Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Five Overpraised Films of the Decade that I don't give a shit about

With this being another semi-vacation week, I'm forgoing the deep posts that keep my regular readers coming back time and again, and instead are doing some self-indulgent "Best of" lists. It's all the rage this week, and I'm enjoying making lists in random catagories. Join me, won't you?

Today I'm going to look back at five films from the past decade that many people raved about and loved passionately and that I didn't like. So rail against me, threaten to revoke my "expert" card, but I honestly tried to get these movies and they just weren't my cup of tea.

Some of these have been taken down a peg by eventual backlashes, but I'm sure I'm hitting a few sacred cows here. Feel free to join in with your own lists, or chime in with an "I hated that too!" You're among friends. Don't be afraid.

5) No Country for Old Men - I was really with this film until the end of the second act, when Josh Brolin gets killed (off-screen no less!) At that point, I emotionally ejected from the story and it never got me back. As much as I respect Javier Bardem as an actor, in hindsight, I can't help but feel that the whole movie boils down to one scene: "Call it." And the problem with that? Once you realize that Chigurh's motivation isn't too dissimilar to Two-Face's coin-flipping quirk, you find it a lot harder to take him seriously.

4) Crash - Best Picture of 2005? Are you kidding me? I'm not a huge fan of the mega-ensemble approach to telling small stories about a theme, largely because time restraints limit the depth one can give each character and subplot. Crash is a collection of cliches and bad stereotypes, all assembled in the same script under the delusion that the collection and juxtaposition of said tropes will add up to some profound statement. Most mishandled arc - Ryan Phillipe's. I didn't believe for a moment the transformation he makes. Most pretentious moment? Need I say more than: Matt Dillon. Thandie Newton. Exploding car?

3) Napoleon Dynamite - Hated this when I first saw it. Hated it more when I gave it a second chance. Hated the flat affect every actor had. Hated hearing about this all summer when it came out. Hated, hated, hated this movie. (If I might borrow a phrase from Roger Ebert.)

2) The Life Aquatic - I don't worship at the altar of Wes Anderson and this is a big reason why. Ever actor seems to be giving the same dry emotionless performance, almost daring the audience to fall asleep. It inspires nothing but apathy, even when a major character dies. Do you want to know why I haven't seen THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX? It's because Wes often seems incapable of getting animated performances out of living actors!

1) Magnolia - And I'm not wild about Paul Thomas Anderson either. Three hours of my life wasted, minus the time it took to watch the Tom Cruise subplot. His story was the only one I felt invested in. Don't get me started on the ending. (Yes, I'm aware that technically this was released in 1999, but it didn't open in my region until after the New Year, so I'm counting it.)


  1. Like Phantom Menace. No refund on the hours lost. Maybe compensate a little by taking a few notes on what not to do, who not to get involved with.

  2. I HATED Napoleon Dynamite so much I couldn't even finish it. I tried watching it on Comedy Central a few years back for the first time, and couldn't get half way. The film was so boring. Nothing fucking happened. As hard as I tried, I couldn't find a plot. And I didn't laugh once. It was painful to even watch as long as I did.

  3. I hated "Sin City" (2005). Very overrated film. Thought the affects were interesting, but the story SUCKED!

    Another story which really disappointed me was Tim Burton's take on "Planet of the Apes" (2001). This show really lacked the sci-fi edge of the original.

    Though I don't feel as stongly about this as you do, I'm not a "Magnolia" fan either, Bitter Script Reader. Very bizzare story. Kind of a brooding, everybody's secretly angry -- then comes a rain of frogs? You've gotta be sitting me!

    Not with ya on "No Country for Old Men" or "Crash," both of which I liked very much. LOVED the inner message of "Crash." Watching it felt like a puzzle, with people's lives comprising a greater murial. Wish more of Hollywood's movies had a deeper message like "Crash" had. In the same vein I LOVED "Gran Torino."
    The shootout action in "No Country for Old Men" trumps all. I thought that was very well done. And when Javier Bardem's character was on the screen my nails were digging into the armrest. Great tension. Though I do agree with you on this, Bitter Script Reader; this story did lose a lot of its momentum when Josh Brolin's character dies.

    - E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

  4. a lot of people disliked CRASH. I thought it was okay, but definitely overrated.

    the Life Aquatic was lame and I'm a Wes Anderson fan.

  5. I thought Napoleon Dynamite was the stupidest fucking movie I've ever seen and it's solidified my fear that my generation (20 somethings) is basically retarded. Crash was terribly overrated and people seem to forget that Mr. Haggis' only real success is being a creator on the campy, but accidently brilliant Walker: Texas Ranger.

  6. Thanks for the warnings, as I've avoided all this crap, at least up until this point.

  7. Like you, after we see Brolin's boots poking through the door, I'm like, "Fuuuuuuudge yooooooou, Coen boys!" And then they did it to me again with BURN AFTER READING...

    But big kudos on the CRASH mention. I hated that movie so goddam much. Hated because of the hype. If there wasn't any hype, I probably would've just said, "What a piece of shit movie." It was boring, pretentious, stereotypical, and every character was a cardboard cutout of cliche. Haggis is a friggin' hack. Yeah, I hated MILLION DOLLAR BABY as well, even though I worship at the temple of Eastwood -- although, for that matter, I also hated GRAN TORINO...

    Ok, I'll stop now...

  8. I understand why you dislike Wes Anderson-- and I almost always agree that indie-hipster-ironic-cool is really tiresome, irritating and impersonal. But I didn't find any of those flaws in FANTASTIC MR. FOX, which I thought was, well, a fantastic movie. The movie is very warm and entertaining, neither too melodramatic nor too detached. Highly recommend it.

    Have to disagree about NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN-- not about the ending (which is indeed jarring, and is jarring in the book, too) but about Anton Chigurh. To me, Chigurh is really about the wrath of God in the Old Testament sense. Not only is God's punishment unpredictable, but also unknowable and-- once decided-- unchangeable. We are basically powerless in the face of random events, and my interpretation of Chigurh is that he is one of the gravest, most serious characters I've ever seen on screen.*

    *I am a die-hard Cormac McCarthy fan, and I readily admit my bias toward loving his work in whatever form it's in.

    @RonC, totally agree with you about GRAN TORINO, a movie that I seem to like less and less as time goes by, and I was also nonplussed by INVICTUS-- my main reaction was that it was bland movie.