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The thoughts and theories of a guy who basically should have gone to bed hours ago.

I know, I know - what's the point? But look at it this way - I stayed up late writing it, but you're reading it...

Let's call ourselves even & move on, OK?

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

20 Most Overrated Movies of All Time

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Apparently, Premiere magazine has published a list. John Scalzi blogged about it on By The Way, and then Jason Bennion added his thoughts no Simple Tricks and Nonsense.

The general agreement that seems to be forming is that Premiere was right on for half the list, and completely out of their mind for the other half (disagreement still exists on which half is which, of course). I've re-reproduced the Premiere list here, crossing off the ones I think they were wrong about. Like Jason, I'll add my own entries below:

20. American Beauty
19. Chicago
18. Clerks
17. Fantasia
16. Field of Dreams
15. Chariots of Fire
14. Good Will Hunting
13. Forrest Gump
12. Jules and Jim
11. A Beautiful Mind
10. Monster's Ball
9. Moonstruck
8. Mystic River
7. Nashville
6. The Wizard of Oz
5. An American in Paris
4. Easy Rider
3. The Red Shoes
2. 2001: A Space Odyssey
1. Gone with the Wind

First, my strikeouts:

-- Chicago brought back the movie musical, and did so in a way that worked extremely well. They did a spectacular job integrating music into the plot, and some of the set design was unbelievably creative, which actually helped achieve the effect. Any movie that has me noticing things like set design & art direction has got to be a great film.

-- Fantasia isn't a favorite of mine, but I don't think it's overrated. It was as groundbreaking as everyone says it was, and basically launched the whole concept of "Popular Classical" music. Even Fantasia 2000 followed in those footsteps, using music that was both classical & recognizable (like Pomp & Circumstance and Rhapsody in Blue).

-- Field of Dreams is just a great movie. It was on the other day at 1AM, and it kept me up well past two re-watching it. Call me sappy, but any movie that can hold my attention at that hour deserves whatever accolades get thrown at it.

-- Good Will Hunting is also a great movie, judging again by the "I'll-watch-it-if-it's-on-cable-late-at-night" meter. Affleck & Damon weaved a very complex story together very well, so it never feels the least bit forced at any point. Also, Robin Williams proves yet again that all that uncontrollable zaniness is actually quite controllable.

-- Forrest Gump is unbelievable (to Jason's point), but it is so unbelievable that it stops making a difference. At some point, you stop thinking about how unlikely the plot is, and start to see Forrest as an idea, not a character - the idea that optimism is a good thing, and that thing will eventually work themselves out.

-- The Wizard of Oz deserves its accolades for two reasons: First, it did what Chicago did in terms of weaving music into a storyline, so it doesn't feel like the movie "stops for a song." Second, the amount of Americana that has come from this film, ("There's no place like home," "Somewhere over the Rainbow," "Lions & Tigers & Bears, oh my!", etc.) is so immense, that you can't help but give it it's props...

I should also note that there are several films on Premiere's list that I haven't seen. I left them on the list on the theory that they received so much praise and yet, I have had no desire to see them. Hence, overrated (at least to me).

Now, my additions:

-- Sideways: This thing won an award for Best Comedy, and after I finished watching the DVD, I had to check the case to make sure I'd rented the same movie. I honestly don't even understand how this movie is supposed to be funny. A major downer...

-- Anything by Woody Allen: Reveered as a great director, I have yet to see anything he made that has even mildly interested me (and I'm a Jewish guy, born in Brooklyn - so I'm basically his target audience).

-- Blazing Saddles: I think some of Mel Brooks' later works were much better (History of the World, Part I, Spaceballs), but Blazing Saddles is the one that gets all the accolades. Go figure...

-- 2001: A Space Oddessey: I know, I know - it's already on the list. But this movie was so spectacularly bad, IMHO, that I had to mention it again. I'm too young to have saw it in the theaters, but I rented it on DVD twice, and fell asleep both times (the second rental was because it's so heralded as a great movie, that I couldn't believe I fell asleep the first time. After the second time, I gave up).

-- Spinal Tap: Good film. Very good film, even. Cult classic? Side-splittingly funny? No. I just don't see it.

I'm sure I'll think of more & update this entry, but that's all for now. Watch this space...

posted by Brian at 3:00 PM


  • There's a secret trick to 2001, which is knowing that Arthur C. Clarke's novel was written simultaneously -- that is, it's not a novelization of the movie, and the movie is not an adaptation of the novel.

    So what you have to do is read the book first, which is where you get all the comprehension going that's totally absent from the movie. Once you've done that, the movie becomes amazing. (Excepting the still too-long final coda into the monolith.)

    I've seen it three times -- hated the first time, loved it the second (post-book), and the third time on the big screen was unforgettable.

    By Anonymous Jeff Porten, at 7:28 PM, November 30, 2006  

  • Um, ok, the comment above is... interesting... I assume it's some groovy new spam tactic.

    Jeff, I had a similar experience with 2001 -- reading the book does help immensely with comprehension and appreciation. But I'm not sure that's an argument that the movie is good. I'm not saying it's not good -- I like 2001, myself -- but for the sake of argument, it seems to me a movie or book ought to stand on their own merits without needing the assistance of a counterpart in another medium.

    Ultimately, of course, this sort of thing comes down to personal taste and the circumstances under which you first saw a film... it's much harder to understand what the fuss is all about if you don't see something early on. There are a number of flicks on my list, for instance, that I didn't see until they'd been out for months or even years, so I'd heard all this praise and build-up and the actual film couldn't possible live up to my expectations.

    By Anonymous jason, at 11:37 AM, December 04, 2006  

  • Jason - yes, that's comment spam (I removed it so no, Jason's not talking about Jeff's post...) Apparently, my blog is now on someone's list for comment spam (I'm not sure if I should be impressed or disappointed), but since I can't see the notify e-mails at work, it's hit & miss if I clean them up during the day. I should get to them roughly nightly though...

    As to the discussion on 2001: point taken that the book would help decipher the movie. The problem at this point, though, is that I've already given 4+ hours of my life to this thing and have nothing to show for it but a couple of satisfying naps. What you're suggesting is that I need to invest another ?? hours reading the book, just to make the film's third viewing enjoyable. I think I've past the apex of the cost/benefit curve...

    By Blogger Brian, at 5:15 PM, December 04, 2006  

  • Or you could just drop acid. That's probably more efficient.

    By Anonymous Jeff Porten, at 2:49 PM, December 05, 2006  

  • Blazing Saddles is brilliant, IMHO. Much better than History Of The World Part 1.

    As for Woody Allen, have you ever seen What's Up Tiger Lilly?

    By Blogger Mr. Death, at 12:21 AM, August 28, 2008  

  • Mr. Death - you're probably right. It's just that HotWP1 makes me laugh, while Blazing Saddles just makes me watch. To each his own, I guess...

    As for What's Up, Tiger Lilly - no, I haven't seen it, but I'll add it to my list. Thanks!

    By Blogger Brian, at 9:34 AM, August 28, 2008  

  • I don't think all the ones in the list are overrated... but I'd definitely add a few more, some of which are considered to be the greatest films ever made and I simply don't share the feeling:

    - Casablanca
    - Citizen Kane
    - The Godfather
    - Star Wars (all of them)
    - Gladiator
    - Shakespeare in Love
    - Match Point
    - Top Gun
    - The Evil Dead
    - Halloween
    - Bram Stoker’s Dracula
    - Kill Bill
    - Passion of the Christ
    - Gangs of New York
    - Raiders of the Lost Ark
    - The Queen
    - La mala educación
    - Todo sobre mi madre
    - No country for old men
    - O Brother Where art thou?
    - Lord of the Rings (all of them)
    - Rocky
    - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
    - Big Fish
    - Corpse Bride
    - Ray
    - Hotel Rwanda
    - Closer
    - Pirates of the Caribbean
    - In America
    - Persepolis
    - The Lives of Others
    - Moulin Rouge
    - Chocolat
    - Almost Famous
    - The Mist
    - Singin’ in the Rain
    - Touch of Evil
    - Don’t Look Now
    - A bout de soufflé
    - Alphaville
    - Vivre sa vie
    - Marty
    - Mad Max
    - Ringu
    - Saving Private Ryan
    - Scream
    - Natural Born Killers
    - Glory
    - My Left Foot
    - Batman
    - La strada
    - 8½

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:14 PM, November 29, 2008  

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