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Entries in Worst Films (3)



The ghost of Sherlock Holmes loomed large over the 2019 Golden Raspberry ceremony, with not one but two modern reworkings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary sleuth emerging as the worst films of the year.

Holmes & Watson, the miserable comedy that reteamed the usually reliable Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, was the cause célèbre at this year’s ‘Razzies’, scoring four trophies, including Worst Picture, Worst Director for Etan Cohen, Worst Supporting Actor for Reilly and the competitive Worst Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel.

Also amongst the nominees was the dire animated pic Sherlock Gnomes, with Johnny Depp’s voice enough to qualify him for Worst Actor contention and his career free-fall sufficient for a Worst Screen Combo nomination. As with most other award shows he’s ever attended, Depp left empty-handed. (Pictured, right; Sherlock Gnomes, left, with Depp)

Despite the worst reviews of his career, Ferrell’s Sherlock could not wrestle the Worst Actor trophy from the grasp of one Donald J. Trump. The Commander-in-Chief was singled out for his unconvincing portrayal of a U.S. President in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9 and Dinesh D’Souza’s Death of a Nation; he also earned the Worst Screen Combo honour, starring alongside ‘His Self Perpetuating Pettiness’. Trump harpie Kellyanne Conway won the Worst Supporting Actress gong for her work in both films.

Worst Actress went to Melissa McCarthy, whose Oscar-nominated turn in Can You Ever Forgive Me? was over-compensated for with two other 2018 performances. Whether as the grizzled cop in Brian Henson’s The Happytime Murders or the sorority house senior in Ben Falcone’s Life of the Party, McCarthy’s undeniable talent could not overcome her choice of material. (Pictured, left; McCarthy in Life of the Party)

Neither President Trump nor Ms. McCarthy were present to collect their Golden Raspberry trophys.

Despite four Razzie nominations, Australian siblings Peter and Michael Spierig’s haunted house claptrap Winchester escaped the Razzie wrath.

The full list of 2019 Golden Raspberry honorees are:

Worst Picture: Holmes & Watson
Nominees – Gotti; The Happytime Murders; Robin Hood; Winchester

Worst Actor: Donald J. Trump (As Himself), Death of a Nation and Fahrenheit 11/9
Nominees - Johnny Depp (Voice Only), Sherlock Gnomes; Will Ferrell, Holmes & Watson; John Travolta, Gotti; Bruce Willis, Death Wish

Worst Actress: Melissa McCarthy, The Happytime Murders and Life of the Party
Nominees - Jennifer Garner, Peppermint; Amber Heard, London Fields; Helen Mirren, Winchester; Amanda Seyfried, The Clapper

Worst Supporting Actor: John C. Reilly, Holmes & Watson
Nominees - Jamie Foxx, Robin Hood; Ludacris (Voice Only), Show Dogs; Joel McHale, The Happytime Murders; Justice Smith, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Worst Supporting Actress: Kellyanne Conway (As Herself), Fahrenheit 11/9
Nominees - Marcia Gay Harden, Fifty Shades Freed; Kelly Preston, Gotti; Jaz Sinclair, Slender Man; Melania Trump (As Herself), Fahrenheit 11/9

Worst Screen Combo: Donald J. Trump & His Self Perpetuating Pettiness, Death of a Nation & Fahrenheit 11/9
Nominees - Any Two Actors or Puppets, The Happytime Murders; Johnny Depp & His Fast-Fading Film Career, Sherlock Gnomes; Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly, Holmes & Watson; Kelly Preston & John Travolta, Gotti

Worst Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel: Holmes & Watson
Death of a Nation (remake of Hillary's America...); Death Wish; The Meg (rip-off of Jaws); Robin Hood

Worst Director: Etan Cohen, Holmes & Watson
Nominees - Kevin Connolly, Gotti; James Foley, Fifty Shades Freed; Brian Henson, The Happytime Murders; The Spierig Brothers, Winchester

Worst Screenplay: Fifty Shades Freed, Screenplay by Niall Leonard, from the Novel by E.L. James
Nominees - Death of a Nation, Written by Dinesh D'Souza & Bruce Schooley; Gotti, Screenplay by Leo Rossi and Lem Dobbs; The Happytime Murders, Screenplay by Todd Berger, Story by Berger and Dee Austin Robinson; Winchester, Written by Tom Vaughan and The Spierig Brothers

Barry L. Bumstead Award (for a movie that cost a lot and lost a lot): The Billionaire Boys Club

Razzie Redeemer Award: Melissa McCarthy "for following up her dual Razzie winning appearances with her more complex role in Can You Ever Forgive Me?"



The trailer primed the target demo (are ‘college stoners’ still a thing?) for The Happytime Murders to be the laugh-riot comedy experience of the year. Well, the reviews are in and…um, it isn’t.

Directed by heir to the Muppet throne Brian Henson (pictured, below) as the first bigscreen volley of his adult-skewing Henson Alternative corporate off-shoot, The Happytime Murders works over old-school private-eye tropes against the backdrop of an imagined LA where humans and puppets share a fragile co-existence; the film opens with a couple of moments of anti-puppet prejudice, suggesting a social commentary on racism may have once been on the cards (doesn’t happen). The script is the sophomore effort from Todd Berger, a part-time actor who earlier this year saw his debut feature Cover Versions (which he also directed) premiere DOA.  

The central character is grumpy gumshoe Phil Phillips, a visually uninteresting protagonist voiced by veteran ‘teer Bill Barretta, who is matched up with Melissa McCarthy (who shoulders some blame, having confirmed in a SlashFilm interview that she did a pass on the script after signing on) to solve a series of murders relating to…stuff, who cares? There is a nympho puppet and a lot of drug-addled puppets, meaning there’s lots of ‘hilarious’ puppet sex and puppet drug-taking. There is Elizabeth Banks working hard with no material, Joel McHale bringing nothing and Maya Rudoplh doing her best, but that’s it really.

Any hope that this might be an R-rated Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (or even this years Ted, because we need more films like Ted) quickly faded when reviews began to drop. One of the first to wield the hate-pen was Anthony O’Connor’s diatribe for the Australian site FilmInk, in which he lyrically states that watching the film is akin to, “being shot in the face with an icy cold blast of humour-retardant chemicals.”

International critics began to muster their best worst opinions. The gentlest barbs came from NPR’s Scott Tobias (“…the pace sags like Kermit’s limbs”); ReelViews’ James Berardinelli (“Everything about the movie is stunted…”);’s Brian Lowry (…the puerile humour yields diminishing returns”); and, US Weekly’s Mara Reinstein (“…a witless comedy with poorly executed ideas…”). The nicest thing Variety's Andrew Barker said was the film resembled an, "adolescent YouTube sketch."

A heavier arsenal of negative commentary was launched by Johnny Oleksinski of The New York Post, who called it a “cliché-ridden, laughless bore” under the headline "...the most miserable puppet show ever"; Simon Miraudo of Student Edge surmised, “This is the worst thing any of the actors have been affiliated with.”; Derek Smith at Slant labeled it a, “relentless onslaught of puerile awfulness.” Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune nailed it, declaring, “The Happytime Murders is a one-joke movie, minus one joke.”

Henson’s derided film has stumbled to a frankly astonishing 22% on Rotten Tomatoes at press time. The Hollywood Reporter’s Frank Schreck backed it, saying, “It’s more than funny enough…”, while Aussie Matt Neal of ABC Radio called it an “ambitious cult-classic-in-waiting.” Advocates will point out it’s not even the worst reviewed film of the week, let alone the year; hitting Australian cinemas is Slender Man, an anaemic horror effort that has somehow conjured a 9% RT rating.

Ok, sure, but what seems to be the main theme of the wave of dud reviews is that The Happytime Murders is arguably 2018’s greatest floundering of talent and opportunity. Henson and his creative team weren’t re-inventing the wheel; bad taste puppet/people comedies have worked before, notably Peter Jackson’s cult classic Meet the Feebles. Everything was in place to suggest this could have worked too, if the slightest bit of inspiration, energy and ambition had been employed. It wasn’t, leaving a piss-weak puppet-noir bore made worse by crass, cringe-worthy crudity.



More often than is really fair, film critics are taunted with, “Oh, you’re just looking for things to hate.” Nothing could be further from the truth; we do what we do because we desperately want to love everything we see. We enter every screening passionately hoping to bestow 5-star praise upon that which hides behind the big curtain. It takes a lot of hard work to hack away at the enthusiasm we have for cinema, leaving us gutted with disappointment, stunned into critical disbelief. In 2016, no films worked harder to that end than this lot…

Read THE BEST FILMS OF 2016 here.

The puddle-deep world of high fashion is usually ridiculous enough to offer its own form of self-parody without shitty cinema adding to the spectacle. In 2016, two rehashed properties well past their primes tried to recapture whatever made them interesting a decade or so ago, but fell embarrassingly short. The Ab Fab movie was an interminable slog, foregoing the London-set Patsy/Edina dynamic of the largely plotless TV series in favour of a stupid Euro-narrative; big mistake. Zoolander 2 decided to mimic the first instalment except louder and bigger, to absolutely dire consequences. Is Ben Stiller’s future as a small-screen star now inevitable? These films represent about 200 minutes of completely laugh-free ‘comedy’. (Editor’s note: Zoolander 2 is our official ‘Worst Film of 2016’). 

The desperation on everyone’s part to see their bad decisions through to the end infests every frame of this unwanted sequel. Unlike the sleeper hit original, which boasted beautiful production design and committed performances, this expensive follow-up looks low-rent, misses Kristen Stewart’s darker charms and fails to establish any dramatic conflict between the overpaid, under-performing trio of Chris Hemsworth, Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron.

Respectfully, it had been a long while since the late director Garry Marshall made a good film. But it was a cruel twist of fate that Mother’s Day was his swansong. Every obituary referenced this horribly twee, schmaltzy, shrill bore in the same breath as his gems Pretty Woman, Frankie and Johnny and The Flamingo Kid. The cast were uniformly terrible, none more so than Julia Roberts as the wig-wearing TV host. Every dramatic beat was fake and forced; every joke, bad sitcom-standard. The 'Hidden Homosexuality' subplot was demeaning and insulting on just about every level. What were they thinking...? (Editor's note: No wait...maybe this was the year's worst film?)  

The ‘Sundance film’ hit its nadir this year with Florian Cossen’s pulse-free accidental piss-take of the ‘Sundance film’. A typically maudlin teen outsider ‘hero’ (soulless sap Alex Ozerov) mumbles through the small-Americana setting, hoping his pixie dream girl (the film’s bright spot, Bea Santos) can liven things up. The mopey, millennial disconnect that this film indulges in makes for insufferably self-conscious drama; by the time the smirking leads eulogize a dying animal with an impromptu ukulele hymn, I was ready to damn their entire generation.

Phillippe Grandrieux has his supporters (Locarno, SITGES and Venice have all honoured his past works), but there is no defending his sordid, contentiously misogynistic look inside this nonsensically cinematic version of black-hearted porn industry melodrama. If you’re so inclined, you might get a thrill out of the frank depiction of erections, blow jobs, torture and murder, but 156 minutes of this stuff, shot with a stomach-churning shaky-cam, spot-lighting obsessed style, is insufferable. With all due respect, the standard of acting is what you might expect from the porn genre.

The studio tried to spin this as not being a remake of the Charlton Heston classic but a throwback to the source novel. It failed spectacularly, on either front; from the casting of the anaemic, whiny Danny Huston as Benny, to the heavy-handed and muddled religious message, to the cringe-worthy effects, this is the grand, grotesque folly of 2016. By the time the adversaries saddled up for the obligatory chariot race (really the only reason this film exists, let’s face it), not a single audience member gave a damn. Even the burgeoning faith-based audience smelt a cynical cash-grab of biblical proportions, ignoring the film and condemning it to wallow in red-ink for immortality. (Editor's note: Oh, yeah, this is definitely the worse!)

I know I’m rowing this boat alone; the overwhelmingly positive response to Todd Haynes’ drama (94% on RT) was backed by AMPAS, who bestowed upon it six Oscar nominations. But there was a nagging, obtrusive disconnect between Haynes’ overtly stylized 50s New York society and the heartfelt warmth of Rooney Mara’s blossoming wallflower. In so blatantly drawing upon the works of Douglas Sirk, Haynes was revealed to be no Douglas Sirk at all (despite his 2002 Sirk-a-thon, Far From Heaven, which is an immeasurably better film). And then there is Cate Blanchett’s unforgivably theatrical performance, brought to life with such technical precision as to rob her scenes of any life. My mounting frustration with Carol was brought into focus when Bret Easton Ellis dissed the film in his podcast, calling it no more than the director “moving his little lesbian Barbie dolls around.”

Can anyone explain that ending to me? (Spoilers ahead) If it was literal, it required such a huge leap of audience faith in the narrative as to be ridiculous; if it was all happening in the protagonist's head, it meant the establishment had won and the spirit of the film was all for nought. It was the biggest bummer of the 2016 movie roster, shafting moviegoers' emotional involvement and sticking it to Viggo Mortensen’s free-spirited anti-hero. And that hilariously ill-conceived bonfire dance-off jam session was unforgivably terrible.

What the f*** has happened to Kevin Smith?!? One can’t begrudge him having a bit of fun, but the sharp dialogue, vivid characterisations and on-the-pulse pop culture relevance of his best work seem a billion years away. Yoga Hosers is a new low; as the two convenience store clerks battling weiner-Nazis (don’t ask), the director’s daughter Harley Quinn Smith and her lovely but vacuous BFF Lily Rose-Depp are the dullest heroines of the year. Not even the target audience (heavy smokers of the green stuff) could find this watchable. Smith needs to stop drinking the bong water and rediscover some kind of ambition (and keep Johnny Depp out of his films). (Editor's note: That's it, I'm out of here.)

Could have been this generation’s Dimboola, but Sony’s B&S Ball-set romantic comedy proved neither romantic nor funny. The rowdy outback tradition of gathering locals together for a wild night of uninhibited partying should have been rich cinematic fodder. But directors Tim Ferguson and Marc Gracie (it took two?) capture none of the flavour of such an event; Spin Out looks like it was shot out the back of Fox Studios with a cast of Bondi millenials. Except for leading man Xavier Samuels, who is too old by ten years for this schtick. An icky drag-equals-gay subplot, a mechanically contrived denouement and an adherence to PG-level bawdiness hamstrung the film, too.

Dishonourable Mentions: