Despite the very presence of a list such as this, 2013 was actually a damn good year at the movies. And I, for one, prefer to look at it from that perspective for the most part, celebrating the diversity and genuine bravery of a good many movies that I had the fortune to witness. But in order to do them the proper justice, it's only fitting that those movies that absolutely stunk up the joint also need to be called out for how weak, unfunny, and downright pathetic they were. And there were friggin' doozies; enough that Movie 43 and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone don't appear on here even though they could. Some of these turned out to be movies that fell miserably short in attempts to be something greater; others run the gamut of shitty direction to piss-poor acting; and some are just utterly incomprehensible.
Since these aren't movies I have a lot of respect for, you'll excuse me for being more vulgar than usual. These flicks deserve it. And when you're finished here and want something a little more upbeat,you can always check out my thoughts on the best 2013 had to offer. Enjoy.
Cast: Robin Wright, Naomi Watts
Director: Anne Fontaine
Robin Wright, Naomi Watts...how can you go wrong with those two? Well, they aren't the problem, but it was obvious right away this movie was a laughable stinker. Originally titled The Grandmothers, then Two Mothers, before settling on the innocuous Adore, it was all an attempt to hide the joke of a plot, which had two lifelong best friends nailing the other's sons. Okay, but surely such talented actresses could make something real out of this, right? Well, no, and it barely rises above Skinemax porn levels which wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't also painfully dull. At Sundance earlier this year I remember the director Anne Fontaine being appalled that critics were laughing during the screening because...well, it's really not a comedy.
Struck By Lightning
Cast: Chris Colfer, Rebel Wilson, Allison Janney, Christina Hendricks
Director: Brian Dannelly
Chris Colfer might be a talented guy on Glee and an anti-bullying champion or something, but he can't write for shit. Struck by Lightning is about a contemptuous little snot who gets hit by a bolt from on high right at the beginning of the movie, and the rest of his nasty little life is replayed in flashback. But it was me who was praying to get struck as this supposed message-movie about being kind to others got twisted in its poorly executed narrative, and somehow ended up kind of asking us to rally around a character who had done nothing but make lives miserable. Pretty sure it's not what Colfer had in mind but he might want to stick with singing from now on.
A Good Day to Die Hard
Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Cole Hauser
Director: John Moore
Okay look, this one's too easy of a target. It'd be like putting A Haunted House on this list. Why kick sand in the 90 lb. weakling's face? The problem is, A Good Day to Die Hard isn't a weakling, it's a damned juggernaut, and after 25 years of Bruce Willis as John McClane he delivers this epic stink bomb as a great big "f**k you!!" to the franchise. Yes, the fifth film in the series is easily the most terrible, not because it differentiates so wildly from the core concept....oh wait...yes it does. Why does the classic everyman hero John McClane need to be in Moscow? Why doesn't he ever use his damned brain to solve problems anymore? Why is he suddenly Superman capable of surviving falls from the top of buildings with barely a scratch? Who is that giant blond slab of nothing standing next to him claiming to be his son? Why was this movie photographed so badly? And why are we already being promised a sixth movie? Why aren't there riots in the damned streets?
Tyler Perry Presents Peeples
Cast: Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington, David Alan Grier
Director: Tina Gordon Chism
Craig Robinson is a funny guy in measured doses (see This is the End), but not even he can save a piece of crap that starts with a song about urine and trickles down the comedy scale the rest of the way. As much as I respect writer/director Tina Gordon Chism for what she did on Drumline (not so much for ATL), straight comedy isn't her strength, and Peeples was such a laugh-free experience my colleague +Tim Gordon had to be restrained from leaving the theater early. Nah, homie, you ain't leavin' me to wallow in this filth alone! Extra demerits for wasting the multiple talents of the gorgeous Kerry Washington, and for making a Tyler Perry movie that I can't trash him for!
Cast: Shane Carruth, Amy Seimetz
Director: Shane Carruth
Incomprehensible gobbledygook disguised as high-concept art, this "random shit thrown against the wall" flick earns a special place in my Hall of Pain for two reasons: 1. After the Sundance screening I talked to a number of very high-profile critics who couldn't make heads or tails out of it, yet wrote reviews praising the Hell out of it. Say wha!?!? And 2. My interview with writer/director Shane Carruth was one of the most pleasant experiences I had all year, and made me feel bad for dropping my pants all over his movie. He's a genuinely nice guy, though.
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, James Franco, Sharon Stone, Adam Brody
Directors: Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman
Hey, let's make a movie about Deep Throat star and porn legend Linda Lovelace but not actually reveal anything about Linda Lovelace!!! A circus troupe of ridiculous cameos (James Franco as Hugh Hefner!? Wha!?) may have been a minor distraction from this gutless biopic, but it also served as a diversion from Amanda Seyfried's hilarious attempts to find an emotional core to Lovelace when their didn't seem to be one.
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Bateman, Genesis Rodriguez, T.I. Harris, Amanda Peet
Director: Seth Gordon
So who do we blame for this fiasco? Ah, screw it, just nail 'em all to the wall. The supremely-talented Melissa McCarthy allowed her big, powerful personality to be twisted into something ugly and mean-spirited, and used against her in a way that was demeaning on multiple levels. Jason Bateman, who I'm sorry to say is a marginal talent at best (and I loved him on Arrested Development but not much else), has never been more marginal than here as he suffers one lazy indignity after the other, all for a film that doesn't really seem to have much point beyond "have Bateman and McCarthy fall down a lot". Total trash.
Grown Ups 2
Cast: Adam Sandler, David Spade, Kevin James, Chris Rock
Director: Dennis Dugan
Another easy punching bag. Adam Sandler's continued paid vacations with his pals has delivered another comedy goose egg, and at this point would it be fair to ask if he's intentionally offering up garbage because he knows people will buy it? Somehow, some damned way, Grown Ups 2 is so lazy that it doesn't even both to have a plot. Not one at all. Sure, there's something about the old guys getting ragged on by Taylor Lautner and that guy from Gilmore Girls, but that's not a story. Nope, there's nothing to speak of, and unfortunately the last guys to get the memo they aren't funny anymore are Kevin James, Chris Rock, Sandler, and David Spade who has never been funny ever. You know it's bad when Rob Schneider wouldn't make room in his "busy schedule" (*GUFFAW*) to return.
To the Wonder
Cast: Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem
Director: Terrence Malick
So be honest with me, okay? We're all friends here, right? To the Wonder wasn't actually made by Terrence Malick, was it? It was some guy making fun of Malick, right? Because surely the man couldn't have slipped into self-parody quite this fast. Certainly there is something to like about this movie and it's the sweeping cinematography we all went in knowing we were going to get. But what else does it have to offer? Why is everybody whispering in hushed tones like they have some big secret? Here's a secret: This movie blows, and it has nothing to say about love, faith (Javier Bardem...dude.), or anything for that matter. What are we meant to take from Ben Affleck's aimless non-entity of a husband? Olga Kurylenko and Rachel McAdams drift through the film as women who are both insane and utterly disposable (McAdams straight up disappears and I couldn't care less about where she went), but they're apparently really passionate about....something. Not sure what. Whatever.
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez
Director: Courtney Solomon
Another beach ball-sized pitch over the plate, Getaway has probably found its way on multiple "worst of the year" lists at this point, and rightly so. It's absolutely horrid from top to bottom, and one of those films that makes you wonder if producers watched the dailies before it came out. The worst part about it is that Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez were coming off much better roles in Before Midnight and Spring Breakers, but Getaway is so bad it basically wipes out any good vibes. Painfully monotonous from the starting line, the film has Hawke as an ex-stunt racer or something who falls victim to one of those nefarious "villains from afar" that I despise with the heat of a thousand white-hot suns. He calls in instructions forcing them to race from point A to point B and you'd think something thrilling would happen along the way but...nope. Nada. Sure there are car crashes galore; really poorly shot car crashes thanks to a director best known for that Dungeons and Dragons movie you hated as a kid. This wouldn't be so bad if all the smash 'em up action was even mildly spirited, or at least done in fun, but Hawke and Gomez act as if they've just come out of major brain surgery and the doctor left the sponge in.
(Dis)Honorable Mentions: Movie 43 is woefully unfunny but is saved by Terrence Howard's racist basketball skit; The Incredible Burt Wonderstone just misses this list because at least everyone seems to recognize how lousy the movie is; Diablo Cody's Paradise is probably the most toothless thing she's ever done; Joining the Mile High Club has never been less interesting than it was in Pedro Almodovar's I'm So Excited; Epic was too forgettable to make any list; 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded is so bad I was begging for John Cena to run-in and hit me with a chair.