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Worst Comedy Movies of All Time, According to Roger Ebert


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Roger Ebert once revealed that he had seen over 10,000 films during his career, and reviewed over 6,000 of them, and that was just in 1992 after 25 years at the movies. He proclaimed that he never tired of seeing films, even if that meant seeing some bad films along the way. And there’s no arguing that the man saw some terrible films and tried to warn us about them before he passed in 2013. That includes a number of bad comedies, on which he would spare no mercy if they wasted his time. While he often championed underrated comedies, Ebert seemed to relish taking apart modern comedies that appealed to the lowest common denominator.


While Ebert was a self-professed fan of classic comedies, he hated that movies had gotten dumber over the years. An archived article on Rogert Ebert’s website allowed him to elaborate on this idea. “The big difference between today’s dialog and the dialog of years ago is that the characters have grown stupid,” he said. “They say what is needed to advance the plot, and get their laughs by their delivery of four-letter words. Hollywood dialog was once witty, intelligent, ironic, poetic, musical. Today it is flat.” He was right in 1992 when he wrote those words, and they are even truer today.

Updated Jan. 6, 2024: The famous Roger Ebert had no trouble talking about what he felt were the worst comedy movies ever made. You’ll be glad to know that this article has been updated with even more information about Roger Ebert’s most hated comedies.

Ebert’s website has archived thousands of his reviews from throughout his career, and it has also curated lists of his best and worst picks in various genres, including a selection of the worst comedies he had ever seen. As you’ll see, the late 1990s and early 2000s appeared to be rather prolific for bad comedies. 18 films made Ebert’s worst list, and we’ve picked 15 to explore here with additional content. For the record, the others were Sorority Boys, A Lot Like Love, and One Woman or Two.


B.A.P.S. (1997)

B.A.P.S.

B.A.P.S.

Release Date
March 28, 1997

Rating
PG-13

If you have read Ebert’s review, you’d definitely agree it’s even funnier than the movie itself, and that says a lot already. According to the famed movie critic, B.A.P.S., which might as well be shortened to B.S., is “jaw-droppingly bad.” This 1997 comedy directed by Robert Townsend is about two “Black American Princesses” — aka B.A.P.S. — trying to climb up the social ladder by moving to LA and auditioning for a music video. It featured Halle Berry, Natalie Desselle, and Martin Landau in lead roles, with additional cameo appearances from contemporary celebrities like Dennis Rodman and LL Cool J.

B.A.P.S. May Have Gone Too Far

Our protagonists’ vulgar appearances, made up of ridiculous hairstyles, extremely long fake nails, and shiny golden teeth failed to be funny or to make a point. The exaggeration in painting so vividly negative and ugly a picture of two working-class black women was more offensive than it was satirical and comedic. The stereotypical aspect of the movie extends to the plot, where the girls actually “make it,” but only through working as a distraction for an old white millionaire who just needs to be entertained during his last days. B.A.P.S. is not only cringey and boring, but it also manages to be offensive to some minority groups. Ebert said it best: “The movie doesn’t work, but was there any way this material could ever have worked?”

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Baby Geniuses (1999)

Kathleen Turner and Christopher Lloyd on the Baby Geniuses Poster
Sony Pictures Entertainment

Babies are generally only cute when they utter funny sounds, or when they arrange their little facial expressions into a hilarious grimace. Baby Geniuses, however, simply disregards that and assumes that babies who can speak, dance, scheme, and who know Karate would actually make great material for a comedy. Kathleen Turner and Christopher Lloyd star in this uncanny story about intelligent infants in a secretive scientific facility. When a case of mistaken identity sets one of the babies free, hilarity ensues — at least, it felt like it was supposed to.

An Infantile Production

Had the cast and crew known it was just creepy, not to mention very boring, to watch babies pretend to be adults, they would probably have saved themselves the trouble of making Baby Geniuses. It’s highly possible that director Bob Clark wanted to hide this one from his resume, especially when you consider that he directed Black Christmas, arguably the most influential slasher film to date, and A Christmas Story, an all-time family classic for the holiday season. If the mood calls for some baby humor, movies like Look Who’s Talking and Baby’s Day Out would be a better choice.

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Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo (2005)

Get used to Rob Schneider — you’ll be seeing him again on this list. His 2005 sequel to Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, sees Schneider donning the titular role once more on an international journey. As Bigalow attempts to locate his former handler somewhere in Amsterdam, he inadvertently gets wrapped up in an investigation surrounding a murderer who targets male sex workers. Like its predecessor, European Gigolo was written by Schneider. Unlike its predecessor, however, is its director. Coincidentally, Mike Bigelow directed this feature, having directed nothing before and nothing afterward.

A Double Deuce of Boredom

Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, manages to somehow be worse than the first film, working on the assumption that junior high-level sex jokes can carry a film. Spoiler alert: they don’t. The film manages a few laughs but feels too forced to make it enjoyable. Schneider is a funny guy, and co-star Eddie Griffin has his moments, but the film mocks the elderly and the disabled with little shame. It also kicks up racial and gender stereotypes that aren’t funny now, and weren’t funny then.

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The Dukes of Hazzard (2005)

Hollywood’s obsession with making movies out of classic TV shows may have hit the bottom of the barrel with 2005’s The Dukes of Hazzard. Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar of Broken Lizard and Super Troopers fame, The Dukes of Hazzard reinvents the classic 1980s television series with Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, and Jessica Simpson playing the roles of Luke Duke, Bo Duke, and Daisy Duke, respectively. Similar to the series, the film follows the Dukes as they take on the corrupt commissioner of Hazzard County, Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds). The film would mark Jessica Simpson’s feature-length acting debut.

The Dukes of Hazardous Waste

Dukes of Hazzard seems to have been greenlit based on the idea of Jessica Simpson wearing Daisy Duke shorts. Neither she nor the appearance of Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter, can save the film, despite their best efforts. Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott just aren’t appealing leads here, and not even the inspired casting of Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg and Willie Nelson as Uncle Jesse helped. The film is a tedious effort that is just about unwatchable.

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Freddy Got Fingered (2001)

20th Century Fox surely knew what they were getting into by letting Tom Green write and direct Freddy Got Fingered. The question is: why would the studio that made All About Eve, M*A*S*H., Die Hard, Star Wars, and The Grapes of Wrath put their name on a film so insultingly bad, watching it is like getting kicked in the shin over and over? The film’s plot is nearly nonexistent, acting more as a vehicle for Green to torture the likes of Rip Torn, Marisa Coughlan, and Eddie Kaye Thomas with his over-the-top antics.

A Tom Green Feature Film

Green plays an idiot who is trying to succeed in Hollywood animation, but the film is basically an excuse for various unfunny gags and jokes about child molestation. Ebert claimed that “the film is a vomitorium,” and the feelings were universal. Freddy Got Fingered won five Razzie Awards, including Worst Picture, Worst Actor, and Worst Director, and Green actually attended the ceremony to claim them. To this day, Tom Green defends the film, and thinks it is merely misunderstood. A fringe theory has even been developed recently that asserts the entire film itself was a joke. After all, what else could you have possibly expected when asking Tom Green to make a big-budget feature?

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Ebert was one of the most entertaining and inspiring film critics, but when he hated a film, especially a horror movie, he let everybody know.

The Hot Chick (2002)

Body-swap comedies are usually good for some laughs, but The Hot Chick often doesn’t rise to its potential. Rob Schneider is Rob Schneider, and while he manages a few laughs, the script (which he co-wrote) is pretty terrible. In essence, The Hot Chick is your typical body-swap comedy with a bit of an edge, featuring a sleazy criminal named Clive (Rob Schneider) swapping bodies with one of the meanest girls in high school, Jessica Spencer (Rachel McAdams). The most notable thing about the film is that it was directed by Tom Brady — no, not the one you’re thinking of.

The Hot Mess

Rachel McAdams, making her feature film debut, is completely wasted here and is missing for most of the picture, but she’s hilarious in her limited scenes. There’s also the obligatory Adam Sandler appearance (it’s a Happy Madison production, after all) but he forgets to bring the jokes to his scenes. The movie is usually just stupid, leaving Ebert to proclaim, “through superhuman effort of the will, I did not walk out.” The film’s only saving grace is Anna Faris, who is naturally funny, regardless of the quality of the script. Thankfully, Rachel McAdams would later go on to star in Mean Girls, a legitimately terrific comedy that’s still hilarious to this day.

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Joe Dirt (2001)

Meet Joe Dirt and his not-so-funny adventures. He’s a self-confessed blue-collar guy whose “thing” is being buried in dirt. Because of this, and because of his less-than-pristine profession, Joe finds himself feeling put down by life. As he searches for his long-lost parents, however, Joe finds himself forging new connections that bring out his positive personality traits. Unfortunately, what the few who find being covered in dirt funny would tell you is that the majority of the world doesn’t find it funny at all. This schtick can never be enough to carry a feature-length movie, especially when you have David Spade playing the lead role.

Joe Dirt Is Joe Dumb

Though Joe Dirt has built up a cult following nowadays, it’s understandable that Roger Ebert wouldn’t be a big fan of what it has to offer. A product of the raunchy early 2000s, Joe Dirt is a film whose focus on gross humor carries with it little else, though Ebert did give David Spade some praise for going out of his comfort zone in terms of roles. It’s just a shame he had to do so in Joe Dirt. Movies like these are meant to be tragically funny; but, Joe Dirt is neither funny nor tragic, making it a total failure.

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Mad Dog Time (1996)

There are no actual mad dogs in Mad Dog Time, but the film could have used them. Instead, the film is a cinematic mauling that painfully gnaws on your psyche well after the credits roll. A comedic gangster movie at its core, Mad Dog Time features Jeff Goldblum as Mickey Holliday, an enforcer for mob boss Vic (Richard Dreyfuss), who gets spun into a world of violence, intrigue, and more cameos than you can count.

The film actually has the nerve to pretend it is a comedic all-star ensemble. Sure, there are lots of stars and over a dozen recognizable character actors here, but as Ebert points out, “the actors perform their lines like condemned prisoners.” That might be because major actors show up for a few minutes in screen time, only to be killed off unceremoniously.

Mad Dog Time Is Incomprehensible

Mad Dog Time makes no sense at all — characters talk and dress like they are either in a 1940s gangster film or a 1960s Rat Pack film, even though it is set in modern times. You could argue that this makes sense because of who was involved behind the scenes. The film was written and directed by Larry Bishop, the son of Rat Pack member Joey Bishop, who has a cameo here in what was his final film. Unfortunately, it’s a sad sendoff. To rub salt in the wound, Richard Dreyfuss served as a producer, and it’s mind-boggling that he allowed this script to be filmed. He should have known better.

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North (1994)

It might be said that Ebert calling North “one of the worst movies ever made” is a little harsh, but we can definitely see why it’s also a legitimate statement. The movie’s premise itself is questionable, as it centers around a little boy (Elijah Wood) who is highly displeased with his parents’ neglect, eventually embarking on an adventure to find new and better parents. It was originally released in 1994 as a rare blunder by Rob Reiner, who directed films like Misery and A Few Good Men only a few years prior.

North Enraged Roger Ebert

What makes the idea problematic is that children are always attached to their parents no matter how abusive they are. The film’s parents, despite serving as a crucial part of the film’s plot, are presented as dull caricatures. Their presence is hollow and doesn’t add anything to the plot, or to the comedy. They are the walking evidence that the ridiculous is not always funny.

The scene of the auditioning parents is also another point the movie makes about its own unhumorous ridiculousness, which prompted one of Ebert’s most well-known rants: “I hated this movie… hated every simpering, stupid, vacant, audience insulting moment of it.”

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One Woman or Two (1985)

Gerard Depardieu, Sigourney Weaver, and Ruth Westheimer in One Woman or Two
France 3 Cinéma

One Woman or Two is the kind of movie that even a plot twist cannot save. It’s about a French anthropologist who aspires to get a research grant from a rich businesswoman (Sigourney Weaver) who herself is pretending to be someone she’s not. Believe it or not, this is a French film that would be brought to the US in 1985, and featured Ruth Westheimer in her first ever film role.

One Woman or Two Misplaced Its Focus

The thing that ruined the movie the most is its tendency to focus on the stupidity of the characters, especially the scientist, who, despite his profession which encourages observation, fails to see the clues and signs that would reveal the truth of the situation. Screwball comedies can work, don’t get us wrong, but there has to be some sort of balance between shenanigans and seriousness. Yes, it’s funny to watch people be utterly idiotic for a couple of scenes, but to have that be half of the movie turns it into just another disappointment. One Woman or Two is not available on streaming

She’s Out of Control (1989)

Ami Dolenz as Katie Simpson and Tony Danza as Doug Simpson in She's Out of Control
Weintraub Entertainment Group

By the time She’s Out of Control was released in 1989, just about every ’80s movie cliché had been run into the ground. That includes the bad voiceover, the “attractive girl looks ugly because she wears glasses” trope, the “dance in your bedroom to a classic song” cliché, and the “prom as a finale” cliché. This movie wore out another: the “Tony Danza as a leading man” cliché. Stan Dragoti directed this comedic film, later going on to direct 1991’s Necessary Roughness before dropping out of Hollywood.

She’s Out of Control Is a Mess of Clichés

She’s Out of Control is a bad Who’s the Boss? episode stretched out over what feels like a week. It’s a contrived mess about a father who suddenly discovers his little girl, Katie (Ami Dolenz), is a teenager who starts dating. A young Matthew Perry shows up as a jerk who takes Katie to the prom, which is about the only thing in this movie worth mentioning.

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Sour Grapes (1998)

Larry David as Himself in Sour Grapes
Columbia Pictures

It’s hard to believe that Sour Grapes came from Larry David, the same man who gave us Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, because the film doesn’t offer one natural laugh. The broad, goofy humor feels incredibly forced and plays out like a bad sitcom plot. Considering Larry David has written great shows, it’s amazing he got it so wrong in this film. This is especially egregious when you consider the film’s plot, which sounds ripe for comedy.

Sour Grapes sees Steven Weber starring alongside Craig Bierko as Evan Maxwell and Richie Maxwell, a pair of cousins who end up in Atlantic City. At a slot machine, Richie asks Evan for some extra cash for one last spin. Fortunately, Richie strikes gold as he wins a six-figure jackpot. Unfortunately, a conflict forms over who actually deserves the money.

A Misstep From Larry David

Ebert criticizes David’s script, saying it “thinks people are amused by cancer, accidental castration, racial stereotypes and bitter family feuds.” Larry David himself seemingly doesn’t approve of Sour Grapes anymore either, with the fictionalized version of himself in Curb Your Enthusiasm making multiple negative references to the film. It’s ultimately a film that brings up more questions than answers. Perhaps the film’s biggest question is: why does star Stephen Weber act like a Seinfeld impersonator?

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Spice World (1997)

Spice World

Spice World

Release Date
December 18, 1997

Director
Bob Spiers

Cast
Melanie Brown , Emma Bunton , Melanie Chisholm , Geri Halliwell , Victoria Beckham , Kevin Allen

Rating
PG

Calling Spice World a soulless cash grab is being too kind. You know what we want, what we really, really want? A time machine to go back and stop me from seeing this abysmal picture. It aspires to be a modern version of The Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night, but falls far short. It is, instead, a collection of disjointed gags in which the Spice Girls visit various landmarks around London, practice for a concert, meet famous people via cameos, and torture us with their music. As time passed, however, some opinions have turned around on the film, seeing more as a parody along the lines of This Is Spinal Tap.

Sugar, Spice, Nothing That’s Nice

Ebert was absolutely vicious in his review, stating: “The Spice Girls have no personalities; their bodies are carriers for inane chatter.” It should be no surprise, then, that the five members were credited as having written the screenplay. You have to, at the very least, admire their audacity in even claiming credit for it. Their bank accounts certainly weren’t complaining, at the very least. To this day, Spice World remains the single highest-grossing film produced by a musical group of all time. Spice World is currently unvailable on streaming

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Tommy Boy (1995)

tommy boy

tommy boy

Release Date
March 31, 1995

Rating
PG-13

Tommy Boy may not be a great film, but Ebert’s assertion that it is among the worst comedies ever may be a bit extreme. Chris Farley and David Spade were a solid comic duo, and when he wasn’t taking gags over-the-top, Farley had natural comedic timing that he sadly never fully realized before he died. Farley and Spade play the roles of Thomas Callahan III and Richard Hayden, a pair of sales people whose bumbling personalities are the only thing that can save an ailing automotive plant.

Chris Farley Made Tommy Boy His Own

The film has a loyal following who appreciate the silly humor, and the making of Tommy Boy has become legendary itself. Unfortunately, Ebert wasn’t a huge fan. “The movie is an assembly of clichés,” Ebert says, and he isn’t totally wrong. While Farley’s energy and Spade’s sarcasm are good for some laughs, the film could have used some inspired writing, especially in its third act.

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The Waterboy (1998)

Sure, Adam Sandler may be an acquired taste, but even when he’s at his dumbest, as he was in The Waterboy, there are still some laughs to be had. As Bobby Boucher, the waterboy/linebacker for a downtrodden Louisiana college football team, Sandler channels most of his best bits from his Saturday Night Live characters into one of his most iconic roles. For most, that’s good enough for a few laughs. Ebert disagrees, saying Boucher is a “character whose manner and voice has the effect of fingernails on a blackboard.” Perhaps the celebrated critic should have enjoyed some quality H2O while watching the film.

Ebert Despised The Waterboy

The Waterboy is seemingly an encapsulation of just about everything Ebert has a distaste for at the cinema. The film’s silliness is helped by a supporting cast that goes all-in with the insanity, including Henry Winkler, who is quite good in his role as the coach. Even Rob Schneider gets some laughs with his ridiculous “you can do it” running gag. And sure, Kathy Bates may be an Oscar-winning actress with a flair for the dramatic, but nearly every line she has here earns a laugh. Unfortunately, Ebert just didn’t feel the same way. It may not have infuriated Roger Ebert as much as North did, but The Waterboy is certainly up there as one of Ebert’s most hated comedies.

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You’ve seen Roger Ebert rip apart some of the worst comedies he’s ever seen. But what were Roger Ebert’s favorite movies of all time? Check out our video below to see ten of Roger Ebert’s all-time favorites.

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