A lump of coal for Christmas, a dismal fight for equality, the return of the original dirtball, dueling yellers, a problematic seduction, Sean Bean lives, Friedberg/Seltzer return, prison time for the Centipede, murder has an HOA fee, and Gray blacks out.
These are the Worst Films of 2015.
It took nearly 15 years for David Spade to sequelize his cult hit, “Joe Dirt,” but the follow-up felt like it was scripted minutes before cameras rolled. While the original picture was no gem, “Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser” supplied a particularly painful viewing experience, watching Spade (who’s truly a funny guy) sink to unbelievable depths to find jokes that were never there to begin with. Bodily function humor and snoozy performances quickly took command of this dreadful movie, while Spade floundered for a punishing 106 minute run time, trying to start a party in the middle of a funereal viewing experience.
Trying to sabotage the holiday season, “Love the Coopers” was a tuneless, unpleasant take on family dysfunction. Endeavoring to force a group of unlikable, poorly conceived characters on its audience, the picture registered with unusual hostility and fumbled craftsmanship, finding even basic editorial finesse a challenge for the production. “Love the Coopers” collected a group of talented performers to act out various tales of seasonal generosity and communication, but the results were abysmal, mean-spirited, and, at times, unendurable.
Aiming to be a steamy, suspenseful B-movie, “The Boy Next Door” quickly revealed a general inability to successfully put one foot in front of the other. Star Jennifer Lopez adds another stinker to an already odious filmography, but the real poison touch came from director Rob Cohen, who only pays attention to surface details, and even those aren’t lively enough to save the feature. Stupidity dominates “The Boy Next Door,” which doesn’t even bother with basic logic or human behavior, instead investing in exploitation, but even rudimentary salaciousness was strangely muted here, making the viewing experience all the more eye-rolling.
“The Wedding Ringer” paired Josh Gad with Kevin Hart, forcing two already abrasive screen personalities to compete for laughs in their own deafening ways. The duo is enough to sour any comedy, but “The Wedding Ringer” went the extra mile, stuffing in an angry sense of humor and a string of grotesque events to help make an already unpleasant movie feel like a prison sentence. The screenplay offered nothing but formula and ugliness, leaving Gad and Hart to spice up the misadventures with their toxic ways, making the feature a comedy competition where no one wins.
Perhaps an obscure choice, but this inspirational tale starring Sean Bean and Tom Arnold was immediately swallowed by an addiction to cliché and graceless editing. Little makes sense here or remains in touch with basic humanity, and perhaps this is for the best, as a full dosage of director Rustam Branaman’s determinedly clueless vision for this faith-based-ish picture might’ve been enough to kill off the appeal of moviegoing altogether.
Shot in 2011 and released in 2015, there’s a good reason why “The Loft” was held from release for so long. A non-starter of a thriller, the feature pays attention to sleaze and moronic twists, aiming to capture a Hitchcockian mood with no particular interest in tight craftsmanship. Performances are embarrassing and the script drags along, somehow believing ticket-buyers will sympathize with the plight of five jerks attempting to solve a mysterious murder one of them committed. “The Loft” is all blunt edges and persistent tedium, not even effective as a junky, low-wattage thriller.
A best-selling book makes a disastrous transition to the big screen. Perhaps “Fifty Shades of Gray” was never going to inspire stunning cinema, but the production makes fatal mistake by treating these BSDM shenanigans as a statement of romance, while casting two troublesome actors with limited chemistry to portray the unspoken desires of love. Putting kink down for a nap, “Fifty Shades of Gray” offered no life or sense of danger, playing it all embarrassingly safe. And the picture also has the distinction of being the only theatrical release I attended this year where the audience booed at the end of the movie. Unfortunately, publicity efforts won out in the end, with two more chapters in the sexless saga due in 2017 and 2018.
“The Human Centipede” ended up on my worst-of list in 2010, so it seems fitting that the final chapter in the body-mutilating franchise would find a similar position five years later. Instead of drilling deeper into the heart of darkness, series mastermind Tom Six goes comedic and self-referential with “The Human Centipede 3,” actively working to sabotage his own creation with abysmal jokes and gross-out material that often defies description (you don’t want to know anyway). The whole production reeks of desperation and the lead performance from Dieter Laser is hard on the senses, making immediate dismissal of the feature easy to consider. Granted, the grand shift in tone is ambitious, but Six has no idea what he’s doing, and he’s determined to make the audience pay for their continued curiosity.
It probably wasn’t the greatest idea to permit director Roland Emmerich, a man known for making lumpy disaster movies, a chance to dramatize a key moment in the battle for gay rights. Expectedly, “Stonewall” misfires on multiple levels, emerging as a crude take on a sensitive subject, turning characters into borderline hateful cartoons and reducing the iconic conflict to an afterthought. Emmerich’s heart is in the right place, but his execution is tone-deaf and habitual, refusing to temper his histrionic approach to care for delicate emotions.
It wouldn’t be a worst-of list without an appearance from Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, who returned to make fun of the “Fast and Furious” franchise with “Superfast.” Sticking to their routine of unimaginative comedy and frying-pan-to-the-face parody, the helmers are a little late to the party, trying to pants an already bottomless series of movies. While not quite a noxious as their previous work, Friedberg and Seltzer are still scraping rock bottom with “Superfast,” taking on obvious targets with obvious jokes, never learning from their abundance of creative mistakes. Instead of a sharp lampoon, fart jokes reign supreme.
Also of Note: The Transporter Refueled, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, Hitman: Agent 47, Playing It Cool, The Lazarus Effect, Taken 3, The Gallows, Sinister 2, The Vatican Tapes, Get Hard, Vacation, Truth, Rock the Kasbah, Hot Pursuit, and Daddy’s Home.