Originally published on The National Student on 27/12/16.
It might’ve been a banner year for blockbuster flops and mainstream disappointments across the board, but don’t rule out some good old fashioned silliness either.
From Sausage Party to Swiss Army Man, 2016 has played host to some of the strangest, most confusing, and most down-right depraved releases of the entire decade. Just when you thought Adam Sandler might’ve finally given up, or that Eddie Redmayne’s Oscar win had left him with some sense of credibility, along came the following to prove us all royally wrong in almost every department.
Sometimes painful, often funny, but always, always, always ridiculous, here’s the highlights of the year’s most unusual movie moments.
*Spoilers ahead for The Do Over, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Sausage Party, Swiss Army Man, The Neon Demon and The Shallows (some milder than others)*
The Do Over – Adam Sandler Cures Cancer
As if Sandler’s lazy fart jokes and relentlessly stupid humour hadn’t quite hit an all-time low in his previous Netflix effort The Ridiculous 6, his latest actually revolves around the struggling comedian chasing a cure for cancer, which is stored on an iPad. In the end he actually finds it, and yes he cures one of the deadliest diseases on planet Earth.
We’re not even going to start on how unrealistic said idea is, because y’know, it’s Adam fucking Sandler, the man who once cast himself as an Israeli special-agent turned hairdresser who swims like a dolphin. But is this one ridiculous? Well, yes. Insensitive? Uh huh. Worryingly pigheaded too? You bet. Mind blowing.
The Neon Demon – The Eyeball
Turning the tables completely, over to a film that’s totally ridiculous in a good way; Nicolas Winding Refn’s blindingly glam-dram The Neon Demon is chocked full of strange goings-on, the most outlandish coming in its dying moments.
With Elle Fanning’s naive lead Jesse finally reaching her true potential in the modelling world, and pissing off the large majority of her fellow catwalkers in the process, she quickly finds herself murdered. And then – because this is a Refn movie and fuck logic – she gets eaten.
The ultimate kicker comes when one of the cannibalistic models in question later finds herself feeling ever-so-slightly queasy whilst at a photo shoot, and retreats to the bathroom only to throw up – yep, you guessed it – an entire eyeball. It’s totally bonkers and dark, and a little bit hilarious too, making for one of the year’s most ridiculous, but down-right memorable endings altogether.
The Shallows – Steven Seagull
Despite being arguably one of the best shark-focussed creature-features in some time, Jaume Collet-Serra’s The Shallows certainly had its fair-share of silliness, the most memorable being its biggest supporting character: a seagull.
Blake Lively spends the film stranded on a rock battling an aggressive great white, and the only company she finds is from a nearby seagull, who she at one point affectionately names Steven. Considering it’s actually a real life seagull that doesn’t talk, or dance, or really do anything other than just sit there, the pair show a weirdly emotional bond and Collet-Serra spends a crazy amount of time focussing on him.
Expect a Steven Seagull spin-off any day now, I guess.
Sausage Party – The Orgy
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s positively mental adult animation about the secret lives of food started strong but span out of control pretty quickly towards the end, resulting in what is now most likely one of the most infamous sequences in animated film history.
With the bulk of the key plot sorted by the 70-minute mark, Rogen and co. seemed to struggle with finding a decent way to wrap up and instead, had every-single remaining character randomly start having sex with each other. I mean, it’s food, so it’s mostly just hot dogs putting themselves in buns, and bagels being violated, but the intentions are very, very clear and the whole thing lasts for an excruciatingly long time.
It might be funny at first, but by the end it’s just baffling and to be honest, kind of embarrassing to watch. Especially when it ultimately spins into another entirely separate but equally stupid epilogue. And all of it was co-directed by the guy behind Thomas the Tank Engine. Truly terrifying.
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them – Grindelwald Revealed
We won’t get into the very nitty-gritty of exactly why David Yates’s famed Harry Potter follow-up wasn’t quite up to scratch (try our full review here), but rest assured it goes far beyond the fact that it features one of Britain’s most talented actors prancing around like he’s imitating the chicken dance from Arrested Development.
Nope, the film’s worst/most ridiculous moment actually comes right at the very, very end, when Colin Farrell’s sensationally bland half-villain Graves is revealed to have been none other than the franchise’s newest big bad Gellert Grindelwald the whole time. As portrayed for all of two seconds by a highly-overpaid Johnny Depp in full goofy-mode, sporting a shocking haircut and pencil-line moustache like he’s angling for Mortdecai meets Basil Fawlty.
Not only is it an insanely lazy reveal in essence, it all marks a total misfire not just for the film but for the entire series as a whole. This man is supposed to be the new Voldemort; the original evil wizard. And instead we got an Inspector Clouseau lookalike from a late-era Tim Burton movie. Ridiculous, painful, you get the picture.
Swiss Army Man – “What the fuck?”
Last but far, far from ever being even remotely least, is arguably one of the most ridiculous films of any year, let alone 2016. Premiering at Sundance and quickly becoming known as “that Daniel Radcliffe farting corpse movie”, Swiss Army Man ultimately taught us all just how great ridiculous can be.
Obviously in a movie that centres its entire plot around a man only surviving thanks to the farts (and general ingenuity) of a talking corpse, there’s going to be far too many ridiculous moments to count, but arguably the most ridiculous comes with the film’s final line.
Having spent the entire plot slowly making his way back to civilisation, Paul Dano’s Hank lands on the doorstep of lost crush Mary Elizabeth Winstead suspiciously quickly, and after scaring both her and her child, he dashes back to the seafront with Radcliffe’s corpse en-tow. There’s a brief stand-off with the police before the corpse once again starts farting and we close in on Winstead just as she utters the film’s final, totally killer, line: “What the fuck?”
Since most of the film seems to be taking place largely in Hank’s head, this comes as quite a game-changer: has the corpse literally been farting this whole time? Was the whole thing really happening for real? Was Hank actually just been goofing around across the street from Winstead this entire film?
All hail Swiss Army Man: a masterpiece of ridiculousness.