Previously, we counted down numbers 11-20 of the movies I feel are most overrated, based strictly on the films I’ve seen. It’s important that I stress this, since fiance insists I’m not allowed to name Superbad on this list, being as I never finished watching the flaming dogpile. I countered, “It was so bad, I shut it off!” but apparently, I lose. Nevertheless, Superbad gets a dishonourable mention, being as the first half hour was so fucking unfunny, I still don’t get why the movie is so revered. It was a stupider American Pie, to be honest, with Michael Cera playing – shocker – Michael Cera.
Also, I apparently need to repeat this: I liked Inglourious Basterds! I just didn’t feel it was Quentin’s best and after all the hype, it was a letdown. Okay?
All that aside, I have my flak jacket ready, because I know I’m going to hear it for several of the top ten films. Again, I liked a couple of these to a degree – albeit a small one – but all of them, in my opinion, get more hype than they deserve. It is just my opinion, and just as you are welcome to bash Pulp Fiction and Juno and even Donnie Darko, provided you employ more than a sentence, I am entitled to not enjoy these movies. Agree or disagree, it doesn’t matter. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be donning protective gear as I count down the ten most overrated films I have seen…
10. Finding Nemo
I’m predicting that this one is going to draw a lot of fire from people. It’s Disney – nay, Pixar Disney – and it is the most successful animated film of all time. That’s right: it’s outdone The Lion King and Toy Story… to which I say, “What the fuck?”
I love Pixar as a rule, and think they revitalized the Disney brand. I still tear up when they shred Boo’s door in Monsters, Inc. That said, I walked into Finding Nemo with an intense anticipation and excitement… only to find myself annoyed and kind of bored. It’s not the story with this one, per se; the tale of a traumatized and neurotic father of a handi-capable clownfish named Nemo, and his journey to find his missing son, should be a hit out of the park while blindfolded. The problem is… well, I just can’t care about the characters. Albert Brooks grates me, so our daddy fish, Marlin, doesn’t engage me. Nemo reminds me of every child that gives baby-sitters and siblings a goddamn heart attack with the way he runs off, and is missing before I’m too enamoured with him, either.
And Dory… Ugh. I know she’s the big reason people dig on Nemo, what with her oh-so-endearing memory loss and lack of common sense, but Ellen Degeneres also does nothing for me, and the gimmick just gets tired, as far as I’m concerned. Short-term memory loss is also truly unfunny for those who actually suffer with it. “It’s just a movie, Amber,” you say, and I get that, but if we’re teaching children subtly to obey their parents, lest they be murdered by a dentist’s relative, we shouldn’t mock a physical ailment like this. Nemo’s demented fin is shown not to be a liability, but Dory is a running joke for her disability? It just grates. I have a feeling I would have liked this a lot more without the Dory shtick – and again, a more substantive plot than a Pixar Fellowship of the Ring. Instead, it falls flat and is just ‘meh’ – and definitely not worth more praise than Toy Story or The Lion King.
9. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Continuing with Disney letdowns, their first feature film – one I believe is mainly revered because it came first – is just weak. We begin with a children’s story that, like many of the early adaptations, presents the heroine as a weak damsel in distress type. She’s sent away from the castle by a man; she slaves away for seven little men cheerily, their kept woman; and then, a prince’s kiss must save her from poison.
But it’s not just the story that irks me. Even taking into account the age of the film, the character design is not very stellar to me, and the personalities of the dwarfs seem paraded just for the sake of killing time. Disney also procured better voice acting over time than this. I find a lot of the older Disney films to be a bit dull and dragging, but this one is the worst for me. It was the start of an important era in animation, and deserves mention for that, but it hasn’t aged well and has been surpassed a million times over. Let’s stop treating it as pure gold simply because of its place in history.
8. The Sound of Music
I may love Julie Andrews, and may like parts of this film, but it’s not a film I think of as A quality at all. It’s a B+ rating for me, and that’s purely on Andrews’ presence.
The film, based on the musical, is far from the reality of the von Trapp family’s story; unsurprisingly, it is a much rosier portrayal of Maria, the maternal figure, and begins (as does Mary Poppins) with a stern and cold father. Maria is a naughty nun to be who gets booted off to be a governess to seven children in sailor suits, and proceeds to be their Mary Poppins. In fact, given that this movie was released a mere year before Mary Poppins, one could almost say this film was Andrews’ rehearsal and honing of that character, as she heals the family through song and joyful play.
The biggest detractor for me is the back and forth of Maria. She’s hired, she’s fired, she’s brought back, she’s scared away, she returns and marries Mr. von Trapp already. Oh yes, and then they all run away from the Nazis. In the real story, there was no hair-raising secret evasion of the Nazis; the von Trapps merely moved to Italy, then America. The device seems added into the musical, and consequently, the film, to add more drama to a rather dull romance framed by adorable cherubic singing children. It’s dreary and cliched, a tale as old as time, and aside from a few musical moments, the fabricated ending is the only part of interest. It’s worth a mandatory watch for those who take film viewing more seriously, but the fact that (with adjustments for inflation) it is the third highest grossing film of all-time is baffling to me. It’s too saccharine and drawn out for me to rank it highly.
7. Gone With The Wind
Oh. My. God. This movie… It’s the perfect cure for insomnia.
A lot of this one lies in my personal preferences in storylines for both literature and film: namely, I hate weak women and gushy romance, and historical romance is an elevated form of nauseating for me, as a rule. That’s why this list is presented as purely my opinion of the material. That said, this thing could likely be salvaged with a massive edit and a ‘hurry the fuck up’ pacing in the first, oh, two bloody hours? This thing is four hours long, and not even remotely as entertaining as Titanic. Funny enough, I wager a lot of Titanic obsessives love Scarlett O’Hara…
And what of Scarlett? Um, she’s a vapid, selfish whore, who thinks of no one but herself. A woman like this today, on reality TV, would be labelled a skank and a gold digger, and hardly idolized, yet this film’s praises are endlessly sung. Why? Because of the cinematography? It’s gorgeous, true, but there are other ‘pretty’ movies that blow (the number one film on my list, for a start!). The portrayal of the Civil War? It’s important, I grant you, but it’s not the only film out there that tells that story. At its heart, Gone With The Wind is a glorified episode of Maury Povich that just won’t end already and stop updating on future episodes. I have no desire to relate to or empathize with Scarlett or Rhett, who’s a chauvanistic pig and bordering on predatory throughout the piece.
The only cool character is Mammy, for which Hattie McDaniel was given an Oscar; too bad, though, that she was forbidden to attend the film’s premiere courtesy of the racist laws at the time. That historical fact leaves a bad taste in my mouth, given that the studio elected to hold the premiere in a city with such strong laws of segregation, further souring the film for me. And to sit through four hours of Scarlett’s pointless pining over Ashley and scheming her way into multiple men’s fortunes is just a nightmare for me; at least Maury segments cap at fifteen minutes.
6. Legally Blonde
I have no idea why a movie that is one big blonde joke that just won’t hit a punchline is so beloved, let alone why it spawned both a sequel and a successful musical. Is it a general desire to mock blondes, coupled with blondes enjoying seeing the ‘pretty and supposedly vapid’ girl succeed? I can’t say. All I know is this: my IQ dropped ten points watching this drivel.
So Elle, like, is majoring in fashion merchandising? And like, Warner, her boyfriend, is going to Harvard and will be soooo rich, and she loves him, like, sooooo much? Well, Warner dumps Elle and goes to Harvard to find a smarter girlfriend. What does sorority girl Elle do? Rather than date someone else – someone who wants her as she is – she studies for the law school exam and gets into Harvard, just to win him back. Guess the story would be over if she learned that self-respect immediately, huh? Also, guess fashion didn’t mean that much to her as a career.
Another thing that irks me: what sorority girl do you know who would go to this much effort over a guy, when every frat guy will happily date her? It’s like an exaggeration of Jessica Wakefield from the Sweet Valley High books – who is also, unastonishingly, blonde and in a sorority.
The movie basically is one big excuse for the blonde to win, even as she is portrayed for laughs as dense, appearance-obsessed, and a shop-a-holic. I’d actually have more sympathy for Elle’s plight if she were just a smart blonde woman, no cheesy joke attributes, struggling against people’s stereotyped views of her alone. Instead, we are tormented with ‘Bend and Snap’ and Elle solving a murder case partially because she figures out a witness is actually gay by – wait for it – the fact he knows what brand of shoes she’s wearing. Way to stereotype the gays, too!
Reese Witherspoon is also one of the most overrated actresses around, and this film is just the epitome of her irritating ways. I am still bitter about Cruel Intentions, not even gonna lie, and her triumph in this film makes me want to hurl. It’s painful chick-lit on screen, and Elle’s soaring success is never believable. Die in a fire, Elle.
5. Dumb and Dumber
Let me preface this criticism by saying that I fully appreciate dumb/weird/kooky humour. Two of my favourite TV shows are Robot Chicken and Beavis and Butt-head, and I also happen to love Dude, Where’s My Car? That said, Dumb and Dumber is just… well, dumb. It’s not funny in the slightest, is completely convoluted, and essentially, is a series of gags strung together. While similar to Dude in that the day is a screwed up journey to a final goal (in Dumber‘s case, getting a briefcase to Mary), the actual goal accomplishing gets derailed after the first act in the airport to set up the plausibility of Harry and Lloyd ditching their lives to go to Aspen.
At least Chester and Jesse are only circling their own city in search of a car. That’s probably a big reason why that movie works better for me. Oh yeah: I’ve never found Jim Carrey all that funny. He’s better in films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, where he’s more subtle.
There’s also the fact that Harry and Lloyd are exceptionally dumb, as opposed to naive. It’s almost to a point where it’s too far out there, and certain gags seem completely unbelievable (the whole mix-up with putting drinks on Sea Bass’ account seems a little far-fetched, as does the poisoning gone wrong). It’s not endearing, like Jim in American Pie or Forrest Gump; it’s just tiresome. I didn’t laugh once watching this movie, and am endlessly explaining my loathing of it, making this definitely one of the most overrated movies I’ve ever seen.
4. Out Of Sight
I remember back in 1998, when this movie came out, my friends and I went to the theatre on $2.50 Tuesday (I miss those days!). There was some debate amongst us as we tried to pick a movie. I was dead set on The Truman Show; most of them voted Out of Sight. I gave in, making them promise if I hated it, they’d give me my money back.
By the end of the movie, I was playing with McDonald’s Happy Meal toys (Mulan toys), my best friend was bored, and even the gung-ho contingent admitted the movie was ‘alright’. I got my $2.50 back, and was vindicated.
If you’ve yet to see this film, don’t; it’s just an earlier dress rehearsal for George Clooney’s take on Danny Ocean, as seen in the previously dissed Ocean’s Eleven. It even features Don Cheadle as well, and they (surprise!) are off on a heist after Clooney’s character breaks out of jail. Jennifer Lopez is the ‘Tess’ of this film, playing a US Marshal who, after some time locked in the trunk of a car with Clooney, endlessly pursues him – to bone him, really. After all, who could resist George Clooney, other than me?
It’s just a hot mess and so… Lock Stock meets a chick romance. I know Elmore Leonard is regarded highly, but I just found everything implausible and dull, and it took way too long to get to the heisting, as it were. Jennifer Lopez is also a dreadful actress, and I just wanted her to get off my damn screen every time she appeared.
If you really need a crime movie with romance, then see something else. See Bonnie and Clyde, or The Getaway, or the original Ocean’s Eleven. Skip this unless J-Lo or Clooney give you a case of the hot and bothered.
3. Napoleon Dynamite
I rented this movie with a free rental coupon, after many friends recommending the hell out of it. Two hours – and two laughs later – I wanted my coupon and my time back.
Jon Heder is a terrible actor; there’s a reason why he’s never exploded like, say, Seth Rogen. He’s like Michael Cera, playing the same character endlessly, only it’s not an endearing one; it’s just an annoying, dead-pan, expressionless nerd. It’s painful to watch on screen. I feel sorry for Tina Majorino for having starred in this, considering she’s so gifted and underappreciated as an actress (see her turn as Mac in Veronica Mars); she deserved a better co-star.
The plot centres around an absurdly eccentric life of one Napoleon Dynamite, who doodles animals and loves Tater Tots for reasons I can’t explain. His grandmother has a pet llama and breaks her ass, and along comes Napoleon’s uncle to recruit Napoleon for a door-to-door saleman gig. Yeah, I don’t get the point, either. I also don’t get the hipster racism in the form of Kip’s long-distance gal LaFawnduh, hailing from Detroit.
So Napoleon befriends Pedro, a poor guy from Juarez who sadly does not befriend anyone cooler, and he runs for class president. This movie then becomes Rushmore for spastic geeks, or some sort of dreadful hybrid akin to it, with the finale being a strange dance to Jamiroquai’s Canned Heat by Napoleon that strongly resembles the Radiohead video for Lotus Flower. And they all lived strangely ever after, tether ball included.
This movie is pointless and boring to me, and I doubt being high could possibly save it. It’s like a bad SNL sketch that won’t die, trying too hard to be quirky and ‘funny but over your head’. One of the absolute worst movies ever made, hands down.
2. Shakespeare In Love
This movie’s Oscar wins constitute one of the biggest travesties ever witnessed in the history of the ceremony. Gwyneth ‘GOOP’ Paltrow won an award over Cate fucking Blanchett? I guess mommy Blythe Danner knows how to buy an Oscar, being as Paltrow’s only good turn was as a head in a box.
I love Shakespeare’s work; it’s almost pathetic, really, how much I enjoy the Bard. I have a quote book of Shakespeare by themes, in addition to the complete works, a copy of Romeo and Juliet bound with Baz Lurhman’s screenplay adaptation, and several other plays separately bound. I can sit through the Kenneth Branagh Hamlet in rapture most any week. Years after learning it for school, I can recite the Dagger Speech from Macbeth, among others. I should have loved this movie, by anyone’s guess, even with Paltrow polluting the talent pool.
Instead, I fell asleep in the middle of it, and had to be jostled awake.
The plot is a fictional account of Shakespeare’s writing of Romeo and Juliet, and how Paltrow’s Viola, disguised as a boy due to the laws of the time, wins the role of Romeo. Upon discovering her true gender, Shakespeare takes Viola as a secret lover and muse, furiously working to complete the play. In the grand tradition of Shakespearian drama, Viola is betrothed to another, the play is nearly banned when her gender is revealed, but all ends mostly well, of course. This is a comedy, not the tragedy written within.
The trouble is, the story reads too much like the Bard’s work, and thus, is uninspired and unoriginal. Paltrow is tedious to watch for me, and the remainder of the cast cannot save the mediocre story. The only reason to bother with it is Judi Dench’s turn as Queen Elizabeth – the only Oscar the film deserved. Blah, blah, secret romance, blah blah, Viola ‘dies’ from Shakespeare’s life. Bored now. In a year filled with amazing works of cinematic excellence, this is the last one that deserved multiple Oscars and showerings of praise. I’d rather go read the real thing in my Oxford Anthology.
Which brings us to… the most overrated film…
Can you guess what shipment of fail is about to arrive from this Venn demonstration (which is painfully accurate)? You can disagree with the other 19 films on my list and I will (mostly) support your opposing view as valid, but honestly, if you read my critique of this one and can’t agree I’ve got a plethora of valid points, then, well…. just pretend you never read this blog, and save us a heated debate. Drum roll, please…
1. Avatar (or, as I call it, ‘Crapatar’, or ‘James Cameron’s $300M remake of FernGully)
Fuck you, James Cameron. Seriously, fuck you.
I do not understand this man and his colossal expenditures on films, only to make something super pretty that lacks substance. Titanic, for example, is only saved by its cast, doing their best with lacklustre dialogue. In the case of Avatar, however, Cameron not only rips off the entire plot of FernGully: The Last Rainforest, he does so poorly, with an ass-hat lead actor and a pathetic script.
Everything about the plot, from Sigourney Weaver essentially reprising a watered down version of her role in Gorillas in the Mist to an evil army commander who reminded me of a sad caricature of every ‘ignorant, war hungry army guy’ ever made, combines such that the characters just… don’t matter. You can literally point to each character and say, “Oh, that’s just like X movie!” Try it; that and endlessly predicting the next event in the story were the only two things that helped my fiance and I survive this pathetic excuse for a drama to the end.
The movie opens with
John Smith Jake Sully, the paraplegic, being offered a shot at participating in a program wherein avatars (representations of the native species, the faeries of FernGully Na’vi) frolic into Fern Pandora to understand their ways and the moon’s biosphere. You see, there is a lovely mineral the big bad corporation wants, called – wait for it – unobtanium. That which is unobtainable, eh, Cameron?
This point right here is proof positive that the man has an incredible eye for asthetics, but absolutely no fucking skill as a writer.
We then meet Sigourney Weaver’s character,
Dian Fossey Grace Augustine, who’s in love with the peaceful cat people – er, Na’vi – and not in love with soldier Sully being brought in, being as he hasn’t learned the language and isn’t a scientist. Sully wows the powers that be, though, so Grace is screwed. Nah, nah.
Through a series of events, Jake meets and pisses off
Pocahontas Neytiri, but manages to earn his way into the Na’vi ways of life. Good ol’ Jake gets soft for the people (and hard for Neytiri), in a seemingly endless stretch of montages of initiation, zapping in and out of avatars, video log crap that’s supposed to give Sully meaning, and the evil powers wanting more access to their precious resources. Eventually, the overwhelming goodness of FernGully’s way of life, centred around a mystical tree the Na’vi and their connection to nature, particualarly Hometree, brings Jake over to Grace’s side, and he stops trying to buy new legs with intel on unobtanium.
Cue the cliched war in the land of peace, people valiantly dying for the cause, blah blah another hour of crap.
Three hours of pretty plagiarism with one-dimensional characters. Why is the world falling all over itself for two sequels of this shite? And what movies will Cameron crib from next? Never once during the movie did I give a shit about the Na’vi, because I was too pissed at FernGully being repackaged and stolen. Sam Worthington can’t act – see Terminator: Salvation for more proof of this robotic fail. The only moments I felt anything were Grace’s last scenes (because I like Sigourney Weaver, even when recycling her past roles) and the credits – at which I felt intense relief and a desire to personally hunt down Cameron a la South Park’s The Passion of the Jew and demand my money back.
If you want to watch a shiny blue sub-par melding of Pocahontas, Dances With Wolves and FernGully, see Avatar. If you have any sense of decorum, see the works Cameron robbed, instead, especially FernGully. It’s superior, moving and far better acted, and an hour shorter. Time well spent, with Robin Williams and Tim Curry, to boot.
This concludes the presentation! Coming soon: a much more positive list of movies, I swear! In the meantime, feel free to like/agree/disagree/offer your own suggestions…