Most Overrated Films of the 2000's - The Part-Time Critic

Monday, December 14, 2009

Most Overrated Films of the 2000's

Day 12: Most Overrated Films of the 2000's

The following list will catalogue what I feel to be the films that recieved either great critical praise from critics, Academy Awards, or large approval from audiences, but actually deserved none of it. I have seen 894 films from the years 2000-2009 and these are the 25 Most Overrated films that I feel critics and people just got wrong. Of course, some of your favorite films might be on the list (I hope not though), so take my opinions with a grain of salt. Feel free to comment and let me know what you think. Did I miss something?

25. Hotel Rwanda (2004)
Directed by Terry George
Nothing terrible wrong with this film, but there isn't anything all that great about it either. The film lacked enough details about the Rwandan situation to be truly educational, and wasn't really emtional enough to be a tearjerker. What makes it overrated is the great critical praise and rewards that showered this film with a few claiming it superior to Schindler's List. The film just doesn't hold up to that weight. Add to that an odd, student film look to much of the picture, and its clear why this lands here.

24. Mr.Deeds (2002)
Directed by Steven Brill
Can't tell you how many people have told me to watch this Sandler film claiming it was incredible. Mr. Deeds features all of Sandler's faults without the compensating funny to smooth. It's ludicrous, annoying, predictable and boring. One of Sandler's worst efforts in his career.

23. Iron Man (2008)
Directed by Jon Favreau
Iron Man is a decent blockbuster, but it's also nothing special. The suit is really cool and Downey is great as Stark, but the reception this film has recieved from both critics and audiences alike left me perplexed enough to give it several more showings. I was right, it's mediocre. Wake up people and name me one stand out action sequence in this film.

22. Drag Me To Hell (2009)
Directed by Sam Raimi
Filled with more annoying 'stings' than a bee's nest, stay away from this manipulative piece of garbage. The production values are great, but due to it's over reliance on gross outs and gotchas. it becomes tedious and pandering. Bleh. How could critics rate this so high?

21. Bubba Ho-Tep (2003)
Directed by Don Coscarelli
Sure there are a few laughs to be had from this one, but cult status for this film?

20. Good Night and Good Luck (2005)
Directed by George Clooney

A perfectly decent film is ruined by glorious praise and a shower of awards. Nothing turns a decent effort into an overrated one like when a mediocre and somewhat pleasing film becomes a political statement film.

19. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Directed by Nick Stoller
Worth one or two good laughs, but this bloated film is just plain difficult to watch. Vulgar and meandering.

18. Garden State (2004)
Directed by Zach Braff
Count me out of this depressing story centered around depressing characters. Portman is saddled with such an annoying, cloying and pointless character that Winslet's similair Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind makes Portman look amateur.

17. Enchanted (2007)
Directed by Kevin Lima
An interesting idea, but ultimately the film rings hollow and empty. It is contradictory in it's themes, but it can't even muster more than two good songs to cover for it. Count me as not enchanted.

16. Old School (2003)
Directed by Todd Phillips
Despite charismatic performances from Ferrell and Vaughn, this vulgar and juvenile comedy is the epitome of overrated. Predictable and unredeemable, this is a guilty pleasure that doesn't even throw in the pleasure.

15. The Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005)
Directed by Dareen Grant
Heard so much about Tyler Perry that I decided to check this film out. I hated it. In fact, some of the morals and behaviors were actually quite shocking. So bad, I don't ever want to see one of his films again.

14. Winged Migration (2003)
Directed by Jacques Perrin
Critically trumpeted, but incredibly boring; Winged Migration is one of the worst nature documentaries I've ever sat through. I LOVED the photography, but why o why not narrate more? Why not at least put titles of the birds we are watching? Wanna watch hours of birds flying? Believe me, you don't.

13. Waking Life (2000)
Directed by Richard Linklater
Even more boring than watching birds fly is listening to Linklater's film meander on and on about different philisophical views. I can sit through a lot of talking (I love Linklaters' Before Sunrise/Before Sunset), but this is just talking. No real characters, no plot, no development, just talking. Cool animation, terribly overrated film however.

12. Knocked Up (2007)
Directed by Judd Apatow
Frustrating because it can be very funny at times; this film features such terribly immature behavior and revels in so much immorality, any attempts at redemption in the third act are betraying to the rest of the film.

11. The Hangover (2009)
Directed by Todd Phillips
All I said about Old School applies again here (it's also the same director), but due to its huge run at the box office it rates higher on my list. Vulgar and senseless, I don't see how people embrace this film.

10. The Bourne Ultimatum (2009)
Directed by Paul Greengrass
While retaining the breakthroughs of The Bourne Supremacy, Greengrass decides to fill his follow-up with political metaphors. Unfortunately, the metaphors are terrible as is the plot. Great action and production brought down by a liberal agenda preached with a shout.

9. Open Water (2004)
Directed by Chris Kentis
A surprise indie hit, this film is a battle of boredom. Can you imagine what it's like to be stuck in water for hours on end when nothing much happens? That's a bit what this one is like.

8. Juno (2007)
Directed by Jason Reitman
Another decent film ruined by too much praise. Annoyingly quirky and light on the moral, I found myself more frustrated and annoyed than entertained. This was actually nominated (and poised for a possible win) for an Academy Award in 2007!

7. Super-Size Me (2004)
Directed by Morgan Spurlock
Not getting into it fully, but false premises, straw men, and equivocation does not a persuasive argument make.

6. Food, Inc. (2009)
Directed by Robert Kenner
As reprehensible and wrong minded as Super-Size Me, but this film commits an even greater sin by at least not entertaining.

5. Borat! (2006)
Directed by Larry Charles
Despite a few hilarious bits, Borat! completely gets it's 'social commentary' incorrect. This film wouldn't make the list if it was just sold as a bunch of stupid skits. However, it's the misleading claims to actually uncover racism and for it to have noble goals that lands it here. Plus, it stole a bit from Jackass.

4. Happy Feet (2006)
Directed by George Miller
Easily the most annoying penguin film of the decade is actually packed with as much liberal agenda as any children's film I've ever seen. Completely ruined it for me.

3. The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
Directed by Judd Apatow
Much like all the other comedies on this list, this vulgar and lewd film is beyond redemption. I actually didn't even find much to laugh about in this film (outside of the credit sequence), and it's hit status along with its influence on comedies after it has landed it here on the list.

2. Wall*E (2008)
Directed by Andrew Stanton
My review of the film is here, and while I admire the animation and first 20 minutes of the film, I think the rest of the film gets worse and worse as it progresses. Hollow and unsubstantiated, I find it's claims about human nature misguided. I'm in the minority here, but I guess that's why I think it's so overrated.

1. Mulholland Drive (2001)
Directed by David Lynch
There is no more frustrating film experience for me than this one. An ultimately pointless film, its parts interesting, confusing, mind-beinding, and boring. Even now, critics are pointing to this film as one of the greatest ever (Naomi Watts delivers a great performance though), but I would never want to watch it again. In fact, someone would have to pay me to watch it again. It's completely and utterly overrated.


  1. Diary Of a Mad Black Woman (the only one he didn't direct) is pretty lousy, but he's not as consistently bad (or outlandish) as certain pundits claim. Movies like Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Madea Goes to Jail show him caving into his worst, most steroetyped and over-the-top instincts. But he's capable of better.

    If you want to see a good Tyler Perry film, check out The Family That Preys. It's basically his take on a Douglas Sirk family melodrama and it's surprisingly effective. For a pretty good take on his standard 'lost young woman salvages her life with the help of a blue-collar stud', check out the recent I Can Do Bad All By Myself. It's an adaptation of his second play, but it's shockingly low-key. Meet the Browns contains the same kind of story, but Angela Bassett, Erma P Hall, and Lance Gross are absolutely terrific in it.

    As for the rest of the list, I agree with you on several (Bourne 3, Iron Man, Borat, Bubba Ho Tep), but only take issue with the two food docs (I was quite entertained by both and felt that they both preached self-responsibility when making eating choices). As for Enchanted... yeah, that's probably my pick for worst of the decade. It's a stunningly sexist thesis (all feminists secretly want to be animated princesses, relationships built on five years of trust can't hold a candle to a two-day jaunt with a fairytale princess from another world) that pretends to be a modern feminist tale. I'd rather show my daughter the Twilight series.

  2. I'm aware that this list is about overrated films, but a film should not necessarily be punished for being "overly praised". It's not as if the filmmaker is the one publishing the reviews. And I have to heartily disagree with you about "Good Night and Good Luck". Yes, it's political, but I don't think it was making much of an analogy to today's news media (although, I guess now, FOX News is in a similar position). It was about McCarthyism and freedom of the press.

    Having said that, I totally agree with you about all of Baron-Cohen's films. He hides cheap humour (that's right, he's British) behind a false veneer of "social commentary", whose falsehood is revealed at the end of Borat, when the so-called closed-minded Christians actually accept him as one of their own! There are so many better social commentaries/satires that are comedies (Network, Office Space), that the fact that this film was praised for it's insight into human prejudice is sickening. It's basically a bunch of race-baiting, and like you said, knock-offs of Jackass.

    Nevertheless, I loved and will continue to love Wall-E, and it's theme song!

  3. @Scott

    Thanks for pointing out that Perry didn't direct 'Diary of a Mad Black Woman'. Correction has been made. Thanks also for the suggestions, perhaps I'll give Perry another chance. Since I am in a church environment, I'm always getting the movies suggested to me, so I'll try to be more open about them.

    When it comes to the food docs, I just think they are filled with such underhanded techniques and logical fallacies (Conservative docs are too, but what conservative doc is praied?) that they aggravate me to no end. I'm perfectly okay with the moral of making smart food choices, but these docs go well beyond that with techniques I would decry from any politician. In just one instance that both docs use, they decry the marketing skills of the food companies (putting farms on packages or using cartoons to sell junk food) as misleading to the public. Then each doc uses cartoons and misleading graphics to persuade in their own arguments later in their films. Alex Jones films are full of this same stuff. Straw men, genetic fallacies, and implied wrongdoing are just the beginning of their faults to me.

    Great line about the Twilight series!

  4. @Pierce

    I understand your point and I think that in an ideal world you are right. I shouldn't consider a film 'overrated' based on what others say. However, when a film that I found merely decent is praised as 'Great' "Revolutionary' or 'Best of the Year', it can't help but color my perception of the film, which is why I included it as criteria for what I found to be overrated. This is mostly a response not just to quality of the film, but to the general cultural response to the film vs. my response to the film.

    I guess we just disagree on 'Good Night and Good Luck'. McCarthy is an easy liberal target that is drudged up all the time. No one (and the film doesn't either) tries to understand what McCarthy was doing, why he was doing it, or what middle grounds there were. Do we need an entire film to tell us that witch hunts are bad? Its a double edged sword to me, the less they were interested in exploring McCarthy and generalizing him, the less interesting and more overtly political it got. Ultimately to me, it added up to building up caricatured monster and then patting themselves on the back for standing up to it. At least thats how I saw it.

    It's pretty amazing the response I get to Wall*E. I know that I am particularly sensitive to liberal agenda's within films, but to me its the approach one takes in selling that agenda, which can be honest or dishonest. Plenty of films with worldviews I disagree with are counted among my favorites, but I feel they need to be honest and reflect truth. I feel Wall*E doesn't do that.

  5. Isn't the very definition of 'overrated' inherently democratic? Many people tend to praise things, with few wondering why, to the disdain of those who praise. (Sounds like a recent electoral campaign, but I digress)

    So an overrated movie may not be bad, but not worthy of all the adulation. Highly subjective, but that's what criticism is in the first place.

  6. Many of your picks, I agree with. A few, I do not. Iron Man. I thought it was entertaining. Is that what action blockbusters are supposed to be? I didn't expect it to blow my mind or present deep theological discussion points. I expected action and some humor and got both.

    Enchanted. LOVE this movie. It's adorable. If you don't really have the palette for adorable, I can see how it's not your thing. As a fun, family friendly movie though. I think its praise was appropriate. One of the other comments...said it was worst movie of the decade. Wow. I can think of plenty of movies that were far worse.

    Happy Feet- Despised it for the same reasons you do. My children are not allowed to see it again. I hate liberal propaganda in general but to wrap it up in a little pretty package and call it a kid's movie. BLECH!

  7. Winged Migration is a beautiful film and the reasons you didn't like are the reasons I truly adored it. Did you see it in a movie theater?

    I found it not boring at all.