In times like these, when I look back at all of the movies I sat through this year and note the many clunkers among them, I like to console myself with Jack Nicholson’s infamous words from A Few Good Men: “You want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.” My colleague David Edelstein has already weighed in with his list of ten supremely terrible films of 2013; here’s mine.
Grown Ups 2
This will sound crazy, but I was genuinely disappointed by this movie. As an honest-to-goodness Adam Sandler fan (come see me in my one-man show, Want to Touch the Heinie, sometime), I thought his first-ever sequel might show some new side of his comic persona. I even foolishly hoped he might build on the edge he’d seemed to regain with 2012’s despised but hilarious That’s My Boy (shut up). Nope. Not even close. This was the laziest Adam Sandler film yet, and that’s saying something. You know you’re in trouble when Taylor Lautner is the best thing about your movie.
Not even the sight of Eli Roth dying a horrible, gruesome death could save this awful, faux-provocative-but-still-obscene horror flick that’s set in the aftermath of one of the most tragic disasters of recent years, the 2010 Chilean earthquake.
Some will have you believe that this is some kind of daring, refreshing new indie take on the horror genre. Don’t believe them. In a year of excellent horror movies that actually had some cinematic panache, this stood out for its sheer, ugly incompetence.
Talk about incompetence! Nobody expected this to be good, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that it wasn’t. But still, even the lamest gearhead movie can usually give us a few decent car stunts. This one, starring Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez, couldn’t even manage that, instead giving us a lot of loud noises and fast cuts that tried (but failed) to hide the blunder of a movie beneath. I called it the “cinematic equivalent of a concussion” at the time, and I’m having the cinematic equivalent of PTSD as I write these words.
Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas
There were three movies this year with the words “Tyler Perry” in the title. Tyler Perry’s Temptation was also awful, and offensive, but it was so crazy that you sort of admired it. (Sort of.) Tyler Perry Presents Peeples was actually kind of okay. But this most recent effort was a randomly slapped-together series of half-baked skit ideas and Fox News–ready provocations, shoddy even by Perry’s low, low, looooow standards.
Shot like a home movie and written like a spoof, this amateurish rom-com ill-served the always delightful Paula Patton, an actress who could become the next Julia Roberts if only someone bothered to give her a decent movie role.
Now You See Me
This may have been the biggest sleeper hit of 2013, but it’s a nonsensical, choppy, insistent film that gives sleeper hits a bad name. Seriously, in a year of multiple bad magician movies, this somehow managed to be the worst. Apparently audiences were charmed. They’ll have a sequel to look forward to, which will surely make even less sense.
The Hangover Part III
Look, I like the Hangover movies. I love the first one, and I couldn’t help but laugh at the second one, retread though it might have been. So this was, no joke, one of my most anticipated summer sequels. But apparently, director Todd Phillips cares less about the Hangover movies than some critics do. Based on the evidence of this movie, he can’t wait to stop making comedies and start making lame action flicks. He began with this one.
I remember being largely okay with the first part of this tepid Nicholas Sparks adaptation: There was some nice chemistry between Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough. But now, the more I think about it, the angrier it makes me, particularly that final, insane third-act twist that is so shamelessly manipulative it might make you hate yourself.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Seriously, the best thing about this movie was watching Jeremy Renner’s clear anguish when having to discuss it on his press tour. He and co-star Gemma Arterton gave two of the best performances in two of the year’s best movies — American Hustle and Byzantium, respectively — so this lousy early 2013 dump seems even more corrosive as a result.