I’m pretty good at avoiding the really bad movies. I mean, I don’t need to see I, Frankenstein or Sex Tape or Tammy to know they’re all terrible. As a result, most of the truly bad films I come in contact with in a given year are either total surprises in their awfulness or I have to see them as a direct result of being a part of a movie podcast. This is the down side of the lucrative (haha, just kidding) world of movie blogging/podcasting that they don’t tell you about in movie podcasting school: Sometimes America says, “Hey, we should all go see 300: Rise of an Empire this weekend!” and then you’re forced to go see that abomination so that you can tear it apart with your podcasting buddies. It’s a tough life, you guys. Anyway, 2014 had its fair share of rotten films (even some that weren’t “rotten” on Rotten Tomatoes) and I had the misfortune of seeing at least 10 of them. Please enjoy and feel free to chime in with your own picks.
Dishonorable Mention: Sabotage (Box Office Total: $10.5M, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 19%)
The only reason this “film” didn’t crack the top 10 is because I couldn’t finish it. As you may know, it is a point of pride that I finish any movie I start. I walked out on a movie in a theater for the first time ever last year and my in-home viewing track record is very similar. Sabotage, however, is so aggressively ugly and disgusting that I couldn’t make it through. I’m not even sure I made it 30 minutes, to be honest. The comeback effort from Arnold Schwartzeneggar has been rough at best and this might be the nail in the coffin for me.
10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Box Office Total: $191.2M, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 21%)
There’s a huge gap between the quality of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the quality (or lack thereof) of the movies that fill the rest of this list. If I hadn’t been so good at avoiding the worst of the worst, this one probably doesn’t make the list. Whereas many of the following films are “awful”, “terrible”, or “abominable”, TMNT is simply “bad.” And in fact, when the turtles and only the turtles are on screen, there are times it’s even “relatively not bad.” But then the humans (most notably Megan Fox and, alas, Will Arnett) return to the screen and drag the entire thing back into the depths of the movie abyss.
9. A Million Ways to Die in the West (Box Office Total: $43.1M, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 33%)
2014 was not a good year for comedy. For me there was one GREAT comedy (Grand Budapest Hotel which will be a big player later this week), one good comedy (22 Jump Street) and a bunch of meh. The frustrating thing about A Million Ways to Die in the West is that there was a funny idea in there somewhere but it got swallowed up by raunchy, gross-out stuff that didn’t work. (For the record, while that’s not my preferred brand of humor, I get that it can work; it just didn’t here.) It felt like a half-baked idea and judging by its reception, I’m not the only one who felt that way.
8. 3 Days to Kill (Box Office Total: $30.7M, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 29%)
It was a tough year for Kevin Costner supporters like me. We’ll get into the Costner aspect more in a moment but I’ll say this in defense of 3 Days to Kill: I get why he did it. A total Taken knock-off, I’m certain that this movie looked like an easy cash grab that would make its star look cool even if critics didn’t buy it. Instead, it completely drowned itself in a nonsensical plot and way, way too much Amber Heard who lacks the charisma of, say, a piece of drywall. I don’t know how many more opportunities McG gets to direct a movie but let’s hope we’re on the back end of his career.
7. The Fault in Our Stars (Box Office Total: $124.9M, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%)
I get that I’m not the target audience of this sort of material and I’d be willing to cut it some slack if its reception was mildly positive. But 81%?! Are you kidding me?! The Fault in Our Stars is basically a Nicolas Sparks movie for teens, although it does make an attempt at some humor and I’m pretty sure Nicolas Sparks has never told or understood a joke. Some of the worst dialogue of the year is contained within this thing and the scene in which our star-crossed lovers make out in the Anne Frank House deserves special mention as one of the worst of the year.
6. 300: Rise of an Empire (Box Office Total: $106.6M, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 42%)
Pointless sequels and remakes are prime fodder for “worst of the year” lists and while 300: Rise of an Empire might not be the worst sequel/remake of the year (see below!!!), it is definitely the most pointless. Few big-hit movies of the last decade have aged as poorly as the original 300 and most of the time this thing looks like it was cobbled together out of the editing scraps from that movie. Oh, and did I mention the pivotal scene that was best described as “battle rape”? That was fun. But at least it somehow made a ton of money so we’ll probably get another one soon!
5. Transformers: Age of Extinction (Box Office Total: $245.4M, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 18%)
Why, you ask, doesn’t Transformers: Age of Extinction qualify as a pointless sequel? Because it made a BILLION dollars worldwide and everyone expected that. Sometimes audiences just get it wrong, guys. I can’t tell you why, after sitting through the three previous, overstuffed chapters of this illustrious franchise, millions and millions of people ran out to the theater to put themselves through three hours of Mark Wahlberg pretending to be a GEEKY SCIENTIST FROM TEXAS but that’s exactly what happened. So, when we get Transformers 5 in 2016, you have no one to blame but yourselves.
4. The Legend of Hercules (Box Office Total: $18.8M, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 3%)
There’s always a movie or two on this sort of list that is so comedically bad that I have to text my movie nerd friends and demand they watch it immediately so we can discuss. Enter The Legend of Hercules. Not to be confused with the better-but-still-bad Hercules starring The Rock, this Hercules brought us the remarkable acting talents of Twilight¬-alum Kellan Lutz and featured WITHOUT QUESTION the worst special effects I have EVER seen in a major motion picture. My friend and I had a longwinded debate on what the budget for this movie was and settled in on $3 million before discovering director Renny Harlin actually had $70 million to work with. I highly recommend The Legend of Hercules as a comedic break from your otherwise hard and stressful lives.
3. Dumb and Dumber To (Box Office Total: $85.7M, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 28%)
As mentioned previously, 2014 was not a banner year for comedies but all of them bow down to the awfulness of Dumb and Dumber To. I’m not sure a comedy has ever made me sadder than this one did. The whole thing just felt so incredibly desperate to the point that I just wanted to hug Jim Carrey and tell him everything will be okay while knowing full well that it won’t. I got one genuine laugh out of this thing and wanted badly for it to end almost as soon as it started.
2. Lucy (Box Office Total: $126.6M, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 66%)
In addition to quality comedies, 2014 also sorely lacked for throw away action films that could fall into the category of “guilty pleasure.” You need that sort of mindless entertainment every once in a while. That’s what Lucy should have been. Instead, it turned out to be perhaps the stupidest film of the year and yet, it foolishly attempted to make some sort of grandiose philosophical statement about life. Lucy lacks originality, entertainment value, and overall coherence. But otherwise, it’s great!
1. Draft Day (Box Office Total: $28.8M, Rotten Tomatoes Score: 60%)
When we recorded our podcast for Draft Day, I found myself literally yelling into the microphone, unexplainably furious over the completely idiocy of this movie. As such, no movie in 2014 made me as downright angry as this one did. Draft Day had it all: painfully bad acting; a romantic subplot that added absolutely nothing to the narrative; a preposterous central storyline that laughably attempted to come off as true to life; and 60 year old Kevin Coster throwing a temper tantrum like a pre-teen when his mom shows up at his office on the biggest day of the year and demands that he help her spread his father’s ashes immediately. This really happened in the middle of a movie that is clinging desperately to the notion that it is an accurate representation of real life. Draft Day isn’t a movie, it’s a practical joke played on sports fans everywhere and I may never forgive anyone involved with it for putting me through this fresh hell.