One of the most fun aspects of film is debating what is good and what is not. It is the best part of going to the theater, and the worst part of going to a party filled with film nerds who will not shut up about the latest existential art-house piece. The point is, everyone is entitled to their opinion based on taste. I am a film nerd through and through. Yet there are movies considered classics that, quite frankly for my tastes, do not deserve that distinction. This is my Top 10 Most Overrated movies of all time.
10. “Mulholland Drive” (2001):
A great concept does not warrant a classic. Serious film lovers think of David Lynch’s 2001 mind trip “Mulholland Drive” as an all time classic. What they refuse to recognize is how contradictory this mind trip is. Lynch creates a spiraling downward spiral about a young actress played by Naomi Watts coming to Los Angeles in hopes of being the face on billboards and bus stops. A tail of deception and stardom based on lies and deceit ensues, complete with a lesbian relationship, “Mulholland Drive” has all of the fixings of a classic mystery. The problem with Lynch’s film is that he creates a complex Neo-noir narrative, then pulls the rug out to reveal a commentary on the concept of Hollywood culture disguised as a surreal cinema experience. Look buddy, I hear your point. Yet you make a movie so intriguing that it is literally contradictory of what you are trying to make? The hypocritical nature of “Mulholland Drive” brims with the idea that a director thinks he is smarter than you. Trust me, he is not.
9. “Donnie Darko” (2001):
The ultimate high school emo kid story ever, “Donnie Darko” is a quintessential example of a movie that looks smart, feels intellectual, but sure as hell is not. Thank goodness we got Jake Gyllenhaal out of this shit show. Teenagers were obsessed with what they believed to be a mind bender. A visitor from another world in bunny form visits a young love stricken main character and his paranoia begins to build. Turns out, once the “Tears For Fears” song Mad World comes on the entire movie is about an emo kid saving his girl’s life. Thats it. In the immortal words of The Notorious B.I.G; “IT WAS ALL A DREAM!” “Donnie Darko” is complicated if you are a 14 year old high school freshman. As an adult, it is just dumb.
8. “Beauty and the Beast” (1991):
Why is this famous story still considered a classic? Let us look at the facts. A giant beast imprisons a beautiful young woman in exchange for not killing her dad. And that woman becomes the key to a burly beast’s recovery to get back in his old self as a prince. The idea of Stockholm syndrome placed into a children’s movie is so twisted that it is not a tail as old as time. It’s messed up! “Beauty and the Beast” is the most offensive example of a princess being liberated in Disney history. Why young girls want to be the Belle character is beyond me. And this was the only Disney animation movie in history to be nominated for best picture at the Oscars. Really?
7. “Spaceballs” (1987):
There are so many elements in terms of coming together for comedy that should make “Spaceballs” a classic farce, which most people think it is. Mel Brooks is all time great at insulting genres. John Candy was an excellent go to for laughs in the late 20th century. “Star Wars” is so big that it is easy to poke fun at. The problem, the jokes just suck for the most part. A knock off Han Solo played by Bill Pullman (who is not a good actor) teams up with John Candy as a knock off Chewbacca as Barf to save a princess Vespa from marrying the ridiculous Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) while driving a Winnebago through space. There is a good joke or two admittedly, including a bumper sticker on a star ship, but overall “Spaceballs” is trying to make fun of nerd culture and it fails in epic fashion.
6. “Batman” (1989):
Look, I love the caped crusader as much as the next guy. But the original big budget 1989 resurgence directed by Tim Burton of “Batman” is incredibly overrated. Michael Keaton is perfect when he puts the costume on, particularly in the opening scene. He is also a terrible Bruce Wayne. Absolutely zero suave for a millionaire. Jack Nicholson was a great pick for The Joker, but his plan, crew, and ultimate outcome are even crazier than the character itself. Plus the love interest played by Kim Basinger is nothing more than a Barbie doll. There are moments with “Batman” that stand out, particularly when Jack Nicholson is throwing around money on the streets of Gotham to the song Dance by Prince, but ultimately this is an empty experience.
5. “Scarface” (1983):
Every rapper featured on the early 2000’s show “MTV Cribs” had a poster of Tony Montana. “Scarface” is the ultimate example of yelling, FUCK YOU, PAY ME! A starch contrast from Al Pacino’s all time best performance in “The Godfather” films that was reserved as well as devious, Pacino hams it up more than any actor has ever hammed it up. Director Brian De Palma’s beloved gangster epic is so over the top that it proves he was always a bad filmmaker (I will give him “Carlito’s Way”, another Pacino film but much better). Yes, the words “SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND” are iconic. Yes the montage set to the song Push it to the Limit is damn hilarious. Beyond that, “Scarface” is made for exploitation in the art of killing mo-fo’s.
4. “Clerks” (1994):
Uggh, the creation of hipster culture. While one can commend director Kevin Smith for making his initial cult-classic on such a low budget, one can also not deny what a bunch of pretentious bullshit “Clerks” is looking back on it. This movie is a contradiction of itself from start to finish. While trying to be a comical farce about a small convenience store, the characters are all way wittier than people actually are at such a place. Yes, it is a movie. But Smith is trying to prove how much more knowledge he has than you, complete with jerk-off ‘I know movies’ references that would make Quentin Tarantino jealous. Yes, the characters Jay and Silent Bob are funny in a vacuum. Beyond that, “Clerks” is a complete waste of time disguised as a “classic” indie.
3. “The Wizard of Oz” (1939):
Yes, I know this will not be a popular pick. “The Wizard of Oz” is seen as a classic. My question is, why? The moment that these annoying little guys start to sing that song “We are the Lollipop Kids” I begin to pull my hair out. I cannot deny the visual revolution “Oz” was for cinema. But if you step back and think about it this movie is, for lack of a better term, dumb. Flying monkeys, a green bitch who can’t touch water otherwise she melts, and a dude pretending to be a wizard behind a screen, huh? To this day I have never understood the fascination behind this one beyond when it originally hit theaters.
2. “Gangs of New York” (2002):
There is no denying Martin Scorsese is an all time great director. He has made some of the most classic films in cinema history. Beyond die hard fans who are blind lovers of his work, there is also no denying that “Gangs of New York” sucks. Other than a phenomenal performance by Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill the Butcher and a fantastic opening battle, this movie is all over the damn place. It feels like Scorsese read a bunch of different history books and decided to throw them into the same pot as though he was making a film version of a bowl of Gumbo soup. Leonardo DiCaprio, amazing all-time great actor, is completely wrong for this role as he does not hold weight alongside Day-Lewis’s performance in this particular circumstance. Cameron Diaz as the town whore is beyond terrible. Only no holds barred Scorsese lovers who think that everything he touches turns to gold can claim that “Gangs of New York” is a good movie looking back on it.
1. Top Gun (1986):