Worst movies of 2018 populated by pop songs, passion partners, profane puppets
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You’re the worst.
That’s me in the theater, slogging through one of those movies that starts off sour and hits one wrong note after another before mercifully ending.
No, YOU’RE the worst.
That’s the sentiment I hear every year from at least a couple of movie lovers, arguing it’s mean and unnecessary to put together a list of the worst movies of the year. Why not just concentrate on the positive?
Well. Of course, I always do close out the year with not only my ranking of the worst films of the year — but the best movies as well.
As I’ve heard through the years, nobody sets out to make a bad movie — and even if the end result fell short, keep in mind that hundreds if not thousands of people worked hard on a project, sometimes for many years.
Understood. Respected. Noted.
Here’s the thing though. Just because a film got panned doesn’t negate all the hard work and good intentions behind it — nor does it constitute a personal insult of any kind. (Over 4,000+ reviews, my policy has always been to review the WORK, not the people.)
As always, my reviews are primarily directed to the movie consumer. The old saying — I see ‘em all so you don’t have to — always rings true.
So. Here we go. The 10 worst movies I experienced in 2018.
10. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’
Yes, Rami Malek delivered fine work as Freddie Mercury (although I kept wondering if those teeth were going to go flying across the stage) and yes, I know “Bohemian Rhapsody” has become the most financially successful musical biopic of all time.
That doesn’t change that it’s a watered-down, clumsily shot, sometimes ridiculously contrived and condescending version of events. It’s like an extended episode of “The Monkees” with a terminal illness.
9. ‘Red Sparrow’
A quite unconvincing Jennifer Lawrence is a former prima Russian ballerina forced to join the red sparrows — a team of young, attractive men and women taught to use their powers of seduction in their training to become foreign spies.
Lashing out at the uncle who sent her to the program without fully explaining the, um, curriculum, Lawrence hisses: “YOU ZENT ME TO WHORE SCHOOL!”
8. ‘The 15:17 to Paris’
Just two and a half years after the real-life incident in which three American heroes, among others, thwarted a terrorist attack on a train from Amsterdam to Paris, the prolific Clint Eastwood directs a docudrama about the event.
Unfortunately, Eastwood cast many of the real-life, non-actor individuals from that day — including the main heroes and a Virginia man who was shot and critically wounded — as themselves, and the result is well-intentioned but amateurishly performed and flat.
7. ‘Hunter Killer’
A convoluted and laughably dumb Cold War submarine thriller that will be remembered for one reason: Gerard Butler making a friendly visit to the Pentagon and finding himself in the glare of an impromptu press conference in which he had to take questions about the movie and U.S. foreign policy not from junketeers but from veteran political reporters from CNN et al.
At one point a reporter said, “I have one question for the admiral and one for the actor.”
6. ‘Fifty Shades Freed’
One of the worst trilogies in movie history comes to a close with the same sleek look, the same dopey plot developments, the same un-sexy sex scenes and wooden performances from Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, who both can actually be quite good in other material.
They and we are finally Freed from this claptrap.
5. ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’
In the first movie, we were told the mother of Donna (Meryl Streep) is dead.
In the second movie, Donna is dead — but Grandma is alive, and she’s Cher.
We’re never told how Donna’s mom came back from the dead — or how Donna even died.
The musical numbers are light and frothy and mostly forgettable. And was the world waiting for Andy Garcia (as Fernando) to duet with Cher?
Some movies are based on real-life stories that aren’t really movie-worthy.
For instance, “Tag.” You’re it.
This creepy, odious, Heisman stiff-arm to the audience is based on a Wall Street Journal article about friends who played a monthlong game of tag every year for decades. Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Burress and Jeremy Renner are saddled with roles that depict the five middle-aged men as selfish, immature, reckless jerks.
3. ‘Life Itself’
Dan Fogelman, the creator of the acclaimed TV drama “This is Us,” is the writer-director of one of the most manipulative and macabre and intellectually dishonest tearjerkers I’ve ever seen. It should have been called “This is Nuts.”
2. ‘Vox Lux’
Academy Award winner Natalie Portman gives the most irritating and shrill performance of the year as a Madonna-esque pop singer who survived a school shooting as a girl and is now a narcissistic, substance-abusing, scandal-ridden absentee mother with a string of vapid hit singles.
This attempt at a bold and original statement about the culture of violence and the cult of stardom is shiny trash.
1. ‘The Happytime Murders’
Pity Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Elizabeth Banks, Joel McHale and the other talented comedic actors trapped in this depressing, nauseating, cheap-looking, laugh-free would-be comedy set in a world where humans and puppets co-exist — with the puppets mocked and discriminated against and abused as second-class citizens.
It’s dumber than it sounds. “The Happytime Murders” is sexist, crude, rude, lewd, loud and shockingly unfunny.
It was the longest 80 minutes I spent at the movies all year.