieds who are tired of being together, and Fanny (Amber Heard) and Zander (Wyatt Cenac) are free spirited hippies with an open relationship. There’s nobody to really root for and I found myself almost instantly disengaged with the unlikable characters and the unpleasant story. If you enjoy watching couples fight for 90 minutes, be my guest.
Dreadfully slow and completely uninteresting for its first half, the film rapidly goes downhill — and things don’t get much better until Heard shows up. She and Reiser are the only bright spots in this mess.
What follows are repeated unfunny, clunky attempts at humor, and the few lines that are funny are due to reference humor more than being anything original or inspired. Across the board, the jokes fall flat and the premises that glisten with the slightest hint of comedy potential (like Alice getting hired at a rub and tug massage parlor) ultimately go nowhere.
Worst of all, Bell can’t decide between making the film a biting indie or a crowd-pleasing, maudlin, feel good movie and the tone is uneven. In one word, this one is “lacking” in all areas.
6. Daddy’s Home 2
Christmas is the time of year when craptacular yuletide entertainment like “Daddy’s Home 2” is forced upon the moviegoing public, slung like a bucket of slop into your local cineplex by money-hungry studio suits. Think of it as the cinematic version of a lump of coal in your stocking.
This unnecessary, formulaic sack of disappointment has few laughs, is excessively mean-spirited, and has repeated disturbing, tone-deaf attempts to make comedy out of generally unpleasant situations like teaching a young boy how to grope women, joking about dead hookers, laughing at 10 year olds getting drunk off spiked eggnog, and giving a little girl a hunting rifle on a dare.
The film is barely 90 minutes long yet when it’s over, you’ll feel as though you just spent three weeks in a secluded cabin with your red state cousin who wears a ‘Country Thunder’ t-shirt and rants about his ideas to make ‘Murica great again.
Formerly dueling co-dads Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) and Brad (Will Ferrell) are back, and this time they join forces so their kids can have — wait for it — the perfect Christmas! As is the norm with most Hollywood sequels, the film tries to make things interesting by parading out — wait for it again — the men’s own daddies! Dusty’s dad Kurt (Mel Gibson) is a macho misogynist while Brad’s dad Don (John Lithgow) is overly emotional and slightly goofy. Can you believe the night and day difference in the two dads? I know I can’t!
Of course the dream of snowflakes and candy canes is swiftly ruined by the complete and utter idiocy of slapstick antics like characters falling down, getting hit in the face, getting hit in the groin, falling down, getting hit in the face, falling down, getting electrocuted, getting hit in the ear, falling down, getting hit in the head, falling down, falling down again, and getting punched in the stomach. We don’t need no stinking script, it’s like the movie writes itself!
There are a couple of decent jokes sprinkled around that miraculously don’t land with a thud (including a pretty fantastic one-liner about divorce and improv), but it’s mostly dumb and nonsensical pratfalls of the most inane variety that are played for laughs — and the laughs never come. The film is devoid of all merriment and holiday fun, and the cast (and audience) deserves far better than this overstuffed turkey of a movie.
7. The Emoji Movie
“The Emoji Movie” isn’t quite as god-awful as you’d think and it’s not as dumb as you’d expect, but that doesn’t mean it’s any good. This ninety minute long commercial exists only for the sole purpose of trying to cash in on the big business of tween and teen dollars by endlessly referencing their popular smartphone culture. There’s not much of a plot and what’s there is so mundane that it’s not even classifiable as mildly creative. Watch as the thinly developed characters wander into name brand app after app, from YouTube and Facebook to DropBox and Spotify. Did Apple finance this project?
It’s not funny and all of the attempted jokes fall flat. Every. Single. One. I’m not even sure what could’ve fixed this problem, because the voice talent (while not very good) is better than it should be (considering the junk dialogue that T.J. Miller, James Corden and Anna Faris have to work with), the friendships between the characters is at least believable, and there’s a positive message about celebrating individuality and always being yourself. The computer language aspects of the movie aren’t even lazy, it’s just the uninspired animation and the tiresome ideas are so indifferent that this project feels like a feature length commercial for Facebook, Candy Crush, and Spotify that’s been stripped of all fun and laughs.
“The Emoji Movie” doesn’t really cater to kids and it doesn’t really cater to adults, meaning that nobody will enjoy this moviegoing experience. The very idea of emojis living in the colorful world of Textopolis might be lame, but this surefire kid-borer does get the tech nerd aspects right and is — gasp! — unexpectedly clever at times. If your kid’s into coding and hacking, I suppose they might relate to this movie.
What’s so amusing about this movie is that, like the “meh” emoji, it’s kinda boring, sorta funny, and totally pointless.
8. Rough Night
If you thought “Bad Moms” was the highlight of your cinematic year, just you wait for “Rough Night,” the latest pathetic studio attempt to create a project that appeals to hip, modern women. I know the trailers have you convinced that you want to see it — they even worked on me — but ladies, you deserve better and you should demand better than this complete garbage.
In what has to be the most wasted cast of the year, the too talented Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, and Zoë Kravitz are crammed into this dreadfully unfunny and borderline offensive movie. It could’ve been a celebration of contemporary feminism but instead becomes a lazy and indifferent laundry list of missed opportunities. I can see the storyline being pitched as a “Weekend at Bernie’s” meets “The Hangover” rip-off for women, except this time a male stripper ends up dead and the gal pals must scheme to hide the body in plain view. The problem is that most female-heavy audiences have zero qualms about calling out bullshit when they see it, and this film is filled with so many incredibly nonsensical and outrageously ridiculous scenarios on the most basic level — the most obvious being that there’s no way these women would’ve ever been best friends in college and especially now — that it derails within its first 15 minutes and fails to regain its footing.
The film isn’t rowdy nor saucy enough to leave a mark, leaving its stamp as an excursion that’s wholly forgettable. Ditto for the performances. Even the usually fantastic Johannson and McKinnon, both seasoned comedic actors, can’t save this mess from sinking. This is some of the dumbest crap I have ever seen.
The plot is thin, the characters shallow and stereotypical, and the laughs nonexistent. See this one if you insist, but trust me when I tell you that your money would be better spent by flushing it down a public toilet.
9. My Little Pony: The Movie
There isn’t much to say about “My Little Pony: The Movie,” an innocuous, candy-colored feature length animated film with a saccharine message of friendship and anti-bullying. If you’re in the target audience for this one, then you already know it.
The humorless movie is nearly two hours long and features deflated, flat animation that feels more like a cheap and generic Saturday morning cartoon than something deserving of a theatrical release. There’s barely enough plot for a 10 minute short, but no matter: I couldn’t get engaged with the story because, let’s face facts, the ponies are just plain ugly.
The voice performances are much better than expected, with an amusing, cackling turn from Liev Schreiber as an evil henchman, Emily Blunt as the evil pony Tempest Shadow, and Kristin Chenoweth, who is the perfect choice for Princess Skystar, a coy, eager and overly excited, super annoying pony. If you already think listening to her speak is like hearing nails on a chalkboard, then this ear-piercing squeal of a performance will haunt your dreams for years to come.
There are some enjoyable original songs and cute musical numbers (being sung by creepy, doe-eyed, pastel colored ponies) that thankfully keep things moving along — until the whole thing turns into one giant commercial for a new single by popstar Sia.
Bored adults will most likely compare this romp of nightmarish merriment with an acid trip gone wrong. I simply don’t know why this movie exists.
10. I Love You, Daddy
As a critic, I try to distance myself from an actor or filmmaker’s personal life because I find it unfair to punish all of the other cast and crew who worked tirelessly on a film, but the subject matter of the Louis C.K. co-written and directed “I Love You, Daddy” makes it damn near impossible. The Orchard (the studio behind the movie) hastily pulled it from theaters, and now I can see why they made this incredibly good move.
The film feels like a disturbing prophecy of Louis C.K.’s recent unmasking regarding his admitted abuse of power and sexual harassment of women. There’s an ugly, icky, and cringe-worthy undertone to the project now, its story existing in the heavy shadow of the director’s own scandal. Perhaps you can say that C.K. writes what he knows, with tone-deaf gags that objectify women, a character with a penchant for dating underage girls, and several lines encouraging people not to believe sexual predator rumors (yes, really). In what was likely meant to be a provocative, brutal look at the entertainment industry instead comes off and downright gross and appalling given what we now know about the man.
The story centers around television producer Glen (C.K.) and his spoiled teenage daughter China (Chloë Grace Moretz). Glen idolizes legendary film director (and reported pedophile) Leslie (John Malkovich), but he starts to worry when China insists on spending time with the man. The supporting cast is largely female, including Glen’s ex-wife Aura (Helen Hunt), ex-girlfriend Maggie (Pamela Adlon), movie star Grace (Rose Byrne), and his production partner Paula (Edie Falco). Charlie Day shows up as sarcastic actor Ralph and has one of the most disturbing scenes in the entire film (again, due to what we now know about C.K.’s behavior), as he pantomimes exactly what C.K. has admitted to doing in his office in front of women. Yuck.
The characters are insufferable, a gaggle of rich and privileged white people who crack jokes at the expense of Jews and African-Americans, and try to wring inappropriate laughs out of sexual harassment antics and animal cruelty. The film is packed with irritating insider Hollywood references too, making it the type of film that Hollywood types love: arty black and white cinematography, mentions of the business side of the entertainment industry, and the pet project of a (formerly) hot comedian. Oops.
Content aside, the film is technically a misfire. Instead of presenting an original vision, C.K. comes across as a wannabe Woody Allen with a copycat score and monochromatic cinematography. The film is poorly directed with sloppy camera movements too, like he took a master class in bad sitcom directing.
Misogyny rears its ugly head throughout, and there’s a particularly unpleasant riff on feminism and female empowerment that just plain makes me angry and makes my blood boil to think C.K. himself penned it. By the end of the film, Glenn eventually apologizes to all of the women in his life but for them (and for me), it’s far too late.
LOUISA’S WORST MOVIES OF 2017: DISHONORABLE MENTIONS
These equally awful movies came very close to making the list of my Top 10 Worst of the year:
11. Transformers the Last Knight
I’ll leave you with some words of cinematic wisdom: see “Transformers: The Last Knight” if you must, but remember that your ticket purchase will encourage Hollywood to churn out more rubbish exactly like it. Read the full review.
12. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
The bulk of the doc seems hell bent on (deservedly) scolding climate deniers and responding to skeptics than presenting clear, sound science on the issue. Read the full review.
13. The Foreigner
The movie uncomfortably mirrors the horrors going on in the today’s world, albeit with a different enemy. Read the full review.
14. The Boss Baby
“The Boss Baby” is told from the point of view of a child with an overactive imagination, a plot point that still doesn’t fully excuse the lame story of a cutthroat business minded infant who never ages because he swills a special formula that keeps his cheeks chubby and his kewpie eyes freakishly large. Read the full review.
15. Get Out
This movie could’ve been a blazingly original commentary on race relations but instead, there’s no cohesiveness to his intended message. It’s a good idea, but it’s poorly executed. Read the full review.
16. The Space Between Us
“The Space Between Us” amounts to nothing more than a tween angst soap opera whose gaping plot holes consume itself like a massive black hole. Read the full review.
17. Band Aid
Oh how I wish someone had helped the director shave about 20 minutes off the run time. This film is only 94 minutes but it feels like a six hour miniseries, and I guarantee you’ll be worn out by the end. Read the full review.
18. Smurfs: The Lost Village
In one of the most simplistic animated films that’s come along in a great while, “Smurfs: The Lost Village” knows its audience and plays directly to it. Read the full review.
19. Brad’s Status
“Brad’s Status” is one of those films that makes you feel bad when you exit the theater. Read the full review.
20. The Circle
“The Circle” is one of the biggest letdowns of the year. Read the full review.