2016

The following is a comprehensive list of every film I’ve seen that debuted in the year 2016 in a U.S. theater, or if not released in the U.S., then released in 2016 in its home country. My favorite 20 films are ranked, while the remaining are in approximate order according to overall feelings and lasting impressions. Films near the top are worth watching, while films near the bottom are not worth your time. Those movies seen in the middle portion are worth filtering through and watching, depending if it peaks your specific interest in the film, whether because it has a favorite director, actor, or interesting plot. A good rule of thumb: if it’s below the middle of the unranked section, then it probably isn’t worth watching.

1. Moonlight

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just an incredibly well told story about some very important social issues in society today. there is nothing cheesy or overtly metaphorical about it. it’s just well told, tear-jerking drama about real life.

2. La La Land

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from a filmmaking standpoint, Chazelle is a master. while the subject matter is not as gripping, the acting and production is near perfection. it’s as beautifully told as any film should or could be, and the dialogue and story are great. arguably the best film of 2016, but i think Moonlight edges it out based on subject matter. still a must watch for all moviegoers. if you don’t like this movie “because it’s a musical”, then you shouldn’t be allowed an opinion on movies.

3. The Handmaiden

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Park Chan-wook does it again with this incredible drama thriller. always revenge based in some form, the latest from Park is a 20th century Korean period piece told in 3 parts. at almost 140 minutes, it’s not a quick watch, but it sure is a good one; well told and well acted, the movie is also beautifully shot.

4. The Salesman

IMDb
well crafted and filled with suspenseful drama, Farhadi’s seventh feature length film is built in the same minimalist way as his earlier works. a master at creating something out of nothing and saying so much by using so little, Farhadi has created another film supporting the notion that he may just be the greatest Iranian filmmaker ever. this is more arthouse than many can appreciate, so it’s not for everyone, but definitely a must watch if you appreciate subtitled dramas.

5. Manchester By The Sea

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this is essentially as good as it gets with dramatic realism in film. everything is very well written, directed and produced here, and most of the acting is great. the way the story is told is amazing and i found it very compelling at times, and not that predictable. it’s shot in a very “in your face” kind of way, with blunt dialogue and quick wit. shows the ups and downs and good and bad of life, love and family.

6. Elle

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tres magnifique! wonderfully directed story about a French woman who has been through a lot yet appears to be stronger than everyone around her. there’s some great metaphors in here, and draws some cool parallels to the many facets of life, but you can watch this purely because of it’s great acting and realistic style of drama.

7. Toni Erdmann

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such beautiful realism that portrays the subtle drama of family so well. impeccable acting in this German film, which will soon have an American remake. although it might be too long and slow for some people, this is yet another foreign drama that defines auteur cinema in the modern world.

8. Arrival

IMDb
really smart, and very well crafted story with realistic plot (for a SciFi movie). i usually don’t like alien/UFO movies, but this was so much more than that. there is some deep metaphors and parallels to society in general, and some nice plot developments that make for exciting moments. must watch.

9. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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New Zealand comedic filmmaker Taika Waititi once again pleases the audience with this dry humored, unique story about a foster boy who grows into a man in an unusual turn of events. the film is very funny and the pacing and direction is exceptional. i was thoroughly amused and entertained, while feeling simultaneously attached to the characters. must watch.

10. Hell or High Water

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great story, great action and drama, great acting, just great everything. makes you wanna move to Texas and just drink beer on a porch over looking a ranch. this movie is a well done modern crime drama.

11. American Honey

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incredibly realistic and well told story that is a combo coming-of-age story as well as a retrospective of middle America. a mix of heart wrenching, funny, thrilling and vulgur, this is definitely a must watch if you can stand the almost 3 hour length. Arnold is a director worth following.

12. Everybody Wants Some

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for those that already know who Richard Linklater, you should already be watching this. for those that aren’t familiar, this is an indie comedy with a very fun yet realistic view on college for athletes in the 80’s. this isn’t your typical Hollywood comedy, in that the dialogue drives the movie and the plot is essentially bare with actual events. must watch, one of my favorite directors, who is considered the father of indie film.

13. The Lobster

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very interesting concept and good execution of an idea about an alternate society in which people are forced into relationships, based on the need for companionship. very well written and acted and the vibe you get from it is unique and oddly enjoyable. if you’ve seen anything by this director, you will definitely enjoy this similarly sci-fi-esque movie.

14. I, Daniel Blake

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a touching and very real British drama about the frustrating bureaucracy life is filled with. good acting, well written dialogue and story that is really kept together by the realistic yet simultaneously melodramatic plot. one of the better films of the year but definitely not the best in my opinion.

15. Hacksaw Ridge

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a very Hollywood-style war action drama directed by Mel Gibson. this is absolutely Oscar-bait and will win some awards, but realistically, there is nothing too unique or amazing about this movie, aside from the true story and people it was based on. i do think its a must watch film, but i don’t consider it a top 5 movie of the year or equivalent. great war action and good dramatic acting.

16. Zootopia

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another great Disney animated film. good story that touches on adult themes, cute and funny moments with likable characters and visuals that are great for the kids. its everything you expect from a Disney film, and not too much extra. there will be better animated films, but this is still a memorable one.

17. Nocturnal Animals

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wonderful story and well directed film. the style is strong here (you can tell Tom Ford is also a designer). the acting is superb and really brings the story and style together. definitely recommend to all.

18. Finding Dory

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wonderful follow-up film to Finding Nemo, with all the bells and whistles of what makes a Pixar film great. everyone should watch these Pixar films, for the cute and funny characters and for the life lessons that even adults need to be taught.

19. Don’t Breathe

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essentially the perfect horror film, the right amount of shock horror, but not too much that it relies on it. a lot of creepy characters and scenes, but not without a genuine feel or story line. good acting and a semi-realistic plot given the nature of the film, this is a must watch horror film.

20. 10 Cloverfield Lane

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great film, must watch mystery horror sequel to Cloverfield. great acting all around and a fun story that keeps you guessing.

Captain Fantastic

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very interesting and gripping subject matter that keeps the viewer excited to watch. the characters are unique and the acting is superb, although the plot and storylines are predictable. its a feel good comedy drama where the characters develop just enough to leave everyone satisfied. good watch.

A War

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very well done story about Danish armed forces in Afghanistan and the fallout of one event that takes place while at war. if you’ve seen the work of this director/writer before, you know to expect a slow dramatic style of realism. this may be boring for some, but the story itself is well told and well acted so the movie should keep you engaged if you can appreciate arthouse foreign films.

Jackie

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as the title suggests, this is more of a depiction of Jackie Kennedy’s experiences as First Lady and how she deals with the traumatic experience that follows. it’s a telling story of who she was and how she dealt with it. with that said, it’s seemingly without much action or plot and could be boring for some; this is a portrait, not a sequence.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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pretty good Star Wars flick, maybe even better than The Force Awakens from last year. this has a mostly original story, and although it slightly resembles the other movies in terms of formula, the character dynamics and writing is new and original. great visuals and great overall watch.

Sing Street

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many heart warming and fun moments with nice, enjoyable music. not for those that dislike musicals or movies based on live music. set in Dublin, with seemingly authentic actors, the movie is good and of the quality you would expect from Carney, who’s style remains consistent with this movie.

Don’t Think Twice

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i think we would all enjoy this film because it is a nice combination of instantaneous humor, gripping realism and metaphorical melancholy. many of the sad yet funny realities of life are on display here and the acting is great. must watch, especially for the lovers of indie comedy drama.

Green Room

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a very well produced drama that scales the intensity and action up consistently throughout the film. about a hard rock band that plays a show in a sketchy backwoods music venue, then shit starts to go down in the green room and its all downhill from there. definitely worth the watch, especially for those loving action and indie movies.

The Edge of Seventeen

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great all around film, but most of the plot is predictable. good acting and dialogue with a genuine feel for a coming-of-age story. worth the watch.

Wazir

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Bollywood film with action, romance and life lessons. some good acting and good writing, with a well thought our story. this is definitely worth the watch, but probably doesn’t end up in the top 20 films of the year when it’s all said and done. being a Bollywood film, this will have the feel and style of a story that appeals to a general audience.

The Light Between Oceans

IMDb
beautifully shot drama set in an early 20th century commonwealth country. Fassbender and Vikander are great in it, but the simple story and expected plot are not enough to push this movie into the “excellent” category of films for the year. still a great watch for all fans of romance and period piece drama.

Sausage Party

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this raunchy animated comedy from the mind of Seth Rogen is more than meets the eye. there is indeed childish humor, but the heart of this movie is a satirical image of religion and society, with a heart warming story to accompany it. the truly funny moments were not as plentiful as you might expect, but you will laugh at the overall premise and execution of the movie. considering how short it is and how quickly the movie goes by, i’d definitely recommend this to anyone who can handle sexual humor and graphic language.

The Nice Guys

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it succeeds as a crime comedy, and i think Crowe and Gosling play perfectly off of each other. great cast, great story and serves its purpose in providing an escape from reality. definitely recommend this to all movie goers.

Hardcore Henry

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a sci-fi action thriller shot from POV perspective; feels much like a shoot-em-up video game, so beware if that will give you a headache watching it. if you can get past that, it’s a really fun and well produced mesh of violence and interesting story, with perfectly timed bits of humor. definitely a must watch for anyone who likes violence, action or unique film ideas.

Paterson

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just the right amount of style, substance and surrealism. a bit boring at times, but overall an enjoyable watch for any fan of Jarmusch, poetry or the star actors.

Deadpool

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this is how all superhero/comic book films should be. it has action and comedy, and combines the two in a fun and not overly serious manner. not to take anything away from the dramatic superhero movies, but this is the definition of a proper comic book movie, and i’m glad we are finally starting to see them in 2016. let’s just hope they don’t ruin this series by over doing it.

Snowden

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big brother is watching you.

Swiss Army Man

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very interesting idea for a movie, not without it’s metaphors and themes. a man befriends a dead body and together they experience the real and surreal aspects of life. considering it’s only 90 minutes, i’d say its worth the watch, especially for the unique style of humor it adds to the drama.

War Dogs

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way more serious and well written than i thought it was going to be. pretty great story with some funny moments and a lot of serious moments too. worth watching just for the beautiful Ana de Armas, but its a cool and unique story too; would recommend.

Look Who’s Back

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one of the more unique films you will watch. this story of Adolf Hitler waking up in modern day is shot in the form of a comedic documentary. it may be a tough pill to swallow for some, but it becomes an enjoyable story to watch with an interesting ending. the social commentary on present day Germany is especially relevant and important to discuss in many countries today.

The Founder

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really entertaining and enjoyable watch, great acting all around. surprised this wasn’t as popular a film, although it is just a standard Hollywood biopic. would recommend.

The Shallows

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a nice little horror/drama story that is well written and well shot. Blake Lively does a good job in this role, and the film keeps you on the edge of your seat. this is essentially Jaws meets 127 Hours, a survival story of a surfer vs a shark.

Captain America: Civil War

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these comic book movies are getting bigger and better, but also more over the top and unrealistic. they must be running out of ideas but damn if it isn’t still entertaining.

Midnight Special

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Nichols’ beautiful dramatic style keeps this sci-fi chase thriller from losing the audience’s attention IMO. great directing and acting, and an interesting story that might be lost on some people. check out this director’s other work.

Moana

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another well done animated film with a story made for both kids and adults. nothing will surprise you, its not especially unique or extraordinary within the genre; just a good story that is fun for the whole family. worth the watch.

The Accountant

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interesting story with cheesy quotes and predictable action sequences, but lacks unique style. ultimately can be classified into a category with most action thrillers that try to be smart, maybe on the better side, although Affleck does not fully succeed in this role. decent watch.

Florence Foster Jenkins

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without Meryl Streep, this would be just OK. with her, it has style and class, just funny enough to keep you entertained and just deep enough to make you think. decent watch.

Hail, Caesar!

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i think the trailer may make this seem way more exciting or way more entertaining that it actually is. the plot seems to lead to no real conclusion that awards the audience. the production value is of course very good and the style is obviously unique, being a Coen Bros film, but i do think this is a style-over-substance film.

Barbershop: The Next Cut

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surprisingly a good movie that addresses real issues in a non-cheesy way, and yet with on-point humor. if you liked the previous ones, definitely watch this one. if you don’t like predictable Hollywood comedy dramas, then maybe skip this one, but i still think it was worth the watch if you’re bored.

Keanu

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this is pretty standard Key & Peele humor with a decent story that isn’t especially unique, but still keeps you entertained. if you wanna watch a Hollywood comedy, let it be this one or higher rated ones than this.

The Witch

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this is not what i expected it to be, in that the story and setting seems well researched and authentic to the era. this not a shock-horror movie, where a cliche witch storyline drives the movie, but rather a creepy, mystery horror where the characters create a truly unnerving setting. i found this difficult to follow in terms of what was actually happening, partially because of the old English being spoken, but the vibe of the movie is enough to say this is a good creepy watch.

The Meddler

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decent little comedy drama about a woman in her early days of being a widow. Sarandon does a nice job and the movie is enjoyable, but don’t expect anything too crazy. it has the feel of a good indie comedy, but doesn’t keep you excited for what comes next.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

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pretty funny Andy Samberg film from the minds of The Lonely Island. actually a pretty enjoyable comedy with some really funny, memorable moments. i think this is worth watching compared to most comedies and compared to most summer flicks. obviously don’t expect an Oscar type film, but this should please many as it has the feel of a good, long SNL sketch.

13 Hours

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in typical Michael Bay fashion, the film contains more action and explosions than it does substance, and the story has more chaos than it does structure. the one-liners are plentiful and almost cringeworthy at times. this wasn’t a bad film, but it definitely could have been written and directed in a better way. worth the watch if just want some pure military action sequences.

Jason Bourne

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cut from the same cloth as the previous Bourne movies, yet more ridiculous in the technology the story so heavily relies on. it’s a relatively good action flick with some fun action sequences, yet the direction and writing of the story could and should have been so much better.

How To Be Single

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this is not as much a comedy as it is a coming of age story and RomCom. a good amount of fun, that isn’t super cringeworthy, with some fun characters. at the end of the day, this is still a modern comedy with some cliche storylines, but it was still enjoyable.

X-Men: Apocalypse

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just as physically ridiculous and CGI packed as most other comic book movies these days; the best part is the star studded cast, otherwise the story is typical, the plot formulaic and the end result predictable.

Live By Night

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a little too predictable and cliche to consider it a film worth recommending, but still semi-entertaining if you like mob dramas and/or Affleck. probably his worst film as a filmmaker but still better than most garbage made by Hollywood.

The Neon Demon

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like much of Winding Refn’s work since Drive, it has the arthouse style, but not as much of the actual substance. the story is decent, the acting is good, but the general direction of the movie is overly metaphorical and often boring to watch.

The Brothers Grimsby

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pretty standard Sacha Baron Cohen comedy with just the right amount of vulgar actions, political satire and stupid humor. decent watch if you’re looking for a current comedy.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

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honestly pretty funny, and probably better than most of the comedies this year. you shouldn’t expect a unique story when comparing it to the first Neighbors movie, but honestly you probably aren’t watching these for their originality. its a good popcorn movie to enjoy that doesn’t require thinking.

Office Christmas Party

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pretty funny movie that’s pretty much a typical Hollywood story that isn’t very realistic but very entertaining. some crazy shenanigans happen and generally good humor throughout. if you liked The Hangover, then you might like this.

Now You See Me 2

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tricks on tricks on tricks, this is trickception. worse than the first one but still kinda entertaining.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

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i probably laughed about as much as any other modern comedy because i find the stupid, nasty humor to be funny, but some probably won’t. i still think this is a worthy summer flick because it’s beautiful people doing stupid things with fast paced dialogue. there’s nothing really boring about this from a comedy standpoint, so i recommend it purely for what it is, nothing more.

Jimmy Vestvood: Amerikan Hero

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pure stupid comedy, but is actually worth watching. i can’t remember ever hearing about an American comedy by an Iranian American that addresses many of the stereotypes of being Iranian American, so this is definitely unique and actually pretty funny if you’ve ever met an Iranian.

A Hologram for the King

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this is a weird, surreal film from director Tom Tykwer and starring Tom Hanks. the story is lacking in substance yet the style makes up for it. the overall plot of the film leaves you kind of confused why you even watched it, but there are certainly some things to gain from watching this movie, specifically how it makes you evaluate the odd and unique aspects of your own life.

Bad Moms

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typical comedy just like the other company it has on this list; the actors are reasonably funny and entertaining, the script is predictable, but overall you will not hate yourself after watching it.

Central Intelligence

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another modern action comedy with some unbelievable plots and hilarious action sequences. watch if you like the main actors, otherwise you won’t gain too much from watching it.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

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neither the humor nor the story pushes boundaries or is especially groundbreaking, but overall this is still a very watchable and somewhat enjoyable movie. it’s not a stupid comedy, and it definitely has moments of real drama, so file this under “happy drama”.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

IMDb
unnecessarily long, too complex and too action-packed. there is not a lot of justification behind why or how everything is occurring, and the writing is pretty cliche and unrealistic, even for a comic book movie. the action is well shot and directed, but being 2016, that is no longer enough to save a film from mediocrity. not necessary to watch unless you are a fan of the characters.

Suicide Squad

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not especially good, great action and unique characters, but really this is over the top and what we expect from all comic book movies these days. watch for the characters and addition to the Marvel universe.

Ride Along 2

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you know what you’re getting with this comedy. not as good as the first one, and not as many funny moments, but essentially the same film.

Why Him?

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really the only reason to watch this is if you like Cranston or Franco. the plot is predictable, the writing cheesy, and the jokes lacking. its not terrible, just not that great.

Zoolander 2

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equally as dumb and funny as the original one. somewhat entertaining and kind of humorous. i didn’t laugh out loud once, but i didn’t feel like i wasted my time.

The Boss

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not especially unique or funny; just a typical Hollywood comedy with an attached heart warming story. only worth watching if you like Melissa McCarthy’s comedy style.

Collateral Beauty

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oh my, i have so much to say about this movie. most of what’s bad about this film starts and ends with the script. everything about the writing, from the cheesy dialogue, to the cliche stereotypes and the corny, yet confusing, metaphors, this is pure, hot garbage from a writing standpoint. the direction and camerawork is very try-hard and amateur. the only good thing about this movie is the average acting from a star studded cast that is apparently starved for work. this movie should be taught in film classes as how not to make film. i would not recommend you pay any amount of money to watch this, but if you want a good laugh and a waste of 90 minutes, do watch this movie, which is a testament to Hollywood’s slow decline in producing quality art.


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