2021 In Film: Day One (The Awful)

Quite simply, the worst films of the year. Ones that not only am I in no rush to see again, but ones that I will actively avoid. Films where my short recaps here can basically be summed up as: eugh. My internal clarification is this: would I consider it among one of the worst films I’ve seen? Does it have any reason to see it? If not, in here.

A Perfect Plan

A film so dull that it wasn’t actually on my list of films I saw this year. It was only when I was going through the reviews that I remembered it. It has left zero impact on me.

+ The Concept. A unique twist on standard heist movies.

– So incredibly dull. No excitement, no joy, nothing worthwhile. It’s a film so devoid of anything memorable that watching it is almost indistinguishable from not watching it

Best Moment: When it ended? I dunno, I’ve got nothing. Like I said, forgettable.

Worst moment: The heist itself. It lacks any excitement or tension. It should be the lynchpin the film revolves around and builds up to, as it is it’s a thumbtack that fell out of a corkboard, breaking as it hits the floor, then gets kicked under a cupboard, forgotten and worthless, completely pointless.

Best Performer: Carlo Rota. He’s too good for films like this.

Worst Performer: Kathleen Munroe. They’re all bad, but she’s the star, so she gets the biggest criticism.

Best Line: You’re a shoe size passing for an IQ.

Original review here

Antebellum:

I was really looking forward to this. The concept was good and the original trailer was haunting. The finished product just isn’t there though. The pacing is all off, it lingers when it should move on, and moves on when it should linger. It’s more interested in making a good point than it is making a good movie.

+ Has some great moments.

– All the villains are basically caricatures, so they’re not interesting or compelling to watch.

Best moment: Her riding on horseback through a fake battle.

Worst Moment: The reveal.

Best Performer: Janelle Monae, best known as a musician, but I really hope she gets cast in more things in the future. She’s in Knives Out 2, which I’m looking forward to.

Worst performer: Jena Malone. That’s not her accent is it? It can’t be

Best line: Sometimes what looks like anger is really just fear

Original review here

Blithe Spirit

Hadn’t seen anything about this in the lead-up, almost like the makers were embarrassed, which they should be. It was one of the first films I saw this year, and it made me grateful for COVID as it meant there was no chance of seeing it at the cinema.

+The concept and some of the dialogue is first-class. Also, it has a really bright colour scheme, which is unusual for films like this. Normally if a film is set in the 30s the colours are very muted and slightly brown to give an almost sepia-tone to the whole thing. In this they’re like a rainbow splashed on the wall.

-Why do so many performers ham it up for Noel Coward adaptations? It comes off really unnatural and means that the film feels like a 2020’s film about the 1930s, rather than just a film about the 1930s

Best moment: Throwing the china. For a film where I include the dialogue as one of my favourite things, it says a lot about this scene that it’s my favourite despite being just physical comedy.

Worst moment: The ghost of his ex-wife starts throwing knives at one of the staff. It seems very mean-spirited and out of place.

Best performer: Julian Rhind-Tutt. He really should be in more things of this nature, he’s perfect for it.

Worst performer: Leslie Mann. It’s not that she’s bad, it’s just her accent is all over the place.

Best line: “Are they habit-forming?” “Of course not, I’ve been using them for years”

Original review here.

Don’t Breathe 2

I mean, I didn’t really like the original so I don’t know why I thought it would be any different this time. But again, it’s trying to rehabilitate someone who is truly evil. It’s trying to make him slightly heroic, but nothing he does makes up for what we saw him do in the first film.

+ Has some good scares.

– Bit pointless.

Best Moment: There’s a really good tracking shot.

Worst Moment: Not sure, it was all so forgettable that I can’t remember.

Best Performer: Madelyn Grace, a child performer who isn’t completely annoying.

Worst Performer: Almost everybody is equal.

Best Line: Now you’re gonna see what I see!

Original review here

Escape Room: Tournament Of Champions

Again, a film where I didn’t like the original, so I’m not sure why I thought I might like this one. Especially with how similar the two films are. The first film ended with Minos (the company behind the killer escape rooms) setting up a fake plane accident as an escape room in which to trap the two main characters. This film ends with the two characters trapped on a plane escape room. So the next film will start pretty much where this one should have. No idea what the next one will be as the alternate cut of this features someone they’re setting up as the main villain going forward. So will the sequel take this film as canon, or will it make the extended version a complete waste of time? It’s a lose-lose situation really. But at least the next step should be entertaining.

+ The paranoia in the opening scenes, really sets up how the characters are effected by what they went through.

– If you think about the logistics the whole thing falls apart. Are we led to believe that Minos somehow set it up that all the people they needed would be in the exact same train compartment at the same time, and NOBODY else. Also, the train company don’t realise the extra cart, or that they lose one. Unless they’re involved too. But you can’t just say “every company in the world is involved in this secret organisation”, just stupid.

Best Moment: The acid rain trap. Truly disturbing.

Worst moment: When the traps start making it harder for them. This is supposed to be being bet on by people, right? Wouldn’t they complain about the traps changing halfway through and suddenly becoming unfair?

Best Performer: Zoey Davis.

Worst Performer: Deborah Ann Woll. Not really her performance, but her character being in it, breaks the film slightly.

Notable Line: “Tell us, Zoey. Did we do a good job convincing you?” I knew they didn’t actually escape, but this confirmed it. So everything was hopeless and pointless.

Original review here

Home Sweet Home Alone

I assumed this would be bad from when I first saw the trailer. I was not disappointed, by which I mean I was disappointed, this film was terrible. It doesn’t seem to understand WHY we liked the first two (and only those two). It lacks the magic of the original, there’s no joy to it, just the sound of a studio saying they want money.

+ It sets up the universe very well. Kevin from the first two films has set up a home security company, which makes a lot of sense. This is hinted at rather than outright said, and the restraint for that reference is commendable.

– The decision to focus on the thieves breaks the film as it makes the pain they go through a lot less funny. If they switched the focus I’m not saying it would be a good movie, but it would undoubtedly be better.

Best Moment: The ending is slightly heartwarming.

Worst moment: The VR “trap”. It makes no sense once you think about it.

Best Performer: Rob Delaney.

Worst Performer: Archie Yates. Not sure if it’s the script or his performance but he just comes off as annoying.

Notable Line: “Uh, this is garbage. I don’t know why they are always trying to remake the classics. Never as good as the originals”. Just because you make a joke about terrible remakes, doesn’t mean your remake isn’t terrible.

Original review here

Lucky

I have rules in my head for these lists. After the list of bad ones, my next list contains films that are bad, but have something I can recommend watching for. Sometimes it can be that it looks amazing, sometimes it’s an amazing performance, and sometimes it’s one scene that really works. This film does the opposite, it’s thoroughly okay and belongs in the next blog, but the ending is SO infuriating it knocks it down.

+ Genuinely interesting concept. Has one pretty damn good scene.

– The music? I get it’s supposed to be offputting, but it seems weirdly jaunty at times, too high pitched. Also, I cannot understate how much the ending ruins it.

Best Moment: Scene where it’s happening to everybody in a car park. Very similar to the moment in Us when you see the true extent of the tethered. A real holy shit moment where you want to stand up and applaud the genius of it. In a way that makes it better for her as she knows it’s not personal, but it also makes it much much worse.

Worst moment: The ending. It genuinely knocks the movie down a few points. Thematically it makes sense, but narratively it feels slightly weak. It’s the equivalent of a gymnast doing a double backflip but landing on their head and shitting themselves.

Best Performer: Kausar Mohammed. For the first part of the film, she does a great job of being a warm, lovely person. But then there’s a scene where she’s talking to the lead where she suddenly gets super creepy when she’s asked where she got a scar, gets a blank look in her eyes, completely devoid of emotion, almost robotic. And utters the line ““just an old thing. I forget. Just a part of living in this world. It happened so long ago” in the best way possible. It’s not the best line, but the way she performs it is phenomenal, possibly one of the best line deliveries I’ve seen in a long time.

Worst Performer: Leith Burke. Not a bad performance, just incredibly bland.

Best Line: “I am not lucky, I just work really really hard”. It’s part of a longer speech that is just incredible to watch.

Original review here

Space Jam: A New Legacy

I’m not entirely sure why this was made. Actually, I have an idea: money. This brings nothing new to the table. It’s not film, it’s product. Everything seems geared towards selling you a streaming service. I haven’t seen anything that fellates itself this much since I accidentally went into the wrong hotel room in Bristol. It doesn’t feel like a sequel to the first one, it feels like some weird cheap knock-off.

+ All the references are fun to catch.

– Feels like it’s made by committee. No heart, no soul

Best Moment: The basketball game itself.

Worst moment: Bugs bunny “dies”. It’s supposed to be emotional but we know it’s not going to stay so it means absolutely nothing.

Best Performer: Don Cheadle. Turns out he can be quite creepy.

Worst Performer: LeBron James, he’s not an actor.

Notable Line: “but I can’t act”. Correct, you can’t, and that sums up the problem.

Original review here

The Addams Family 2

This never really feels like an Addams Family movie, it seems the fourth instalment in an Illumination series. “They go on holiday” is normally what a TV series does to its characters when the show is on its last legs, that’s how this feels. Like the last desperate cries of a dying franchise that was never really alive in the first place. The reveal that Gomez is actually bald feels weirdly out of step with who these characters are.

+ Some of the casting is perfect, well it would be in a live-action film anyway.

– Lacks anything which makes the Addams Family special.

Best Moment: Lurch performing I Will Survive.

Worst moment: Cousin It being dropped off by private jet, then leaving before doing nothing.

Best Performer(s): Charlize Theron. Her and Oscar Isaac are perfect, the way their animated is still wrong though.

Worst Performer: Nick Kroll. Completely the wrong choice.

Best Line: “Do you know how much work it is to decapitate an entire barbershop quartet?”

Original review here

The Boss Baby 2

The Boss Baby 2, or in some territories named The Boss Baby: Family business, and to me known as “Oh no, please no, what did the world do to deserve this?”. We didn’t need a Boss Baby sequel, we didn’t even need the first one. It’s completely unneeded, the way they tell the story is the worst possible way to tell it, and the decision to tell it is not a good one. The characters have not developed at all, despite this film taking place at least 20 years after it. Also, when the characters discuss the actions of the actions of the first movie, they say “at least the jokes were good, right?” to be met with a “meh”. So the characters of Boss Baby 2, are saying the first one isn’t funny. The franchise is shitting on itself.

The film seems to forget that the actions of the first film were forgotten by the parents, so don’t factor into characterisation. At one point they say “oh, those kids did everything together”. Did they? Because we’ve seen ZERO evidence of this.

+ It looks pretty

– Why does it need to exist?

Best Moment: Musical interlude. It’s sweet and looks absolutely gorgeous.

Worst moment: Almost everything with actual adult Tim, his characterisation is the same as it was in the first film, you know, when he was a child.

Best Performer: Jeff Goldblum, he seems like he’s having fun.

Worst Performer: No real weak links tbh, but not many standouts either tbh.

Best Line: They’re going to send in the Baby Seals

Original review here

Those Who Wish Me Dead

I’m assuming this belongs here as I can’t remember anything from it. It left zero impact on me. It feels like a relic of another time, and not in a good way.

+ Looks good.

– Feels like it’s missing something to make it stand out.

Best Moment: The murders at the start. Brutal and just what’s needed.

Best Performer: Angelina Jolie, you occasionally forget just how good she is until you see her in stuff like this.

Best Line: “You can fucking suffer” mainly because of the performance given while saying it.

Original review here

Thunder Force

On the subject of films that feel dated, this feels like a comedy from the early 90s. When views on superhero films were different. The story itself feels like it belongs in a kids film. I can’t imagine an adult sitting down and being entertained by this. McCarthy has shown that she can be good, but she’s not talented enough to elevate a poor script, and there are fewer scripts that are as poor as this one.

+ Jason Bateman. He is the highlight of the film.

– It just feels lazy.

Best Moment: Kiss From A Rose as they start a fight scene

Worst moment: The dance scene between McCarthy and Bateman. It’s so out of place and adds nothing that couldn’t have been added in a better way.

Best Performer: Jason Bateman

Worst Performer: McCarthy

Best Line: “unfortunately these superpowers were only unlocked in rare individuals who were genetically predisposed to being sociopaths”

Original review here

Tom And Jerry

These films are really difficult to do. Mainly because maintaining pacing takes someone incredibly talented, and someone that talented wouldn’t be approached to do this. In an ideal world you would have someone like George Miller. Somebody who knows about constant action. Tim Story’s closest films have been two Fantastic Four films, and they’re not exactly highly regarded.

+ The fact that physical damage is caused by the animated fights. Must have been so difficult to do.

– The lack of warmth to the whole thing.

Best Moment: The fight in the hotel room. Chaotic but fun

Worst moment: The opening fight. Completely unneeded. We didn’t need the establishing fight between them. We could have had them meet at the hotel. Here’s what happens: they fight in the park, with Jerry breaking Tom’s keyboard and stealing money from him. Jerry sneaks into a hotel, which then hires Tom to catch him. Everything up to “Jerry sneaks into a hotel” is unneeded. Even the Chloe Grace Moretz stuff is not needed. Her opening scenes are her losing her job, then applying for one at the hotel. We didn’t need to see her losing her job. We just needed to see her applying for the new one.

Best Performer: Patsy Ferran. Such a unique performance in a film sorely lacking identity.

Worst Performer: Chloe Grace Moretz. As much as I love her normally, a character that’s supposed to be that street smart, should not be as awkward as she’s playing her.

Best Line: “This simulator is amazing, it really simulates how bad I am at golf”

Original review here

Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021)

Quick Synopsis: LeBron James has to win a basketball match in a computer simulation to get his son back, save the looney tunes, and stop countless innocent people being killed by a sentient A.I

Years ago I heard this was being made, and I was excited. I remember enjoying the first one a lot. But since then, something has happened and I’m not entirely sure what. Enthusiasm for the first film has died down. People no longer talk about it as one of the great 90s films. I remember it having a lot of goodwill towards it, but that’s all gone, and I can’t really explain why. I haven’t seen a film go from “nostalgic and beloved” to “oh yeah that existed” so hard since Home Alone, and that had the excuse of multiple terrible sequels. This just sort of faded from collective consciousness.

So has this film done a good job of bringing any of that good feeling back? Nope, if you were one of the few people to have any sense of goodwill towards this franchise, this film will eliminate that. Not to brag, but I knew this movie would be terrible. Okay, that’s really not much of a brag because everybody knew that. They knew that from when they saw the trailer, with Porky Pig rapping (I don’t like pig raps, much prefer them in a sandwich). Then there were all the references to other Warner Bros properties that brought to mind The Emoji Movie or Ralph Breaks The Internet. The actual film is actually far worse than you’d think. The references are both invasive and pointless.

In this universe, all the looney tunes characters have gone to live in other Warner Bros properties. In the quest to find them, LeBron James and Bugs Bunny go into them, so we get scenes which reference the DC animated movies, Casablanca (you know, for the kids), and the Matrix (in a reference which would have seemed dated 10 years ago). That then never really comes up again. They appear in the crowd at the game, that’s where all the references you’ve heard about are. That’s where you get Pennywise, King Kong, and the characters from Clockwork Orange. It’s the Clockwork Orange characters which have caused controversy, with some parents complaining that they’re not appropriate for a kids movie. I don’t get that for two reasons:

  1. The kids won’t see them as “Oh, they’re the violent rapists from that film” unless you’ve shown them the film. They won’t get the reference at all, they’re just see them as weird background characters. They’re only offensive if you know the context.
  2. If you’re going to complain about any characters in this film, complain about the nuns from The Devils in the background, that film still hasn’t been properly released in the US (which begs the question of why they are making a reference to it)

So yeah, they take up a big chunk of the film, and add NOTHING.

This is not a film. This is not something you watch and enjoy or be entertained by, this is just an exercise in brand identity that they want to charge you for. It’s product, not entertainment. I shouldn’t be surprised though. Whenever I saw people exclaim how great this film is, they didn’t talk about how funny it was, or how good it was, the only thing they mentioned was the references. It was basically “hey, this has things I recognise, that means it’s good” attitude which led to things like Epic Movie being watched. .

Fine, I’m done with that now. Now onto the actual film itself. The rest of it is bad too. Nobody seems to be giving a good performance, LeBron just seems confused all the time. He doesn’t have the ability to anchor a film like this. It doesn’t help that he’s not Michael Jordan. Jordan was a once-in-lifetime marketing opportunity. People worldwide knew who he was. Even people who didn’t know anything about basketball recognised him. I imagine that was helped by how much more prevalent basketball was in pop culture in the 90s: the shorts, the attitude, the video games, it all merged together to create a boom period for the sport. LeBron is big in US, and big among a few demographics, but if you went up to random people in UK and asked them to point to a picture of him out of 3 people, they wouldn’t be able to. He hasn’t penetrated popular culture in the same way.

The film? It’s incredibly dull. On the bright side, the way they actually use the cartoon characters is probably better than the first one. It’s certainly more in keeping with their personalities. But the film restricts them for so much of its runtime. It feels like they’re holding them back. If you’re going to play this as a sports movie, at the very least make it a tournament surely? That way you get to see them have fun. I think it’s supposed to be a sports movie anyway, I’m not sure what it’s trying to buy as the film lacks identity.

I can imagine studios wanting this, I can imagine “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we/someone made this movie?”. But what I cannot imagine is “I have a dream, to make a Space Jam sequel, and to make it like this”. There’s no “making this film is my endgoal” to it. I’m willing to bet the people who made it had no ideas before they were approached to make it. It has no love, no passion for the project, it has nothing. It has nothing that the makers can point at and be like “yes, this is the story I’ve been dying to tell people”. The only people who do come out of it with their pride intact are the animators, who do a great job on bringing the 2D characters to life. Other than that? This is a film which is best forgotten, a dodgy knock-off of a film that wasn’t that great to begin with. The kindest thing I can say about it is at least it came out the same year as Tom And Jerry so it isn’t the worst live-action animated hybrid of the year. Going to leave you with a quote from that review that I feel is applicable here:

if you can’t make a good movie, don’t make a movie. This feels like it was made for the sake of being made. Everything about it just screams “contractual/celebratory obligation”. There’s no desire, no passion, there’s no sense that this is what anybody who worked on it has had their entire career building to this moment. Which considering how beloved these characters are, is a real shame. The franchise inspires a lot of love in people, it’s just a shame not a damn ounce of it was in the script

Tom And Jerry (2021)

Remember when The Muppets film came out a while ago? How it was full of celebrity cameos and created a real sense of both wonder and nostalgia? This is like the opposite of that. It has some celebrities who clearly love the franchise, and are clearly having a lot of fun. But the script and the film are just not good enough. Tom And Jerry have never had much luck when it comes to escaping their original shorts. The 1992 movie was heavily derided for having a weak plot, and having the main characters talk (which is a mistake this film does not make), and the less said about their version of Willy Wonka (why?) the better.

Maybe it’s because the madcap pace of the characters is difficult to maintain and keep interesting over the course of a feature length film. Or, maybe even simpler (but sadder), is that the studios know that they don’t have to put any effort into these films, because they know they’ll make money anyway, so they can be lazy and cheap with it.

On the plus side, the animation is pretty good. They’ve kept the fluid 2D nature of the originals, and overlaid them on a live action setting, which is really the best way to do it. If it was completely animated it wouldn’t have felt different enough, and if they tried for a realistic look for the characters, it….well it would have been a fucking nightmare to put it politely. The 2D violence still has an effect on the world though, scratches appear on sofas when they fight etc, in a way that can’t have been fun to line up the timings of the animation for. There are moments where the mix isn’t quite as seamless as it needs to be, but overall that aspect of it works. Another good part of the animation: ALL animals are animated, even ones in the background. A neat touch that wasn’t necessary, but very much appreciated.

Now onto the negative, the script. It’s……well it’s incredibly lazy. I can’t imagine the writer spending weeks fretting over scenes in this, so much of it seems so careless and unnecessary, you could cut most of the opening and it wouldn’t effect the film at all. I’ll describe the opening moments:

  1. Tom is playing music in a park for money.
  2. Jerry comes along and starts dancing, putting a sign over Tom’s sign so that he gets the money instead.
  3. They fight, breaking Tom’s keyboard meaning he can’t play anymore. (this does lead a moment where someone is outraged that Tom isn’t blind: “he’s not a blind cat playing the keyboard, he’s a regular cat, this is an outrage” which genuinely made me laugh)
  4. At some point, Tom bumps into Chloë Grace Moretz’s character, knocking stuff out of her hand and causing her to lose her job.
  5. Moretz’s character gets a job at a hotel where Jerry sneaks in and causes rumours of an infestation.
  6. Tom gets hired to deal with Jerry.

EVERYTHING before point five is not needed. We don’t need to really know that Tom is a musician, and if we do, then it could be shown during the rest of the film, not just at the start. We don’t need to see Moretz get fired, we just need to see her get a job. We don’t need to see Tom And Jerry fight, they don’t need THAT motivation for anger towards each other. The fact that Tom is hired to get rid of Jerry should be enough motivation to carry the rest of their antics. The fact that the makers of this film couldn’t see that, is emblematic of the problems this film has. It’s an easy fix, but one that they couldn’t be bothered to do for whatever reason. It also doesn’t help that sometimes Tom And Jerry feel like side characters in their own movie. I know, it’s difficult to build a feature length narrative about two characters that don’t speak, and you can’t exactly make these character speak. But if you can’t make a good movie, don’t make a movie. This feels like it was made for the sake of being made. Everything about it just screams “contractual/celebratory obligation”. There’s no desire, no passion, there’s no sense that this is what anybody who worked on it has had their entire career building to this moment. Which considering how beloved these characters are, is a real shame. The franchise inspires a lot of love in people, it’s just a shame not a damn ounce of it was in the script.

On the plus side: there’s a surprising performer I didn’t know I’d love as much as I did. Yes, Rob Delaney is as great as he usually is, but the real star of the show for me is Patsy Ferran as an awkward bellhop. Her character steals every single scene she’s in and I wish it focused more on her instead of, well, every other human character.

It’s really hard to recommend this movie, the fact that there’s a slight chance that this review is the first time you were aware of the film is quite indicative of the quality of it.