Just last week, Netflix debuted the latest Happy Madison Productions movie, “The Wrong Missy,” which filmed in Hawaii and stars David Spade. The subsequent critical thrashing of “The Wrong Missy” inspired this roundup of Netflix’s lowlights from 2020 so far.
I only include movies in this list of bad that have the vibe of flying too close to the sun. None of the films featured below come from indie or nascent filmmakers who are still figuring things out with small budgets. All of these movies come from industry heavyweights who should have known better (but, more likely, just wanted a big paycheck).
Netflix has also made a concerted effort to push these movies onto subscribers’ homepages. Most of these movies topped Netflix’s new ranking of popularity on the service at one point or another. That strongly correlates to people clicking from the homepage rather than actively seeking the movies out.
As of writing this article, “The Wrong Missy” is still the most popular movie on the platform. Subscribers surely must be feeling burned by this “fool me once, fool me twice, fool me over and over again” movie strategy by Netflix.
Read on for the full list. And if you want to stay informed about everything joining Netflix every week, subscribe to the Streamline newsletter.
Premise: In this vacation comedy co-produced by Adam Sandler, a reserved man in his 50s meets two women named Melissa, both of whom are significantly younger than him. He likes the one that is roughly 10 years younger and decides the Melissa who is roughly 20 years younger is far too wild for him.
The man decides to invite the Melissa he likes to a corporate retreat in Hawaii but mistakenly sends an invite text to the other one. At first, it seems like younger Melissa’s antics will cost him his job. Then he realizes he’s having fun.
Notable cast: Lauren Lapkus, Roman Reigns and David Spade
Rotten Tomatoes score: 34%
Metacritic score: 33
Critic burn: Ignatiy Vishnevetsky at The A.V. Club:
One crucial ingredient is missing, and that’s the Sandman himself. The Safdie brothers’ “Uncut Gems” recently gave him a phenomenal showcase, but the truth is that there’s been an overall uptick in the quality of Sandler’s Netflix vehicles in the past few years, including “The Week Of” and, to a lesser extent, “Murder Mystery” — not to mention his terrific performance in Noah Baumbach’s ”The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected).” One can’t shake the impression that Spade has been handed his unwanted leftovers. It doesn’t help that he has the screen presence of an unenthused real estate agent.
Debut date: May 13
Runtime: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Premise: In this action-comedy directed by Peter Berg, a former cop serves time in jail for a crime he claims he didn’t commit. When he gets out, he finds his old mentor looking to figure out what’s next.
Someone starts killing cops, and it becomes clear that this former cop is in danger. The former cop teams up with his mentor and a new mentee to try to take on the bad guys outside the law.
Notable cast: Alan Arkin, Winston Duke, Post Malone, Iliza Shlesinger and Mark Wahlberg
Rotten Tomatoes score: 38%
Metacritic score: 49
Critic burn: Benjamin Lee at The Guardian:
It’s an action-comedy-mystery-thriller that manages to spectacularly fail at all the above, an algorithmic abomination that’s as coldly constructed as it is clumsily made.
Debut date: March 6
Runtime: 1 hour, 51 minutes
Premise: In this thriller written and directed by Tyler Perry, a public defender suspects that there’s more to a case involving an older woman who admits to murdering her husband. The public defender investigates the woman’s backstory and uncovers troubling details about the husband.
Throughout the interviews, the older woman opens up about the truth, but it’s on the public defender to find a smoking gun.
Setting: Small-town Virginia
Notable cast: Crystal Fox, Tyler Perry and Phylicia Rashad
Rotten Tomatoes score: 17%
Metacritic score: 34
Critic burn: Candice Frederick at The New York Times:
It’s odd that it’s 2020 and the writer-director Tyler Perry, someone who considers himself a progressive filmmaker, still makes movies that resemble the histrionic, “Lifetime: Television for Women” format of the ’90s.
Debut date: Jan. 17
Runtime: 1 hour, 55 minutes
Premise: In this political thriller directed and co-written by Dee Rees, a Washington Post reporter has become successful at getting scoops that hold the powerful accountable. But a meeting with her mysterious, dying father leads to his asking a favor that she’ll have to risk everything to deliver.
The reporter’s story becomes entangled with the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s. The movie is based on a 1996 novel of the same name by Joan Didion.
Setting: Washington and Central America in the mid-1980s
Notable cast: Ben Affleck, Willem Dafoe, Anne Hathaway and Rosie Perez
Rotten Tomatoes score: 5%
Metacritic score: 35
Critic burn: Stephanie Zacharek at Time:
“The Last Thing He Wanted” makes some kind of sense at the end. But getting through its long, unwieldy middle is an undertaking — and not even a serious-minded political thriller like this one should feel so much like an assignment.
Debut date: Feb. 21
Runtime: 1 hour, 55 minutes
Premise: In this cop comedy, a 12-year-old kid named Kareem isn’t happy about his mom’s new boyfriend, a cop with the last name Coffee. Kareem tries to hire someone to kill Coffee, but the assassination attempt goes awry. The whole family is now in danger.
As the family tries to survive, Coffee and Kareem learn that there are corrupt cops on the force who will kill to pull off a drug deal. Most of the attempted comedy comes from the balance between Kareem’s obnoxiousness and Coffee’s adult blandness.
Notable cast: Ed Helms, Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Little Gardenhigh
Rotten Tomatoes score: 20%
Metacritic score: 35
Critic burn: Richard Roeper at the Chicago Sun-Times:
It’s almost astonishing how unfunny this movie is, given the talents of primary cast members Ed Helms, Taraji P. Henson, Betty Gilpin and David Alan Grier. They’re all troupers and they dive headfirst into the material, but the dialogue they’re delivering and the situations they’re mired in make it impossible to wring even a smile, let alone a legitimate laugh, from the material.
Debut date: April 3
Runtime: 1 hour, 28 minutes