2020 has been the dumpster fire of years. Hell, calling it a dumpster fire almost feels like a compliment, at least a dumpster fire provides warmth and gets rid of garbage. The best thing we can say about 2020 is that Parasite won best picture during it and America decided to get rid of 239 pounds of fascist (I’m sorry, that was mean… he is much fatter than 239, which I’d like to remind everyone is the number that Simpson’s writers picked in order to set up the joke “You’re the fattest thing I’ve ever seen and I’ve been on safari”). Other than that, hundreds of thousands died from a disease that no one had ever seen before and the world shut down almost completely. It’s been a genuinely awful year that we will never forget even though we all want to.
From my perspective as an amateur reviewer, it was a little hard because all the good looking movies got moved out of 2020 because the studios would like to make money with them. This year has felt like a constant kick in the nuts and so it’s time to go through and name the worst of the year… and this year was so bad I could easily do a top 20 without breaking a sweat, but I’m sticking to 10 and my honorable mentions because that’s the format I’ve come up with and that’s the format I’m going to keep.
Now I will admit, some might look at a worst list as spreading negativity and we should do away with them but I have several reasons for doing it. The first is perhaps the most selfish, it gets views… almost double the amount the best list gets so it’s clearly a thing people want. Second is that I feel if I’m going to provide a best list to show how good the year could be, I need a counterbalance to provide a full spectrum of the year. Lastly… look, I just have a lot of bile I need to evacuate from my body and it’s this or public vandalism and I get less jail time for this!
So, if you want to check up on the rules I use for this list just go to my best of 2020 list from yesterday and let’s do this.
The True History of the Kelly Gang: Every year on this list I give out the “This Movie Tried To Kill Me” award to the film that had the worst strobing effects of the year, even though putting strobe lights in a film when everyone knows it can cause seizures means you’re an insensitive asshole. This year’s award goes to the otherwise decent film The True History of the Kelly Gang. For the most part, the film is a fun interesting take on the history of Ned Kelly and I didn’t have much else to say about it… and then someone decided to aim a strobe light at a shot of an empty field in Australia and film that for no goddamn reason other than they think it looks cool (it doesn’t, strobing never looks good even if it didn’t also cause seizures). At least in Rise of Skywalker the strobing came from lightning, at least in Incredibles 2 the strobing was part of the main villain’s weapon, here it’s a shot that I can only assume was an artistic choice because someone incorrectly thoguht it looked cool but it has no purpose except to give the audience a headache/potentially lethal seizure. So thank you True History of the Kelly Gang, you found a way to be memorable… now fuck off
The Fanatic: This technically came out on DVD in Australia in 2020, so it’s eligible. This is what happens when the lead singer from Limp Bizkit watches Misery once while high, says “I can do that” and no one stops him. With a career-worst performance by John Travolta (and that’s saying a lot!), it’s almost worth watching just to see how bad the train wreck is.
The New Mutants: Are we even going to pretend to be shocked that this is here? The shocking thing is that I found at least 10 films that sucked more. While it might not have been as bad as Dark Phoenix, that’s not exactly a high bar. It’s still among the worst films of the most inconsistent superhero franchise in history. Thank god Fox no longer gets to ruin the X-Men, bring on the MCU Mutants!
Love, Wedding, Repeat: This was the last one I cut from the list, consider it the number 11. I don’t ask much from a film, just deliver me what you promise. If you promise me a film about random chance, then that’s what I expect. Love, Wedding, Repeat promised me a lot and delivered an irritating unfunny film that can’t even be bothered to do its premise justice. I was promised a romantic comedy version of Clue where there could be multiple random endings, I just got some nice scenery and some of the worst dialogue I’ve heard all year that was about it.
Look, even though I spent most of my review loudly complaining about the work practices that went into trying to salvage this thing. I promise this isn’t here because they ran a company into the ground with an unhealthy amount of crunch. This film is here because it’s an unfunny film that heavily relies on bad product placement (Olive Garden got their money’s worth here) and takes a character known for running fast and forces him to spend most of the movie sitting in the passenger seat of a car that’s being driven by Corny Collins.
I get that this film is popular and a lot of people claim to love it… are we able to admit that a large part of why people say they like it is because the collective outrage of the internet caused them to change the original awful design (which, admittedly, was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen and I’m glad they changed it) and it feels good having Hollywood actually listen to us for once? Because it can’t be for the story which, again, is “Sonic goes on a road trip with the sexy man robot from Westworld and occasionally they pimp going to Olive Garden”. It doesn’t understand a damn thing about Sonic, it looks drab and dull… it’s basically the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, except we all knew those sucked and called it out at the time so I don’t know how this one slipped through the cracks.
Maybe, MAYBE the sequel will do the smart thing and set the film in Sonic’s homeworld and maybe make an actual Sonic movie but for now, we’ve just got this boring film.
Cats & Dogs 3 is a prime example of a film that just had no reason to exist, no one was clamouring for a sequel in this franchise. The last film barely made back its budget a decade ago, who thought that a new film would make money? Cos even without the pandemic, I can’t imagine a world where this film drew a big box office… mostly because I can’t imagine a world that depressing, and I lived through 2020 so my bar for “A depressing world” is pretty high!
The actual film itself, beyond being unwanted, is just horribly made. The effects somehow look worse than they did back in 2001, the performances are depressingly phoned in and the writing is so bad it makes me cry (the main agency is named Furry Animals Rivalry Termination… this should tell you the level of writing that we’re working with). Every performance is phoned in, including the physical performances by the animals who were doing the bare minimum required to get the treats at the end of each take. It’s a first draft, not a finished film. You’re meant to go over this and fix all the errors, not leave them in and hope no one notices.
Do you know what film wasn’t good to begin with? The Boy. It was a fairly boring Annabelle knockoff, and considering how bad Annabelle is, that’s not a good thing. However, The Boy had one genuinely fantastic idea that almost saved it and that was the big reveal at the end that the doll was never haunted, there was actually a person living in the walls of the mansion who was doing all the freaky things. It was a genuinely great little reveal and gave The Boy at least something to brag about… so naturally, the sequel went “Screw it, the doll’s possessed now!” and we’re all the worse for it.
So now we have a film filled with unscary jump scares that’s intercut with shots of the doll moving in such a way that you know instantly what’s going on and all mystery is removed. It also looks ugly as hell, a drab lifeless clone of a drab lifeless horror film. Sure, this film also has an ending that’s notably different from the majority of the film but instead of being brilliant, the ending is comically awful in a way that will leave you slack-jawed and wondering “Was cinema a mistake?”
7) The Big Trip & Pets United
Animated family films are hard to do, there’s no denying that. It’s not as simple as making a bunch of random animals go on an adventure, you need to also have an interesting story or some fun characters and jokes to make people enjoy your movie… or you could just make a bunch of random animals go on an adventure if you want, but it’ll probably suck.
Picking between the two of these films was impossible. One of them has a mildly interesting idea, but animation that’s so god awful that it’s hard to believe that anyone actually released it. The other has fairly generic animation, but such a convoluted and bullshit story that it’s almost impossible to follow. The Big Trip features some of the worst animation I’ve ever seen in a cinema and voice acting that can best be described as “A thing that no one should’ve been paid for”, meanwhile Pets United is a convoluted mess that somehow made robots fighting dogs into one of the most boring things I’ve ever seen.
Which is worse? A bad story and competent animation of a competent story and bad animation? Both are important factors in pulling off a family animated film and these films are almost perfect compliments to each other, working where the other one fails and failing where the other one… Ok “Works” is a bit much because neither film actually works, but still, you get my point. If I were to just pick one then I’d probably go with The Big Trip just because that one had the gall to release in a cinema BEFORE the pandemic hit when there was no good excuse for it to even be there but I don’t have to just pick one. My list, my rules.
Cancel Culture, or as it used to be known “Consequences for your actions”, has been a really big thing in the news. As someone who honestly has no problem with people being cancelled for certain behaviour (because you do not owe famous people your money or loyalty if they do something that you find harmful), I’ve been known to join in on this. Seriously, ask me my current thoughts on JK Rowling sometime, it’ll be fun. However, I can also admit that sometimes cancel culture can go too far and it would be something that could be parodied well… who the fuck wanted Crocodile Dundee to do it?
The film itself alleges to take place in the real world following Paul Hogan (who, fun fact, is the 7th credited actor on the IMDB page for this movie… so, that’s something) who keeps trying to pitch a new show and ends up saying things that appear racist and gets in hot water. For a man who used to be considered the funniest man on Australian television, this is a pathetically unfunny film that actively pisses on several legacy actors who we know are funnier than this. When you not only fail at satirizing something as easily mockable as cancel culture but you do it while making a film featuring some of the greatest comedic icons of the last 50 years, that’s depressing.
You know a film is going to hurt when you hope the main character will die by the time you hit the opening title card. The Wrong Missy is a film that should be used to torture prisoners, just run clips of the Missy character on a loop and watch as their minds break. Annoyance is something that can work in comedy in certain amounts, but when the annoyance is constant and for 90 minutes it stops being funny and starts being cruel to viewers who have done nothing to deserve this kind of shabby treatment.
It’s tonally all over the place, sometimes it’s just a cartoon and sometimes it’s a romantic comedy and none of the tones that it tries ends up working. It wastes David Spade, an actor who really should just be used as a sarcastic asshole and not someone we’re meant to actually care about and have I mentioned that Missy is the kind of character that makes me want to peel my own skin off just to distract myself from the pain?
How? I just… the first film BARELY made back its budget so how the hell is this able to be made? This cheap Fifty Shades Darker knockoff has all the sex appeal of toast and all the intrigue of a slightly undercooked piece of toast. We are asked for the entire film to hope that Hardin and Tessa will get together, even though Hardin is a pathetic useless character whose only positive is that he’s meant to be Harry Styles.
This watered-down Fifty Shades wannabe is the kind of film series that really cements for me that the worst thing to happen to cinema in the last few years is shitty romance films because they send the worst messages. At the end of the day, After We Collided tells its audience that no matter how abusive your boyfriend is, if he knows how to fuck good then you better fight to keep him even when it’s obvious to everyone that this will end badly. Apparently, there are still 2 more films in this franchise to go so be prepared to hear me screaming about this for a while more.
Will Ferrell stopped being funny roughly around 2014 and I have now hit the point where I actively cringe when I see him on a poster because I know I’m about to sit through something painful… I didn’t expect to sit through a film filled with horrific gaslighting and the most detestable performance I’ve seen all year but that’s what Downhill gave me. I feel like I’d rather it gave me a venereal disease, would’ve hurt less.
Seriously if I were to make a list of the worst characters of the year, Pete in Downhill wins handily and considering a film on this very list includes a mobster who I am going to call a rapist, that should say a lot about how loathsome this character is… and the film is asking me to in some way laugh at the shenanigans he’s pulling or the wild lies he keeps telling. No, I don’t want to laugh at him, I want to see the film hard cut to him frozen like Nicholson at the end of The Shining because everything about that one character makes me hate the film enough to put it on this list. The rest of the film pushed it up this high.
Even if we somehow removed the actual monstrous character from the film we’re still left with an unfunny boring film that relies on Julia Louis Dreyfus to give it some form of life and while Julia is talented, she’s not a miracle worker who can make this shit tolerable. I shouldn’t spend the entire movie just seething with hate and righteous anger. This film is probably the one I got closest to walking out during just because I couldn’t stand to be there anymore… and it’s only the 3rd worst film of the year. God this year sucked!
From the moment it came out, I knew that Dolittle was going to be on this list. How could it not be? The Dolittle franchise is just flat out cursed because it has never worked in cinema and the actors involved never seem to come out of it with careers intact. This version is incredibly painful, from the stupid things like “The villain kept the vial of poison on their person for several days instead of disposing of the evidence” to the genuinely upsetting things like “This film’s climax involves fisting a dragon”, everything about the plot of this film feels like they made all the worst decisions.
Then there’s just Robert Downey Jr’s performance which feels like he looked at what Johnny Depp did in the Pirates movies and decided to make a bold choice that’d match that… and it fails so incredibly hard. The accent he picked is awful, none of his mannerisms are even mildly amusing, the natural charm that basically made RDJ the most important member of the MCU for a decade just isn’t there. This was his first non-Iron Man performance in six years and he needed it to remind everyone what he can do and it’s the worst performance of his career. It’s bad enough that even though Iron Man is dead in the MCU, I won’t be shocked if there was a phone call to see if they can figure out how to get him to cameo in some of the upcoming films to get some clout back.
Dolittle does nothing of value for its entire runtime, I’ve never heard an audience as quiet as the one I heard on the day I saw Dolittle and I’ve had multiple experiences this year of being the only one in the cinema. I almost gave this one the top honour just because it was the biggest bomb and was the early warning shot for how bad this year would be… but I’m a little predictable and once the top film came out, it basically begged to be dubbed the worst thing of this awful year.
AND THE WORST FILM OF THE YEAR IS…
1) 365 Days
So in previous years, I’ve given placements on this list to both of the 50 Shades of Grey sequels because I felt like they were odious pieces of garbage that played fast and loose with the idea of consent… well, 365 Days looked at that complaint and went “OK, what if we did that exact film but we just flat out remove any notion of consent and try to make literal rape sexy and romantic?”. Say what you will about 50 Shades of Grey, at least Anastasia Steele wanted to be with Christian… she wasn’t kidnapped and brainwashed into wanting mobster dick!
Make no mistake, the entire film is a romanticisation of rape and makes it very clear that we’re watching someone basically having their free will slowly be destroyed by a gangster who only seems to get away with anything because he’s handsome and rich. At least with films like Beauty and the Beast or 50 Shades, part of the story involves taking the bad man and slowly changing him to reveal a decent person (or at least trying to) but here? Nope, he’s a mobster, he wants this woman who he kidnapped and we’re meant to enjoy watching them fall in love… and then she seemingly dies in the last 5 minutes and I laughed, so clearly they did a horrible job there.
Even if we ignore the absolutely vile and disgusting consent issues around this film (and we shouldn’t, this stuff is vile and should be called out for being vile) it’s still a poorly acted, horribly written and disastrously soundtracked piece of garbage. Its only assets are that it’s filmed in a nice location, ergo it doesn’t look like total ass, and that its lead actors are conventionally attractive and have no issues being naked all the time. It’s a film that’s hoping the same audiences that made 50 Shades and After popular will enjoy this, but 50 Shades and After (bad as they are) at least pretended there was consent there at some point. 365 Days made me feel unclean, like I needed to bathe my eyeballs in hand sanitizer just in order to get it all out, and considering how hard it was to get hand sanitizer this year that was just extra cruel!
365 Days shows the damage that 50 Shades did, what happens when the floodgates were opened and the truly awful shit can come out and wash over an unsuspecting audience. You want to know what the best thing anyone can say about 365 Days? That it’s possibly got the most explicit sex scenes in a film like this, they actually understood that if they’re going to make a sex film that we should probably be titillated… which’d be great, if all the sex wasn’t just flat out rape. This film would be number one even if it was perfectly made just based on the subject matter alone, but the fact that it’s a poorly filmed/acted/written/scored piece of garbage just makes it absolutely deserve this top spot.
And that was my list of the worst films of this, the worst year. Did you see anything that was worse? I feel so bad for you if you did but why not tell me about it, let’s try and let out all the bile now so that we can go into next year feeling a little better… it’s not like next year can get any worse, right?
Oh, wait, THE MURDER HORNETS!!! Fuck this year was the worst.