Exclaim!'s 11 Most Disappointing Films of 2021
Published Dec 16, 2021After the closures of 2020, any visit to a theatre in 2021 was cause for celebration. And often, the films were excellent. But even the sweet relief of sinking into a plush movie seat with a tub of popcorn couldn't quite save every film this year. From the superhero epic that's Marvel's worst film in years to some rare misses from veteran directors, these are the disappointing films worth skipping in 2021.
Directed by Rob Savage
Rob Savage's Host was an innovative film — not only in the horror genre, but also in filmmaking during the COVID era. The follow-up, DASHCAM, on the other hand, is a gratuitous attempt at provocation that is tasteless, annoying and, at many times, downright boring.
10. Coming 2 America
Directed by Craig Brewer
It took over 30 years for Eddie Murphy to return as Prince Akeem Joffer, and, in that time, you'd think they would have thought of something fresh to do in Zamunda or Queens. Instead, Coming 2 America is largely a rehashing of the 1988 classic with many of the same old jokes and tropes.
Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
In what surely must be one of the worst examples of miscasting in recent memory, Tom Holland tries to shed his usual aww-shucks innocence with a role as a drug-addicted, bank-robbing army vet. Way over-stylized and with more cheeky meta humour than an Old Spice commercial, Cherry is one head-scratching choice after another.
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
I wanna root for the guy! M. Night Shyamalan became a punchline for his overuse of schlocky twist endings, but he turned things around, at least somewhat, with a couple of pretty good films in recent years. It's high time he had a renaissance. But Old, with its laughably bad dialogue and beyond-clumsy exposition of its supernatural concept, just confirms what all the haters have been saying.
Directed by Nia DaCosta
Making a sequel to Bernard Rose's 1992 horror classic Candyman was never going to be an easy task. But Jordan Peele's involvement in the project had many optimistic that a new Candyman could update the ideas of the original in a poignant manner. Unfortunately, 2021's Candyman lacks the depth of its predecessor, and in many ways misunderstands the original lore. While it's well acted and nicely shot, Candyman misses the mark as a whole.
6. The Woman in the Window
Directed by Joe Wright
Amy Adams can't escape her "flop era" with The Woman in the Window. Focusing on the day-to-day life of an agoraphobic child psychologist too scared to leave her house should have resonated at the height of the pandemic. Rewrites and reshoots did more harm than good, however, as the narrative plays out in confounding ways.
5. Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Directed by Andy Serkis
After 2018's brutally bad Venom, the sequel was a chance to steer the character in the right direction. Instead, director Andy Serkis seemed to accept (or even embrace) the idea that Venom 2 would be complete trash. With fights that amount to little more CGI slime bouncing around like a screensaver and Tom Hardy yelling "you suck" at the pitch-dropped voice in his own head, this is a truly embarrassing way to waste a $110 million budget.
4. Space Jam: A New Legacy
Directed by Malcolm D. Lee
Taking cues from The Emoji Movie and Ralph Breaks the Internet, Space Jam: A New Legacy is a staggeringly vapid and vacuous sequel to the iconic 1996 film with none of the original's quaint charm or wit. The only thing more wince-inducing than calling your villain "Al-G Rhythm" and pitching "Serververse" characters into a green-screened meta-game of pseudo-basketball entirely devoid of narrative tension is LeBron James's utterly inert lead performance. A New Legacy represents the cultural nadir of our obsession with empty nostalgia and shameless product placement, and it should be remembered as a dark stain on all of human history.
3. Dear Evan Hansen
Directed by Stephen Chbosky
TIFF's opening night film, Dear Evan Hansen, had huge expectations going for it. But despite its heavy subject matter, the film failed to move audiences. The characters lack depth, the songs feel forced, and lead actor Ben Platt is clearly a decade too old to be playing a high schooler. As much as we'd love to see the Broadway hit encapsulated on film, the emotional notes are off-key.
2. House of Gucci
Directed by Ridley Scott
For all the camp and hype promised by House of Gucci, even Lady Gaga's powerhouse performance can't save this dull script. There's a lot to unpack in its two-and-a-half-hour runtime, but despite the glitz and glamour, the only true highlight is Jared Leto as the supremely silly Paulo Gucci. Director Ridley Scott knew he had good material in a family feud, a gigantic fashion empire, betrayal and murder — but he simply lost sight of the threads that could have weaved it all together.
Directed by Chloé Zhao
Everyone seems to have an outsized opinion of the MCU, from the snobs trashing all superhero movies to the stans harassing anyone who disagrees with them. Regardless of where you fall, Marvel has ploughed ahead with a stellar run of decent-to-excellent movies. The streak had to end sometime — but who would have expected it would be under the watch of Chloé Zhao, who wowed audiences last year with the revelatory Nomadland? Eternals is simultaneously overstuffed and empty, with too many flat characters, dimly lit visuals, and a ponderous tone that's both self-serious and ridiculous. Eternals wasn't the worst film of 2021, but nothing else fell so far short of expectations.