At last, we’ve dug straight to the bottom of the pit. Which five films this year ended up being so bad that they’re not just on this list, but also so bad that they’re almost frightening in their own wicked ways? Let’s find out…
5 – SONG TO SONG
As bad as some of the other movies on this list are, at least they had actual attempts at story and characters, even if they were poor attempts overall. Not even that can be said about Terrence Malick’s latest movie, which is a completely and utterly soulless movie that thinks it’s saying everything, when in reality it’s saying a whole bunch of nothing.
With no story, no characters, or even any kind of consistency to it, this is a movie that fills itself up with pretty-looking cinematography, which even then gets old after the umpteenth minute you’re forced to look at it, and great actors like Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender and others being reduced to whispering pseudo-philosophical nonsense all throughout the entire thing. It drags on for what feels like an eternity, and seems even longer by the fact that there is absolutely nothing about it that makes for wholesome entertainment in the slightest.
This was one of the hardest films I had to sit through all year, because it was not only a confounding bore to watch, but it was also a film so empty and devoid of any purpose other than to appear as pretentiously annoying as possible for two solid hours, that it was infuriating to me that I had actually given money to pay to see this in a cinema, when I could have spent it on something else that would have given me far more of a satisfactory movie-going experience.
Unless you’re really, REALLY into Malick’s experimental style of filmmaking, there’s no possible way I could recommend watching this, unless you’re someone who’s curious to check out what has to be the most frustrating and logistically awful arthouse film of the year, which by saying that is surely an insult to arthouse cinema, because some of them at least have actual structures to them…
4 – CHiPS
Within the space of a few months this year, we got two comedies that both took an old 70s/80s TV show and turned them into raunchy, foul-mouthed and wildly un-PC adaptations in the vain attempt to cash in on the success of the 21 Jump Street franchise. Neither of them, as you can imagine, turned out to be very good, but by far the worst one out of the two was easily Dax Shepard’s endlessly punishing big-screen version of CHiPS, which made even the wildly mediocre Baywatch seem like either of the Jump Street movies by comparison.
It may be based on the cheesy cop drama, but there is hardly anything else about it other than the name CHiPS that Shepard, who wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the film, has used for his magnum opus of awfulness. It’s an ugly, hateful, misogynist and just plain crass screenplay, the kind that makes outdated jokes about gay panic and stops everything that it’s doing to have a two-minute conversation about rim-jobs, all of which fail to even get a chuckle out of its already angry audience, and leaves viewers even more infuriated that a movie as nasty and backwards as this one could be made in this day and age.
Adding insult to injury, it’s also one of the worst-made high-concept comedies in recent years as well. Shepard is a terrible director who cannot let a scene flow naturally to save his own skin, with some finishing without even a hint of a punchline, and some even beginning with a scenario that feels like there was a reel missing beforehand. Even worse is the editing in this damn thing, which defies all known lessons from Editing 101 with confounding results; when the film reintroduces a previously set-up character not long before, the film just suddenly freeze-frames with the audio still going, before flashing back to that earlier scene and then back to the present. Never mind the fact that the film thinks its audience is so stupid that it feels the need to remind us of a character introduced to us not too long ago, but when your editing choices make it look like the projector had suddenly shorted out during the film – and believe me, I would have totally understood if it had just decided to commit suicide right there and then – then you have seriously messed up in the making of this big studio comedy that actually got released nationwide.
It’s a laugh-free and entirely unpleasant time, which should be avoided at all costs. Just re-watch the Jump Street movies for a way better experience, or hell even Baywatch, which again wasn’t very good but was by a long-shot better than this monstrosity…
3 – THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES
There’s always going to be an audience for movies like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which cater to elderly viewers just fine, and there’s nothing wrong with that – unless that movie is The Time Of Their Lives, which is a horrendous and inexplicably lifeless movie that all geriatric audiences deserve far better than.
The simple tale of two women going on a road trip across France together, with those women being played by Joan Collins and Pauline Collins, is bogged down by a terribly-written screenplay that relies on contrivance after contrivance to movie its plot forward, along with one-dimensional characters that neither Collins deserves to be saddled with (same goes for Franco Nero, who gets the dishonourable distinction of having his genitals and saggy buttocks on full display in this movie, which is never a pleasant sight no matter what your age), and amateurish direction that manages to look both ugly and entirely uninviting, despite it being set in the South of France.
It’s unpleasant to look at, the characters make multiple decisions along the way that just make them more unlikeable, and it makes little to no sense which, given that this was primarily a film made for much older audiences, is frankly insulting to that demographic. Sure, there are plenty of older men and women who want much lighter entertainment to digest, and again there’s nothing wrong with that, but that doesn’t mean they still can’t distinguish what is good entertainment and what is bad, and they deserve a far better option to watch between Bargain Hunt or Pointless on the telly, because that is where this movie belongs: sandwiched between two daytime television programmes and watched only by those who have nothing else to have on in the background as white noise.
If you’re the kind of person who respects their elders, you can do one better by never showing them this movie…
2 – KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD
At first glance, a Guy Ritchie version of the legend surrounding King Arthur doesn’t seem like a bad idea. The director has a particular style that’s unique and appropriately gritty, which we’ve seen him accomplish with his Sherlock Holmes movies, The Man From U.N.C.L.E and of course his multiple gangster films, so he should have been able to bring something new to the much-told myth of Arthur Pendragon and his time in Camelot.
Alas, none of Ritchie’s strengths are in the miserable trainwreck that is King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, which is not only his worst film to date (and yes, that includes Swept Away) but is quite possibly one of the worst big-budget blockbusters to debut in years.
The choices that Ritchie made in making this film are beyond demented, and none of them ever seem to work in telling a coherent story or setting up any kind of dimensional character, which is strange because this is based on one of the oldest stories in the English language. It features everything from giant elephants to a large tentacle monster that looks like the far-removed cousin of Ursula from The Little Mermaid to, strangest of all, an awful David Beckham cameo in the pivotal sword-in-the-stone sequence, and none of it works; it’s a great big collection of mad ideas that never form a whole, or even come alive thanks to the horrific visual effects, which makes one think that either Warner Bros took the project away from Guy Ritchie, or he just made it how he wanted but on a LOT of cocaine.
It’s a royal disaster of a movie that never makes you feel like you’re watching anything that’s epic, and it’s so haphazardly made that it beggars belief that anyone, especially a talented director like Ritchie, could screw something as basic as the Arthurian legend up so bad. But what makes it really end up so high on this list is the fact that this is easily, bar none, the worst-edited movie not only of this year, but maybe even of all time. It moves things around so much and without any kind of restraint that it actually causes headaches aplenty; major set-pieces will be told to us in the tightest and quickest of shots that leave little for the audience to digest right there in the moment, and not only that but it’s also like that through the ENTIRE movie, so get used to whatever kind of cola spilled onto the editing decks. The fact that this movie was already piss-poor in its storytelling and its characters was bad enough, but the fact that it looks THIS bad, especially for a major Hollywood studio tentpole, is the final straw.
As of right now, Ritchie is currently working hard on his version of Disney’s Aladdin, and if it’s anything like how this film looks, then we’re in for a seriously painful time – he’s hired the same editor for this film, so already that’s not all that promising…
1 – THE EMOJI MOVIE
Well, you knew this was going to show up at some point on this list. It’s the film that everybody in the world has pointed and laughed at, that almost the entire internet rallied against for the mere crime of even existing in the first place, and that no matter what race, religion, class et al, every single person in the world could come together and agree that The Emoji Movie is a gigantic piece of poop emoji.
So, how bad exactly is it? Well, it’s #1 on our Worst of the Year list, so that should give you a damn good indication.
Yes, it’s true: The Emoji Movie, the most notorious cynical cash-grab in Sony’s library since the last one, is an absolutely horrible movie, one that was already destined to be DOA right from the word go but ended up surprising everyone with how abysmal it actually ended up being. It’s a movie where nothing is sacred, from the numerous gender and racial stereotypes (the sushi emoji act and speak in Japanese; yup, that’s a thing in this movie), to the Frankenstein’s Monster of a plot that’s comprised of several much better movies like Inside Out, Wreck-It Ralph and The LEGO Movie, to Sir Patrick Stewart providing the voice of the Poop emoji himself, in a role where every single one of his lines or actions revolve around the fact that he is a walking, talking pile of faecal matter.
The powers that be at Sony clearly put no thought or effort into the making of this movie, not giving the audience any kind of intelligence behind its wildly dumb idea, and just using it as a lame excuse to throw in as many painful pop culture references and modern-day slang as they can, which makes it come across as like a group of middle-aged accountants trying desperately to connect with their young offspring who’s constantly on their phones, rather than an actual movie. They put way more thought into those abominations of jokes than the characters, who are just one-note stereotypes or, in the case of James Corden’s Hi-5 who is literally a giant talking hand (there’s a bit of nightmare fuel for you), so ungodly irritating and entitled that you just want to punch them where it really hurts. Not even the animation looks all that great, with some of it feeling as though it was rushed through production and not given enough time to render properly, and the ones that were looking really off-putting and kind of ugly to look at.
However, the most damning reason for it ending up on the #1 spot on this list, aside from it being a truly horrible corporate product that should be thrown in the trash instead of set up on your DVD player, is that it sends some bitterly cynical messages to its young target audience that just breeds this generation of entitled little idiots who live, breathe and die by their phones. This isn’t to say that the smartphone is a terrible invention, because of course it isn’t; it really has changed the way we as a society communicate, how we conduct business, and all sorts of mundane everyday things. But at the same time, we can’t be on them every passing minute of the day; we all have lives to lead, families to care for, friends to chat with in person, so as much as the smartphone truly is a revolutionary invention, even we as a species needs a break from it every now and then.
That’s not at all what The Emoji Movie teaches kids, in fact the message it sends out is one that is the exact antithesis of that last paragraph. By having the worlds inside your smartphone come alive, and having it be populated by living and breathing emojis, it gives the illusion that the phone literally cannot survive without you constantly being on it at every waking moment; when an app is deleted, it is literally doomsday for its inhabitants, and they are all shown screaming and crying as though you are causing mass genocide just by clicking the delete button. You can, as the film desperately wants to teach is susceptible young viewers, keep the world alive by downloading all these apps we are shamelessly advertising like Candy Crush, Just Dance, Facebook etc, and by using all different kinds of emojis in your everyday communication with others via instant messaging; hell, the entire third act rests on the desperation of the phone’s user to send a text message to a girl he likes at school. All of that adds up to a film that irresponsibly tells children that it’s not only good to spend all your free time on your phone, but also to never, ever delete anything of unimportance from it because you will be a terrible person for clearing all your unused data.
It’s such a cynical and harmful piece of propaganda that discourages human interaction and thinks it’s doing something smart and helpful when in reality it’s doing far more harm than good, and I am frankly disgusted that a movie that was never going to be good anyway could still find new and unexpected ways to piss me off. That’s why this is my #1 pick for the Worst Film of 2017, because I consider it to be a dangerous and kind of evil slice of corporate cross-promotion that will make your children dumber and more dependent on modern technology than they ever need to be, and that anyone who willingly shows their child this instead of something much more optimistic is seriously part of the problem.
So, like the rest of the world, I truly hated The Emoji Movie, but not entirely for its awful comedy, awful plot, awful characters and general awfulness. I instead hated it on a much more personal level, and it didn’t take me until writing this list that I realised how truly despicable it truly is.
I would end this on a giant poop emoji, but that would be giving it more than it honestly deserves…