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The year in must-avoid movies

How awful must a film have been to have earned a spot in this year’s bottom ten?

Pennywise the Dancing Clown is not pleased that It is #2 on the “must-avoid” list for 2017.
Pennywise the Dancing Clown is not pleased that It is #2 on the “must-avoid” list for 2017.

Such a monumentally bad year for movies just passed. Will Hollywood studios finally take the hint and look beyond the comic-book rack to find source material? The good news is that for the first time in franchise history, even Star Wars is underperforming.

How awful must a film have been to have earned a spot in this year’s bottom ten? I’d rather watch a moth’s trail of dust after being smashed against a windshield than any of the films on this list. The only reason Wonder Woman didn’t make the cut is my strict rule not to include walk-outs. Happy New Year, folks. Here’s hoping 2018 gives us something to look at.

10) James Foley’s Fifty Shades Darker. Writer E.L. James had better hope that her yente readers never discover internet porn. As for it being darker, given the sparsity of people of color in the cast, they just might as well have called it Fifty Shades Ofay. On a high note, after the film’s release, the sale of ben wa balls went through the roof.

9) David F. Sandberg’s Annabelle: Creation. Those yearning for more from this generation’s answer to Rod Serling’s “Talking Tina” were no doubt disappointed when all the sequel had to show for itself was a nun and a group of orphans trapped in a haunted house. You know you’re in trouble when the titular killer plaything isn’t in the picture for more than ten minutes.

8) João Pedro Rodrigues’s The Ornithologist. The press kit cries, “This enigmatic and surrealist survival story reimagines the legend of Saint Anthony of Padua through a queer lens.” It’s more like an exercise in staring at a screen for two hours that couldn’t have ended soon enough.

7) Jeffrey Blitz’s Table 19. A group of wedding crashers wind up seated at the same table. With barely enough structural nutriment to sustain an SNL skit, screenwriters (and mumblecore initiators) Jay and Mark Duplass pad a rail-thin premise and call it a feature. One more choice of scripts like this and it’ll be time to start seriously questioning Anna Kendrick’s sanity.

6) Seth Gordon’s Baywatch. All that’s required of Zac Effron is remedial memorization technique and a willingness to work topless. Frankie and Annette vehicles were tsunamis of veracity and personal artistry compared to this two-hour showcase of boobs, six packs, and wink-wink homoeroticism geared for low-grade morons.

5) Michael Showalter’s The Big Sick. Further proof of the blurred lines between film and television is this pathos-laden big-screen sitcom from producer and master of the form, Judd Apatow. It always amazes me how people will gladly leave their house and purchase a ticket for something that’s beamed into their living rooms on a nightly basis.

4) Jason Hall’s Thank You For Your Service. One week a firefighter (Only the Brave) followed quickly by a chance to cash in on playing a returning vet. It appears Miles Teller’s choice of projects has taken a heroic turn for the worse. And in case you didn’t know going in, war is bad and it screws people up.

3) Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky. A band of country set play actors affect bad haircuts and even worse Huckleberry Hound accents in this sneering, shit-kicker caper comedy. Soderbergh does for Smokey and the Bandit what he did for Ocean’s 11. Absolutely nothing.

2) Andy Muschietti’s It. It’s best to add an “Sh” to the title. The most genuine shock of the year came when I glanced at my watch and realized that there was still two hours left to go in this horror snooze. Fright-free to the point it makes Blair Witch look like Repulsion.

1) Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel’s Caniba. A cannibal acquitted by reasons of insanity is allowed to move back to Japan where he currently lives with his outstandingly dysfunctional brother. Credit a group of experimental filmmakers operating under the designation the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab for this celebration of a slaughterer. It’s seldom that a film screened at a local film festival — in this case the San Diego Asian Film Festival — makes, let alone tops, my ten worst list. As a work of documentary storytelling, it’s slightly more visually compelling than a colonoscopy.

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Events October 22-October 25, 2020
Pennywise the Dancing Clown is not pleased that It is #2 on the “must-avoid” list for 2017.
Pennywise the Dancing Clown is not pleased that It is #2 on the “must-avoid” list for 2017.

Such a monumentally bad year for movies just passed. Will Hollywood studios finally take the hint and look beyond the comic-book rack to find source material? The good news is that for the first time in franchise history, even Star Wars is underperforming.

How awful must a film have been to have earned a spot in this year’s bottom ten? I’d rather watch a moth’s trail of dust after being smashed against a windshield than any of the films on this list. The only reason Wonder Woman didn’t make the cut is my strict rule not to include walk-outs. Happy New Year, folks. Here’s hoping 2018 gives us something to look at.

10) James Foley’s Fifty Shades Darker. Writer E.L. James had better hope that her yente readers never discover internet porn. As for it being darker, given the sparsity of people of color in the cast, they just might as well have called it Fifty Shades Ofay. On a high note, after the film’s release, the sale of ben wa balls went through the roof.

9) David F. Sandberg’s Annabelle: Creation. Those yearning for more from this generation’s answer to Rod Serling’s “Talking Tina” were no doubt disappointed when all the sequel had to show for itself was a nun and a group of orphans trapped in a haunted house. You know you’re in trouble when the titular killer plaything isn’t in the picture for more than ten minutes.

8) João Pedro Rodrigues’s The Ornithologist. The press kit cries, “This enigmatic and surrealist survival story reimagines the legend of Saint Anthony of Padua through a queer lens.” It’s more like an exercise in staring at a screen for two hours that couldn’t have ended soon enough.

7) Jeffrey Blitz’s Table 19. A group of wedding crashers wind up seated at the same table. With barely enough structural nutriment to sustain an SNL skit, screenwriters (and mumblecore initiators) Jay and Mark Duplass pad a rail-thin premise and call it a feature. One more choice of scripts like this and it’ll be time to start seriously questioning Anna Kendrick’s sanity.

6) Seth Gordon’s Baywatch. All that’s required of Zac Effron is remedial memorization technique and a willingness to work topless. Frankie and Annette vehicles were tsunamis of veracity and personal artistry compared to this two-hour showcase of boobs, six packs, and wink-wink homoeroticism geared for low-grade morons.

5) Michael Showalter’s The Big Sick. Further proof of the blurred lines between film and television is this pathos-laden big-screen sitcom from producer and master of the form, Judd Apatow. It always amazes me how people will gladly leave their house and purchase a ticket for something that’s beamed into their living rooms on a nightly basis.

4) Jason Hall’s Thank You For Your Service. One week a firefighter (Only the Brave) followed quickly by a chance to cash in on playing a returning vet. It appears Miles Teller’s choice of projects has taken a heroic turn for the worse. And in case you didn’t know going in, war is bad and it screws people up.

3) Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky. A band of country set play actors affect bad haircuts and even worse Huckleberry Hound accents in this sneering, shit-kicker caper comedy. Soderbergh does for Smokey and the Bandit what he did for Ocean’s 11. Absolutely nothing.

2) Andy Muschietti’s It. It’s best to add an “Sh” to the title. The most genuine shock of the year came when I glanced at my watch and realized that there was still two hours left to go in this horror snooze. Fright-free to the point it makes Blair Witch look like Repulsion.

1) Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel’s Caniba. A cannibal acquitted by reasons of insanity is allowed to move back to Japan where he currently lives with his outstandingly dysfunctional brother. Credit a group of experimental filmmakers operating under the designation the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab for this celebration of a slaughterer. It’s seldom that a film screened at a local film festival — in this case the San Diego Asian Film Festival — makes, let alone tops, my ten worst list. As a work of documentary storytelling, it’s slightly more visually compelling than a colonoscopy.

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Events October 22-October 25, 2020
Comments
20

Come on, Scott. You slammed "The Big Sick," which so many people (including me) thought was brilliant, funny and extremely touching. I have to so-disagree with you on this one. Please watch it again, OK? The screenplay just may win an Oscar, and Ray Romano will likely get a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Jan. 3, 2018

It's a tragi-sitcom. Archie and Edith Bunker did the cancer thing much better. And if this is brilliant, what is Ernst Lubitsch?

Jan. 4, 2018

Of course Lubitsch was a genius. I know of his reputation, but I don't think I ever saw one of his films. My loss, I know. "The Big Sick" wasn't just about a scary illness; if so, I would agree with you. But I thoroughly enjoyed the immigrant family culture war, the very smart dialogue (and monologues) throughout, and being a fly-on-the-wall to witness the struggle, pain, panic and paranoia of wanna-be standup comics.

Jan. 4, 2018

Yeah Big Sick wasn't that great but it wasn't an abomination or anything. It had a few good things in it. Ray Romano was good, and it had a couple of laughs. The worst movie of 2017 for me was Wonder (don't ask me why I decided to go see it) In fact it's the worst movie Ive seen in my 34 years of existence. Nothing and I mean NOTHING!! was good about it NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The kid was a brat The mother was WEIRD!!!!!! The father was a sap. I can go on all afternoon how much I hated this abomination of a film .

Jan. 4, 2018

Speaking of bad movies. Three Billboards is another movie to avoid.

Jan. 4, 2018

Just the other day I went to the bank when outside a guy started hurling molotov cocktails at the window. For the life of me if I couldn't hear them. The last 45 minutes of the movie is filled with crap like this. It's opens strong. but by the time it's over, this doesn't have much to say for itself. PS: I also disliked "Wonder," but not enough to make my bottom ten.

Jan. 5, 2018

Now if you want a to see a good movie, go and see The Square. The best film of 2017 IMHO.

Jan. 4, 2018

I disagree - it was a pretty good year for movies. There are always bad movies - making art is hard. Most mainstream comedy and action and horror flicks are absolute dreck. You have to go off the beaten path to find the good films sometimes. That's why I liked "The Big Sick" - it wasn't the same old formulaic romantic comedy. It was refreshing. "Get Out" is not my kind of film but it held me rapt because it has layers. "The Shape of Water" was wonderful however you slice it.

Foreign films oftentimes blow American films out of the water - so good to check them out instead of the remakes. Those dragon tattoo films are so much better in their original foreign form. Another example - "Secret in their Eyes" - why see the Julia Roberts remake when the original Argentinian film is so much better.

Sometimes you have to dip back into the past too. I just saw a film titled "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" from 2015. Surprisingly wonderful.

One of my favorite films is a Scorsese film from the mid-1980s called "After Hours." Genius dark comedy. People usually love it or they hate it.

Jan. 6, 2018

I never heard of "After Hours." I'll have to check it out.

Jan. 6, 2018
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