Each year hundreds of movies are released into theaters around the world. When direct-to-DVD movies are taken into account, that number skyrockets into the thousands. With so many movies available to viewers every single week (sometimes as many as four new films debuting every Friday) it’s no wonder that many often get lost in the box office chaos. Viewers may take the time to watch the movie in a theater or via DVD when it hits the home market, but very few of those films stick inside their brains.
This year, as we’ve done in previous years, we’ve picked twenty movies that were either so bad, bland or uninspired that many regular moviegoers simply forgot the movie released in the last twelve months. While some readers will most likely point to movies such as Warcraft, Suicide Squad or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows as being either bad or forgettable, those are major tentpole releases which performed reasonably well at the box office, and as such, aren’t generally forgotten about.
Instead, we’re focusing on movies that came and went without so much as a whisper from audiences and make you say, “Oh yeah! That movie DID come out this year.” We’re also using the end of October as the cutoff, as many of the movies November and December are either still in theaters or continue to be fresh in people’s minds (even if they’ll ultimately prove to be utterly forgettable).
Let’s take a look at the 20 Movies So Bad You Forgot They Released In 2016…
20. Norm of the North
Release Date: 1/15
With their generally lower budgets, animated movies can often be big winners for studios. Kung Fu Panda 3, Finding Dory, Secret Life of Pets and more helped to dominate the box office in 2016. However, for every well-received animated project, there’s a Norm of the North released that spoils the curve for everyone else. Lionsgate was hoping Norm and his Arctic pals would bring in the cold hard cash, but instead, the film barely made back its $18 million working budget.
The movie follows the story of a greedy real estate agent who wants to develop the Arctic, pushing Norm and his lemming buddies out of their homeland. They head to Times Square to confront him, but Norm ends up being the mascot for his corporation instead. All things considered, the voice talents of Rob Schneider, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong and Bill Nighy could have been put to better use elsewhere. Well, except perhaps for Schneider. He feels right at home here.
19. The 5th Wave
Release Date: 1/22
For the last few years, Hollywood has given every effort to capitalize on the popularity of young adult novels. Thanks to Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and The Twilight Series, those adaptations worked for a time, and people flocked to the theaters in droves to see their favorite literary character come to life. But as they always seem to do, Tinseltown started stretching the limits of what was popular, so movies like The Golden Compass, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, and Ender’s Game suffered from a lack of audience interest.
From the get go, The 5th Wave felt like it would struggle finding an audience willing to shell out ten bucks to watch this movie in a theater. Chloë Grace Moretz was supposed to carry the film, but even her top-notch talent couldn’t save this alien invasion flick. It didn’t help that the movie wanted audiences to believe a story about aliens tricking teens and kids into becoming soldiers who killed their parents.
18. Fifty Shades of Black
Release Date: 1/29
In 2015, the erotic novel by E.L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey, became a bonafide success at the box office, as millions of people showed up to see Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Doran) heat up the screen with their excursion into the world of BDSM. Of course, when something becomes a financial success or becomes wildly popular in pop culture, it’s won’t be long before someone parodies it. Enter Fifty Shades of Black.
By and large, parody movies don’t perform well critically, but Fifty Shades of Black managed to lower the bar spectacularly — and it was released after A Haunted House 2, Epic Movie and Dance Flick. The “comedy” stars parody regular Marlon Wayans and Kali Hawk as Christian Black and Hannah Steale, whose names are as uninspired as the story for the film. You can sit down and try to watch this movie, or you can have someone tie you up and hit you in the head repeatedly with a leather-embossed paddle, it’s your choice. You’ll likely get the same level of enjoyment out of it.
17. The Choice
Release Date: 2/5
If you’ve ever been in a relationship, chances are that at some point, you watched a movie based on one of the twenty novels written by Nicholas Sparks. The romance writer’s movies are rarely regarded in high esteem by critics (The Notebook is his highest rated movie at 52% on Rotten Tomatoes) but they generally perform well at the box office. However, at a $23 million box office take, his latest submission, The Choice, is the exception, as it’s become the lowest performer of the group.
Like most of his work, The Choice follows two people in love who have to overcome some hardship to either stay in love or stay together. As far as sappiness goes, his stories rank among the highest. However, The Choice ups the sappiness factor a hundred fold and the story suffers for it greatly. By the time the ending rolls around, most audience members were left hoping that this was the last Sparks novel adaptation they’d have to sit through.
16. Zoolander 2
Release Date: 2/12
In 2001, the world was introduced to the exciting world of high fashion and really really really, ridiculously good-looking male models. Fifteen years later, people are still flashing “Blue Steel” whenever they’re mugging for the camera. Truly, Ben Stiller left his mark on the world of comedy with the original Zoolander. The first movie had great characters, was completely self-aware, and presented a story that was borderline absurd without ever fully crossing that line.
Unfortunately, Zoolander 2 tried to simply recycle the story, characters, and absurdity but lacked all the self-awareness that made the original so enjoyable. Instead of putting the characters beloved half a generation ago into new circumstances and situations, they just tossed in a bunch of tired pop culture icons and called it a day. The villain of film, Jacobim Magatu (Will Ferrell) is back, but everything ridiculous that made him interesting is gone, replaced by overused clichés and lame sight gags. Just about everyone was disappointed.
15. The Divergent Series: Allegiant
Release Date: 3/18
For all its unrealistic situations, scenarios, and stories, Divergent, based on the popular young adult novels, The Divergent Series, was fairly well received by audiences. The first film scored majored numbers at the box office but unsurprisingly drew ho-hum reviews from critics. Still, its success warranted the greenlighting three sequels, including Insurgent and Allegiant. Turns out, that may have been wishful thinking on the studio’s part.
Worldwide, Allegiant performed okay, but domestically, the movie failed to even make back it’s working budget. The dystopian future film starring Shailene Woodley and Theo James as teens trapped in an experimental society fell so far down the box office rabbit hole that Lionsgate moved the fourth and final film, Ascendant, to TV — a fate worse than cancellation. Woodley said she wouldn’t, then would, star in the ill-fated made-for-TV, but no one would blame her if she found a way to drop out entirely.
14. God’s Not Dead 2
Release Date: 4/1
Faith-based films have slowly been finding their way into the mainstream theater zeitgeist. Most of them are unspectacular, low-budget affairs — which means the acting, production, and story are generally filled with cheesy, overly-dramatic moments, sacrificing quality for the sake of including point blank Biblically-based parables and parallels juxtaposed against modern circumstances. For most moviegoers looking for faith-based family drama, all of that is overlooked; however, that doesn’t mean the film is any “good”.
Unfortunately for God’s Not Dead 2, those same audiences couldn’t take the “cheese” anymore, and they chose not to show up to support the sequel in the same manner as the original. Everything that made the first movie somewhat enjoyable was replaced with a generic form of the same story but with different characters and surroundings. Since the title is God’s Not Dead, the possibility always exists for a third film, but chances are you shouldn’t look for it to be in theaters.
13. The Boss
Release Date: 4/8
Between her roles on Mike & Molly, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, and Ghostbusters, Melissa McCarthy has had a banner year in Hollywood. Unfortunately for the talented comedian, she also has The Boss on her resume for 2016. McCarthy co-wrote the screenplay with director Ben Falcone (Tammy) and through most of the film, the jokes simply fail to land, often leaving many lingering silent moments during the movie where laughter should have been present.
The Boss stars McCarthy as cutthroat business woman Michelle Darnell, who’s been jaded to life, friends and family when all of her adoptive parents throughout her childhood years return her to the orphanage (which is shown during the opening montage). Like Martha Stewart, she’s thrown into “jail” for insider trading, but then once released, she proceeds to start a global boxed-cookie empire using a preteen girl troop as her sales force. The only two bright sides in this film are the performances by Kristen Bell (Frozen) and Tyler Labine (Tucker & Dale vs. Evil), but they don’t save this movie from its bargain bin destiny.
Release Date: 4/15
Every once in a while, a good movie slips under the radar and doesn’t get the love or attention from audiences it so richly deserves. Criminal is not one of those movies. The Kevin Costner-vehicle (with a side of Ryan Reynolds) wants to be a half-spy/half-action story, but it never fully commits to either genre, ultimately making it fail on multiple fronts. With their work on The Rock and Double Jeopardy, writers Douglas Cook and David Weisberg are clearly capable of delivering both solid action AND solid suspense films, but there’s just too many head-scratching moments in this stinker.
Between Costner (Hidden Figures), Reynolds (Deadpool), Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour), and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), there’s certainly plenty of onscreen talent to carry the story, but somehow, newcomer director Ariel Vromen just can’t coax anything other than sub-par performances from any of them. Everyone involved in this project was clearly trying, but somewhere along the way, things got lost and muddle, making Criminal as forgettable as thrillers get.
11. Ratchet & Clank
Release Date: 4/29
In 2002, Insomniac Games and Sony Computer Entertainment debuted a silly video for the Playstation system called Ratchet & Clank, which revolved around Ratchet (a cat-like creature and member of the Lombax species), who made crazy weapons, and his robotic pal Clank as they traversed the galaxy. The game was so well received by players and reviewers alike that it spawned more than six sequels and eventually, you guessed it, an (unfortunate) animated movie adaptation.
In a not-so-stunning turn of events, screenplay writers T.J. Fixman and Kevin Munroe scrapped the interesting story found in the games and replaced it with a bland, by-the-numbers animated scifi flick that actually seems confined by the vastness of space — a truly impressive feat. Many of the voice actors from the games returned for the movie, with the addition of Sylvester Stallone as the Victor Von Ion. There’s a post-credits scene of the game-staple character, The Plumber, scoffing at audiences still sitting in the theater, but honestly, if they wanted anyone to actually see it, it should’ve been played in the first act.
10. Alice Through the Looking Glass
Release Date: 5/27
In 1951, Disney released the animated, Oscar-nominated delight, Alice in Wonderland. In 2010, with the help of director Tim Burton, his talented actress wife Helena Bonham Carter, personality shapeshifter Johnny Depp, and the ever-lovely Mia Wasikowska, Disney adapted Lewis Carroll’s timeless tale into a live-action 3D extravaganza. The CGI visual feast banked over $1 billion at the box office, so there was very little doubt a sequel would be in the works at some point.
Very loosely based on Carroll’s follow up novel Through the Looking Glass, the sequel adds an odd story about using Time’s (Sasha Baron Cohen) chronosphere to find the Mad Hatter’s family, while viewers also discover what made the Red Queen so mean and unlikable — a convoluted mess of a script. Director James Bobin (The Muppets) does the best with what he’s given, but the scenery is a nightmare, with it made painfully obvious that almost every scene in the Alice Through the Looking Glass was filmed entirely in front of a green screen.
9. Now You See Me 2
Release Date: 6/10
From David Copperfield, to Lance Burton, to David Blaine, to the creepy clown at a child’s birthday party pulling a coin from behind someone’s ear, everyone loves seeing magic performed. People’s fascination and love for all things mysterious and unknown was the driving force behind the success of Now You See Me. Sure, having talented names such as Woody Harrelson (War of the Planet of the Apes), Morgan Freeman, and Mark Ruffalo (Thor: Ragnarok) attached helped bring in the masses, but what they really wanted to see was the big screen magic.
In perhaps their greatest magic trick of all, Now You See Me 2 managed to make half of its domestic audience completely disappear — though foreign viewers continued to support the franchise. Even Isla Fisher knew better than to attempt the same magic trick twice, as she didn’t return for the sequel. Instead, she was mysteriously replaced by the quite capable Lizzy Caplan. The lackluster story, action, and magic tricks weren’t enough to make the second film as enjoyable as the first, which was already a bit of a mixed bag.
8. Ice Age: Collision Course
Release Date: 7/22
Fourteen years ago, the world fell in love with a group of wild animals living in a time long before man inhabited the planet – Ice Age. Manny the insufferable woolly mammoth (Ray Romano), Diego the disgruntled saber tooth tiger (Denis Leary), Sid the slightly-obnoxious ground sloth (John Leguizamo), and of course, Scrat the acorn-obsessed squirrel were a roguish group people couldn’t stop watching. Over the course of four major releases, summer audiences continued filling theaters to watch this squad’s prehistoric antics.
However, with Ice Age: Collision Course, all that had made the franchise enjoyable for kids and parents alike was seemingly tossed out the window. Instead, it was replaced with a generic story and combined with a ridiculous plot (even for an animated movie about talking animals) that made the majority of the franchise’s domestic audience go extinct. In the film’s most absurd moment, with an asteroid plummeting to Earth, Scrat “pilots” an alien spaceship and diverts the rocky space beast towards Mars — killing every living being on that planet. Great way to end the movie…and hopefully, the franchise.
7. Nine Lives
Release Date: 8/5
Movies about talking animals released during the summer movie season are generally a good financial bet for most studios, as parents are looking for some family-friendly escapism before their little ones head back to school. Most often, animal movies, animated or otherwise (Marmaduke, Garfield), fall pretty low on the scale when it comes to production quality and story, but that’s to be expected. A good filmmaker knows who their audience is and panders to them — in that way, Nine Lives can be seen as a success.
However, that excuse can only carry a movie so far, and it appears even children have their limits when it comes to goofy animated cats who get drunk, toss other people’s electronics in the toilet, and spy on their wives…wait, what? Oh that’s right, this movie revolves around businessman Tom Brand (Kevin Spacey) being turned into a cat, Shaggy Dog-style, by eccentric cat shop owner Felix Perkins (Christopher Walken) because he ignores his wife (Jennifer Garner) and daughter (Malina Weissman) too much. The saving bright spot: Brand’s son (Robbie Amell), who gives a performance not deserving to be wasted in a film such as this.
Release Date: 8/19
The 1959 version of Ben-Hur won eleven Oscars, including Best Actor for Charlton Heston, Best Supporting Actor for Hugh Griffin, Best Director for William Wyler, and Best Picture. It’s the very definition of a classic movie, and still it holds up (for those willing to watch anything made before 1990). To assure the movie stays a classic, Hollywood decided to remake it so poorly that the original will be the only version people will remember for the next few decades.
The filmmakers behind Ben-Hur remake had the right idea, but the execution was severely lacking in several areas. Between Nightwatch and Wanted, director Timur Bekmambetov was more than capable of helming this project, but unfortunately, he didn’t get much to work with from screenwriter Keith E. Clarke, who’s seemingly lost his way since penning the excellent script for The Way Back. Jack Huston and Toby Kebbell do an okay job as Judah Ben-Hur and the Roman Messala Severus, but ultimately, the film lacks any type of memorable scene. Not even the iconic chariot race had enough punch to keep the film being boring.
5. Mechanic: Resurrection
Release Date: 8/26
We’re not sure if onscreen bad boys Charles Bronson and Jan-Michael Vincent can ever truly be replaced, but in 2011, Jason Statham and Ben Foster did a pretty good job at it in The Mechanic remake. As an every-man action star, Statham brings an undeniable swagger and action prowess to any movie he stars in, while Foster is such a strong actor he often delivers performances that outshine the movie he’s in (see: Hell or High Water and Hostage as great examples).
For Mechanic: Resurrection, though, scriptwriters Philip Shelby and Tony Mosher spend way too much time having retired hit man Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) do nothing in various exotic locations, then feature a scene of him and Jessica Alba slow dancing during a Thai wedding that feels about ten minutes longer than it should have been. That’s really the sequel’s shortcoming, as by the time the action rolls around, the audience has already checked out. Having the great Tommy Lee Jones as an arms dealer sporting a hipster goatee and earring was just the ridiculous icing on this awful cinematic cake.
Release Date: 9/30
Masterminds is an acquired taste for movie fans, but can be a fun romp for those who enjoy watching Patrick Stewart sport a silly mustache as a bad guy who’s taken over a school and is at war with kids for control…wait, that’s the 1997 film of the same title. Unfortunately, the 2016 version of Masterminds was nowhere near as entertaining, even though it had plenty of comedic star power behind it. However, even the combined talents of Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis, Kate McKinnon, Owen Wilson, and Leslie Jones couldn’t save this inept comedy.
Based loosely on the 1997 Loomis Fargo armored car robbery in Charlotte, NC (referred to as “the hillbilly heist”), Masterminds turns the extravagant spending of real life robbers David Ghantt and Kelly Campbell into a screwball comedy containing several awful ad-libbed lines and ridiculous situations that never actually happened. Ironically, Masterminds made $17.3 million at the box office, which is also the exact amount Ghantt and company stole during the actual heist. Sounds like everyone got robbed.
3. Max Steel
Release Date: 10/14
In 1997, Mattel introduced a new toy line called Max Steel. A comic book and an animated companion series followed soon after. Though the animated show only last two years, the toy proved to be popular with youngsters, and nine made-for-TV animated movies were produced, one a year until 2012. Given the box-office popularity of toy-based movie adaptations, such as Transformers, G.I. Joe and Legos, it’s not surprising that Mattel would take a chance on a more obscure toy like Max Steel.
The creators behind the cinematic version of Max Steel, Christopher Yost (Thor: The Dark World) and director Stewart Hendler (Halo 4: Forward until Dawn), purposely didn’t want the film to take itself too seriously. It was, after all, a movie based on a children’s action figure and aimed at the preteen audience. Unfortunately, the script should’ve taken itself a bit more seriously, as the whole movie falls flat (though some CG sequences are pretty impressive). Hopefully, a $6 million box office return will convince Mattel from moving forward with a planned $100 million animated adaptation of another toy line, Major Matt Mason.
2. Keeping Up with the Joneses
Release Date: 10/21
By all accounts, Keeping Up with the Joneses should have been a somewhat entertaining action/comedy. It did, after all, have Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover) and Isla Fisher (The Wedding Crashers) headlining as the comedic talent, with Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) co-starring as the action talent. But somewhere during production, someone attached to the project must have suggested, “Let’s put Zach in unfunny situations and make people unfairly compare Fisher’s body in lingerie to that of Israeli model Gadot for laughs. That feels like a smart direction to take this movie.” It wasn’t.
Movies showing suburbanites discovering something sinister about their neighbors have been done before — though usually much better (see: The Burbs) — and this could have worked, but the script by Michael LeSieur (You, Me and Dupree) often feels like it’s trying too hard to make people laugh by putting the lead characters in extremely awkward situations. That trope usually works once or twice during a movie, but this film has over one hundred minutes of that nonsense. It stops being funny after fifteen or so.
Release Date: 10/28
Novelist Dan Brown sparked quite a whirlwind of interest in 2003 with his book The Da Vinci Code. Technically the second novel in the Robert Langdon Series, The Da Vinci Code was the first in the film series, which stars Tom Hanks as Langdon and is directed by Ron Howard. A sequel based on the first novel, Angels and Demons, followed, and though the box office returns weren’t as staggering as the first film, it was still impressive — proving that audiences were still interested in Langdon’s exploits.
Seven years later after the sequel (and three years after the novel was published), Hanks returns as Professor Langdon, this time using the epic poem Dante’s Inferno to track down a deadly virus created by evil geneticist Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) before it can decimate the Earth’s population. As far as mystery thriller movies go, Inferno lacked any real mystery or thrills, which is probably why domestic audiences avoided it like the plague — though foreign receipts brought the project into the black.
From blockbuster films such as, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Captain America: Civil War, to excellent low-budget fare such as, Don’t Breathe, Green Room, Sing Street and everything in-between, it’s been an outstanding year for movies and for those who love watching them. Sure, there were some bad apples tucked away in the cinematic orchard, but that shouldn’t stop you from seeking out the ones worth consuming.
What other movies were so bad in 2016 that we forgot to include them in this list? Let us know in the comments.