This years D23 Expo added details to the mass of live-action remakes Disney has in store for us, which isn’t surprising considering the success of the ones we’ve seen so far. The likes of Cinderella (2015), The Jungle Book (2016), and Beauty and the Beast (2017) have done incredibly well with critics, as can be seen by their Rotten Tomatoes scores of 83%, 95%, and 71% respectively.
The Walt Disney corporation has been making live-action movies for almost as long as it’s been making animated ones (check out the worst animated Disney movies here), and while the majority of them have been loved almost as much as the animated classics, some of them haven’t been so well received by critics or audiences.
In this list we’ve got everything from flying goo to talking guinea pigs, a Devilish Bill Cosby, and pre-teen boys getting kissed by middle-aged women. These movies will make you wonder ‘what the heck was Disney thinking?!"
We've ranked the worst scoring movies in descending order, and for any that share their percentage with others, the one with the worst audience rating has been featured - the worst of the worst, if you will.
Here are the 15 Worst Disney Live-Action Movies (According To Rotten Tomatoes).
15 Flubber (1997) - 23%
A remake of Disney’s 1961 classic The Absent-Minded Professor, Flubber sees Professor Philip Brainard’s world turned upside down when he accidentally creates a flying rubber, aka flubber.
Critics said: "Manage[s] to squeeze the very bounce out of what should have been a can't-miss update." With audiences adding (with a score of 32%): “An idiotic remake of a fun kids movie from the '60s. Sure, Williams tries to make this movie fun too, but overall it's too stupid and ridiculous even for kids.”
Despite being written by the legendary John Hughes (Planes, Trains and Automobiles; Home Alone), with music from Danny Elfman, and starring the late, great Robin Williams, Flubber didn’t do particularly well with critics. The slapstick humor, and repetitive jokes (there is only so much you can do with green goo) haven’t even left a lasting impression on audiences if the score on RT is anything to go by. The movie performed well at the box office, though, making $178 million at the box office internationally.
Also at 23%: First Kid (1996) & I'll Be Home for Christmas (1998)
14 G-Force (2009) - 22%
“Gadgets. Gizmos. Guinea Pigs.” The movie’s tagline says it all.
Critics Consensus: “G-Force features manic action, but fails to come up with interesting characters or an inspired plot.”
An all-star cast of comedic talent: Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, Tracy Morgan, Jon Favreau, Steve Buscemi, Bill Nighy, Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis and Penelope Cruz, and still this movie couldn’t draw many positive remarks from critics.
It’s a very silly plot - hello: guinea-pig secret agents - but then again, it’s a children’s movie. It’s not meant to be thought-provoking or important, it’s meant to be entertaining and funny - although according to critics it doesn’t even tick those boxes.
This one did pretty well at the box office too, sitting in the number one spot for its opening weekend, raking in $31.7 million and knocking Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince off the top spot. Maybe it’s almost impossible for Disney to have a box office flop after all.
13 Inspector Gadget (1999) - 21%
A live-action version of the popular cartoon, Inspector Gadget re-introduces John Brown, a security guard injured in an explosion, but given a new lease of life as the semi-robotic Inspector Gadget, as he hunts down the villain that left him for dead.
Critics Consensus: “Despite an abundance of eyecandy, the film doesn't amount to much.” Audiences added (with a score of 18%): “The acting, especially from Matthew Broderick, is uncomfortably awkward, the humor and special effects are beyond desperate, and the overall writing is completely disrespectful to the original cartoon it was based on.”
The movie received some shockingly bad reviews, even it’s apparent redeeming quality of ‘eyecandy’ is questionable. Some gave it the worst insult possible for a Mouse House movie: “innuendoes inappropriate for young children.” None of that kept a direct-to-video sequel - minus Matthew Broderick - from being released in 2003. Perhaps Broderick’s replacement, French Stewart, was what the movie needed, as the sequel has a higher score of 40%.
There were rumors of a reboot back in 2015, with The Lego Movie’s Dan Lin at the helm, but nothing has surfaced since. Maybe that’s just what we (and Disney) need to erase these terrible movies from our memories.
Also at 21%: Air Bud 2 - Golden Receiver (1998)
12 Jungle 2 Jungle (1997) - 20%
An American remake of the French film Un indien dans la ville (aka Little Indian, Big City), Jungle 2 Jungle sees Tim Allen star as Michael Cromwell, a New York commodities broker who finds himself with a 13 year old son - who also happens to be part of a Venezuelan tribe. Hilarity (supposedly) ensues when Mimi-Siku (Michael’s son) tries to blend in in New York, and attempts to steal fire from the Statue of Liberty.
Critics had to say: “No one is allowed to think in this movie. Not one single event in the entire plot can possibly take place unless every character in the cast has brains made of Bac-o-Bits.” And audiences added (with a score of 33%): “About ten minutes in, you start to wonder why everyone involved even bothered with this. It's not interesting, funny or even slightly engaging.”
Starring Tim Allen and Martin Short, this film should’ve been a hit, but unfortunately it’s silliness was lost on both critics and audiences.
Also at 20%: The Pacifier (2005), Camp Rock (2008), and Santa Buddies (2009)
11 The Devil and Max Devlin (1981) - 18%
A particularly dark plot for Disney, The Devil... sees shady landlord Max Devlin killed and sent to Hell for being a horrible person. Enter the Devil’s henchman, Barney - Bill Cosby. Max’s only hope is to convince three people to sell their souls, so he can save his own.
Critics said: “The script has its moments, especially when Cosby is around as the Devil's aide, but the film finally subsides in a welter of structural flaws and heartwarming sentiment.”
Present day, this film is 100% pure cringe, with the whole Cosby fiasco. But, even back when it was released, the movie was considered a controversial release for Disney. The rather morbid subject matter, Bill Cosby being portrayed as a character of evil (the irony!) and the first uses of profanity in a Disney movie ("damn" and "son of a...") made it a risky move for the Mouse House.
It ultimately became an influencing factor in Disney’s establishment of Touchstone Pictures/Hollywood Pictures for releasing more mature movies.
10 George Of The Jungle 2 (2003) - 17%
Another Disney direct-to-video sequel, of 1997’s George Of The Jungle, starring Brendan Fraser as George, and scoring a not-so-great 56% on RT.
GOTJ2 follows on five years after the first movie, and sees George (now played by Christopher Showerman) and Ursula (Julie Benz replacing Leslie Mann) trying to save the jungle from the wrath of his mother-in-law, Beatrice, and nemesis Lyle (still played by Thomas Haden Church - one of the only returning actors from the first movie).
Critics said: “If the film weren't so pockmarked with scatology and hostility, it might actually be a somewhat accomplished tribute to Jay Ward's cartoon.”
When most of the main characters have to be re-cast, surely that should set off alarm bells in any director’s mind. Apparently not, in the case of George Of The Jungle 2. Surprisingly though, despite its shockingly low rating on RT, reviews suggest it’s more mediocre than downright awful, and actually does deliver on family-friendly laughs.
9 The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006) - 15%
The third and final film in the Santa Clause trilogy sees Tim Allen reprise his role of Scott Calvin/Santa Claus, and introduces Martin Short as the villain, Jack Frost, who plans to take over Christmas.
Critics consensus: “Playing Jack Frost as an evil cross between Liza Minnelli and Liberace, Martin Short is a welcome presence, but this tired series continues drawing from its bag of bland gags and dumb slapstick.” Audiences so eloquently adding (with a score of 39%): “Cheesy crap that is a waste of christmas.”
The RT scores, and both critic and audience reviews of the trilogy decreased with each release, with The Santa Clause (1994) scoring a pretty good 75% and The Santa Clause 2 (2002) still doing okay at 55%. Maybe the equation of Disney + Tim Allen + Martin Short = disaster, with The Santa Clause 3 being the second film to star the usually well-regarded actors to be a disastrous flop, and the second entry on this list.
Also at 15%: The Mighty Ducks (1992) - 15% (Which actually did worse than its sequels: D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994) - 21% and D3: The Mighty Ducks (1996) - 20%)
8 Man of the House (1995) - 14%
Chevy Chase is the new stepdad, and Jonathan Taylor Thomas doesn’t like it. Throw in the random plot of Chevy Chase’s Jack trying to escape being killed by the relatives of a criminal he put behind bars, and you have '90s Disney comedy Man of the House.
Critics said: “Only the smoldering sexual tension between Chevy Chase and George Wendt keeps Man of the House from being a complete waste of time.” Audiences added (with a score of 32%): “The dark years of Chevy Chase's career collide with Jonathan Taylor Thomas, at the height of his powers. It's incredibly sappy and formulaic, even for a live action, 90s Disney movie.”
The early to mid-nineties were considered a bad time in Chevy Chase’s career, so it’s possible people were picking fault with the movie just for the sake of it. It’s also possible it really is a terrible movie, with a generic plot and humor that tries too hard to be kid friendly.
Also at 14%: Underdog (2007)
7 That Darn Cat (1997) - 13%
In this remake of the 1965 Disney classic (which scored an impressive 93% on RT), a cat could be the one to save the President’s maid from capture, after two idiotic criminals attempt to kidnap the First Lady and fail. Bored and angry teen Patti Randal is the only who knows where the maid is being held hostage thanks to her pet cat.
Critics said: “The script trips all over itself to be hip and flip before it takes a desperate dip into utter conventionality: dull car chases, explosions, inept slapstick.” Audiences added (and a score of 23%): “Awful family film that has no point whatsoever, this is a film that really doesn't offer anything to the viewer aside from a bad plot, poor acting and stupid jokes."
That Darn Cat sees Christina Ricci and Doug E. Doug bring the story to the '90s, with its loud and obnoxious attitude and dumb comedy. With this, and a lot of films of this era, it feels like they were more about fashion, angst and sarcasm than a genuine story.
Also at 13%: The Haunted Mansion (2003), Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004) and College Road Trip (2008)
6 My Favorite Martian (1999) - 12%
Based on the sixties TV show of the same name, Jeff Daniels plays a failing reporter whose life is changed when an alien (Christopher Lloyd) lands in his home and takes shelter there while he fixes his spaceship. ‘Uncle Martin’ is Tim’s friend, but revealing him to the world would save his career.
Critics consensus: “Loud, effects-ridden comedy with no real humor.”
A strong cast - Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Daniels and Elizabeth Hurley - but this movie still got a ridiculously low rating and cringe-worthy negative reviews. My Favorite Martian's box office figures prove how much of a flop it was, earning only $36,850,101 domestically in total; which was barely half of its $65 million budget.
It’s always a risky move remaking a classic TV series or movie, and not even Disney can do it without extreme, usually biased, scrutiny from critics and movie audiences.
5 Blank Check (1994) - 11%
Preston Waters (played by Brian Bonsall) is a 12 year old boy, finds himself with $1,000,000 after a mix-up with a convicted bank robber and a bank manager. Blowing the cash on the most frivolous things imaginable, he soon becomes pursued by the bank robber and his assistant; the bank manager; and an FBI agent.
Critics said: “One of the worst films to pass itself off as family entertainment features a flirtatious woman, a rich kid no one questions, and a brutal series of gags.”
Considered a Home Alone rip off, due to its slapstick violence, and with no real substance or positive message for kids, Blank Check did not please critics or audiences. It was dubbed a bad influence on children, teaching them nothing other than how to be materialistic, not to mention the uncomfortable, semi-romantic relationship between a pre-teen boy and a middle-aged woman. She kisses him on the lips, and even offers to go on a date with him in 6 years. What the heck, Disney?!
4 Mr. Magoo (1997) - 7%
In this live-action remake of the classic animated TV series, Leslie Nielsen stars as Quincy Magoo, a wealthy businessman whose nearsightedness puts him in all kinds of ridiculous situations. The movie sees Mr. Magoo caught up in a jewelry robbery, unbeknownst to him because of his poor eyesight.
Critics said: “Nielsen, an actor who is either brilliant or abysmal depending on the material, veers towards the latter.”
Not even the master of dumb, slapstick comedy - Leslie Nielsen - could save this movie. The film got generally bad reviews from critics; but nothing as bad as the accusation of being offensive it got from blind and near-sighted groups. This caused Disney to pull the movie from cinemas after only two weeks.
Because of this, or maybe because it was a terrible movie, Mr. Magoo didn’t even break even on its $30 million budget, making only $21.4 million domestically.
3 A Kid in King Arthur's Court (1995) - 5%
Disney’s second cinematic version of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (the first, 1979s Unidentified Flying Oddball, replaced the Connecticut Yankee with a spaceman) sees a young boy transported back in time to the Middle Ages, and given the task of saving Camelot from evil.
Critics consensus: “Disappointing even by the relaxed standards of live-action children's entertainment, A Kid in King Arthur's Court stands as a rare near-total misfire from Disney.” Audiences added (with a score of 26%): “An aggressively unambitious and dull film that is not substantial enough to work as a film and is not fun enough to give to children as a diversion.”
Critics hated this movie from its release, and its less than inspiring box office charting at #9 before dropping to #10 a week later show it didn't do too well with audiences either. Daniel Craig and Kate Winslet’s rising careers gave the movie more attention, but even that couldn’t change critics or audiences minds.
Also at 5%: Old Dogs (2009)
2 Meet the Deedles (1998) - 4%
The Deedles are teen twin brothers that would rather spend their time surfing than in school. But when they get expelled from school for playing truant, their father sends them to a boot camp. Things get weird when the boys survive an accident and assume false identities as Park Rangers.
Critics said: “Dumb is one thing, but this sorry attempt at action-comedy from stuntman turned director Steve Boyum is in an intelligence-deprived class all its own.”
Meet The Deedles was Disney’s attempt at the teen/buddy comedy genre that was so popular in the '80s and '90s - think Bill and Ted; Dumb And Dumber. The only thing is, those movies rely on tongue-in-cheek humor that pushes their PG/PG-13 ratings to their limit - pretty much the exact opposite of Disney. The plot doesn’t really go anywhere either, which is probably why critics hated it and it bombed magnificently at the box office, making only $4.4 million out of a $24 million budget.
1 The Big Green (1995) - 0%
A stereotypically British teacher breathes new hope into the soccer team of a small Texas town. The teacher, Anna, must prepare the team for their match against the Texas state soccer champions, with only the help of a local soccer legend.
Critics said: “Exactly what you'd expect from a kid's soccer flick: lots of balls being kicked.”
Disney have released plenty of sports movies over the years, and some have fared better than others. All of them have fared better than The Big Green. Sitting with a 0% score means this movie has purely negative, or "rotten" reviews, making it a dire effort for the Mouse House.
Disney might be a household name that’s filled many a childhood and heart with joy, but even Disney isn’t without its duds - and boy, is The Big Green a dud. Surprisingly though, it surpassed its $12 million budget, raking in a pretty staggering (considering how badly it was received by critics) $17,725,500 at the box office, and actually has some passable audience reviews on RT.
Will you be avoiding these movies at all costs? Or maybe you already love one of the movies in this list? Let us know in the comments!
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