Superdad Charlie Sheen, coal for the Bad Moms, Mister Police missed all the clues, a suburban casino craps out, rotten wishes, fifty shades of awful, bye-bye to a PG-13 ghoul, Nicolas Cage in a wig, Walter Hill’s retirement party, and Dax Shepard directs again.
These are the worst films of 2017.
The idea of bringing a television show from the 1970s to the big screen isn’t a far-fetched concept. That someone would give Dax Shepard millions of dollars in the year 2017 to do it is absolutely bewildering. “CHIPS” endeavors to ‘roid up the corny action series, giving it ferocious chases and heavier baddies, but Shepard being Shepard, he also fills it with a toxic sense of humor, with most of the gags involving moronic gay panic material. Lacking creativity, smart casting, and thrilling stunt work, “CHIPS” dies on impact, hopefully taking Shepard’s directorial interests with it.
“Mad Families” wasn’t exactly promising an enriching viewing experience, offered as a free streaming selection on a dismal website in early January. It’s also the latest from director Fred Wolf, co-scripted by David Spade, and stars Charlie Sheen. Unfortunately, “Mad Families” lives up to low expectations by being a comedy with no laughs, just a series of painfully awkward slapstick sequences featuring a cast (including Leah Remini) who can’t handle the Sandler-ian broadness. Even for free, those who dared to watch it paid too much.
Intending to be the horror sensation of the summer, “Wish Upon” emerged as a nonsensical mess of a movie. Clearly something went wrong in the editing room, with the story of a young girl’s deadly experimentation with demonic wish fulfillment ending up a jumble of half-realized scenes and a curious case of beard/no beard with co-star Ryan Phillippe. “Wish Upon” wasn’t frightening, unless one considers the substantial effort required to release a motion picture that was clearly mangled during its production journey.
While “Wish Upon” was a mess, “The Bye Bye Man” entered the horror release sweepstakes with amateur production accomplishments and a studio mandate to water down its original R-rated intent, keeping it PG-13 for younger audiences. Laboriously stumbling through a grim mythology nobody cares about, “The Bye Bye Man” tried to establish a new genre icon to help inspire a fresh franchise. What’s actually here is dismal and dominated by stupidity, with director Stacy Title floundering right from the first scene.
VOD releases are largely forgettable, home to mundane actioners and thrillers that couldn’t secure theatrical distribution. “Arsenal” was the worst of the bunch, with helmer Steven C. Miller going the random route with this grimy, achingly dull exercise in screen aggression. Dramatic interests are minimal here, as Miller swings from cliché to cliché to keep the beat, while his eye for casting leaves much to be desired (teaming Johnathon Schaech, Adrian Grenier, and John Cusack). And there’s Nicolas Cage, who, for reasons not understood, decided to resurrect his character from 1993’s “Deadfall” for “Arsenal,” perhaps for the sole reason to wear a bad wig and react to conflict like a tasered criminal. B-movie routine rarely gets this painful.
With Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler in the lead roles, there’s expectation for some degree of workable comedy, with the pair too talented to whiff completely, especially with the diamond premise “The House” offers. And yet, here we are, stuck with a joyless, semi-ugly effort that wastes the cast on what’s actually a series of DOA comedy sketches in search of a story. Even more bizarre than the feature’s complete failure to trigger even a snicker was the experience of seeing the movie opening night with a full audience, hearing forced laughter turned to stone silence after 15 minutes. And then the walkouts began.
A skilled director (Tomas Alfredson), a talented cast (including Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, and J.K. Simmons), and celebrated source material. So what went wrong? Just about everything in “The Snowman.” Coherence isn’t a top priority for the production, which mostly concentrates on introducing characters, locations, and gadgets, only to do very little with anything, returning to a serial killer story that doesn’t hold much interest. Detective cinema fans are left with nothing to work with, and bad cinema fans can only watch in disbelief as so many elements of a seemingly slam-dunk production fail all at once.
Being the sequel to “Fifty Shades of Grey,” an abysmal film, certainly didn’t help the cause, but it was odd to watch “Fifty Shades Darker” try to course-correct with more thriller elements, eventually ending up with Tyler Perry-style histrionics. A dull, cold, and laborious as the previous installment, “Fifty Shades Darker” didn’t solve any problems created by the original picture. It generated all new ones, hoping to achieve a grander scale of threat for its main characters with a continuation that plays directly into the next installment, shot back-to-back with this one. Unpleasant people engaging in boring conflicts, interrupted by steam-less sex. Titillation shouldn’t require this much work.
“Bad Moms” was creatively bankrupt, slavish to shock comedy trends, and celebratory with obnoxious performances. A quickie holiday sequel doesn’t help matters. “A Bad Moms Christmas” is lazy work all around, barely putting in the effort to hurdle the low bar set by the original. Heaping on holiday cheer doesn’t patch the substantial creative potholes, with repetition and tuneless vulgarity wearing down patience with the movie, which eventually gives up altogether. Bringing in Bad Grandmas didn’t help the cause, merely doubling the potential for crude punchlines and ill-advised improvisation. If there’s another chapter in the works, here’s a suggested creative direction: “A Bad Moms Vow of Silence.”
Director Walter Hill adores graphic novels, and he’s searching for a way to shake up the hitman routine with “The Assignment.” The effort is appreciated, but the execution is all wrong for this bottom-shelf offering, which, among many other oddities, attempts to pass off star Michelle Rodriguez as a macho man using make-up normally employed for Halloween parties. “The Assignment” is distasteful and tone-deaf, and Hill’s attempt to tart up the viewing experience with intrusive comic book touches only worsens an already tedious endeavor.
Also of note: Just Getting Started, Killing Ground, Table 19, Rings, Boo 2: A Madea Halloween, Baywatch, The Emoji Movie, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, The Crash, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, Fist Fight, Phoenix Forgotten, War on Everyone, and All Eyez on Me.