The Unforgivable Films of 2015

For every yang, there is a ying. If I can pick my favorite films from a year, I can most certainly pick my least favorite.

The Unforgivables List began in 2010. I watched the movie The Switch (Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston and the jizz cup), and I got maybe 40 minutes into it before I got so irrationally angry that I had to stop and tell all of my friends they should avoid the movie like raw meat from the floor of a dive bar in Mexico. They thought what I wrote was funny. So I put it up on here, along with tirades against other movies that made me angry from that year. And then it became a thing I do.

This will be the sixth Unforgivables list. Previous “winners” (along with The Switch) have been Just Go With It, Big Miracle, Identity Thief and Heaven Is For Real.

My rules for the list are singular: The movie must make me angry as I watch it. For how bad it is, for what it says about the culture, the state of the film industry, anything. Regardless of whether I gave the movie 4 stars or 0 stars, it must make me angry to know the movie got made. The other guidelines I use for compiling are twofold: don’t include something you knew was going to be shitty (like, say, Seventh Son), and don’t include sequels. Those guidelines are not always followed, but for the most part I do stick by those standards when choosing my list.

The past few years have seen me become less overtly angry about the products themselves than about what the products represent within the larger film world. Last year, I gave Dumb and Dumber To a relative pass (still Unforgivable, but not top five) and instead found myself more angry at films like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Maleficent, which are byproducts of a studio system aimed at bringing back old properties in order to make money off of them without really caring about the properties themselves or the finished product people have to watch. I was curious to see if that trend continued this year.

Without giving anything away, I think we have an eclectic list here. I’ve been very deliberate, yet diverse in my anger. We really hit all corners with this one. Perhaps it’s because Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz didn’t have movies this year, and Melissa McCarthy’s one movie was actually good. Who knows?

That said, here are my Unforgivable Films of 2015:

10. Aloha

I think we can all start by saying — Cameron Crowe, what happened? Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Say Anything, Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous. And then… We Bought a Zoo. And this. You wonder where it all went wrong.

It’s not even like age is a factor here. It’s not like an old director, where you go, “Well, the medium just passed the by.” Cameron Crowe is still a pretty young guy. And he writes everything he directs. So you look at it and go, “How can it be so tone deaf?”

First off, what is this movie about? Here’s a good way of telling whether or not a movie is a disaster. Explain this movie in one sentence. You can’t do it. A disgraced/jaded airline pilot goes to Hawaii to bless a gate, and then ends up involved in launching a satellite, but is also involved with his ex-wife and another officer, and there’s some weird Hawaiian myth shit going on. You can’t make heads or tails of what the fuck is happening.

Hawaii is a very distinct culture. And there’s only so much you can put before it starts intruding on your plot and feeling like an unnecessary history lesson.. The Descendants really straddled that line, but managed to come out okay. This movie, not having a plot, manages to make the worst of both worlds.

It’s set up to look like a Cameron Crowe movie — rock music, The Stones, The Who, relationship shit, guy looking for redemption after screwing up his job, a precocious child spouting off facts — it’s all there. And yet, what is this movie about? Satellites? Space? Something about space privatization. And Hawaiian myths and shit.

The movie makes no sense. People randomly spout words of wisdom out of nowhere, characters just do things out of nowhere that don’t string together except in the basic sense of moviemaking and editing. Emma Stone’s character is so beholden to her one character trait that it makes her seem even less dimensional than she is. The end of this movie is a child realizing that man her mother was flirting with is her father. And that’s the happy ending! The way it wastes such a talented cast, does nothing right — I can’t allow this to be okay. What is going on, Cameron Crowe?

“It’s a wrap. There is no more to do. Cameron never really changed anything. People don’t like people in movies who flirt with married people or married people who flirt. The satellite makes no sense. The gate makes no sense. I’m never starting a movie again when the script is ridiculous. And we all know it. I don’t care how much I love the director and the actors. It never, not even once, ever works.”


When your movie is written and directed by Cameron Crowe, stars Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, John Krasinski, Alec Baldwin, Bill Murray and Danny McBride, this should not be the result.

9. Pixels

I’m not blaming Adam Sandler for this one. I’m actually not. I’m blaming the studio.

You have a fun three minute short where 80s video game characters come down from the sky and start attacking a city. And you want to turn it into a feature. And then you make just about every wrong decision you can possibly make. Which is twofold: one, you adhere to a formula in order to tell your story and try to appeal to everyone. And two, you take the complete wrong approach. Aliens? Adam Sandler? Why would you cast Adam Sandler and his buddies in this? Don’t you know what they’re gonna do to it?

Here’s the original short: an 80s TV is put on the curb by a guy. A pixelated bomb shows up on the screen and causes it to explode. The pixels start traveling all over the city. They become video game characters. Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Tetris, Donkey Kong. They destroy the city and eventually the whole world becomes pixelated. It’s cute.

This movie decides: let’s have our main characters be video game champions. Which is taking the Armageddon approach to things: let’s teach drillers how to be astronauts rather than teach astronauts how to drill. We get this stupid backstory that we don’t need with them as kids (because every Adam Sandler movie needs to start with him as a child in a flashback, for some reason) that introduces all of our characters (unnecessary), and sets up for the driving force of the plot, which is that a video game championship tape was sent into outer space and then aliens saw it and decided to “accept” the challenge. Which is so fucking dumb. And then the four people we met at the beginning are the ones who miraculously are gonna be the only ones who can save us in the end.

The problem with this movie isn’t the premise or even the execution of the scenes (to an extent). It’s how they went about it. Kevin James is the President of the United States. He calls Adam Sandler to help them fight aliens. Why couldn’t this just be a story about the invasion just happening through mysterious circumstances and our characters fighting it off? If you want to reveal later on that the aliens are responding to a challenge because of some tape we sent off into space 30 years ago, that’s cool. But by then we’re already invested in the action. And maybe your main character is some special person because either they launched the tape or are of some special interest to the aliens and are the only one that can stop it, that’s fine too. Just set it up properly. I’d much rather see our characters running to save their families and avoid being killed, only to realize, “Is that Galaga?” And they figure out inventive ways to fight this thing off. Here, these people are presented as experts, which makes the whole thing less accessible. Wouldn’t you rather see regular people learn how to master video games on the fly than people who know what they’re doing win?

Plus, when Adam Sandler stars in your movie, you’re dealing with lazy, dated comedy designed at insulting people. Especially the audience. He plays a child video game champion who is now lazily working at the geek squad. And then this goes down, and his friend, the President of the United States, calls him into a meeting of the joint chiefs of staff, because apparently he’s the only one who can solve this mess. And then he walks in and basically insults everyone, the president, all the cabinet members. He calls one lady with white hair “Gandalf” and a guy with glasses “Harry Potter.” And you know that shit was written into the script and they found people to put there just for this moment. So really every step of the way, the film is misguided as to what is going to be entertaining. Which goes back to the core of — why are we doing this?

I hated this movie because from top to bottom it was a money grab. They tried to manufacture this into a big hit. And if they actually cared to get the most out of the story, this could have been a halfway decent movie. Nothing is worse than when a movie is made for all the wrong reasons. And this movie reeks of so many things, including all of those reasons.

8. The Visit

A Blumhouse movie, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, shot entirely found footage. Was there any surprise this ended up here?

Everything about this movie doesn’t appeal to me. I hate found footage movies on principle, and this is doubly worse, because it’s found footage that’s a product of the Youtube generation that has to document their every goddamn move. These kids are filming this for no earthly reason. Have you noticed that? Every found footage movie has no purpose for its footage. I’ve maybe only seen two that have managed to make the reason for the footage existing even semi plausible.

Plus, this movie is largely plotless. The kids are walking around, filming random shit that I guess is supposed to be funny or entertaining, but mostly it’s annoying. And then there are parts that are supposed to be remotely unsettling or scary, leading to a twist that you can see coming from a mile away. (Seriously, it’s Shyamalan. You know there’s gonna be something. So when you see the set up, what the fuck did you think was gonna happen?) How did people get through this movie.

Not only that, even when I tried to give this a shot, so much stuff that annoys me in movies happens in the first five minutes (characters spelling out supposed backstory and character traits rather than exhibiting them, one dimensional “comedy” moments, like the train guy trying to act and the kid rapping), I got so mad at this movie I stopped paying attention because it was the only way I could get through it.

The worst part is that everybody actually liked this movie. They called it a “return to form” for Shyamalan. What were they watching?

I continue to say that found footage movies are terrible, lazy filmmaking, and 99% of the time. You know how many found footage movies I thought were good? Three. Total. Ever. It’s a terrible genre that leads to bad movies. So now you have a genre I hate, made by a studio that’s known for making any movie as long as it’s under a certain budget, written and directed by a guy who has made nothing but terrible movies over the past decade (The Happening being both terrible and great at the same time). What about this movie is worthwhile? I honestly couldn’t finish watching it the second time as I wrote this up. I had to turn it off because it was so bad and made me so angry that people thought this was decent.

The only reason this movie isn’t higher on this list is because I honestly couldn’t continue watching it to point out more things I hated about it.

7. Accidental Love

This is the Unforgivable movie that everyone will forget. I feel everyone should get a history lesson, in case they don’t know the full story behind this.

Back in 2008, David O. Russell started shooting a movie called Nailed. It was based on a novel by Al Gore’s daughter, and was a political satire, much in the vein of Russell’s previous films, Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees. It was about a small town waitress who accidentally gets shot in the head by a nail gun. And because her health insurance won’t cover it, she can’t get it taken out. And she starts undergoing mood swings and getting really sexual. So she goes to Washington to lobby congress and ends up sleeping with a corrupt senator in order to get healthcare reform passed.

It sounded like it could be really good. And then, production delays. Reports of problems on set. James Caan quit the film after arguing with Russell over how to choke on a pretzel. The film got shut down over a dozen times because they didn’t have money. So the stars walked off the film and production shut down entirely. Russell left the film in 2010, and went on to The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle and Joy. And then the actors were contractually obligated to come back for reshoots and producers ended up finishing the film.

There’s blame here, and I’m not sure if it belongs to anyone in particular or everyone all around. Because even if the reshoots were extensive, there’s still a lot here that was shot by David O. Russell, and the overall tone was dictated by what he shot.

It was probably better that this movie never come out. And we never knew what it would have been. Because even if this did come out at the time, it would have been the worst movie that Russell made. It’s just so… misconstrued. The comedy is so over the top, but in the wrong way. Which makes you wonder why they wanted this to come out. It’s a movie that shouldn’t have been shot this way, a movie that shouldn’t have been recut, a movie they shouldn’t have released, and now this is here, and we have to live with all of the mess that is this film. There’s a case study to be made here. They need to write a book about what happened to this.

6. Little Boy

This poster makes me even angrier at this movie. There’s usually one entry per year on this list that seems harmless, but you realize that it’s actually disturbingly offensive in a lot of ways.

The basic premise of this story: an undersized child (get it?) in the 40s loves his father, who is sent off to fight in the war. He tries to do everything he can to bring him back. It’s one of those sentimental war movies that’s meant to evoke that 40s/50s nostalgia that was so popular in the early 90s. Now, it comes off as cloying, saccharine garbage. This is the World War II equivalent of that Robert Pattinson movie that’s this family drama and then becomes, “Oh yeah, also… 9/11.”

Michael Rappaport plays the kid’s father. Because sure. Emily Watson plays the mother, because apparently there’s not a World War II mother role she’ll turn down. Kevin James plays the town doctor who wants to fuck Emily Watson and starts making moves now that Rappaport is off to war. Oh, and his son is coincidentally the bully that picks on the kid. I’m starting with all the minor things that are moderate, yet reasonable head scratchers before we get into the really bad stuff.

There’s a scene early on where the kid attends the show of a magician (who happens to be in town) who is also the hero of a comic book and short film serial they play before films in picture houses. The magician brings him on stage (because of course he does) and uses him as part of the act, making him think he has the power to move things with his will. He also conveniently overhears someone say that he’ll have to “move mountains” in order to bring his father back home.

So what does he do? He tries to move a mountain. I guess I should also mention that the way he uses these “powers” is by screaming and pushing his body real hard the way you try to force out a difficult shit. So he stands in the middle of this town, pushing his hands and screaming at a mountain. Which is what I’d like to call Saturday night. The fucked up part is, at this exact moment, an earthquake occurs. And the entire town thinks it’s some kind of miracle. That’s the kind of movie we’re dealing with.

The whole film goes through genre conventions, but it’s so obviously manipulative about the whole thing that you know exactly where it’s going and what it’s doing, so you feel nothing toward it except embarrassment. And worse, even though they’re basically telling you how manipulative they’re being, they want you to go along with it.

Oh, but then there are all the offensive subplots. The main one being the kid befriending a Japanese neighbor. The “Jap,” as he’s known, is not the most popular person in town, this being 1943, and the kid and his brother try to set the guy’s house on fire one night. Because that’s what you do. And then the town priest (because religion ruled everything in small town America in the 40s) makes him do penance by befriending the guy. Which apparently no one seems to mind, a 60 year old Japanese guy hanging out with an 8 year old boy. Oh, and the brother pulls a shotgun on the guy when he has dinner at their house. Because hooray, blind racism!

Then there’s the bizarre Kevin James subplot, where he weirdly has all this power around town — enough to get the kid’s brother out of jail — and decides he really wants to fuck the kid’s mother. And yet despite this, his son still bullies the kid viciously. There’s even a scene where the kid is being chased by the son and other bullies, which is INTERCUT WITH HIS FATHER BEING ATTACKED AND CAPTURED IN THE PHILIPPINES. Get that? This movie equates bullying with ARMED COMBAT IN A WORLD WAR.

The one part of the movie that I did enjoy, despite it coming absolutely out of nowhere and serving no purpose, is when the kid is sitting with the priest after the whole attempted arson. The priest tells him the magician being able to move objects with his mind is fantasy, and then they cut immediately to pictures of Noah’s Ark and Jesus. Which amused me. Though they just kind of leave it hanging there. And then of course the priest continues shattering the kid’s faith in magic, because apparently only certain people are allowed to believe in myth.

Anyway, here’s the part that’ll show you why this film is so Unforgivable to me. And keep in mind, this is only the end of the second act. There’s even more bullshit that happens after this (they “kill” the father, only to bring him back to life out of nowhere):

Near the end of the movie, the kid gets it into his head that the only way he’s going to get his father home is if the war ends. So he decides to use his mind powers to end it. He goes out onto the pier, facing west (Japan), and tries to force the war to end with his constipation magic.

The next day, the townspeople come up to him with a newspaper. The headline reads that an atomic bomb was dropped on Japan…. named Little Boy.

I rest my case.

5. The Ridiculous Six

Adam Sandler desecrates an American genre. Great. I’m not even going to get into the racism aspect of it all, and how disrespecting this movie is to Native Americans. (That’s twice now on this list I’m ignoring the obvious case of racism.) I’m gonna focus on how fucking bad it is. Adam Sandler movies have by and large devolved into him and the same group of actors making jokes that only they find funny.

At first I thought, “Oh, maybe this movie isn’t Unforgivable. It might just be shit.” Because they are adhering to the western archetype. So it’s more story than stupid shit without a story that Adam Sandler movies usually are. But I knew this was gonna be Unforgivable the minute Adam Sandler’s wife showed up out of nowhere to say she had a sex dream about him. And there’s no purpose to it, there’s no rhythm to the comedy. I’m not sure who’s supposed to find that funny. And then the whole thing starts breaking down. The characters are meant to talk like western characters, yet say modern shit all the time. A story moment breaks down into stupid comedy out of nowhere. The innkeeper mentions that she fucked the main characters father, and then goes into detail for no real reason. And it made me realize the problem with Adam Sandler movies now — they are completely tone deaf, comedically.

Case and point — a moment where Adam Sandler meets his half-brother, Rob Schneider, is supposed to be a moment where they realize they’re related and have to save their father. First it’s awkward, and then it’s supposed to be touching, and then out of nowhere a mule has explosive diarrhea all over the wall of the barn. And it’s not there for any other reason except they felt they needed a joke to end the scene with. And it’s that kind of stuff that ruins the movie. And then that becomes the mule’s ability, to just shit on cue. Do people find this funny? I mean honestly. Do people actually find this stuff funny?

A movie where Taylor Lautner gets blown by a mule (and it’s done for comedy) has to be considered Unforgivable. Oh, and just in case you thought this movie was only offensive to Native Americans, Taylor Lautner does an offensive impression of a mentally disabled person.

The real person to blame for this is me. Because we knew what this was. Adam Sandler movies are so bad they can’t even get theatrical releases anymore. No one in their right mind should have sought this out. The worst part? Netflix has a deal for three more films with this guy. But I feel like doing this year in and year out is a public service. People need to realize that this man has not only stopped trying, but that the movies that most people aren’t seeing are actually shamefully unwatchable films that do the entire medium of film a disservice.

4. Fantastic Four

This should be Unforgivable for everyone. There are a lot of things that carry weight here. The first being that they tried (and failed) twice to make a decent Fantastic Four movie. Not to mention, Marvel is now making really successful versions of their properties on their own. The only three holdouts were X-Men, Spider-Man and Fantastic Four. Spider-Man failed miserably last year, and Sony brokered a deal to make him a part of the universe. X-Men is going strong. Which leaves this. Fox has failed on this twice, and they keep churning out another movie every time they’re about to lose the rights to the property.

So now Fox comes back and, rather than shooting some piece of shit version that will never see the light of day just so they can keep the property, they trot out what looks like a really solid version. Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell. The guy directing is the guy who directed Chronicle. Which — okay, sure. But still, this was looking kind of promising. You don’t assemble this kind of a cast without something appealing. These actors, specifically Jordan and Teller, can do whatever they want. So them choosing this is a big deal. And yet, what happened?

The reason this is Unforgivable is because something like this shouldn’t be allowed to happen. They can blame the director all they want. He wasn’t cut out to helm a $100 million movie. He lost his shit on set and there were breakdowns, and he publicly shit on the film and the studio, even while they were the ones who hired him and developed an entire movie with him. They completely pulled the film away from him, reshot some scenes (hence the bad wig on Kate Mara) and completely reworked the ending. The blame isn’t on any one person. The blame is on everyone. Because no matter where you look, it took a village to fuck up this movie.

The positives here: it’s not overly burdened by constant action. There’s no 9/11 imagery that’s a staple of Marvel. They tried to tell a story and not make it a thrill ride. Reg E. Cathay. Outside of that, they pretty much fucked up everything else. The movie is edited down in the wrong spots. It takes almost an hour for them to get their powers, and then we cut forward to a year later for no reason. The effects look awful. There’s a total non-climax to this movie. Which isn’t the worst thing in the world, because too often do these movies overdo their climax. But here, there’s literally no climax. It comes out of nowhere. It looks like the best they could do in five minutes with the amount of money they were willing to drop on it. There’s no character development in the movie at all. Everyone is talking in monotone sentences. And there are science montages instead of plot.

And the real problem with this movie is that it failed so spectacularly that it had a chance to prove that you can make a movie that’s smart, interesting and character-driven and not part of the Marvel formula, and they fucked it up. Which is now only serving to make people think that Marvel has to be the way you make these kinds of movies. Which is only going to make the next five years worse.

Fucking up with a cast this good is one thing, but proving Marvel “right” by being so spectacularly wrong is one of the most Unforgivable things you can do.

3. Hot Pursuit

Quick, name one good Reese Witherspoon movie since 2000 that she’s starred in not counting Walk the Line.

It’s a trick question because that movie doesn’t exist. After she stopped taking supporting roles in interesting movies like Pleasantville, Election and American Psycho, she went and did Legally Blonde and became a big, expensive mega female star. And those actresses almost always do nothing but make bad decisions designed to keep them at their status.

Since Legally Blonde, here are the films that Reese has starred in: Sweet Home Alabama, Legally Blonde 2, Vanity Fair, Just Like Heaven, Rendition, Four Christmases, How Do You Know, Water for Elephants, This Means War, Devil’s Knot, The Good Lie, and Wild. A lot of people will say Wild is a good movie. I will respectfully disagree and say it’s just all right. Oh, and she also had supporting parts in Mud and Inherent Vice, which I will show some respect for.

The problem is that her film choices are mediocre at best. They’re these bland romantic comedies or dramas without any bite that are meant to make her look good and nothing more. This Means War was so offensive a movie I couldn’t believe it (#5 Unforgivable of 2012).

The movie begins with Tom Petty’s “American Girl.” And not even just that, a cover of American Girl. A song that’s so on the nose for a movie that you only think people use it. But they don’t, unless they’re trying to make a terrible movie. Which is really two-fold. It’s not only a terribly obvious song choice for introducing a female character, but how does it not make you think of Silence of the Lambs, of the girl about to be abducted by Ted Levine in his van. If only Reese Witherspoon were abducted by Ted Levine in this movie. Maybe it would have turned out better.

Oh, and just FYI, since Silence of the Lambs, do you know how many movies have actually used “American Girl” in them? You’d think it’s a bunch, right? Six, including this. The other five are: Trojan War (90s teen comedy), Sugar & Spice (cheerleaders rob banks), Chasing Liberty (Mandy Moore as the president’s daughter), That’s My Boy (Adam Sandler. #2 Unforgivable of 2012) and Ricki and the Flash (don’t even get me started on those song choices). You don’t use this song unless you’re trying to make a bland, terrible movie. Which apparently Reese Witherspoon is trying to do.

Oh, and by the way, this is all set to a montage of Reese Witherspoon growing up in the back of a police car. Which seems like borderline child abuse. The plot of this movie is that she’s a cop who is so dedicated to her work that her love life is in shambles. Get it? Because that’s so down to earth and relatable! And in case that sounds familiar, it’s the exact same character set up as This Means War.

Here’s what I said about the exact same set up last time: “Her only personality traits are that she’s dedicated to her job and has no life, and she’s Reese Witherspoon. She’s supposed to be really nerdy and awkward….It’s not believable because everything she does is only on the surface — it’s all carefully practiced and performed so that you realize this is Reese Witherspoon, and she’s not nerdy, she’s perfect. She’s just doing this because it’s funny. She’s playing a character. And everything she does and says is carefully constructed to make you like her and nothing more. You’re supposed to find everything she does cute and charming, which undermines everything in the movie including the story.”

Which is exactly what it is. Only here, she’s front and center in all the insanity.

The central plot is that Sofia Vergara is married to a cartel accountant who is going to testify against his boss. So now they have to be safely taken into custody. So they send one car with two officers (one of whom, Reese, has been taken out of the field after tasing a student in a mistake so dumb only a bad movie could think of it) to pick them up. Because that’s practical.

Naturally a bunch of people show up, and her partner is killed and the husband is killed, leading to a wacky road trip with the two women who hate each other but will eventually learn to respect and even like one another. Oh, and one of the cops will end up being corrupt and working for the bad guy, because that’s exactly how EVERY SINGLE ONE of these movies progresses without fail. It’s weird how not only do they make them bland and unfunny, but they think that adhering to cliches is actually a good thing.

You watch this movie and, as is the case with most Unforgivable movies, especially Unforgivable comedies, you wonder how everyone making them thought they would be funny and that they worked. What happened to the days of “character creates comedy”? Why the fuck do you think The In-Laws worked? Because Alan Arkin was a nebbish dentist and Peter Falk was fucking crazy. Here, they’re both crazy and the whole movie is heightened beyond belief. And apparently they thought people would go see it just because she was in it? Please stop this, America.

We can take solace in the fact that this movie bombed at the box office. But we’re still left with the fact that this movie exists, and that actresses like Reese Witherspoon will continue to make them until people stop going to see them.

2. Jem and the Holograms

Count this as a movie I was actually a little excited for back in January. It was because I didn’t know anything about the property and saw visions of what this could be… not realizing the person behind this movie was the same person behind The Visit, Paranormal Activity and Tooth Fairy. Which means that they didn’t care about the quality of this movie as long as it cost $5 million.

The real problem with this movie isn’t that, though. It’s the fact that it glorifies the Youtube generation. The movie is filled with people putting up videos online, as if that makes them special or unique, which is apparently what people do nowadays rather than just be human.

The whole movie is structured around a Youtube confessional and intercut with loads of found footage and scenes shot from iPhones. All of the characters are less than one-dimensional (the one dimension is really all we have to differentiate them, otherwise they’re all the same person), and no joke, the inciting incident of this movie is kids trying to save the family house by going viral on youtube. I shit you not.

You want that again? The kids. Try to save the family house. By going viral. On Youtube.

Oh, and to make it worse, their aunt (they trotted out Molly Ringwald for this thankless role) FORCES the main character to be a part of it. She doesn’t want to put her personal life out there, so while the rest of the sisters make a music video on the patio, the aunt literally pushes the girl outside and locks the door on her, essentially forcing her to put herself out there. Which is essentially what being a Kardashian is like. Fuck you, earn me money. Pop that ass, put the tits out there, and sell. Even in context, it’s disgusting. You can try to pretend like she wants her to have fun, but in this case she’s literally making her go make a Youtube video in order to raise enough money to save their house. (There’s also this weird moment earlier where all the girls are fighting and the aunt stops them by making them all sing in harmony. So I guess she’s breeding these musicians and forcing them into music. Which has never worked out badly before.)

Oh, and of course the real turning point is when the main character records a personal song for herself and her sister steals it and puts it up on the internet without permission. Which I’m sure is totally legal and something a decent human being would do. And then out of nowhere, not only is the video viral, but apparently is on the news? (Seriously?) Do viral videos actually get news anchors talking about them?

When I watched this movie for the first time, it was so bad and so unwatchable that I actually had to leave the house and buy alcohol in order to finish it.

Oh, and this was before they introduced the random fucking robot that’s basically that Echo thing from Earth to Echo (which was basically robot E.T.) mixed with a droid. Apparently it was a computer in the original series. Now it’s a robot. Sure. But then there’s this weird scavenger hunt her dead dad is sending her on, which is one of the most fucked up things I’ve ever seen a dead parent do to a kid. Why would you do this? Half build a robot and then randomly leave parts around the world for your daughter to somehow figure out and go find (that of course have everything to do with what she’s going through at the time). This of course without leaving any hint that they’re out there and assuming no one else will find them or they’ll be destroyed (one of them is hidden beneath the Santa Monica fucking pier. There’s WATER there!). I could maybe go along with this, but not the way this movie does it.

All the songs are that terrible manufactured pop music that exists now. All the voices are too clean and all the beats are made from garage band. And it’s so disgusting in the way it sees the world. I watched a 17-year-old tell a crowd of people “This is our time.” Fuck you.

This is supposed to be a simple movie about girl power and following your dreams and being the best version of you and showing that everyone has talent and can be creative. And instead we get this horribly manufactured movie that pretends to be about these things, but is really about making yourself the best version that you can present on social media in order to make people like you.

This is a rare product that not only insults the audience of the original property but also baffles newcomers. How can you manage to alienate your core audience and do nothing to attract new viewers? That’s the sign of a failure, through and through. Oh, and the movie tries to galvanize kids by embracing this bullshit Youtube, snapchat, shitty assembly line pop music, put everything out in public culture we exist in now.

Sometimes I think the terrorists should win.

1. Vacation

My review of this movie upon seeing it was, “The problem with this movie is that it exists.” It’s going to be hard to top that.

There was no film in 2015 that was as empty, soulless, misbegotten and horrific as this one. It represents the worst possible case and lowest common denominator for rebooting popular films of the 80s, which has become the norm now.

I’ll admit that I’d never actually watched the original start to finish until about six months ago. And to me, I grew up loving Vegas Vacation, and having also recently seen Christmas Vacation for the first time, to me, those two are really enjoyable movies. The original Vacation is fine, but there was really no reason to reboot it. Except to capitalize on a vague remembrance of, “Oh yeah, that movie is funny,” and use that to make money. But there’s a way to do that and not shit all over the legacy of whatever the original product is.

You see the action remakes? Total Recall, Point Break. They’re not particularly great or memorable, but they don’t tarnish the originals in people’s minds because they’re doing their own thing. They’re taking campy 80s action movies and turning them into “serious” modern day versions. We can argue the validity of doing such a thing another time. The point is that they’re not impinging on the originals. This movie does.

The reason this movie is so bad as a reboot/sequel aside from being such a bad film is the fact that it’s aligned with the previous movies. Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo are actually trotted out to reprise their roles. There’s no real reason for this to happen except to try to add validity to the proceedings. If you didn’t include them, then we could all pretend this was like that Jeremy Renner Bourne movie and that it didn’t really exist. You know, the way X-Men treats Bret Ratner’s movie. (Which, by the way, Bret Ratner produced this movie too. Though don’t hold him to blame, since he also produced The Revenant and Black Mass this year. I was just pointing out the coincidence.)

But that’s all part of the larger pie of unmitigated human excrement that is this movie. (I almost said toxic shit, but this movie actually has toxic shit in it.) Killing a brand is one thing. But to have a movie be this bad on top of that is truly Unforgivable. The humor is crude, the characters are deplorable and the movie is truly unwatchable.

You can always spot a bad movie by how it does certain things right at the top: introduces characters, lays out exposition, establishes location, sets a tone, and voiceover. Here, the opening line is as we track up the aisle of a plane, “Well, ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain, Rusty Griswold.” Now, I’ve been on a plane or two in my time. Pretty sure the captain says his name only once during the entire flight, and it’s not at the very end. Which means this is horrible writing, trying to establish the character’s name right at the start so we know who we’re dealing with. Meanwhile, there’s a much easier way to do this they didn’t go for.

That said, that is immediately followed by a scene where his rapidly-slipping-into-dementia co-pilot causes some turbulence which makes Rusty accidentally grab a woman’s tit, puts his head on a kid’s lap and get slammed from floor to ceiling. So within five minutes, we’re already certain we’re in for a shit time. And then they start with that terrible R-rated, yet heightened sense of comedy that just doesn’t work. One of their sons randomly makes fun of the other one for “having a vagina,” and then there’s an extended scene where Rusty has to explain that it’s cool if he does have a vagina. Which I guess is funny if you’re a neanderthal, ignoring the fact that his father is saying this. And as a father, you’ve seen those kids’ dicks a thousand times by now.

The humor is so bad that you wonder how anyone thought this would be funny. I want to sit down and watch this movie with someone who says they think this is a good movie and have them explain to me why certain things work. People say you can’t explain comedy, but I can explain why this doesn’t work, so there has to be an explanation as to why people think it does work.

What this movie needs is a Chevy Chase to properly deliver the bad comedy. Ed Helms is not that person. Take the moment where the weird Swedish car is in the driveway and supposedly has a built-in sensor to prevent the doors from slamming on body parts (how obvious and lazy a set-up is that?), so Rusty makes his wife slam the door on his arm. And when it slams on his arm, he screams loudly. Chevy Chase would have let the door slam on his arm and played it off as if it was nothing and that it didn’t hurt at all and pretended like it could easily be fixed so that it would work. It’s the little things like that which make me cringe at how bad comedy is nowadays.

They hit just about every terrible comedy trope that exists today. Including projectile vomiting. Why did we need the weird frat party beer chugging thing that happens? Why do we need anything that happens here? THEY GO SWIMMING IN CONTAMINATED FECES! The characters literally spend a scene rubbing shit all over their faces for over a minute without realizing. What is this? Money was spent on this movie.

I can’t think of a single redeemable element to this movie. Not one. You wanna know how truly reprehensible this movie is? Whereas in the original, part of the fun was in Clark attempting to be a ladies man and flirt with the hot woman in the convertible, here, they fucking kill her. THIS MOVIE TREATS A HORRIBLE DEATH AS COMEDY. Every character is eminently unlikable and a terrible person.

This movie was so bad I didn’t even finish it the first time. I watched it again as I typed this up and didn’t even realize Nick Kroll and Michael Pena had cameos. And then there’s the rafting sequence, WHERE ANOTHER PERSON DIES.

How is the climax of this movie, which is supposed to be the most satisfying part, one family beating the shit out of another family and then singing along to “Kiss from a Rose” on a roller coaster?

I think the awfulness that is this movie can be summed up in this dialogue exchange:

“So you just wanna redo your vacation from 30 years ago? Don’t you think that’s gonna be kind of a letdown?”

“No, no, no, no, we’re not redoing anything. This will be completely different. For one thing, the original Vacation had a boy and a girl. This one has two boys. And I’m sure that there will be lots of other differences.”

“I’ve never even heard of the original Vacation.”

“Doesn’t matter. The new Vacation will stand on its own.”

FYI, the carotid artery is located just below the ear, so if you’re looking for a quick way to bleed out and end the pain, that’s a good place.

Oh, and in case you thought the terrible stopped here, writer-director team responsible for this movie is writing the new Spider-Man. So we’ve got that to look forward to!

– – – – – – – – – –

11. Superfast — Friedberg and Seltzer. Makes you wonder why I still seek out these guys’ movies each year, even when they’re being dumped on VOD and no one would know they even existed otherwise. I like to think of it as a public service. You need to know the evil is still out there, otherwise no good can be done. Like Kony. The documentary comes out and everyone hates him. He’s still out there. You just don’t hear about how he’s out there. Friedberg and Seltzer are my Kony.

12. Fifty Shades of Grey — Because this movie is an abomination. If it weren’t for the fact that it made $500 million off stupid people who paid to see it, this would have been in the top ten. For now, we’ll have to live with my thoughts from seeing it.

13. Seventh Son — We knew we were getting a terrible movie with this, so no one should be surprised. I’m not gonna spend time berating it. It’s bad, we know this.

14. The Boy Next Door — What a piece of shit this was. Jennifer Lopez bangs a 20 year old (as she does). She made this movie to pretend like she’s still young. And it’s also a shitty Blumhouse thriller that pretty much everyone who saw it agrees is absolutely terrible.

15. The Intern — This was offensive to me. The way it deals with youth culture and essentially exploits old people. Add to that all of the banal messages and speeches it throws in there masquerading as life lessons — this was about a step away from being Unforgivable for a good minute.

– – – – – – – – – –


  • Blackhat
  • Da Sweet Blood of Jesus
  • Every Secret Thing
  • The Lazarus Effect
  • The Loft
  • The Longest Ride
  • Mortdecai
  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
  • Project Almanac
  • Strange Magic

– – – – – – – – – –

One response

  1. The good news is that Jem couldn’t even make back its $5 million budget. It bombed so hard it was pulled from theaters after just 2 weeks. It ended with a mere $2.2 million, and that was from more than 2,400 theaters.

    January 5, 2016 at 12:10 pm

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