The 16 Worst Films of 2016 with 16 Dishonorable Mentions
In 2016, I watched over 300 films thanks to five film festivals, hundreds of screenings, and visiting the multiplex several times a week. While I believe that 2016 was a better year for film compared to 2015, there were still plenty of films that blew my mind and not in a good way. This is my official list of the 16 worst films of 2016 complete with 16 dishonorable mentions.
Before I begin my list, I must point out that I did not see every film that was released in 2016 as much as I wanted to. The following films have been excluded from this list because I have not seen them. The reason why I am pointing out these films, in particular, is that I have heard from my colleagues and friends that these films are bad. Here are 16 films that I did not see in 2016 that might warrant being on this list: Incarnate, The Darkness, The Wild Life, The Do Over, When the Bough Breaks, The Disappointments Room, Mechanic: Resurrection, Max Steel, Warcraft, The Choice, Nina, Man Down, Search Party, Hillary’s America, Believe, and Shut-In.
Now, as I begin my list, please keep in mind that this list is solely my opinion. I think others may disagree with me, but these are the films that made me hate going to the movies in 2016. Let’s start off with the 16 dishonorable mentions before we jump into the worst of the worst.
16 Dishonorable Mentions
16. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
I liked the first Jack Reacher quite a bit, but this one was lazy and uninspired. I found the performances incredibly wooden and the daughter Samantha played by Danika Yarosh easily gives one of the worst performances of the year. The action wasn’t interesting, and Tom Cruise looked like he was just collecting a paycheck. I honestly really wanted to like this film, but it just wouldn’t let me. Also, the scene where Reacher drops Samantha off at all girls school has to be one of the most pathetic scenes captured on-camera all of 2016. There isn’t an ounce of truth to this scene and is honestly laughably bad.
15. The True Memoirs of an International Assassin
It’s a Netflix film starring Kevin James, but I gave it a go because all I wanted to do is laugh. While it is better than Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, The True Memoirs of an International Assassin still isn’t funny at all. The film feels as though it was made years ago with jokes that reference the Twilight Saga as though it is still relevant in 2016. As hard as it may seem to believe, comedy is my favorite genre, so I always watch the most comedy films each year hoping to find a surprise. Needless to say, this and many others on this list weren’t the surprises I was hoping for.
14. Suicide Squad
Yes, Suicide Squad is bad enough to be on this list. While I rarely fall in love with Comic Book films, I do normally see the entertainment value in them and rate them fairly high based on that as well as the performances. It is almost impossible to find anything noteworthy to say about Suicide Squad because I feel like all the characters, besides two of them, are underdeveloped. To make matters worse, the entire film feels like an extended music video. Director David Ayer is known for making some pretty awesome action movies, but I don’t know what happened here. The editing is chopping, the direction is sloppy, and the performances range from ok to god awful. While I am still a big supporter of Batman v Superman as well as the DC Cinematic Universe as a whole, I am still shocked by how bad this film was and how much of a chore it was to sit through it.
13. Norm of the North
Rob Schneider voices an animated polar bear, do I need to say more? Probably not, but here are a few minor things. The animation is flat and dated. The film relies very heavily on the same joke which happens to be this weird dance that Norm does to some incredibly dated music. The story is incredibly preachy and shoves messages about the environment and corporate greed down the audience’s throat. Oddly enough, Norm of the North isn’t the worst family film year but is right behind Ice Age: Collision Course which oddly also enough happens to be animated.
12. Complete Unknown
I saw Complete Unknown at Sundance, and I honestly couldn’t believe what I was watching. How the hell did the director manage to get Rachel Weisz and Michael Shannon together in the same film and do nothing with it whatsoever? This film was so dull and predictable. You think that it is going somewhere but after midway through it seems like the writer just gave up, and the film goes nowhere. You watch what was an interesting premise disappear entirely.
11. Independence Day: Resurgence
While no one can ever say that Independence Day was a masterpiece, most will admit that it is a damn good popcorn movie. This sequel is absolutely horrendous. It tries to bring back a lot of the classic characters, but they have all become annoying and overused. While that is a problem in itself, the film’s biggest issue is the new characters all of which, no one cares about at all. The acting is all around atrocious, and despite having some good action moments here and there, I was so not interested in the film’s story. I think this is a perfect example of a sequel trying too hard to make the audience feel nostalgic. Independence Day: Resurgence just goes overboard and doesn’t even amuse fans of the original. It is a shame because the film does have about 10-15 minutes where it seems to be going someplace good but it is all a missed opportunity.
10. Gods of Egypt
Almost everything about this film screamed bad. I remember walking out of the theater and joking about how the studio should have renamed it Gods of Cleavage because every female character has her goodies exposed almost like the director knew that only men would see the film. I don’t even know where, to begin with, this one. The acting is terrible, the special effects look great in spots and then like complete crap in others. It’s long and uninteresting. The action isn’t good. It’s just a massive big budget disaster that with the right actors, director, and a better script could have been something worthwhile.
9. Get a Job
Miles Teller and Anna Kendrick are always so hit or miss when it comes to their roles in movies. Get A Job also stars Bryan Cranston, who with this and Why Him? needs to reconsider what roles he takes when it comes to feature films. Get a Job is a sloppy comedy that just exists to exist. It’s not entertaining nor is it funny. It is about a boyfriend and a girlfriend who can’t seem to keep a job. It wastes the talent of everyone involved and does nothing to engage the audience. Rumor has it that this film was sitting on a shelf for several years and after seeing it, I can see why.
8. How to Be Single
Rebel Wilson playing Rebel Wilson just isn’t amusing anymore. While I know I am in the minority with her playing Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect, I think most agree that her routine is played out and overdone at this point. This film does have a pretty solid cast, but the material just sucks. It feels like a fake girl power film with one-dimensional characters that lack depth. I don’t know how Alison Brie can go from making Community and Sleeping with Other People to starring in this film which does absolutely nothing for her as an actress. Let me not forget to mention that the male cast consists of some of the funniest and most talented comedic actors working today and does nothing with them. This film had potential, it’s script and director, decided not to do anything with it.
7. The Bronze
This poor horrible film that was the opening night film at Sundance, the year after Whiplash premiered and blew everyone away. Oh, what a disappointing evening that was. While I want to give Melissa Raunch credit for trying to do something other than her character on the Big Bang Theory, The Bronze is just mean-spirited and unfunny. The film honestly believes that a poorly edited and over the top acrobatic sex scene can save 90 minutes of an uninspired story that lacks laughs and likable characters. Let’s not forget to mention that the film was sitting on a shelf for almost two years before it was released into theaters with one of the worst film openings of all time.
6. The Hollars
The rich white people have problems movie. I like John Krasinski and know this film meant a lot to him, but this is basically a film just about a bunch of privileged white people complaining about their daily life. Yes, the family comes together due to a family illness but how many times before have we seen this plot line occur. It does nothing to make it stand out and instead of being funny or emotional, it just tries to push the audience into feeling bad for characters that aren’t really worth caring about. I hate to say it, but this family isn’t worth spending time with. It is one of those Sundance films that you hope was going to be a feel-good family film but instead just was typical crap that didn’t really go anywhere because it isn’t good despite having an A-list cast.
An indie film about a girl who pretends she was abducted by aliens to escape the reality of her mundane life. While that sounds like it could be an interesting story, let me assure you it isn’t. Spaceship is such an artsy film that I believe writer/director Alex Taylor gets so carried away by making the film look impressive that he forgets that he actually has to tell a story that engages the audience. This film feels like a student film that was made as part of a rejected art project. The pacing is so incredibly slow, and the story as a whole doesn’t really do anywhere. You get some intriguing visuals that make you feel like you are on acid, but there isn’t anything else here to make this a memorable or exciting experience. You probably will never see this film because I think it was released in one theater here in the United States and played at SXSW because let’s be honest, every other festival probably turned it down.
4. The Arbalest
Another SXSW turkey. Given the biggest prize at this year’s festival, The Arbalest is nonsensical. The performances are less than stellar, the story seems like this inside joke that only the director and writer know about, and the plot well, I am not sure if there even is one. For those unaware of this film because let’s be honest who besides a few select people at SXSW saw this thing, it is about this toy maker who has a crush on this woman, and he stalks her. That’s pretty much it. It’s an indie film that looks like it was made for $100 bucks so don’t expect anything exciting to happen. Again, this is a perfect example of a pretentious indie film that believes it has something to say, but in reality, it says nothing at all.
Todd Solondz is an indie director that has made some pretty darkly comedic films about some dark subject matters. While it stating that Solondz’s work isn’t for everyone is a bit of an understatement, I personally have enjoyed Solondz’s cynical look at life in his past projects. However, his latest film, Wiener-Dog is simply mean-spirited for the sake of being mean-spirited while also managing to be dull and unfunny as well. There are four stories being told, and while I wish I could say that I enjoyed them, I would be lying. The only somewhat interesting story is the second one featuring Greta Gerwig as Dawn Wiener. There is a great intermission scene which for two minutes is the highlight of the film. I think this film was more about Solondz trying to push the envelope rather than trying to tell an interesting story that connected these lives. It was his weakest feature to date and one that I regret yearning to see at Sundance 2016.
2. Dirty Grandpa
I am starting to believe that Zac Efron is the male version of comedy cancer. Sure, the man is great to look at but my god, does he suck at acting. What makes Dirty Grandpa so outrageously awful is that Robert DeNiro stars alongside Efron in this sexist and 100% laugh less film. Dirty Grandpa along with the help of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates has officially made me lose hope in Aubrey Plaza as an actress. While I loved her on Parks and Recreation and in Safety Not Guaranteed, Plaza is just awful in almost every single role that she has taken on since 2013. Plaza has oddly enough become the go-to young actress in Hollywood that studios can rely on when they need a brunette to play a slutty and degrading female character. I do believe that if it weren’t for Robert DeNiro being part of this project, this film would have gotten a lot less hate because the general public and critics already expect this type of crap from Efron and Plaza. They don’t, however, expect to see DeNiro take on a role that serves as an embarrassment to his legacy as an actor. This isn’t saying that DeNiro hasn’t taken on bad roles before because he certainly has but none of them are nearly as awful as his role as Dick Kelly in this film.
1. Assassin’s Creed
Poor Fassy, he has not had a very good 2016. The Light Between Oceans got mediocre reviews, Trespass Against Us played at TIFF and then went directly to VOD, and Assassin’s Creed is easily one of the worst films of the year. Assassin’s Creed was a film that I honestly thought was a “Funny or Die” video when I first saw the trailer. I seriously pondered the question, “How did anyone convince Michael Fassbender to do a video game film?” I know the answer is money, and with a budget of $200 million dollars, it is pretty shocking how awful this film turned out to be. The story makes no sense at all. The dialogue is piss poor. Michael Fassbender says his lines in a monotone voice while walking around looking like a robot void of any emotion. There is a great cast in this film including Fassy, Jeremy Irons, and Marion Cotillard, so you have to really wonder what happened and why no one stepped in to fix it. Even the action sequences in the film are underwhelming. I don’t know why Hollywood won’t stop trying to adapt video games into films. The formula hasn’t worked since the 80s so why keep trying when no one ever likes them.
The 16 Worst Films of 2016
I love Tom Hiddleston. He’s a great actor, he’s charming, and his character Loki is without a doubt, the best thing to come out of the Thor films. With that being said, I hated High-Rise with a burning passion. It is a film that is based off a very popular book and one that I saw at the Toronto International Film Festival. Directed by Ben Wheatley, High-Rise is this a look into the life of people living in a high-rise. The building is broken down by social class based on the floors that they live on. This is one of those art house films that believes it is sophisticated and intelligent. The performances are over the top, and the film is a complete bore from start to finish. Writer Amy Jump believes she is saying something so profound with the material yet the result is something so ostentatious that it makes the film nearly impossible to sit through. Filled with violence, sex, and horrendous dialogues, High-Rise is a chore to watch and one of the worst arthouse films of 2016.
Adam Driver is good in Paterson despite the film lacking any reason to exist in the first place. While I get that this movie is a form artistic expression about the mundane nature of daily life, this snoozefest is easily the most pretentious piece of art house shit that I have seen all year. Paterson was made for critics to praise because so many of them feel like they can comprehend the complicated artful nature of director/writer, Jim Jarmusch vision. This entire film takes place over the span of a week and features the main character Paterson going about his daily life from eating breakfast each day to ending each night at the local bar. A lot of critics will tell you that there is something inspiring or life-affirming about Paterson writing poems about matches, but I am here to call bullshit. This is an artsy fartsy film that no one besides critics and hardcore film aficionados will ever see. If you want to watch something that is just as entertaining as this movie, sit in a chair and eat breakfast in front of a mirror and write daily ramblings in a notepad for two hours. If you do that, it will be the same as watching Paterson and wasting away 2 hours of your life that you will never get back.
Masterminds is another one of those films like The Bronze and Get a Job where it was supposed to be released years ago but ended up sitting on a shelf collecting dust. While I went into this film fully expecting it to be bad, I never expected it to be as bad as it actually turned out. Masterminds stars Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis, Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones so you would hope that the film would be somewhat entertaining and funny in some way. This film is the bad in every sense of the word. If you told me that the studio blackmailed these actors to be part of this film, I wouldn’t be surprised. The film has zero laughs and is just dumb. I understand that this is based on a true story which makes it even more unbelievable considering the story itself is fascinating yet not a single thing in this film is remotely interesting. While most of these actors have had their fair share of highs and lows throughout their career thus far, I think looking back on Masterminds in the future will only confirm an all time low for all of them.
13. The Girl on The Train
God, I hated this film with a passion. The Girl on The Train is one of those films that I feel hates everyone equally. It hates men, and it hates women. Every character in The Girl on The Train is a loser with some secret that isn’t even remotely surprising when it is revealed. The story is convoluted and lazy. The story fails to engage the audience, and the reveals are pretty straight-forward and predictable. While I know this is based on a best-selling book, I fear that this is just another one of those exotic thrillers that are better in book form than on film. I don’t want to keep seeing films like this year after year. I don’t even believe that they deliver on the selling point of being sexy. The Girl on the Train is almost as bad as 50 Shades of Grey from 2015, so that says something by itself.
12. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
I gave this film a chance because I was hoping that the based on a true story angle of the story would result in something more than sexual gags and gross-out humor. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is another one of those films that feature Aubrey Plaza acting like a total whore for the entire runtime. For about 75% of his total screentime, Adam Devine screams. He screams practically every line of dialogue that he is given. Anna Kendrick shows up to collect a paycheck while looking as though she is high during the entire film. Zac Efron takes his shirt off and bats his pretty little eyes, but that’s about all his does. This is another one of those stories that should be somewhat interesting due to the true story aspect but fails to deliver. Instead, this film relies on Devine screaming and infantile humor to sell the story to its audience. It also doesn’t help that almost all of the funniest moments (If you think getting hit in the face by an ATV is funny) are in the trailers for the film.
11. Ice Age: Collision Course
I cannot believe that they are still making Ice Age films. While the first film was decent, I don’t think the franchise should have gone on past a trilogy which even that was pushing it. Unlike the previous entries, Collision Course doesn’t even have a good message or interesting characters. Instead, this complete and total cash grab of a sequel starts with Scrat in space for some unknown reason. The film throws so many characters at the audience that it is nearly impossible to keep track of them, let alone give a crap about any of them. Let me not forget to mention that humor in this film is mainly geared towards adults so have fun explaining to your children what a MILF is. I honestly could not believe how painful this film was to sit through. I usually give family or animated films a pass but considering how great most of the animated or family films were in 2016, I had to call this film out for what it is. Collision Course is an awful film with terrible messages, annoying characters, and inappropriate moments.
10. Sausage Party
I bet everyone is shocked this film is so high on my list but that just goes to show you that there a lot of worse things in life than Seth Rogen attempting to make food having sex to be funny. Sausage Party is a film that honestly makes me question others and why they find certain things to be funny. While I went into Sausage Party hoping for an intelligent riff on Pixar films, what I got was a repetitive string of sex gags, race jokes, and infantile humor. There are critics out there who will argue with me stating that this film take a jab at religion and race but I think that is total bullshit. I think critics and audiences who believe that are looking for a way to spin that they liked an animated film that relies heavily on racist stereotyping and food having sex with each other. It still haunts me to this day sitting in that theater at SXSW listening to people burst into laughter watching something that seems as though a horny 13-year-old wrote it. There are glimpses of being a clever film here and there, but not with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg steering the ship. If this were written and directed by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, we would have an R-rated animated film worth talking about.
9. Fifty Shades of Black
Marlon Wayans in a parody film that focuses on 50 Shades of Grey. Need I say anything more? No, I didn’t think so.
8. Mother’s Day
From the director of Pretty Woman comes a dull, unfunny racist comedy about mothers. If you hate your mother, then show her this film. If you like your mother, make sure she never sees it. In all fairness, it is hard to believe that the late Garry Marshall directed so many bad films because he was once a talented and passionate filmmaker. He still managed to get a great cast, but the scripts were god-awful nonsense. What is even more surprising is the mere fact that three people wrote this screenplay and yet none of them considered how racist and sexist the story was. Since 2007’s Georgia Rule, Marshall seemed to direct one crappy film after another. I don’t think any audience could take Easter Day or Thanksgiving Day so let’s hope the studios behind these films don’t decide to keep them going with another director. It is a bit morose to know that Marshall ended his filmmaking legacy on such a sour note.
7. Bad Santa 2
While I will be entirely honest that I wasn’t a fan of the original film, I never expected that the sequel could manage to be worst than the original. Bad Santa 2 is just dick jokes and raunchy one-liners. It treats the secondary female characters as dumb sex objects who can’t see what is going on right in front of their faces. The level of laziness found throughout this film is astonishing. Director Mark Waters sounded so excited about this film, but I hate to tell him, it is easily the worst film of his filmography thus far. He is usually a decent director, but I blame the Hollywood greed system for trying to craft another story when there was no need for one. I did laugh once at this film, but that doesn’t say much for a film that is supposed to be a comedy. I will say that the film does contain a lot of the same jokes from the original, but they are thrown into the mix without much reason other than to remind audiences that the joke worked better in the first film. With a string of failed comedy sequels over the past few years, I sort of hope that Hollywood begins to choose wisely with what comedy films actually deserve a sequel and which ones don’t.
6. Why Him?
When I saw the trailer for this film, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Was that Bryan Cranston in a comedy film alongside James Franco as an anxious hipster millionaire. While I kept trying to tell myself that the film can’t nearly be as bad as it looks, I hate to break it to the people at FOX but Why Him? is a total disaster and will more likely become a huge flop this holiday season. I don’t know even where, to begin with, this one. I wrote a whole review on this film and honestly couldn’t find a single positive thing to say about it. I guess I can say that Zoey Deutch looks beautiful, but that doesn’t say anything about the film. Why Him? is one of those films that started out as a joke and somehow got turned into a film. When you think of some of the scenes that occur such as the anus cleaning toilet, it read as if it would be funny, but when you watch it, you can’t help but cringe because you are watching an Emmy winner belittling himself for a paycheck. I understand that actors need money too, but I want to believe that not all actors need to make crappy films especially when they have been working for decades and have done plenty of high-quality work. Yes, I can see James Franco taking on this role but for a major studio to spend $38 million on such a lazy comedy is just sickening.
5. Meet the Blacks
Meet the Blacks feels like a made for television film that belongs on some second rate television network that about 35 people watch. There is zero production value to this film and it felt like the director just invited a bunch of people over to his house, picked up a camcorder, and screamed: “Let’s make a movie.” While I know the film wasn’t a massive box office hit, the extremely low budget has already confirmed that a sequel is already on the way. Meet the Blacks is supposed to be a parody of The Purge franchise, but I don’t think that idea worked all that well. The film feels completely misguided and as no idea what it wants to be or say. Let me not forget to mention that this film isn’t the slightest bit funny or is it entertaining in any way. Meet the Blacks relies on such stupid dated humor like using the name Black as a racist joke. While I wouldn’t label any of the actors in this “film” great actors, I am still surprised they agreed to be part of this. I don’t even know what the writers thought when they came up with this story. It seems like a series of dated jokes about black people living in a rich white neighborhood. Haven’t we come far enough in Hollywood that we don’t have to make crap? I was hoping so but Meet the Blacks proves me wrong.
4. The Greasy Strangler
For anyone who believes that Sundance can’t be the home to crappy films, The Greasy Strangler serves as evidence that Sundance can pick total shit. I don’t even know how the programmers chose this film to play at the festival. It almost seems as though the programmer jokingly said, “Oh, we should add the Greasy Strangler into our 2016 line-up.” There are plenty of films that I see at Sundance each year that I would deem “too artsy” or “overly pretentious” but The Greasy Strangler is complete and utter shit. It is so bad that I am not even sure if you can call it a movie. It seems like there is an on-going theme with Sundance when it comes to the “horror” films that premiere there. Last year, I called Knock Knock, the worst film of 2015, and now, this year The Greasy Strangler is one of the worst films of 2016. The performances are atrocious as is the story that only confirms the idea that anyone anywhere can make a film and have it play at a film festival. This film is embarrassing, not only for the festivals that played it but to the filmmakers and cast as well.
3. White Girl
Another Sundance film festival failure. While one can argue that White Girl is a better-made film than The Greasy Strangler, I just felt like there was no reason whatsoever for this film to be made. Every character in this film is unlikable. There is so much explicit sex that it feels as though you are watching a porno rather than a film. The story, which is loosely based on the director’s life, gives audiences zero reasons to care about the lead character or any of the supporting ones. Every male character is an asshole who just abuses and uses women. The film makes you hate life and people. It doesn’t make a statement at all. It just shows people doing blow and having sex. While I was in pain watching the Greasy Strangler, at least I thought a few times watching that film that it was made as an inside joke for a bunch of friends. This film feels like the director just wanted to make a movie for herself because she forgets to give anyone other than herself a reason to give a crap about anything that goes on in this film. This was my most painful film experience at Sundance 2016 and that says a lot considering there were quite a few turkeys at the festival this year.
2. The Brothers Grimsby
What could be worst than White Girl and The Greasy Strangler, how about a film starring Sacha Baron Cohen that features a scene where Cohen jerks off an elephant. Yes, I kid you not that happens in this film after Cohen and Mark Strong crawl into an elephant’s anus and another elephant begins to hump that elephant. While this scene instantly made me pause the film and come back to it at a later time, this 83-minute film features so many awful and cringeworthy moments. It took me three days to watch it because I just couldn’t sit through it. Another favorite scene of mine is the ending where Strong and Cohen sit on rockets that get blasted into the air. I don’t know how anyone could read this script and say, “Yes, let’s spent $35 million dollars on this film.” It is shocking to me that anyone could find something about this script to be remotely amusing or entertaining. It is the lowest form of comedy that I have seen all year, and that is saying a lot considering some of the other films on this list. This film is gross just for the sake of being gross. It isn’t edgy, offensive, or creative in any way. The Brothers Grimsby is pathetic, infantile, and just plain stupid. I am so glad it bombed at the box office and that it was universally hated by critics and audiences alike.
1. Officer Downe
Up until three days ago, I was convinced that no film would be able to top the Brothers Grimsby as the worst film of the year. However, after hearing so many awful things from fellow We Live Entertainment contributor Fred Topel and my journalist friend Courtney Howard, I had to sit down and watch Officer Downe for myself. Officer Downe is the type of film that will make you hate watching movies. It awful on every single level. The story makes no sense whatsoever. There are jokes like an orgasm counter that appears on-screen not just once, but twice. The acting is worse than anything I have seen all year. The direction is so awful that a first-year film student would cringe at this film. It surely doesn’t help that the film is incredibly low budget and doesn’t have a single actor that seems to understand what they are supposed to do. There is a character that for some reason talks in another language and then randomly stops and says “Fuck the subtitles.” I don’t know what I was watching, and it was nearly impossible to sit through. I don’t know how Fred or Courtney managed to sit through the entire film in a theater. I don’t walk out of a lot of things, but if I saw this in the theater, I would have walked out. I did watch this entire film even though it took me nearly 5 hours to do so. I am at a loss for words and don’t know how something like this even exists in this world. Yes, it is that bad. There isn’t a single positive thing to say about this film.
People tend to claim that I am harder on big budget films in comparison to indie films but I think this list proves I call it like I see it. I don’t deny that I do like indies usually more than mainstream films, but there is denying that some of the worst films of the year tend to be indie films. Sitting through a bad indie film is just as hard, if not harder to sit through a bad mainstream one. Let me know what you think of this list as well as your own picks of the worst films of 2016.