Better late than never, right? These movies were hard enough to watch in the first place, let alone revisit them for a year-end round-up. Give us a break! As always, don’t forget to click the highlighted titles for reviews from each Wylie Writes critic.
Coke Daniels’ Karen seems like it was made with the intent to confront racist behaviour. Unfortunately, the finished film is a misfire that’s in a rush to cash-in on online goofs. This movie isn’t here to send a message. It’s here to collect meme material as Taryn Manning, who plays the titular role and also serves as a producer, torches her credibility.
#4. Bring Me a Dream
Still hanging in my bottom five is Chase Smith’s Bring Me a Dream, a pathetic attempt to create a new creature and lore within the horror genre. Not only is the origin story a rip off, but “The Sandman” (a cringe-inducing performance by former wrestler Tyler Mane) is a silly character that isn’t intimidating or scary. Add some ugly language and Smith’s immature direction and you have an awful horror movie.
#3. Introducing Jodea
For a movie that is convinced it knows the ins-and-outs of the entertainment industry and its seedy characters, it’s awkward to watch Jon Cohen’s Introducing Jodea miss every single mark to comment or make a joke. The movie fails on its satire by being overwritten and performed too broadly, and it flops as a rom-com due to unconvincing chemistry between its leading actors and weak growth in their character arcs.
#2. Roe v. Wade
Cathy Allyn and Nick Loeb’s Roe v. Wade was tailor-made for the Razzies yet, remarkably, it avoided to be mentioned as a nominee. Aside from this controversial biopic being unbelievably tacky and stiff, the D-list roster of celebrities filling out the cast (including Stacey Dash, Jamie Kennedy, Jon Voight, Robert Davi, Steve Guttenberg, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Loeb) absolutely embarrass themselves. However, out of all the terrible performances, Joey Lawrence (of Blossom fame) sticks out the most as he strains to be an Oscar contender with his laughably serious act.
At last year’s halfway mark, Grizzly II: Revenge was trailing behind Bring Me a Dream. But as it hung around in my thoughts, the more it soured; eventually leapfrogging the horror movie and winding up in the top (or should I say bottom) spot.
Enough is enough! I’ve had it with these “Frankenstein’d” movies! David O. Russell’s abandoned comedy Nailed! was only a warning of how this kind of experiment could go wrong compared to the unwatchable madness of Grizzly II: Revenge. This is a cobbled-together mess of a butchered horror movie, poorly recorded concert footage, and newly shot video used to glue scenes and reactions together. There was simply not enough material to make a movie, or even a short film, but that didn’t stop shameless producers (and other people who own the rights to this old footage) from throwing this together to fool movie goers. Talk about not showing any self-discipline or any regard for the audience. The “fixers” behind this version of Grizzly II: Revenge ought to be ashamed of themselves.
These movies were really tough to sit through, and I’ve tried to scrub them out of my memory. The highlighted titles are Addison’s reviews – sometimes we agreed, but some of these he actually liked! What’s his deal?
#9. The Humans
#8. Paradise Cove
#7. The Protégé
#5. Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin
#4. Senior Moment
#1. Grizzly II: Revenge
#5. The Matrix Resurrections
While the first act is interesting, featuring some self-referential fourth-wall breaking, the fourth Matrix installment ultimately loses its inertia once Neo wakes up in the real world… again. Much of this film repeats its predecessors, complete with clips from the other films to demonstrate that we’ve seen it all before. The action sequences, which should have been this film’s saving grace, are weak as well (granted, that may be the pandemic’s fault). It’s hard to retain interest in this entry, especially after the filmmakers deliberately insert the not-so-subtle subtext, ‘we didn’t want to make this movie,’ directly into dialogue in the film. Audiences’ response to a declaration like that should be, ‘well, we don’t want to see it then.’
Marvel Studios may be slipping, wavering, with few places left to go after 2019’s climactic Avengers: Endgame. Eternals is a slog to sit through, featuring too many characters and a repetitive ‘past and present’ narrative structure that grinds its pacing to a devastating halt. Those suffering from superhero fatigue will not find any rejuvenated interest in the genre from this entry to the MCU.
#3. The Tomorrow War
Forgettable and uninspired, this vehicle for Chris Pratt has a weak premise that ultimately dissolves into a nonsensical mess by the time we reach its final act. Tonally, the film is not goofy enough to have levity, and not sincere enough to be compelling.
#2. Roller Squad
This film’s premise alone has a lot of creative potential, with the promise of watching roller-skating meatheads exact vigilante justice on a roller-killer. The execution of the film is ultimately a big let-down though, with slow speed chases, weak skating choreography, and a mystery plot without enough compelling twists and turns.
Introducing Jodea makes the bottom of this list, and for good reason. It’s hard to even consider this as a real movie, considering its complete lack of competent production value. This amateurish picture is worse than something a high school kid could slap together in a weekend. The sound and editing are both unforgivably atrocious, and the film ultimately feels like a whiny diatribe about how cruel the Hollywood machine can be. To the filmmakers: if you are not succeeding in Hollywood, it may not be because your talent isn’t being recognized, but that you, frankly, may lack the necessary talent altogether.
Most Disappointing Movies of 2021:
As mentioned in my mid-year report, Chaos Walking presents an interesting concept and a topical theme. However, the film struggles to maintain a clear sense of vision.
Snake Eyes is a decent action movie. However, it felt devoid of the energy and urgency of a great action/adventure film. The movie feels as if it’s taking itself too seriously, not allowing much breathing room for the characters to exert humour or charisma (which we know the actors possess). It seems RED director Robert Schwentke was going for a more gritty and restrained take, yet this seems to have limited the film overall.
Okay, okay. I know I’m going to get a lot of flack for this one which is understandable. Titane is visceral and provocative, to be sure. However, I felt it had been…over-hyped. Similar to my initial reaction to The Shape of Water: both are well-made and ambitious films. However, the overzealously positive critical reaction seemed to glossify the love between the central relationships (I.e., Elisa and the creature, Alexia and Vincent). In both cases, the relationships between the two characters are core to the film. Yet in The Shape of Water, the relationship between Elisa and the creature develops so quickly it had me questioning the dire attachment they felt toward each other. The critical reception to Titane is rather heavy-handed in its appreciation of the ‘unconditional love’ between Vincent and Alexia – yet I didn’t feel that ring as genuine while watching the film.
#5. Barb and Star go to Vista del Mar
#4. Above Suspicion
#3. Eat Wheaties!
#2. First Blush
#1. Lady of the Manor
I’m as thrilled as anyone that Melanie Lynskey is having a moment in the sun, really. But she and Judy Greer both deserve better than this feeble, cringe-fest of a comedy. While the premise is promising, and the cast outstanding, Lady of the Manor struggles from poor pacing, weak dialogue, and haphazard characterization.
Written and directed by Christian and Justin Long, Lady of the Manor follows a weed-smoking slacker (Lynskey) who lands a gig as a tour guide at a historical manor home in Savannah, Georgia. Unfortunately, the ghost of the former lady of the manor (Greer) takes offence at her lacklustre performance and decides to give her lessons in etiquette.
The accents are bad, and the jokes don’t land. But even worse, this comedy ends on a sour note; opting for a white saviour narrative that would have been difficult to watch ten years ago, but is particularly painful to swallow in 2021.
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