Overrated/Underrated – Film

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This is not a list of “Best” and “Worst,”

It’s simply a compilation of things I feel are unjustly rewarded to compared to others I believe have been overlooked. For example, a film doesn’t have to be bad to overrated, however an average film that wins 6 Oscars, is clearly overrated.

Movies – Comedy

Overrated: Napoleon Dynamite

Why?

I’ll admit, the first time I watched this movie, I did get a few good laughs (Particularly when the Ultra-Patriotic karate teacher is giving his tips) but have you ever watched this film again? Have you even wanted too?

I commend independent filmmakers who are able to make movies for $40,000 and create huge results, but this film has essentially no plot and basically uses the same joke over and over and over and over. Which I guess is still better then the terrible films with huge budgets, but I digress…

…I’ve put it on my list of overrated comedies, not because of its content, but because it is held in such regard and is almost solely responsible for the flux of “quirky” films that most people, myself included, have no taste for. This film was cute when it came out and is solid for what it’s trying to be, but seriously, when was the last time someone got excited about watching it?

Similar Film That Doesn’t Suck:

Little Miss Sunshine, which utilizes the same type of humor only with a cast of likable characters with emotional depth and, go figure, the semblance of a meaningful plot.

Honorable Mentions
Overrated:

-The Hangover

Certainly great, but is it worthy of being the highest grossing R rated comedy of all time? I loved it in theaters but not really much replay value, once the shocks are gone and you know what’s coming, it loses a lot of its appeal. Even recently there have been countless films that generate a much larger amount of laughs, yet questioning the quality of this movie will get you scowls, dirty looks and quite possibly violence. This is the perfect example of what this list is about. Being overrated doesn’t mean you suck, it just means that you don’t necessarily deserve the acclaim or success you’ve garnered.

-Animal House

Iconic, influential and memorable, but surprisingly short on laugh out loud moments. This will forever be a classic, however it’s already dated and each passing generation will wonder what the fuss is about. In my mind, Animal House is much more notable for its influence on other movies then the actual content of the film.

-American Pie

Instrumental in the creation of teen/college gross out comedy’s. A genre that’s fucking terrible. It’s unfair to criticize a movie for having moments that didn’t become cliche until it spawned inferior copycats, but I’m going too anyway. Much like Animal House, you remember this film when you’re watching other movies and compare it to American Pie, but all the important scenes have either been parodied or referenced into oblivion and the “edge” is antiquated.

Underrated: Dirty Work

Why?

A film that contains as many laugh out loud moments as you’re going to find in 81 minutes. This film starred comedy “Legend” Norm Macdonald and was a huge bomb that actually lost $3 million. This is one of our generations greatest travesties

Reasons I love this film?

The Cast: Norm Macdonald has comedic timing that’s unparalleled, Christopher McDonald (Shooter McGavin) is always good, Chris Farley and Chevy Chase have tear-inducing cameos.

The Plot: Norm and his partner Artie Lange (Howard Stern’s sidekick) start a revenge business. Then they get revenge on people. What’s not to like? Oh yeah, Bob fucking Saget directed it.

Similar Film That’s More Popular (And Worse!):

Tommy Boy/Black Sheep are both heralded as classics, and they are quite good. However, while these films aim more towards lowbrow, do you get it yet, humor, Dirty Work is packed with wit and some of the driest humor I’ve ever witnessed. And it has Chris Farley, so quit your bitching!

Honorable Mentions
Underrated:

-Blazing Saddles

The first truly great comedy to explore racial relations to the extent it did. This film has lines that even today would be controversial and has all of the wit and originality that has made Mel Brooks a legend. It was also one of the first films to use flatulence as a form of comedy. Farts have been hilarious ever since.

-Screwed

Am I biased towards Norm Macdonald? You bet I am, the man is a fucking comedic genius with the driest most spot on delivery I’ve ever witnessed. Add in Danny Devito and a young Dave Chapelle and you have comedy gold.

-Blue Streak

I won’t lie, I don’t really care for Martin Lawrence. I find most of his humor to be overly obvious and interchangeable with most other comedians in his genre. That being said, Blue Streak is undeniably hilarious. Buddy cop movies are over done, but this movie deserves to be recognized for the chemistry between Luke Wilson and Lawrence, who avoid the typical “Serious white guy, OUTRAGEOUS black guy” interactions, or at the very least do them extremely well.

Movies – Drama

Overrated: Titanic


Why?

I didn’t want to do this, because it’s so obvious. I contemplated using Forrest Gump (Great Film! However, it beat Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption for Best Picture at the Oscars that year, fuck me) or Chicago (The 1940’s called and they want their 6 Oscar musicals back). But I couldn’t do it, there’s just no way to overlook the fact that Titanic is not a great film, yet became one of the biggest in history.

I’d like to provide my own critique, but Roger Ebert says it better then I ever could:

“The film is waaaayyy too long, has a foregone conclusion, a pat, melodramatic storyline, mediocre special effects, some stilted acting, and a script so filled with sappy sentimentality that I was compelled to wipe the bottom of my shoes as I left the theater”

Yeah, that about sums it up.

Similar Film That Doesn’t Suck:

Star Wars – On the outset, they may not seem similar, but if you want an epic film with a main character goes that from zero to hero while encompassing pulsating action, emotional romance and spectacular effects? Look no further then the quintessential Hero’s Journey. Spoiler Alert: Sith Lord Darth Vader is actually a 7 year old named “Annie.”

Honorable Mentions
Overrated:

-Forrest Gump

Perhaps if I’d only seen this film once or twice, I wouldn’t be so critical. Unfortunately, myself and every other person in my generation has seen it 400+ times. It’s a terrific film, but I’ll always have a grudge against it for denying Shawshank and Pulp Fiction the recognition they deserved. Also, if I’m going to suspend my belief to this extent, I want to see 8-foot blue creatures banging giant trees.

-Crash

Again, I really enjoy this film, but it portrays race in such a “paint-by-numbers” fashion that it becomes increasingly difficult to take it seriously. About as formulaic as they come.

Spoiler Alert: Every person who is initially bad will do something good and every person who is initially good will do something bad.

-Million Dollar Baby

Great cast, boring movie. Clint Eastwood has never been more Clint Eastwood-y, Morgan Freeman has never been more Morgan Freeman-y, Hilary Swank has never been more Hilary Swank-y aka looks like a dude. It’s not terrible, but the fact that it won Oscars makes me :-(.

Movies – Drama

Underrated: City of God

Why?

I included this film in my “Top 10 Films of All Time” post () and I just can’t stress enough how badly you need to see this film. It is, without a doubt, the most honest portrayal of subject matter ever filmed, this tale of slum gangs in Brazil could be a documentary. This story of a child persevering through the worst conditions imaginable scales through possibly every emotion you could ever feel. The film is gripping from open to close, it has some of the most realistic and gritty acting I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing, the plot is riveting, the setting is breathtaking, this is a film that excels at everything and I can’t imagine anybody seeing this movie and not (at the very least) respect what they were trying to accomplish when they made it. If their goal was to make one of the defining films of our generation, check. I can easily say this is the best film most people have never seen or heard of. Watch it now!

Similar Film That’s More Popular (And Worse!):

Scarface – They’re not all that similar, Scarface is much more about realizing the “American Dream” while City of God focuses on dealing with the surroundings you are forced to live in, but both films detail the story of men who are all but forced to become gangsters. Scarface is classic but formulaic, while City of God is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

Honorable Mentions
Underrated:

-Hotel Rwanda

One of the most emotionally gripping films I’ve ever seen, especially considering it’s inspired by reality. Don Cheadle was robbed of an Oscar because Jamie Foxx does a great Ray Charles impression. This movie is a whirlwind of emotions, equally inspiring and depressing. Quite the eye opener for people who think that genocides died with Hitler.

Alternate Title: Still Better Then Holiday Inn

-American History X

This film isn’t underrated because people don’t like it, it’s on the list because it’s literally under rated, not enough people have seen it. People rarely mention this film unless they’re talking about how more people need to see it, or the curb stomping scene. Hey, did I mention someone gets their faced stomped while biting the curb?

-Children of Men

Probably my favorite Science Fiction film of all time. This film portrays a gritty, dark future in which women can no longer produce children. Clive Owen attempts to safely lead the first pregnant woman in decades through a war zone in the “way too real,” not too distant future. The camera work consists mainly of single shots that make it seem as if you are there. I couldn’t recommend a film (Other then City of God) more passionately then this. It is essential.

Movies – Actor

Overrated (Drama): Brad Pitt


Why?

We can’t blame Brad for his popularity, he’s shall we say, not ugly, and America loves the beautiful. But have you ever sat down and tried to remember a great role he’s played? I have (just did) and it’s somewhat remarkable that the man could be one of the most prolific actors of our generation. Pitt has won ONE, count em ONE award of any prominence and that was a Golden Globe in 1995, woohoo! Since then, he’s received ONE Oscar nomination (Benjamin Button) despite the fact that every film he makes is with an acclaimed director, talented cast and a prolific movie studio.

You’d think with all the superior luxuries he’s blessed with, the man would have better results, but he’s simply a likable guy who can play the “I know I’m cool so I act like I don’t care” role to perfection. Most legendary actors (Trust me, when it’s all said and done Pitt will be regarded as a legend) have at least one role to hang their hat on, some have multiple. Pitt was great in Fight Club and almost every film he’s in, is actually very good, but he lacks a quintessential role, a role that is immediately recognizable, a character that will live in movie history. He’s still got time, and he will be afforded numerous opportunities to capitalize on such roles, until then, he’s the most overrated actor in Hollywood.

Similar Actor Who’s Better:

George Clooney – Good Looks? Check. Devil May Care Attitude? Check. Promising Roles in Prominent Films? Check. These two are very similar, and by no means is Clooney worlds apart, BUT, Clooney has been able to tap into deeper, more finely tuned characters, while Pitt usually only grazes the surface. Put it this way, George Clooney can do anything Brad Pitt can do and be just as effective, while many of Clooney’s best roles would have most likely been vastly inferior if played by Pitt.

I’d totally fuck both of them though.

Honorable Mentions
Overrated:

-Al Pacino

A well deserved legend who has played some of the greatest roles of all time. Unfortunately his great roles are outnumbered about five to one by “I’m taking a giant, hot, shit on my legacy” roles. Specifically in the past 15-10 years. It’s actually quite sad.

-Sean Penn

One of the most recognized and awarded actors of our generation. I can’t really criticize his work, this is more of a personal choice. Frankly, I just fucking hate Sean Penn. He takes himself waaaay too seriously and every time he’s on screen I can’t help but think that he’s trying way, way too hard to be “gritty.” Fuck Sean Penn, seriously.

-Clint Eastwood

I know, I seem to be picking on “legends,” but come on now, Clint Eastwood is the only person I know who has maintained an acting career without ever changing character. The Clint Eastwood School of Acting only has two courses and they are:

1. Mumble every line while staring at the camera and gritting your teeth.
2. Don’t take shit from nobody.

He has somehow successfully implemented this practice for 40 fucking years.

Movies – Actor

Underrated (Drama): Edward Norton

Why?

Best known for his iconic role as a reformed Nazi in “American History X” and his compelling take on “Not Brad Pitt” in “Fight Club,” Norton is one of the most versatile and well rounded actors in our era. This man is so talented that he has been awarded some type of award for every single movie he’s acted in other then 2. (Death to Smoochey and The Italian Job)

If you haven’t seen any of these Norton films, do so immediately: Primal Fear, The People V. Larry Flynt, Rounders, Everyone Says I Love You, American History X, Fight Club, Keeping the Faith, Red Dragon, 25th Hour, Kingdom of Heaven, The Illusionist, The Incredible Hulk and I’m sure his new film “Stone” is at least decent so you might as well see that too.

I didn’t do this intentionally, but my overrated and underrated actors shared the screen in “Fight Club” and I feel that movie perfectly exemplifies my point. While Norton’s character is initially withheld, he transforms and his role goes through an evolution on screen. Contrasting this role is Pitt, who essentially plays himself, just like every other movie but a little more edgy. But, much like women who “can’t find the right guy,” the majority of people are drawn to the asshole, hence Pitt’s prominence and Norton’s lack of notoriety.

Similar Actor Who’s More Popular (And Worse!):

Every male actor in Hollywood, seriously, this guy is legit.

Honorable Mentions
Underrated:

-Daniel Day-Lewis

If you can find a film where this man is not giving every ounce of artistic talent then please let me know! Lets put it this way, from 1989-2007 Day-Lewis acted in JUST SEVEN movies that were fully released. In those 7 roles he was nominated for: 3 Oscars, 5 Golden Globes and 5 BAFTA (British Academy Film Award). The man is untouchable.

-Tim Roth

Waaaay too overlooked because he has a tendency to do extremely obscure films that nobody (including myself) have seen. However, I’ve seen enough of them to realize how talented this man is. If you don’t want to watch crazy art house movies, watch “Reservoir Dogs” (Mr. Orange aka The Rat) or “Pulp Fiction” (The guy who robs the diner) and you’ll see how this man steals every scene he is in. One of our generations most captivating actors. Unfortunately, he seems to have neglected his film career in favor of starring in a TV show. Guess art house movies weren’t payin’ the bills. Cough $$$$ Cough.

-Philip Seymour-Hoffman

Want to know why this man is underrated? Not only because you’re probably looking at that name wondering who the fuck he is, but the real sad part is that you’ll remember when I say “The fat friend from ‘Along Came Polly.'”

However, that only proves my point, the man is as versatile as they come, even more so then the aforementioned actors who are masters of their craft. Honestly, as talented as someone like Daniel Day-Lewis is, he would never be able to be a comedic lead, but Hoffman is genuinely hilarious. The array of roles this man has played is mind boggling. He’s not just in a bunch of movies playing the same role, ala Sam Jackson, he creates each character on an individual basis.

Just take a look at some of his diverse filmography: Scent of a Woman, Twister, Boogie Nights, The Big Lebowski, Patch Adams, Flawless, Magnolia, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Almost Famous, Red Dragon, 25th Hour, Cold Mountain, Mission Impossible: III, Before the Devil Knows Your Dead, Charlie Wilson’s War, Doubt. However, his crowning achievement is in Capote as the infamous gay author. This man can do anything.

Movies – Actor

Overrated (Comedy): Chris Farley

Why?

I know for some people this is sacrilegious, Farley is a beloved icon by so many people and his tragic death only exacerbated this situation. I don’t want to pick on a dead guy, but the man is not a comedy legend. He played the same role in every film, he only had one act and once you grew tired of it his movies bordered on unwatchable.

Look, if I need one person to make a room of people laugh for 15 minutes, he might be the first person I choose, but over the course of a film career, he has become vastly overrated due in most part to the fact that saying anything negative about him will get you dirty looks. I’m not saying he isn’t funny, he’s just overrated by a huge number of people and that’s what this list is all about.

Similar Actor Who’s Better:

Nobody – There never has, nor will there ever be, anybody that is quite like Chris Farley. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing, it just is.

Honorable Mentions
Overrated :

-Jim Carrey

Much like Farley, Carrey was a one trick pony. At its best, he was one pretty fucking hilarious pony. At its worst, well, there’s probably a reason that he’s focusing more on his dramatic roles these days.

-Jack Black

Tenacious D can be as funny as anything and I hope that he continues to make “music” with the group. Other then that, Jack Black is pretty much one of the least funny people ever. “School of Rock” is egregiously overrated and Black is more suited for the bit parts he played early in his career then as a leading man. This is simply the case of someone who got hot at the right time and is milking his career for all its worth. Perhaps you enjoy Mr. Black’s films, however if he never made a movie again I’m not sure anybody would even notice.

-Owen Wilson

Every time you laugh at Owen Wilson an Angel dies of ghoneria. Again, Wilson’s career is very similar to Jack Black’s. He is somebody who can be amusing, even hilarious in small, very specific roles. Unfortunately, someone decided that he needed to be the leading man in films and thus we have some of the most lackluster attempts at “comedy” in recent memory. If you disagree, go watch Marmaduke in its entirety and I’ll mail you $20.

Movies – Actress

Overrated (Drama): Halle Berry

Why?

Allow me to be blunt, she’s not good.

Allow me to elaborate, Berry has played one good role in her life, and it was a role that is tailor made for an Oscar. She was great in Monster’s Ball, but she wasn’t iconic, she wasn’t legendary and Mo’Nique’s role in Precious was essentially the same character only she made you leave the theater thinking, “Holy shit, I am so glad she’s not my mother,” instead of ‘Holy shit, how bad do you wanna fuck Halle Berry?”

Coupled with the fact that she has made some absolutely atrocious films (Forget Catwoman, find me one person who enjoyed “Gothika”) and it’s pretty easy to see why I’ve placed her on the top of this list.

Much like Pitt, she commands a lot of respect, and if you bring her up in conversation, the overwhelming consensus will be that she is a great actress. However, again much like Pitt, when you sit down and look at the roles she’s played, you realize that her career is mostly hype.

Similar Actress Who’s Better:

Charlize Theron – Like Berry’s Oscar winning role in “Monster’s Ball,” Theron was rewarded for her transformation in “Monster.”

Unlike Berry, Theron isn’t just there to be a pretty face. She has tremendous range and is much more versatile with her roles. I’m not saying she’s the best actress around, but she has a more impressive resume and again I find it hard to believe that almost any role Berry has played, wouldn’t have been enhanced with Charlize.

Honorable Mentions
Overrated:

-Angelina Jolie

She certainly isn’t the worst actress, she has some decent, even excellent roles, but can we all stop pretending that we don’t give her the benefit of the doubt because we want to bang her and she adopts little brown children.

-Julia Roberts

I’m pretty sure she’s been on auto-pilot since about 2002. Nobody has gone from “Must-See” to “Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn” quicker then Julia. Cue “Pretty Women” remake. (In 3D)

-Scarlett Johannsenn

While I certainly don’t mind looking at her, I am kind of opposed to her ruining every film she’s in. Perhaps that’s a bit harsh, I have enjoyed a good amount of her movies, but I’m always very, very (very) aware that she is acting. That’s typically the sign of someone who isn’t talented. To be quite honest, if she was ugly, she’d be waiting weighing her options between Denny’s and Rams Horn right now.

Movies – Actress

Underrated (Drama): Emma Thompson


Why?

Forget why, chances are you’re asking “Who?” Which is precisely my point.

While I’m not going to lie and say I’m her biggest fan and rush out to see her films, but in a pretty short period of time this woman has amassed a great deal of credentials unmatched by her peers.

She won two Oscars, been nominated numerous times (In 1993 she was up for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress) and has appeared in a variety of films (Love Actually, Stranger Then Fiction, Harry Potter films, I Am Legend..) Quite frankly, she is one of the most unheralded thespians working today and deserves to be a house hold name.

Similar Actress Who’s More Popular (And Worse!):

Jodie Foster , is a certified legend. Her roles in “Taxi Driver” and “The Silence of the Lambs” are both iconic. However, “Lambs” came out in 91’ and the majority of her career has ranged from forgettable roles that were mailed in to roles that were flat out garbage.

It’s not that she’s terrible, or that she doesn’t deserve to be recognized, but the fact remains that her entire career has relied on the prominence of a couple roles.

What separates Thompson, from Foster, is the fact that Foster’s best roles came in classic films while Thompson’s were generally off the radar. They have comparable credentials and often play similar roles (On more then one occasion one has played a role that the other turned down) yet Foster is a household name and Emma Thompson could probably walk into your house right now without being noticed.

But if she does, have sex with her.

Honorable Mentions
Underrated:

-Uma Thurman

For the most part it seems that almost everybody knows and likes Uma Thurman, that’s one of the main reasons I feel she is so sorely underrated. She has found great success, played an awesome set of diverse roles, and she’s not ugly. But when people talk about the best actresses in Hollywood, I’ll be damned if anyone mentions her. It’s a travesty that needs to be rectified before she rips out our eyeballs.

-Julianne Moore

Again, an insanely versatile actress who has down outstanding roles in many prominent films, but to no avail. Her credentials speak for themselves: 4 Oscar nominations, 5 Golden Globe nominations and not to mention a daytime Emmy. That doesn’t even include her role in “Children of Men,” one of my favorite movies ever.

-Tilda Swinton

As with most of the underrated actors that have preceded her on this list, she spent a long time making art house movies and it makes sense that few people are aware of her talent. Again, I realize I’m not going to convince you to actually watch these films, so instead check out her Oscar winning role in Micheal Clayton. Once you’ve seen this film you will know exactly what I’m talking about. Bitch is scary.

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Author: SpencerHayes

Biting Social Commentary and Satire.

9 thoughts on “Overrated/Underrated – Film”

  1. Ok, as hard as this is to say, I agree with the analytical portion of your comments about Farley despite still loving him. As for Jim Carrey, he transitioned from comedy to more serious roles as many actors but I feel that when he was younger and had more energy he was as good as it gets. Ace Ventura man, Finkle and Einhorn, Snowflake, Dan fucking Marino. One movie I thought you’d definitely have on there for the underrated comedies would be The Big Lebowski, a cult legend.

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    1. The Big Lebowski is sure only one of my favorite films of all time, and if I had to do it again I would definitely change it with Blue Streak.

      It’s not that people are unaware of Blue Streak, I just feel that many people don’t realize how hilariously funny it is.

      Like

  2. I think James Franco is a fantastic and still underrated actor. he is so versatile its insane, and so believable in every role.

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  3. Harrison Ford is not considered a great actor, but in his limited sphere he is awful. Not only has he apparently taken too many roles just for the bucks (I hope he hasn’t thought these scripts were good), but his emotional range goes from “my dentures hurt” to “my dentures and my hemorrhoids hurt.”

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