The Five: Worst Pictures of 2015
Some things are unforgivable. These films are five of them.
THE BOY NEXT DOOR, Dir. Rob Cohen
Rob Cohen, the toxic filmmaker behind such drivel as the The Fast and the Furious, xXx, Stealth, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, and Alex Cross, finally reaches the point of no return with The Boy Next Door. A completely brainless exploitation flick scantily-clad as an erotic-thriller, Cohen’s film wields stupidity like a badge of honor, but never in an entertaining or knowing manner. The film stars J Lo as a high school English teacher and happily married mother, who, against her own will, quickly finds herself seduced by the vile charms of the titular box next door (Ryan Guzman, a 28 year old man playing a high schooler). How does he win her over? By gifting her a first edition copy of Homer’s The Iliad. Yes, you read that correctly. In interviews with Cohen, he speaks passionately about the project as if he has produced something totally brilliant, but there’s nary a cheap thrill to be found here. The Boy Next Door tries to be big dumb fun, except it’s missing the fun, and ends up having all the subtlety of an EpiPen being jammed into an eye socket.
ENTOURAGE, Dir. Doug Ellin
With Entourage, HBO Programming is now 0 for 3 on films adapted from an original series (the Sex and the City films fill the other two slots). A relentlessly misogynistic journey through the glamorized hell that is Hollywood, Entourage is a film about douchebags, by douchebags, for douchebags. Actually, it never once feels like an actual film, no matter how many celebrity cameos Doug Ellin manages to wedge in the proceedings, and comes across as the cinematic manifestation of a sexually transmitted infection. The main quartet of bros are undeniably the least sympathetic or dynamic cast of leading men in the history of film, as they are a group of completely loathsome dicks who toss aside women and responsibilities for their own personal gain. And Ari Gold? Well, Ellin is content with having Jeremy Piven stomp around the frame and abuse others for easy yuks, as it’s clear he hasn’t the slightest clue as to how actual human beings behave around each other. Fans of the television series be damned, this film is absolute garbage, and represents the worst in cinema that 2015 had to offer. If you do choose to watch it, you may want to consider getting yourself tested afterwards.
FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, Dir. Sam Taylor-Johnson
An R-Rated phenomenon in the vein of Twilight (box office revenue totaled over half a billion dollars worldwide!), Fifty Shades of Grey is a property that should have stayed on the page. And the page should have been burned. A somnambulistic guide to the erotic world of BDSM, Fifty Shades very nearly sustains itself on being “so bad it’s good,” before taking itself too seriously and just becoming plain bad. This unsexy, dismally performed (Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are shoo-ins for Razzies) snooze-fest is overlong, overcooked, and underwhelming. It may also have the distinction of being the worst feature film that is based on (im)pure fan fiction, that is until the sequel hits theaters on Valentine’s Day weekend of 2017. Laters baby, you can count me out of that one.
JUPITER ASCENDING, Dir. The Wachowskis
The ever-ambitious Wachowski siblings continue their downward spiral with Jupiter Ascending, a bizarre hodgepodge of science fiction, fantasy, and romance. Itching to catch that lightning in a bottle magic that made The Matrix sing, Jupiter Ascending barely even earns a participation grade, as it stumbles right out of the gate with its shoelaces tied together. The Wachowskis have proven themselves to be gifted storytellers, capable of blending story and action, but the trouble with Jupiter Ascending is that the dialogue and exposition are so confoundedly muddled and the action is so loud and obnoxiously rendered by computers that it all becomes headache inducing. And this is all coming from a film that features Channing Tatum as a half-man/half-dog, Sean Bean as a half-man/half-honeybee, and Eddie Redmayne as a half-alien/half-overacting monster, practically begging for the Academy to take his Oscar away. When your feature film makes Dune look appealing, you know you’ve got problems.
TAKEN 3, Dir. Olivier Megaton
2009’s Taken was a fun-but-kinda-dumb Euro-thriller that revitalized Liam Neeson’s career as a post-modern action hero. It was slick, it was swift, it worked. Then came 2012’s Taken 2, a near-disaster that squandered all the good will achieved by its predecessor. Just when things couldn’t get any worse, we now have Taken 3, a film so eager to kill off the franchise that it might as well put a gun to its head and pull the trigger. Neeson is back, but he’s sleepwalking through the role to collect an easy paycheck, and the direction by Olivier Megaton (who also helmed Taken 2) is so shockingly inept that it’s a wonder anyone let him near a camera. Action sequences are seemingly edited with a blender, but none of this compares to the sight of Forest Whitaker, portraying a police officer frantically fingering a chess piece and rubber band throughout the picture, stopping to eat some bagels at a freshly discovered crime scene. That may just be the most risible sequence in any film this year. RIP Taken, 2009-2009.