How? How could one person see this many terrible movies in one year? Was I perhaps stricken with some mysterious curse? The answer is much simpler: cinematic masochism. Yes, I spent last year seeking out the worst movies I could find every bit as voraciously as I sought out the best, as I do every year. No one presses play on Benchwarmers 2 expecting greatness (or even mediocrity), but I do this for you, out of love. Here are the ten worst movies I saw in 2019, so you wouldn’t have to.
- THE HAUNTING OF SHARON TATE – I have already wasted too much ink on this cinematic war crime, one of the most tasteless and vile things ever made by humankind. A shameless attempt to beat Tarantino to the punch with an exploitation movie-influenced look at the Manson Family, Daniel Farrands’s barely competent atrocity revels in the horrendous murders of Sharon Tate (Hilary Duff) and her friends without offering any insight, catharsis, or remotely justifiable reason for existing. Farrands’s latest project is entitled The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, however, so that is sure to be a tasteful affair.
2. LOQUEESHA – One would expect a movie about a mediocre white guy pretending to be a sassy black woman on the radio to have some sort of lesson about cultural appropriation or systemic racism attached, especially if said movie was released in 2019. It would still undoubtedly be an awful movie, but it could never hold a candle to the insane narcissism of Loqueesha, writer-director-star Jeremy Saville’s hilariously misbegotten love letter to himself. Instead of learning anything, Saville’s character is infallibly wise and correct throughout, earning the praise of nearly every other character at every opportunity. At one point, the actual black woman Saville has hired to embody his unholy creation at public events unironically tells him, “You are a better black woman than I will ever be.” Between this and his first feature, The Test, Saville has spent countless hours and thousands of dollars getting other people to call him a genius in his own words, which is as fascinating as it is incredibly sad.
3. THE FANATIC – Speaking of love letters to oneself, the highlight of Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst’s latest attempt at film-making is a scene in which secondary lead Devon Sawa drives his son around while rocking out to Limp Bizkit and commenting on how hard the band rocks. It is difficult to tell whether the moment is meant to be ironic, as the entire movie is full of self-aware references to other, better movies about mental illness. John Travolta buries the last of his dignity under a bizarre mullet/bowl-cut hybrid and stalks Sawa like a two-bit Travis Bickle or Rupert Pupkin, but the quality of this production falls far below even lesser DeNiro projects like Joker or The Fan.
4. BENCHWARMERS 2: BREAKING BALLS – At the risk of being controversial, I am going to state my opinion that the original Benchwarmers is not a great movie, and it is unlikely that literally anyone has been clamoring for a sequel over the past dozen years since it was released to modest box office success. Yet here it is, a barely connected sequel starring Chris Klein, who has obviously fallen far in the two decades since Election and the first American Pie, and with only Jon Lovitz returning from the original cast. You read that correctly: this is a movie that was turned down by the likes of Rob Schneider, David Spade, and fucking Napoleon Dynamite in the year 2019, and that should tell you all you need to know.
5. YESTERDAY – A high-concept premise (everyone on Earth suddenly forgets The Beatles ever existed, except one man who uses their songs to kickstart his own failing musical career) adds up to a lot of maudlin horseshit in this dreadfully saccharine romance from the writer of Love, Actually. I did not know that last bit going in, but could have easily guessed as much within the first act, because the whole thing feels like a rejected segment from that Christmastime abomination stretched out to feature length.
6. THE DEAD DON’T DIE – Legendary indie auteur Jim Jarmusch assembled an insane cast (basically everyone he has ever directed before, plus a few new faces) for a feature-length Sturgill Simpson ad with zombies, apparently. The comedy is dry to the point of non-existence and repetitive to boot, the horror is rote and unconvincing, and the social commentary is so heavy-handed it is basically self-parody, albeit of the painfully unfunny kind. The only possible explanation is that Jarmusch is trolling us, using the greatest cast imaginable to make the lamest zombie movie ever released theatrically.
7. VELVET BUZZSAW – The insufferable pretentiousness begins with the title and extends to every facet of the opening stretch of this movie, from Jake Gyllenhaal’s irritatingly mannered performance to writer-director Dan Gilroy’s toothless satire of the modern art world. Then there is an abrupt tonal shift into subpar Stephen King territory (the first horror sequence is almost a direct ripoff of his middling short story The Road Virus Heads North), and the rest of the running time is spent failing to reconcile these elements into a cohesive whole. The result is a movie that is even less than the sum of its parts, all the more disappointing because Gyllenhaal and Gilroy previously teamed up on the excellent Nightcrawler.
8. THE SILENCE – Netflix executives apparently saw the monster success of late 2018’s Bird Box and quickly greenlit a movie that is basically the same thing but with sound instead of sight, because who even remembers A Quiet Place? I mean, it came out all the way back in early 2018, after all! Stanley Tucci tallies another in a long line of roles in movies that are beneath him, and I have already put as much thought into this paragraph as was apparently required to make this movie.
9. 6 UNDERGROUND – Michael Bay is terrific at shooting big, loud action sequences, generally with lots of flashy cars and explosions. With the exception of his masterpiece, Pain & Gain, he has not proven nearly as adept at any other aspect of film-making or storytelling. His latest is no exception to either rule, but it feels like it was written by (and for) caffeine-addled twelve-year-olds, which is sort of enjoyable until it becomes numbing.
10. JAY AND SILENT BOB REBOOT – If Kevin Smith set out to prove that reboots are pale imitations of the original, then he succeeded beyond all expectations with this one, which makes his mid-tier Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back look like a masterpiece by comparison. The jokes are the corniest and most predictable of his career, and the plot is nothing more than a painfully self-aware rehash of what came before. I may be the only one, but I think Smith should stick to horror movies like Red State and Tusk.