Top Five Wasted Efforts – 2015

Antonio Pinto and Kaylin Frank (MacFarland, USA)MacFarland, USA isn’t nearly as bad as you probably think it is, but even if it was something that belonged in the Disney sports movie Hall of Fame, the work done compiling the soundtrack would deserve recognition it was never going to get.

McFARLAND, USA..L to R: Johnny Sameniego (Hector Duran), Victor Puentes (Sergio Avelar), Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), and Damacio Diaz (Jamie Michael Aguero)...Ph: Film Frame..?Disney 2015

It is nearly impossible to distinguish what is score and what is a pre-existing song dropped into the scene, which isn’t on it’s own something to report, but is a confusing experience when you are watching the movie. The seamless blending is something we maybe ought to take for granted but I don’t know when the last time was that happened even one time in a movie never mind kept happening throughout.

But even taken separately, MacFarland, USA’s score and soundtrack operate as surgical enhancements of the otherwise blandly effective manipulations of the drama the visual accompaniment is adequately providing. Which is perhaps the biggest compliment the music of a movie can get, that maybe it is the thing being accompanied, and not the other way around.



Dakota Johnson (50 Shades Of Grey) – The Dina Meyer Award is for the best acting (by a female) in the worst movies of the year. So it would seem this sort of effort would not go unrecognized. But Dakota Johnson is so good as otherwise cardboard cut out Anastasia Steele that she makes 50 Shades Of Grey not one of the worst movies of the year. Her performance alone elevates this obligatory afterthought production into the top of the bottom third of movies from 2015. That’s confusing geography, but you don’t make a list of the worst 100 movies of a single year. If you did, this might be at number 100 or so, sure, but that’s something to shrug off pretty easily. Especially when the source material would suggest much worse.

50 Shades 1

Of course, the effort wouldn’t seem wasted on a giant production with so much anticipation and the threat of sequels looming. But I don’t think anyone ever considered that there might be something worth watching throughout all of it. Dakota Johnson has made sure that there is. And while more than anyone that will probably ever be on this list, she is getting recognition for it, and that might negate much of the waste, it still could not have been the plan, to be the unignorable best thing in a stupid movie based off a thoroughly publicly throttled book. It certainly never occurred to anyone else involved in making it. Except maybe the person who thought of casting Dakota Johnson.



The Cast of Love The Coopers (Love The Coopers) – When Arthur Hiller was President of the Director’s Guild of America, it seems as though all his movies were populated by the biggest and best actors that had to have been pressured by the position into appearing. Director Jessie Nelson does not appear to have any of that sort of influence (although her husband did direct Career Opportunities) but the cast she has assembled seems similarly under the gun. Unlike those Arthur Hiller movies however, every one of them is delivering as though someone important is watching. As though anyone is watching.


Love The Coopers is a weird movie with a weird title and while that has worked out quite well for movies of Christmas past, it does not appear to be the destiny of this one.



Robbie Amell (The DUFF) – Like 50 Shades Of Grey, The DUFF isn’t quite as bad enough to qualify any of its performers for awards that might require such badness. But The DUFF makes it close. Allison Janney also stops by briefly to be awesome as usual and titular DUFF Mae Whitman is obviously not the worst lead of a teen movie there’s ever been. Which makes Robbie Amell’s standing out all the more noteworthy.


But standing out is not the only requisite here. It’s hard to say a performance by a relative unknown in a major release, no matter the final quality, to be a wasted effort. But regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of the lead in a teen romantic comedy, the object of that lead’s affection is pretty much always a thankless forgettable position to be put in. Never mind that in this case, Amell had the unenviable job of explaining meaning behind the movie’s awful title. Through it all though, if you are able to get through all the rest of The DUFF, Amell will treat you to a thoroughly comedic and charismatic performance that will make you think you’re seeing Tom Cruise in 1982 somehow transported through time and making the same sort of mark he did then.


V. Srinivas Mohan (I) – First, you need to watch the trailer for this movie.

Now that you’ve done that, if you even bothered to come back here rather than track down the whole movie immediately, you know I must be talking about the visual effects supervisor. 1267937I hope you didn’t track down the whole movie though, because it never gets better than the crescendoing nonsense you just saw. But the effects are a marvel, maybe even moreso because they never mean anything. That said supervisor V. Srinivas Mohan and the director were ever able to get anywhere in a discussion about what the effects should accomplish without any notable context is astonishing enough. That the result made one the best trailers of 2015 is something else entirely. Something that might have forced you to find the one theater in your state showing this movie, and then because you didn’t know any better, asking to see it in the wrong language, as if that would make any difference. For a totally made up example.




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