This is it, folks. This is where you get to find out what five films sucked so hard that I had no choice but to name it the worst of a particularly awful year for everybody. Pray for me…
5 – DIRTY GRANDPA
You know it’s been a particularly dreadful year for films when Dirty Grandpa doesn’t even end up in the bottom 3 of this list. But boy, does it deserve just as much of a telling-off as the others.
A consistently vile, offensive and degrading sex comedy without neither the sexiness nor the comedy, this sees Robert De Niro as arguably his most outrageous character in years – and that’s not a compliment at all – either spewing endless amounts of obscene sex jokes best suited for the comments section on Pornhub, or constantly sticking his thumb up Zac Efron’s anus, taking down a perfectly fine former teen actor with him. De Niro alarmingly gives it his all here too, not sleepwalking through it like a lot of his roles in recent years, so you have to wonder if his filthy lustings over younger women – particularly Aubrey Plaza who, despite being a cartoonishly horny party gal and not much else, ends up being the most enjoyable part of this movie – were suddenly reawakened to alarming degrees during the making of this film. I hope not, and if it did then I hope that he keeps it more to himself than the nasty braggart he is playing on-screen does.
It’s not even the kind of sex comedy that gets its laughs from other sources (aside from maybe Plaza), as this is a 95% laugh-free zone otherwise. It follows a stale template that allows you to correctly deduce its entire plot from the first five minutes alone, and it fills itself with abrasive characters that are either douchebags that would make the Entourage boys look modest, or sexist female caricatures that range from sex-starved trophies or ball-busting shrews. It’s basically a pale clone of That’s My Boy, only (mercifully) without Adam Sandler’s ass involved, but just as insufferable to sit through.
De Niro may seem like he’s having fun, but for everyone else Dirty Grandpa was a film that I couldn’t wait to abandon in a home – and I know that sounds rather cruel, but then again so is the film…
4 – FIFTY SHADES OF BLACK
Marlon Wayans’ spoof of Fifty Shades of Grey managed to do the impossible: make the very thing it was making fun of look decidedly better than what he had actually conjured up.
Fifty Shades of Black somehow manages to fumble what is fundamentally easy material to satirise by injecting into it a lot of his familiar unfunny slapstick, racial stereotypes, inconsistent sight gags and out-of-nowhere riffs on other material like Magic Mike or Whiplash. Wayans takes plenty of joy in making everyone, from the audience to several members of his own cast – including Kali Hawk’s constantly-abused Dakota Johnson surrogate – feel absolutely miserable as they are forced to go through endless stabs at childish humour without any intelligence to it whatsoever, none of it being remotely funny or even attempting to find something to say about the oft-mocked EL James bestseller.
It’s the kind of comedy that still thinks jokes about micro-penises, poo-stained underwear, and literal pulsating blue balls are funny, and makes sure that you get the joke even when it’s right up close to your caving eyes (he even has written jokes spelled out for the audience, under the assumption that they can’t read… which given they bought tickets to see Fifty Shades of Black in the first place, probably isn’t that far off from the truth). So, basically, it’s yet another spoof movie that fails to do anything funny outside of making several pop-culture references and somehow tie them into a plot strung together by pure incompetence.
Needless to say, Fifty Shades of Black is awful. Truly, truly awful. So bad, in fact, that a sudden re-watching of the actual Fifty Shades of Grey movie doesn’t sound like a bad idea afterwards. But despite its inherent awfulness, it’s not the worst comedy of the year. It’s a close second, but not the worst. Keep reading to find out which one ended up being worse…
3 – BLAIR WITCH
The Blair Witch Project is often credited for bringing the found-footage gimmick into the mainstream, so I guess it makes sense that the official sequel nearly twenty years later (not counting the infamously terrible cheap cash-in that was Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2) accurately reflects what an evil monster the found-footage sub-genre has become since the original debuted.
Director Adam Wingard squanders his potential from previous films The Guest and You’re Next with this frustrating sequel that simply rehashes the plot of the first film only with significantly more douchebags for characters, as well as several camera angles that end up betraying the very concept of the found-footage gimmick in the first place. Its constant attempts to jump-scare the audience into oblivion are met with an empty void of silence with each lame fright, making it also one of the most boring horror films of the year in a twelve-month period that’s been full of them.
To say that it fails to live up to the game-changing standards of the original should go without saying, as it takes no real risks with a much larger budget to add anything remotely of interest to the Blair Witch mythos. Certain ideas, such as time passing uncontrollably for those who wander off into the woods, as well as sequences like a claustrophobic crawl through an underground hole, have weight to them, but unfortunately everything else is so poorly executed and not even mildly succeeding in winning the audience over that they end up getting lost in the mix. That’s even before the film’s ultimate fail in actually showing us glimpses of the Blair Witch herself, who looks more like crack-baby Gollum than an actually scary monster. The original film, even the hated Book of Shadows, knew to at least keep the witch herself out of the lens to create more mystery and uncertainty around her, a method that is scrunched up and kicked into the trash the moment this film shows her ugly exterior.
It was such a missed opportunity to bring back what people genuinely enjoyed about The Blair Witch Project, instead crapping out a frightless and exceedingly irritating found-footage horror film that will expire and be lost to the ages like the countless other films of its kind that the first film ironically heralded in. The only thing scary about it is that it only ended up at number 3 on this list…
2 – NINE LIVES
Y’know, just writing about Nine Lives and remembering all of its insipid details really makes me sit down and realise, “yup, that was definitely a thing that happened.”
Never mind the fact that it’s about a cat with a distant businessman’s soul inside of it so he can learn the true meaning of family and all that cat-crap, but the fact that they got ACTUAL people involved in the making of this, from Men in Black director Barry Sonnenfeld to major actors like Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Garner and Christopher Walken, makes it a joke of a movie that too many people happened to take far, far too seriously.
The “talking cat inhabited by a human” genre – which I honestly can’t believe is an actual genre of film – was already a dated concept from the mid-90s, but lo and behold they found a way to bring it back to cinemas in 2016, only to prove that it no longer has a place in modern society outside a bargain bin at your local petrol station. It should not surprise anyone that it bombed hard, because whoever thought that making a film with a premise like this without it being a satire or fake film within a film like in Tropic Thunder, was seriously delusional to a point where it might be possible they have an impending brain tumour.
But no, Nine Lives is a film that takes its dumb premise all too seriously, and fails to find anything remotely entertaining to give its family audience, which it constantly bombards instead with long drawn-out business meetings (because THAT’S what kids these days are into!) and painfully unfunny moments of cat-related humour that would put off even the biggest cat-lover. It also lacks restraint when it comes to its crazier moments, like an attempted suicide (yes, you read that right: an attempted suicide in this film made for children) that is written and executed so poorly that you’d swear they knew exactly what kind of film they were making, but just didn’t have the balls to bail on the project the first chance they could get.
You have to wonder what the people behind the film have against Sonnenfeld, Spacey et al to get them to agree to make this movie, because most of them give performances or shoot the film as thought they would much rather be making anything else at that moment. Nobody, not even Christopher Walken who lives for out-there material such as this, can muster up the confidence to actually put any effort into this movie, which it should not shock you to know had FIVE writers working on it from day one. This was just a miserable piece of cinema, embarrassing for everyone involved and a major sticking point for audiences who simply can’t believe a film like Nine Lives exists in this day and age.
In fact, if you want more from this hate-train that the film rightfully deserves, I strongly urge you to check out this review by popular YouTube film fanatic Chris Stuckmann, who nails down exactly what went wrong with this film better than anyone, even Film Feeder, possibly could. In fact, below is the video, so now you have no excuse:
He says pretty much what everything thinks of when they think of Nine Lives: an unholy abomination of a film that is made for nobody and will never find its audience even from an ironic perspective. It is straight-up kitty litter.
And so, here we are. You are about to discover what ended up being the absolute WORST film of 2016, after fourteen other terrible films on this list that somehow got the lesser end of the stick in comparison. You can probably guess what it is already (mainly because you probably already scrolled down to see what it was, you cheater!), but believe me when I say that in a year that has consistently gotten worse and worse with every new development around the world, this was the most insufferable experience of them all…
1 – GRIMSBY
Yes, Grimsby. A film so vile, so nasty, so incompetent, and so rage-inducing, that I cannot even bring myself to re-watch a single frame from the trailer, as I never, ever want to see another still from this wretched excuse for cinema ever again.
You might be asking yourself, “hasn’t Sacha Baron Cohen done films in the past that have been more vulgar than this?” and you’d be technically right, but here’s the thing: say whatever you want about Borat, Bruno and The Dictator, but they had a far better grasp of comedy and actual understanding of satire and wit than whatever the hell this thing is. Plus, they were directed by Larry Charles who really seems to get the comedian’s extreme style of humour, something that Grimsby director Louis Leterrier absolutely doesn’t; he treats the whole thing as a hate-fuelled farce, often descending so deep into disgusting body humour and offensive stereotypes that it ceases to even put a smile on your face, and leaves you bombarded by just how terrible it actually is. No joke, this film legitimately BROKE me and I spent a good half hour after finally exiting the cinema sitting in a nearby café pondering my life choices and trying to make sense of what I had just seen, and what I can’t un-see.
And here’s the thing: I do enjoy Sacha Baron Cohen’s films, even Ali G Indahouse as a mere guilty pleasure, but this represents him at his absolute lowest, making a film about Northern England stereotypes that say absolutely nothing except how smelly, ugly, fat and downright unpleasant they all are, with no redeeming qualities to them whatsoever. He has descended into Keith Lemon territory, which as you may well know is NEVER a good thing to be compared to. The levels of contempt I have towards this movie may be infinite, but I am especially disappointed in Baron Cohen for drafting in talented people, including a cast that includes people like Mark Strong, Penelope Cruz and even his own wife Isla Fisher, and making them suffer for his sickening art.
Strong is particularly humiliated here, to a point where I actually felt genuinely sorry for him, having to put up with these humiliating set-pieces and incomprehensible action sequences that are coupled in with scenes of Baron Cohen sucking on his testicles to remove a poisonous extract, and sticking giant rockets up his anus… on a side note, I want to say how depressing it was for me to actually type out those things just now. This is the kind of movie that even pains me to write about, let alone actually watch.
However, none of that humiliation and pure embarrassment can compare to this film’s grand “centrepiece” involving a herd of elephants, and it is a sequence that is so desperate and so relentless in its efforts to disgust the audience so much, not to mention blindingly awful a concept mercilessly executed on-screen, that I almost considered walking out right there and then. To date, there hasn’t been a movie that I have walked out of in the cinema, no matter how bad it gets – which really says something about my stamina when it comes to watching horrific movies like this – but boy, was I close to breaking that tradition with this film. It hurts me to even call it a film, because the language of cinema deserves so much better than Sacha Baron Cohen’s atrocious odyssey known simply as Grimsby.
It’s a film where EVERYBODY is too good for this film. Not just Sacha Baron Cohen, Strong, Cruz, or any of the other supporting cast members, but also Leterrier, the cinematographers, the editors, the set-designers, even the in-film targets like a Daniel Radcliffe lookalike and a poorly green-screened Donald Trump. When this movie ends up making you pity DONALD J. TRUMP of all people, you know you’ve seriously messed up. But regardless, everyone – even the vulgar screaming Cheeto that is now the President-Elect of the United States – is too good for this movie. EV. ERY. ONE.
I’ve seldom hated a film more this year, and if I’m thankful for anything I’m glad they at least released it much earlier in 2016 so I could get it out of the way sooner rather than later. However, on the flip side, it means that I’ve had its horrendousness in the back of my mind for the entire year, and given the things that have happened in real life that have transpired over the past twelve months, that’s a pretty large burden to carry on my weak shoulders. I hope to God above that we as a species are not subject to a film as relentlessly awful as Grimsby in the months to come, though while I’m sure there’ll be plenty of crap to watch out for they surely won’t be as bad as Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Strong being doused with endless elephant semen inside another elephant’s vagina. Yes, that’s a thing that happens in this godawful excuse for a movie, and if you have any common sense then you will not just avoid it, you will RUN from it as fast as your legs can carry you.
Grimsby…no. Just… no.