Since Netflix has too many new shows and movies debuting every week to keep up with, only the truly spectacular offerings deserve attention. To this end, Streamline typically recommends the best of what the service has to offer. But occasionally, it’s fun to flip the script and highlight the memorable misfires.
Last year, Netflix had a clearly undiscerning, more-is-more philosophy when it came to movie releases. They dumped dozens of terrible Original movies onto the service. Movies like “How It Ends” and “Brain on Fire” felt like clear first drafts and never should have made it to Netflix except for as movies to make fun of and treat with voyeuristic, rubbernecking attention. In 2019, Netflix has been more careful, but a few Original movies have still risen (or rather, descended) to the level of “badness” that makes the failure funny.
So with that in mind, I have collected the worst Netflix Original movies according to Metacritic scores for your potential viewing pleasure/displeasure. You can read more about the five movies below and watch their trailers.
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Details: In this road trip comedy, a manager convinces his retired client from half a century ago to tour as a comedian again. The onetime comedian never made it the first time around and ultimately quit to be a podiatrist. Through touring venues in various American cities, the two aging men rekindle a passion for life they thought was lost forever.
Chevy Chase and Richard Dreyfuss star. The cast also includes Andie MacDowell, Kate Miucci and Chris Parnell.
“The Last Laugh” runs 1 hour, 38 minutes.
How it begins: Chevy Chase’s character grunts over a black screen that eventually opens to an extreme close-up of a grainy television screen showing an advertisement for a retirement home. Unamused by the possibility of moving there, Chase’s character pops the DVD of the promotional advertisement out of the television player and snaps the disk into parts. He then takes a walk to meet his granddaughter while wearing big headphones. While talking to his granddaughter, the movie makes a “Garden State” joke, as Chase’s character has her wear his headphones and listen to The Shins. “Ah, they’re terrific, very emo,” Chase’s character says. His granddaughter makes fun of him for being years behind the times.
Metacritic score: 31 out of 100. (Metacritic aggregates various scores from respected film critics, giving a more accurate determination of quality than Rotten Tomatoes, as that is an aggregation of simple good/bad votes. Metacritic scores the degree of good and bad.)
Read on: Keith Uhlich reviewed the movie in The Hollywood Reporter:
All highs eventually fade, and “The Last Laugh” quickly returns to its noxious mix of sweet and sour. A cancer diagnosis is hidden until an ineffective and inept dramatic reveal. Almost everyone finds [Richard Dreyfuss character] Buddy’s sixth-rate Don Rickles act endearing and hilarious, which nullifies any dramatic tension. And the film concludes with Chase proudly posing nude, his nethers hidden from view by a hunk of sculpting clay. Be grateful for small mercies.
Details: This espionage thriller is loosely inspired by true events. An Ethiopian Jew and an Israeli Mossad agent partner together to smuggle refugees out of Ethiopia and into Israel around the end of the 1970s. They do so by running a coastal hotel in Sudan as a front.
Chris Evans and Michael Kenneth Williams star.
“The Red Sea Diving Resort” runs 2 hours, 9 minutes.
How it begins: Explanatory text appears on the screen for a too-short period of time. It somewhat confusingly reads: “For thousands of years Ethiopian Jews yearned for Jerusalem. As civil war wages they begin to fulfill their dream.” Then a voiceover narrator further explains this same thing over gunshots and footage of soldiers shooting into buildings. The narrator says cliches such as, “The rivers again have turned red with blood.” To further the heavy-handed explanation, the first shot of an Ethiopian Jewish family about to flee features the family packing a menorah.
Metacritic score: 29
Read on: David Ehrlich reviewed the movie in Indiewire:
“The Red Sea Diving Resort” is a dull and derivative film that’s too in love with its heroes to bother with its victims. The Talmud says that “He who saves one life saves the world entire,” though when Nivola repeats that here, [it’s] like he’s quoting “Schindler’s List.” These Mossad agents saved thousands of lives, but this movie only leaves you feeling like they managed to save a Club Med.
Details: Much like “A Quiet Place,” this dystopia horror movie takes place in a world inhabited by mysterious, deadly monsters attracted to sound. The family in the film has various lazy crutches to add tension to this problem, such as a deaf daughter, a dog that won’t stop barking and a grandmother whose asthma forces coughing fits.
Kiernan Shipka and Stanley Tucci star, while the cast also includes John Corbett and Miranda Otto.
“The Silence” runs 1 hour, 30 minutes.
How it begins: A black screen with thumping in the background that slowly reveals to be a cave team breaking through stone. A hole of light gets larger and the cave team celebrates breaking through to a new cave opening. Text on the screen explains the setting: “Uncharted cave system, Pennsylvania. 1,000 feet beneath the Appalachian Trail.” After a brief moment of celebration, terrible CGI pterodactyl-like monsters shriek and fly out of the hole. The monsters rip the team to bloody shreds.
Metacritic score: 25
Read on: Scott Tobias pointed out why this movie never had a chance in The New York Times:
For Shane Van Dyke, who wrote the script with his brother Carey, such “mockbuster” enterprises are his business: His credits include off-brand entertainments like “Transmorphers 2” and “Paranormal Entity,” and he even wrote and directed “Titanic II,” a disaster film set on a replica ship 100 years after the original voyage. Here, only a quality cast and more generous production values can cover up the shoddy stitching.
Details: In this screwball comedy, a father-to-be wants to find his birth mother. In the process he discovers he has five varyingly wacky siblings and he travels across the country to meet them all. Marlon Wayans wears various prosthetics to play the various siblings.
Marlon Wayans and Bresha Webb star, while the cast also includes Michael Ian Black and Molly Shannon.
“Sextuplets” runs 1 hour, 37 minutes.
How it begins: A couple leaves a Lamaze class and Wayans’ protagonist husband character expresses concern about his partner dying from lack of oxygen during the birth. This endearing moment immediately switches into Wayans loudly joking about his partner’s heavy breathing from when they had sex to cause the pregnancy, with various lines of the “It’s so big!” variety. Classmates look at them. Then the stakes sort of get established with it being clear that Wayans’ character needs to decide whether to take paternity leave or try to get a partnership at the business he has been “busting [his] ass for all these years.” The opening scene ends with Wayans’ character asking, “You think maybe I should have just slept my way to the top?”
Metacritic score: 21
Read on: Nick Allen reviewed the movie on RogerEbert.com:
The laughless mess of “Sextuplets” proves that Marlon Wayans still has a big obstacle in the way of his comedic greatness — himself... When Robin Williams keeps popping up in the film — on a TV screen, on a character’s shirt, and even as a doctor’s name — it’s for a reason, as Wayans knows his gift for hamminess has the same potential as the beloved late comedian. But it’s all a sad reminder that while Wayans has a similar comedic energy and charisma, he needs better scriptwriters, stat.
Details: In this gore-centric action movie based on a web comic, a retiring assassin moves to a small lake town in Montana and befriends a young female neighbor. The head of the assassination company he worked for wants to sell the company and decides he’ll get a better price if he kills off all his ex-assassins, therefore no longer having to pay a pension plan. When the attempt to kill the retiring protagonist fails and the company kidnaps the neighbor instead, the protagonist goes on a killing spree of vengeance.
Mads Mikkelsen and Vanessa Hudgens star.
“Polar” runs 1 hour, 58 minutes.
How it begins: An overhead shot of a forest with birds chirping switches to focus on a faraway, remote mansion. A title sequence pops on the screen with various violent sound effects such as screaming, gunshot noises and bone crushing. Blood spatter goes over the title. Then a CGI bird flies in front of the camera to wipe away the title. At the mansion, a hungover-seeming character played by Johnny Knoxville gets up from a pool chair to watch a bikini-clad woman emerge from a pool. The camera spends a long time focusing on various aspects of her body. Knoxville’s character snorts cocaine and says heavy-handed things like “Retirement, here I come.” He inexplicably starts bench-pressing to impress the woman. After he sprays champagne on this woman, she starts to give him a blowjob, to which he says, “This retirement thing’s really working out.” Assassins clad in cliche “alt” costumes come and kill Knoxville’s character and it turns out the bikini-clad woman was also an assassin, unsurprisingly.
Metacritic score: 19
Read on: Emily Yoshida reviewed the movie for Vulture:
“Polar” is an execrable motion picture, a sad, lint-filled key bump scraped together from the bottom of the post-Tarantino ’90s exploitation baggie. It thinks it’s funny, but the only jokes it knows are smash-cuts to rails of cocaine and grievous bodily harm. By the time the team of dastardly assassins shoots up a morbidly obese Texan bystander in what feels like 30 seconds of flying gore and jiggling, shredded prosthetics, I mentally checked out. Excess and gore and Grand Guignol have a place in cinema, but I like to feel like someone with a sensibility more advanced than a 13-year-old’s is at the wheel.