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worst-films-of-2015

The Worst Films of 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.

Film: Aloha

Director: Cameron Crowe

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

Studio: Sony Pictures

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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

 

Film: American Ultra

Director: Nima Nourizadeh

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, John Leguizamo

Studio: Lionsgate

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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

 

Film: Beyond the Reach

Director: Jean-Baptiste Leonetti

Cast: Michael Douglas, Jeremy Irvine, Hanna Mangan Lawrence, Ronny Cox

Studio: Further Films

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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

 

Film: The Boy Next Door

Director: Rob Cohen

Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, John Corbett, Ian Nelson

Studio: Universal

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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

 

Film: Child 44

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Cast: Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy

Studio: Lionsgate

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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

 

Film: Fifty Shades of Grey

Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson

Cast: Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson, Marcia Gay Harden

Studio: Universal

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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

 

Film: Get Hard

Director: Etan Cohen

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

Studio: Warner Bros.

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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

The Green Inferno and more…

Film: The Green Inferno

Director: Eli Roth

Cast: Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Daryl Sabara

Studio: Universal

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The Green Inferno
Eli Roth

It makes sense that a homage happy Eli Roth has decided to revisit Ruggero Deodato’s concept of repugnant reality TV for his highly controversial new film, The Green Inferno. In fact, you can’t watch this combination of social commentary and blatant blood feast and not think of those key Cannibal Holocaust moments. But the problem this film has is not one of brutality, but of premise. Instead of criticizing something outside the storyline, Roth decides to mock his characters, making it almost impossible for us to care about their outcome. By making our victims so obviously awful, we find ourselves back in slasher film mode. In those ’80s horror classics, it wasn’t about the narrative or who dies next — it was all about the killings. Eventually, we forgot about the characters and why we were supposed to care and simply waiting for the next inventive death to happen. Roth doesn’t get this. He still thinks he’s making the post-modern version of Deodato’s cinematic statement. He couldn’t be more wrong. Forty years ago, filmmakers knew how to have their creative cake and make you eat it too. Today, with Roth’s revisionism, it’s all wasted potential and a distinct feeling of “Why bother?” — Bill Gibron

 

Film: The Gunman

Director: Pierre Morel

Cast: Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Idris Elba, Mark Rylance, Jasmine Trinca

Studio: Canal+

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The Gunman
Pierre Morel

The Gunman like a conspiracy theorist who doesn’t have a sense of humor. He wholeheartedly believes in the BS that’s dribbling out of his mouth, and he offers it up in a way so serious that you dare not mock or ridicule it. All you can do is sit back and let the nut job talk… and talk … and talk. Oh, and smoke, too: this crazy person loves to drive the nails into his own coffin. In this film, Sean Penn plays things uber-serious, trying to sell his wounded warrior shtick with a scowl and a smoke. But we don’t care about him. We don’t care about his past. We don’t care about his girlfriend. We don’t care about retribution. All we want is some good clean (violent) escapist fun but our lead here is just pretending. The Gunman may have seemed like a good idea on paper. As it plays out, said promises produce nothing more than a smoke screen. — Bill Gibron

 

Film: Hot Pursuit

Director: Anne Fletcher

Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara, Jim Gaffigan, Robert Kazinsky

Studio: Warner Bros./New Line Cinema

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Hot Pursuit
Anne Fletcher

You really can’t sustain a comedy, even at 88 short minutes, on just two jokes — even worse, two running gags. But that’s exactly what the new female buddy bomb Hot Pursuit wants to do. Under-utilizing its two leads, the script decides that the best way to elicit laughs out of the audience is to constantly mention Officer Rose Cooper’s (Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon) diminutive stature and reluctant witness Danielle Riva’s (SAG winner Sofia Vergara) ethnicity and age. Even with a female filmmaker behind the lens, the screenplay is nothing more than a sexist screed which reduces gender to a reactive remnant of a more chauvinistic, paternal society. Left to their own devices, one imagines that Witherspoon and Vergara could come up with something more fresh, more clever, and more endearing than what the script has to offer. Without such adlibs, Hot Pursuit is a dire, depressing experience. It clearly needed more jokes than the two it provides. — Bill Gibron

 

Film: Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Director: Steve Pink

Cast: Rob Cordrry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Collete Wolfe, Kumail Nanjiani, Jason Jones

Studio: Paramount Pictures

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Hot Tub Time Machine 2
Steve Pink

There was a time, back before Animal House, when scatology was scarce in comedy. Then, Hollywood discovered the dick joke and all bets were off. It wasn’t long before Judd Apatow and his slacker stars were using the penis as a punchline with shocking regularity.

All of which leads to the unlikeable, awful Hot Tub Time Machine 2. A sequel to the excellent ’80s deconstructionist comedy about salvaging second chances, this wholly unneeded repeat has little to add to the franchise except the frequency at which it references the penis as a potential payoff. The movie begins with a dick joke, offers dozens of dick jokes along the way, and when it finally decides to “peter” out, it fades away on jokes about the dick as well. If they were funny, that would be fine. They are not, unfortunately. The film is ruinous, a complete disaster disguised as a low-brow laugher. Sure, it may satisfy those for whom a night out at the movies is nothing more than mindless entertainment and a way to waste otherwise valuable time. But the truth is that it’s pointless cash grab that can’t even muster a smile out of its victims before it robs them of their money and dignity. — Bill Gibron

 

Film: The Identical

Director: Dustin Marcellino

Cast: Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, Seth Green, Blak Rayne, Joe Pantoliano

Studio: City of Peace

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The Identical
Dustin Marcellino

The Identical wants to be everything to everyone. It wants to be a Christian-driven inspirational film, but it also wants to be an award-caliber biopic, which, despite not featuring anything licensed by Elvis Presley’s estate, makes up for this by somewhat adapting the King’s story while retaining his likeness to an eerie degree. By trying so hard to check off so many boxes on its list of target demographics while satisfying none of them, The Identical ends up becoming nothing more than a celluloid sedative, incapable of offending, inspiring, or being even remotely entertaining. Ultimately, it’s as egregious a cinematic misfire as could be imagined, bumbling its message, its music, and even in its spiritual intent during its ingratiating 107 minute running time. It’s not a movie that’s so bad it’s good, no; it’s a film that’s so bad it turned good and then went straight back to being just plain-old-bad again. You have better things to do with your time than worry about the fact that this exists. — Evan Sawdey

 

Film: Jupiter Ascending

Director: The Wachowskis

Cast: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne

Studio: Warner Bros.

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Jupiter Ascending
The Wachowskis

There was a time when beautifully begrimed working-class movie heroines would be delighted to discover they had royal blood coursing through their veins. While those Cinderella stories focused on the romance between girl and prince, the silly new space opera, Jupiter Ascending changes the stakes. Here, the princess must save the world and the prince has had his DNA spliced with that of a wolf. The Wachowskis are so busy ginning up hackneyed shootouts, spaceship battles, campy dialogue for Balem, and wooden romantic moments between Caine and Jupiter that they leave themselves no time for anything else. There’s an escapist summertime space opera buried here somewhere, but Jupiter Ascending’s surface is not nearly entertaining enough to encourage us to look for it. — Chris Barsanti

 

Film: Little Boy

Director: Alejandro Gomez Monteverde

Cast: Jakob Salvati, David Henrie, Kevin James, Emily Watson, Ted Levine, Michael Rapaport

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Little Boy
Alejandro Gomez Monteverde

There are few things as unshakeable as a boy’s faith in his father. While time tends to modify such belief, youthful innocence hangs onto the hope that, even through the most difficult of days, Dad will be there to make things right or, at least, tolerable. This is the foundation of the faith-based film Little Boy, an eccentric entertainment that’s literally afraid of its own “go with God” message. Not that this is a bad thing. In fact, there’s one scene in particular which illustrates what this movie could have been. Unfortunately, he fact that it’s just one sequence proves how misguided the rest of the storyline truly is. By the end, we are baffled by what the film is supposed to be. Whatever its case, Little Boy makes it badly. We want the boy to be reunited with his dad. We don’t need it to be in this dull and dunderheaded manner. — Bill Gibron

Magic Mike XXL and more…

Film: Magic Mike XXL

Director: Gregory Jacobs

Cast: Channing Tatum, Jada Pinkett Smith, Joe Manganiello, Adam Rodriguez

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Magic Mike XXL
Gregory Jacobs

In good faith, I dove into the new Blu-ray release of Magic Mike XXL. I wish I could say that I never found the bottom, but the reality is that the experience was significantly shallower than I expected it to be, given the hype. The theatrical release prompted laudatory reviews from critics whom I admire, and feminist critics in particular were quick to extoll the film’s treatment of women. Despite so many endorsements, I found it to be an incredibly thin and uninteresting narrative held together by intermittent dance sequences, which are the film’s only merit. All in all, Magic Mike XXL could have ratcheted up the expectations one has for the rom-com, but ultimately it does very little with the space that it ekes out for itself among the genre’s norms. — Desirae Embree

 

Film: Minions

Director: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Geoffrey Rush, Steve Carell

Studio: Illumination Entertainment/Universal

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Minions
Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin

As every parent knows, when you keep feeding the kids exactly what they clamor for without stop, it will make them sick. That’s what happens with Minions, just the latest in the summer’s sequels onslaught and by far one of the most tiring. Misreading the love bestowed on the Minions by those millions of kids who have watched Despicable Me dozens of times, writer Brian Lynch provides an origin story and then another washed-out and watered-down super-villain plot. It’s sad to say that the film can’t even measure up to the admittedly low bar set by the previous films, which at least tried to establish some relationships in between all the falling down and exploding whiz-bangs. After about 45 minutes, what comic potential there was in these madcap sidekicks is utterly drained away, leaving you wistful for the dramatic clarity and precision storytelling of a Three Stooges marathon. Please don’t say “banana” again. — Chris Barsanti

 

Film: Mommy

Director: Xavier Dolan

Cast: Ann Dorsal, Antoine-Olivier Pilon, Suzanne Clément

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Mommy
Xavier Dolan

Mommy arrives on DVD with a string of major awards to its name, bafflingly so, given there’s no understandable reason to honour a movie as contentedly shallow and inarticulate as this. Mommy’s characters are crudely hewn from a mountain of cliché. Its plot hangs together as might a hedgerow after an attack by a chainsaw. And Mommy’s most dominant feature, its highly stylised narrative ultimately conveys very little other than a strong sense of self-satisfaction. It is an acutely flawed work.

It’s facile. It’s bad art. It’s like a cat framing its vomit and hanging it on the wall. Of course if a cat were actually to do that, it would be quite an impressive feat. Unfortunately Mommy is not so novel or creative. If it had forsaken its bag of vapid tricks and numerous montages, and instead concentrated on refining its characters, then perhaps it could have succeeded; as it stands though, Mommy is a clumsy attempt at an arthouse movie with some good actors, a bad script, and naïve direction. — Paul Duffus

 

Film: No Escape

Director: John Erick Dowdle

Cast: Owen Wilson, Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan, Claire Geare, Sahajak Boonthanakit

Studio: Weinstein

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No Escape
John Erick Dowdle

Jack (Owen Wilson) is doing his best to explain to his wife Annie (Lake Bell) just how they’ve ended up in an exotic, impoverished “Third World” country and she’s ended up in tears on the floor of their hotel room. Again and again, No Escape shows that this is not how Jack planned for things to “work out”, that he’s a victim. It’s a familiar position for Americans abroad in the movies, whether they find themselves in war zones or backwoods or hostels. The victims are sympathetic, hapless before they’re cunning, while the killers have scars on their faces and chainsaws or machetes, they’re monsters. It happens that the monsters here are “Asian”, their plights and fears and reactions unspoken. Each time you hear the chief villain threaten to kill Jack, it cuts through the background noise, sirens and gunshots and screams, setting you — again — inside Jack’s experience. And so you too want to get the hell out. — Cynthia Fuchs

 

Film: Pan

Director: Joe Wright

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Levi Miller, Rooney Mara, Garrett Hedlund

Studio: Warner Bros.

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Pan
Joe Wright

The problems here are numerous, the reasons for them ridiculous. A movie like Pan gets made because some audiences like spectacle and eye candy, and as long as you can tap into that wellspring, you don’t have to worry about making something good, just something loud and loaded with CG. Pan is definitely full of it, meaning it will either be a slam dunk, or it will slowly dissipate before making occasional appearances on your favorite streaming service. Now, if any of this was entertaining, if it was whimsical or filled with fantastical fun, we’d forgive Pan it’s indulgences. A lot of revision films survive their massive flaws thanks to a sense of playfulness and unpredictability. Here, we just get CG pirate ship battles in the air, underwater time wasters with mermaids, and a bunch of brouhaha that takes this whole “Pan is the One” into Matrix levels of attempted myth-building. Maybe it read better on the page. — Bill Gibron

 

Film: Pitch Perfect 2

Director: Elizabeth Banks

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Katey Sagal, David Cross, Snoop Dogg

Studio: Universal

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Pitch Perfect 2
Elizabeth Banks

Again and again, the original Pitch Perfect made fun of girls whose mission in life was to win a trophy in a decidedly obscure performance genre. In the sequel, Pitch Perfect 2, the renowned and repeated champions are faced with the apparently unbearable ignominy of being kicked out of the a cappella sub-sub-culture for an inadvertent lewd display by Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) at film’s start. The new movie seems awfully like a combination cover and mash-up of the first movie, repeating in its structure what the plot also repeats. The primary function of so many scenes in the film may be to get you wondering — even more than you have before — just what Pitch Perfect 2’s a cappella has to do with singing. Then you remember, in the Bellas’ world, nothing has anything to do with anything. — Cynthia Fuchs

 

Film: Pixels

Director: Chris Columbus

Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Monogham

Studio: Columbia Pictures

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Pixels
Chris Columbus

The problem with Pixels is not Adam Sandler. Director Chris Columbus is also not the issue. There are signs of life all throughout the overlong running time, proof that with the proper script, Pixels could have been a player. Instead, an awful adaptation of a truly special short film is the reason this sad summer entertainment fails. It’s proof that you can’t give a genius idea to a couple of idiots and assume they will see the same things in it that you do. For anyone who thought Sandler would come out of his creative coma and deliver on a grander scale, the answer is obvious. Pixels is pathetic. It should have been so much better, but it can’t overcome its awful script. — Bill Gibron

Steve Jobs and more…

Film: Steve Jobs

Director: Aaron Sorkin

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels

Studio: Legendary/Universal

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Steve Jobs
Aaron Sorkin

Even though Sorkin had Walter Isaacson’s great, warts-and-all biography to draw from for his take on one of the immersive electronics era’s other great modern divisive tech populist billionaires, Steve Jobs is a far less interesting film about a far more fascinating person. What the film leaves us with isn’t a genius or even a particularly innovative business manager but a paranoid, megalomaniac. On the surface this looks like an attempt to puncture the bubble of Jobs’s self-created genius mystique and show his seedy underbelly. But the film’s heart isn’t in it. One can almost imagine this film recast as a Silicon Valley sitcom about a temperamental tech boss who’s always flying off at the handle, only to have his (not too) sassy female sidekick roll her eyes and sigh “Oh, Steve!” When Jobs’s old garage-inventing buddy Steve Wozniak vents in frustration, “It’s not binary! You can be decent and gifted at the same time,” Jobs ignores him. The film does, too. — Chris Barsanti

 

Film: The Transporter: Refueled

Director: Camille Delamarre

Cast: Ed Skrein, Ray Stevenson, Loan Chabanol, Gabriella Wright

Studio: Relativity Media

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The Transporter: Refueled
Camille Delamarre
They’re calling it a Transporter film, but by doing so, The Transporter: Refueled has a lot to live up to. It’s another installment (a prequel, for a proposed new trilogy, yawn) in the successful international action series. The premise is still the same. The title character makes his living as a “transporter” of “goods” for various nefarious folks. There are other overly familiar elements here, too, issues that turn the potential into something pitiful. Indeed, the biggest problem for fans will be a sense of over familiarity mixed with a hint of “whose that guy playing Frank?” If you came across this film on late night cable, you might tuck in for a few minutes, and enjoy some of the car crashes and fight choreography. Here, Luc Besson and company are looking for a quick buck off the back of fans too uninvolved to notice a change at the center. They’re calling it The Transporter: Refueled, but without Jason Statham, it’s just a reboot going through the money grab motions. — Bill Gibron

 

Film: True Story

Director: Rupert Goold

Cast: Jonah Hill, James Franco, Felicity Jones, Ethan Suplee, Gretchen Mol

Studio: Fox Searchlight

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True Story
Rupert Goold

The telling scene comes early in True Story, setting up immediately the title’s irony — five minutes into the movie. No matter how much the ruthless male leads of this film try to control the narrative, it’s all too obvious where their lie-fueled story is going. Based on the real life Michael Finkel’s memoir, the movie establishes right away that he’s a liar, but also that the movie tends to slick visual shorthands, cues that suggest as much. As you watch Mike in the opening scene, his neck moist and his eyes shifty, you know he’ll be caught and so too, you know he’ll seek redemption. His journey will be yours, and you already know where you’re going. — Cynthia Fuchs

 

Film: Unfinished Business

Director: Ken Scott

Cast: Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco, Sienna Miller, Nick Frost, James Marsden

Studio: Regency

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Unfinished Business
Ken Scott

Vince Vaughn is the new Chevy Chase. Just look at his eyes: there’s the same look of desperation, the look of “what the hell happened to my career?” This look has been present ever since the former SNL star woke up from the waking nightmare that was his talk show and realized that audiences no longer enjoyed his particular brand of so-called comedy. With a string of flops, he’s right on the border of being totally and completely done. Unfinished Business may push him over into obscurity once and for all. Thus we say goodbye to Vince Vaughn and his motor-mouthed smarm. It was a good run, and you even got to work with some excellent filmmakers. However, when the idiotic stock photos you are giving away for free as part of an internet PR promotion are far funnier than anything in your movie, you know it’s time to hit the showers. Unfinished Business did complete one thing: it ended Vince Vaughn’s career. — Bill Gibron

 

Film: Vacation

Director: Burr Steers

Cast: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Leslie Mann, Chris Hemsworth

Studio: New Line Cinema

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Vacation
Burr Steers

The new Vacation film doesn’t play by the rules. Sadly, it should. It violates the first mandate of a comedy: it’s not very funny. It fails so miserably that the truth in advertising watchdogs should demand a cease and desist for the use of the Vacation name. Chalk it up to yet another Hollywood hack job where missed opportunities and alternative approaches practically slap the viewer in the face. Remember what the people liked about the original? Give them more of that. That idea made it the third highest grossing film of all time. Vacation will be lucky if it makes a millionth of its gross. Feel sorry for the fools who end up plunking down their money for this disaster. Vacation may not be the worst movie of the year, but it sure feels like it. That’s what happens when you turn great expectations into poop joke pandering. — Bill Gibron

 

Film: The Water Diviner

Director: Russell Crowe

Cast: Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko, Jai Courtney, Cem Yılmaz, Yılmaz Erdoğan

Studio: Warner Bros.

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The Water Diviner
Russell Crowe

Apparently, there is a prerequisite to making your first feature film. As an actor stepping behind the lens for your initial attempt at directing, you are clearly mandated to make a movie about the past, usually a historical epic, one with lots of scope, sweeping vistas, and big socio-political talking points. Russell Crowe steps up to discuss Australia’s early 20th century struggles on the Turkish peninsula of Gallipoli. It’s too bad that the film Crowe wanted to make and the one he gives us are so different. The Water Diviner is typical end-of-the-year Oscar bait, released long before that season. Sadly, it looks like the Academy won’t be recognizing The Water Diviner. The Razzies, on the other hand? Maybe. — Bill Gibron

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