In a year that has been disappointing in nearly every aspect, film has been no exception. It has not only been disappointing with what we have received, but also with the delays of movies to 2021 and years beyond. While we have certainly received some really solid films, it just feels like the bad has outweighed the good, especially when comparing this year to 2019. Here are five films that I found underwhelming this year.
An American remake of an acclaimed foreign film should raise multiple red flags. However, I held onto hope because there have been good American remakes like “The Departed,” and the directors of “Downhill” helmed one of my favorite films of all time, “The Way Way Back.” Unfortunately, the film fails on almost every level. Whenever it tries to pay homage to “Force Majeure” it feels like a ripoff, yet disregards multiple important elements and themes that makes the original so great. The comedic parts come off boring and I actually found myself laughing at the wrong times. Will Ferrell feels out of place as he is just not one of those comedic actors that can pull off serious roles. Please Hollywood, stop remaking great foreign films.
The original animated “Mulan” is probably my favorite animated Disney princess film. It is hilarious, exciting, and the music is incredible. Absolutely none of that is present in this remake. I was intrigued by a serious take on the movie and I do appreciate Disney for attempting to make changes to the story, but neither pay off. There is a fantastical element to this new “Mulan” which turns the title character into an emotionless machine. Mulan does not have a character arch whatsoever and even the action is average at best. None of these Disney live action remakes have lived up to their original films, except maybe “The Jungle Book.” I think it is time they stop doing them.
3. The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run
As with most kids, “Spongebob Squarepants” played a pretty important role in my childhood. It was always my favorite show and the first movie is still one of my favorite animated films with the second still being quite enjoyable. So, “Sponge on the Run” had quite a bit to live up to but was a complete mess the entire time. Laughs, while good when they hit, are few and far between. There are multiple scenes and sequences that are meaningless and the film essentially being a 90 minute commercial for the upcoming spinoff show really drives “Sponge on the Run” into the ground. Without the presence of the late Stephen Hillenburg, there is no clear direction or energy to the film with an unoriginal plot.
2. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
While I have never been a big Charlie Kaufman fan, I was extremely intrigued and excited for this one. It looked very interesting, weird, and beautifully shot. The problem I faced was that there was too much weirdness happening for no reason. In every scene there is something going on that doesn’t make sense and Kaufman does not explain it at all. I would understand if there were a few elements that didn’t make sense that were somehow connected to the story, but they aren’t. His past films delved into troubled minds, and while that is certainly present here, we aren’t given any answers. I don’t mind going back to rewatch films to find out the deeper meanings, but it feels like a chore with “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” that has no end.
Pixar has set a very high bar for itself and that can lead to some of their films paling in comparison to their others. This is the case for “Onward.” The setup of the film feels like wasted potential, as a fantastical world that has lost touch with the fantasy elements sounds really cool. The best parts of the film do focus on that, but a story that is just not really interesting and characters that don’t feel fleshed out hold the film back. Pixar has also now become a tear-jerker production company. It seems like they have to make every movie extremely emotional and to try to get you to cry. That isn’t always necessary, especially for a movie like this. While not bad, “Onward” certainly falls near the bottom of Pixar films.