By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist December 12, 2013 at 12:08PM
12. "The Hangover Part III"
Credit is due to the filmmakers behind "The Hangover Part III," at least, for not just rejigging the plot of the original into a different location, as was the case with the Bangkok-set 'Part II.' In fact, there's something, on paper, intriguingly bold about what they've done here: closing off the most successful comedy trilogy of modern times by making a film that barely qualifies as a comedy. While it might have been a welcome change of pace for director Todd Phillips, writer Craig Mazin and the central stars of the franchise, however, "The Hangover Part III" was an unbearable experience for an audience. Departing from the "what happened?" conceit that made the original such a hoot, this becomes some kind of half-baked crime picture, as the Wolfpack (Bradley Cooper, fulfilling contractual obligations; Ed Helms, glad for the work; and Zach Galifianakis, descending into self-parody) are forced by a crime boss (John Goodman, barely conscious) into tracking down infuriating chaos engine Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong). It's the baffling decision to put Jeong—who wasn't even welcome in small doses in the first film—at the center of the movie that truly derails it, but it was barely on the tracks to begin with. The sense from everyone involved is that they just want to get this over with and move on with their lives. The film looks good, at least, with Phillips using the hefty budget to experiment with his craft, and there's a couple of striking set-pieces, which is at least rare for a comedy. But the plotting never feels like anything more than spinning its wheels, the emotional payoffs are never close to being earned, and, more even than in the earlier films, there's a really unpleasant and insidious sense of hatred of The Other that makes it especially sour, even for a Todd Phillips film. Honestly, we think we laughed more in "12 Years a Slave" than in this.
11. "After Earth"
M. Night Shyamalan's cosmic travesty is the kind of movie that is so god-awfully dull, so boring and affected and unreasonable, that it makes you long for the glory days of "The Happening," when people were getting run over by lawnmowers and Mark Wahlberg was moodily staring down the wind. Originally "After Earth" was going to be a simple drama of survival, until producer/star Will Smith got the bright idea to set it in outer space (hey, it's worked in the past) and cast his real life son Jaden as his on-screen spawn. These were just a few of the incredibly poor choices on display in "After Earth," along with Smith's decision to speak his dialogue in a weirdly wooden, pseudo-British accent and to set the movie on a post-humanity earth where everything has "survived to kill people" (but why? All the people are gone!). There's also a gooey monster that feeds on fear. Or something. God only knows. The fact that audiences and critics both rejected it hopefully led to some soul searching inside Smith … Which probably lasted about fifteen seconds, especially considering another "Bad Boys" is in the works.
10. “I Give It a Year”
The most loathsome romantic comedy in recent years, everything about writer/director Dan Mazer’s filmmaking debut is punchable. Sadly, this is a man who wrote and directed several episodes of the extremely brilliant "Da Ali G Show," not to mention co-writing "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" and "Brüno.” Where’s the subversion and where did he lose his way? Well, the subversion is fully evinced in “I Give It a Year” which purports to be a kind of clever reverse, anti-romantic comedy, but attempting to turn insipid rom-com cliches on their head, the movie fails badly at every turn. It chronicles the dissolution of an unlikely, rushed, opposites-attract marriage to crude and banal effect in which Josh (Rafe Spall) is pensive and slow and Nat (Rose Byrne) is a tightly-wound go-getter. These two characters have no business being together, but for the sake of the movie, why not, right? With their one year anniversary approaching Josh doesn’t see that his best friend and ex-girlfriend, Chloe (Anna Faris) was really The One all along while Nat's handsome slickster American client Guy (Simon Baker) is just dying to get her in the sack. Special mention must be made for the odious supporting character appearance of Stephen Merchant playing the one-note obnoxious, clueless friend shtick that he loves so much. It all culminates with a epic-fail, trying-to-be-cheeky scene in the rain where the aforementioned couple disavow their love and promise to leave one another immediately. Meet cute was never this detestable.
9. "Kick-Ass 2"
Sure, Matthew Vaughn's original "Kick-Ass" was ugly, violent and abhorrent but it was also kind of fun. Jeff Wadlow's sequel, "Kick-Ass 2," which was amazingly developed despite the original film being something of a box office disappointment, replaces rudeness with outright hatred, expanding its fuck-you attitude to include all minorities (though mostly Chinese) and women (there's even a rape joke. Haha! Rape!) Gone too is the first movie's sense of stylized joy, replaced by utter cheapness that infects everything from the production design to the poorly choreographed action set pieces, which suffer from an abundance of cruddy green screen work and little in the way of compelling staging. Instead of having comic-book-panel pep, the violence here is just unpleasant, and it's a shame they had to drag Jim Carrey into this mess. The actor might have cited recent events like Sandy Hook as his reason for staying off the film's publicity tour, but it's more likely that he saw an early cut of the movie, took stock of how repugnant it was, and chose to distance himself as much as possible. If we had anything to do with this four-color mess, we'd have stayed far, far away too. This is what happens when you try to will a franchise into existence instead of letting it bloom organically.