What was that one movie that had that guy in it? You know, the one with the thing? You remember that guy… he was in that big hit last summer, the one with all the explosions?
We’ve all had a conversation like that, more or less. There are so many movies out there in the world that keeping every single one of them straight is a fool’s errand (unless that’s your job, of course). The sad fact of the matter is that most movies – and most books, most songs, most paintings, etc. – are destined to be forgotten someday, but it’s particularly sad when you have trouble recollecting a single thing about them just a few months after they came out.
And yet that happens every single year. Over 600 movies were released over the course of 2015, and that’s just theatrically. Add in all the TV movies, straight to video sequels (and don’t even get us started on the porn) and you’re guaranteed to let at least a few of these films slip away from you. The problem only gets compounded when you’re a film critic and you’ve seen literally hundreds of them since January 1st, 2015.
And yet (once again) it’s my job to critique films for you, and to think long and hard about all the things that most people don’t pay attention to the in the first place. So if I forget about a movie just a little while after it was released, that’s almost worse than saying it’s a bad movie. That’s saying it might as well not have existed in the first place, for all the impact it eventually had.
These are not the “worst” movies of the year. (That list is coming later.) Some of these films were made competently, albeit unremarkably. I even liked several of them at the time they came out, and wouldn’t say anything too harsh about them today. But that may be because they just weren’t interesting enough to remember in detail.
Here are Crave’s official picks for
The 15 Most Forgettable Films of 2015, along with the one thing about them that – if we really push our memory drives to the limit – stands out more than the rest. Come back throughout the rest of December for more retrospectives about the year that was, with the best, the worst, and the weirdest films of 2015!
The 15 Most Forgettable Films of 2015
Top Photo: Universal Pictures
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved and What the Flick . Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani .
The 15 Most Forgettable Films of 2015
Nick Kroll and Rose Byrne desperately tried to elevate this milquetoast dramedy about a guy who fails at business and learns to prioritize his family instead.
Adult Beginners is not great, not awful; it's just middle of the road wholesome indie fluff.
All We Remember: Nick Kroll scooting around on a potty-trainer, trying to wrangle a kid he's not mature enough to babysit. Photo: RADiUS-TWC
Few filmmakers have a better track record with crime movies than Michael Mann, but his attempt to do for hacking what
Heat did for bank robbery was a stylish non-starter. Forgettable characters and an unnecessarily complicated plot eventually turned Blackhat into a nondescript series of ones and zeroes.
All We Remember: That one shootout, in the basement of a building, which was pretty cool. Photo: Universal Pictures
A noble attempt to tell the story of
The French Connection from the perspective of the French police force doesn't pan out in this familiar crime drama from Cédric Jimenez. Cops get obsessed, criminals are pushed too far, procedure-procedure-procedure. The Connection was put together well but never claimed an identity of its own.
All We Remember: Jean Dujardin, as the lead detective, breaking down in tears after realizing - just a little too late- that he pushed his family away. It's a scene we've seen a million times before, but he plays it well. Photo: Gaumont
After the blockbuster release of
Gone Girl, you would assume another adaptation of a Gillian Flynn novel - starring Charlize Theron, no less - would have been a bigger deal. Instead, Dark Places snuck in and out of theaters so quickly, nobody even remembers that it exists. Those who did see it probably don't recall much except for the broadest strokes of the southern gothic murder mystery plot line.
All We Remember: Gillian Flynn, in an eccentric cameo as a woman at a murder party who dresses like Lizzie Borden. Photo: A24
What do you get when you throw Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Sam Worthington, Emily Watson and Keira Knightley into a sweeping disaster epic? A movie that will be a footnote on all of their resumés.
Everest takes forever to get to "the good stuff," which isn't even that good, and doesn't give any member of the cast a moment to really shine.
All We Remember: Some of the second unit photography of the actual mountain looks pretty. Photo: Universal Pictures
Sean Penn is an assassin targeted for assassination, in a film that obviously tried to turn the Oscar-winner into the next Liam Neeson. Unfortunately, odd dramatic asides and a shoehorned political message distract from the action sequences, turning
The Gunman into a hazy miasma of portent and gunfire.
All We Remember: Idris Elba shows up for no reason, talks to Sean Penn on a bench about his household chores, and then leaves without making any impact on the plot. Photo: Open Road Films
Hitman: Agent 47
The second attempt to turn the popular
Hitman video games into a film franchise was less popular than the first. Hitman: Agent 47 takes forever to catch up to the audience (it's like a Batman film that pretends Batman is the villain for the first half hour), and then collapses into a silly, unfollowable sci-fi plot about a crime syndicate building an army of super soldiers for... reasons? Were there reasons?
All We Remember: A last ditch attempt to make the story interesting, seconds before the closing credits, promises a sequel that will make even less sense than this. Photo: 20th Century Fox
The Last Witch Hunter
Vin Diesel is "cursed" with immortality but he's clearly having a good time fighting witches in this generic supernatural thriller. Unfortunately, he's the only one. Everything in the movie is grey, every plot point is predictable from the start, every rule of magic gets introduced several scenes after it would have been useful for the audience to know about it.
All We Remember: Rose Leslie, who plays "the love interest," is obviously too good for this.
Photo: Summit Entertainment
The Lazarus Effect
Scientists who have apparently never read
Frankenstein try to cure death, but skip immediately to human trials when one of the lead scientists dies in an accident. And of course, she comes back with superpowers and kills everybody. There is nothing in this movie that wasn't cribbed from Mary Shelley, Re-Animator or Flatliners.
All We Remember: Oh man, there was this one part with a dog? The part where the dog was creepy. Did that subplot ever go anywhere? Photo: Relativity Media
The Longest Ride
An art student falls for a flawless rescue stud after they rescue an old man from a car accident. Then they discover that the story of the man's World War II love affair was marginally more interesting than their own. Another middle of the road adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel, with aching stares and a lot of pretty people.
All We Remember: There's a PG-13 sex scene in a stained glass shower that is, if nothing else, a pretty cool shower. Photo: 20th Century Fox
A young kid winds up taking care of his deceased brother's Army dog. Together they jump over ravines in slow-motion and stop gun smugglers from smuggling any guns. As earnest Americana goes,
Max is probably healthier than American Sniper, but it's so danged dopey you'll quickly conflate it with every other movie you've ever seen about a boy and his dog.
All We Remember: Thomas Haden Church, as the grieving father, puts a gun to the danged dog's head and for a moment we seriously wonder whether or not this movie is actually going there. (It's not. He learns a valuable lesson.) Photo: Warner Bros.
What starts out as a noble attempt to adapt the suburban supernatural classic into a contemporary indictment of a family living beyond their means swiftly devolves into a rehash of all the old moments that made the original
Poltergeist so great. There's just no reason to see the remake instead of the original, ever.
All We Remember: Jared Harris, replacing Zelda Rubinstein (!) as the helpful psychic, clearly had a better time making this movie than we had watching it. Photo: 20th Century Fox
Ricki and the Flash
A great cast and a great filmmaker can't save this overly slight dramedy about an aging rocker reconnecting with her estranged family. Meryl Streep is good, and director Jonathan Demme doesn't phone it in, but
Ricki and the Flash never embraces its own melodrama enough to make a real impact.
All We Remember: Rick Springfield - yes, that Rick Springfield - is so good he steals the movie from Meryl Streep. Didn't see that one coming. Photo: TriStar Pictures
The Transporter Refueled
Ed Skrein takes over the likable
Transporter franchise and the results are... wait, what were the results again? A plot hole-ridden story, unremarkable action sequences and a hero who no longer has a personality to speak of made The Transporter Refueled the most disposable film in the franchise... but not the worst. ( The Transporter 3 sucks so hard.)
All We Remember: It took four films and two seasons of a television series, but The Transporter finally - finally - ghost rides the whip. Photo: Relativity Media
A Walk in the Woods
Robert Redford and Nick Nolte attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail in a film that can't decide if it's a meaningful drama about their twilight years, or a wacky buddy comedy in the vein of
Grumpy Old Men. Eventually even the story just gives up and decides to end, and only because "why the hell not?"
All We Remember: Nick Nolte, panting and gasping and rasping so hard that we were seriously afraid we were watching his last moments on this Earth. Photo: Broad Green Pictures