The Worst Films of 2020
December 30, 2020
A Netflix comedy, a movie with no ending, pandemic blues, another Netflix comedy, 150 minutes of Megaton, Tattoo of terror, even more L.A. underworld from Ayer, a pro-O.J. Simpson production, bomb vests on boobs, and one more Netflix comedy.
These are the Worst Films of 2020.
The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson
Last year, director Daniel Farrands made two of the worst movies of 2019: “The Amityville Murders” and “The Haunting of Sharon Tate.” For 2020, Farrands offers another true-crime disaster with “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson.” Produced on the cheap and sensationalistic to the extreme, the feature shows a grand disregard for human life, treating the titular criminal event as an opportunity to assess different theories concerning the famous double homicide, essentially turning O.J. Simpson into an innocent figure. Screenwriter Michael Arter doesn’t back up such absurdity with any sort of storytelling finesse, and Farrands has no filmmaking imagination to begin with. It’s all just ugliness for the National Enquirer crowd.
The Tax Collector
Increasingly tedious moviemaker David Ayer returns with yet another tale of the L.A. underworld and its troubled inhabitants, this time reaching a new creative low with “The Tax Collector.” Filled with violent confrontations and spurts of cartoon masculinity, the picture grows obnoxious in a hurry, with Ayer content to repeat himself to manufacture his own take on “Scarface.” Characters are repellent and performances abysmal (co-star Shia LeBeouf is downright embarrassing to watch as a Mexican-American gangster), while Ayer works overtime to glorify destructive behavior. “The Tax Collector” is pure nonsense, which has become an Ayer specialty.
Obnoxious twentysomethings in the deep woods scrambling to defend their lives after a madman straps bomb vests on the gang. It reads like B-movie heaven, but “Triggered” is bad movie hell, struggling with terrible writing and performances, while shaky-cam cinematography turns an amateurish thriller into punishment. There’s no fun to be had with “Triggered,” which cruelly lacks an inventive approach to body-blasting storytelling.
The Last Days of American Crime
One of the worst directors in circulation today, Olivier Megaton, returns with “The Last Days of American Crime,” an adaptation of a graphic novel that takes 150 minutes to go absolutely nowhere. Packed with uninspired casting (Edgar Ramirez, Michael Pitt, Sharlto Copley) and carried along by a dreadful script, the feature only excels at testing viewer patience, presenting an unforgivably dull take on dystopian misery and gangland betrayals, also whiffing hard when it comes to social and political commentary. Again, it’s 150 minutes long. From the man who gave the world “Transporter 3,” “Taken 2,” and “Taken 3.”
“The Turning” is a horror offering (an adaptation of the Henry James novella, “The Turn of the Screw”) that struggles to define itself. It resembles a movie that once had a game plan for suspense, but something went terribly wrong during the production process, with director Floria Sigismondi claiming credit on a feature that’s botched in numerous ways, including the absence of an ending (or at least a satisfying one). “The Turning” is terrible, but it did provide an amusing viewing experience: one member of the audience elected to take a bathroom break, possibly believing there was another 30 minutes left in the picture, only to return to the auditorium with the end credits running and people shuffling out. His wide-eyed look of confusion was the highlight of the evening.
Coffee & Kareem
Netflix is known for many things, but making comedies isn’t one of them. The company enjoys serving low-brow entertainment to the masses, and “Coffee & Kareem” is their most strained offering of the year. What’s meant to be lighthearted fun is actually quite depressing to watch, offering unlikable characters (played by unlikable actors), an abuse of profanity and improvisation, and abysmal ideas for humor. Perhaps its intentions were pure, but the leaden execution of the feature erases all hope for a good time.
Blumhouse Productions receives a lot of credit for their successes, but the company also churns out a substantial amount of duds. Electing to remake the ABC hit “Fantasy Island” as a horror movie, turning remote location wishes into inescapable nightmares, Blumhouse doesn’t put in a decent effort to do something demented with an awful idea, placing consistently disappointing co-writer/director Jeff Wadlow in charge of a horrendous feature that doesn’t have any real screen presence, trying to reach a PG-13 audience with genre kitten play.
The Wrong Missy
Netflix returns with an Adam Sandler production, “The Wrong Missy,” which gives stars David Spade and Lauren Lapkus a chance to enjoy the good life, making a broad comedy in Hawaii. Laughs are nonexistent in the feature, which consistently plays crude and witless to celebrate the Sandler Way, following strict formula for this type of brutal escapism. Spade and Lapkus are funny people, but “The Wrong Missy” doesn’t do anything with their talents, with the pair going through the motions as bodies flop around and juvenile antics show no sense of life, while the writing eventually wants viewers to emotionally connect with these braindead antics.
After scoring a career highpoint in 2019’s “Uncut Gems,” Adam Sandler returns to his comfort zone with Netflix’s “Hubie Halloween.” The movie should work, pairing Sandler with holiday shenanigans, and yet Happy Madison laziness is present from the first frame, serving up bodily function jokes, Sandler family employment, and a persistent lack of real jokes. “Hubie Halloween” offers a rich feel for seasonal fantasy, but the viewing experience is cruel, watching Sandler happily sprint back to wretched filmmaking habits.
“Songbird” was shot and released in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, presenting viewers with an opportunity to spend 90 minutes with a story that details how life gets much worse in 2023, with illness and death rampant as life is reduced to nothing but crime and loneliness. Co-writer/director Adam Mason doesn’t help the cause by making a lethargic, meandering melodrama with the picture, unable to reward viewers choosing to sit through a depressing endeavor with no real creative spark.
Also of Note: Desperados, The Hunt, Capone, Hillbilly Elegy, The Postcard Killings, The Grudge, Love, Weddings and Other Disasters, Buddy Games, Force of Nature, Guest House, A Fall from Grace, The Lovebirds, Robin’s Wish, The Craft: Legacy, and Holidate.