Hooray, this shitty year is almost in the books! We’ve endured four god awful Disney remakes plus a sequel to a previous one! We’ve survived Jennifer Lopez in her natural state as a stripper! Somehow we’ve even made it past Donald Trump’s head photoshopped onto Rocky Balboa and HIS CAMPAIGN TRYING TO SAY IT’S A REAL PICTURE (which even as a trolling joke is just nauseating)!
More importantly, with December comes the biggest movie month of the year. Half the studios are trying to cash in on the spirit of the holidays by releasing family fare that you can share with your loved ones, while the other half are back-loading their prestige films in order to get that required one week in a Los Angeles public theatre to be eligible for the Oscars (and pretend no other films have come before). It’s also sadly why you see trailers that say “In select cities” on one date and “Everywhere” sometime in January. January is a dumping ground for bad movies, so the studios intentionally delay the awards bait for wide release so they can still hopefully make some money.
But as we know, not everything can win on Oscar Night, and that’s partly where I come in. See, some of the films that will be lobbied to the Academy still look crappy, or worse, obvious bait. Further, despite knowing how crowded the movie calendar is in December, there’s still a glut of terrible movies put out in hopes that the audience will either be a) dumb enough to shell out money to see it, or b) really wanting a break from the dominant content waves. They’re really banking on people thinking, “God I’m so sick of all these good movies and kids enjoying time with their parents. I need a mindless sequel NOW!”
So it is with that in mind that I present to you the final edition of this column for the year. Hopefully this will help you eliminate a ton of movies from your personal checklist as you track down as much as you can see. At the same time, though, this is also really fun, because for next month’s edition, it may honestly be every single movie on the slate. Seriously, January is hot garbage every year.
This is the December 2019 edition of “This Film is Not Yet Watchable!”
Playmobil: The Movie – December 6
Well, hey, this looks familiar. That’s because we’ve already covered this one back in August! Yes, this homeless man’s version of The Lego Movie was supposed to come out on August 30, but got pushed back more than three whole months in hopes of salvaging something from the box office, because at this point even the studio has to realize it’s sitting on a turd, and the first week of December is surprisingly full of other crap with no real awards contenders to lure audiences.
As Lego proved, you can make money off of toys, and even make good content out of it. However, this is clearly just a manufactured bit of quasi-secret agent nonsense using the most generic looking playthings imaginable. The only possible audience for this movie are the kids that are too young for Spies in Disguise, which comes out on Christmas.
Even if this trailer could hint at redeeming qualities, you already have all the information you need from the Academy’s Animated Feature submissions. This movie isn’t on the list, and thanks to Upin & Ipin, I know there are bad movies on that list. That the studio didn’t even have the confidence to put this heap of trash up in competition against those screaming Malaysian brats should tell you all you need to know.
And of course now, seeing a new trailer… oh God they dragged Anya Taylor-Joy into this. I already knew about Daniel Radcliffe and Jim Gaffigan, but goddamn.
The Aeronauts – December 6
Amazon Studios is hoping that this will be one of their main forays into the awards space, but honest to God this looks so cheesy. Eddie Redmayne, who should have never been given an Oscar to begin with, has steadily made an ongoing case to return the thing ever since, with the aggressively mediocre Fantastic Beasts series and other drivel like Jupiter Ascending. Add this to the list, even though he’s teaming up with his Theory of Everything co-star Felicity Jones again.
The whole thing looks like an exercise in cheap steampunk CGI with a standard “I’m the only one who sees the truth beyond all these stuffed shirts” underdog story. Just like The Current War didn’t work when stylized with a comic book/graphic novel motif, so too does the invention of weather balloons (or what seems like it, at least) seem like a dull topic to turn into an effects extravaganza.
Also, every time I see this trailer I hope the person sliding off the balloon falls to their death, but I know I’m not that lucky.
A Million Little Pieces – December 6
Here’s another shameless grab for prestige that looks like absolute shit. More importantly, why would anyone adapt James Frey’s book? This is the motherfucker who fabricated his own memoirs to sell more copies, and got verbally bitch slapped by Oprah for making her look like a fool for recommending it on national TV.
I mean, how much more bullshit can you get? The trailer even says, “Based on the controversial” book. It’s not controversial. It’s made up fiction. It’s lies. Controversy occurs when there are conflicting viewpoints and debate. This is just an asshole who made up stories and heavily exaggerated his own issues to sell books. It’s an insult to people who continually suffer from addiction, and if you want to watch those kinds of movies, there are literally scores of better options.
Jumanji: The Next Level – December 13
Are you fucking kidding me? We didn’t want the reboot two years ago, and we don’t want a sequel to the reboot now. Yes, Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart are adorable besties, and yes, Karen Gillan is arguably the hottest thing on two legs (she basically has been since her time on Doctor Who), but enough is enough. And why are we dragging Dannies Glover and DeVito into this? It’s especially egregious when you consider that the bulk of the film they won’t actually be in it, rather Johnson and Hart doing an old man shtick.
I’m not saying a movie like this can’t be fun, but why in December? Why not in the summer? It makes so much more sense to have this in the summer. My only guess is that this is even worse than the last one (which got mixed reviews on premise, positive on the sheer likability of the cast), and there was no way it was going to make any money during the more appropriate time, and so the only hope for the studio is to cash in on prestige fatigue.
Again, I’m not shitting on a harmless bit of franchise fun. I was personally done with Jumanji in 1995, and I think it was an insult to Robin Williams’ memory to green light a reboot right after he died. But people can like what they want. What I’m saying is that this is being crammed down our throats just to make money, and the jokes look terribly unfunny, so why would you waste your time on this?
Black Christmas – December 13
Speaking of things no one asked for, this is the third version of this uninspired slasher flick, following a 2006 remake. Nobody wanted it then, and nobody wants it now. I mean, seriously, where do these meetings take place where someone says, “What we really need to get the studio back on track is another remake of Black Christmas.” The first one sucked, the second one was utterly unwatchable, and now we have this one.
But this movie is just a symptom of a larger disease, which is movie studios thinking that they absolutely have to release a horror movie when there’s a Friday the 13th. Guess what, dipshits, there’s at least one per year. We just had one in September. We’ll have two more next year. It’s a common occurrence, a regular item in the calendar. It’s not some uber spooky night where terrors are unleashed. Yes, some people still subscribe to superstitions associated with the date. Those people are idiots. And unlike other types of idiots, they don’t have money to burn on horror movies. Hell, if they’re really that scared of it, they’re more likely to stay cooped up in their house and not risk bad luck by going outside, much less to the theatres.
6 Underground – December 13
My feelings on this movie can be summed up in this one line from South Park:
“Job has all his children killed, and Michael Bay gets to keep making movies. There isn’t a God.”
In all seriousness, Ryan Reynolds has had quite the career resurgence over the last few years, his cheeky snark a perfect fit for action movies, which is why the Deadpool films are so much fun. But this is Michael Bay we’re talking about here, the man for whom explosions equal plot, the man for whom American flags take the place of nuance or character development, the man for whom tits and ass are the only qualities in women, yet he always makes sure never to actually show any.
Ryan Reynolds has proven that he’s better than this quasi-RIPD with guns ripoff. Michael Bay has not. And given Netflix’s strategy of releasing all its prestige fare on the service and in theatres as a way to capitalize on Roma‘s success last year, it amazes me that they even signed on to put out this piece of shit.
Seriously, I get the feeling that within five years we’ll be having honest debates between this and The Ridiculous 6 as to which is the worse Netflix movie with a “6” in the title.
Seberg – December 13
Okay, what is the deal with trying to make Kristen Stewart a thing? She has yet to prove that she can act her way out of a paper bag (did we forget how she stared dead-eyed at the camera for five incomprehensible Twilight movies?), and yet she’s seemingly in everything. She has no discernible figure, and suddenly Hollywood’s decided she’s a sex symbol. I just don’t get it. Please, someone explain it to me.
Anyway, this is Amazon’s second entry on this list, because apart from The Report – which I haven’t seen yet but is getting good reviews – they’ve basically got nothing on Netflix in terms of streaming prestige. The film debuted at the Venice Film Festival back in August, and has a whopping 44% rating on Rotten Tomatoes ahead of its wide release.
Gee, I wonder what could be so bad about it? Even if I put my informed bias against Stewart aside, this trailer paints a picture for an extremely tone deaf film. It’s apparently about government operations to silence an actress who associates with civil rights leaders and associates of Malcolm X. You read that right, folks, it’s not about the people fighting for their rights, it’s about the (allegedly) pretty white girl who gets picked on when she deigns to acknowledge them as human (and you know, sleep with one of them). Again, why would anyone think this is a good idea? Race relations might be at an all time low thanks to the baffling actions of our Cheeto-stained shit-gibbon of a President, and Amazon thinks it’s appropriate to try to win Oscars off of a white savior story? REALLY?!?!?!?!?!
Fuckin’ A, Bezos!
Cats – December 20
KILL IT! KILL IT WITH FIRE!
Good lord, WHY?!?!?! Why would you make the most annoying musical in history into a movie? Why do the female cats have human tits? Why is Taylor Swift allowed anywhere near a movie camera? Why would Idris Elba and Jennifer Hudson lower themselves so? Who keeps putting James Corden in shit? Why would Tom Hooper follow up his brilliant adaptation of Les Misérables with… this? How did the Uncanny Valley get so deep and wide? God I have rabies just looking at this!
This is the weirdest bit of Oscar bait, yet, because this film is apparently so bad that it’s not even finished yet, and it’s in danger of missing deadlines for basically everything but the Academy Awards. The New York Film Critics’ Association, the Golden Globes, and a bunch of the labor guild awards have a December 4 deadline to screen the film for their voters, and Hooper has made it pretty clear that the movie won’t be ready in time. And yet, rather than just shelve it and release it when it’s done, and done properly (or as properly as you can given the horrid imagery in the trailers and the shitty source material), it’s going to be rushed out just before the end of the year so it can try to suckle at the Academy’s teat and beg for awards that even the two minutes we’ve seen can tell you it does not deserve. I’d literally rather watch a real-life version of Springtime for Hitler.
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Good luck and happy holidays, everyone!
Join the conversation in the comments below! Do you agree with the list? Is there anything you want to see despite its inclusion here? Seriously, what the fuck is up with those cat designs? Let me know!