2017 has seen some excellent films so far, from major Hollywood blockbusters to lesser-known independent films and even a couple of Netflix originals. Pictures such as Split, Logan, and I Called Him Morgan have set the movie industry on fire and we have plenty more to look forward to before the year is out, including Wonder Wheel, a Woody Allen film which pairs Justin Timberlake with Titanic star Kate Winslet.
As great as 2017 has been and will be for movie buffs, it has given us more than a few box office duds. Some flops were expected long before they were released, with critics and moviegoers being able to make informed predictions thanks to underwhelming trailers and lackluster promotional tactics. Other duds were surprising, crashing and burning after a multi-million dollar budget and months upon months of buildup, which served only to make their eventual failure all the more spectacular.
Now, none of us like to see a movie fail. But also, in a weird way, we totally do. There’s nothing like a good box office failure to remind you that even Hollywood executives and award winning actors can exhibit poor judgment and suffer a humiliating defeat. For that reason, today we’re going to be looking at some of the worst movies of 2017 so far (though obviously, we won’t actually be looking at them because I wouldn’t put you through that).
Let’s get started.
15 Fist Fight
I don’t think anybody expected Fist Fight to be a cinematic masterpiece, but the movie still managed to disappoint pretty much everybody who went to see it. The film focuses on the build to an after-school fight between two teachers, Andy Campbell (played by Charlie Day) and Ron Strickland (played by Ice Cube).
Critics had hopes that the openly juvenile comedy would be similar to other farces such as Step Brothers, Old School, or pretty much every other Will Ferrell movie ever made. Unfortunately, it turned out to be poorly written and terribly interpreted, with jokes landing as well as the unconvincing punches thrown by Day and Cube.
Ice Cube has appeared in more than his fair share of underdeveloped, paint by numbers comedies. But the presence of Charlie Day in Fist Fight feels a little strange as Day, star and co-creator of the hit sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, has carved out a reputation as one of the finest comedic actors in the world.
14 The Great Wall
The Great Wall was marred by controversy from the moment its trailer was released. The movie tracks the journey of European mercenary William Garin (portrayed by Matt Damon), who becomes imprisoned within the Great Wall. Many critics, before even seeing the movie, claimed that placing a white protagonist as the star of a film set during the reign of the Song dynasty was just another example of Hollywood whitewashing history. However, after the film was released, a significant portion of those critics recanted and admitted that while the lead role may be played by a white American male, the film features a predominantly Asian cast and numerous examples of the will and heroics of the medieval Chinese.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that The Great Wall is an illogical affair with Matt Damon just sort of drifting around for two hours. The film is tedious, maybe even difficult, to watch and is a poor tribute to the wall from which it takes its name.
Ah the thriller, it’s a surefire way to attract audiences and make a couple of billion dollars in the process. Or, at least, it used to be. These days, the thriller genre is suffering thanks to an oversaturation of the market and the rehashing of the same old boring plotlines. While Arsenal may have been considered genuinely thrilling had it been released two decades ago, in 2017 it is just another movie about some guy trying to track down a kidnapped family member.
The film was a complete flop and was panned by virtually every critic who had the power to sit through it. Frequent sources of criticism were the film’s shoddy special effects and almost comical costumes and makeup. Nicolas Cage, who played the role of Eddie King, was, as always, mercilessly mocked for his traditional overacting.
12 Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Yes, dead men tell no tales, but I would still be more entertained spending two hours hanging out with the corpse of my dear departed grandfather than I would be sitting through another showing of the latest instalment of Pirates of the Caribbean.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales was expected to be a major hit, owing, in no small part, to the inclusion of franchise favorites Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, who were absent from the previous instalment. The movie also featured Paul McCartney in the role of Captain Jack Sparrow’s paternal uncle.
Dead Men Tell No Tales became a commercial and critical disappointment, with both industry insiders and the general public expressing their dismay with its convoluted plot (even for a Pirates of the Caribbean film) and a catalog of characters which was as large as it was undeveloped.
Denise Di Novi certainly could have hoped for a better film to make her directorial debut than Unforgettable. The movie stars Katherine Heigl as Tessa Connover, a divorcee struggling to come to terms with the end of her marriage and her ex-husband’s new relationship with Julia Banks (played by Rosario Dawson).
Connover takes it upon herself to destroy her ex-husband’s new love through a series of mind games and straight up attempts to murder her. It’s actually a pretty interesting premise, but its poor execution resulted in Unforgettable ironically becoming one of the least memorable films of 2017 thus far. While not entirely impossible to sit through, it fails to captivate the audience to any degree and certainly does not hold up against classic psycho ex-films such as Fatal Attraction or Sleeping With the Enemy.
10 100 Streets
When 100 Streets was released in the United States in January of this year, it had already been panned by critics in the United Kingdom, where it had been released several months earlier. Just as it had done in the UK, the movie underwhelmed audiences in America and failed to obtain any sort of recognition beyond a nomination for Movie of the Year at the Diversity in Media Awards.
100 Streets focuses on the stories of three main characters as they live their lives throughout 100 London streets. This premise is arguably the movie’s downfall. Audiences have not historically reacted well to multi-story movies as they are not granted enough time to become invested in the story of each character. The result is an awkward and ill-timed offering which feels more like a ransom note than a modern classic.
9 3 Generations
3 Generations was originally released back in 2015 under the title About Ray and documents the journey of a transgender New York teenager as he transitions from his female body into one more fitting of his true identity. In 2017, with the presence of the LGBT community and trans rights activists stronger than ever before, the film was released in the United States having been retitled 3 Generations.
I, like so many other moviegoers, desperately wanted to like 3 Generations. The all too seldom seen premise seemed certain to provide the perfect introduction to the struggles of transgender teens for those who may not be sympathetic towards their cause. Unfortunately, the movie fell flat, despite the best efforts of director Gaby Dellal. The script is without substance and seems to be more focused on creating “moments” than a consistent, well-rounded picture. It is a consequence of the “beginning, middle, end” format that has been employed by half-hearted screenwriters for far too long.
American film studios have a history of taking exceptionally written, incredibly successful French films and remaking them for American audiences, who apparently need everything dumbed down and turned into lowest common denominator drivel. See, for example, the beloved La Dîner de Cons, which became the much-hated Dinner for Schmucks, starring Steve Carell and Paul Rudd. Sleepless, a remake of the French thriller Sleepless Night, carries on the long-standing tradition of Hollywood executives destroying the work of their Parisian counterparts.
The American adaptation of SleeplessNights stars Jamie Foxx as he tries to rescue his son from kidnappers in another example of that aforementioned thriller trope. The film was panned by critics for its squandering of a powerful story and strong cast and grossed $8.5 of an expected $10 million in its opening weekend.
7 The Book Of Love
The Book of Love began its life as The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea but saw its name changed just prior to its release, presumably in an attempt to make it more marketable and draw in its target audience.
The Book of Love follows Henry, a widowed and reserved architect portrayed by Jason Sudeikis, as he develops a friendship with a young runaway girl. Henry and the young girl, played by Maisie Williams, work together to build a raft on which Williams’ character intends to sail across the Atlantic Ocean. The 107-minute film is about as exciting as it sounds and has received some of the worst reviews of any movie released in 2017. Contributing to the movie’s poor reception, along with its underwhelming performances, are its over-reliance on sentimentality and predictable plot.
6 The Resurrection Of Gavin Stone
WWE should stick to producing professional wrestling as its wacky storylines and over the top characters don’t lend themselves quite as well to the world of motion pictures. The Resurrection of Gavin Stone, which was released by WWE Studios (yes, it exists) in January of 2017 follows Brett Dalton as the titular character, a former child star who must pretend to be a devoted Christian in order to play the role of Jesus in a play funded by a megachurch. The main draw of the movie was not its script nor its leading man but was instead WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels, who plays the role of Doug, an ex-con with a heart of cold (a favorite trope of WWE Studios).
Unsurprisingly, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone died a death it could not come back from. Critics were quick to slam it for its inability to craft a believable redemption story, branding the film a failure both as a faith-based romp and a mainstream comedy.
So, Shawn Michaels didn’t exactly see his acting career take off with the release of The Resurrection of Gavin Stone. His fellow former WWE Champion Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, however, has been enjoying an incredibly successful career in the motion picture industry for over a decade.
Johnson is today one of the highest-earning actors in Hollywood and a surefire box office draw. Unfortunately, even the charisma of The Rock couldn’t save the film adaptation of Baywatch from becoming one of the worst received films of 2017 so far. Baywatch has been criticized for flat, uncomfortable jokes and an over-reliance on nostalgia. Of course, nostalgia has become a major part of Hollywood movies, but Baywatch did not pull it off nearly as well as 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
4 The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man, as you can probably guess from its absurd and almost childish name, was mercilessly mocked by critics and the general public upon its release. The movie, a total assault on the horror genre, follows a group of college students as they battle The Bye Bye Man, a mysterious entity who gets inside the heads of his victims and causes them to commit horrific acts. While the premise certainly has a degree of promise, it’s difficult to pull off, as those who worked on the film quickly learned. Upon its release, The Bye Bye Man was slammed by critics for what they perceived as clumsy directing and cinematography. The movie’s writers have been accused of stealing ideas from more successful films, which they then executed horrendously.
3 Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul is the fourth instalment in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid film series and had its work cut out for it the moment it was announced. Fans of the franchise were outraged to learn that the main characters of the series had been recast, which led to the widespread sharing of the hashtag “#NotMyRodrick” upon the release of the movie’s first trailer.
Despite the initial negative reaction, the film’s producers were hopeful audiences would enjoy the offering. Unfortunately for them, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul proved a resounding failure, with even the usually easily pleased children it was directed towards being unsatisfied with it. Critics panned the movie for its juvenile humor, writing it off as significantly more abrasive and far less charming than its predecessors.
The past year or so has been hard on Amy Schumer. Not too long ago, the comic was a favorite of critics and branded as a hero to all women who have ever dreamed of rising up against society’s oppressive patriarchal regime. However, accusations of plagiarism derailed the comic’s momentum and her most recent stand-up offering The Leather Special was one even her fans were forced to admit was thoroughly bereft of laughs.
Adding to Schumer’s recent woes is the failure of her feature-length film Snatched, a farcical comedy in which she stars alongside Goldie Hawn. In the movie, Schumer and Hawn embark on an exotic getaway after the former is unexpectedly dumped by her boyfriend. While vacationing in South America, the pair is kidnapped and held for ransom. The result should be a series of at least somewhat amusing gags as Hawn and Schumer’s characters attempt to escape their captors, but viewers are instead forced to sit through a collection of worn-out, uninspired jokes listlessly churned out by the Schumer joke writing machine.
1 Sandy Wexler
Adam Sandler isn't exactly known for producing the most high-brow comedies in the world, but Sandy Wexler is a let-down even for him. In the past, moviegoers could trust Sandler to deliver at least a couple of easy laughs throughout his admittedly threadbare films, but this recently released Netflix exclusive is void of even a chuckle. Viewers have been left cringing by Sandler’s silly voice and cheap gags, which are included in almost every one of his pictures but are turned up to 100 in Sandy Wexler.
Most expected Sandy Wexler to be a critical failure the moment the first trailer was released by Netflix, and, sure enough, it was. Critics have universally panned the movie for its squandering of countless big name celebrities and physical gags which were as poorly executed as their spoken counterparts. If Sandy Wexler is remembered at all beyond 2017, it will not be as a classic comedy of the Netflix era, but rather as Broadway Danny Rose for people who need to be spoon-fed their jokes.