Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Taking a piece of pop culture as profoundly yoked to a specific moment in cultural and social history as 1971’s Shaft and updating it for modern tastes is a fool’s game, one that has fooled people twice now. Which, I mean, if a talent as undeniable as John Singleton couldn’t crack the problem with 2000’s […]

The story goes that A Madea Family Funeral is going to be the final big-screen appearance by Tyler Perry’s most famous and infamous creation: the bossy, violent, and vulgar Mabel “Madea” Simmons, played by Perry himself with increasingly diminished enthusiasm over the years. Absolutely nothing in the film suggests  that will be the case (it […]

The script for what eventually became the simply awful comedy Holmes & Watson was first announced in 2008. After a couple of cast changes, the project was shot in 2017 and delayed twice before appearing as one of the least-merry films that could possibly have opened on Christmas Day, 2018. That decade weighs heavily on […]

There are individual moments of goodness littered all throughout Vice, and individual moments of badness, just like with any movie. Unluckily for the film, the moments of badness are all given pride of place, and so what might, in a happier life, have just been a moderately irritating “hip” biopic turns into one of the […]

As the late 1950s faded into the early 1960s, perhaps the two most interesting things happening anywhere in horror cinema (change “perhaps” to “absolutely” if we limit the conversation to the English-speaking world) were the heavy shift over to Gothic horror pictures made by Britain’s Hammer Film Productions, and the brief but intense and unbelievably […]

The Happytime Murders isn’t good, which is no surprise at all; but it is very close to being good, which is quite a surprise indeed. Basically, the problem is this: it’s poisonously unfunny. The film is an enthusiastic participant in the current wave of adults-only comedy, where cursing is funny, cursing in a sexualised manner […]

Consider a movie about spies. Consider a movie, in particular, about a normal woman who is thrust into the position of having to be a spy without any real training, and so ends up fumbling her way through major European cities by a combination of dumb luck and common sense, to humorous effect. What you […]

Far be it from me to tell a theater full of people merrily chuckling away that what they’re laughing at isn’t funny. For it was in just such a room that I saw Eighth Grade, the first feature written by Bo Burnham, and most of the crowd was having a fun time, while I felt […]

It’s almost certainly unfair of me to propose that Anton Chekhov’s 1896 play The Seagull is one of the most uniquely un-adaptable works of theater in history, but in the immediate wake of watching the hugely blasé new film version adapted by Stephen Karam and directed by Michael Mayer, I’m inclined to be unfair. The […]

This review is based on the first released cut of the movie Show Dogs, before the hue and cry against the film’s implicit instruction to young children that “this is how you behave when strangers want to touch your genitals” led to it being recut in time for its second weekend of release. I lead […]

The “Uncanny Valley” is a concept that comes from robotics, but which has long been applied to CG animation and digital visual effects, which suggests that the closer human simulacra come to precisely recreating the exact look of human beings, the more damnably off-putting actual human beings find the tiniest flaws in that illusion. That […]

There was a time once, and not so very long ago either, when a chainsaw-wielding psychopath in a Madea film would have been Madea herself, as was so memorably, dispiritingly seen in the character’s very first big-screen appearance, 2005’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman. But times change, and with Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, […]