I’m going to mix it up this year with my “Worst of the Year” list and not only include the “worst” films, but films that were the most disappointing as well. The idea here isn’t necessarily to highlight the truly worst movies of the year. Those would obviously be films like Kirk Cameron Saves Christmas and Winter’s Tale, but since there’s no reason to see those movies to know they’re bad, there’s really no reason to include them.
As for my criteria for deciding the “worst of the worst,” most of it comes down to bad writing (surprise surprise). And bad writing can be broken down into three categories: A) Writers who don’t know how to write. B) A lack of effort in writing the screenplay. And C) The people involved in the film don’t care about the script.
What really gets me is B and C. It’s not really a writer’s fault if he’s bad and someone hired him to write the movie. If he’s giving his best effort, I applaud him. But if you didn’t try hard when writing a movie? Or if the people involved don’t think a screenplay is important enough in the first place? That’s a cinematic criminal offense. So those movies always get the brunt of my frustration. Let’s take a look at the nasty cinematic offerings that 2014 gave us and celebrate their journey into cinematic obscurity.
10) Interstellar (disappointment) – I avoided all spoilers going into this movie, expecting it to be the culmination of everything Christopher Nolan had learned up to this point as a filmmaker. The scope couldn’t have been bigger. Space. The final frontier. Matthew McConaughey. Interstellar was going to be amazing. That was the plan, at least. Instead, I got muddled pseudo-science, a sloppy narrative, and an ending so ludicrous even the actors looked confused about what was happening (“I’m in a black hole talking to the past. Oh wait, now it’s 50 years later and Saturn has a space station. What????”). The Nolans needed to be put in script detention during the writing of Interstellar but no one had the balls to do it.
9) That Awkward Moment (bad) – Here’s some screenwriting advice. If your screenplay is so devoid of an idea that you have to title it, “That Awkward Moment,” you probably shouldn’t make the movie. There’s something in screenwriting known as a “concept.” It’s kind of everything that the movie hangs on. Concepts need to be big and clear. What does “That Awkward Moment” mean? Someone has an awkward moment with someone? You’re going to base an entire movie on that? When movies don’t have focus, they fall apart quickly. Watching this film was a lot like watching a bunch of people dancing without any music. It was ugly.
8) Wish I Was Here (disappointment) – I wish I wasn’t here. Maybe I drank the Garden State kool-aid too fervently when Zach Braff’s first film came out, but I liked it. The main character was on a mission. He was doing something. The film had a point! Wish I Was Here, however, was just a really sad film with people talking about how their lives didn’t turn out the way they wanted them to. The script was mired with more melodrama than 20 years of televnovellas. It was peppered with scenes that didn’t push the story forward. Story threads would show up then inexplicably disappear (the home school stuff). As if a bunch of people mumbling about how shitty their life is isn’t bad enough, we had a cancer-stricken father to deal with. Ugh. This was a brutally bad movie.
7) Annabelle (disappointment) – Isn’t the defining pre-requisite of a horror movie that it be scary? I hate to use dumbed down language here, but this was really dumb. And it was cheap! From the actors to the set design to the limited locations, everything here felt like they were cutting corners. Some scope, some original ideas, and some scares would’ve gone a long way to making Annabelle watchable, but nobody appeared to be interested in doing so.
6) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (bad) – The Amazing Spider-Man is still trying to be 2002 Spider-Man, when all the rest of the super-hero world has moved on. Whereas franchises like The X-Men and Captain America seem to be making bold choices, pushing their genres in new exciting directions, Spider-Man’s still holding on to shoddy special effects, goofy characters, and sloppy narratives. That may have been fine when Spider-Man was the only game in town. But the audience’s tastes have matured, and Spider-Man hasn’t matured with them. I remember a scene in this movie where Spider-Man sneaks into his room with Aunt May about to catch him,Peter still in his Spider-Man outfit, and I just thought to myself – We saw this exact same scene less than a decade ago. Move on!
5) Obvious Child (disappointment) – There was something so overtly off-putting about this movie that I’m still thinking about it 4 months later. For a film that purported itself to be “important” and “thoughtful,” I was baffled that roughly half the movie had to do with shit. Really? Does every other joke in your film really need to be a shit joke? It was in such poor, but more sadly, lazy, taste, that it was hard to take anything about the film seriously. And the main character was just… I don’t know, a weird combination of annoying and sad. Watching her do her stand-up that wasn’t stand-up at all but rather her talking about how shitty her life was – I guess that was kind of the point, to show her be vulnerable and different – but boy did it make me a) depressed and b) hate her. The only thing obvious about this was its suckiness.
4) The “Blended” Trailer (bad) – That’s right. I’m putting a movie on here that I haven’t seen. Sound unfair? Sorry, but it’s an Adam Sandler movie. Seriously, go watch this trailer now to see how terribly written it is. Take note of how much exposition they need just to have the two main characters say: “WE’RE GOING TO AFRICA!” You could’ve cut 90 seconds out of your trailer and 90 minutes out of your movie had you just showed the two families on vacation running into each other in Africa. Instead you have: “My boss canceled and so he needs someone else to go and then you need to go fill in for that other person, but wait, your boss is my boss, oh wait, I’ll call him, zoinks, turns out you know him too? That way if you go and I go… On my god, WE’RE GOING TO AFRICA!” I’m hoping these leaked Sony e-mails finally wise Sandler up to the fact he’s making the worst movies in Hollywood right now. It’s the intervention he’s needed for a long time. If it’s successful, maybe we’ll never have to hear the words “WE’RE GOING TO AFRICA!” again.
3) Deliver Us From Evil (bad) – I don’t… I can’t… I’m trying… I don’t know how to describe this movie. I thought I was going to get some cool freaky religious cult horror film. Instead, I got a man hanging out at the zoo for a couple of hours. The only common thread I could find in the film was a pale-faced bald guy who sometimes hung out at the zoo. There was also something about a cave in Iraq. Oh, and this is all based on the “real life experiences” of some New York cop. I don’t know what makes me more sad – this film or Eric Bana needing to take roles like this.
2) The Rover (disappointment) – What? Was? This movie? Let me get this straight. You set your movie in an apocalyptic future. And then the story you decide to tell in that future is, a man gets his car stolen and decides to chase the people who stole it from him? That’s it???? But wait. It gets better. This world is riddled with deserted cars. So the man could’ve just found another car within a few hours. But no. He wants this car! Oh, I know what you’re thinking. The car must be special then. Like a 1959 Firebird or some other unique car, right? Nope. It was a garden variety SUV. I was so confused by the anorexia of this premise that I waited around as long as humanly possible, positive that an actual plot would surface. Nope. As a director, you get to make 1 movie every 3 years. With that choice, this director decided to do a movie about someone who chases someone else over a car. I’m speechless.
1) Transcendence (disappointment) – I’m still not entirely sure how this spec script worked so well and the movie didn’t. I know the film never felt like it got out of first gear. It kept revving its engines and revving its engines, hinting at a big next level, but it never came. There was also an inexplicable stillness to the film. Once we got to this town, our characters seemed content to just… wait around. Nobody was doing anything, particularly our heroine, whose sole purpose seemed to be to wait for Johnny Depp to talk to her. And to be honest, I don’t even know if she was our heroine. By the middle of the movie, so few people had purpose, that it wasn’t clear who our hero was. I’m not going to say that Transcendence killed the spec script, but it certainly tried its best to.