5 PHENOMENALLY OVERRATED MOVIES

I thought it might be fun to do a Phenomenal 5 that should surely spark discussion. I’m going to list five movies that I feel are incredibly overrated. Now I know there are many people who love the movies I’m listing and they have been defended as great films by many who are smarter than me. But for different reasons I didn’t find them to be the cinematic classics that they are heralded as. Some aren’t necessarily terrible movies. But none of these films worked for me. I actually found there to be more movies to consider than I thought there would be but I’m very comfortable with these five. As always I wouldn’t call this the definitive list. But for me, there’s no denying that these are 5 phenomenally overrated films…or are they?

#5 – “TOY STORY 3” (2010)

I can’t think of another movie review that I have written that stirred more people up than my take on “Toy Story 3”. The movie was incredibly popular and it was a gold mine for Pixar. It not only won the Best Animated Feature Oscar but it was also nominated for Best Picture. What surprised me even more is that the film found it’s way on countless Critic’s Top 10 lists for the year 2010. My biggest beef with “Toy Story 3” is that it’s pretty run-of-the-mill. The film is bookended by an outstanding opening and a touching ending but it’s everything in between that stumbles. It’s a repetitive drag that’s really nothing more than a typical loud cartoon. The middle has some serious issues with tone and it could have easily been 15 minutes shorter. Now “Toy Story 3” isn’t a bad movie but it’s also not one that I feel deserved the accolades it received. It has it’s share of flaws and I certainly feel it’s overrated.

#4 – “ANNIE HALL” (1977)

I have heard “Annie Hall” called the greatest romantic comedy of all time. I can’t say I agree. This much-loved film won several Academy Awards including Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture for Woody Allen. It’s also heralded as the 35th Greatest Movie of All Time by the American Film Institute (taken for what it’s worth). Now don’t misunderstand me, I did find “Annie Hall” to be funny in places. But I also found it to be repetitive and eventually a tad boring. It sometimes comes across as a standup comedy routine that uses the same material but presents it in slightly different ways. I can appreciate Allen’s wit but here he milks that cow dry. “Annie Hall” certainly isn’t terrible but I have a hard time calling it one of the best of all time. In fact, for me it’s not even close.

#3 – “EASY RIDER” (1969)

“Easy Rider” is considered a landmark counterculture movie and it ushered in a new style and method of filmmaking. It received several Oscar nominations and even today it’s listed as The American Film Institute’s 84th greatest movie of all time. Well, I have to disagree. Not only did I find “Easy Rider” flat and muddled but also annoying at times. It’s the hippie movement’s self-portrait that features more pot smoking and free spirit babbling than entertainment and enjoyment. Jack Nicholson is fun to watch and there is some good camera work and locations. But to be honest, I never connected with “Easy Rider”. It feels dated and features one of the most annoying movie scenes I have ever seen (the drug trip in cemetery). I know many love this movie. I’m not one of them.

#2 – “APOCALYPSE NOW” (1979)

I don’t have room to list all of the accolades, honors, and positive reviews that Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” has received. It was nominated for around 8 Academy Awards winning two. It hauled in three Golden Globe Awards and sits at #28 on AFI’s 100 Greatest Movies list. Almost every prominent film critic has praised the movie. Roger Ebert even goes as far as to call it “one of the greatest of all films”. For me, “Apocalypse Now” is a mixed bag. It’s starts off well enough before really getting good when Robert Duvall hits the screen. The Air Calvary helicopter attack while “Ride of the Valkyries” blares from loud speakers is fantastic and Duvall’s nuttiness is a blast. But the movie flies off the rails with one of the most off-the-wall and numbing endings you’ll find. Look, I understand Coppola is saying a lot under the surface, but at some point I want to be entertained when watching a film. The hallucinogenic jungle cult, severed heads, and philosophical mumblings made “Apocalypse Now” a difficult movie for me to finish. I know that the film broke new ground in terms of filmmaking. It also tries to be too clever for it’s own good.

#1 – “AVATAR” (2009)

James Cameron’s box office juggernaut “Avatar” was an unequivocal critical and commercial success. It was nominated for 9 Academy Awards and at the time became the highest grossing movie of all time. Even fellow filmmakers like Steve Spielberg praised the movie comparing it to “Star Wars”. Through all the hype, I sat stunned at all of the obvious flaws that were overlooked and the passes that the movie was given for it’s shortcomings. To start out let me give it a little credit. Technically, “Avatar” is a stunner. It was the first movie to really show 3D as a powerful cinematic storytelling device. The motion capture technology was marvelous and the CGI action sequences were unlike anything I had seen before. But for me that’s all “Avatar” offers. First there’s nothing all that original about the story. It’s basically a sci-fi “Dances with Wolves”. It’s completely predictable and you know exactly how things are going to play out in the first 15 minutes. Then there’s the script. It features some of the silliest, cheesiest  lines particularly from the poorly portrayed military and the evil corporate head. Stephen Lang is laughably bad as the stereotypical soldier gone bad in what may be the worst performance of the decade. The movie also bludgeon’s the audience to death with Cameron’s forced environmental and political preachiness. He slams the military. He slams big corporations. He force feeds us his concepts of planet worship. And all of it is incredibly heavy-handed. Yes, “Avatar” is a technical milestone but you must have a good story to match. Instead, “Avatar” has a crappy story covered with a shiny coat of paint. That’s not enough for me.

So there you have them. 5 movies that have received plenty of praise but that I feel are overrated. I’m sure many disagree with my takes on these films. Please leave you comments about these movies or other popular films that you feel are overrated.

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34 thoughts on “5 PHENOMENALLY OVERRATED MOVIES

  1. I love a controversial post like this. I agree with every one of your choices. Toy Story was easily the best of the trilogy. Woody Allen is bloody annoying. Easy Rider is great but a bit of a mess. Apocalypse Now the same. Loved Avatar but it’s nowhere near Cameron’s best and does not deserve to be the biggest grosser ever!

    Black Swan is springing to my mind for some reason. Avengers too. I should stop though before I get shot.

  2. Avatar without a doubt. Annie Hall and Easy Rider I do not agree with at all.

    E.R. was not a big budget film and it has held cult status for decades. I see it hard to be overrated when it’s appeal is to a narrow audience section.

    A.H. was funny and sophisticated, but sadly marked the end of the funny Woody movies. It had humor, but often at the expense of those outside the NYC elite circles. That being said it was Woody Allen maturing in his story telling. I liked it’s follow-up Manhattan better.

    For me, the English Patient is the most overrated movie of all time with runners-up Out of Africa and the Natural. You could probably add many more Meryl Streep and Robert Redford movies to the overrated list.

    • “Easy Rider” did shoot for a smaller audience and I don’t judge it overrated due to that. I had bigger problems with it’s writing and construction. Budgets do limit what a film can do but so many have made incredible films with tiny budgets. And it’s not so much the filmmaker’s small target audience as it is the critical praise and groundbreaking status that the movie is given that causes me to call it overrated. It’s still at close to 90% on Rotten Tomatoes.

      “Annie Hall” was just a case of too much of the same thing for me. It’s certainly region specific. It’s a movie about New Yorkers (and sometimes I feel FOR New Yorkers). But I feel Allen is striking the same chord throughout the film. He’s the same guy using the same quips and banter and I ended up just tired of it. It was as if you were just hanging out with this annoying little guy for 90 minutes. The only problem, he’s a guy I would be tired of after 15 minutes.

      Great points though and I know I’m in the minority with these movies. I love these types of discussions. One of the cool things about movies is that different films impact different people different ways. There is no right or wrong answer. Just different tastes and good discussions.

  3. Oh no, I don’t think Toy Story 3 is overrated… I adore that franchise and it’s one of the best movie trilogies ever. I like Avatar but I can see how it could be considered overrated considering the hype over it. The rest I haven’t seen yet, so I’ll take your word for it 🙂

      • Hey Keith, now I remember this post 🙂 I haven’t rewatched Toy Story 3 again but I remember crying buckets when I first saw it. But hey, we can’t all like the same thing right, and as we just discussed about bloggers being defensive, I’ll just chuck this as being ‘to each their own’ and that’s what makes discussing movies so fun! 😀

  4. Pretty much agree with all of these.

    Even Toy Story 3.

    But you know, I was never that big a fan of the Toy Story franchise, because I’d seen it all before. The first movie was basically “Jim Henson’s Christmas Toy”, and the last movie was “The Brave Little Toaster” redux. Maybe that’s why I like the second one more than the other two. Well… that and those cute three-eyed aliens.

    • You bring up a great point. I’m not the biggest fan of the Toy Story series and that may be why I didn’t respond as strongly to TS3. But I also agree that TS2 was the best of the three films.

  5. I totally agree on your opinion of Easy Rider Keith. I don’t get what all the fuss is about with that film. Apocalypse Now was two thirds a great movie – until Brando turned up without having read the script. Avatar is a visual feast but once again, I can see flaws aplenty.

    • Thanks for checking it out Mark. There are several others I considered as well, one being Sunset Blvd. It’s one that was ok, but overall didn’t work for me.

  6. Apocalypse Now definitely. And Brando’s part in it. Same as The Godfather, Brando just mumbles his lines. (vastly over rated actor IMO )
    Titanic, ridiculous story line. (Jack & Rose) Gone with the Wind, (Scarlett o Hara, so annoying)
    I could go on. 🙂 Great post. Thanks.

  7. I can see Titanic being on the list. There is a British film from the 50s I saw not long ago on TCM (I can’t recall the name) that told the true story using real characters from the Titanic and none of the warbling of Celine Dionne.

    Brando being overrated is an interesting topic. He is a cartoon character in many of his films (“Hey Stella!”). He was pretty good in On the Waterfront and the Wild Ones. He was still lucid back then I suppose. I do think he played the character of Don Corleone in Godfather quite well.

    As for Easy Rider, I think you just needed to be alive at the time.

    • That’s a good point about “Easy Rider” and I can see where living in that time would bring it to life much more.

      Brando is…well…he’s Brando. I liked him in The Godfather and On the Waterfront. But other than that, he’s never been a favorite of mine.

      I still say that I kinda like the second half of Titanic. But I just can’t hardly wade through the first half of that movie.

  8. I’m one of those big Toy Story 3 advocates, Keith, but it’s interesting to read that everyone isn’t. I just loved it!

    I COMPLETELY agree with Avatar on this list. Everything you said . . . yes! Last year, I took an Intro to Film class and my teacher made the same comparison of it to Dances with Wolves and basically called it a rip-off as well. Funny.

    I actually haven’t seen Annie Hall, but somehow it doesn’t surprise me at all that it lands on this list. It seems to be overrated.

    A movie I would add to the list – The Graduate. That movie dragged on and on for me.

    • The Graduate is one that I can see being on the list but there’s something about it I like (especially the ending scene).

      “Midnight Cowboy” is one that almost made this list. I’m not a fan of it.

  9. I agree with you on Annie Hall, didn’t like it at all. Also feel the same about Avatar 🙂

    Don’t agree with you though on Toy Story 3, the furnace scene alone makes it a classic one. Haven’t seen Easy Rider and Apocalypse was good, but not one I will quickly rewatch, but that’s because I’m not a big fan of war movies.

    • I’m in the minority on all of these. But it’s a really fun conversation to have. Like I always say, movies touch and effect different people in different ways. When I originally wrote my Toy Story 3 review I was hammered. lol. But it made for a great discussion.

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  11. You nailed TWO of my biggest pet peeves (TS3 and Avatar) – I’d agree with you on APOCALYPSE, except that it isn’t really that highly regarded outside of critical circles.

    • I’m telling you Avatar drove me crazy. It was such a rehash of several other films. And it’s heavy-handed preaching drive me nuts.

      Thanks for checking out the list. Come back by the site any time.

  12. It seems to me, that if the reviewer had spent more time attempting to enjoy these movies rather than looking for flaws, they would have a different perspective. Like all other ‘critics’ before him, he/she assumes that the reader will agree with their opinion based on ‘logic’ alone. What critics need to learn that films are an art and are not based on logic, they are based on evocation of emotion. All the films listed are masterpieces at evoking a reaction of a certain emotion, logic non-withstanding.

    Try again, this time, harder.

    • Your reasoning would be sound if it were based on anything remotely true. First, these aren’t “reviews”. I don’t know anyone who would take these small captions/paragraphs and categorize them as reviews. Therefore to assume an in depth interpretation of my feelings based on such little information is misguided.

      Also, what makes you think that my dislike for these films stems from me “looking for flaws”? Nothing is further from the truth. Does every movie you dislike stem from your search for flaws? Or is your disdain for anything logical mean that you love every film ever made?

      Whether you will admit it or not, your appreciate for these films is fully based on your opinion. That’s the key word. You’ve offered little to refute that and have done more to prove it true. Movies are subjective and so much more goes into sensible film criticism than logic or a passive dismissal of flaws due to the proclaimed artistry.

      I view movies based simply on how I like them. Enjoyment and entertainment factor in just as much if not more than any technical or structural concern. Maybe if you read some of my actual reviews you would get an actual sense of that. Regardless I do appreciate you reading and taking time to share your thoughts. That’s what makes this fun.

  13. Hi, I’m a bit late to the party here, but for me The Clockwork Orange is hugely overrated! I watched in a kind of stunned silence / stupor that I can only ascribe to all the hype not living up to itself! I actually found it to be boring and not at all the graoundbreaking vision it was purported to be.

    • I 100% agree. I have never understood the high praise for that film. I really labored to get through it the first time. Several years later I tried watching it again and literally could not finish it. I’m not a fan of it at all.

  14. I do agree with the rest of your selecetions however. I never really “got” Apocaplypse Now, and Annie Hall was, for me, typical Woody Alan fare that just failed to resionate at all. I liked TS3 but certainly didn’t agree with all the brew ha ha that surrounded it. Easy Rider, I guess I should have grown up in the 60s then! And as for Avatar, whilst I really liked this one I do agree with it’s spot here and that it is a rip off of DWW. Top blog!

    • Thanks so much for reading and I appreciate the comments. Hope you’ll stop by often.

      I know Avatar was insanely popular but I was stunned at how many of its flaws were just overlooked. It’s a technical marvel for sure, but the rest did nothing for me.

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