Hollywood went woke and never looked back.
It doesn’t matter how many woke projects disappoint at the box office, the industry keeps cranking out more. A rare few, like 2019’s “Booksmart,” actually rose above to make us smile. Most, though, sink under a crush of finger-wagging moments and ham-fisted woke lectures.
So, in no particular order, here are 10 woke movies with little, if any, entertainment value to cushion the messaging blow.
This franchise reboot (don’t call it a sequel) unofficially kicked off the industry’s woke manifesto. Letting four comic actresses take the baton from the 1984 film’s male quartet told audiences this wasn’t just a franchise extension. It was a broadside against the PatriarchyTM.
The attack proved aggressively mediocre. The comedy’s gender swap mania extended to the ghostbusters’ office clerk, now played by Chris Hemsworth in full “himbo” mode. The film’s first trailer crashed the Internet in all the worst ways, and the film reportedly cost Sony $70 million.
The studio licked its wounds, jettisoned the gender-empowering cast and brought the franchise back from the dead via last year’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.”
“Get Out” delivered a rare woke treat. Jordan Peele’s 2017 smash fused progressive messaging with slick genre shocks, and audiences rallied to its side. This slavery-themed shocker tries a similar tactic but fails miserably. Janelle Monae stars as both a powerful author and a slave trying to escape her master’s chains.
The film clumsily stitches those two character sides together, delivering woke lectures and a painfully predictable story arc. The film’s creepy score was its sole selling point.
“Charlie’s Angels” (2019)
“I believe a woman can do anything,” Kristen Stewart’s “Angel” says in the very first line of this franchise reboot. Let the eye rolls commence.
The TV source material had little on its brain beyond titillation and skin-deep stories, but it showcased three strong women saving the day each week. The first film adaptation, starring Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore, souped up the action but retained the sexy spirit.
Director Elizabeth Banks surgically removed the pulchritude from the reboot, focusing on Empowerment 101. It flopped spectacularly at the cineplex, crushing the franchise for the foreseeable future. Even the far-Left Slate.com mocked these “Angels” for being so ”concerned with its messaging that it fails to be fun.”
“Captain Marvel” (2019)
This MCU origin tale crushed the box office, period, with an eye-popping $426 million stateside. The MCU’s bulletproof brand at the time, not the film itself, can be credited for that.
MCU films typically nail the critical casting calls – think Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). Oscar winner Brie Larson is too smug and charmless as the title character, a Kree warrior trying to crack her identity issues.
The film flounders when it should be soaring, and the comic moments don’t land as they normally do in other MCU romps. “Captain Marvel” introduced woke elements to the franchise, from our heroine’s victim status to feminist dialogue that lands with a thud.
“Wonder Woman 1984” (2020)
What happened? How could 2017’s “Wonder Woman” deliver on almost every level, while the ‘80s era sequel stumbles from start to finish? It’s one of the biggest mysteries in recent years, considering the creative team from the original returned for the obligatory sequel.
Gal Gadot remains the quintessential Wonder Woman, but she’s adrift in a sea of campy gags, stiff action sequences and stupefying villains. You can hate Donald Trump all you want, but the Trumpian baddie (the usually reliable Pedro Pascal) crushes the film’s modest momentum.
And, of course, woke flourishes abound, particularly with Kristen Wiig’s pre-villainous character.
“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” (2016)
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne, a seriously underrated comic star, powered the surprise 2014 hit about new parents living next to a sorority house from Hell. A sequel made economic sense, but the minds behind the original had something else in mind for round two.
Rogen and co. even hired two female screenwriters to oversee the project. Why? To ensure an R-rated comedy delivered gender positive characters. They should have spent more time on the jokes.
This resulted in a disappointing comic dud that hauled in only a third of what the original earned, killing the young franchise in the process.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (2017)
The middle film in the final Skywalker trilogy remains one of the most debated sequels in modern memory. And for good reason, since it marked Disney’s attempt to woke-ify the beloved brand.
Writer/director Rian Johnson insults “Star Wars” canon, delivering a maddening sequel which stops mid-film for a lecture on wealth inequality. Johnson also emasculates the saga’s Han Solo stand-in (Oscar Isaac) and delivers the ultimate Mary Sue character, Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico.
The film made a mint at the box office ($620 million) but proved far less successful than its predecessor, “The Force Awakens” ($936 million).
Writer/director Alexander Payne could do no wrong on the big screen … until this woke belly flop. Payne’s enviro-satire stars Matt Damon as a man who voluntarily shrinks himself to help save the planet. Smaller people, less resources required to sustain them.
The plan goes awry, and the smart setup and lo-fi effects give way to grating supporting characters, the obligatory “wall” reference and other progressive tropes which interrupt the opportunity for enjoyment.
The initial gimmick opened up a world of satirical potential. That Payne couldn’t lean into any one idea captures just how badly “Downsizing” squanders its potential.
“The Hustle” (2019)
Duck! It’s yet another gender swap reboot. To be fair, the 1988’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” was itself a remake of 1964’s “Bedtime Story.” The ‘80s version became a comedy staple thanks to the chemistry between Steve Martin and Michael Caine.
Suffice to say Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway lack that duo’s comic chops. To be fair, they never had a chance given the atrocious screenplay which hits a false note in the opening scene and never recovers.
The remake doesn’t flood the zone with woke elements, but it doesn’t take a Gender Studies degree to spot them.
Woke has been very bad to Matt Damon. Not only did the #MeToo movement pummel him for not reciting the proper talking points, he’s also starred in at least two woke bombs. (“Promised Land” deserves an honorable mention here…)
George Clooney directs not one but two ‘50s-era storylines that never coalesce into something coherent, let alone engaging. Damon stars as a family man whose home is invaded by thugs. Meanwhile, a kindly black couple endures endless harassment for daring to move into a mostly white neighborhood.
Yes, Clooney is waving the era’s racism in our faces, but his approach is neither delicate nor engaging.
Kudos to Oscar Isaac for stealing a few scenes outright, but the moment he leaves the screen the film reverts back to room temperature.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.