The 13 Most Disappointing Movies of 2014

Most Disapointing Movies of 2014

Many Hollywood executives probably want to forget that 2014 ever happened. The studios overstuffed the summer multiplexes with sequels — yet another “Spider-Man,” “X-Men,” “Planet of the Apes” and “Transformers” — which resulted in audience malaise at the box office (5% down from last year). The indies might have been better in terms of quality, but no title caught fire the way they used to, such as when sleepers like 2006’s “Little Miss Sunshine” grossed $60 million. And the latest fad in filmmaking — crowdfunding — turned out to be a bust with the release of two high-profile Kickstarter projects (“Wish I Was Here” and “Veronica Mars”) that barely registered with audiences. If Hollywood wants the movie business to thrive against unprecedented competition (TV, video games, etc.), the industry needs to do better, especially when it comes to original storytelling. Here are the 13 most disappointing films I saw in 2014.

13. “Magic in the Moonlight”
Domestic box office: $10.5 million
Woody Allen’s 49th time in the director’s chair resulted in his most lackluster film since 2001’s “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion.” The script, which had Colin Firth investigating the practices of a phony clairvoyant (Emma Stone), felt forced even by Allen’s standards, and he did his film no favors by casting romantic leads who are 28 years apart in real life.

12. “Big Eyes
Box office: $4.4 million (still in release)
This biopic about painter Margaret Keane was hyped as a return to Tim Burton’s ’90s prime (think “Ed Wood”), and bloggers were predicting it could finally win Amy Adams her Oscar. But “Big Eyes” is so bland, it doesn’t even feel like a Tim Burton movie. The story collapses under an over-the-top performance from Christoph Waltz, who plays dishonest husband Walter Keane like he’s channeling a Quentin Tarantino villain.

11. “Jersey Boys”
Box office: $47.0 million
Hollywood has been trying to get this Four Seasons musical on the bigscreen for almost a decade, but Clint Eastwood’s adaptation was pitchy. He should have cast movie stars in the lead roles — rather than banking on the stage actors like John Lloyd Young, who won the Tony for playing Frankie Valli. Another problem: Eastwood downplayed “Jersey’s” musical-theater elements. These are words I never thought I’d write, but I wonder what Rob Marshall would have done with the production.

10. “A Million Ways to Die in the West
Box office: $43.2 million
How do you make people forget you bombed as host of the Oscars? You direct a movie that is even less witty than the lyrics to “We Saw Your Boobs.” Seth MacFarlane’s parody of Westerns — an idea as timely as its 1882 setting — squandered all the movie-making capital he earned from “Ted,” which grossed $219 million domestically.

9. “Grace of Monaco”
Box office: N/A
The Cannes Film Festival kicked off with this biopic starring Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly. But the screen legend’s extraordinary life story somehow felt small compared to all the backstage bickering between director Olivier Dahan (“La Vie en Rose”) and U.S. distributor Harvey Weinstein, who couldn’t agree on a final cut of the movie. Dahan’s version, which played at Cannes, was tedious. As a result, “Grace of Monaco” has yet to open in the United States, and it probably never will.

8. “Deliver Us From Evil”
Box office: $30.6 million
Jerry Bruckheimer produced this horror movie that was in development for years and underwent numerous script revisions. Eric Bana (who needs better material) plays a New York cop fighting demons, but he couldn’t bring this dreck to life.

7. “Men, Women & Children”
Box office: $705,908
It’s hard to believe that the same Jason Reitman who directed “Up in the Air” and “Juno” is responsible for this stilted meditation on how technology disconnects us from each other. Told in “Crash”-like vignettes, the movie speaks down to the Facebook generation rather than illuminating any new truths. And it earns the dubious title of the lowest-grossing movie of Adam Sandler’s career.

6. “Wish I Was Here”
Box office: $3.6 million
Zach Braff took to Kickstarter to ask his fans to chip in $3 million so he could make a follow-up to “Garden State” on his own terms. But this indulgent, meandering comedy about a thirtysomething dad experiencing a midlife crisis is proof most filmmakers need studio supervision. Somebody should have reigned Braff in, especially during the “Ally McBeal”-like montages of him in a space suit.

5. “Veronica Mars”
Box office: $3.3 million
This was another Kickstarter project that went off the rails. Director Rob Thomas collected $5.7 million from 91,585 loyalists to finance a movie based on his cult TV series that was cancelled by the CW in 2007, but the finished product — shot so darkly, it was often hard to tell what was happening — played like an inside joke. “Veronica Mars” made the “Sex and the City” movie look like “Casablanca.”

4. “Sex Tape”
Box office: $38.5 million
The idea of this R-rated comedy was basically ripped from a “Mad About You” episode, where Paul and Jamie Buchman accidentally returned a sex tape to the video store and race around town to retrieve it. In the 2014 bigscreen version, the married couple (played by Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel) upload their dirty video on the cloud by mistake, and visit their friend’s homes to delete it from their iPads.

3. “Inherent Vice”
Box office: $967,000 (opens wide in January)
Paul Thomas Anderson, like J.D. Salinger in the later stages of his writing career, has abandoned narrative. Instead, we’re left with beautifully shot scenes that feel like wandering in the dark, vaguely connected by a trippy performance from Joaquin Phoenix. I don’t know what “Inherent Vice,” based on the Thomas Pynchon novel, is trying to say, but I do wish the director of “Magnolia,” “Boogie Nights” and “There Will Be Blood” would return to telling stories with a beginning and an end.

2. “Transcendence”
Box office: $23 million
The least satisfying studio project of 2014 stars Johnny Depp as an artificial intelligence scientist who gets swallowed into a computer (allowing him to collect a reported $20 million paycheck for very little screen time). The script, which was once featured on the Black List, is incoherent in the hands of first-time director Wally Pfister (Christopher Nolan’s longtime cinematographer). “Transcendence,” which bombed at the box office, is this year’s “47 Ronin,” only not as entertaining.

1.“Lost River
Box office: N/A
Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut premiered to the biggest jeers at Cannes, which prompted Warner Bros. to slate it for only a day-and-date limited U.S. theatrical release. The bleak drama set in the future felt endless (at only 105 minutes) and plotless. But “Lost River” committed the worst crime of all by taking Gosling out of the leading man business, where his talents are most needed.

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  1. Fleur says:

    inherent vice are you serious? do you not recognise a good film when you see it? did you not see Phoenix’s performance? hideous seeing this film here. just stupid.

  2. Bite your tongue about Veronica Mars. The aim of the film was not to make a smash at the box office, it was made for the people who paid for it – the fans.

  3. chris says:

    Inherent Vice should not be on this list. It had some good performances and was pretty funny.

  4. Bob Smith says:

    Most of these movies look like crap. It’s no surprise they flopped.

  5. professor59 says:

    Sorry, but I thought A Million Ways to Die in the West was hilarious. It was a Blazing Saddles for millenials. No, it’s not classy or Oscar-worthy in any way. But it’s why most of us go to the movies.

  6. cdhaskell says:

    Amy Adams can make any role come alive.

  7. wewa says:

    Would have been simpler to list the ‘most worthwhile movies’ instead.
    But the list may have been short, or empty.

    Just watched boyhood. Stopped before the ending. How can that be so regarded, I will never know in my decades of patronizing Hollywood.

    I’ll stick with Indiana Jones, Back To The Future, Ghost, Pretty Woman, and even Jaws. LOL.

  8. Z. Benhamida says:

    American Sniper needs to be included in next year’s list.

  9. Bruce Kimmel says:

    Hilarious how the Veronica Mars people send all the “fans” here to defend it – every single post in this thread about the film is by a zealous fan who cannot deal with an opinion that differs. It would be hilarious were it not so blatantly noxious.

  10. It cost too much money to goes the theater. It is cheaper to wait until the film is available on DVD. There is the transportation cost,ticket price and the food and drink in the theater, It can cost you between $40.00-$50.00 per person. I still remember it used to be year before the film was available on vcr tape and cable but now it is month.

  11. lsbrew says:

    A million Ways to die is a hoot.

  12. PETER JAY says:

    Here’s my most disappointing–BOYHOOD, WHIPLASH, BUDAPEST HOTEL, STILL ALICE. But great acting by Miles Teller, Pat Arquette, Julianne Moore. Best movies–THEORY OF EVERYTHING, GONE GIRL, and the outstanding AMERICAN SNIPER.

    • chris says:

      The Grand Budapest Hotel was hilarious and is the best movie Wes Anderson has made. Ralph Fiennes got robbed by not being nominated for Best Actor.

  13. Jon says:

    All of which will be on Netflix next year for a great rate!!! H

  14. Boyhood was my pick of the most disappointing movie of the year. All setup and no follow-through. The final episode of The Cosby Show, looking back at how much Theo had changed over the prior eight years, had more resonance.

  15. David Lee says:

    Did “Men, Women & Children” even make less than Adam Sandler’s first movie “Going Overboard?” If so… wow.

  16. Dodd Hessey says:

    Inherent Vice was incredible: Raymond Chandler on acid.

  17. Al Hartman says:

    Sorry, “Veronica Mars” was NOT disappointing to the fans. We loved it!

  18. Aurelas says:

    So sad to see Lost River on here. I was excited about it when I first heard about it and thought that finally the non-Whovian world would get a chance to see what Matt Smith can do. And then I read the reviews….wow. Sounds like it may have made the “worst movies ever list.” For the rest of the list, I still want to see Big Eyes because I often disagree with critics where Burton is concerned, and I am interested in the big eyed girl art :)

    • David Kahoun says:

      Big Eyes is definitely worth seeing if only for Amy Adams wonderful performance. I thought the story was very interesting. Christoph Waltz is very good as well, but it is Adams’ movie all the way. She just shines. Also look for the real Margaret Keane sitting on a park bench behind Adams and Waltz painting. I noticed the woman, but didn’t know it was Keane until the end credits when they had a picture of her and Adams together.

  19. Pete says:

    Veronica mars shouldn’t be on there considering the fact that the film was praised by both critics and fans alike. On top of that it took years of campaigning before the film was finally made. It was a great film and I really enjoyed it. I used to watch the show growing up so the movie was sort of nostalgic in that sense.

    I agree with some of the other films mentioned like Sex Tape, Transcendence, etc. but Veronica Mars shouldn’t be on there. Not all big budget mainstream movies are the best. The creative independent films like Veronica Mars are unique and innovative. I feel that many would agree with me…but then again we are all entitled to our own opinions.

  20. The problem with Veronica Mars wasn’t the script, or the cinematography. The problem was with its very limited release. Many major cities had no showings when it opened and, being limited to one chain with the exception of some special arrangements, very few screens for the life of its run. I was a Kickstarter supporter, but had limited access to watch it before it was gone as it was quickly replaced by other even less successful movies which enjoyed longer and much wider distribution. Chalk up Veronica Mars disappointing box office to the producers’ lack of confidence, and not to any shortcomings of the film. And I understand it is doing just fine in dvd.

  21. frankie342 says:

    well what do you expect if these studio execs keeps on paying
    high bankrolling stars over the top prices just like spending over
    $200 for an blu ray disc from ebay that really make no real value
    until it collects dust and the owner dies it was bad enough of the
    cast of the big bang theory earning a combined $90 million for the
    next three years of the show but these actors will not get out of bed
    for less than £70 million just look at the entire cast of the expendables
    it must have eaten up the studio execs Paychex to justify all those high rolling
    stars like Stallone and Schwarzenegger that his agents charging fans over
    £270 to appear at an black tie charity fundraiser at ellend road in leeds west yorks
    uk last November but that’s a side issue but i’m not surprise that Hollywood are
    not producing top quality films due to over paying celebrities to star in pg-13
    friendly movies that last year the film industry ended up digging through their archives
    by dusting of alien/aliens and Ghostbusters spite it’s 30th anniversary and gremlins
    to gain some revenue back from all these fish out of water movies but Hollywood needs
    to step up and say no more over paying celebrities and start producing good wholesome
    movies again.

    Frankie smales

    smales tv uk

    the above topical comment is expressed on my own opinion.

  22. bkbeach4x4 says:

    Inherent Vice is a stoner movie that attempted to Big Lebowski Joaquin Phoenix but failed. Josh Brolin seemed to be channeling the Stacy Keach of the Nice Dreams era.

  23. Hank says:

    I would agree with just about everything on this list although I did find Inherent Vice mildy enjoyable. I wouldn’t have put Lost River as number 1 though because I don’t think expectations were high and everyone’s forgotten about it by now. Veronica Mars was definitely a self-indulgent mess — and why did it need to exist? I feel bad for these fans who shell out their hard-earned bucks so rich filmmakers can make movies without supervision and make a lot of money.

  24. NickKnack says:

    Continued- Why isnt “Boyhood” on this list? Talk about plotless! If you are going to complain about Inherent Vice, this movie should be on here too. All it is a fictional documentary with horrible acting and stilted scenes. And is this list for only for movies that grossed under a hundred million? Guardians of The Galaxy , was just a cut and paste version of The Avengers. And Godzilla should win award for least direction in a film in 2014.

  25. Cartman says:

    Wow, Variety getting dumber and dumber. Veronica Mars has been one of the most satisfying movies of 2014.

  26. f you says:

    to hell with that. Veronica Mars is better than you’ll ever be

  27. Kalimba Deathswamp says:

    What a vapid article

  28. mcw says:

    Every movie released by hollywood this year. you can only recycle the same stories and scripts so many times.

  29. Judy says:

    Was not surprised by any movie mentioned. Suspect there are more. For mature audience the selection this year was awful. That is why cable shows are doing so well

    • caro says:

      That’s why European films and from other parts of world were ‘invented,’Judy. There are some fabulous ones out there, just embrace the sub-title to see what’s best in film these days. Seek out Gett: The Trial of Viviane Anseleme (Israel); Ida (Poland); Mr. Turner (UK); Paddington (oh, mock not, it’s a great suggestion and film! UK); Winter Sleep (Turkey); Leviathan (Russia); Testament of Youth (UK), a rich, joyous (in cinematic terms) bunch from which to choose. And anything with Kristen Scott Thomas (well, nearly).Riches beyond compare when listed beside big budget re-runs and lack of imagination in many other quarters such as an original story, script and casting.Embrace those subtitles!

  30. PETER JAY says:


  31. Anyone who like the Veronica Mars series would, I think, like the movie.
    It was everything I hoped it would be, effectively a return to what I loved about the show.
    When people try to cinemize a TV show, they usually fail (“Serenity,” Uma Thurmond as Mr.s Peel in “The Avengers”).
    As to the other movies on the list, I really cannot argue with the choices.

  32. Thruth is... says:

    These are not all of ‘the most disappointing movies of 2014’.

    The REAL disappointments were…

    “Foxcatcher” (Bennett Miller) :
    Great material, dumb & inaccurate film. A great nose doesn’t make a great film.

    “Monuments Men” (George Clooney) :
    Again, great material destroyed by overpayed artists who think that they can write, direct, act, produce
    at the same time without losing quality.

    Nobody expected anything from films like “Veronica Mars” or “Wish you…”, but at least they pleased the fan bases. Clooney and Miller created flops that desappoint much harder because those films could have been masterpieces in able hands.

    • David Kahoun says:

      I really enjoyed Monuments Men. I’m not a war movie fan and I thought this was a great offshoot from a war story. Great acting and the final scene with the Clooney’s character when he was old was brilliant ( I won’t give away that part for people who haven’t seen it.)

  33. Let face it,Hollywood put out too many film at the time and because they got big name in it that everyone will rush to see it. People can’t afford to goes to the movie house to see every film because they got bill that need to be paid. It is cheaper to wait until the film available on DVD to either rent or buy the DVD.

  34. caro says:

    I agree with Peter Jay re the Imitation Game, a huge disappointment, pastiche meets gay meets untruth, Benedict Cumberbatch should have turned this down, certainly not a ‘career best’ as trumpeted in the media and as for Keira, once again a career ‘why bother?’ Full of holes, this film.
    The director and actors – and screenwriter(s) – should be made to watch Gett: The Trial of Viviane Anselem to see how the whole film thing works, phenomenal work.

    • Hans says:

      But I have a feeling Ben will win the oscar, because he’s the hottest thing in Hollywood right now. Oh well. The only thing that the Oscars are good for is to boost Hollywood itself, like every other self-congratulatory awards institution.

    • PETER JAY says:

      Caro, exactly, I love Cumberbatch, but Ben, etc. are promoting IMITATION through the ceiling, but IMITATION is exactly as your described it. I think Jake G.,NIGHTCRAWLER, or Brad Cooper, AMERICAN SNIPER, should take Ben’s place for the Best Actor Oscar nomination.

  35. cdhaskell says:

    The gentleman who claim that the movie prices is too low forget to included the cost of care fare, the food/drink per person. The finally cost can be somewhere between $50.00 to $100.00 per person. It is no wonder that the average movie goers decide to wait until the DVD come available.

    • Tim says:

      This is why I catch the early bird showings at a theater I can walk to, or drive to the discount theater across town. No food for me. I pay $5.75 for a walking trip movie, or $3.50 for a movie I drive to.

      • cdhaskell says:

        I agree with Tim about going to early bird showing but in Brooklyn There is only one theater within walking distance that is left. I need to take the train to get the early bird showing and I waited until I go home to eat anything. You will need a good credit /debit card to buy any food in the theater.

  36. Caro says:

    Reading through these comments, I am astonished that Americans are so fixated on their own films, just as if the rest of the world who make films don’t exist. There are plenty of other bad films out there from other countries – or do you just watch American ones, reviewer? But maybe you’re just proving a point – too many American ones simply reach new depths year after year, few having an original idea, most of them recreating the same old, same old rubbish.

  37. I’d have to disagree about ‘Big Eyes’. It didn’t feel like a modern Tim Burton movie, which I think is a plus. Totally disagree about Waltz’ performance. It was big, but that’s what gave it the Burton feel.

    Agree 100% about ‘Magic in the Moonlight’ though. That was disappointing.

  38. Steve M. says:

    You need to remove Veronica Mars from this list. It was made for a very small budget (by Hollywood standards). It opened to 291 theaters and maxed out at 347. It had some marketing support from Warner Brothers but not a lot. Since it was a Kickstarter movie Director Rob Thomas had to make certain concessions like same day free down loads to the masses that financially supported Veronica Mars. This would keep many from making the three hour drive to the nearest theater to see it, if it was even playing that close. I was one of the fortunate who was able to stand in line for an hour and half (something I don’t do anymore) and sit with the Marshmallows and enjoy a movie that was loved by everyone in that sold out theater on opening night. There is no way this was a disappointing movie.

    • Jason says:

      Why does he ‘need’ to remove it? The list is not about FINANCIAL disappointment. How many theaters it opened in, giving it away for free, and even the budget shouldn’t effect whether a movie is any good or not…

    • Anda Bodoh says:

      “Veronica Mars” was an ugly, dumb show made for and by ugly, dumb people, so why are people surprised the film turned out the same? Lol.

      • WIAJ says:

        Glaucoma IS a difficult disease to live with, so why would you joke about it, Jenn? Unsurprisingly ugly, dumb comment from a defender. Lol.

      • Jenn says:

        Awww glaucoma is a difficult disease to live with I hope you are coping well.

    • Judith says:

      I agree- “Big Eyes” was not a disappointment as far as the story and acting. Waltz and Adams were incredible! It didn’t fare well and the box office, but it had to go up against “The Hobbit,” which I thought was disappointing, and “Unbroken,” which was forgettable.

  39. Michael says:

    Woody Allen’s 49th time in the director’s chair resulted in his most lackluster film since 2001’s “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion.” So you haven’t seen To Rome With Love then?

  40. NotFromMars says:

    Yeah, I have no idea why the Veronica Mars film is here either. I never watched a frame of the TV series, yet upon seeing the film, I quite enjoyed it. The reason for the passionate fandom made sense to me finally and the story was engaging. I’m not sure where the “darkly shot” originates – David Fincher has never not made a darkly shot film and this magazine routinely suggests he win Oscars. I don’t agree about Magic In The Moonlight either but if it did low business, then it did.

  41. Erin says:

    About Veronica Mars:
    “shot so darkly, it was often hard to tell what was happening” that’s the point… the show and the movie were noir. It’s supposed to be dark. Gloomy. It sets the mood. Brightly lit scenes would go against the plot and characters and story in general. I had no trouble seeing what was going on.
    “played like an inside joke” because it sort of was… the movie was created to appease fans of the show. It was a continuation of something that already existed, and yeah it’s cool if new fans come along… but it was written and created to continue an already existing story and give the fans of Veronica Mars something they wanted.
    I understand if you personally didn’t get it or don’t like it… and I’d understand if there were more valid reasons here for why it was a disappointing… not the fact that it’s dark and has references to the show that preceded it.

    • Bill says:

      Don’t let the reviewer go anywhere near “Seven;” I suspect he’d find that Fincher guy is never going to have a career for the lack of light throughout THAT one.

  42. Howard Lang says:

    Veronica Mars?

    Rotten Tomatoes has it at 78% / 80% Fresh.

    Is this list an opinion piece?

  43. Samguy says:

    The charisma of Jersey Boys’ star did not transfer well to the movie. Part of that may have been that Eastwood, not surprisingly, took a much darker approach or rather the true life tsuris and tragedies that they experienced weren’t glossed over as on the stage.

    However, I do feel that Inherent Vice did have a linear storyline. It’s just that the movie was just way too convoluted and confusing.

    For me personally, two other disappointments were Love Is Strange and Birdman. In the former, the Alfred Molina character gets fired from his job from a Catholic school because he married a man. That alone could’ve been a whole story or at least a major trajectory here but was completely dropped. It was unnecessary and the film itself failed by not stressing that the exorbitant cost of living in places like New York leaves no room for a middle class anymore.

    I just found Birdman to be slow and boring. It had some exciting ideas but, sadly, it didn’t work for me.

    • David Kahoun says:

      Thank goodness I’m not the only one who didn’t like Birdman! Slow and boring are the exact right words for that movie. Great acting, I will give it that, but the camera moving down long hallways and the incessant drumming was just a horror show for me.

  44. Jay says:

    Ryan Gosling doesn’t do well as a movie lead (box office-wise) either.

    • Copley says:

      Gosling has consistently starred in profitable films since Crazy Stupid Love. What films are you referring to? “All Good Things”?

  45. I haven’t seen the Veronica Mars movie but to critique it for poor box office seems unfair considering it had such a limited release – only a couple of cinemas played it in Britain for example, where it had heavy repeat rotation on t.v. so might actually have drawn an audience given half a chance. Blame the production release/cinemas for some of these smaller films not standing a chance at making any money,

  46. Hollywood have this bad habit of release too many film at the same time ex. summer/winter. Most people can’t afford to goes to movie anymore. They just wait until the film is available on VOD/DVD and than either rental or buy the film if they like it.

  47. I forgot that the lead actor in the film was from the play. You were right that Clint Eastwood was the wrong director for the film. It should have be someone else who understand what make a musical a hit and miss on the film.

  48. Ronnie says:

    You are completely wrong about Veronica Mars and its success. It was released day and date for VOD because those involved wanted it available to all the kickstarter investors and fans from around the world at the same time. They only received a limited theatrical release through a deal made with AMC as most chains big chains do not release titles with day and date VOD. The numbers were not released, but it was the number one rental and sale title during the first week on iTunes and reportedly everyone was extremely happy with the numbers coming in. Do a little research before you label something a “disappointment” or falure.

  49. cdhaskell says:

    I must agree with Romeo Garcia that Jersey Boys. I believe the reason why everyone hated Jersey Boys that they still remember the Broadway play. Clint Eastwood have to capture the background that the play couldn’t. It star unknown singer actor in the movie .

    • Michael Anthony says:

      If they remembered the Broadway MUSICAL, (not play), then they should have loved the film. The lead in the film was the lead on Broadway, and he won the Tony. The film didn’t need “stars,” it needed a different director. Rob Marshall or Baz Luhrman.

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