Richard Roeper: The worst movies of 2021

Sufferin’ sucky trash! The year brought plenty of lousy films, and one (but only one) was worse than ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy.’

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LeBron James (left) and the Looney Tunes gang take on the Goon Squad in “Space Jam: A New Legacy.”

Warner Bros.

If you’ve seen any of these titles — we’re talking about you, “Red Notice” — you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

If you haven’t seen any of these titles — that’s why I’m here, to take the hits for you.

These were the lousiest movies of 2021.

10. ‘Red Notice’


An FBI agent (Dwayne Johnson, left) gets mixed up with the world’s greatest thieves (Gal Gadot, Ryan Reynolds) in “Red Notice.”


Gentle suggestion: After you assemble three of the most likable stars in the world in Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds, and after you commit $160+ million to the budget, how about NOT making a heist movie that is so dumbed-down, so hokey, so slick and cynical, it almost feels like a parody?

9. ‘Dangerous’

Mel Gibson delivers arguably the worst performance of his career as a deeply unhinged therapist in this wildly implausible would-be thriller about a sociopathic killer trying to mend his sociopathic ways.

8. ‘The King’s Man’

 This World War I prequel to the “Kingsman” series is a horrible misfire with great actors such as Ralph Fiennes and Rhys Ifans flailing about in a story that careens between serious drama and dark parody and manages to fail on all cylinders.

7. ‘The Starling’


A dog shows Lilly (Melissa McCarthy) some affection in “The Starling.”


 I seriously loved the idea of Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd starring in a drama about a married couple who experience a tragedy and seem to be hopelessly mired in despair — but everything about this Netflix original movie feels contrived and forced. Not even the great Kevin Kline as the world’s second worst therapist (behind Mel Gibson in “Dangerous”) can resuscitate this DOA disaster.

6. ‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’

One of the worst movies of the year has one of the worst movie titles of the year, as the “Conjuring” series stoops to a new low with a 1980s period piece “Exorcist” ripoff featuring some terrific actors, including Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, delivering some truly terrible performances as they’re sunk by the ludicrous script.

5. ‘The Woman in the Window’


Amy Adams looks through a pane of glass installed in a wall in “The Woman in the Window.”


The Prestige Garbage Movie of the Year! Director Joe Wright (“Atonement,” “Darkest Hour”), screenwriter Tracy Letts (of Steppenwolf and Broadway greatness) and brilliant actors including Amy Adams, Anthony Mackie, Gary Oldman and Julianne Moore collaborate on this howler of a thriller about a delusional woman who believes she has witnessed a murder in the house across the street. Even the fine folks at Netflix have acknowledged the awfulness of this movie, greenlighting a 2022 series starring Kristen Bell called “The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window,” and having seen it I can tell you it’s a flat-out parody of “The Woman in the Window” and it’s far more entertaining than the source material.

4. ‘Dear Evan Hansen’

 With “West Side Story,” “In the Heights,” “Cinderella” and “Encanto,” 2021 was a memorable year for movie musicals — but we also witnessed some bouncy disasters. Even when “Dear Evan Hansen” won six Tony awards, the material was problematic, as it made a semi-hero out of a manipulative jerk who concocted a monumental lie after the suicide of a classmate. The film version, with a far too old Ben Platt reprising his Broadway role, is even more cloying, irritating, self-satisfied and just plain, what’s the word, ICKY. 

3. ‘Music’


Maddie Ziegler performs one of the off-putting songs in “Music.”

Vertical Entertainment

 The greatly talented musician Sia delivers one of the most tone-deaf films in recent years, with Maddie Ziegler giving a cringe-inducing performance as a teenage girl on the far end of the non-verbal autism spectrum. Filmed in 2017, “Music” was shelved for years, and that’s exactly where it should have remained: on the shelf, out of sight, never to be seen by the unfortunate few that experienced it.

2. ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’

The original “Space Jam” with Michael Jordan was a product-placement cornball adventure, but it’s “Toy Story” compared to the astonishingly bad reboot starring LeBron James, who was such a likable screen presence in “Trainwreck” but sleep-walks his way through this meta-B.S. nonsense in which LeBron and the Looney Tunes gang take on the Goon Squad. I’m still reeling from the sequence in which a myriad of characters from the Warner Bros. vault are courtside for the big game, as SOMEBODY actually thought it would be a good idea to have Agent Smith from “The Matrix,” White Walkers from “Game of Thrones,” Pennywise the Clown from “It” and the murderous rapists from “A Clockwork Orange” cheering the action.

What in the actual bleep.

1. ‘Karen’


Taryn Manning plays the title character of “Karen,” a suburban mom who’s not happy to be living next to a Black couple.

Quiver Distribution

A series of poorly executed vignettes featuring a woman actually named Karen (Taryn Manning in the worst performance of her career) carrying out racist, hateful, violent actions against anyone who isn’t exactly like her, i.e., a white suburban nightmare who might as well don a hood every time she leaves the house.

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