It’s faint praise to say this year delivered fewer stinkers than usual.
Yes, 2023 served up a fair share of disappointments, including “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” “The Flash” and “Napoleon.”
The following films were outright duds, squandering their potential and leaving us hungry for the end credits to roll.
Emerging filmmaker Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”) has an eye for lush visuals and socially aware narratives. None of that saves “Saltburn,” a predictable attack on the elites that fumbles everything that matters in a story of its kind.
Don’t blame stars Barry Keoghan or Jacob Elordi, sturdy actors who do what they can with the material. The “Banshees of Inisherin” standout plays a middle-class Oxford University student transfixed by a popular peer (Elordi’s Felix).
The trouble begins when Felix invites his new friend to stay with him for the holidays.
“Saltburn” struggles to cement the bond between the unlikely chums, but matters get worse when tragedy strikes Felix’s clan.
None of this makes sense nor does it effectively skewer the upper-upper middle class. It’s a mess, and the psychological portraits get wobblier as the too-long movie plods on.
Add gratuitous sequences that offer shock and little else, and you’ve got a prestige season candidate that deserves to be ignored.
Don’t you hate it that black people are always the first ones to die in a horror movie?
Hollywood’s race issues are no secret, but you can file this problem in the Fake News bin.
It’s one of many problems plaguing this punishing stab at comedy.
An annoying gaggle of friends is summoned to a party where the unseen host has a few tricks up his sleeve for them. They’re forced to play a game teeming with racist tropes, meant to highlight cultural inequities with a satirical snap.
Except the scares never appear and the jokes are, at best, limply assembled. Director Tim Story will never have the word “auteur” near his name, but he’s usually nimble enough to tell a competent story. Just watch his affecting 2002 comedy “Barbershop” or the populist “Ride Along.”
He’s lost here, unable to draw laughs from an anemic script.
Adam Driver. Dinosaurs. A setting steeped in mystery.
Isn’t that enough for a genre treat, the kind an actor of Driver’s status should make to shake up his IMDB.com page?
Not when it’s as cumbersome as “65,” a movie that makes “Jurassic World: Dominion” look like “Citizen Kane” by comparison.
It’s not the FX’s fault. The story is a mess, and we’re emotionally detached far too early for “65” to engage us.
Eddie Murphy flashes his old self a time or two in this socially aware comedy. That’s more than we can say for Jonah Hill, who ditched his dude-bro past to punish us with movies like this. He plays a white hip-hop fan who falls for an energetic black designer (Lauren London).
Cultures clash, and there’s little laughter or insight to be found.
RogerEbert.com’s review skewered the film so efficiently it’s worth repeating here:
“No one talks like this. No one acts like this.”
Come back, Bob Ross! But don’t see “Paint” at all costs.
This “comedy” follows a Ross-like TV entertainer (Owen Wilson, who can’t save this dreck) as he maneuvers through romantic entanglements and a professional comeuppance.
Wilson’s antihero is modeled after Ross who died in 1995. Why attempt a character assassination of someone who passed decades ago?
What’s the point of this dreary, laugh-free mess?
There’s more than a dash of woke infecting the screenplay, but the bottom line is clear. “Paint” asks us to care for a terrible human being without a worthwhile redemption arc to be found.
These trees aren’t remotely happy. Nor was anyone who paid for this stink bomb.