While there are some really great movies released in theaters each year, there never fails to be a few stinkers floating around – sadly, the 2015 movie season wasn’t any different. For every blockbuster such as Avengers: Age of Ultron or Jurassic World, or critically acclaimed movies such as Spotlight or Brooklyn, there is a low-rated, audience-ignored letdown of a counterpart.
While on its face, this post may appear to be a discussion of all the bad movies released this year, we’re actually focusing on films so bad, so exhaustingly mundane in their inept ability to entertain audiences that, when someone mentions the title you say, “Oh! That movie came out this year? I totally forgot about it.” For that reason, you aren’t going to find movies such as Fantastic Four or Jupiter Ascending on here. At least they were memorably bad.
So join us as we refresh your memory on 20 Movies So Bad You Forgot They Released in 2015…
Opened: January 16th
Director Michael Mann used to constantly produce great films, such as The Last of the Mohicans, Heat, The Insider and Ali but things started going downhill after Collateral, with Miami Vice, Public Enemies and most recently, Blackhat. Chris Hemsworth is, at times, a fine actor (he apparently gives a stellar performance in the upcoming In the Heart of the Sea) but here he feels out of his element as a criminal computer hacker hired by the FBI to track down a cyber-terrorist across the world.
The freshman script by Morgan Davis Foehl is troubled from the very beginning and can’t seem to find its way throughout the entire movie. It tries too hard to be technologically “smart,” making several clichéd mistakes along the way (why does no one ever use a mouse?) and assumes the average viewer isn’t familiar with blackhat hacking or cyber-terrorism.
Opened: January 23rd
At first glance, Mortdecai would appear to give Johnny Depp the chance to create another successful, outlandish character to add to his ever-growing repertoire. Alas, that would not be the case. The story centers around Lord Charlie Mortdecai, a roguish art dealer of ill repute on the verge of bankruptcy, who is approached by MI5 (for reasons that aren’t quite clear) to retrieve a valuable stolen painting. The movie is actually based on a series of comedic thriller novels by Kyril Bonfiglioli, more specifically the first novel titled Don’t Point that Thing at Me, published in the seventies.
Director David Koepp (Premium Rush) does his best to bring Eric Aronson’s sophomore script to life (his only other writing credit is On the Line, a rom-com starring *NSYNC buddies Lance Bass and Joey Fatone) but everything about Mortdecai is downright boring and uninteresting. Even Paul Bettany’s great performance as Mortdecai’s man-servant Jock couldn’t save the film.
18. Seventh Son
Opened: February 6th
It’s ironic that Seventh Son would be a story about a medieval apocalypse because the movie seemed doomed from the beginning. It’s loosely based on Joseph Delany’s novel, The Spook’s Apprentice, and sadly features the wasted acting talents of Julianne Moore, Ben Barnes and Jeff Bridges doing his best impersonation of Jeff Bridges in R.I.P.D. It’s a typical fantasy/action story about Thomas Ward (Barnes) who’s destined to destroy the evil witch Malkin (Moore) because he’s the seventh son of the seventh son but first has to be the apprentice of the Spook (Bridges), or some such nonsense.
The movie’s conception and production was plagued by setbacks from the onset: Legendary Films replaced Warner Bros with Universal Studios as the film’s distributor, the initial release date was November 2013 but changed several times eventually settling on February 2015, and Legendary had to give $5 million to now-defunct visual effects house Rhythm and Hues Studios (Life of Pi, Babe) just to get the special effects completed because the studio had filed for bankruptcy. Truthfully, it was probably a waste of $5 million.
17. Hot Tub Time Machine 2
Opened: February 20th
The first Hot Tub Time Machine was a fun, raunchy, romp by director Steve Pink and writer Josh Heald. It introduced great characters with some legitimate laughs – everything Hot Tub Time Machine 2 didn’t have. John Cusack fails to return as Adam Yates (we’re assuming he read the script and wisely decided to avoid the sequel), having been replaced by Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) as Yate’s son Adam Yates-Steadmeyer (he took his wife’s name). The story revolves around the group of annoying characters racing against time to find Lou’s (Rob Corddry) killer before he’s murdered – it’s a dumb story.
Pink is back behind the camera and Heald once again penned the script for Hot Tub Time Machine 2 but the magic they once created gets lost in a series of unfunny, homophobic jokes, lazy one-liners and a story that has no imagination. The movie flopped hard at the box office and we’re betting if they could use an actual time machine to go back and try again, they would.
16. Get Hard
Opened: March 27th
Will Ferrell has had an up and down film career since leaving Saturday Night Live. For every Anchorman and Talladega Nights, there’s a Kicking and Screaming and Bewitched blighting his filmography – Get Hard falls into the latter category. Kevin Hart, while enjoying a successful stand-up career, has seen only mild success on the big screen, and unfortunately for him, this movie does nothing to change that perception.
From the corrupt, white Wall Street investor to the black guy stereotyped by the white guy as prison-savvy because of his race, to the blatant and rampant homosexual and prison rape “jokes” scattered throughout the story, Get Hard is an unmitigated disaster of a film. However, since it made $100 million on a $40 million budget, it’s still considered to be financially successful – meaning, someone in Hollywood thinks this film was a good idea. Look for Get Hard 2: The Juvie Years to be announced soon (probably).
15. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
Opened: April 17th
Despite his usual goofball on-screen persona, Kevin James is a genuinely funny actor, who often portrays lovable characters. Paul Blart was one of those characters who audiences flocked to watch, not because the film he in was any good but because James did a great job of making him relatable and humorous. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 took all the goodwill it had earned and tossed it into the toilet in the name of showcasing Blart’s inability to be a “normal” person by societal standards.
The biggest problem with Paul Blart 2 is it took the exact same character, placed him in the exact same situation but simply changed the locale, assuming audiences would continue to enjoy seeing the pudgy actor flop around on the ground, fight silly exotic animals and refuse to acknowledge the criminals around him until it was too late – sounds like a laugh-riot (it wasn’t). If there was a mall jail equivalent for movies, this film would need to be placed there indefinitely.
14. Hot Pursuit
Opened: May 8th
While the comedy/action movie Hot Pursuit may have made a meager return at the box office ($52 million on a $35 million budget), that in no way properly the reflects the substandard quality of the film. The story centers around Cooper (Reese Witherspoon), a female police officer who tries so hard to be like her well-known cop father that she becomes the joke of the department for being too by-the-book. However, when it comes time to bring in Daniella Riva (Sofia Vergara), the wife of a drug kingpin, Cooper is chosen by her Captain to protect the witness until she can testify at a trial.
It’s a pretty bland, by-the-numbers female-buddy story with no real surprises or much in the way of originality. By casting Witherspoon and Vergara as the two leads, the film is clearly aimed towards the female audience, which makes the scene of the voluptuous Vergara in just her sexy bra an oddity. It seems very out-of-place in the film – that is, until you realize that, while the movie was directed by Anne Fletcher (The Proposal, Step Up), it was written by two males, David Feeney and John Quaintance, whose only writing work before this movie was in the TV industry.
Opened: May 22nd
Disney has experienced varying degrees of success attempting to bring parts of their theme parks to the big screen. With Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion serving as the measuring sticks for success and failure respectively, Tomorrowland rests comfortably near the bottom. It was billed as an adventure story about a young girl, Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), who finds herself in a place where all the “smart” people have been collected to solve the world’s problems. Instead, the movie comes off as a preachy, conceited mess that was too interested in shaming its audience for not believing enough in hope, rather than trying to entertain them.
Director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant) and writer Damon Lindelof (World War Z) are better than this convoluted, change-the-world story they’ve presented. Tomorrowland should have been a fun, early-summer blockbuster movie about what the future can look like when good, intelligent people, no matter their age or background, put their minds to it. But rather than take that approach, Bird and Lindelof thought it would be better to use (read: waste) the acting talents of George Clooney and Hugh Laurie to embarrass the audience into making a difference… or something.
Opened: May 22nd
In 1982, Steven Spielberg wrote what is possibly,his scariest movie to-date: Poltergeist. Even after three decades, the movie continues to scare audiences in such a way that it was recently ranked by the Chicago Film Critics Association as the 20th scariest movie ever made. Unfortunately, Hollywood has a hankering to remake lots of great horror movies from the eighties, and it was inevitable that Poltergeist would eventually get its turn. Though the names of the lead characters have been changed to Eric and Amy Bowen (Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt), the story for the remake is essentially the same – and that’s the biggest issue.
In order to be successful, a remake must introduce some unique element or storytelling technique that makes it stand out, while still paying homage to the original source material – Poltergeist failed to do that on just about every level. The trailer for the film got fans’ hopes way up (especially the last scene) but then it turned out to be such a letdown. Even the infamous clown scene from the original [Ed. note: I still can’t watch that scene with my eyes open] was somehow botched and manages to be an eye-rolling moment in the film, instead of a truly scary experience.
Opened: June 3rd
Entourage brings to the big screen the same characters that made the HBO series so popular for eight seasons. All the LA friends are back: the recently divorced actor Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) who sleeps with porn stars and wants to make a movie, “Turtle” (Jerry Ferrara), who is now a billionaire, Ari Gold, (Jeremy Piven) who is now the head of a big studio, Eric Murphy (Kevin Connolly) who is still the boring friend, and Johnny “Drama” (Kevin Dillon) who eventually wins an Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in Vince’s fake movie Hyde.
While the show had the teeth to show the douchebags doing and saying douchebag things, the movie somehow managed to water most of that down and became a lazy, self-indulgent vehicle that felt like it was made only for fans of the show – and the box office reflected that, too. “True” fans of the show will argue that critics and dissenters just didn’t understand the humor or story presented in Entourage and therefore have no right to judge it, but that’s nonsense. The reality is, most people didn’t find the movie funny or entertaining because there was very little humor and no interesting story presented in the movie – just a lot of nudity, sex, swearing, drinking and celebrity cameos.
10. Ted 2
Opened: June 16th
By all accounts, Ted 2 was a reasonable financial success, drawing in over $215 million worldwide, but as any seasoned cinephile will attest, a good box office performance isn’t directly related to the quality of the film itself (looking at you Transformers 4). While Ted was a raunchy, humorous buddy movie starring Mark Wahlberg as John Bennett and Seth MacFarlane voicing his childhood friend, Ted – a stuffed bear come-to-life – Ted 2 was an insufferable, shambled mess from beginning to end.
This movie seemingly has more a goal-oriented (if implausible) story than the first: Ted wants to have a child with his wife Tami-Lynn and tries several methods of sperm donation, including stealing from Tom Brady, but ends up being labeled by the state of Massachusetts as “property” instead of a person. It’s as confusing to watch as it is to explain and that ultimately ends up hurting the film’s overall appeal.
9. Human Centipede 3
Opened: June 18th
There’s not a lot to say about director Tom Six’s over-the-top horror film franchise, except that it’s filled with extreme brutality, rape, and explores the depths of human depravity. The movie stars Dieter Laser as “Bill,” the prison warden with a panache for brutality, Laurence Harvey as his depraved accountant Dwight and porn actress Bree Olson as his assistant. Bill and Dwight decide the best way to deter crime is to connect every inmate in the prison mouth-to-anus, going as far as removing the arms of the prisoners on death row to create a “caterpillar.”
Having to sit through a viewing of Human Centipede 3: The Final Sequence is like being trapped in the infamous, feces-passing chain for which the films are most known. Every minute is excruciating to watch and not just because of the disgusting acts presented on screen. The dialogue, acting and self-indulgence of Tom Six is nauseating by itself but, combined with many of the grotesque scenes in the film, it’s borderline unwatchable. Gross and despicable acts have a place in film making if done right – just ask Takashi Miike.
Opened: July 29th
The belated installment to National Lampoon’s hit Vacation franchise was something fans had been eagerly awaiting for nearly twenty years. What started as remake/reboot to the film series eventually turned into a sequel starring Ed Helms as Rusty Griswold and Christina Applegate as his wife Debbie. The story follows the disenchanted married couple as Rusty attempts to relive the glory days of his past family vacations with his own family – it goes horribly (laughably?) awry.
Despite a decent box office showing and a 13-week theatrical run, very few people seem to recall that the film was even released this year. The movie isn’t completely terrible and manages to generate some legitimate laughs, but ultimately it feels like writers Jonathan Goldstein and John Daley simply took their Horrible Bosses script, changing the character names while reusing the same sight gags and jokes. For their part, Helms and Applegate actually work well together onscreen but it’s just not enough to make this ho-hum sequel as memorable as any of its predecessors.
7. Hitman: Agent 47
Opened: August 21st
With so many bad video game movie adaptations in the marketplace, would Hitman: Agent 47 be the film that breaks that notion? Short answer – no. The charismatic Timothy Olyphant has been replaced with the less-than-intriguing Rupert Friend in his first mainstream action role, a fact that is glaringly obvious during fight scenes. While Skip Woods returns to write the script for the sequel, Aleksander Bach makes his directorial debut and that, too, stands out like sore thumb.
Instead of giving viewers what they really want to see (action scene after non-stop action scene), the movie tries to be more auteur than it should and the quality suffers greatly for it. Just because the movie is based on a popular video game series doesn’t automatically mean it should be considered a noisy B-movie affair, but it spends so much time trying not to fall into that trap that, ironically, that’s all it ever becomes – except more boring.
6. Sinister 2
Opened: August 21st
Three years ago the low-budget horror film Sinister took the movie world by storm, drawing rave reviews from both audiences and critics. Now, a mere three years later, the franchise’s sequel, Sinister 2, has drawn nothing but rotten eggs and sour looks from those same people – and for good reason. Scott Derrickson and long-term Ain’t It Cool News contributor C. Robert Cargill return to pen the script but ultimately failed to reach the same creative level as they did for the first film.
Fair or not, it’s inevitable that the quality of a sequel will always be judged against the original film. Where Sinister had some legitimately scary moments mixed with its original story elements, Sinister 2 abandoned those in the name of a few poorly timed jump scares and recycled story plots. It’s never a good sign when a horror movie blurs the line between hokey and scary so much that it forgets not to cross it.
5. We Are Your Friends
Opened: August 28th
There aren’t many films that can boast the worst box office openings in cinema history and 2015 was (un)fortunate enough to represent three of them: We Are Your Friends ($758 per theater), Rock the Kasbah ($731 per theater) and Jem and the Holograms ($570 per theater). Until We Are Your Friends, director Max Joseph had only directed a dozen or so video shorts and written a handful of scripts, and he gives it a valiant effort here, but live-action musical feature films are a tough nut to crack and a hard way to cut your teeth.
The movie was supposed to be a coming-of-age story starring Zac Efron (which is odd, since he’s 28), but it comes across as a clunky romance story filled with characters the audience just doesn’t care about. Most of the time (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) but the romantic interludes in Magic Mike come across more sincere than anything put forth by Cole Carter (Efron) and Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski) in We Are Your Friends.
Opened: October 9th
Poor J. M. Barrie. It’s probably best the Scottish-born author hasn’t been alive in over sixty years or he would surely have a heart attack at the way Hollywood has handled his most beloved character, Peter Pan, over the last few years. Between the awful live-television musical NBC broadcast and the critically-panned (no pun intended) theatrical release of Pan, The Boy Who Would Never Grow Up has been given no justice at all.
Director Joe Wright (Hanna) does the best he can with the script given to him by Jason Fuchs (Wonder Woman) but there’s just too much time spent creating a visually interesting, steampunk world, instead of establishing the characters. Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund and newcomer Levi Miller are decent enough as Blackbeard, James Hook and Peter, but the relationships between the three main characters are so shallow that film quickly becomes mundane. It’s also clear that Jackman wanted to play Blackbeard as over-the-top as possible but he ends up giving his hammiest performance to date instead.
3. Jem and the Holograms
Opened: October 23rd
Jem and the Holograms is smart, quirky, action-packed fun for children, especially girls, of all ages… unfortunately, that’s a quick review of the popular eighties cartoon and not the movie. By contrast, the film adaptation is a confused, hot mess that struggles to find a way to connect with audiences. The movie has little to do with its Saturday morning cartoon roots outside of a few character names, and manages to screw up Synergy so badly they might as well have just made the character a fedora-wearing crocodile with a British accent. In the cartoon she’s a computer that can project holograms, but in the movie it’s a tiny robot named 51N3RG.Y (we wish were making that up) more akin to a USB desktop toy.
Supposedly director Jon Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) spent ten years conceiving the idea behind the live-action movie with producer Jason Blum (Sinister 2), but the best they could come up with was a story about a teenage girl, Jerrica (not a typo), who disguises herself in order to “sing out her emotions” as a way to deal with the fact her house is being auctioned. There’s a reason this movie was pulled from theaters after only two weeks.
Opened: October 30th
It’s no secret – people love food. We love it so much we have several 24-hour television networks dedicated to it just so we can watch other people eat and listen to them describe how it tastes. When we aren’t watching food on TV, we’re watching it in movie theaters, except with more melodrama. Burnt is a story about Chef Adam (Bradley Cooper) falling from grace then earning his reputation back with his friends and colleagues – a trope that is becoming overused in Hollywood.
Burnt is officially listed as a comedy-drama but somewhere along the way writer Steven Knight (Seventh Son) forgot to include the comedy part. Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Omar Sy, Daniel Brühl, Uma Thurman and Emma Thompson all do their best to cook up something delicious but that’s tough to do when it appears director John Wells (August: Osage County) forgot to turn on the oven. Cooper is usually an audience favorite, and the movie has plenty of recognizable names in its billing, but that’s just not enough to keep this soufflé from falling facedown on the floor.
1. Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
Opened: October 30th
Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse could have been one of those schlocky B-movie horror movies that was so bad, it was good. Well, it certainly had the “so bad” part down. It’s one of those “blink and you’ll miss it” films that was only in theaters for three weeks and that was probably two weeks too long. The story by Carrie Evans and Emi Mochizuki (whose only other writing credit is College Road Trip), while riddled with clichés, starts out with a decent premise but eventually succumbs to its by-the-numbers characters and their over-the-top antics.
At one point in the film the great Cloris Leachman (sorely underused) turns into a zombie and attempts to bite the buttocks of a teenage boy, except she forgot to put her teeth in, so she just gums it – that’s what this movie tries to pass off as “comedy”. Zombie cats, a rave full of dumb teenagers, a zombie on a scooter, and even zombie oral sex are thrown at the audience until they wish a real outbreak of undead would occur in the theater just to end the misery.
Where there any movies you watched this year that you actually forgot about because they were so bad? Tell us about them in the comment section.