Despite what you are about to read, 2013 did a lot of things right. But there is always a bottom of the barrel. Sometimes, the bottom of this barrel doesn’t seem to smell as bad as the last barrel. But that’s a trick. It’s always the rottenest grossest stuff down there. And regardless of what it smells like, you still have to scrape it out to get it ready for the next load.
1. Molly’s Theory Of Relativity – You can watch the trailer and know, without any doubt, that this would be the worst movie you ever saw in your life should you ever find yourself in dire need of such a thing. Maybe you and your friends disagree on whether Michael Davis is worse than John A. Gallagher or vice versa. Maybe you made a movie yourself and need to know it isn’t the worst one anyone has ever made. Maybe you are studying for Jeopardy and need to know such minutiae. I don’t know what your reasons might be. But if that time comes, remember this.
First of all, this movie isn’t really about Molly or any theories she has. She’s in it, but she’s just part of the larger ensemble. Made up of (but not limited to) her husband who might be Josh Baskin trapped in a different grown up’s body, his father who is like a robot that shuts down whenever he isn’t speaking, two precocious children, two probably dead people, maybe a third person who is probably also dead, and a neighbor who shouldn’t be allowed inside the tiny apartment where this whole movie takes place. And really, don’t bother keeping track, because even though relationships are very clearly defined, to the point where they might as well all be wearing neon name tags on their foreheads because it would be more subtle, every single character sounds exactly the same. This could be because not a one of them can act, even the ones you’ve seen do it perfectly well in other things.
Like a lot of movies made without adult supervision, it doesn’t make a lot of sense and probably this can allow for you to make up your own mind about what things mean and what they don’t. Writer/director Jeff Lipsky obviously has something to say, he just has no idea how or what and wants every one of his characters to try in precisely the same manner. I missed the opportunity to talk to him via Skype after the opening night screening of Molly’s Theory Of Relativity in Lake Worth, Florida, at which there were apparently only two people, one of them the theater owner. And maybe this would have proved enlightening but probably it would have just been a really hilarious story to tell you right now.
Reason To Watch It Anyway: Besides all the ones I outlined in the first paragraph? Jeez, you are demanding. Which is yet another reason you should stay away from this. Oh, I forgot to mention that when you get uncomfortable with the 20 minute long naked/sex/talking scene in the beginning, it might make you feel better to know the onscreen couple is actually married in real life. It sure helped me a lot.
2. A Good Day To Die Hard – “That’s what you got?”
A lot has been made about how Bruce Willis doesn’t play characters anymore, certainly not John McClane, and this goes back way before this latest monstrosity. And it can be argued and argued. I don’t think anyone is standing up for either Bruce Willis or John McClane at this point, but that’s not even the issue. People change and sometimes they become superheroes. That’s just life.
I want to take John McClane out of this equation. A Good Day To Die Hard is not one of the worst movies of 2013 because it tarnishes the memory of one of the best of 1988. It doesn’t do that. Go watch the original Die Hard. It’s doing just fine. It has no idea this ever happened.
Take the last word off the title and change the characters’ names and this is still the worst. (I know, it’s 2nd on this list and so not technically the worst, but number 1 is like in another realm of awful so stay with me.) It’s not bad because John McClane runs a tank over dozens of innocent people on a highway, it would be bad no matter what main character did it. It’s not bad because John McClane grunts nonsense at the bad guys, it wouldn’t matter who was doing it. It doesn’t matter that it is John McClane that keeps saying he’s on vacation, it would be bad no matter who did BECAUSE HE IS NOT ON VACATION.
Obviously, it is impossible to divorce this debacle from the rest of the Die Hards. It doesn’t deserve that anyway since it’s entire existence is based on the connection alone. But it defiles the very essence of its terribleness to qualify it in any way. To say it is the worst Die Hard movie does not tell the whole story. And to say it’s too bad that this happened to a Die Hard movie is to ignore the fact that it is too bad it happened at all.
Reason To Watch It Anyway: It is a Die Hard movie, as much as I have just tried to let you deny it. And yes, more than likely, the next one will be better and will ignore that it ever happened and it is not as if any Die Hard relies on you having seen the one before. But if the Fast & Furious series becomes the template for franchises everywhere (as it should) you might see some weird reference to Chernobyl in a future installment. Still, you’ll probably be OK. Wait, that’s not what I was trying to say. Watch it so you can suffer like the rest of us.
3. Jay And Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie – Since things released elsewhere before they are (if they are) released in theaters do not count, I’m not positive this belongs here. But that’s just how bad it is. I’m willing to take that risk.
Even a theater (mostly) full of survivalist Kevin Smith fans sat eerily silent watching this atrocity. Trying to anyway. Because it’s difficult. It’s not pretty to look at the way most animation is these days even when it has nothing else to offer. The plot is lifted mostly from a comic book written over a decade ago without any notice paid to the fact that anything barely relevant then is no longer. And the jokes are mostly uninspired references to drugs, body parts and/or things that happened in other movies you hopefully never understood in the first place.
Reason To Watch It Anyway: In one of the many ill-advised flashback sequences, there’s a joke that I laughed at and then tried to grab out of the air before anyone else heard. But that was impossible because the theater was totally silent all of the time.
4. Grown Ups 2 – Well, of course. We all are well aware by now that Adam Sandler is going to continue to pay his friends (and himself) exorbitantly well for putting forth their minimal effort. And that no matter how many otherwise funny friends he can dig up, it’s never going to amount to anything. And so it might be easy to dismiss this as par for the course. But these are the people taking forever in front of you on the course. They are in the way. You can ignore them and play your game and pretend it doesn’t bother you, that you are the bigger person, that there’s nothing you can do. But this behavior deserves no mercy.
As bad as the first Grown Ups was (and how it was) at least it had an idea. It’s painful to give it this kind of credit now, but it’s necessary to give you some kind of perspective on how much worse this one is. There’s not even any pretense to getting all these people together. They just all live in their old town again. I guess because they loved it so much last time they just abandoned their regular lives? It’s incredibly weird and indolent. But that’s just the plot (though being forced to use that word is unfortunate.) It doesn’t even touch upon the string of nonsense that these four (Rob Schneider is absent and replaced by a mostly unconscious Nick Swardsen, apparently Adam Sandler’s new muse which I guess could explain everything) trudge their way through and barely interact with. It’s like watching four comedians walk through a museum of a comedian’s dreams. Dreams said comedian never even bothered writing down in his joke notebook because he knew they weren’t funny.
Reason To Watch It Anyway: You can’t blame any of the otherwise funny and talented people who agree to appear in any recent Adam Sandler movies for showing up. It’s got to be the easiest money they’ve ever made. And I’m sure the set is so funny to be a apart of that they might not always notice how terrible it becomes when the cameras are recording. But of all of them, you would imagine Colin Quinn would have been the first one to not been able to stomach coming back for more. But he does and it is by far the greatest part of it. You could almost believe he’s saying to Adam Sandler (rather than Lenny Fader, the character Sandler plays) that he’s both resentful and jealous and can’t help but admire what he’s done despite thinking it’s awful. And he does it all funny, which is more than anything in the rest of the movie can say (but so desperately wants to.) Of course, then you have to watch everyone laugh at Colin Quinn because soft serve ice cream bears a passing resemblance to human excrement.
5. Escape From Tomorrow – The only thing I knew about Escape From Tomorrow was the only thing worth knowing. That it takes place at Disney World and that it was made secretly, smuggling the cameras into the park. It sounds like a noble effort at first. And although watching people fight at Disney World might be a true reflection of us as a people, it happens enough on its own. It’s not cool that a bunch of other people who were enjoying their time there had to be subjected to it unnecessarily. Especially when the product of that inconvenience turns out to be Escape From Tomorrow.
The ever vigilant Disney Corporation knew how bad it was, opting not to file any lawsuits, probably not wanting to risk having their name appear along side it in any official documentation. Who should look into legal action though is women everywhere.
There’s not a whole lot of sense to be made out of this 4th grade corn dog induced fever dream, but what is for sure is it takes its gender cues from a time before Disney theme parks. If all Escape From Tomorrow amounted to was a family drama about getting through the final day of a vacation, it still would have made it right here in this spot on this list because it couldn’t get that anywhere near right. The dad is a self-involved creep and no wonder because his wife is as stereotypical a shrew as there’s ever been. Women are objects to be followed and stared at or they are evil doers, whether literally evil queens or prostitutes or your bitch wife who doesn’t like it when you get super drunk and destructive and embarrassing in Epcot. And all this might be somewhat vindicated if there was any sort of related payoff to the protagonist’s ludicrously lamentable behavior. But instead Escape From Tomorrow goes to places you can’t predict because why would you, it doesn’t make any sense. Siemens secret laboratories, Epcot heads, fairy spit and a barely mentioned but maybe highly important cat flu serve to throw you around like Space Mountain, which is maybe merciful if you could be certain to throw it all up into a garbage can at the end of it. But no, in the end, the guy is granted some sort of wish fulfillment rebirth by the 14 year old French fairy who obviously has been seduced by the fact that he’s been leering at her braces all day. I mean, I guess all endings are happy ones at Disney World.
Reason To Watch It Anyway: The same reason anyone ever saw it. It takes place at Disney World. This should actually be a reason to dislike it even more and you could probably find footage of Thunder Mountain that’s just as good as it is in the opening credits, back when you could still think this movie might turn into something. Or, you know, you could just go on Thunder Mountain. So watch this movie to remind yourself to go on Thunder Mountain. That seems reasonable.
6. Percy Jackson Sea Of Monsters – Look hard enough and there are always plot holes, I get it. But what about when you don’t have to look hard? What if you don’t even have to look? It seems like a joke, the contradiction that rests heavily on the very premise of this installment [(and the next, if there is one). And while we’re on that subject, how was there another one of these? No one saw the first one. What do we have to do to stop this Trojan franchise pandemic?]
Since I know you didn’t see it, it’s like this: Poseidon had a son and he’s very special and named Percy Jackson. Percy’s conflicted because he doesn’t feel special (and he’s right about that, but you aren’t supposed to think so), but everyone he likes (and some he doesn’t) keep reassuring him (because that’s what they’re there for) that “hey, unless there’s some other child of Poseidon running around, you’re the one!” You will wait and wait (and wait!) for someone to realize that the other major plot point of this movie is that Percy also has a half brother Cyclops that no one likes (because Cyclops’ are the worst! Trust us!) who is a SON OF POSEIDON! They will never realize it. It will become funny when someone says something about Percy being the only offspring of Poseidon right after Cyclops leaves the room. Then even funnier when he’s standing right there. But then it stops being funny. Because how is this still going on? How many people had to watch this movie before it came out? How many had to read and approve this script? Nobody could have brought this up? Or did they know no one would ever notice because everything else is so boring and hackneyed it would just blend in? Whenever someone complains about Hollywood treating everyone like idiots, remember that millions of people saw this movie and no one cared.
Reason To Watch It Anyway: Nathan Fillion has a cameo as Hermes, who runs a shipping business for gods and such (that’s as good a joke as you can really expect in this) and it is by the far the best part of this movie. And while that isn’t saying a whole lot, he is very energetic where everyone else is anything but, so it stands out even more. Unfortunately, he also makes a veiled reference to Firefly and its cancellation and basically winks at the camera and that pretty much ruins any good will it might have mustered.
7. Blue Caprice – This was a slow burn. Apropos, I suppose. At first it just seemed like a (very) boring independent take on a historical event. By the end, it was clear they had no interest in the historical part of that equation as almost none of it is verifiable and the stuff that could be is totally erroneous. It’s like they looked up what kind of car these people drove around to shoot people from and celebrated for saving so much of their research budget. And still later, after it was all over, you can continue to find things to get angry about. Like did they want me to feel sorry for this kid who shot everyone? Whose perspective was the movie supposed to be from anyway? Why’d they skip over so much of the actual spree, did they think we knew all the facts already? Because they sure didn’t.
Bad movies can fail at any number of things. The worst movies fail at most of them. Usually it is all apparent right as you watch it. Blue Caprice manages to fail both in front of your eyes and then fail later on in retrospect and for totally different reasons. I’m not sure I’ve experienced this before. So at least I can congratulate Blue Caprice on something.
Reason To Watch It Anyway: Isaiah Washington is really good as he pretty much always is, despite off the field stuff that might make you wish it was not true. Actually, no one acts poorly in it, it’s kind of a waste that way.
8. Escape From Planet Earth – It’s not like there have never been terrible animated movies before. Mars Needs Moms? The last Ice Age? Space Chimps? For serious. Space Chimps. But it’s never not a little surprising. Maybe it’s the work that has to go into it. The years it takes to put everything together. From conception to design to animating to voice recording… there are so many places to fix whatever might be wrong. And like anything else, it can take on a life of its own, people who have invested so much of themselves develop a kind of Stockholm Syndrome and truly believe they aren’t making something not worth making. Or if they do, they keep it to themselves because it’s too late anyway.
But in the end, it’s just another terrible production. Whatever the differences might have been in making it come out this way, it’s still got to fulfill (or not) the same criteria as everything else whether it was made for no money in somebody’s apartment or for millions in front of a green screen. And Escape From Planet Earth could do none of it right. There is lackluster voice acting. Flat and/or disconcerting looking character design. A LOT shouting and arm flailing. A not even a little bit ironic not joke. Then there are the obligatory jokes dependent on breaking what little reality they’ve tried to build. Basically, they’ve botched pretty much every aspect available to them. And maybe the idea is that kids won’t notice most of this stuff, but not only is that a horribly offense approach, it clearly isn’t true. Or Space Chimps wouldn’t have sounded like I made it up when I mentioned it earlier.
(Addendum: Space Chimps has a sequel coming out apparently, and while that isn’t so shocking, it does muddle my last point a little bit.)
Reason To Watch It Anyway: William Shatner and Jessica Alba have a weird interplanetary romance that is really William Shatner stringing Jessica Alba along so he can steal her technology and while yes, they are represented by kind of gross amorphous blobs (even though William Shatner is supposed to be a human) it’s still funny to imagine that happening with the real people.
9. R.I.P.D. – Yet another worst movie that seems unnecessary to mention. Like I should have just not bothered and instead included something you might have otherwise intended to watch and/or would be slightly startled to hear was awful. But just because there’s no secret about R.I.P.D., the movie based on a pun someone is ashamed to have ever come up with, doesn’t mean it should get away with this.
What “this” is is the lifeless result of a seemingly earnest attempt to meld Ghostbusters and Men In Black into one propulsive sci-fi action comedy. And while it is refreshing that a movie like this didn’t set out to be terrible for some bizarre misguided reason, it shouldn’t get credit for the better goals it set for itself and didn’t achieve in such spectacular fashion.
Someone thought R.I.P.D. would be the one that made Ryan Reynolds the star someone else decided he ought to be some time ago. You don’t have to see how bad this movie is to know that’s one of the most delusional things to ever come out of a city built on a sturdy foundation of delusion. Maybe they thought casting him alongside Kevin Bacon would help him realize the same thing Kevin Bacon had to once upon an Air Up There: that he would never be a star but he could have a pretty awesome career if he accepted that and become the next best thing. And I’ve been a staunch Ryan Reynolds supporter despite the overwhelming evidence to prove I’m wrong. R.I.P.D. will help anyone give that up.
But it isn’t all his fault, of course. It doesn’t help that Jeff Bridges is acting in a totally different movie that is fantastic and that Kevin Bacon is pretty great as usual, but the movie itself lets everyone down even if they are the ones trying to crawl out of a Green Lantern sized hole. Sometimes it wants to look like a video game, but only succeeds in giving us awkward effects and horrible voice acting. Other times it wants to be a wacky comedy but can only get as far as having Mary Louise Parker dress twenty years too young. And then there’s the mythology it wants to establish, as if it thinks there’s going to an R.I.P.D. once every other year. But all it can manage is an unbelievably childish nickname for rogue dead people (Deados), a purposely not-thought-out method of exposing them (“Indian food, for some reason” is a real quote from a real movie) and a short-sighted joke that explains how the members of the R.I.P.D. conceal themselves from the lowly living (they appear as a supermodel and an old Chinese man in a VCR repair sedan – a foolproof method of camouflage.) In other words, R.I.P.D. is extremely lazy in its pursuit of frenetic energy. It wants to to play in the same game with the movies it is trying to replicate, but it neglects to do any of the same work to get there.
Reason To Watch It Anyway: Jeff Bridges, Jeff Bridges and Jeff Bridges.
10. Machete Kills – It happened so often last year, it’s a bit shocking this is the only worst movie that felt as though it wanted to wind up that way. Double shock coming from Robert Rodriguez, who may tend to fail miserably a lot more often that not, and has always lived in the area of this sort of thing, but has never truly crossed over. Not even with the first Machete. It may have been based on a one note trailer that went on too long in the first place, but the first Machete didn’t lean into every joke with the idea that it would be so bad it would somehow not only cease to be bad, but be great.
Clearly, there is an audience for this, but even they weren’t quite satisfied with Machete Kills. Maybe it is as simple as the novelty wearing off, but that should have been the case about thirty seconds into the original trailer. Maybe it was the realization that Danny Trejo ought only to be ingested in tiny doses with the complement of a full meal. Maybe it was Sofia Vergara’s constant screaming. But most likely it’s just that it succeeded in being what it set out to be, a terrible movie with a barely there protagonist, no reasonable motivation for anyone to do anything and jokey violence that cannot not shock us anymore, even into barely measurable chuckles.
Reason To Watch It Anyway: There are a host of supporting players and you are bound to like one of them. They are generally good actors eager at their chance to give the worst performance of their careers and get it over with, but Amber Heard does not lay down to die for anyone. She may well be going for a Golden Globe the way she plays every facet of a character whose personality has to sway whichever way the plot requires. Don’t feel bad for her though, she knows she isn’t going to get it. It’s an honor just to never be considered being nominated.
Hors Satan – A purposely inert and impenetrable French movie that is probably on a bunch of top ten lists of people you should stop listening to right now.
Epic – What happened in the animation world? Was there a virus or something? There have never been so many bad ones in so short a span. It’s a testament to how terrible Epic is that even with Amanda Seyfried finding a way to be her usual weirdo self using only her voice and a really creepy fruit fly joke it can still be (ever so slightly) worse than After Earth.
The Grandmaster – Apparently, this movie was edited for American audiences. So maybe this is unfair. I’ve seen enough of Wong Kar-Wai to be 98% sure it is not. It was always going to be slow moving nonsense. At the very least, you’d think he’d do something visually innovative with the fight scenes, but they’re as bland as any direct to Netflix thing starring the latest WWE personality.
After Earth – M. Night Shayalaman has gotten us to the point now where we long for the hilarious stupidity of The Happening. Turning the Smith family into monotonous mannequins seems so far fetched we’ve no choice but to believe he’s doing this on purpose. Setting us up for his greatest twist of all.
Ass Backward – I have no doubt that A Haunted House was more painful a comedy than this, but I knew not to watch that. And even an army of Wayans have never failed to make you laugh with such smug self-satisfied attitudes.