Hello, everyone! Well, here we are, a little over two weeks into 2020, the Oscar nominations out, and almost done with our movie coverage for 2019 (though there’s still just a bit to go). It’s been a long journey across the cinematic medium in the past year; much of it was grand, some of it merely pleasant, and there were some awful bumps along the way that simply cannot be ignored. And now, after so much coverage of movies in 2019, it’s finally time to really get down to it: what was the best, and what was the worst? That latter question is the topic of today’s piece, as 2019 had plenty of garbage to throw at us along with the gold. We witnessed yet another failed attempt at the Phoenix saga from the same writer who ruined it the first time, a Harry Styles fanfiction come to life (which I’ve just learned is getting a sequel somehow???), and of course, the raw sexual energy of dancers in digital fur signing about absolutely nothing of import for two straight hours. It was truly a magnificent year. As always, I can only list movies that I actually saw on this list, so don’t expect the likes of Hellboy (2019) or Angel Has Fallen to show up; I dodged those bullets the best I could. Also, A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding topped my Worst Movies list last year, but as I knew what to expect from Netflix’s trilogy closer this year, I’ve decided to leave it in the dishonorable mentions; it’s still really bad though (even though I enjoyed it in an ironic way). With all that in mind, and our pitchforks at the ready, let’s dive into my picks for the Top 10 Worst Movies of 2019!
10. TIE – Dumbo (2019) and Overcomer
Both of these movies fail on just about every level in accomplishing their respective goals; the only reason they’re so low on the list is because they both have some decent elements going for them that they still don’t do anything with. Dumbo (2019) is the worst example of the for-profit, “woke” Disney remake machine not understanding how being woke actually works (here’s a great video essay by Lindsay Ellis on the subject) and just throwing anything at the screen that might stick without understanding why any of it stuck in the first place, and Overcomer is as wrong-headed a mess of a film as the Kendrick Brothers have ever made, having only two good scenes in the whole of the film, and nothing else to bolster this “faith-based” story of the white man’s struggle to…stay employed at a private school where his kids attend and have to teach a sport he doesn’t like. There’s a lot wrong with both of these movies, and they’re both equally annoying for very different reasons, so they both get #10. I just couldn’t justify leaving one of them off the list.
9. Gemini Man
What happened to Ang Lee? Is he still a great director, or just a VFX pioneer that will take anything no one else wants so he can do his experimental techniques unimpeded? Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk was one of the worst movies the year it came out, and Gemini Man hasn’t seemed to fare any better. That could be due to the fact that the script was passed around for about 20 years before anyone decided to make it, so the plot feels way behind the times, or the fact that the biggest twist in the movie about two Will Smiths doesn’t end up mattering in any way, but however one puts it, Gemini Man was clearly only made to test out a 60 FPS frame rate and 3D gimmick we’re all tired of, and nothing else about it justifies its existence in the modern era.
8. Playing With Fire
John Cena takes his shirt off four times in this movie about three kids making poop noises and ruining Judy Greer’s good movie streak. I’m not making this up. I wish I were. Somehow Nickelodeon Movies managed to make one of the most surprisingly good movies of 2019 (Dora and the Lost City of Gold), and one of its absolute worst, and this movie has absolutely nothing to offer that we don’t already expect or want from a movie where John Cena (who’s a good actor when he has the right material) has to take care of three kids who he rescues from a raging cabin fire after they make fun of him for a little bit. This movie is one of the stupidest movies of 2019, and is in fact, so bad, I’ve blocked large chunks of it from my memory.
7. The Kitchen
One of the biggest letdowns of the entire year was finding out that Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elizabeth Moss, Domhnall Gleeson, and Bill Camp were all in a mob movie together and it sucked. Like, it really sucked. The only reason this didn’t make my Top 10 Disappointing Movies of 2019 list is because I found out just a few days before I was due to see it that the critical reception was heavily on the negative side, so I was able to let my expectations down quite a bit in that regard. Moss does what she can with the material she’s given, and has the most interesting parts of the movie all to herself, but McCarthy and Haddish walk around acting like the bosses of the city and each other for no rhyme or reason as we see money switch hands and people talk in back rooms. That’s it. That’s all we see. There’s nothing interesting, fascinating, or even grossly intriguing about this mess of a movie, and if it weren’t for another movie I saw this year, this would be the worst comic book movie of 2019 (for context, it’s based on a DC Vertigo comic).
6. Dark Phoenix
And yet, even The Kitchen can’t contend with Simon Kinberg’s seemingly endless bad writing streak, as the author of X-Men: The Last Stand was hired on to write the Dark Phoenix saga into the ground again, even being given directing duties this time around! I didn’t absolutely loathe almost anything about this movie, but even loathing something is a more interesting feeling to contend with than just being unbelievably bored almost the entire time. The final action sequence in the movie is too jumpy and erratic to be classified as good, no matter what anyone says, Sophie Turner has nothing to do as Jean Grey apart from stand there and talk to a monotone Jessica Chastain while she and Michael Fassbender wave their arms around a little bit, a major character death has absolutely zero impact since the actress playing the character got bored of this franchise after First Class, and even the visual effects aren’t very good. There’s no excuse for Fox re-hiring Simon Kinberg to do this to arguably one of the most iconic comic runs of all time again, and there’s certainly no reason anyone involved with this production should promote it any more than they’re paid to.
This is a January-release movie about Keanu Reeves cloning himself to…help his sick family? I think? I’ll be honest, I don’t remember large swaths of this movie either, but I do remember it being about as exciting as…yeah, no, actually, it’s not exciting at all, not even in an ironic way. Skip it.
The fact that this piss-poor script is based on Harry Styles fan-fiction should come as a surprise to absolutely no one given that the characters are drawn with all the depth of a 2D rendering of one line going across a piece of paper, but even then, the way the whole movie plays out is just endlessly annoying. It feels like something a twelve-year-old would write on tumblr and just not stop writing even when their readers begged them to. None of the characters in this movie make sense, none of their decisions make sense, none of the writing makes sense, but it does all feel like fan-fiction, so…yay for getting the tone right, I guess? The main character is a bad person, her mom seems decent enough, the Harry Styles knock-off they got to play the main character’s love interest has absolute zero charisma, and just when it seems like maybe the third act is about to start, the movie ends. If we’re going to keep getting fan-fiction movies due to the baffling success of the Fifty Shades films, can we at least make them as hilariously bad as those so we can have just a little fun? Please?
How are all these cats so horny? How? What happened? Where did all that catnip come from? Why did Universal release the movie knowing the VFX weren’t finished, only to send out updated prints to theaters later on that don’t just erase the film from existence? Cats is one of the most bafflingly high-budget yet assuredly worst productions to be released in 2019, and the fact that a bunch of outlets reported its success as almost guaranteed based on the strength of the Broadway production’s popularity alone is one of the most baffling things about it. Have none of them ever heard of going to see a nigh-plotless show sheerly for the irony? For the absurd nature of whatever “story” lay within? And even then, how is the movie, with all its fur-covered boobs and weird human hands still so fucking boring? I don’t have to tell anyone that saw this how bad it really is, and I doubt anyone who hasn’t seen it is surprised by its appearance here. Is Jason Derulo real? Ian McKellen laps milk from a saucer. I don’t even have any critical analysis of the film ready to say why it’s bad; all I have are facts about Cats (2019). Just things that happen in the movie. Here’s my review, if you want to read more on the subject.
Jexi is what happens when “Old Man [Who] Yells at Cloud” becomes a real person and decides to make a movie about the dangers of cell phone addiction. There is nothing this movie can possibly say that hasn’t already been said ad nauseum and either debunked or corrected, and there’s nothing this movie offers (apart from a few moments where I chuckled a little bit) in its comedy that is in any way refreshing, new, or funny. It’s too long of a movie; it shouldn’t be more than the sum total of 0 seconds. Everything about this movie sucks, nothing happens for any rhyme or reason at all, any jokes this movie has are easy to make and lazy in their execution, Jexi is the most annoying A.I. ever, and while I may not count this as the absolute worst movie I saw this year (which is a minor miracle in itself), it is unquestionably the one that pissed me off the most.
Countdown is a lazy horror movie with zero scares, no creative vision, stupid characters, one decent idea that only exists to set up a sequel I hope no one ever greenlights, and absolutely no fun to be had the entire time it’s going on, not even in a shitty Final Destination type of way. Jexi pissed me off more, and Cats was a far more colossal failure from both a financial and major studio backing standpoint, but there was just nothing about this film that I found worth watching or remembering. I don’t want to talk about it anymore and I hope I forget it just as quickly as every theater playing it did.
And those are my picks for the Top 10 Worst Movies of 2019! What movies did you just vehemently dislike this year? Any not on this list that should be? Let me know in the comments section below! Thanks for reading, and be sure to check back in soon, as I will finally unveil my list of the Top 10 Best Movies of 2019!
- The Friendly Film Fan
Dishonorable Mentions: The Addams Family (2019), Arctic Dogs, Brightburn, A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby, The Current War: Director’s Cut, The Goldfinch, Isn’t It Romantic, Last Christmas, Men in Black: International, Noelle, Playmobil: The Movie, The Prodigy, Rambo: Last Blood, Serenity, Velvet Buzzsaw, What Men Want