Dirty Grandpa: I never thought I’d be cheering for prostate cancer, but even God seems like He’s trying to protect De Niro’s crumbling sandcastle of a legacy now. It was the lazy, bawdy, uninteresting epitome of what comedy has become. AC.
Grimsby: Just awful. Every main humour set piece revolved around something to do with sex or shit; at one point, both. Even the climactic scene involved them having to save the day with their arseholes. I am genuinely not making this up, and I am probably making it sound funnier than it actually is. As always with Cohen’s work, it occasionally slips into a valid social commentary, with lines such as “I see why you like using guns now; it totally detaches you from the guilt of killing people” but they are passing comments, few and far between, lost in excrement and jizz. Also, the working class, and the whole of Grimsby it seems, are shown as kebab and beer consuming, fat, benefit scrounging, messy, stupid, over breeding, violent, thieving football hooligans. It was like an 83 minute advert for a Tory election campaign. HW.
Ben-Hur: I’m not against remakes per se, but if your sole motivation is to try and cash in on the reputation of the original, boosted with improved technology and a couple of famous faces, but ultimately avoid any of the charm, excitement and entertainment value, then you can just go fuck yourself. AC.
Ghostbusters: While I don’t agree that reviewers were paid off to write favourable reviews of this film, and men blaming the crapness specifically on the existence of females in it need to grow the hell up, it is mind boggling that such good reactions exist for this poor excuse for a remake. Paul Feig directed and co-wrote the film so I was well aware that it’d probably be as unfunny as his back catalogue. It is sporadically humourous, and it was good to see unsexualised women kicking ass, but that cannot make up for lazy storytelling, the original being unimaginatively referenced every two minutes, and that it was, simply, just not funny enough. Cameos from the original ‘busters was a nice idea but they were all uninspiring – Ackroyd’s cabbie being the only exception; Murray’s potentially interesting character, in particular, was totally wasted. A rubbish attempt at what could have been a strong film for women in Hollywood. HW.
The Magnificent Seven: See: Ben-Hur. AC.
The Boy: Greta is a young American woman who takes a job as a nanny in an English village, only to discover that the family's eight-year-old is a life-sized doll that the parents care for like a real boy, as a way to cope with the death of their actual son. Things start to get spooky and clichéd and the filmmakers make you jump a few times and it is all pretty boring. HW.
Sully: I can only assume that Clint Eastwood is terminally ill, given that in 8 years he’s gone from making films about a crochety old Korean War vet who pulls a gun on any non-white he sees, to this sappy, Channel 5 midday movie tripe. It’s tonally all over the place and, despite a solid lead performance from Tom Hanks, features some of the most bizarre acting and script choices I witnessed all year. AC.
Morgan: Not quite sure what attracted Luke (son of Ridley) Scott to this for his first feature. The story of ‘human creates artificial being, then artificial being goes batshit crazy’ is done again here, without anything noticeably original in its telling. There are so many good actors on board, including Paul Giamatti in a short appearance during the film’s best scene (despite it losing its way with unrealistic character decisions). It all looks quite nice visually but very much lacking in story, originality, and audience connection to the characters or events. HW.
Life on the Road: I feel a bit bad putting this on the list, but judging each film I saw this year in its own context, Life on the Road was the most disappointing. In fairness, it’s not even the worst Ricky Gervais film of 2016 (Special Correspondents, boo), but despite his pre-release explanation that you shouldn’t compare it to The Office: it’s impossible to evaluate a David Brent film without doing so. Whether you judge it as a stand-alone film (lazily written third act, crowbarred happy endings and short on any real drama) or to the original series, Life on the Road fell well short of expectations and betrayed what was so perfect about The Office – it quit while it was ahead. AC.
War on Everyone: Two years ago, John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary was released – an original, funny, philosophical gut punch of a film where he got so much so right. This year, he gives us War on Everyone, a film in which he gets so much so wrong. In some ways, everything is only slightly wrong – the performances, the jokes, the character development, the philosophy – but because there is so much consistently slightly wrong, there is nothing to hold it together. It genuinely felt like everyone was just making it up as they were going along. It was nearly there, nearly great, on so many occasions, but it just kept falling on its face and trundling along to nowhere. It is a weird film – not Swiss Army Man weird, but weird nonetheless - and maybe as an audience member you have to get on board with that more. HW.