Martin’s List of the Most Overrated Films

I had no intention to make up a third list, however I talked with a fellow film nut and he had a lot of great suggestions.  So, I am including Guy’s plus some more of my own.  This list ALSO includes quite a few films that the critics didn’t necessarily like but which the public adored—a change for this third list (so we are ALL to blame for these films making money).  I noticed, oddly, that many sequels made far more money than the original (and better) film—such as with Iron Man and Shrek!

I know that I probably skipped a few deserving overrated films.  I am not perfect, nor have I seen every movie.  These are all ones I have seen and think are just way, way overrated.  Some are terrible films, some are good—just not as good as conventional wisdom says.  My list, like all such lists, is heavier towards the more recent films because film critics were pretty much non-existent until more recently.  Also, unlike most list of overrated films I’ve seen, mine also has quite a few foreign films, as the USA is NOT the only place that makes movies!

  1. Avatar—Sure, it made a zillion dollars and was incredibly innovative and worth seeing.  But, it also has a super-heavy handed message about the evil humans and the noble Smurfs.  This alone kept it from being a great film and made it preachy.  I only watched this because Netflix accidentally sent me the disc in the wrong sleeve (true story).
  2. Life of Brian—I love Monty Python, but this one is highly uneven and much of the humor is unfunny.  It does have its moments, though.
  3. The Meaning of Life—Again, I love Monty Python but for every funny skit in this one, there were two dull and unfunny ones.  The Holy Grail and And Now for Something Completely Different are their best films.  If you do see it, be sure to watch the short film usually shown before this—it’s about accountants and is a winner!
  4. Sleepy Hollow—I thoroughly hated this film and it proves that just by putting Johnny Depp in a movie will bring millions of customers to the theaters.
  5. The various Pirates of the Caribbean sequels—Folks poured into theaters even though it was just more of the same.
  6. Dune—Critics mostly hated it as did I (it was an abomination to the memory of the Frank Herbert).  However, a very vocal group of cult-like folks insist it’s a great film.  It’s a confusing and disgusting mess!
  7. Every Austin Powers movie—These become tiresome after a while and made zillions of dollars.
  8. Gnomeo & Juliet—Proof that CGI films CAN be boring.  Not a horrible film but not a good one, either.
  9. Robots—Ditto.
  10. Anchorman—Why all the recent fuss about a sequel to one of Will Ferrell’s most mediocre films?
  11. Buckaroo Bonzai—Insanely devoted fans insist this is a work of genius.  I love the idea of a super-genius Nobel Prize-winning rock star/hero.  How did the film fail so miserably?!
  12. Robin and Marian –The oppressively depressing and unnecessary sequel to Robin Hood.  The ending is just god-awful.
  13. The Lion in Winter-This one got three Oscars but is like watching Mama’s Family (without the comedy) set in the Middle Ages.  After a while, all the nastiness becomes boring…very boring.
  14. Van Helsing—Brainless.  My favorite horrible moment was when the heroine was being attacked and badly beaten by flying vampiresses and Van Helsing tries to help—and she screams at him to mind his own business!!!  Duh.  Nice special effects and a neat idea undone by lousy writing.
  15. Runaway Bride—How is a woman who has left many fiancés standing at the alter the basis for a romance?!  Clichéd and an unlikable leading lady, that’s for sure.
  16. Happy Gilmore—The scene with Bob Barker is one of the funniest in history.  The rest of the film is duller than toast.
  17. You’ve Got Mail—a remake of a remake that did nothing to improve on the originals (The Shop Around the Corner and In the Good Old Summertime) and was significantly worse.
  18. Lolita—Not a bad film but certainly not a classic and awfully creepy.  I think the fact that Kubrick directed it is much of the reason it’s seen as a classic.
  19. Iron Man 3—The fifth highest-grossing film of all-time.  Oddly, the first Iron Man film isn’t even in the top 50!
  20. Skyfall—8th highest grossing but not among the best of the Bond films.  Casino Royale (the newer one, not the horrid 1960s film) is much better but earned a heck of a lot less.
  21. Frozen—It’s a nice Disney film but has so far earned more than a billion dollars.  Disney has made many far better films, as the plot in Frozen is a bit of a mess and has many plot holes.
  22. Alice in Wonderland—Not a bad film but not a film that should have earned over a billion.  When Johnny Depp is in bad or mediocre films, they often STILL make money due to the public flocking to theaters like lemmings but that trend seems to be reversing.
  23. Despicable Me 2—I loved the first one.  The second played like a direct to DVD release…yet made over $900,000,000!
  24. Dr. Zhivago—Not a bad film but adjusted for inflation, it’s the 8th highest grossing film!  It just wasn’t THAT good.
  25. Ben Hur (1925)—One of the few silents on my lists.  A decent film but it’s odd that a Christian epic ends with Jesus dying and staying dead!  Plus nudity and violence make this a bizarre Bible-inspired film.  It earned three times its huge cost to make.
  26. Samson and Delilah—Earned about five times its cost but it was a film that probably did more to advance the cause of atheism than any Biblical epic other than The Ten Commandments (on a previous list) and the first Ben Hur.
  27. Grease—Decent music but the message of this one is ‘Girls, to get your guy, lower your standards and become a skank’.  ‘Nuff said.
  28. Mama Mia—It made nearly $700,000,000 despite most of the actors having no idea how to sing.  ABBA fans love it.  My advice is just listen to ABBA or watch an old concert video.
  29. Planet of the Apes (2001)—Give me the original even with the crappy masks.  This sequel is dull and un-fun.  Yet, it made over $400,000,000.
  30. Rango—It won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.  Apparently the Oscar folks also like Johnny Depp.  I hated the film.
  31. Out of Africa—Despite some lovely, lovely cinematography, the film is NOT the true story of Karen Blixen but has many ‘embellishments’ by the author.  Additionally, the story just left me cold.  It earned back roughly three times its cost.
  32. 127 Hours—Just how good can a film about a guy who saws off his own hand be? Not good enough to be nominated for 6 Oscars.  Plus, the film’s success only encouraged James Franco.
  33. The People Vs. Larry Flynt—Critics adored this film and bought into the argument that Larry Flynt is a champion of the 1st Amendment.  Perhaps.  But making a smutty and rather nutty guy like him a hero is REALLY stretching it!  Woody Harrelson was nominated for an Oscar for this one!  Who actually LIKED this film and wanted to see it outside of Hollywood?  Not many—it lost a lot of money.
  34. Mifune—A very unpleasant film that has nothing to do with the great Japanese actor, Toshiro Mifune.  A lot of folks praised it, though I really am not sure why and it would not appeal to ordinary folks, just folks smart enough to ‘get it’.  The Danes make a lot of wonderful films apart from this one.
  35. Elvis movies—Most are pretty much the same.  Yet, inexplicably, they all made a lot of money from Elvis-hungry fans and are often seen as classics.  See A Change of Habit or Spinout and then try to convince me they are classics!
  36. All the Beach films—Annette and Frankie fans STILL love these films.  Not everything old is worth waxing nostalgic about—especially films like How to Stuff a Wild Bikini and Beach Blanket Bingo!
  37. Akira—a cult favorite Japanese anime film.  It’s ugly, violent and incomprehensible—and those are only its good points.
  38. Citizen Kane—I know I’m gonna upset a lot of viewers about this one—so hold on to your seats!  Now I am NOT saying it’s a bad film—far from it.  However, there has been a huge ‘it was robbed when it came to the Oscars’ contingent out there that continually proclaim its genius—and NO FILM can live up to all this hype.
  39. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith—The only Star Wars film I just could not stand.  Badly written and containing some of the dumbest scenes in sci-fi history.  The worst?  The fight scene only inches from lava and yet the actors are barely sweating!  They would have instantly vaporized…even with the Force!  Plus, as in several other films, there’s Jar-Jar….
  40. Wall-E—Why do folks enjoy this film so much?  To me, it’s among the least of the Pixar films and all the hype about being ‘Oscar-worthy’ set my expectations way too high.  Give me The Incredibles, Monsters Inc. or Up any day.


Article by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer