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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Worst Movies Of 2015

Yesterday, I posted my list of the Best Movies Of 2015, with the caveat that I don't see everything that's released. In the same vein, here's my Worst Movies Of 2015 list, based on those I saw. Several of these came out in August, reinforcing its claim as the month where movies go to die (with February a close second). For eight of them, links go to longer reviews I posted on this site.

1) "Hot Tub Time Machine 2." I liked the original, really, but this sequel just lays there. John Cusack was smart to skip it, while Rob Corddry plays it way too big and Craig Robinson looks like he's just riding along for the paycheck. Even a wacky comedy should have at least one laugh in it. This one may have put up a negative number.

2) "An Irrational Man." When this Woody Allen bomb ended, I announced it would be near the top of my worst-of list. I know that someone so prolific can't create quality every time, but this one missed the mark by a long shot. It stars Emma Stone as a college student who falls for Joaquin Phoenix, the new philosophy professor on campus. Before you know it, the professor is murdering a judge, and the May-September romance is on. While I like everyone in the cast, they're not given much to do, and Allen's comedy voice has rarely been weaker.

3) "Hitman: Agent 47." Based on a video game, which already spawned a movie version that bombed in 2007. Rupert Friend plays a nameless hit man whose mission changes in a dumb twist. I didn’t care about any of the characters. The action sequences are okay but totally predictable (good guy fires one shot, hits everyone, bad guys miss with dozens of shots). I think Hollywood is done trying to turn this video game into a big screen success.

4) "Terminator: Genisys." Unless you've seen the first two "Terminator" movies, you won't have any idea what's going on here -- and after you've seen this, you won't have any idea why you wasted your time. Its lead characters have no charisma, its action sequences are nothing special, and even the scene of Arnold Schwarzenegger fighting a younger version of himself is a big yawn.

5) "Stonewall." The seminal moment in the gay rights movement was a riot at a bar in New York's Greenwich Village. Sounds like the basis for an interesting movie. Unfortunately, the people behind "Stonewall" decided to make it the coming-of-age story of a transplanted midwesterner who falls in with a group of cliche-ridden drag queens. Then they hired some bad actors and an uninspired director to make it worse.

6) "Inherent Vice." Usually when one actor appears in two of the worst movies of the year, his name is either Adam Sandler or Rob Schneider. This year it's Joaquin Phoenix, who stars in this misstep by Paul Thomas Anderson about a drugged-out private investigator looking into the disappearance of a former girlfriend in 1970. The script is far too dense, as if that makes it more mysterious, and not a single character pops off the screen. This is the worst movie about a private investigator in that era since Richard Dreyfuss in "The Bix Fix."

7) "Entourage." I admit that I enjoyed the cheesy HBO show for a few seasons, until it became a parody of itself for the umpteenth time. This movie makes it umpteen-plus-one. Its only redeeming quality is that you get to play "was that....?" every time a new celebrity makes a cameo appearance, and there are a ton of them. As for the plot, it's the same as it always was: Vince wins.

8) "The Man From UNCLE." Since no one under 50 has even heard of the 1960s TV series, this movie starts at the beginning, with the story of how American agent Napoleon Solo and Russian agent Ilya Kuryakin were forced to work together. As Solo, Henry Cavill (who I hated as the new Superman) displays even less personality than Robert Vaughn did. Meanwhile, Armie Hammer overdoes it as Kuryakin, with a Russian accent nearly as bad as John Malkovich's in "Rounders." You don't need to know the details of plot, but suffice it to say that the two agents have to save the world from someone with a nefarious plot to blow up and/or take over the world. Yawn. This was supposed to kick-start a new franchise, but it did so poorly at the box office that the sequels have been cancelled.

9) "Ex-Machina." A young talented computer programmer is invited to visit an incredibly rich internet genius who lives by himself in an ultra-modern home in the middle of nowhere. Except he's not alone -- he's built gorgeous female robots to keep him company and be his sex slaves. One of them, played by Alicia Vikander (who's also in the dumb "UNCLE" movie) wants out, and uses the new guy to make it happen. So what?

10) "Ricki and the Flash." It's been a very long time since Meryl Streep ended up on a worst-of list, but this bomb from Jonathan Demme and Diablo Cody qualifies. She's Ricki, a has-been singer in a rock cover band whose ex-husband calls to tell her that their daughter tried to commit suicide. Ricki drops everything to play her fish-out-of-water role. To give you an idea how thin that plot is, the movie's only 90 minutes but includes five full musical numbers for Streep to perform.