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The Worst Movies Of 2023 So Far

The year 2023 might just be one of the most abundant periods in movie history. With dozens of streaming services offering a slew of original content, plus movie theaters slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels of attendance with a blockbuster spectacular every weekend, film fans are left with a wide variety of choices. Some movies seem like absolute must-sees, by virtue of universal critical acclaim or ever-accelerating box office hauls. Others snag attention through their undeniably original hooks, like "M3GAN" and "Cocaine Bear." Still more benefit from being franchise entries, such as "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" and "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania."

But at the other end of the quality spectrum are the true stinkers. For every good movie that arrives, a few bad ones are unleashed upon the world. They confuse, baffle, and anger critics with their overt terribleness, while also pushing away the elusive mass audiences their makers clearly want to court. We're here to take a look at those disasters, from bloody takes on children's characters to heinous remakes. These are the absolute worst movies of 2023.

Life Upside Down

The world is still trying to make sense of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the purposes of art is to unpack the emotions, lessons, and impact of shared human experiences like this. It's unsurprising, then, that a curious sub-genre of pandemic movies has developed in recent years. By and large, these somber, anxious, and surreal movies have been met with savage critical assessments. Perhaps not enough time has passed to gain interesting artistic perspective, or maybe nobody wants to relive the most painful days of 2020. Either way, movies like "Locked Down" and "The Bubble" have sunk to the bottom, and in 2023, "Life Upside Down" joined them.

"Life Upside Down" consists of intertwining stories about a few hard-to-root-for Los Angeles couples. Art gallery owner Jonathan (Bob Odenkirk) is stuck quarantining with his wife, but he misses his mistress, Clarissa (Radha Mitchell), who lives solo and interacts with the world at a distance. Sheltering at home makes everyone sad, mad, and upset — feelings that audiences will certainly remember experiencing themselves not that long ago. This doesn't land well. "The characters are shallow and tiresomely needy," wrote Nell Minow of RogerEbert.com, "not to make any point or learn any lessons, just due to a lack of imagination." Minow was far from alone in this opinion: Critics absolutely lambasted the film.

House Party

Released in 1990, the original "House Party" is a modern comedy classic. The light-hearted, likable, and low-key ensemble film starred then-popular rap duo Kid N' Play as a couple of high school friends who pull off an epic rager despite numerous setbacks that threaten to derail things at every turn. It spawned a couple of okay sequels, and, in 2023, a remake. This film ups the stakes, the wacky comedy, and the celebrity branding, which results in an incongruous jumble. 

This time, the partiers are adults, best friends, and failed promoters, Damon (Tosin Cole) and Kevin (Jacob Latimore). About to lose their low-paying jobs as house cleaners and on the verge of financial ruin, they decide to throw a shindig in the last house they're scheduled to clean: A mansion belonging to NBA superstar LeBron James. The rest of the movie consists of material celebrating and lightly teasing James (a producer on "House Party"), drug-fueled party hijinks, and rapper cameos.

Critics didn't outright loathe the new "House Party" across the board, but they were largely unimpressed and confused as to why it needs to exist. As Richard Roeper of The Chicago Sun-Times put it, "The bash at LeBron James' mansion ends up feeling more exhausting than exciting." Brian Richards of Pajiba agreed, writing, "This version wasn't as funny or as good as it could've and should've been, and it doesn't even have the same level of heart as the original."

Your Place or Mine

Reinventing the romantic comedy is a noble and ambitious effort. Attempting to explore a love story through the lens of modern technology is even more enticing. Millions of people spend their whole lives on sophisticated smartphones these days — but it's hard to make people smiling at their handheld glowing boxes into something cinematic. That's the trouble with "Your Place or Mine," a Netflix original starring the usually charming Reese Witherspoon and Aston Kutcher, both of whom have extensive rom-com experience. Their characters, Debbie and Peter, had a fling 20 years ago. They're now best friends who live on opposite coasts. After they get a taste of each other's lives by switching houses — she goes to Los Angeles, he regroups in New York — they wind up falling in love. Almost the entirety of their relationship unfolds via phone calls.

"Your Place or Mine" couldn't quite overcome its own restrictions, earning a critical shellacking. "About as romantic and funny as a root canal," Rex Reed of Observer wrote. Other agreed, calling the movie a flat exercise in rom-com tropes cutting-edge technology can't save. 

Children of the Corn

In 1978, horror master Stephen King published the short story "Children of the Corn" in the anthology "Night Shift." Before long, Hollywood adapted the creepy tale of a tiny Midwestern farm town populated entirely by sacrifice-minded children. After making the first "Children of the Corn" movie in 1984, the filmmakers never really stopped: The latest "Children of the Corn" is the 11th entry in the franchise. This time, the story unfolds a little differently. The terrifying cult leader is a 12-year-old girl instead of a boy, and it's a plucky high school student who dares stand up to her and her army of adult-murdering kids.

This latest take on the story has additionally differentiated itself by earning truly execrable reviews. "It's all so ridiculous and implausible," said Richard Whittaker of The Austin Chronicle. Sara Michelle Fetters of Moviefreak concurred, writing, "The only emotional response this 'Children of the Corn' scares up is boredom."

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey

A daringly sinister slaughter of a sacred cow, "Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey" boasts a simple premise: It's a horror version of A.A. Milne's classic stories of the Hundred Acre Wood, famously populated by Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, and their human friend Christopher Robin. The work entered the public domain in 2022, so it's fair game for interpretation and exploitation. 

"Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey" doesn't do much to analyze or satirize its well-known source material, however. This movie is a by-the-numbers slasher dressed in Pooh's clothing, and that novelty wears off quickly. The plot involves little more than monstrous incarnations of Pooh and Piglet attacking Christopher Robin and several young women staying in a nearby cabin. "It's not funny enough to have anything clever to say about its gag, and it's not exciting enough to be a competent horror movie," said Kyle Turner of The New York Times. He was far from alone in this opinion.