The Worst Films of 2015

by PopMatters Staff

29 December 2015

Get a laugh from the trailers of the worst movies of 2015, but don't waste your time watching these films unless you happen to enjoy things that are so bad they are amusing.
 


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Aloha

Director: Cameron Crowe
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Alec Baldwin, Danny McBride

(Sony Pictures)

Aloha
Cameron Crowe


The plot of Aloha includes something about a satellite system, some nukes, and the involvement of the actual head of the Hawai’i “state”, but none of these things make the film interesting or compelling. Instead, we sit, dumbfounded, wondering what the director, Cameron Crowe, was thinking when he decided to write this particular script. His characters are cloudy and convoluted and his plotting is practically incoherent. We’re never sure of the stakes, can’t tell who is on what side, and really don’t care if the players find passion or just sit around, eating poi. It’s like watching the parts of a movie wait for a reason to exist. The most disturbing aspect of the film, however, is Crowe’s seeming fall from grace. Even the suits at Sony recognized that this was a formerly effective filmmaker lost in a wilderness of his own design.  Years ago, one of the best things about a Crowe film was its sense of realism. You could identify with his characters and their concerns. With Aloha, that’s all gone. In its place is a sense of confusion—and more Crowe crap.—Bill Gibron

 

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American Ultra

Director: Nima Nourizadeh
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, John Leguizamo

(Lionsgate)

American Ultra
Nima Nourizadeh


American Ultra is a humorless hybrid of ganja and genre contrivance. Max Landis has come up with a big fat paraquat of a motion picture. It wants to be like Pineapple Express (2008)—one part laugher, one part actioner. Instead, it ends up feeling incomplete and ragged, a series of under-baked ideas played out by one over-baked lead. This is a perfect example of the “Why?” concept in modern moviemaking. Why make this particular story? Why cast these particular actors? Why try and mix stoners with spies when something more creative or outside the box would have been better? Why Nourizadeh? Why? There’s nothing worse than wasted potential. With a cast this capable and a writer with a sense of both story and culture, American Ultra should be better—a lot better. Sadly, not even Cheech and Chong could salvage this swill. Instead, all this movie will do is harsh your buzz.—Bill Gibron

 

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Beyond the Reach

Director: Jean-Baptiste Leonetti
Cast: Michael Douglas, Jeremy Irvine, Hanna Mangan Lawrence, Ronny Cox

(Further Films)

Beyond the Reach
Jean-Baptiste Leonetti


There comes a time for every actor whose career has been based on a single character type when that character is done, when it’s been wrung out of every last drop of significance. At this point, the actor must adapt and expand their repertoire or retire and move on to other things. Michael Douglas has reached such a point. This much is clear in Beyond the Reach, that the 70-year-old’s smug, abrasive onscreen persona is exhausted. It doesn’t help that Jean-Baptiste Léonetti’s downbeat film is so ill conceived, making no good use of the Douglas type. The film’s idea might be timely, except that it’s old, and Douglas has helped to make it so. It’s no help that in addition to playing the lead role, he’s also one of this movie’s producers. The artist who once helped greenlight One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has now officially flown the coop.—Piers Marchant

 

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The Boy Next Door

Director: Rob Cohen
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, John Corbett, Ian Nelson

(Universal)

The Boy Next Door
Rob Cohen


Have you ever been unlucky enough to see one of those horrendous Cougar Life ads on TV? You know the one: a buxom, “mature” woman in a red dress walks through a bar scene, stuffing some kind of meat sandwich into a vegetarian’s juvenile pie-hole, admonishing another smug gal for “folding sweaters for a living”, and offering to buy some dissatisfied bo-hunk a drink, all the while making it sound like older ladies lurching after near-underage man meat is a social norm. The Boy Next Door is so naughty and risqué, like fan fiction flotsam a la Fifty Shades of Grey. Hollywood no longer is hiding its more prurient desires and, instead, is giving the former raincoat crowd their S&M&B&D&You-Name-It money’s worth. Of course, the gender politics have to be right and the approach appropriate for the potential blue hairs in the crowd. In contrast to that, The Boy Next Door is classic camp cramp, and it’s also a cheat. Reconfigure the sexes and instead of a piffle, you’ve got a problem—a big problem.—Bill Gibron

 

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Child 44

Director: Daniel Espinosa
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy

(Lionsgate)

Child 44
Daniel Espinosa


When do you know a film has gone wrong? Sometimes it’s within the last reel, the final moments when there’s a lack of payoff or things just go ridiculously wrong. With Child 44
that moment comes much earlier and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it is. It could be the opening credits, it could be the first or second scene, the first time an actor opens his mouth to speak. It’s all a shame because if someone involved had taken time to learn a little bit about metaphor or allegory we might have a pretty rich story on our hands. But it’s more likely that the decision was made to go for the shocking stuff. This is a picture best avoided—everything bad already written about Child 44 is true and anything good is nothing less than false. A pointless featurette about history or something is tacked on the DVD but why you would bother boggles the mind.—Jedd Beaudoin

 

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Fifty Shades of Grey

Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Cast: Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson, Marcia Gay Harden

(Universal)

Fifty Shades of Grey
Sam Taylor-Johnson


Fifty Shades of Grey fundamentally fails as a narrative work of art. There is a decent amount of vanilla sex, classy bondage, and a few light whippings, but at the end of the day, one has to wonder how a film so explicit about sex could end up being so… boring. The Blu-ray edition tries its best to delve further into the “world” of Fifty Shades of Grey by offering actor and character profiles, miniature featurettes about the film’s history, and even provides a behind-the-scenes look for the music video made for the hit soundtrack. Much of the material is of the standard self-congratulatory type, everyone happy they were able to pull the darn thing off, although the sheer level of detail provided is sometimes wholly unnecessary. Christian Grey refers to his playroom as “the Red Room of Pain”. If he really wanted to inflict torture on people, he’d show them the film.—Evan Sawdey

 

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Get Hard

Director: Etan Cohen
Cast: Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Craig T. Nelson, Alison Brie

(Warner Bros.)

Get Hard
Etan Cohen


When all is said and done, when the pundit pieces are filed and filtered through the web-based soap box that is social media, the latest comedy from Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart, Get Hard, will either be considered one of the great misunderstood comedies of all time, or a horrible piece of bigotry disguised as the latest rude, gross out laugher. Indeed, when the history of comedy is written, the early part of the 21st Century will be remembered as the time when genitalia replaced jokes. For a while, it was the occasional full frontal shot. Now, we actually have a mainstream actor battling his own sense of self by allowing a prosthetic dong dangle in front of his mouth, like some kind of poisoned piñata. We are supposed to giggle as Ferrell fails to engage the dick, determined to maintain a dignity he abandoned before the opening credits roll. All we do is sit there, slack-jawed. Maybe, in a less enlightened time, Get Hard would seem like a scathing satire. Perhaps its penis obsession and gay hate is all just a ruse for more puerile frat house humor. As it plays today, however, it’s more embarrassing than entertaining.—Bill Gibron

Topics: best of 2015
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