The Best Bad Movies Of 2016

There's bad movies and then there are BAD movies. The ones either so strangely terrible you just can't look away, or so balls-out crazy you have to give the film a little respect. This article is for the people that love the latter. So, if you're a person always on the lookout for the next The Room, here's the best bad movies of 2016. Beware, there are some spoilers below:


In Criminal, Ryan Reynolds plays a CIA agent who's beaten nearly to death after hiding a hacker with nuclear code level important information. So, the CIA figures the best way to get the info from the comatose agent is to implant his memories into a terrible criminal, who also happens to have frontal-lobe brain damage. To make everything all the stranger, that emotionless killer is played by Kevin Costner.

Over the course of the film, people are killed and lessons are learned. Except, sadly, for the most important lesson movie governments never seem to get: Don't use criminals to do your jobs! It didn't work in Face/Off or Suicide Squad and, shock of all shocks, it doesn't work in Criminal.

What makes this movie so bad/good isn't just the Brain/Off-style premise. It actually has an amazing cast. Though one might not naturally think of Costner as a semi-evil, murderous mastermind, he really goes for it in the role. Then, he's joined by Reynolds, Tommy Lee Jones, and Gary Oldman. So the bones of a good movie is there — it just goes completely awry. Oh, and if you think it's impossible for Oldman to be in a horribly good movie, you haven't seen Tiptoes.

Collateral Beauty

Continuing his string of weirdly pretentious roles, Will Smith plays an ad exec who's fallen into an extreme depression after his daughter's death. Since Smith is acting all "boo hoo, my daughter died," the other execs try to prove he's mentally unsound so they can kick him out of the company. Already, that's a pretty heartless and horrible idea, but it gets worse. To prove he's nuts, the execs hire actors to play Love, Time, and Death, to confront Smith about his erratic behavior. When Smith talks to them about Love, Time, and Death, the execs will record it, then digitally erase the actors. He'll look crazy! Or maybe you could just film his actual weird behavior that's causing the business to lose money, but Collateral Beauty isn't a place for logic.

The rest of the film has Love, Time, and Death teaching everyone lessons, and Smith reconciling with his estranged wife who gives us the shoehorned-in titular line. The wife says a nurse told her, when her daughter died, about "collateral beauty," the idea of the unexpected kindness that comes out of tragedy. It's not clear how this applies to the film, since Smith ends up giving up his lucrative career and getting back with the wife he was already happy with before his daughter died, but again, Collateral Beauty is not a place for logic.

That all sounds like a sappy, stupid mess, and it is. The fact that Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, and Edward Norton are forced to say this trite dialogue only makes it all the better/worse. But wait, there's more! SPOILERS: It turns out the actors really were Love, Time, and Death all along! And Death was the lady that told the wife about "collateral beauty." Whoa! What a ... nonsense twist. Finally, Smith managed to make a movie with a worse ending than his suicide by jellyfish in Seven Pounds.

Contract to Kill

Steven Seagal is back and worse than ever! The A.V. Club's "F" review of the film starts, "Contract To Kill is so crude and anti-cinematic — so f***ing bad — that it becomes its own parody." That's exactly why this movie is great. Seagal has been churning out overseas films and direct-to-DVD wonders for a long time, but they've lacked that exceptional awfulness that makes a Seagal film great. Contract to Kill has it in spades.

In Contract to Kill, Seagal brings the character of John Harmon to sort-of life with a stiff, lazy, and barely memorized performance. As the A.V. Club points out, Seagal mostly sits, walks, and wears glasses in the film. Anything more needs a stuntman, to the point where "he is composited into a shot of a tunnel while the camera bobs around to make look it like Harmon is walking, because Seagal himself can't walk down a tunnel." But he does have the energy for a love scene! The good news is, he's pretty much fully clothed the whole time — weirdly, though, he never takes off his glasses. Also, it has a rare 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, so you know it's the right kind of horrible.

Nine Lives

Kevin Spacey plays a cat. That's really all you need to know, but we'll go into more detail for the fun of it. Spacey plays a man who's too worried about work and not worried enough about family. Also, he is obsessed with building the tallest skyscraper. That really takes up a lot of the movie. Why children would possibly care about the corporate machinations behind tall buildings is a mystery, but Nine Lives wanted to add some architectural fun to a typical body-swap comedy.

Anyway, Spacey almost dies, and his mind goes into a cat called Mr. Fuzzypants. Christopher Walken is there being Walken-y. He must reconnect with his family, or he'll be trapped in the cat forever, blah blah blah. Overall, this is just a horrible scheme. Cats aren't known for their great bonding skills when they have cat brains, let alone when they're controlled by a business-driven Spacey.

The most fascinating part of this film is trying to guess why Spacey did it. Does he have gambling debts? Is he trying to fund a new film or theater project? Is he being held hostage by some cat-loving cabal? With Spacey's "sounds pissed to be here" performance, and the strange focus on business in a family film, this is, unlike Garfield, a cat comedy worth seeing.

Max Steel

Max Steel is a film made to capitalize on a line of toys, so you already know you're off to a bad start. This movie makes about as much sense as a scenario dreamed up by five-year-olds playing with their Max action figures.

Max is a 16-year-old new kid in town who just can't fit in, probably because he can harness the greatest power in the universe and has a little alien friend named Steel. That's probably not something the guys on the football team can relate to. Max and Steel figure out that when their powers combine, they become Max Steel, the most boringly named superhero of all time. Bad guys want to get their powers, they don't get them, Max Steel lives another day to sell more Mattel products.

Another 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, it's a great antidote to all the logical sense and character development that have plagued modern superhero films.

Hillary's America: The Secret Life of the Democratic Party

There's an Indian director who keeps inserting himself into films and it's always terrible. No, not M. Night Shyamalan. Compared to the acting styles of documentary filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza, Shyamalan looks like Brando.

It takes a certain kind of skill to make a documentary truly horrible, but D'Souza has that down pat. He's already made 2016: Obama's America, where Obama is treated like the devil incarnate, and America: Imagine the World Without Her shares stories about a successful African-American woman just after slavery that, from D'Souza's perspective, pretty much proves that racism was never really a big deal. Now he's back with his most personal story: Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party. After making illegal political contributions, D'Souza was sentenced to eight months in a halfway house. In Hillary's America, he dramatizes that time in his life, and comes to the realization that Hillary and the Democrats are just like the gang leaders and drug dealers he's now surrounded by.

For a supposed documentary, the movie contains almost no facts, and has some of the worst reenactments of all time. D'Souza, playing himself, is especially awful. When you can't believably say words you've already said in real life, you probably shouldn't act or make movies based on those impossible opinions.

The Sea of Trees

Serious Matthew McConaughey is great — Pretentious Matthew McConaughey is horrible. In the Sea of Trees, McConaughey plays a man distraught after the death of his wife. Mainly, he's upset he never knew her favorite color or season, hence he never knew her at all! He travels to the suicide forest of Japan to kill himself, when he stumbles upon another man trying to kill himself (played by Ken Watanabe). The suicidal boys bond while McConaughey talks about his guilt about his wife's death, and Watanabe reminisces about his wife and daughter. But Watanabe's not doing well, so McConaughey finds his way out of the forest to get help.

SPOILER TIME: With his suicidal urges gone, McConaughey must save his new friend. But officials say that nobody with Watanabe's name never existed, and security camera footage shows that McConaughey was alone the whole time! Eventually, McConaughey realizes that Watanabe was his dead wife's spirit who appeared to help him through his grief. And what do the names of Watanabe's wife and children mean? Why, they're the Japanese words for "yellow" and "winter," the wife's favorite color and season. Bum bum buuuuuum.

Okay: first of all, what adult ever knows someone's favorite color and season? We're too busy with bills to memorize that crap. And if your favorites are yellow and winter, you have horrible taste. This movie is so sappy and manipulative, it becomes kind of hilarious. Plus, the film is set in Japan, but revolves around a white guy, and the Japanese guy turns out to be a white girl's ghost. That's some powerful whitewashing that must be seen to be believed.

Gods of Egypt

Basically, Gods of Egypt is a movie about an alternate Egypt where gods walked amongst men. Also, gods are pretty tall, have blood of gold, and can shape shift into animal headed beings. In short, this is a film that tries desperately to make a compelling mythology, but completely misses the mark. But it does make a great cheesy, over CGI'ed work of action-fantasy craziness.

Gerard Butler is in it, so you know the movie will feature maximum levels of butt-kicking. If you're looking for a film with $140 million cruddy CGI that features muscle-bound dudes traveling to the underworld to fight Butler's god of darkness, you certainly can do no better than Gods of Egypt. As Alan Scherstuhl said in his Village Voice review, "As bad movies go, this one at least is all-in on its badness." What more can you really ask for?

Officer Downe

Did you ever think, "I liked Robocop, but I wish it was more violent and involved members of Slipknot." Well, you're in luck, weird person! Officer Downe is an adaptation of a comic book that seems pretty much like a Robocop ripoff. The titular Officer Downe is blown up in the course of duty, and brought back to life to become a super-killer cop. The rest of the film is Robocop, but with no satire a and lot more people chunks.

The drummer/scary clown of Slipknot directs the film, and seems to use as much subtlety as the band that made him famous. Whatever you'd film you'd imagine Slipknot making, that's what's on screen in Officer Downe. It's crazy, violent, and totally unnecessary, AKA the recipe for a perfectly bad film.

Mother's Day

The last, and worst, of the Gary Marshall holiday ensemble films, Mother's Day would probably be rejected from the Lifetime Network for being too sugary and sentimental. Sure, there's a star-studded cast, but the stories are so predictable, it honestly becomes funny. Julia Roberts is a successful author who gave up a child, then another story features a bride-to-be that wants to find her mom. Wonder how that could possibly connect?

The real star of this film, and what pushes it into truly terrible territory, is Julia Roberts' wig. It's the worst wig that's ever been. The fact that Roberts didn't immediately throw that rug to the ground and light it aflame is shocking. It turns out that it's an old wig from the Roberts collection — Elle found out it's the same wig from a moment in Notting Hill. Julia kept it around for some reason, so knowing she likes that wig and said yes to this script might be proof that she's either losing her sight, or her mind.

The Neon Demon

Here's some things that happen in The Neon Demon: a model licks Elle Fanning's blood, an unexplained cougar wrecks a hotel room, Keanu Reeves plays a rape-y manager, Jena Malone has sex with a lady corpse, a model is killed by other models so they can bathe in her blood, eyeballs are eaten and thrown up. Combine all that with a vivid, hallucinatory visual style, and you have one trippy, bizarro movie.

The Neon Demon has a mix of "love it" and "hate it" reviews, but at the bare minimum, it will not bore you. If you're a little tired of Steven Seagal and bad CGI bad movies, you might be refreshed by the artistic terribleness of The Neon Demon.

For the Plasma

Definitely the weirdest film on the list, For the Plasma features dialogue that could have easily been penned by Tommy Wiseau. Now, this isn't badness on the level of The Room, but it has its moments. It's a story about two girls who have to watch security camera footage to look out for possible forest fires in remote Maine, but one girl has found that she can predict the stock market in the trees. Well, you can't say it's cliche. The two girls then mostly walk around, randomly get in fights, meet Japanese businessmen who want to hire them for a mysterious job, and describe beetles that live off their own poop. Nothing really makes sense or is explained, and all the acting is bizarrely monotone and strange.

But the real magic happens with the lighthouse keeper. Sporting a fake Maine accent, he pops in to check on the girls, speaking as if he was an alien that got a brief intro about the inflections of English. He tells a story about a ship being wrecked in the night, killing all its passengers, but then reprimands himself for not inviting the girls in for coffee ... coffee that, moments later, he says he doesn't have.

BOMB Magazine features an interview with the filmmakers, where they seem to believe they made some piece of art about the idea of watching and "looking beyond the narrative." Don't believe them. This is a garbage movie with no meaning that's made fascinating by its array of bad choices. And please, stick around for the lighthouse keeper. He truly shines in the most terrible way.