Anyone can write a movie column criticizing flicks that they actually watched. Losers. How boring is that?
On this blog we aim for higher ground. The Apologetic Professor has never held back criticism of something just because of the simple fact that I’ve never actually seen the thing. [Editor’s note: This isn’t hyperbole. He once wrote a scathing critique of a book he had not actually read.]
I can hear your mind purring from a distance, probably thinking something like this: Stuffed-Crust Pizza is awesome…is that a fly or a weird mole on my arm… wait, is my mind really ‘purring’ like some kind of cat…this guy’s writing is boring…is Magneto or Darth Vader a cooler bad guy…wait, how can you critique something you haven’t even seen?
Well, let me tell you, in response: Yes, neither (it’s a freckle), no (not ‘purring’ like a cat, but rather like the well-oiled engine I assume your mind to be), you’re boring too, clearly Darth Vader, and it’s super-easy to critique stuff you haven’t seen.
It’s like this: Parents tell their children dumb things all the time like “you can’t say you don’t like that food until you’ve tried it.” To which I say, “ok, you try eating a cow-manure-and-rusty-nails casserole topped with glass shards – after all, you can’t say you don’t like it until you try it!” Seriously, I can totally, totally critique foods I haven’t eaten just fine, and thus I can totally critique a movie that I haven’t seen.
That’s why I think the greatest invention in human history is the “off” button on the remote. And it’s not just because of Shawn Hannity or Rachel Maddow, either. It’s partially because it’s an obvious psychological truth that what you put into your system will ultimately be what you get out of it; that self-improvement starts with what you see and hear; that just as television can inspire you, so it can bring you down.
So before I watch any movie, I read about its moral character first. (There are many helpful cites for this, but the two I frequent the most are pluggedin.com and kids-in-mind.com). It doesn’t always have to be morally uplifting for me to watch it – but it at least cannot drag my mind down into a meerkat-infested pit where computer-based spellcheckers have apparently never been programmed with the word “meerkat.”
And as a result, I feel perfectly competent to comment on movies that I haven’t actually seen, and indeed find it a duty to do so, because I feel like I’m pretty sure already that watching them would be like eating that cow-manure-and-rusty-nails casserole.
Thus, without further ado, I give you: The top 5 worst movies of 2014-2015 that I did not watch.
1. Fifty Shades of Grey. Seriously, don’t even engage me in a debate about this movie. I read one and a half sentences about it, stopped at one particularly alarming phrase in the middle of the second sentence, and have literally not read a word about it since. One of the reasons that I am happy is that I stay millions of miles away from this kind of thing – and so should you. Go watch Cinderella instead.
2. Furious 7. Look, I got some “masculine” traits, ok? I like sports and don’t shave a lot. I can’t stand Taylor Swift or television shows where there is no plot and half of the main characters die in the hospital. But: I just did not get the “fast car” gene that many of my fellow guys seem to have gotten. In a lot of movies I actually like, I literally skip the car chases. (I have never once watched any of the car chase scenes in one of my favorite movie franchises, the Bourne movies – I always fast forward through them). Color me crazy, but I prefer a movie to have an actual plotline, and all I hear in praise of Furious 7 is “cool car-based stunts” and “inappropriately-dressed women.” So yeah, that doesn’t sound entertaining or inspiring in any positive way – and is the reason I have never seen a single one of these dumb “Furious” movies.
3. Kingsman: The Secret Service. This is exactly my kind of spy/political intrigue movie – so you know you’ve blown it big-time when you put too much excessive junk in it for me to watch it.
4. Exodus: Gods and Kings. When I saw the first preview of this movie, I was incredibly excited. I think both the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation have a world of untapped potential for awesome and inspiring movies, if people would throw a lot of money and talent at them (sorry, Left Behind folks, but that’s not good enough). And this story in the book of Exodus is one of the most made-for-the-American-movies stories of all time.
So imagine my disappointment when I heard that they took this beloved and gripping story and made God into a thoughtless child throwing a temper tantrum. The whole inspiring point of the story is that God loved the Israelites and wanted to save them from the horrors of slavery; and they turned that good-kicks-down-the-door-of-evil plotline into the petulant fit of an erratic child.
(Sigh). I don’t think Hollywood has learned their lesson – there is a huge market for movies that inspire people to faith and hope and love and goodness. They lose money by twisting good stories and making them bad; and yet they do it anyway.
But I did feel better to learn that the movie sucked, so I didn’t miss anything.
5. SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water. If I have to tell you why I didn’t watch this movie, then you’re not smart enough to read this blog. Seriously – that sponge has to be one of the most irritating things humanity has ever produced. Jar Jar, anyone?
Worst of the Rest:
6. Heaven is for Real. Technically, I don’t think this movie is bad or good – I just think movies like this are generally both annoying and super-boring. Also, it is supposed to be based on a true story, and I don’t trust this kind of thing at all – anyone can make up something if they want to, and I don’t just jump because someone says they found Heaven is for real after all. Of course, it turns out that Heaven is for real – so jump already! [Editor's note: This is why this guy is a member of Hypocrites Anonymous and tells everyone he knows about it.]
7. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I was a little surprised to find out that this movie really is just about a kid having a really bad day. No plot, no character development, no heart, no moral backstory – just a really bad day, for two hours. (It’s like the Catcher in the Rye – I mean, who writes a 300 page book about a day and a half in a guy’s life? I don’t care how many freakin’ times he says the F-word; that’s just not good literature). So basically, you can read the long title of the story for free and get the exact same experience you would for paying money to watch it; all that without having to watch a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad movie.
8. Son of God. OK, ok, I admit that I feel bad putting this one on here. So bad, in fact, that I got this movie from Netflix and had every intention of watching it. Really, I did. But after four months of it sitting by my DVD player, my wife and I finally admitted that we did not have enough interest to spend 2 hours on this thing.
It’s not that I don’t like movies about Jesus (Jesus of Nazareth is one of my all-time favorite movies) or that I heard this movie was particularly bad (in fact I heard it was decent) – it’s rather that most of the time, when Christians try to produce a two-hour movie about God coming to earth, it’s either all wrong (e.g., The Judas Project), or actually in a foreign language (e.g., The Passion) – and very few of them are inspiring. And that’s incredibly annoying to someone who firmly believes that Jesus is alive and saved his life. Can’t we make better movies about God, for crying out loud?
Also, watching a movie about Jesus is rarely of the popcorn-eating-relaxing-experience sort, and if I’m going to be forced into some self-reflective intimacy with God, I may as well pray directly to the Father as opposed to watch a movie.
9. God’s Not Dead. I actually heard this movie was better than you’d think, and it turns out that I do believe myself that God is not dead, but I never even considered watching this movie.
Look, not everything that we love makes a good movie, ok? I love crème brulee, but I’m not paying my hard-earned money to watch Crème Brulee: The Movie or Crème Brulee II: This Time They Eat It Somewhat More Quickly.
So really…a whole movie about a kid debating a professor over theology? I’m a professor…I love theology…but a movie where I have to actually watch it? I like my movies pitting good versus bad to be a little more cosmic than this (and also, from what I hear of this flick, to more accurately capture good and bad). Where’s Magneto when you need him?
Though I will say this. Hollywood’s smug and hypocritical attitudes annoy me a lot, and thus I take some satisfaction in that the extremely negative critical reception of this movie (which seemed predictably biased by anti-Christian sentiment and not comprised entirely of reasonable argument) was largely and comically put in its place by the surprising box office success of this movie. Whether it was a good movie or not, it sort of makes the point I’ve tried to make on this blog before: The country is starving for some genuinely good Christian movies and TV shows. If someone ever actually makes one, look out!
10. Left Behind. In case you missed it, someone re-made the first Left Behind movie and put Nicholas Cage in it. I’d mock the movie here, but they took all the challenge out of it.
The Rest of the Worst of the Rest:
11. Transformers: Age of Extinction. 12. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 13. RoboCop.