Tag Archives: movies to stay the fuck away from on Netflix

The Vanished

Well that was a hot mess.

Paul (Thomas Jane) and Wendy (Anne Heche) take their ten year old daughter Taylor on a camping trip over the Thanksgiving weekend, But Taylor doesn’t make it to the holiday. She disappears on the very first day, while mom is away and dad is flirting with the hottie next door.

Over the next week, as the cops try and fail to find their daughter, Paul and Wendy unravel. Almost anyone would, in their shoes. It’s a terrible thing to lose your child, and to sit helplessly by while search and rescue continues to turn up nothing. But it’s also terrible to disregard official police “advice” and take things in hand themselves. People under incredible emotional duress don’t make the best decisions. Wendy and Paul make particularly bad decisions, but it turns out they’re not the most stable people.

Peter Facinelli writes, directs, and appears as one of the inept cops, and should be deeply ashamed of all three. This movie is so out of this world improbable that, at times, it feels like the writer meant it as a comedy but the director wildly misinterpreted everything, except that Facinelli is of course both the writer and the director and very very bad at both. The entire movie is built around a terrible twist ending that takes a page from the very worst of M. Night Shyamalan and actively seeks to one-up him in a competition of awfulness. Even Anne Heche and Thomas Jane, neither of whom was ever mistaken for a good actor, do their best worst acting in this.

My very best advice: try your damnedest to avoid this one on Netflix.

Asphalt Burning

About 20 minutes into this movie, Jay decided it would be worth throwing her laptop at the TV if it stopped us from watching any more. Honestly, I am surprised it took that long for her to get to that point.

Roy (Anders Baasmo Christansen) is a Norwegian car junkie and proud Mustang owner who, while celebrating his upcoming wedding, kisses his fiancée’s ex-girlfriend Robyn (Alexandra Maria Lara). Despite Roy’s best attempts, for some reason his fiancée Sylvia (Kathrine Thorborg Johansen) does not agree that the kiss shouldn’t count because Roy could not have known the two knew each other. Roy’s only chance to win Sylvia back is to travel from Norway to Germany’s Nürburgring and beat Robyn’s Porsche on its home track, in a race for Sylvia’s hand. Sylvia is surprisingly satisfied with this arrangement despite every single minute of in this movie proving that marrying Roy is a terrible idea.

Having raced on a virtual Nürburgring in both Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport I can confirm that Roy’s Mustang would have no chance at all there against Robyn’s Porsche, but of course the race is going to play out very differently in Asphalt Burning than in virtual reality, let alone real reality. Still, despite being totally unrealistic, the final race is actually one of the more believable parts of this film, even factoring in a bizarre tour bus subplot which I cannot even begin to explain.

Clearly, Asphalt Burning had aspirations of being Europe’s answer to Fast & Furious, or at least Cannonball Run, but it comes at least a quarter mile short of that not-so-lofty goal. There is a valuable lesson to be found here for any filmmakers with similar aspirations, though: do not use CGI to stand in for practical vehicle effects. If you can’t make a trick happen with a combination of practical effects and editing, then don’t make that trick a part of your film. Not coincidentally, all of Asphalt Burning’s stunts seem to have been done entirely on a computer.

It’s not helping anyone to include totally unbelievable and unrealistic stunts in your movie. It’s distracting, it’s annoying, and it’s going to make me hate your movie even more than the bad dialogue, dislikeable protagonist, and inane plot points already did. As always, I should have listened to Jay.

Charming

So let me tell you about a movie that never should have been made. I might sometimes admit that certain bad movies have a right to exist, but this particular movie should be wiped off the face of the earth just to preserve human dignity.

Three decades elapsed between Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (1959) and The Little Mermaid (1989), three pivotal decades during which feminism swelled and laid the groundwork toward a sexual revolution and a women’s liberation movement. When Disney eventually went back to the princess well, it knew that passive, unconscious princesses were passé, and Ariel, the feisty, rebellious teenager was born. She is problematic in her own ways of course, but she was the first step on a path toward more progressive princesses like Anna and Elsa. Disney didn’t get there overnight. According to Charming (which I must stress, is NOT a Disney property), they needn’t have bothered. Though this 21st century film just got its North American release in 2021, it seems determined to set feminism back by about nineteen decades or so.

Need I say: written and directed by a man (Ross Venokur), this animated film has somehow decided to revisit those first three passive princesses, and stomp them further into the ground. According to the premise, Snow White (Avril Lavigne), Cinderella (Ashley Tisdale), and Aurora (G.E.M.) find themselves all simultaneously engaged to the same man, Prince Charming (Wilmer Valderrama). Although still very much leading them on, he plans to marry none of them. He’s not in love, he’s just cursed with being excessively charming. So gold-diggers like these princesses are actually planning their weddings and he can’t be bothered to let them know he’s just not that into them.

Note: though the princes in these first 3 Disney princess films don’t get elaborate back stories, they are three different and distinct princes. Only Cinderella’s prince is referred to as Charming; Aurora’s prince is named Phillip, though Snow’s is only ever called The Prince. And as for gold-digging, that’s not coming from me (Aurora and Snow are already princesses in their own right, and Cindy’s got some legit hustle), it’s actually the subject of an entire song called ‘Trophy Boy,’ inexplicably written by Fallout Boy’s Patrick Stump, with lyrics like “I want that ring on my finger like I want that crown” and “I don’t even care if he ever makes a sound just as long as when you see me, he’s around, and he’s bound to me.” Dear god.

Anyway, part of Charming’s charmed curse is that he has to find a true love before his 21st birthday or his kingdom will be doomed to live without love for all eternity. With his birthday just days away, King Charming sends him to run a gauntlet, a series of macho challenges designed to make him a man (raise your hand if you just vomited in your mouth a little) which somehow should help him find his true love. Don’t look at me, I didn’t write this stuff. Apparently neither Charming is confident in Junior’s ability, so they hire a guide, Lenny, to help him through. Only Lenny is actually – gasp! – a woman, Lenore (Demi Lovato), in disguise. And by disguise I of course mean a fake mustache. Lenore is a thief and is only interested in Charming’s money – that is, until she too falls victim to his inimitable charms.

This movie is an entire dumpster’s worth of sexist trash and my only hope is that this review symbolically lights it on fire. Watching it burn would be the only entertainment derived from this film, which is also incredibly miscast, extremely dull, and has mediocre animation at best. Nothing about this film works. It’s baffling that a movie can be this bad. If Venokur was gunning for ironic rather than moronic, he needed the help of a better writer and a more intentional director. Instead he puts his own curse on the film, and believe me, excessive charm is NOT its problem. I feel bad for the innocent victims caught up in its clutches: John Cleese, for example, who voices the Fairygodmother, and Sia and Steve Aoki, who also contribute songs.

Whatever you do, do not put scorch marks on your 2021 this early on in the year by accidentally watching a movie that will infuriate you. Protect your children from it. Hide the ashes of this review underneath the nearest rug. Let’s pretend it never happened. Ptooey (that’s the sound of me spitting on the embers). Peace out.

The F**k-It List

Brett Blackmore (Eli Brown) is a high school senior whose academic resume is spotless. Much like the ladies in the much better film Booksmart, Brett has spent his high school career studying and achieving but never really socializing or experimenting. He hasn’t had the time to stop and consider this lack of balance until the senior class prank goes wrong. Very, very wrong. And Brett, who was there but barely involved, falls on his sword and ends up taking the blame. His parents, who threw themselves a party to celebrate his acceptance to 7 out of 8 Ivies (Harvard merely wait-listed him), watch his brilliant future get yanked away as one by one, every one of those 7 Ivies back out of their offers. Brett is despondent, but this bleak turn of events does have him reflecting on whether this was the path he’d want for himself anyway.

Spending time with childhood crush Kayla (Madison Iseman), Brett feels empowered to send his friends a ranting video where he proposes a F**k-It List, a list of all the things he wishes he’d done but never had the courage. Item #1 is of course to kiss Kayla, and having done that, his blood is coursing with teenage hormones and adrenaline, he’s both free-falling and emboldened, and ready for whatever comes next. Except for what actually comes next, which is that his video goes viral, and instead of heading off for Yale, he’s instead become the most Gen Z of all things: an Influencer.

This movie believes that it’s putting the educational-industrial complex on trial. It also believes that it’s about an obedient teenager gone wild. Really, the movie is about Brett’s parents, Jeffrey (Jerry O’Connell) and Kristen (Natalie Zea), or it should have been anyway. They’re the ones who have bought into this machine, they’re the dictator parents who have structured their kid’s whole childhood around building the ultimate college application and then taking all the credit when their son actually succeeds despite this enormous pressure. A better script might have seen that, but then again, a better script may not have constantly confused the F**k-It List, which it both invented and defined, with the Bucket List, which is in fact a whole other thing. And better writers (not to mention better human beings) might have seen that Brett is neither a victim nor a hero – he’s a perfect and rather blatant example of privilege, and the only person who accidentally calls him on it is love interest Kayla who intends to pay for college by modelling her way through Europe (which turns out to be a euphemism for sex trafficking).

This kid’s “problem” is that his parents’ money and his cushy lifestyle have netted him literally every advantage in the world and now he wants to reject it, with no apparent irony or self-awareness, while continuing to spend their money unapologetically, and whining about it every step of the way – which only makes him more rich and more popular. It’s actually a super sad commentary on how toxic youth culture has become, and an even sadder example of how out-of-touch the rich white man (I’m guessing) directing this film is to not even realize it.

Every character in this movie is a bland personification of plain, fat-free yogurt; not one of them the least bit interesting or distinctive, so they’re absolutely painful to watch. Luckily, actual young people have never been half as dumb as Boomers make them out to be, and I bet most will be sharp enough to stay clear of this.

365 Dni (365 Days)

Laura is kidnapped on her 29th birthday by a criminal who saw her in a vision after being shot. The criminal’s plan is to hold Laura captive for one year and wait for her to fall in love with him. And in the meantime, force himself on her at every turn. Essentially, this is a Beauty and the Beast situation, if Beast was a sex offender.

msemail_days__5_jpg-JS575478900The worst part is this guy clearly believes Laura will love him despite his abuse, or possibly because of it. Has he been watching too much Disney, too much porn, or both?

The second worst part is the English, the low quality of which seems like it’s dubbed, but it’s not. This is a Polish film that uses three languages, Polish for Laura, Italian for the criminal, and “English” for when they talk to each other. I’m almost positive you will recognize many of the phrases in this film, such as:

“Who the fuck you are?”

Or, “I’m not a bag of potatoes.”

Or, “If you feel like running you should wear a different pair of shoes.”

Or, “Why are you looking at it? Do you want to touch it?”

And that’s just a small sample of the prose that’s on offer. Naturally, the “it” in that last one is the rapist’s penis. And naturally, we shut off this movie at that point, much later than we should have. Here’s hoping I can save you from making a similar mistake.

The Last Days of American Crime

Welcome to near future Detroit, just a few days before a new mind-control signal will be broadcast across the U.S.A. to end crime.  In the lead-up to turning on the mind-control switch, anyone trying to cross the border to Canada is shot on sight by the fine, upstanding members of the U.S. Border Patrol.  Also, all police officers are being laid off, which puts an awful lot of faith in this new system to be in good working order as it comes online. Oh, and for some reason you have to trade in your old money for new money as part of this switchover. Last_Days_Of_American_Crime

Anyway, a few idiots decide to stage the last great heist in American history (hence the title) by hacking the mind-control system, stealing a billion dollars’ worth of the old money, driving to Canada, and living free for the rest of their lives. That is literally their plan, word for word.

Why do they want to steal money that the U.S. government has marked for destruction? Well, that’s why I called them idiots in the previous paragraph. Their plan doesn’t make sense. And that’s just the heist. Don’t even try to reconcile the implementation of the mind-control system with little things like the U.S. Constitution or self-defence, or make sense of why people are lining up to kill themselves before this system comes into effect, or figure out why there are numerous large protests IN FAVOUR OF the mind-control system.

This movie is absolutely intolerable for many reasons but is absolutely unforgivable right now since police officers and FBI agents abuse incapacitated subjects ON MULTIPLE OCCASIONS. All the stupidity in the script pales in comparison to Netflix’s decision to release this in the same week as George Floyd was laid to rest.

Avoid this film at all costs.

 

 

Blue Iguana

If you’re going to make a movie about seedy undergrounds, small-time criminals, and scary mob bosses, you need to pick the right tone. Make it funny like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Make it clever like Pulp Fiction. Make it suspenseful like The Town. But don’t you dare try to make your movie all of those things, because odds are you’ll end up with a mess like Blue Iguana.

Two ex-cons, Eddie (Sam Rockwell) and Paul (Ben Schwartz), are working in a diner trying to turn their lives around when Katherine (Phoebe Fox) offers them a job too tempting to turn down. Of course, it’s not a legal task, and of course, it goes sideways immediately as the target of their snatch and grab operation falls off a balcony face-first. Do they try to disappear after mucking things up? Of course not. They double down and go after the Blue Iguana, a giant diamond that they’re going to steal from mob boss Arkady (Peter Polycarpou), after he steals it first.

0818-stills-bi-day16-010816There’s just no one to root for in this film, which is surprising considering Sam Rockwell has made a nice career for himself playing various charming idiots (winning an Oscar as an amazingly bad cop in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri).  And when someone like Rockwell can’t make us care about his loutish dirtbag, no one else has a chance. These characters just have nothing to offer.

No matter how many quick cuts were taken, no matter how many slow motion shootouts were paired with carefully selected songs, no matter how many montages contained colourful disguises, Blue Iguana never felt comfortable in its own skin. In trying to be lots of other things that writer/director Hadi Hajaig clearly admires and aspires to match, it just tries way, way too hard, to a painful degree.

At no point does Blue Iguana ever get close to being great, and worst of all, in trying so damn hard to emulate greatness, the result ends up being less than mediocre.

The Fanatic

This is the kind of movie I wish didn’t even exist because what if you accidentally watch it? You’re a nice person. You don’t deserve that. Promise me right now that you’ll never watch this movie. Promise! It’s because I care.

Moose (John Travolta) is a rabid fan. He’s on the spectrum and not exactly sensitively portrayed; Travolta goes all in, with every tic he can fathom and a bad haircut to boot (in fact, a wig). But it’s about to get a whole lot worse.

One of his absolute favourites is horror star Hunter Dunbar (Devon Sawa). He spends money he doesn’t have on movie memorabilia and waits in line to have it signed. But when Dunbar cuts the autograph session short, Moose just about loses it. He feels there are certain entitlements between a star and his fan and when Dunbar isn’t exactly gracious about it, Moose spirals. I mean, you know you’re in a bad space when a paparazzo calls you a stalker. Or you should. But Moose just keeps escalating things, showing up at Dunbar’s house, scaling the fence onto his property even, and he doesn’t take it well when Dunbar is increasingly hostile (he’s got a young son at home). Of course, Dunbar just thinks Moose is another crazed fan. He doesn’t understand how much danger he’s in. And maybe neither does Moose.

Directed by Fred Durst (yeah, I know), the movie starts mediocre and only declines. There are a number of poor directing decisions, my least favourite probably the fantasy scenes in which Moose imagine the roles reversed, himself a generous and magnanimous movie star.

No, I’m lying. It does get worse than that. I withheld some stuff to avoid spoilers, but you’re not going to watch this thing anyway, right? You promised. Not even out of morbid curiosity should you watch. I mean, it’s not even laughably bad, or watchably bad. But I suspect the movie (or, its director) thinks it’s clever, which is intolerable and awkward and just makes the whole thing feel so much worse. We always knew, intellectually, that something had to be the worst thing on Netflix, but never before has the answer been so obvious, or definitive.

 

Swiped

You should swipe left HARD on this movie. HARD.

James (Kendall Ryan Sanders) is a nerd at college where he is immediately bullied by his roommate Lance (Noah Centineo) and his mean boy cronies. They force him to code a new hookup app called Jungle that will allow them to sleep with women, no strings attached. Jungle has a whole bunch of stipulations: girls must post photos of themselves in underwear; no names are to be exchanged; no date or activity or expenditure of money is necessary; one night stands only. And for some reason, every single man in the entire world feels entitled to these conditions, and for fear of being alone, all the women go along with it.

This movie is an anti-feminist pukefest. I could barely stand to hate-watch this. The writing is bad, and with the exception of Noah, the delivery is terrible. If you cast this from a sign-up sheet in any high school, you could not do worse that this assemblage of blatant first-timers. But let’s focus on the writing, because it is truly among the worst and the most offensive I’ve ever come across. Imagine in 2019 green-lighting a movie that has an 18 year old virgin mansplaining romance to a roomful of women. Clearly the only reason this movie got made is because it was lucky enough (or early enough) to attach teen heartthrob Noah Centineo in a lead role. Sure he plays a douchebag, but then again, 100% of the males in this film are complete and utter pigs. He just gets the most screen time.

I’m disgusted on behalf of all women of their portrayal in this film as weak, meek, and totally clueless. But I’m also disgusted on behalf of a good 40-60% of men who in fact would not be so shallow, short-sighted and slimy. If this movie is supposed to be satire, and believe me, that’s a big IF, it has completely missed the mark. It doesn’t have any of the insight or intelligence required to pull of satire. Instead it just reads as a reckless endorsement of a dating app gone wrong. It makes the folks at Ashley Madison look like angels. In fact, Ashley Madison, morals aside, is a site that offers people a choice. IF you’re married and you’d still like a side piece, sign up. But Jungle’s mission statement acknowledges that women won’t consent to this under normal conditions, so the goal is to make it so they don’t have a choice. Which is a much higher level of sleaze than anyone really wants to admit.

But the good news is: no one can force you to watch. This movie is a dumpster fire and a black hole of entertainment. Keep swiping. Netflix is the purest embodiment of ‘there are plenty of fish in the sea’ – they’re not all winners, but there are occasional gems, and frankly, it would be nearly impossible to do worse than Swiped.

Space Jam

It’s fitting that LeBron James is taking the Space Jam reins from Michael Jordan, since last week James passed Jordan in career points scored and the two have always been compared since James was in high school.  Jordan would have scored many more points if only he hadn’t taken two years off in his prime to try his hand at baseball.  Rumour has always held that Jordan went to play baseball in order to avoid a gambling suspension, mainly because it made no sense at all for the notoriously competitive Jordan to have “retired” at age 30 (Jordan would retire twice more before his basketball career was over).

Jordan’s baseball career features prominently in Space Jam’s loose plot, as if he had been playing basketball at the time, the evil aliens from the Moron Mountain amusement park would have taken Jordan’s skills and he never would have been able to help the Looney Tunes gang.  But because Jordan was retired, the aliens had to steal other NBA players’ talent, space-jam-bill-murrayincluding Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Muggsy Bogues and Shawn Bradley.  Jordan is then recruited by Bugs Bunny to play with a bunch of other cartoon characters, with some help from Bill Murray and no help at all from Wayne Knight, as the cartoons take on the aliens in a basketball game to determine whether the aliens will enslave those loony ‘toons as an amusement park attraction.

This movie was probably never any good but it has been made worse with age.  The animation is dated, the green screen work is horrible, and worst of all, the “stars” involved in this movie, other than the great Charles Barkley, have been forgotten by all but the most attentive New York Knicks fans (who would punch me in the face for saying anything bad about Ewing and who will never forget LJ hitting a clutch four-point play against the Pacers in 1999’s Eastern Conference Finals).  Space Jam also really highlights how much the Looney Tunes feel like variations of one another (cat/duck and man/pig in particular) and pale imitations of their Disney counterparts.

Even with only a 90 minute run-time, a significant part of the movie feels like filler, including an opening scene with a 1- year old Jordan, about 5 minutes of Jordan highlights during the opening credits, and a subplot of sorts that features some really terrible acting by the three kids playing Jordan’s family (like so bad that you figure they have to be Jordan’s real kids, but they’re totally not – I checked).

lebron-vs-mjIf LeBron’s career arc is any indication, the next Space Jam is destined to be technically superior to Jordan’s original but lacking the same emotional core.  That doesn’t bode well for the reboot when there was no substance or emotion to the first Space Jam at all.  Watching it again only makes one wonder why anyone bothered to make it in the first place, as well as why James would want to invite any more comparisons to Jordan’s six for six NBA Finals record against LeBron’s three wins and six losses in his attempts (which I don’t begrudge but I’m in the minority on that point).  On the other hand, since the original Space Jam has nothing to offer, the reboot can’t possibly be worse!