The Worst Films of 2018

Melissa McCarthy stars in The Happytime Murders. Photo Credit: Hopper Stone

If there’s a list that I don’t like having to put together, it’s list of the worst films in 2018.  I say this because cast and crews put hard work into their craft of making these motion pictures.  Sometimes, the final result isn’t close to what we would like these films to be.

There is one film that I gave a lot of thought to putting on my list.  Ultimately, I chose not to do so and that is Chappaquiddick.  While I’ve yet to rewatch the film since I initially covered the character study in April, the film’s biggest fault lies in what we don’t get to know about Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara).  Jason Clarke has as a formidable presence in the late senator, Ted Kennedy.  The thing that troubles me to this day is that  we don’t get to know much about the victim.  Who is she as a person?  Outside of being one of many alumni who worked on Bobby Kennedy’s 1968 campaign for president, we don’t get to know much.

I am unable to factor in Holmes & Watson as the film did not screen for press.

The Eleven Worst Films of 2018

The Happytime Murders is the single worst film that I saw in 2018 and probably in the entirety of all my life if you don’t count the countless number of Lifetime movies I’ve been forced to watch against my will.  This garbage film is set in Los Angeles where puppets are second-class citizens to humans.  While comedy is entirely subjective, there’s something very disappointing in watching this film.  I can’t help but think that Jim Henson would be rolling over in his crazy.  It’s crazy to think that this is a year in which Melissa McCarthy could earn both an Oscar nomination along with a Razzie nomination.  It wouldn’t be the first year in which something like this happens.  Sandra Bullock pulled off the double-win for The Blind Side and All About Steve.

Whoever decided to greenlit The Happytime Murders should be arrested for committing the crime of giving us felt-on-felt action.  No matter how much I laughed at two puppets going at it, I’m rational enough to know it was pure garbage with cum going all over the place.  There will never be another sex scene like this ever again.

Life Itself is a tonally uneven mess and owes an apology to late film critic Roger Ebert for using the same title of his memoir-turned-documentary.  To say that Life Itself is a shit show would be an understatement. A highly hyped film heading into this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, the film was received with plenty of negative buzz.  Upon hearing the bad buzz, I gave the film a pass because I knew there was a chance, however small, that I’d see it upon return to Chicago.  Folks, I’d love to tell you that being drugged up on Sudafed doesn’t do much to improve the film.  I wish it would but it doesn’t change a bad film from being a bad film.

Mid90s premiered in Toronto this past September to many rave reviews.  As I sat in the P&I screening watching the film, I didn’t understand how such a film could get so much hype upon its premiere.  It’s one of very few films in which I wanted to walk out of the theater.  While I did sit through the film in its entirety, I honestly wanted to walk out.  There was nothing fun in watching a film full of derogatory slurs.  A few would have been enough for the sake of the period but this was honestly too much for my comfort.  Growing up in the lower Midwest, I never once heard somebody say that saying “thank you” implied being gay.  There are better skater films to see in 2018, including Minding the Gap and Skate Kitchen.

Peter Rabbit is an experience when you view the film on painkillers.  I had my wisdom teeth pulled out just days before and foolishly went back to work earlier than I realistically should.  Oh, was it an experience or what!  Here’s a rabbit who decides to bully their neighbor, Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson), because of a blueberry allergy.  Oh, please!  This is tantamount to bullying and honestly, filmmakers should have thought better before they wrote this into the film.  There’s nothing funny about bullying and there’s nothing funny about this scene.  Factoring in the charges of cultural appropriation against Isle of Dogs, Peter Rabbit still gets my vote for the worst animated feature film in 2018.

Bohemian Rhapsody is an absolute disservice to the legacy of Queen front man Freddie Mercury.  There’s a few essays from LGBTQ critics on the film that can be found in INTO and CBC Arts.  Listen, the music is very nostalgic and that’s beyond understandable.  It’s this year’s equivalent of The Greatest Showman in that the film features crowd-pleasing music but the script is absolutely awful.  You can read the band’s real story on Wikipedia and then be flabbergasted by what they did in the film.  Moving Freddie’s AIDS diagnosis up by two years turns the Live Aid performance into emotional blackmail!  Moreover, Freddie was a THIRD BAND MEMBER to go solo.  The film convinces the audience that he was the first.

The Cloverfield Parodox became an event film when Netflix surprisingly dropped it on Super Bowl Sunday without as much of a warning.  It’s a bad sign for a film when it struggles to not only keep one awake but make them want to gouge their eyes out while watching.

Basmati Blues is a musical that ought to have been outright hidden from the public.  Brie Larson stars in the musical and nobody could blameher for taking the job.  Just to be clear, this musical was put together before she won an Oscar for Room.  Basmati Blues doesn’t so much fail on the sake of its talent.  Rather, it fails in the way it was executed.  Some subjects are best kept to a single genre.  Danny Baron and Jeffrey Dorchen make an attempt to tell a serious story.  They do this in the way a documentary would make its audiences aware of an issue’s importance.  The way that they do so fuses the story with the Bollywood musical style.  This single decision is what doomed Basmati Blues from the start.  The cast nor musical contributions alone couldn’t save the film.

Red Sparrow may be a thriller but despite Jennifer Lawrence’s best effort, the film isn’t quite at the same level as the espionage thrillers that have come before.  What’s truly a disappointment is how the film uses rape as a plot device.  Sparrow School isn’t quite the Red Room.  Instead, the students sent there are trained for sexualized espionage–and it’s clear that Dominika isn’t a fan.  At one point, she’s visibly angry as she calls her uncle out for sending her to “whore school.”  It wouldn’t be an understatement to call it a whore school because that’s exactly what the Sparrow School is.  Again, this is a film that uses rape as a plot device.

Welcome to Marwen is the Downsizing of 2018.  I call this film the Downsizing of 2018 because Robert Zemeckis films come with high expectations.  The same with that of Alexander Payne.  The release of Downsizing came with charges of characters serving as racial stereotypes.  While the same isn’t the case in Welcome to Marwen, it’s problematic in how the women are treated…at least in doll form.  To call them hypersexualized wouldn’t be an understatement.  I’m have yet to watch the Marwencol documentary. As such, I don’t know much about Hogancamp’s thing with wearing women’s shoes.  There’s a comment about how wearing the shoes makes him feel a woman’s essence.  I’m not even about to get into all of that.

The Darkest Minds recycles the gist of what we’ve seen in prior YA dystopian adaptations while ripping off Marvel and others in the process.  The film suffers from the YA bubble burst despite some much-needed diversity among the leading cast members.  Some of the major themes of the film such as being true to yourself can be seen as metaphors for the vulnerable LGBTQ youth population.  There’s been a handful of YA films in the last decade but the genre needs a fresh take rather than recycled bits.  I love a good female empowerment story as much as the next woman but, again, it’s all been done before!

Mortal Engines forgot to fuel up somewhere because this film takes us all over the place to the point that we’re not even sure what just happened.  How could a film co-written by Peter Jackson blatantly rip off Star Wars so badly.  Here’s how close Thaddeus Valentine gets to telling Hester Shaw that he’s her father.  He holds out his hand!  It’s as if Valentine was Darth Vader minus the mask!  With no Force, Yoda, or Obi-Wan Kenobi, we’ll never truly know unless Hester searches her feelings.  There’s Cloud City–I mean, Airhaven and the city is supposed to be neutral.  Some books translate into great films while others translate poorly.  While Mortal Engines may be ambitious in scope, it doesn’t quite translate on film.

Edited to add: Holmes and Watson is one of the worst films of the year.

These are the worst films of 2018.  Check back in late 2019 for the worst films of 2019!

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.