Does it seem cruel to do a Ten Worst list, considering that 2020 was already a garbage year? I debated that before assembling what you're about to read. Focusing on the negative when we've been bombarded by negativity all year wasn't something I initially thought I could do. I am, however, a believer in thoroughly recapping each 12-month period, so I decided to proceed as normal, if only to expel these films from my system once and for all.
Most of the entries on this list are weighted toward movies that disappointed me – ones I was looking forward to, only to be massively let down. With that in mind, here are my picks for the Ten Worst Films of 2020:
10. Dolittle - The world didn't need another version of Doctor Dolittle, and it really didn't need one with a sloppy story and a tendency to step on its own jokes. The usually reliable Robert Downey, Jr. goes full weirdo here, to the movie's detriment.
9. The War with Grandpa - Why Robert DeNiro, Uma Thurman, Christopher Walken, Jane Seymour, and Cheech Marin would want to star in a lame Home Alone-esque slapstick kiddie comedy is a mystery for the ages. In fairness, though, this is the best DeNiro movie with the word "grandpa" in the title, but that's only because Dirty Grandpa is a thing that exists.
8. Artemis Fowl - Disney's adaptation of the popular young adult book series is the worst thing to happen to co-star Judi Dench since Cats. Utterly incoherent in plot and lacking excitement or wonder, the movie ends with a set-up for sequels that I'm sure will never materialize.
7. The Quarry - Shea Wigham portrays a drifter/murderer who tries to hide from the law by posing as the new preacher in a small town, and Michael Shannon is the local cop who senses something weird is afoot in this slow-as-molasses thriller. Actually, calling The Quarry a thriller would be inaccurate. That word implies there are thrills. The film is actually just one big, long pretentious metaphor for sin and salvation.
6. An American Pickle - This rare Seth Rogen bomb finds him playing two roles: an immigrant worker who is preserved in a pickle barrel for 100 years and the descendent he moves in with upon thawing out. Early scenes, which indicate the movie will be a good-hearted comedy about the immigrant experience, give way to a strained, unfunny political satire with nothing new to say.
5.The Grudge - The worst sin a horror movie can commit is to be boring. This needless reboot of the 2004 hit (which was itself a remake of a Japanese film) commits that sin, and then some. After screening it, I tweeted the following: “Press materials for The Grudge list the running time as 93 minutes, but the actual running time is When The Hell Is This Going To Be Over?!”
4. Olympic Dreams - Director Jeremy Teicher got unprecedented access to film at the Olympic Village during the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. He then had comedian Nick Kroll and Olympic long-distance runner Alexi Pappas wander around, improvising a romantic drama. With no formal script, what follows is eighty-five very long minutes of personality-free characters doing nothing of even remote interest. They're literally upstaged by the scenery.
3. Like a Boss - Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne are funny performers, so it's depressing to see them stuck in this utterly laughless comedy. The two play longtime besties whose friendship is tested when their cosmetics company gets bought out by a power player (Salma Hayek). Running just eighty-three minutes, including end credits, Like a Boss rushes through its jokes, robbing them of any potential comedic value.
2. Trump Card - Convicted felon Dinesh D'Souza's latest effort makes the preposterous claim that Democrats are trying to turn America into a socialist nation. To convince us, he interviews dubious "experts," including his wife, his daughter, and former Grey's Anatomy star Isaiah Washington. D'Souza's logic is often hilariously insipid. My favorite accusation is that Barack Obama and Joe Biden are lying about climate change, because both own beachfront homes, and why would they do that if there was increased chance of flooding?
And my choice for the Worst Film of 2020 is:
1. Verotika - This one requires some explanation, given that I rated it “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes. Heavy metal rocker Glenn Danzig decided to direct a horror anthology. What he turned in rivals Plan 9 From Outer Space, The Room, and Birdemic in the department of sheer ineptitude. Poorly written, amateurishly acted, sluggishly directed, badly lit, and full of gratuitous gore and nudity, Verotika is a picture that's utterly fascinating in its awfulness. That quality would make it a hoot to watch with other disbelieving viewers, preferably under the influence of alcohol. (Hence my very qualified “fresh.”) The fact remains, though, that by every standard definition it's a terrible motion picture, made by a guy who's ingested far too many horror movies and incorrectly believed he could make one, too.