Last year was a truly bizarre year for bad movies, because it felt like there were almost too many to keep track of. Hell, I had to write an amendment to my list just to make sure that Jobs was included, since I couldn’t remember all of them. This year was a lot different, though. From the first releases of January, I kept my trusty list going, and when it came time to review that list in the last few weeks, I didn’t really find many omissions. Call it a coup for Hollywood or simply call it a better year for movies. Just don’t call it a year without really bad, dumb and generally pointless movies.
As always, there are certain rules that I adhere to in constructing this list, because I try to be somewhat fair to all of the movies and the people who tried their hardest in producing some scorching hot mung. A quick rundown of those self-imposed rules:
- No Happy Madison.
- No Seltzer/Friedberg or spoof comedy in general.
- No Madea.
- No Larry the Cable Guy.
- No sequels, remakes or reboots, unless they’re just exceptionally bad.
And this year’s new Law of Burns is… No Kirk Cameron. That one is obviously inspired by Saving Christmas. That was a lost cause from, well, the backlash. So let’s just be fair to the older Seaver boy and leave that one to the jackals in the Rotten Tomatoes reviews. I have, however, revoked one rule – No Multiple Appearances by the Same Actor. Someone went out of his way to star in two awful movies this year, and I can’t ignore such a feat. Other than that, it’s open season on bad movies and it’s time to declare a big loser.
Right after a few honorable mentions…
The Movie that I Shall Not Incur the Wrath of God Over: Heaven is for Real
I made fun of Vince a lot this year because it seemed like he hated just about every movie that he reviewed, but when he really dislikes a film, it’s like I have to watch it to see how bad it is. Heaven is for Real is no different than Transformers: Age of Extinction. It was made for a specific audience, and that audience ate it up and licked the plate clean of one man’s desire to be a living saint. Good for them, I guess.
The Happy Madison Movie that Didn’t Really Suck that Much: Blended
I may never recover from the visual stupidity of the French onion soup bit, but if I ranked all of Sandler’s movies (again), Blended still wouldn’t be in the Bottom 5. Also, Terry Crews always makes things better.
The Sequel that Didn’t Need to be Made: Horrible Bosses 2
If Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis wanted to make another movie together, they should have just recorded two hours of them hanging out and spared us the recycled plot. They could have also spared themselves the sore throats, because the screaming over each other bit gets really old after, I don’t know, two minutes. (Very close runner-up: Dumb and Dumber To.)
The Movie that People Loved that I Just Didn’t Get: Gone Girl
This film didn’t crack my Top 10 because when I told people I didn’t like it, they made me feel like there was something wrong with me. People kept talking about the twist, so I was waiting for this incredible twist, and when it happened… I was like, “That’s it?” I think my problem was that Rosamund Pike had already starred in a movie that had an awesome twist – Fracture – and I was holding this to a higher standard. But in the end, it just felt like a really long episode of Tales from the Crypt.
Other Movies Receiving Votes for Being Bad: Sex Tape, Tusk, Tammy, If I Stay, 300: Rise of an Empire, The Single Moms Club, Need for Speed, Million Dollar Arm, Lucy, Let’s Be Cops, Dracula Untold, The Best of Me, Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Maze Runner
But they just weren’t as bad as these movies…
10) That Awkward Moment
Three things are certain in life – death, taxes and the existence of BRO movies. I don’t care that the “Bros before hoes, haha just kidding, I love girls!” premise has been done to death already, or that this movie starred Miles “John Q. Everydude” Teller. I don’t even care that this is another in a long line of bad movies named after trendy catchprases. What makes this movie so stupid is the incredibly tired story of 20-somethings living awesome, consequence-free lives in the big city. Haha, life’s a party, bros! Everyone gets an awesome job right out of college, and nobody has to live with seven people in a two-bedroom apartment in NYC to get by. Nope, the beautiful people and Miles Teller have no worries other than which girls’ bedrooms they’ll escape from next. Guardians of the Galaxy was more realistic than this movie.
The Positive Note: Um… the story ended where it started. I guess that’s good.
9) Left Behind
I’m not sure why this movie needed to be remade, other than the obvious reason – a more mainstream actor like Nicolas Cage means reaching more people and spreading the message that if we don’t get our acts together, we’re going to be Left Behind to deal with the end of times. I’m a fan of the Bible, as it’s a great book full of great stories, but those stories, and even those loosely based on them, deserve better actors than Chad Michael Murray and Jordin Sparks. What’s funny to me is that the 2000 version of Left Behind, which starred new Worst Movies Hall of Famer Kirk Cameron, at least had a way more intriguing plot to distract people from the bleak message of making good with the Big Man or suffering an eternity of “I told you so.” If you’re going to give me Cage, you have to give me the Antichrist and a plot to overthrow the UN en route to world domination. Hell, that should have been Ghost Rider.
The Positive Note: Bad Nic Cage is still good Nic Cage.
It’s 2014 and we’re still pretending that Ouija boards are spirit portals from hell. I get that it’s easy for studios to write and produce generic “horror” stories about haunted houses and mysterious spirits, and it works, because this movie cost $5 million to make and it earned $74 million. Good horror is not dead, as The Babadook proved this year, so we should do better than another dumb story about scary kid ghosts killing attractive 20-somethings by entering our world through a toy that I used to spell curse words with. At the very least, we can urge the actress who had her mouth sewn shut to act like she was scared. Or maybe show it happening so it sort of makes sense.
The Positive Note: When the girl’s head is slammed against the sink, I almost peed from laughter. At least bad horror movies are keeping the tradition of terrible acting alive.
If Roland Emmerich taught an ancient history class for an online for-profit college and his worst student was tasked with retelling the story of the fall of Pompeii, it would have probably been better than this movie. I can’t fault Kit Harington for wanting to grow beyond Game of Thrones, but the guy should give a romcom a whirl or take on a role in a standard action flick. Having him play a Celtic slave-turned-gladiator just makes it look like Jon Snow took a summer vacation, only to end up in a bloody and deadly adventure. But the real losing quality of this movie isn’t Harington’s inability to escape GoT or even dressing an historic tragedy up as a low budget Gladiator knockoff. It’s Kiefer Sutherland’s acting. The guy didn’t even bother trying. He’s no more Roman senator in his tequila commercials than he is in Pompeii. It’d be fascinating if it wasn’t so awful.
The Positive Note: Harington’s not a bad actor. He has a lot of promise if he wants to make a career of swordfights and fireballs from the volcano gods.
First and foremost, what the hell happened to you, Heather Graham? The snake scene was practically a metaphor for her career. I take back what I said about Gone Girl being a two hour episode of Tales from the Crypt, because that description is far better suited for Horns. This movie was Vince’s hands-down pick for the worst of the year, and based on his review I knew I had to watch it and see if he was right. The story is interesting, and I’ve heard that the book is supposedly great, but this movie was like an indie softcore porno. Maybe with better acting it could have been decent, or at least funnier, but at the very least they should have removed the arrest scene outside the night club. That was the second dumbest moment in any dumb movie this year. Also, this movie was 30-minutes too long. Specifically, Lee’s dragged out punishment could have been cut in half.
The Positive Note: The TV news crew fight scene was pretty funny. Also, the Gremlin was a great hipster car choice.
5) The Monuments Men
Blame this one on the curse of Danny Ocean. When you assemble an all-star cast around George Clooney, including lovable A-listers like Matt Damon, John Goodman and especially Bill Murray, and the story involves stealing artwork from bad people, well, you have certain expectations. The first time I watched The Monuments Men and hated it for being so dull and void of suspense, I thought that maybe it was because I was expected the WWII version of Ocean’s Eleven. So I watched it again. Nope, still really boring and completely lacking in suspense. Maybe it’s because it was based on a true story and Clooney and Grant Heslov didn’t want to insult Robert Edsel’s work by taking creative liberties, but that emotional payoff moment at the film’s end, when Frank Stokes is looking at Michelangelo’s Madonna, just fell flat.
Put it this way: The Nazis would have never stolen this movie.
The Positive Note: The narrow escape from the Soviet army at the Austrian mine had its moments, but it left me wishing that less time had been spent on the pointless flirting between Claire and Lt. Granger and more had been spent on the Men outwitting everyone trying to steal the treasure for themselves.
4) I, Frankenstein
Look, Hollywood. Not every graphic novel needs to be turned into a movie. In fact, some ideas are downright impossible to adapt for the big screen, which is why I, Frankenstein should have been left in book form for people to enjoy. It’s not a bad story – a new twist on the classic monster, dropping him in the modern world as a hero that humans don’t even know exists. Aaron Eckhart plays “Adam,” the creation of Dr. Frankenstein and the prized specimen for a demon prince who needs him to raise an undead, immortal army. Fortunately, he has the good guy gargoyles on his side in their mutually beneficial fight against Bill Nighy, and together they all work to protect mankind from evil. Regardless, the acting was hilariously bad and over-the-top, as Eckhart’s growling delivery made Christian Bale’s Batman sound like the Golden-Voiced Hobo. I, Frankenstein was simply too huge of a project for any director to take on, let alone Stuart Beattie making his debut.
The Positive Note: This movie was really, really funny. Especially when Eckhart grumbled things like, “I’m not human.” My sides still hurt thinking about it.
3) The Legend of Hercules
It was a really strong year for dumb ancient history action films. You had 300: The Rise of an Empire, or the one with Eva Green’s angry boobs, and the aforementioned Pompeii, which might as well have debuted on SyFy. Then there were the dueling Hercules films. Calling it a duel, though, is implying that The Legend of Hercules, starring Kellan Lutz and directed by Renny Harlin, ever stood a chance against Brett Ratner’s juggernaut starring Dwayne Johnson. For the record, neither of these films was any good, as The Rock’s awful beard only escapes the highest level of scrutiny because of… LUTZ. I feel bad for Kellan Lutz sometimes, because he’s a lot like Taylor Lautner. Someone looked at him and said, “Hey, this Abercrombie model is good looking and built like one of Caligula’s gold-painted servant boys, let’s try to make him a star like they did with Channing Tatum.” But it’s not working.
Bless his heart, Lutz is not a good actor, and he can’t be a star in movies that have no identity. I can’t figure out what Harlin was trying to accomplish with his Hercules. It was like he watched 300 and The Immortals and just kept shouting, “That! Let’s make that!” So he took a bad actor who isn’t a leading man and surrounded him with people who also can’t act, had them deliver a screenplay that was written for a porn parody, and ultimately relied on really bad special effects to tell a story that we’ve been told before. I do not, for the life of me, know why Lionsgate thought it was smart to pump $70 million into this film, but it is the cinematic equivalent of burning a bar down to collect insurance money, and it should be investigated as such.
The Positive Note: Renny Harlin is one step closer to having to make a sequel to The Long Kiss Goodnight so he can remain relevant and not wind up as the director of SyFy’s Sharknado reboot in three years.
2) Three Days to Kill
Before this movie, I hadn’t thought very much about what McG was up to. I assumed that after Terminator Salvation (and Christian Bale’s blunt disapproval of his work) and This Means War (three years later) that the former Sugar Ray and Smash Mouth music video director had seen the writing on the wall and called it quits. In fact, it wasn’t until the credits rolled on Three Days to Kill that I even realized he directed this lousy Kevin Costner spy adventure. It also took me three viewings to get to the credits, because it was as boring as it was sloppy.
Costner plays Ethan Renner, the CIA’s most effective agent, who also happens to be a really bad husband and father. And on top of that, he’s dying from brain cancer that is spreading to his lungs! So after he blows a mission in the beginning of the film, he’s tasked by Amber Heard’s James Bond girl to complete the job and save the world. Fortunately, because the target is in Paris, Ethan gets to use his downtime to try to bond with the daughter he abandoned and win back the wife who left him and moved on. Oh, and if killing the bad guy and making amends with his family in the little time he had left to live isn’t enough, Ethan’s apartment has been taken over by squatters, and he is prohibited by law from kicking them out. This movie has so many dumb subplots that it could have loaned two to The Monuments Men and potentially made one interesting film.
Conveniently, after Ethan has won his daughter back by kicking the crap out of her would-be gang-rapists in a club bathroom and teaching her to ride a bike (she’s a teenager, mind you), he learns that the bad guy works with his daughter’s boyfriend’s dad. It’s a good thing that everything was tied together so well, because otherwise he might have needed more than three days to kill. And this movie also gets my new Safe Haven Ridiculous Ending Award, because wouldn’t you know it… the CIA had a cure for his brain cancer all along. Merry Christmas, everybody!
The Positive Note: McG moved on to The Mysteries of Laura, which I don’t have to watch for this annual list.
1) Draft Day
The NFL was really proud of itself for Draft Day. That was evident from the fluff pieces that raved about how “accurate” and “inclusive” this film was – my particular favorite is this TIME article – and it was really driven home when the NFL Draft audience at Radio City Music Hall gave Commissioner Roger Goodell a standing ovation upon his introduction. Anyone who has ever watched the actual NFL Draft knows how absurd that idea is. But this is less about one man’s arrogance and more about the worst movie that I watched in 2014.
At its core, Draft Day is about a fictional Cleveland Browns GM having the worst day, week and month of his life. In a nutshell, Sonny Weaver, Jr. (Kevin Costner) is grieving the passing of his father, who was also the former coach of the Browns that Sonny fired (because his dad asked him to), so everyone already thinks he’s a huge dickhead. While his mom is trying to fulfill his dad’s wish of spreading his ashes on the Browns practice field, Sonny also finds out that the team’s lawyer that he’s been sleeping with on the side is pregnant. For some reason, Sonny’s B-word ex-wife has teamed up with his mom to make him feel like crap about his dad’s ashes, and that makes things super uncomfortable whenever pregnant lawyer is around. There’s also a new intern who just so happened to be starting on that day, and he’s a f*cking idiot.
On the football side of his problems, the Browns have hired a hotshot new coach, Vince Penn (Denis Leary), who wears his Super Bowl ring so he can show it to people to prove that he’s a winner. That’s why he switched teams, because he’s a winner and winners do that. Meanwhile, the Cleveland fans – in perhaps the only accurate aspect of this film – are fed up with losing, and the owner wants Sonny to win the draft by trading everything for the No. 1 pick and selecting QB Bo Callahan. Naturally, Sonny caves and gives Seattle three first round picks for the top pick, because that wouldn’t get a guy fired on the spot. (At least it would outside of Washington DC.) Eventually, Sonny realizes that Bo is the next Ryan Leaf and he’s a selfish head case who is hated by his teammates, and Sonny suddenly becomes the GREATEST GM IN THE HISTORY OF SPORTS.
Not only does Sonny fool everyone by taking the linebacker who sacked Bo four times when they played in college with the top pick, but he trades back up to No. 6 by giving Jacksonville the Browns’ next three second rounders. Now, I’m not the GM of an NFL team, so maybe I just don’t get it, but a team has the No. 6 pick because it sucked the previous year, and giving it away for a worse pick and two picks that won’t help them this season is not a good strategy at all. But it fit the accurate narrative and Sonny was then able to flip that No. 6 pick back to Seattle’s now-desperate GM, who was caving to social media pressure to take Bo, for his original three first-rounders AND the Seahawks’ star kick returner. This allowed Sonny to draft the RB that his coach wanted, and all of a sudden the Browns were the smartest and greatest team in history.
Honestly, though, when it all comes down to it, I can almost forgive the hilariously bad story… but that standing ovation. That was just about the dumbest thing that I watched on a movie screen this year.
The Positive Note: The film took place in a fictional NFL, so we didn’t have to cringe through a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady acting cameo.