In honor of a recent CyniCritics review of Fight Club which found the film to be a little… well, overrated. Matt and I decided to compile a whole list of other films that we think get way more credit than they deserve.
The 1994 box office jumbo-hit not only made a sea of cash at the box office, but went on to sweep six Oscars, stealing the Best Picture award from Pulp Fiction and Lead Actor from Morgan Freeman. When Forrest should have been uprooted, excavated and forgotten to make room for new, brilliant filmmaking life like Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and Shawsank Redemption, it’s popularity grew and thickened with time, becoming a home video must-have.
It is little wonder why the film is adored, given it is a capsule of the second half of the 20th century. But even with all the nostalgia of Vietnam, AIDS, and growing up in the south, the film was flat and dull just like the comely narrator America was so in love with. The movie hinged itself on half-baked melodrama, a popular soundtrack and a beloved, mediocre movie star (Twilight anyone?). Not saying the film was complete shit, but its no masterpiece. Forrest Gump was as awkward, clumsy and cheesy as its gumpy title suggests.
The Royal Tenenbaums
Okay, so this movie is not all that widely rated as a classic in the first place, but to many indie-cinema lovers this film is number one on their list, and if it isn’t, Rushmore, Bottlerocket, or Fantastic Mr. Fox probably is. Maybe what we’re getting at is that Wes Anderson is the one who is overrated. After watching all his films and searching for what exactly it is that makes him indie-royalty, all we can come up with is cookie cutter characters and futura font which pass as “style”. Sure it’s unique, sure it’s different, but it also happens to be pretty lame and uninteresting.
The major issues with The Royal Tenenbaums and company are the characters that Anderson creates, who are often flat, emotionless, stripped down characters that speak their mind and act rashly on freewill. They’re so stylized and doped up, that they become caricatures of themselves and make audiences lose interest quickly. It’s uniqueness cannot be ignored, but it shouldn’t be praised like the second coming of Christ on your Facebook’s favorite movies either.
After hitting mainstream success in sci-fi with Alien, Ridley Scott went on to direct Blade Runner starring 80’s superstar Harrison Ford. It should have been a dead hit, right? But the film earned only modest critical reception and a meager amount in the box office in comparison to Tron or E.T. that same year, which makes us all wonder how Blade Runner surpassed a slew of other potentially iconic films in that year to earn a spot among the best-of-all-time.
It’s often noted for it’s visual effects and scouring action, both of which it lacks completely. Blade Runner was slashed in the visual effects race of that year by E.T. and looked like shitty video game commercial in comparison to earlier films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars. For nearly two hours the film went on and on, without any action and without any real run in with its claimed allegory.
The Maltese Falcon
The 1941 directorial debut by John Huston became an automatic American classic for two reasons. The first is attributed to the hero image created by Humphrey Bogart whose onscreen performances would become iconic for the hard-nosed American male. The second is that The Maltese Falcon would pioneer and popularize the film-noir movement, especially to the French who took it as a major inspiration for New Wave Cinema. Iconic and important indeed. But, good?
The film finds itself on countless best-of-all-time lists, for all the above reasons, not because it’s all that great. Besides constructing society as a social catastrophe (men=good, women=untrustworthy, foreign/gays=scummy weak criminal), the film is shoddily put together. It doesn’t help that the whole mystery ends up being completely null.
A revolutionary science fiction mythology is great and all, but as we saw with Blade Runner it isn’t enough to carry a movie. Add in Keanu Reeves as Surfer Dude Jesus, and you’ve got a sci-fi cheese fest to rival Ridley Scott’s Bladeless dud. The Wachowski Brothers can make cinema, see V for Vendetta, and the concepts they tackle here would be great to tackle in a philosophy class, but there is no spoon mostly because there is no movie either.
The adorable indie gem from Zach Braff, right? How can you hate on a movie where Natalie Portman laughs at everything and listens to the Shins? Here’s how. Take an underwhelmingly quirky script from the overrated Braff and add in his underwhelming direction and acting, and you’ve got yourself a pretentious white pity-fest that puts even Wes Anderson to shame. It’s got a great soundtrack, though, so it’s a masterpiece.
The “ultimate” sports comeback movie is actually kind of lame. Probably the most cringe-worthy Best Picture winner before Forrest Gump stole the unholy crown, this sappy, dull, and unrelentingly uninteresting boxer movie will punch the hell out of your intelligence and pummel you with sap. Sylvester Stallone gives a campy performance if ever there was one, making even more pathetic sequels. Underdog fantasies gained their momentum here, but some comeback stories should remain untold.
Dances With Wolves
You could put almost any Kevin Costner vehicle here, but this is the one that won him undeserved Best Picture and Best Director Oscars. This boring period drama lasts a punishing 181 minutes, and really fails to achieve much of anything in that time. You’ll watch the action scenes unfold with mundane complacency, not really thrilling or redefining the methods for constructing a good one. Sure, a lot may happen, but by the end of this so called epic you won’t feel like you’ve witnessed anything of the sort.
West Side Story
This 1961 musical adaptation of Romeo & Juliet is about as stale as they come. The best musicals are the ones that come alive through the synchronization of song and moving images. This one fails to achieve that in almost any way. Iconic songs like “I Feel Pretty,” may have staying power vocally, but it does nothing for Shakespeare’s immortal story. In fact, it makes it seem less like a romantic tragedy and more like a Hollywood glitter fest with less substance.
The very film that inspired the list (read review here). The 1999 David Fincher movie may not have been a hit in its day, but thanks to the launch of Brad Pitt’s career, a DVD hit, and an unexpected 21st century male emasculation movement of high school boys that coincided with the launch of half-rate knock 0ffs like Never Back Down and Fight, this mediocre beat em’ up flick just happened to have the right amount of mediocre aphorisms on consumerism to makes the high school nerds blow their loads like they were reading Socrates for the first time. Yeah, it’s not bad stuff, but it’s not all that cleverly woven in with the film either.