So many terrible movies, so little time. The film industry is large and mostly profitable; even ostensible garbage turns a profit on a long enough timeline. Due to this, there aren’t many notable “box office bombs” anymore–and anyway, that’s not a reliable measure of a film’s worth in general. As you’ll see on this list of the worst films (so far) of 2017, a number of them have made a great deal of money–but this doesn’t mean they’re good films.
In fact, it’s often difficult to judge what’s truly “good” or “bad” about films: even universally disliked films have some fans. Instead, this list was put together based on expectations, budget, and the talent involved. Some films weren’t made for much money and it shows, but a low budget is no excuse for making a shoddy film.
Similarly, some had high budgets and a fair amount of talent involved and still turned out terrible. And finally, there are films on this list that for unknowable reasons have made tons of dough–but that doesn’t mean they’re actually good. And besides, tearing into films can be a lot of fun. With that in mind, here are the 10 worst films (so far) of 2017.
10. The Boss Baby
An imaginative young boy named Tim is upset when his parents bring another child into the house–literally, since their new baby arrives in a taxi. He’s especially annoyed since they now give the newborn all of the attention he was accustomed to receiving from them exclusively.
But Tim finds out his new baby brother (voiced by Alec Baldwin) talks like a character from Glengarry Glen Ross, wears suits, and is actually part of an organization called Baby Corp., and–hold on, there’s more setup involved–he drinks a formula that makes him intelligent and has infiltrated Tim’s family because his parents work for a company called Puppy Co. that are releasing a new version of a “Forever Puppy” that will be more popular than babies, which this new baby has to stop so babies can continue to hold the market share(?) of being loveable.
Got all that? Together, Tim and his new boss baby must stop from these new puppies being released into the world, thereby…jeopardizing babies?
And wow, for such a convoluted setup this is a mindless movie. Insulting the intelligence of children and babies alike, The Boss Baby is a sloppily written, has headache-inducing CGI, and features an unlikeable main character in Baldwin’s “boss baby.”
Alternately too juvenile for adults but with a premise far too sophisticated for children, inexplicably this has become one of the highest-grossing films of the year, which can only be accounted for by being released during a season where there were few family-friendly films in theaters.
History will most likely not be kind to this movie; like a baby, it’s a rare film that lacks a sense of object permanence. Instead, the viewer begins to forget The Boss Baby almost immediately after it ends.
The original Japanese Ringu was a highly influential horror film, and its American remake The Ring (marking the first US remake of a Japanese horror film) was a smash hit. Even the original sequel (the cleverly titled The Ring 2) released in 2005 was pretty good. And that was all we ever needed to hear about from this franchise for the rest of time.
But apparently not, since a short 12 years after the last film–back by non-existent demand– Rings was released. This time around, the walking dead meat of this installment are a group of people who are stuck in an endless daisy chain of unfortunates who have watched the haunted VHS (a very timely technology in the second decade of the 21st century) and make copies to pass along to save their own skin. But wait: at the end the video goes viral! That’s current, right?
Featuring terrible acting, worse direction, cheap jump scares that might frighten someone who has literally never experienced one before, and an air of pointlessness that seems to have infected the film much like the haunted spirit does in the tapes, Rings still turned a healthy profit, proving that there’s always a new generation of teenagers who will plunk down their parent’s money for a few hours in a movie theater regardless of the quality of what’s playing.
Nicolas Cage and John Cusack have both made some fine films in their careers. Cage is an Academy-award winning actor while Cusack has a strange and affecting charm of his own, and both have enjoyed long and successful acting careers. Why either of them would agree to be in a film as shoddy as Arsenal is perplexing. Perhaps they both have money problems.
A paycheck could be the only reason either would appear in this dreck. So the story goes: JP and Mikey (neither played by Cage or Cusack) are brothers who went different directions in life–JP owns a construction company and Mikey’s a small-time crook.
But when Mikey is kidnapped by Eddie King (Cage, whose performance is at least imbued with his patented insanity), JP goes to his crooked cop pal Sal (Cusack, in “Who gives a crap?” mode) for some help, but mostly it’s about JP trying to rescue Mikey from Eddie.
There’s violence and action and tough guy talk but it’s also unbelievably boring to watch. Arsenal comes across as if the filmmaker woke up one day and realized he had a budget to spend but no idea what to do with it, so he hired a few name actors, cobbled together some loose crime film ideas, and started shooting until the film ran out. What was produced from this was Arsenal, a film that needn’t have been made and shouldn’t be watched by anybody who values their free time in any way.
Listen: audiences don’t ask much from horror films. Come up with an original idea, throw some gore around, keep the pace up, maybe add some humor or gratuitous nudity to lighten the load, and have it end by the 90 minute mark. In short, horror films are rarely expected to be Citizen Kane. But even these basic elements are absent in Eloise.
While it starts off with a strong premise–a haunted mental asylum based on the real-life Eloise hospital that once functioned as a combination poor house/psychiatric hospital/TB ward in the early 20th century–the film does nothing with it, instead hitting every cliche branch on the trope tree as it falls interminably towards a conclusion.
So: a guy has to spend a night in the abandoned Eloise asylum to find a death certificate to claim an inheritance and ropes in some of his pals to join him. Eliza Dushku plays one of the characters to provide a recognizable name. A full third of the movie is spent setting up the characters and their relationships to each other, none of which ultimately matter.
The asylum comes across like a low-rent haunted house. Characters are picked off one-by-one by malevolent entities, and some of them had relatives who worked in the hospital so they’re haunted by them, as well. And then it finally ends at 89 minutes so it got that right, at least.
This subpar by-the-numbers horror flick wouldn’t have made this list were it not for two facts: 1) the director, Robert Legato, is one of the most acclaimed visual effects supervisors in film history, having won three Academy Awards for his work, including for Titanic. Look him up on Wikipedia: he’s had an impressive career. This was his directorial debut and it looks like it’ll be his only directorial outing. 2) They filmed this movie in the actual run-down Eloise psychiatric hospital but there’s nothing in the film they couldn’t have accomplished on sets.
The fact that a film based on a legendary asylum that must have hundreds of real-life stories that could have been made into amazing horror films–and was filmed on location in said asylum–instead was used for this Scooby Doo-esque mystery is a waste of all of the time, talent, and money of everyone involved in the production of Eloise.
6. Fifty Shades Darker
While the runaway literary success of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy puzzled everyone (except for the hordes that bought it), that could be excused: if people want to read poorly written erotica, then at least it’s nice that people are reading again.
People even scoffed when they heard it was going to be made into a movie: after all, a notoriously graphic book couldn’t be anything other than straight-out porn, right? But it was cleaned up for the theaters to secure an R rating in 2015; critics hated it because it was ostensibly the same kind of crap the book was, but it turned a healthy profit and it was announced they’d just keep on making the movies until the story’s conclusion.
Now in 2017 we have Fifty Shades Darker, which continues the Mary Sue erotic adventures of Anastasia Steele and her totally believable devoted billionaire sadomasochist lover Christian Grey.
This time around, they’re on the outs with each other, with Grey trying to win her back. She begins doing some detective work, finding out about Grey’s abusive past, while also finding rivals in Grey’s former girlfriend/submissive Leila and former dominant Elena. And she gets a big promotion at work and he asks her to marry him because despite the BDSM cover it’s still pretty much just a chick flick.
Aside from terrible direction, writing, and performances, the film is shallow garbage. Then again, so were the books, so this should be expected. As mentioned, it’s really just a wish fulfillment fantasy aimed at the 25-and-older female quadrant with a little “taboo” sex thrown in for spice.
Despite its glaring, obvious weaknesses as a film it made quite a bit of money at the box office, so expect sometime next year the (hopefully) concluding film Fifty Shades Freed. See you next year when it lands on the same kind of list as this one.