♫ Mary watches everything
In her living room alone
With the volume down ♫
— Even though it can make sense to look away
You know what sucks? Movies.
Not all movies. Or even most. In fact, I filled up the immediately preceding Day Thread with lists of good-to-great movies culled from the list of nearly films I watched over the course of 2021. Check that out if you seek some positivity.
But a whole lot of the 791 movies I watched during 20211 were all-caps NOT GOOD. I admit fully to remaining unsure what goes into delivering a best-of film experience for viewers. For my own way of thinking, I inferred a handful of rules for what derails a movie.
- Insulting viewers’ intelligence.
- Setting in-universe rules then breaking those rules.
- Portraying victimizers as victims because they suffer consequences for their own bad or illegal behavior.
- Introducing no-drama complications simply because complications are needed to fill out run time.
- Introducing characters who are not villains only so viewers will root for the protagonist.
- Giving main characters no agency in their own story.
- Punching down with jokes.
- Presenting the reassertion of systemic oppression as the happy ending everyone craves.
- Rewarding a protagonist for experiencing no growth or actually regressing as a human being.
- Assaulting viewers’ senses with sheer ugliness and discordant noise.
Which brings me to listing the following.
15 of the Worst Movies Ever (but Only Suffered Through During 2021)
- Disney’s Sleeping Beauty: I hated this with the fury of a thousand suns; read all about it. Bad Movie Rules 1, 6, and 8 apply here.
- A Night in Old Mexico: This is Robert Duvall’s worst movie by a wide margin. Bad Movie Rules 1-4, 7 and 9 apply.
- Bonfire of the Vanities: If the screenplay preserve the spirit of the book, I’ve no choice but to conclude Tom Wolfe was one of the worst people of the 20th century. Bad Movie Rules 3, 5, and 7-9 apply.
- Mo’ Better Blues: A jackass remains a jackass and still gets everything good he wanted while losing only the pointless stuff. Bad Movie Rules 3 and 9 apply.
- Wonder Woman 1984. Steve Trevor stands to left on the DC Metro escalator and no one yells at him? Bad Movie Rules 1, 2, and 10 apply.
- Tenet: Robert Pattinson does not suck. He’s all the time turning in the best performances in unworthy films. He needs a better agent. Bad Movie Rules 1, 2, and 10 apply.
- Those Who Wish Me Dead: Bad Movie Rules 1, 2, 5, and 10.
- Cell: John Cusack, like Nic Cage, can still do hood work. But Cusack takes the movie roles even Cage at his most financially desperate declines. For this pre-5G “5G will destroy humanity” movie, Bad Movie Rules 1, 2, 5 and 10 apply.
- The Polar Express: Bad Movie Rules 1, 2, 4, 5, and 10 apply.
- Jingle All the Way: Bad Movie Rules 5, 7, 8, and 10 apply.
- Elf: Bad Movie Rules 2, 4, 5, 7 and 9 apply.
- Dumb & Dumber: Bad Movie Rules 1, 7 and 9 apply.
- Jupiter Ascending: Eddie Redmayne should never have worked again after this. Bad Movie Rules 1, 2, and 10 apply.
- Red Nights: This is torture porn. I regret watching it, and it messed up my Tubi algorithm for a couple of weeks. The hell is wrong with people? Bad Movie Rules 9 and 10 apply.
- The Day of the Triffids: SPOILER: You kill sentient seaweed by spraying it with seawater. Bad Movie Rules 1, 2, and 4 apply.
So, what flags a bad movie for you?
And, no, I’m not looking to pick fights. If you love a movie I loathed, I’ll cop to being wrong. Speaking of …
BONUS: Stars Are Born Rankings, Best to Worst
My movie-watching project led me to viewing all four2 filmic takes on A Star Is Born. So, for as little my opinion’s worth, and especially for how little my ranking aligns with consensus criticism, here’s this.
- 1937 because the story simply makes more sense when both Janet Gaynor and Frederic March are actors instead of singers. Plus, March has noble reasons for everything he does.
- 1976 because all the songs are good and Kris Kristofferson respects Barbra Streisand’s talent.
- 1954 because all of Judy Garland’s songs are bad and James Mason is an abusive asshole.
- 2018 because the movie ends up being about nothing except Bradley Cooper’s aggrieved and canceled white man whose selfishness is supposed to inspire empathy.