The Best Movies of 2021

The Bottom

According to some, worse-of-the-year lists are verboten, so I won’t call this a list of the worst movies of 2021. Instead I’ll call it a list of movies to avoid if you happen to share my taste in movies. Consider it a public service.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (ON DEMAND)

Slightly better than the original, and that ain’t saying much. Woody Harrelson and Naomie Harris are mostly wasted and the 90 min runtime is a detriment, not a benefit. The ‘cute’ factor is waning on the bro love banter between Eddie Brock and Venom that makes these flicks so popular among the masses. Hardy tries his damndest to entertain through all manner of mannered acting tics, but he can’t overcome a narrative and script as hollow and shallow as this one. For a picture called “Let There Be Carnage,” there’s very little carnage. 

Infinite (PARAMOUNT PLUS)

Imagine a world where Mark Wahlberg is the smartest man on Earth. Infinite offers us such a world, and it’s a laughable, expensive ego trip for the long-running star, a film wherein suspension of disbelief is stretched so thin the entire house of cards comes tumbling down within mere minutes of the opening credits. I couldn’t help but laugh at the concept of Wahlberg as a samurai sword-wielding Great White Hope of reincarnated do-gooders. The talented Dylan O’Brien appears briefly as one of Wahlberg’s past selves, and he undoubtedly deserves better than this wannabe franchise-starter cribbing from Highlander and every other action blockbuster of the last twenty to thirty years.

Cinderella (AMAZON PRIME)

A baffling re-adaptation of the classic Disney cartoon. No musical is worth the time of day if more than half of the songs are mere covers of pop songs from the 80’s, 90’s, and today. The 2021 Cinderella could belong on a cutesy CD-collection, hawked forever on daytime television circa 2003. Hearing Menzel lower herself to belting out “Material Girl” for no reason other than pandering to the lowest/youngest common denominator is a moment I wish I could forget, and never will. Director Kay Cannon and co. seem to believe today’s Zoomer generation are incapable of appreciating original music, or apparently period trappings too given the random anachronisms that run rampant through costuming, hairstyling, manner of speaking, and production design. The classic fairy tale hath wrought an adaptation about the myriad of ways in which stupid men ascend in high society, and according to the film, this is a good thing.

Home Sweet Home Alone (DISNEY PLUS)

The producers have somehow deduced that making the bumbling thieves more sympathetic would make this story more “complex.” All it does is utterly defeat the purpose of watching them suffer under a child’s endless booby traps. We’re not laughing if we like these criminals more than a bratty, entitled kid, a title which poor young Archie Yates earns over the course of ninety minutes. In fact, the entire plot is set in motion because he steals an invaluable doll from the open house event of a down-on-their-luck married couple. The only silver lining here is a cameo by Devin Ratray as beat cop Buzz, the one-time bully older brother of Kevin McCallister. There’s an ingenious reference to Kevin pranking Buzz via his uber-successful home security company, and we desperately needed more of that movie. 

Space Jam: A New Legacy (HBO MAX)

For all its flaws, the original Space Jam holds a special place in the hearts of many 90’s kids. A sequel more than twenty years in the making, A New Legacy will not do the same for young’uns now twenty years from today. From fake-humble ragging on Lebron’s legacy, on the infamous “Decision,” to not-so-pithy in-jokes and career references galore, this doesn’t pass muster as comedy. And for kids watching, Bugs Bunny has a moment or two of lunacy, how could he not? However, amid the Looney Tunes ruckus and computer-generated upgrade, there comes a sinking feeling (and one eventually confirmed) that the film is nothing but a two hour ad for Warner Bros. You’ve heard such criticism lobbed already, but what you haven’t heard is the picture surrounding said advertisement is poorly acted and incredibly unfunny for a film riddled with legendary cartoon characters. A New Legacy wants to thumb its nose at the future of media algorithms, and instead embraces the vacuous present of branding above all else.

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