The year is almost coming to an end. Christmas is just around the corner, but our friends in the United States have one more special day to celebrate before that: Thanksgiving. It involves putting on sweatpants and eating as much turkey as you can. And taking a beat to say what you are thankful for, but mostly the turkey thing.
There is one type of turkeys that we don’t suffer at Raindance: movie turkeys. Every year, we round up the year’s turkeys in the hope that we can learn from them, and never see the likes of them, ever again. Without further ado, here are this year’s movie turkeys.
The 15:17 to Paris
If there is one thing that Hollywood loves more than making us believe that fairy tales can be true stories, it is taking true stories and turning them into fairy tales. Film executives love it when a good idea just lands on their desk by way of a newspaper.
The act of heroism of American soldiers on a train going from Amsterdam to Paris was indeed a larger-than-life story, and had “movie” written all over it. Sadly once the legendary Clint Eastwood got ahold of it, it became a tedious exercise in trying to extoll undeniable virtues in the flattest possible film you could think of. Also, did the real-life heroes need to act in the film? I’m not against authenticity in film, but… please.
I Feel Pretty
Amy Schumer is an excellent comedian. She has made her mark as an empoweringly raunchy woman, and deserves a lot of credit for her work. Before this film, the most disappointing Schumer family member was U.S. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, who can’t be asked to get anything done. After this film… still him, but at least Amy Schumer got this film done.
A number of creatives deserve to showcase their talents on film. But film is an incredibly difficult medium, reaching levels of alchemy that are beyond the talents of many. Have a look at the trailer, all the good moments are in it.
The scattered release schedule of this film may not qualify it as a 2018 film, but it is so bad, it deserves to be mentioned sooner rather than later. Hopefully this time next year I will have forgotten it. Dan Fogelman is the writer behind Cars, Tangled, The Guilt Trip, and one the terrific Crazy Stupid Love. He is also an industrious television writer and the creator of the hit show This is us. The cast boasts big names. Annette Bening, Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas, Mandy Patinkin.
The premise is intriguing, with the movie introducing itself as an exploration of the idea that everyone has an impact on someone else’s life, and that we are all connected, and that we are all part of a bigger picture that we can’t always see. The odd cute moment in this film can’t redeem the flatness of the story (or lack thereof). The queasily heartfelt moments in the movie can’t make up for the fact that whatever plot threads have been mustered are incredibly predictable. It’s like all the saccharine-heavy instincts of the writer-director; a writer without a co-writer for the first time, and a writer directing his work alone for the first time, have been let loose to abysmal effect. I now recommend this film to my students as an example of what not to do in screenwriting.
Billionaire Boys Club
Some films just make you want to go: “why?” The achievement of this particular film is that you are asking yourself that question repeatedly, and always about a different element. The story? The performances? The overall direction? The fact that this film exists? Watching this film can turn into a massive filmmaking existential crisis if you are not careful. After all, it reached a solid 8% on Rotten Tomatoes.
It should be noted that this is the only film that survived the purge of Kevin Spacey’s work after the sexual harrassment and abuse allegations made against him, and you have to admire the boldness of the distributor who still put it out. The film made 600$ in its opening weekend. That’s all.
We’re getting into the area of the list that gets a bit tricky. Solo: A Star Wars Story made a more than decent box office intake, and wasn’t the obvious lazy cash grab that many feared -although it is very much a way for Disney to recoup their investment in buying Lucasfilm, under the guise of “world building”. It is probably more famous for its troubled production than for the final result, and if some judge it to be a good film, your assessment of the product probably depends on your closeness, or critical distance, to the Star Wars fandom more than anything else.
A Wrinkle in Time
Just like Solo, and also a Disney property, there were high expectations for this film. It is an adaptation of a much-beloved book, and has the great Ava DuVernay at the helm. It also boasts the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Oprah in the cast.
It is far from a flat-out dud like other films higher up on this list, but the levels of expectations for the film and the fact it just about reaches “meh” on the excitement chart makes it perhaps more disappointing