Thursday Movie Picks: 2020 Releases – Worst Movies

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy almost Friday! It’s TMP time! The Thursday Movie Picks blogathon was spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… 2020 Releases.

This week’s topic kind of leaves it pretty wide open to do whatever we want with our list. Well, I had just posted my Top 10 Best List of 2020, so in order not to be repetitive, I thought about posting about those the opposite of such a list. I already had a draft post of WORST MOVIES, so I might as well post it here instead. I usually pick just 3, but for this occasion, I decided to go with 4.

In any case, here are my four picks of WORST 2020 releases

The Last Thing He Wanted

(full review)

I read about the terrible reviews prior to watching this but I still didn’t think this was going to be this bad. The Last Thing He Wanted seems to have all the ingredients of an intriguing political thriller. Helmed by acclaimed writer/director Dee Rees (Mudbound), the film is based on Joan Didion‘s Orange Prize-winning novel, the UK’s ‘s most prestigious literary prizes.

I have a penchant for movies about journalists and here Anne Hathaway plays a veteran D.C. journalist who Reagan’s re-election campaign suddenly got a call from her absentee father to be his sub to complete a ‘deal of a lifetime,’ which involves flying to a mysterious location with a huge amount of mysterious cargo. Of course things started go awry, and so did the movie. Despite the star-studded cast that includes Ben Affleck and Willem Dafoe, this one turned out to be a disjointed mess that moved at an aggravating pace.

Fun Trivia:
Ben Affleck replaced Nicolas Cage in the role of Treat Morrison.


Kissing Booth 2

Now, I feel like I only have myself to blame for even thinking that watching this movie is a good idea. I never watched the first movie, but the only reason I saw this was to Maisie Richardson-Sellers (for a film project I’m developing), who despite only seeing her briefly here, I think deserves a better movie.

Oh man, this movie is absolutely awful that I could barely finish it. This Roger Ebert review summed up my dread perfectly, it’s “…a movie about cookie cutter characters in contrived situations set in a make-believe world…viewers may find its artificial sweetness and simplicity off-putting.” I can’t stand anyone in this movie, including the lead, Joey King with her bee-stung lips. There’s only so much suspension-of-disbelief one can muster. I mean, even superhero movies made way more sense than this, even baby Groot has more personality than any of these characters put together! I fast-forwarded so much of it and STILL it felt too long… as the running time is 2h 14min (I kid you not!) I’m surprised at the 28% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it should’ve been waaaay lower than that!! Oh and I saw in the recent Netflix promo video announcing 71 new movies coming this year, one of them is a third installment to complete this garbage trilogy! [face palm]

Fun Trivia:
Joey King shaved her head for her role in The Act, so she had to wear a wig when filming this movie.


The Secret: Dare to Dream

(full review)

I’ve never heard, let alone read the self-help book series called The Secret where this movie is based on prior to watching it. I guess I don’t pay attention to Oprah’s book club as apparently this massively-popular book was endorsed by her. I really tried my darnedest to suppress my cynicism and just enjoy the film for what it is. It’s really tough to do as I’m not into Lifetime or Hallmark-inspired dramas which tends to be filled with cloying plot and even more cringe-worthy acting. Katie Holmes is actually did her best here and her kids are pretty adorable, but Josh Lucas‘ smarmy acting was really tough to stomach. In the time of uncertainties amidst a pandemic, I generally welcome a film with a hopeful and uplifting message, sadly this one is pretty much drowned out by its own schmaltz.

Fun Trivia:
Andy Tennant directed from a screenplay he wrote alongside Bekah Brunstetter and Rick Parks, based on the 2006 self-help book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. The book has been translated into 50 languages and appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for 190 weeks.

Wonder Woman 1984

(full review)

So my fourth pick is a controversial one as I know many people love this one. I wish I could say I even like this one, but given all the release delays and huge anticipation surrounding it, this turns out to be a huge disappointment for me. I think I’m quite generous in my ratings generally, so to give a movie 2/5 rating means it’s got to be pretty bad. Not only bad, this one is problematic, esp. in regards to how Patty Jenkins resurrected Steve Trevor. We all love Chris Pine and he’s still fun to watch despite some of the idiotic stuff he and Diana were involved in WW84 (somehow the fighter jets at the Smithsonian are fueled + ready to fly?!)… but I was cringing the entire time I was watching it given Diana was using another man’s body as an Uber as all she sees in him is Steve. There have been many articles discussing this, but this one by the Mary Sue sums things up nicely. It’s not even the worst of it, the talented Kristen Wiig has to prowl around as the poorly-written CGI and horrendous CGI effects. Let’s hope the 3rd movie would be at least on par with the original!

Fun Trivia:
In a brief shot outside Max Lord’s HQ, as police and crowds are running in the background, a motorcycle cop in beige passes right behind Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) as he walks toward the HQ with Diana. The cop is wearing the California Highway Patrol uniform, a homage to the 80s police show CHiPs (1977), which starred Pine’s father Robert Pine as Sergeant Getraer.


Thoughts on my picks of WORST 2020 movies? Which one(s) have you seen?

Netflix Original Movie: The Last Thing He Wanted (2020)

Oh where do I begin with this one… frankly, I’m still a bit discombobulated by what I just watched last night. When I saw the trailer over a week ago, The Last Thing He Wanted looks like an intriguing political thriller, and the fact that acclaimed writer/director Dee Rees is at the helm made me even more intrigued to see it. After I watched the film, I found out it’s based on Joan Didion‘s Orange Prize-winning novel, the UK’s ‘s most prestigious literary prizes. Well, despite SO much going for it, plus a star-studded cast, this movie still doesn’t amount to much.

The film actually started off to a pretty riveting start. We see Anne Hathaway‘s Elena McMahon, a veteran DC-based reporter who’s covering El Salvador’s political crisis in the early 1980s with her colleague Alma (Rosie Perez). They barely escape with their lives as paramilitary troops storm the press office and started shooting. But as soon as she’s back in DC, her editor ends up sending her to cover Reagan’s re-election campaign. She took it begrudgingly, only after Alma encouraged her to take the assignment as a way for her to interrogate top ranking politicians. One of them is George Shultz (Julian Gamble), a then Secretary of State of the Reagan administration, whom she suspects is involved in weapons smuggling in Nicaragua.

During the campaign trail, she gets a call from her absentee father Dick (Willem Dafoe) who turns out to be ailing in the hospital. It’s when Dick asks her daughter to be his sub to complete a ‘deal of a lifetime,’ which involves flying to a mysterious location with a huge amount of mysterious cargo, that things start to really go awry. The place she lands turns out to be Nicaragua and finds out her Dementia-suffering father is actually an arms broker. Soon things spiral out of control and it’s clear Elena is out of her depth.

I have to say the plot is actually not that convoluted on paper, but somehow the muddled script and haphazard direction makes it feel that way. About a half hour in, I was already pretty frustrated with the movie… and growing even more irritated by Hathaway’s melodramatic acting. Initially, I sympathized with Elena and rather enjoyed seeing a plain-looking Hathaway in a role I don’t normally see her do. But her narration and [over]acting style here quickly becomes more and more aggravating. It also doesn’t help that the camera work with its random focus-shifting style makes me a bit dizzy. I don’t know if the DP is trying to add tension in the many scenes of people having conversations, but it’s quite distracting.

Then there’s Ben Affleck (who reportedly replaced Nic Cage) in a role of a mysterious ambassador. As a comic-book fan, obviously I get a slight kick out of seeing former Batman and Catwoman on screen, but soon I also get irritated by Afflecks’ lethargic acting style though his screen time is pretty minimal. Then suddenly there’s a scene that comes out of nowhere that takes me out of the movie entirely. Spoiler alert (highlight to read): What’s with the half-boob nudity?? Is Dee Rees trying to brazenly show a nude woman who’s a breast cancer survivor?? I think we got that point across from her expository dialog with her dad earlier on.  By that point, my hubby and I just looked at each other, completely aghast by this befuddled, incoherent mess that’s unfolding before us on screen. I have to say Affleck’s expression is basically the same throughout the movie, whether in bed with a naked woman or eating pie with his colleague.

Now, I’m not familiar with Didion’s work but I’m willing to bet the novel is far better than its screen adaptation. In fact, I still think it’s an intriguing story that when done properly, would be a potent international thriller. But the way it’s adapted here, screenplay written by Rees and Marco Villalobos, feels disjointed with an uneven pacing from start to finish. The central character Elena is nearly impossible to relate to as a human being, and her motives are incomprehensible. Her relationship with her father is an odd one that doesn’t ring true. Even the way the film tries to paint her as a caring mother who’s constantly on the phone with her young, unhappy daughter in a boarding school barely registers.

The supporting cast is pretty much wasted here, though not because of the actors’ performances. The one character I find intriguing is Perez’s Alma and Edi Gathegi‘s Jones, but both characters are so underwritten. There’s also Toby Jones appearing towards the end as an expat who runs the hotel Elena is staying at. Now, I like Toby Jones, he’s a great character actor, but their scene here feels so disconnected from the rest of the movie and goes on way too long. Speaking of the ending… well, as if the rest of the movie weren’t enough of a head-scratcher, the finale is one big WTF moment. To add insult to injury, the finale also feels like a ‘Minnesota goodbye’ where it just went on and on, complete with all kinds of slo-mo and over-drawn narration.

Now, I’ve described this film in the worst possible way and it pains me to do so. This is the third* feature by Dee Rees, and I know just how tough it is for a female director of color to get a job in Hollywood. I suppose every director should be allowed to have a misstep or two, heck, most male directors continue to get job after job even after making multiple misfires. In any case, I wouldn’t use this one as a film that define Rees’ work, but it’s truly unfortunate that this movie is as bad as it is given all the elements–story, setting, cast–seemingly in place.

* I incorrectly said this was Rees’ first feature in my original post, but she had done two features prior to this, Pariah and Mudbound.


Have you seen The Last Thing He Wanted? Well, what did you think?