Keep in mind that sitting through a terrible movie in one of those reclining leather lounge chairs is still more pleasant than 99.999999 percent of all other time-consuming activities. I’m here today to vent about that .0000001 percent. (Well, .0000002 percent if you count Gotti, which still sits at 0 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and is its own category of bad). My five Worst Movies of 2018 picks weren’t just predictably low-frills disasters — come on, nobody expected a remake of Overboard to be a dark-horse contender for the New York Film Critics Circle awards. I’m singling out these picks because they managed to defy lofty expectations and disappoint in all kinds of peculiar ways. (Bombs) away we go!
5. Book Club
Yeah, I know your mom loved it. Don’t care. I maintain that national treasures Candice Bergen, Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda and Mary Steenburgen deserve better than a stale, contrived offering in which they pore over Fifty Shades of Grey as if it were a Dead Sea scroll then decide to get ignite their dormant love lives. (Um, because a gorgeous, successful and smart woman can’t find happiness without Richard Dreyfuss.) The sight of, say, Bella Thorne shrieking and falling fully-clothed into a pool is lame; Annie Hall doing it in 2018 is just one big Red Room of Pain. Millennials and Gen Z-ers: Please do not judge these actresses by this movie alone!
Dwayne Johnson could probably lift me up by his pinky and throw me out the window of my eighth-floor apartment with a wink and a smile, so I’ll make this brief-ish: His uninspired and bloated Die Hard rip-off is an affront to every other Die Hard rip-off over the past 30 years. Maybe there was one-eighth of one thrill watching Johnson try to rescue his wife (Neve Campbell) and moppets from a tall CGI’ed building set on fire. Big dumb summer action flicks don’t have to reinvent the genre. Just deliver an iota of humor, logic, self-awareness and gravity.
3. Vox Lux
Every Oscar season, cinephiles rally around a festival-circuit film and praise it for its bold, risk-taking storytelling. Congrats: You’re erudite and spent a lot of time in your basement in high school. Now let me give everyone a reality check. “Daring” is just a snobby version of “nonsensical.” And this year’s example, a Natalie Portman and Jude Law-starring drama in which she plays a tart pop singer unfazed by the chaos around her, is pretentious and cruelly masochistic for good measure. There are vague links between terrorism and celebrity, but nothing is profound enough to make the violence redeemable.
2. Life Itself
It takes serious gall to waste the talents of Anette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Olivia Wilde, Oscar Isaac, Samuel L. Jackson and Mandy Patinkin. But I’m not going to rail on something as basic as underdeveloped characters. Hello, amateur hour! I want to know exactly what writer-director Dan Fogelman (This Is Us) was thinking when he decided to incorporate three false narrators in the first five minutes and then proceed to use laughably convoluted multi-timelines to underline a treacly message about love and hope and looking both ways before you cross a street in Manhattan. I’ve seen more emotional authenticity in a beer commercial.
1. The Happytime Murders
Friends, I can’t un-see a horny puppet humping another puppet and then ejaculating all over his office in a foamy white spray. With the tagline “No Sesame, All Street,” this anti-comedy was a god-awful offensively terrible piece of trash that likely made Muppets creator Jim Henson roll over in his grave. (And get this: His son directed it!) I’d like to give Melissa McCarthy the benefit of the doubt and assume the money was right and the script seemed OK on the page. At least she redeemed herself with Can You Ever Forgive Me? Everyone else associated with this crapola owes us an apology.
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