Gobble, Gobble! The Turkeys of 2017

November 24, 2017
A thought by James Berardinelli

Here are ten 2017 movies that might make any movie-fan consider the cinematic equivalent of vegetarianism.

As I usually remark before presenting these "Worst of" lists, this is based exclusively on films I have seen and I sometimes go out of my way to avoid things that look irredeemably bad. So if something is missing, it may be because I didn't see it or, in some cases (like mother!) because (upon reflection) I didn't think was nearly as bad as some did.

Anyway, this year's list is broken into three pieces: the six films I disliked the most, two "special prizes" for Disastrous Would-Be Prestige Pictures, and two "special prizes" for Disappointing Blockbusters.

Note: Obviously, you won't find anything from December here...

Special Prize: Disastrous Would-Be Prestige Picture


Although Suburbicon could have easily placed in a Bottom 10 list, I thought it deserved an entry in a special category. Based purely on the talent involved - George Clooney, The Coen Brothers, Matt Damon - this should have be a shoo-in for Oscar consideration. How it went so wrong might be the fascinating subject of a long-form article or book but I doubt laundry that dirty will ever get aired. Suburbicon was without a doubt the year's most disappointing films - not to mention one of its worst.

Tulip Fever

TWC struggled for years trying to rework and release Tulip Fever and the result, once unveiled, showed why it proved to be such a problematic film. Despite at one time having Oscar aspirations and starring two Oscar winners (Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz), the movie is a muddled mess. It was unceremoniously dumped into theaters Labor Day weekend and lasted only one week even in art houses. It is available on home video for anyone who wants to see how wrong a would-be "prestige" picture can go.

Special Prize: Disappointing Blockbusters

The Dark Tower

Steven King fans waited for this movie for what seemed like eons. To call the end result "lackluster" would be to understate the matter. Initially planned to fill the role of the "first week of August blockbuster", this movie merely served as a disappointing finale to a disastrous summer. For King, however, there's a happy ending. Only a month later, It arrived in theaters and wiped away any lingering bad taste left by The Dark Tower.

Justice League

Although by no means bad enough to deserve a placement on a Bottom 10 list, Justice League is without question shaping up to be the biggest blockbuster dud of 2017. With a reported production budget of $300M, it needed a big boost at the domestic box office to have a chance at breaking even...and it got exactly the opposite. Underperforming on every level, its final domestic gross might squeak over the $200M mark (although that's by no means certain). Warner Brothers had been hoping for $300M. It's not going to come close. The movies itself is unimpressive but it's worth wondering whether the movie's thud is a result of a bad script, poor execution, superhero fatigue, or a general attitude of dismissal for the so-called DCEU.

The Bottom Six

#6: The Mummy

The movie that introduced Universal's so-called "Dark Universe" appears to have been the movie that killed it. Even without all of the extraneous garbage forced into the movie in service of this misbegotten attempt at a multi-franchise anchor, Tom Cruise's The Mummy still would have been D.O.A. Nothing about this ill-conceived remake (?) generates anything more passionate than a yawn. The film's box office implosion shows how little influence the once-mighty actor currently has with domestic audiences. I could have put the latest Transformers movie here but, to be honest, The Mummy  is more unbearable.

#5: Fifty Shades Darker

Possibly an allegory to the relationship between Hollywood's producers and actors. Sadly, even seen in that light, the movie is torturous. Pretty people getting naked and having kinky sex - what's not to like? Plenty, and it's really sad that movie with such a delicious-sounding premise could turn out to be this bad.

#4: The Layover

Pretty much released direct-to-DVD, and deservedly so. The premise sounded cute and I have a soft spot for romantic comedies. More fool me. This one should have been grounded.

#3: Fist Fight

I think this may have been the first studio release of 2017. This is the kind of crap you get from early-year releases. Ice Cube is fine but Charlie Day? He's like nails on a blackboard and he's in almost every scene of this godawful "comedy".

#2: Baywatch

It should have been a slam-dunk. Baywatch was made for a parody and, had it been given the full 21 Jump Street treatment, it might have been a real pleasure. But someone forgot the humor and seemed to think that there should be something resembling a plot. But, instead of opting for a real story, they pulled some recycled elements off the shelf and gave us what would have been considered a bad episode of the TV series, even judged by its low standards.

#1: The Snowman

At one point, this was supposed to be a prestige project with Martin Scorsese hired to direct. It's hard to figure out how something like this could have gone so wrong, although apparently 15% of the shooting script wasn't filmed because the production ran out of money and head-scratching changes were made from the novel. The Snowman is a perfect example of how not to make a thriller. (Curious that the supremely talented couple of Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender made their way to this year's Bottom feature - just goes to show the ups and downs of the business.)