So far on this blog I've written some very positive posts about my favorite films. Now I'd like to do the opposite: I'd like to discuss movies that were/are highly overrated. There are quite a few films that qualify, and the list could go on for some time, however, for this exercise I will limit it to just five selections.
Ready? Here we go.
Any Sports Movie
True, I'm not a sports fan, but that doesn't detract from the obvious nature of pretty much every sports movie ever made. Check it: There's a group of a rag-tag players who are down on their luck, can't play so well, have some sort of family crisis going on, or are just having a bad time of it. Or else there's a has-been who is struggling to maintain some sort of relevance to whatever game it is they used to excel at. Cue a bunch of scenes during the movie that chronicle the players' live both with the sport and at home. Things look their most dire at around the 2/3 mark, only to have a finale where everything/everyone comes together, and we're treated to a magnificent sports victory, often in slow-motion.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)
Admittedly, these films make the list in hindsight. The Fellowship of the Ring, first in the trilogy, is quite good. It's the two sequels that mire the storyline in a bog of too many CGI epic battles, connected by ponderous scenes of the main characters, who (somehow) grow more uninteresting by the minute. And we haven't even touched Gollum yet, that annoying, bug-eyed creature willing to do anything for possession of the ring. Yes, his story is a tragic one but, dear reader, I am here to tell you that a little Gollum goes a long way. And we got a lot of Gollum. I remember liking the films much more when they were in the theaters, and the passage of time has only seen that enjoyment dissipate.
My Fair Lady (1964)
I know, I know, it's a classic musical. It won Best Picture. The songs are memorable. Rex Harrison is delightful as Professor Henry Higgins. All gay men are (apparently) supposed to like it. Etc. Etc. I want to like My Fair Lady, really, I do. It's just that, well, I've never warmed to it. Perhaps it's the inherent lack of morality within the plot? Higgins bets that he can turn a common woman into a lady, and uses Eliza Doolittle to this end. He gives her elocution lessons, takes her to upper-class events, parades her in front of his friends and, yes, succeeds in making a lady out of her. There's an immorality to all of this. Eliza senses it and, finally, does something about it by walking out on Higgins. The problem, however, is that while the professor comes to miss her, it never really seems clear that he understands the folly of what he did. Would Higgins accept Doolittle if she went back to her cockney ways? Why does Doolittle come back to a man who has been so selfish and controlling of her? None of this is fully explored enough to my liking.
A Separation (2011)
If there is one particular type of plotting that annoys me the most, it is the plot that exists solely because it utilizes a set of characters who keep it going only because they are too scared or stupid to simply and honestly communicate with one another. And there we have Asghar Farhadi's Academy Award-winning A Separation. Initially the story of a married Iranian couple who have different ideas about their future and, in particlar, the future of their daughter, it quickly descends into an accusatory screaming and yelling match in pretty much every scene. What I would have given for someone -- anyone -- to just say what really happened, or what they were really thinking. Alas, that would have made the movie's run-time something like 30 minutes.
Top Gun (1986)
This is one of those movies with homo-erotic undertones that I (ironically) hear straight men talk about as though it were its own religion. One hears the nicknames of "Maverick" and "Goose" bandied about as though they were apostles. Posters of Tom Cruise in a fighter pilot uniform, looking so serious that it makes one want to laugh, adorned the walls of teenage girls and boys alike during the mid-late 1980s. Sometimes the poster would feature Cruise giving a thumbs-up (to what, we don't know). Other posters would feature him and Kelly McGillis draped over one another (which, given the rumors about Cruise, and the fact that McGillis has since come out as a lesbian, adds a whole new layer of amusement to the film's image). I remember watching the Top Gun back in the day and thinking, 'What's the big deal?'