2016 Movie Countdown: The Mediocre (#49-30)

Welcome to the (new and improved) 2016 Movie Countdown. This is my third annual countdown where I run through every film I saw the previous year, giving my brief thoughts on each as we go from worst to best. There are 44 films being covered throughout this miniseries, with Part 1 covering my 5 least favorite films of the year. With the worst behind us, it’s my honor in Part 2 to move up a peg.

Apologies for the big gap in installments. I’ll try my best to provide the remaining parts much quicker. For those who haven’t seen Part 1, I’m separating the Countdown into 5 categories, each varying in quality and number of movies. Today we will be covering 10 films that make up the Mediocre category. These movies are far from the worst 2016 had to offer, but are simply okay. What keeps them from being in the upcoming Good category is a general sense of forgetability or perhaps one glaring flaw that holds it back from being something special. The following films are enjoyable, but not that good.

By the way, if you’re wondering why my numbering appears to have changed, you;re not imagining things. Truth is that I made the mistake of adding a film I meant to check out before the countdown started, but couldn’t get to it. So, the number is now 44 instead of 45. Anyway, let’s begin!

Central Intelligence (#39)

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I found the Summer of 2016 to be one of the most disappointing summers in recent memory. It’s not that it was filled with bad movies; just a lot of generic films that should’ve been better. Central Intelligence, for all of its comedic potential, is a decent example of that. When you have Kevin Hart, one of the best comedians of at least the new millennium, teaming up with Dwayne Johnson, a universally loved actor who’s charismatic as fuck, my hope was for a much better comedy. I wasn’t asking for much, but I really wished it delivered the laughs just a tad stronger. What I got, though, was a serviceable action comedy that’s pretty hard to hate. The comedic duo does work, and the film even packs a good anti-bullying message; but to me, it was just okay.

Barbershop: The Next Cut (#38)

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To be honest, if this was merely a battle of quality, Barbershop would rank a lot higher. I haven’t even seen the other Barbershop movies, but I was still all in with this setting, its characters, and especially the cast. Not only do you have Ice Cube, but also Common, Cedric The Entertainer, Anthony Anderson, J.B. Smooth, Deon Cole, and the list of incredibly funny actors keeps going. Even Nicki Minaj turned out to be one of the highlights of the film. The story is simple, and damned if this isn’t one of the smartest comedies of the year. So, why is it this low on the list? Turns out the film’s Achilles Heal is memorability. As much as I enjoy the punchlines when it’s being told to me, I’d be hard-pressed to recall it even a week later. Again, this movie is very good. It’s just not a comedy that stays with you for very long.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (#37)

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For those who have been following me since 2014, you’ll recall how much I loved the original (Bad) Neighbors. I found the premise to be clever, the comedy solid, and the comedic ensemble absolutely brilliant. I was so hyped for the sequel to come out this year, and to that end I was fairly satisfied with the result. I like how Zac Efron ends up teaming up with Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne to overthrow the new sorority, and the film does have some pretty good jokes. Hell, the one fear I had before this film — the repeat jokes — wasn’t all that frequent. However, in comparison with this film’s predecessor, it falls a bit on the weak and safe side. A good number of its best jokes can be found in the trailer, and the few hidden zingers left in the film weren’t enough to propel it any higher.

See my full review here!

Ghostbusters (#36)

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Let’s get something out of the way before we continue. Words have no gender. Movies have no gender. I can give a crap about who is telling me my jokes as long as the jokes themselves are funny. So before you call me sexist for not ranking this movie higher or call me a SJW for not outright hating it, hear me out.

On the whole, Ghostbusters is nothing more than a decent throwaway action-comedy. It’s action setpieces are fine and the effects fairly good. The 4 main actresses and Chris Hemsworth are very funny people and you can tell they’re giving the movie their all. There are a handful of really good laughs to be had with the movie, but most of them are chuckles and half-laughs at best. For every effective (often scripted) joke, there’s about 10 okay (often improvised) ones. At the end of the day, I don’t feel strongly about this movie one way or the other. Not good, not bad, but passable. Background noise at the least.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (#35)

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Let’s give credit where credit is due. Michael Bay, you did very well. 13 Hours was a perfectly good action comedy with very few of the director’s more recent issues. The characters are very likable. The effects were really good, as is the soundtrack. And while I wouldn’t call the action scenes excellent, they didn’t bore me so much that I spaced-out during the climax. I’d honestly rank the movie higher if I could remember most of it. Unfortunately, I feel the story is much stronger than the action, and it’s just a bit short of being something excellent. Hopefully, this movie’s success (and Oscar nomination) will inspire Bay to follow this path and fine tune this formula to make an even better action film down the line.

Bad Moms (#34)

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Yeah, I saw Bad Moms. What of it? Believe me when I tell you I didn’t seek out this movie, but having sat down with it, I ended up pleasantly surprised. Despite the premise being kind of paper thin and the plot being generic, the cast really brought this movie to life. They’re given a surprisingly good amount of material to work with, most of it due to what they has these leading ladies doing. It’s nothing to write home about, but I would be lying if I said it was nearly as bad as I initially thought.

Dirty Grandpa (#33)

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No, not Bad Grandpa (though that would be cool). I had a pretty good time with Dirty Grandpa overall. Like Bad Moms, it’s nothing all that special, but is made all the better by the cast. De Niro was such a gross old man throughout the movie, but I can’t help but respect and love that about the character. As for Zac Efron, I think this is one of the best roles he’s been in. In fact, he gets one of the movie’s most memorable scenes towards the beginning, where he’s accidentally bugging out on drugs. It’s definitely worth a watch if you’re looking for a dumb, dirty comedy.

Suicide Squad (#32)

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Funny thing about this one is that this is the only film I saw twice in 2016: once on opening weekend and again for my brother’s birthday. Was it because I just loved it that much? Not exactly, but I do like the movie more than most people. While the film’s action scenes are very forgettable, the story is clumsily executed, the tone is inconsistent, and character development is basically a joke in most cases, the film still had a charm that the past two DCEU films did not. Sure it’s technically crap, but you can still enjoy it as a dumb action movie with good performances, funny jokes here and there, and at least 4 memorable characters.

See my full review here!

Alice Through the Looking Glass (#31)

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I have a love/hate relationship with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, but thankfully that’s not the case for the sequel I never thought would happen. I really like this story and the much brighter feel of this movie compared to the first one. I felt I could relate to the characters much more this time. I like the addition of Sacha Baron Cohen as Father Time, as well as the refined performances from the returning cast. Shout out to Mia Wasikowska as Alice, who gives a much better performance here than last time. It may not be a fantastic movie, but it was a ton of fun through and through.

Office Christmas Party (#30)

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This was a pretty harmless and fun way to close out 2016. For a generic office comedy, the filmmakers and writers really gave the movie their all, and it shows. The cast is definitely the best part of the movie, each one bouncing effortlessly off their costars and providing excellent delivery. My personal favorites were TJ Miller, Olivia Munn, and Kate McKinnon. The tone is just great! A calm and unassuming comedy that slowly builds into a more batshit, off-the-walls type of film. Most of all, it does a great job of putting you in the Christmas spirit. Go ahead and give it a go!

See my full review here!


That’s all for this installment. In Part 3, we’ll discuss the next 13 movies in “The Good” category. 15 movies down, 29 to go!

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

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