Scott Menzel’s Picks for the 17 Worst Films of 2017 with 7 Dishonorable Mentions
Since I have already discussed my picks for the 17 best films of 2017, it is now time to discuss the films that made me cringe or left me downright angry. This is my list of those films but before I get started there are a few films that I heard were just awful but I somehow missed. These titles include Friend Request, Rings, The Great Wall, The Assignment, Tulip Fever, Flatliners, Geostorm, The Snowman and Daddy’s Home 2.
Now, without any further delay, here are my picks for the 17 worst films of 2017 starting with 7 dishonorable mentions.
7 Dishonorable Mentions
Downsizing is easily my biggest disappointment of 2017. I love Alexander Payne but this film was a complete misfire. While I shouldn’t have been too surprised considering the film has been floating around Hollywood for over a decade, Downsizing is an odd combination of two films that just don’t work when spliced together. Some of the ideas in Downsizing are creative and interesting but neither Payne nor Jim Taylor seemed to know what to do with them. The humor throughout the film is very cheap and is way too “on the nose” for someone who has watched every single Alexander Payne film before this one lacks that intelligent humor that is typically found in his film. Lastly, there has been a lot of debate about the film being racist and I do agree with that statement. I don’t care how anyone involved tries to swing the controversy, I personally felt the film came off as racist. Clearly, I am not the only one so even if Payne, Taylor and Hong Chau don’t feel like it was done intentionally, they should be aware that a lot of people, both critics, and non-critics, still feel the film is racist. Downsizing is a big fat mess of a movie and my biggest letdown of the year.
6. Fifty Shades Darker
This is one sequel that is slightly better than the original but that still doesn’t mean that the film is good. Fifty Shades Darker seems to understand the type of film that it is but still, the two leads aren’t able to create any on-screen chemistry which would help make this poorly written film work. Fifty Shades Darker is easier to sit through than the original but the dialogue is somehow even worse than the first. Let me not forget to mention that there are certain moments where the film is just awkward to watch considering that Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan can’t seem to say their lines without coming across either wooden or completely dumbfounded that they are uttering such horrendous dialogue. We only have one more of these films to go so it will be interesting to see if the final film will appear on this list next year.
5. Ghost in the Shell
When did Scarlett Johansson become Japanese? Oh, that’s right, she didn’t. This whitewashing attempt to turn one of the most beloved anime franchises into a big budget spectacle was an awful idea. Paramount threw a ton of money at this film and hoped for the best. Paramount made a lot of poor decisions in 2017 with their films. I don’t want to bash them for taking the risk on original films like Mother! which I consider one of the best of the year or the misunderstood Suburbicon which I also enjoyed. However, films like Downsizing, Ghost in the Shell, Baywatch, Rings, and a few others really missed the mark. Putting the whitewashing aside, the performance by Johansson is lifeless, dull and one-note throughout. The film looks beautiful but there is just no hook to draw the viewer in. There is little to nothing to be excited about and it is almost impossible to care about any of the characters. Ghost in the Shell is the most MEH film of the year.
4. The Hitman’s Bodyguard
I had hope for The Hitman’s Bodyguard. I thought that the pairing of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson would be a match made in action comedy movie heaven but man oh man was I wrong. While the film was a semi-successful hit at the box office due to the fact that no other major studio released a film for several weeks in mid to late August, The Hitman’s Bodyguard lacked laughs, bad storytelling, and some of the worst action sequences of the year. The amount of green screen in this film was embarrassing and looked like something that a first-year film student directed. The film is poorly lit and just not entertaining for almost the entire first half of the film. While Jackson and Reynolds try their best, the bad script, lack of direction, and multiple cliched moments made The Hitman’s Bodyguard one of the biggest disappointments of the year.
I don’t get the hype surrounding this film. I don’t think the film was that gross. I don’t think the film was entertaining. I don’t think the film was scary or suspenseful.Truth be told, I found the film completely pointless and meandering. The acting was ok at best and I wasn’t invested whatsoever with what was happening on-screen. It feels like a bad student film and looks like one too.
2. The Emoji Movie
Poop. The Emoji Movie is what cinematic poop looks like. I don’t have to even talk about it because everyone knows that the Emoji Movie was a cheap attempt to further franchise various cell phone emotions and sell more products to children. Sony should be ashamed.
1. Wonder Wheel
I typically enjoy Woody Allen films. I realize that he is usually hit or miss but I have a soft spot for even his weaker films. I can’t even try to sugarcoat it, Wonder Wheel is awful. It is a whiney white people movie where Kate Winslet yells and complains for 90 plus minutes. The use of color and imagery at first comes across as unique and creative but Allen just keeps using the same color scheme and color wheel gimmick over and over again that it just ends up failing to work at all. Wonder Wheel could honestly be the worst Woody Allen Film ever made.
17 Worst Films of 2017
It Comes At Night
A lot of people seemed to like this one but it didn’t work for me at all. This was a tiny budget horror film that just didn’t produce any scares at all. It was very slow and I never found myself invested in anything that was happening on-screen. This is one of those films where while I watching it, I kept asking myself “why do I care about these people?” The whole film felt completely meaningless and just didn’t hook me at all. When it ended, I honestly walked about and said to myself “well, there goes $13 and 90 minutes of my life that I will never get back.”
The Shack is a Christian movie where one of the best actresses working today (Octavia Spencer) plays god. I wish I could say that this was a comedy but it is not. The Shack is a heavy-handed religious drama where Sam Worthington plays Mack Phillips, a father searching for answers after his youngest daughter gets abducted. As a viewer, I got to spend the entire runtime watching Mack beat himself up and try to forgive and forget everything bad that has ever happened in his life. This is the type of pushy religious nonsense that just angers me. The agenda pushing script combined with the dull performance by Sam Worthington made sitting through this quite a painful experience. For over 2 hours, the audience is forced to watch Mack relive the worst moments in his life but is told to not be angry or hold a grudge. While I completely understand that this is a tale of forgiveness, I couldn’t get behind the message considering how bad Mack’s life was. Come on, Hollywood please don’t make a film where the acts that the person committed are so horrific that no one in their right mind would be able to forgive them. The film makes it seem that Mark is too gullible and passive especially when you learn about his backstory and what ultimately happened to his daughter.
Hey kids, want to see a film where the story of the nativity is told from the perspective of animated talking animals? After bringing the world The Emoji Movie this summer, The Star is just another example of how Sony Animation Studios only has the Hotel Transylvania franchise keeping them afloat. This pointless cash grab of a family film features dated animation, annoying voice work, and a soundtrack that feels completely out of place. I get that the idea of the Star was to sell a religious story to children. I think Sony was hoping that the film would have caught on so that they could have merchandised the hell out of it but thankfully this film didn’t go anywhere. The animation is so flat and boring plus the actors who voiced their characters were just so lame. I need to also point out that I found the voice casting to be somewhat racist. Why were the camels voiced by all black actors? Something about that rubbed me the wrong way.
Naked is an original Netflix film from the director of A Haunted House and A Haunted House 2 starring Marlon Wayans. The plot is basically is a rip off of Groundhogs Day but instead of reliving the same day over and over again, Wayans wakes up naked in an elevator over and over again on the day of his wedding. The twist is that he can’t seem to get married so he must spend the day trying to figure out why. Doesn’t that all sound so hilarious? You know how funny this film is because it’s from the team behind A Haunted House which redefined the spoof genre as we know it. *cough* sarcasm *cough*
The Space Between Us
This is the first of two Allan Loeb written films to be on this list.The Space Between Us is an original idea that just like a lot of other films on the list had the potential to be something great but failed to deliver. Loeb’s script felt like it was chopped up and rewritten at least half a dozen times with numerous scenes that just didn’t go anywhere. There was a lack of character development with every single character and every single performance came off as forced and awkward. This is very surprising considered the cast includes Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, Britt Robertson, Asa Butterfield, and BD Wong. I would have loved to see a decent and original romantic science fiction film geared towards tweens but The Space Between Us isn’t it.
Wish Upon is dreadful. Again, there was potential here with a great concept about a mysterious box with special powers but no one knew how to turn that idea into something that would work. This is one of those horror films that people will turn into a drinking game. Almost every line of dialogue is cringeworthy and the performances are pathetic. I usually like Joey King but she doesn’t even appear to be trying at all. There is an appearance by Barb from Stranger Things which was somewhat redeeming but that’s about it. Wish Upon is a D list horror film and one that should have gone straight to DVD rather than to the theaters.
For years, I was one of the only people in the industry that actually admitted to enjoying Max Landis’ work but Bright is total shit. I can’t believe how much hate I have gotten on my Twitter for my brief reaction to the film. Is there something I am missing? This is a David Ayer film written by Max Landis which isn’t a winning combo. Landis does seem like he has something to say but the horrible dialogue kills any potential. David Ayer’s direction is so generic and one note. Bright looks and feels like Suicide Squad all over again. I don’t understand why Ayer tries so hard to make all his films feel dark and gritty. It ends up being laughable especially when Will Smith starts uttering horrendous dialogue like “I’m going to drive it like I stole it.” I don’t know what is going on in the film department at Netflix but they can’t seem to make it work. They release a new movie almost every week and out of like 50 plus films, have only released 3 to 5 that have been good. Netflix crushes it with their television series but when it comes to picking films, they keep dropping the ball over and over again. I heard that Bright 2 has already been greenlit, let’s hope that ends up being a rumor that isn’t true.
The Florida Project
The Florida Project is the only film that I absolutely hated but would still give it an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Willem Dafoe plays Bobby in this film and his performance just blew me away. Everything else, however, about The Florida Project made me hate life for 105 minutes. The Florida Project is the unofficial prequel to America Honey and is filled with annoying characters that do nothing but yell, steal, and act like assholes for the entire runtime. I get that Baker wants his film to be a realistic look at the people living in poverty outside of Disney World in Florida but he spends way too much time reminding the audience that Disney World is in the same town as where these families live.
I feel like 105 minutes of my life was spent watching a bunch of white trash stereotypes while Sean Baker tried to shove his white privilege agenda down my throat. I hate when filmmakers try to make a statement about a topic that they clearly know nothing about. Every single kid in this film is unlikable and is just as awful as his or her parents. They are vandals who are loud and annoying. This film uses negative stereotypes to push its agenda. The stereotypes that Baker focuses on are the most negative stereotypes that you could find. The characters that the film focuses on are people you would see on bad reality tv programs like Cops. I don’t understand how anyone could feel sorry for these horrible characters as I didn’t care about them at all. I do realize I am one of the few critics who hated this film with a fiery passion but I will stand by my reaction. This is a terrible film that is centered around media created stereotypes written and directed by a rich white man who exploits those that are less fortunate as a way to weasel his way into receiving awards.
Watching Charlie Day and Ice Cube act like 10-year-olds for 90 minutes isn’t very funny nor is it entertaining for anyone over the age of 13. Fist Fight is an R rated comedy and one that relies on cursing and non-stop insults to generate laughs. The gags get old very fast and watching so many supporting actors attempt to add laughs to what is just a very unfunny film is somewhat embarrassing to watch. I realize I wasn’t the target demographic for this one but I don’t think the real target demo saw the film side the film wasn’t appropriate for them.
Everything, Everything is Bubble Boy without the laughs and focuses on a girl instead of a boy. The film stars Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson who have zero chemistry. As I said, the plot is a carbon copy of Bubble Boy including the “grand reveal” at the end. I just didn’t care about these characters, I didn’t feel a connection, and I was so bored from beginning to end. Maybe this film works for teenage girls that are between the ages of 8 to 15 but I would be shocked if anyone over the age of 16 is even slightly interested in this forced love story about a girl who is born without an immune system and falls in love with the boy next door.
The Belko Experiment
The Belko Experiment is a great idea that goes nowhere. Gunn is more concerned with showing blood and death than building a story of what could have been one hell of a demented drama. I remember watching this at TIFF and being so mad that I lost over 2 hours of sleep to watch this during Midnight Madness. I didn’t think the film was entertaining nor fun. It was just the same thing happening over and over again for almost 90 minutes straight.
The Only Living Boy in New York
The Only Living Boy in New York was supposed to happen many years ago, just like the Belko Experiment. It took a long time to make and release the film because it was written by Allan Loeb who is easily one of the worst screenwriters working today. This sad excuse for a film can be best described as a poor man’s Woody Allen movie and one that feels like the runtime is over 3 hours despite being barely 90 minutes long. The whole film revolves around a young pretentious while 20 something who can’t figure out what to do with his life so he has an affair with a woman who also happens to be his father’s mistress. You can only imagine how the film plays. The one bright side of the film is that Jeff Bridges got a paycheck to drink whiskey while mumbling bad dialogue.
I don’t know who thought that making a Baywatch movie in 2017 would be a good idea but it turns out that Paramount, Dwayne Johnson, and Zac Efron did but they were wrong, very wrong. Baywatch isn’t funny. It isn’t entertaining. It is just plain bad. The film is full of dick jokes and even though it was refreshing to see that the female characters aren’t used as sex objects, their characters are given little or nothing at all to do. This is another film that just didn’t know what it wanted to be. The comedy didn’t work because it was too infantile and the action didn’t work because it was poorly executed. The whole film felt like a bunch of ideas thrown together and not much worked. This was the first time that Dwayne Johnson’s charm couldn’t redeem a film. Baywatch was DOA.
Pitch Perfect 3
Pitch Perfect 3 is awful. It is so bad that it makes Pitch Perfect 2 seem decent which shouldn’t be possible since that one was just more of the same. Pitch Perfect 3 doesn’t even know what it is or who its audience is. The story completely forgets about the Bellas singing in a competition and turns into a crime caper featuring Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy going head to head with her estranged father played by John Lithgow. As someone who stuck with the television show Glee to the very end, Pitch Perfect 3 makes the worst episode of Glee look Emmy worthy. It is like everyone involved was just collecting a paycheck without worrying that nothing about this third installment really made much of any sense. It is a horrible send-off for the Bellas but I hope that this entry is the final film in this one trick pony franchise
Father Figures is a “comedy” about two brothers who decide to travel around the United States and track down their real father after they learn he isn’t dead like they originally thought. It has been a very long time since I watched a film where every single joke fails to produce even a smirk. There are zero laughs to be found and with a cast that includes Owen Wilson, June Squibb, J.K. Simmons, Christopher Walken, and Glenn Close, one can’t help but wonder where it all went wrong. The trailers for Father Figures looked bad but I still couldn’t believe how bad this film ultimately turned out to be. There is so much that should work about this concept but none of it does including the forced emotional moment which occurs near the last 15 minutes of the film.
Song to Song
Terrance Malick has someone made a film that is even worse than his last few films. Song to Song is a meandering story all about white privilege. I can’t believe that Malick was somehow able to cast Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, and Cate Blanchett in a film and make it this unbearable to sit through. If you enjoy hearing spoiled good looking white people complain about how sad their lives are, then Song to Song is a must see. If you don’t think that sounds appealing, I would avoid the one like the plague.
When I saw Rough Night back in May, I knew that I was sitting through the worst film of 2017. This raunchy comedy contains zero laughs and is full of strange situations that aren’t even remotely entertaining to watch. There is a scene where the fiancee of Scarlett Johansson’s character thinks she’s mad at him so he drives all night wearing an adult diaper and pees on himself. I cannot believe how low this film sunk to try to get laughs but I hate this film with a passion. It makes me so angry just thinking that someone handed over 45 million dollars to create this film when there are nearly hundreds of amazing screenplays sitting on a shelf waiting to be turned into a feature-length film. Instead, Sony Pictures decides to greenlight Rough Night a painfully unfunny and formulaic comedy that appeals to the lowest common denominator.
So those are my picks for the worst films of 2017. What are your picks? I realized that some may comment to tell me that I left a few off including Transformers: The Last Knight and The Mummy and while they both were bad, I honestly disliked every single film on this list more than both of those films.