Exclaim!'s 10 Most Disappointing Films of 2022

BY Exclaim! StaffPublished Dec 14, 2022

No year is perfect, is it? For all the great films that were released this year, there are bound to be some stinkers. Even seasoned directors like Judd Apatow and Sam Mendes aren't immune to adding less-than-stellar work to their mostly successful catalogues. Whether it's a quippy Canadian actor overstaying his Deadpool welcome or Jane Austen gone Gen Z, some films just didn't hit their mark — here's our selection of the year's most disappointing films.

Also check out Exclaim!'s favourite films and TV shows of 2022, as well as the most underrated and underseen films of the year.

10. Shania Twain: Not Just a Girl
Directed by Joss Crowley

The time is right for the Shaniaissance, but this beyond-generic documentary won't bring it about. Not Just a Girl is mostly just a summary of the pop country superstar's accomplishments — which are numerous, but isn't the whole point of a music doc to dig a little deeper, and not simply flatter the subject by listing how many hit songs they have? Even interviews with the woman herself yield next to nothing. (This year's Sheryl Crow doc isn't quite as bad, but can be skipped for the same reasons.)
Alex Hudson

9. The Lair
Directed by Neil Marshall

Brace yourself if you thought we'd left thinly-veiled war propaganda back in the early aughts — Neil Marshall's The Lair is here to shove a heady dose of neoliberal girl-bossery down your gullet. Charlotte Kirk, who stars in the film, co-writes alongside Marshall, and one wonders whether either of them have ever encountered an Afghan person or a Black person before. All gross stereotypes and a sense of humour gleaned from 2007's Epic Movie, probably, this film is a marvel only in the sense that it managed to get made. 
Alisha Mughal

8. The Adam Project
Directed by Shawn Levy

In 2021, Ryan Reynolds announced that he was taking a break from acting. I can only imagine he said that because he's bored of being typecast as variations on his Deadpool character in film after film. The Adam Project takes his Deadpool sass and awkwardly grafts it onto family sci-fi, taking what should have been a fanciful story about time travel and dystopias and turning it into something schlocky and over-familiar.
Alex Hudson

7. Beast
Directed by Baltasar Kormákur

It's not that Beast is a particularly bad movie, but "Idris Elba in safari Jaws" is the headline, so my expectations for thrills and bad-assery are pretty high. Rather than lean into its survivor man premise and lion-poaching subplot, Beast takes a detour into family drama that feels unnecessary and distracting. We wanted Elba wrestling Scar; instead we got Elba trying to explain to his teenage daughters why walking away from the jeep while a predator stalks the vehicle is a bad move.
Rachel Ho

6. Empire of Light
Directed by Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes's heartfelt ode to movie theatres isn't worth seeing in one. Tonally confused, unintentionally funny and frequently eye-roll-inducing, Empire of Light both fails as a love letter to cinema and as a heartfelt romance. While it features brilliant cinematography from Roger Deakins and a great turn from Olivia Colman, there is little they can do to enliven this listless story, which simply isn't prepared to tackle the themes of racism and mental illness it broaches. Coming off the stellar 1917, this is an unfortunate follow-up for the famed director.
Prabhjot Bains

5. Don't Worry Darling
Directed by Olivia Wilde

We all figured the behind-the-scenes drama of Olivia Wilde's second film would be more interesting than the movie itself, but I don't think any of us appreciated just how nonsensical it would be. Wasting a solid performance by Florence Pugh (Miss Flo, if you're Wilde), Don't Worry Darling attempts to be a sci-fi-leaning film about sexism and misogyny, but ends up being vapid. Wilde's Booksmart was a great film and got audiences excited about what she would do next — but now? We're a little worried, darling. 
Rachel Ho

4. Men
Directed by Alex Garland

For a director with only a handful of film credits to his name, Alex Garland has built a lot of good will, mostly because he wrote and directed one of the best movies of the 21st century so far. But like so many filmmakers before him, perhaps he's flying too close to the sun. Men is a heavy swing that whiffs. The shock casting of Rory Kinnear in all the male roles left one too many questions, and that attempt at body horror at the end produced more eye rolls than provocation. 
Rachel Ho

3. The Bubble
Directed by Judd Apatow

Limitation breeds creativity, at least in theory. But, working within the constraints of COVID-19 lockdowns, Judd Apatow took the assignment in the most literal way possible and made a movie about pandemic protocols on film sets. With an all-star cast delivering lazy lines with all the polish of a community improv troupe, The Bubble mistakes annoyances like washing groceries for punchlines, reflecting pandemic life back at the audience without bothering to find anything to say about it.
Alex Hudson

2. Persuasion
Directed by Carrie Cracknell

Jane Austen is one of the greatest writers ever, so you can't screw up the source material too badly, right? Wrong! The dismal new adaptation Fleabag-ifies her brilliant final novel, as Dakota Johnson smugly winks at the camera and absolutely massacres the language by attempting to force modern idioms into 19th century banter.
Alex Hudson

1. Blonde
Directed by Andrew Dominik 

A highly divisive film, Blonde had its defenders who praised director Andrew Dominik for his unique approach to the biopic genre, the cinematography that seamlessly moved from colour to black and white, and Ana de Armas's performance as Marilyn Monroe. And while, objectively speaking, those are noteworthy claims, the fact that Blonde takes such delight in tormenting Marilyn, one has to wonder why anyone would make a film about someone they seem to despise. Unless, of course, that was the point.
Rachel Ho

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