Joe Carter has a post where he lists the 100 most overrated and underrated movies of all time, by arbitrary category. They’re listed by category, with the most overrated movie listed first, then the most underrated movie listed next. As would be expected, I agree with some of them and not with others. For instance:
Movie about fraternities: Animal House | PCU (I hesitate to include these two together simply because the criminally overhyped John Belushi shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath as comic genius Jeremy Piven.)
I haven’t seen PCU, so I can’t comment on that one, but I do tend to agree with him about Animal House. It doesn’t hold up well, and while it contains many classic scenes (the one where Belushi smashes Steven Bishop’s guitar against the wall still kills me) and classic lines (“Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son”), the movie itself just doesn’t hang together and includes a lot of pointless filler that you just want to fast forward through to get to the good stuff.
Movie about a rock band: Gimme Shelter | Some Kind of Monster (I’m not a fan of either the Rolling Stones or Metallica. But Gimme Shelter shows that deep down the Stones are uninteresting dullards while Monster reveals the members of Metallica to be fascinatingly neurotic.)
I agree on both counts. But perhaps the most underrated movie of this genre is Bring on the Night, which is about the formation of Sting’s first solo band after leaving The Police. You get Sting in all of his megalomaniacal and self-important glory, but you also get a really interesting look behind the scenes at the formation of the band (which included some stellar musicians) and how they interacted with one another. And you get a really great concert at the end that showcases why Sting is, in my view, the greatest songwriter of his generation.
Cold war movie : Dr. Strangelove | Crimson Tide
Crimson Tide was excellent. Denzel Washington was being Denzel and Gene Hackman was being Gene Hackman, and the chemistry was great. But I can’t even begin to call Dr. Strangelove overrated. This movie is easily in the top 10 movies of all time, regardless of genre. Kubrick’s greatest movie.
“Best Picture” Oscar Winners (1960-2005): American Beauty (1999)| The Apartment (1960)
Again, i haven’t seen the movie he says is underrated, but I stronly disagree with the notion that American Beauty is overrated. This movie was nearly perfect, in my opinion. Absolutely brilliant in all respects. Spacey’s best work, and that’s saying a lot; he is, in my view, the finest actor on the planet. For me, the most overrated Best Picture winner from that time period is a no-brainer – Titanic in 1997. Just a brutally bad movie. I would also list Braveheart, Forrest Gump and Dances With Wolves among the most overrated Oscar winning movies.
Incoherent movie about a hippie: Easy Rider | The Big Lebowski
Completely agree here. But it’s part of a larger point about movies, which is this: you can never go wrong with a Coen brothers movie. Which brings us to:
Comedy: Caddyshack | Raising Arizona (The nearly plotless Caddyshack hasn’t aged well and is not as funny as you remembered. Raising Arizona, on the other hand, remains as fresh and hilarious as ever.)
I have to agree. Caddyshack is virtually plotless, but still worth watching just because there are so many great lines and performances in it. It’s Bill Murray’s funniest performance. It’s one of Chevy Chase’s few funny performances (Fletch being about the only other one I can think of at the moment). And Ted Knight’s smarminess is at its most comically brilliant. Even Rodney Dangerfield is funny in it, and he’s never funny in movies. As for Raising Arizona, absolutely agree that it’s underrated. Another great Coen brothers film, this one definitely stands up over the years.
Cult classic: The Rocky Horror Picture Show | Heathers
Agree on both counts. Rocky Horror was never funny (sorry, high school drama club kids, but it sucked) and Heathers was hilarious all the way around. But there are a few other movies that I consider cult classics, or think should be cult classics, that I rarely hear mentioned. The three that come to mind are Better Off Dead (very funny early John Cusack movie), Clerks (Kevin Smith’s first movie – contains some of the funniest dialogue ever written) and Orgasmo (made by the South Park creators – infinitely funnier than BASEketball). If you haven’t seen any of those three, get your behind to a video store.
Denzel Washington movie: Mississippi Masala | The Mighty Quinn
Agree on both. The former was decent, but overrated; the latter was underrated and is hardly ever spoken of. But the really unjustly ignored Denzel Washington movie is Cry Freedom, in which he plays Steven Biko, the South African activist. The chemistry he has with Kevin Kline, one of our most underrated actors, is tremendous. Very moving, powerful movie and Denzel plays Biko as a man of enormous personal strength and dignity.
Movie about amoral businessmen: Wall Street | Boiler Room
Partial agreement. I liked Wall Street a lot, but I agree that Boiler Room is vastly underrated. Ben Affleck’s speech to the new recruits was better than the Gordon Gecko “greed is good “speech, far better. And it’s one of the few movies where Vin Diesel shows his intelligence and not his biceps.
Kevin Costner sports movie: Field of Dreams | Tin Cup
Totally agree on both. Field of Dreams may be the most overrated movie of all time, period. Hated it, hated it, hated it. Tin Cup, on the other hand, is very funny from start to finish. It’s the kind of character that Costner is really good at playing. At his worst, he’s incredibly annoying. At his best, he’s charming and quirky and very likeable.
Other movies that are among my favorites:
Broadcast News: Just a great movie in every respect. Brilliant dialogue, hall of fame performances from Holly Hunter and Albert Brooks, even a Nicholson cameo or two.
Say Anything: this movie was on last night and I watched it again. Light years better than anything John Hughes could even dream of doing about high school angst. And whatever happened to Ione Skye? I thought she was the next big female star after this movie and The Rachel Papers (also a vastly underrated movie), but she ended up doing a “chicks in prisons” movie and fading into the sunset. What a shame.
Office Space: one of the funniest movies of the last decade, hands down.
Van Wilder: ditto. And Ryan Reynolds is either going to become a huge star, or a complete nobody. There’s no in between for this guy, it’s one or the other. And there’s no telling how his marriage to Alanis Morissette will push him in either potential direction.
A Few Good Men: a movie so well written and directed that I watch it every time it’s on despite my distaste for both Tom Cruise and Demi Moore. And call me a sentimental softy, but the scene at the end where Cruise tells Dawson that you don’t need a patch on your arm to have honor, and Dawson salutes him, still gets to me every time I see it.
Eurotrip: I know, it’s a stupid National Lampoon teen sex comedy (like Van Wilder, above), but there are some seriously funny scenes in this movie. The whole thing worked for me, from Matt Damon singing “Scotty Doesn’t Know” to the English soccer hooligans singing “My baby takes the morning train” to the creepy guy on the bullet train. And if you thought the scene in Sideways (a vastly overrated movie) where the fat guy ran down the street naked was disturbing, wait till you see the nude beach scene in Eurotrip with hundreds of naked old European guys running after the girl, penii flapping in the breeze. And yes, they really are the worst twins ever.