New topic: worst movie that is supposed to be good/great

From a comment by Adam in another thread:

What is everybody’s opinions here of the worst movies of all time? At the same time, I’ve been watching some of the Siskel and Ebert year end shows on the worst films of the year, and they pointed out that they weren’t interested in going after little indpendent films, but films that either had no excuse for being so bad, or that were only made financial reasons, i.e the big budget studio films.

My choices in this regard are:

1.It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World. Even though Peter Falk is in this movie, it’s a bad, bad, bad,bad movie. It’s loud, violent, and cynical without a redeeming character in the film. I know some people regard it as some kind of comedic gem, but I regard it as neither funny nor pleasant.

2.Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I honestly don’t understand the positive reviews. To me, it was basically 2 hours of ‘how can we embarrass Richard Dreyfus?’

3.The Deer Hunter. This gets more mixed reviews. I think people who were afraid to say bad things about a Vietnam veteran war movie basically showed what they really felt when the director released the similar film Heaven’s Gate, which, as the story goes, bombed so badly that it bankrupted a studio. The Deer Hunter is boring, indulgent and filled with supposedly meaningful symbolism that are really nothing more than obvious and stupid cliches. A glass or something breaks at the end of the incredibly long wedding scene and some doll sheds a tear. How profound! A truly awful movie.

On another matter on a similar subject, Scoopy wrote about how To Kill a Clown is outdated coming from the hippy era. Scoopy and others might be interested in a film called ‘The Todd Killings’ from that same era. Without giving anything away, it features a somewhat older hippy (mid 20s or so), who believes he is fooling both the military and the police, but finds out they weren’t so easily taken in.

Scoop’s note:

I’ll start it off, considering some movies that are rated 7 or higher at IMDb

Chariots of Fire (7.1, winner of the Oscar as Best Picture). Well, I can’t fairly say that Chariots of Fire is a bad movie, because I have tried to watch it several times, and have never made it through long enough to evaluate it. I have fallen asleep each time. You may think I am exaggerating, but that is literally true. I think I have tried four times, and have fallen asleep on each occasion.

Blow-Up (7.5). The reaction to this film always reminds me of the response to the film that the castaways made in Gilligan’s Island, which ended up winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes, thus suggesting the appeal of incoherence to the arty set. Critics loved Blow-Up – proof that if you make something pretentious and self-important enough, you can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time.

Eyes Wide Shut (7.5). Has there ever been a case where so much skill and genius were used so poorly? To me the saddest thing about this movie is that Kubrick had always been the best filmmaker in the world with difficult literary adaptations. Lolita and Barry Lyndon are virtually unfilmable, but Kubrick managed to turn them both into terrific movies. A Clockwork Orange seems almost impossible to capture on film. It’s written entirely in a non-existent language! Yet Kubrick turned it into an iconic work of genius. And then there was Eyes Wide Shut, in which everything worthwhile about the film was already in the source novel, while everything Kubrick changed resulted in a disaster.

No comment needed on these two beloved stinkers:

Call Me By Your Name (7.8)

The English Patient (7.4)

And if you calculate “most overrated” by the IMDb score minus what the film actually deserves:

Return of the Jedi (8.3)

The Blair Witch Project (6.5)

58 thoughts on “New topic: worst movie that is supposed to be good/great

  1. So, has anybody seen The Todd Killings? It has an okay nude scene in it, but I’ve never been able to find the film in anything higher than standard quality.

    1. I’m literally watching it now, following your mention in an earlier thread. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I have never seen it before, that I can recall, because nothing seems familiar. (But don’t take that as gospel. I’ve seen so many movies that I can’t remember them all.)

      The quality on Amazon Prime seems decent. They call it HD, but that term covers quite a broad spectrum.

  2. Kubrick did die before completing Eyes Wide Shut so I give him a pass. It is beautifully shot however. As usual for Kubrick.

    1. He was also quite old. Most all geniuses have their peak when they’re young and can’t attain those heights again. The run of Strangelove, 2001 and Clockwork Orange was just phenomenal. Later films like Full Metal Jacket had moments, but weren’t complete. I was not expecting much when Eyes Wide Shut came out. Be like expecting McCartney to come out with another Seargent Pepper album within the last couple decades.

      1. Kurosawa was 75 when he did Ran. Sophocles 90 (no shit) for Oedipus at Colonus. Now that’s old. Kubrick checked out at 70.

        1. Clint Eastwood made most of his best movies after age 70:

          Million Dollar Baby – released age 74 – 8.1 at IMDb, won Best Picture
          Gran Torino – age 78 – 8.1
          Mystic River – age 73 – 7.9 – Best Picture nominee
          Letters From Iwo Jima -age 76 – 7.9 – Best Picture nominee
          Changeling – age 78 – 7.8 – BAFTA nominee Best Director
          Richard Jewell – age 89 (!) – 7.5
          Sully – age 86 – 7.4
          American Sniper – age 84 – 7.3 – Best Picture nominee
          Flags of Our Fathers – age 76 – 7.1
          The Mule – age 88 – 7.0

          And several others almost as good

          While Cry Macho is not in the same league as his best films, Clint starred and directed, and was 91 when it came out. Pretty impressive.


          So based on that and your examples, it’s possible that Kubrick still could have had some gas in the tank.

  3. A Beautiful Mind – Russell Crowe gets angsty with a chalkboard, this turd beat out Fellowship of the Ring for best picture?

  4. Good thing the general public doesn’t give a shit about what any of you fools think, eh. Having said this how the fuck did Amadeus ever win best pic? Rhetorical.

    Better topic: Most underrated/unknown gems ~ Your Three Minutes Are Up 1973, Sullivan’s Travels 1941, Last of the Dogmen 1995 etc, etc. (ymmv)

    Yielding back the balance of my time …

    1. Actually the general public agrees on some of these. Some of them were successful at the box office, some only pleased the critics.

      When we choose the most overrated, we are recalling a time in our lives when we were told that somebody’s cult favorite was the shiznit, and we consequently set aside a good amount of time and/or money in anticipation of a great experience that never materialized. Or perhaps we are thinking of a mediocre movie which beat out our favorite for an Oscar. Or perhaps there was a great gap between the critical perception of a movie and the public’s view. Or perhaps there was a monstrous box office smash that everyone seemed to love but us. Or perhaps there is one of those generation-specific films that people of that generation love, but nobody else can understand why.

      The paragraph above represents many different possibilities, yet we simplistically lump them all together.

      The inherent nature of the very term “overrated” implies a lack of specificity. Who is doing the rating that we think is too high? The critics? The ticket buyers? The Academy? The consensus of history? Are we talking about the film with the highest undeserved box office? Are we asking people to name the single weak film with the most universal critical approbation? Are we talking about the film with the greatest difference between the IMDb score and what the IMDb score ought to be? Are we talking about the film which at one time received the greatest unmerited hype? The answer is “any and all of the above.”

      We should note that this is not a list of poor films. In fact, with some exceptions, the films on this list range from good to superior. But they all have one thing in common. Each of them gets a lot of people pissed off when other people start to talk about how good it is.

      1. So-called critics notwithstanding (btw, how does one become a critic?) some movies just don’t age well (see late ’60s/early ’70s).

        As always, to each their own. Full disclosure ~ saw my 1st movie at a theater recently, Top Gun 2, in (26) yrs. o: Saw Heaven’s Prisoners in 1996 ~ Hey, Teri Hatcher had a full frontal nude scene ie reasons lol.

        Top Gun 2 is soooo good will probably go see it a 3rd time at a theater and downloaded a decent screener (3) wks ago. Digressing.

        The irony if it hadn’t been delayed because of covid probably wouldn’t have gone to see it. Timing is everything. The delay helped Top Gun 2 at the box office imo. Was watching YT vids the past 3/4 mos and said hmm may have to go see Top Gun at a theater.

        1. There are a few films that I think I used to like, but when I rewatched them decades later, I couldn’t imagine what I was thinking of. They may, as you say, age poorly as society passes them by, or they may be so era-specific that they just don’t work when stripped from that context.

          I’m always amazed that non-actors like Peter Fonda and Michael Sarrazin achieved such heights of popularity back in the day. In the 60s and 70s, it seemed that they embodied the whole attitude of “I don’t give a shit about superficial crap like acting when the world needs changing,” and that seemed appropriate for the zeitgeist. (Sarrazin was once considered hip enough to host SNL in the Murray-Belushi era.)

          When you see those movies today, all you can see is that they didn’t give a shit about learning how to act.

          1. Michael Sarrazin 😮 only remember he was Jackie Bisset’s boyfriend for a few yrs so he must have had some appeal lol. But back then hot babes liked guys who were aloof. 😉 But yea, he had the appeal of a dead fish!

            apologies to fish …

          2. I think Peter Fonda’s fame came from being a Fonda and Easy Rider. I remember Sarrazin being around, but his fame never approached Pacino, Hoffman, Nicholson, Dreyfuss, etc. He was just a guy they put out there that never really had much success and then they give up. Kind of like Jan Michael Vincent and Richard Jordan.

  5. The only film I ever walked out of the theater was “A Man for All Seasons”. I found it incredibly boring.

    1. My mom and some of her snooty friends took me to a theatrical presentation of it at the ANTA Playhouse when I was about 12 or 13. I kept wondering why the people were laughing at some of the lines, and I kept waiting for something to happen.

      Over the years I came to be interested in English history, and I eventually learned enough context to understand the wit, so I kinda like the film now, but I can certainly see your point. It’s the opposite of a good radio station – all talk, no rock.

      1. When you know the history, “Man” gets better but “Lion in Winter” gets ridiculous. You’d never guess that the duplicitous lightweight Frenchman poncing about with Henry’s sulky son Richard would become maybe the greatest French king ever and the first one who had carved out enough of a holding to call himself King of France without everyone laughing.
        And also, the indirect father of Magna Carta after whupping good ol’ John Softsword at Bouvines, one of the few battles you could really call decisive, in 1214. Neither he nor probably Richard was gay.

  6. How has no one said Titanic yet? A total slog. I guess I’m prejudiced because the girl I saw it with literally cried when Leo died. All I could think was, Can we leave? Oh and fucking goddamn Horse Whisperer.

    1. We actually did a readers’ poll of the “most overrated” films” some years ago, and Titanic was the “winner.”

      It’s interesting that Titanic has surged back upward at IMDb since I wrote those comments some 15 years ago. Its rating had fallen into the 6s in what I suppose was a post-Oscar backlash, which meant that it wasn’t really overrated, at least not by IMDb readers. Now, however, it is now back up to “classic” status at 7.9, just shy of the IMDb Top 250 list, so I guess it is officially back to being highly overrated.

      That said, I admire many things about Titanic. It has its faults, but if I had made it, I would be proud. If I had made some of the other films on this list, I would fake my death, get plastic surgery, and re-emerge with a new name.

  7. For the topic, not the worst film, but a very overrated film, I’d add The Shining. Even Stephen King doesn’t like it.

    The film steps on its own message. It’s supposed to be about cabin fever and isoloation but the only way Jack Nicholson could have gotten out of the freezer room was with the assistance of the supernatural forces. So, it doesn’t even really make any sense.

    Also, Jack Nicholson’s character started off much too intense and bordering on crazy to really show much change. In this case, we know that Nicholson was doing exactly what Kubrick wanted, so the fault is entirely on Kubrick.

    It seems at least some people who like the movie like it for reasons that have nothing to do with simply watching it, like that it’s supposed to be perfectly symmetrical somehow if viewed backwards and forwards at the same time. That might be brilliant technique but it doesn’t make watching the film any more enjoyable.

    The best thing about The Shining is how Kubrick apologizes subtly in it for helping NASA fake the moon landing. 🙂

    I’d say Kubrick’s 2001 is also brilliant technique but not a good film (boring) but I haven’t seen it in years, so I might find it more interesting now.

    1. As usual, I disagree with every single word you wrote. Two of the best films ever made.

    2. I’ll take Kubrick as the best director ever and for me it’s not close. I know he didn’t make a lot, but his films were different. I can see why some aren’t into 2001, but I even love the beginning where there was no dialogue. His ability to match visuals with sound were unmatched. The Shining is one of the best horror films made. I know King doesn’t like it because Kubrick didn’t think he was a good writer and wouldn’t let him work on the script. I don’t really care how much a movie matches the book, I take the movie on its own.

        1. Great but actually not even the best director with a K name. That would Mr. Kurosawa.

      1. Kubrick’s output in the twenty years of his prime (1956-75) is absolutely incredible. He made eight films, every one of them arguably a masterpiece, and with really no similarities between them other than their inherent genius. His LOWEST Tomatometer score in that era is 87, and that’s for A Clockwork Orange, so his worst film in that period was an iconic work of soaring brilliance.

        Silly sidebar:

        As Bill DeeCee points out elsewhere in this thread, the best directors of so many countries (debatable, of course) have last names starting with a K sound

        Start with the big four:

        England and USA – Kubrick
        Poland – Kieslowski
        Japan – Kurosawa
        Hungary and USA – Curtiz (nee Kaminer, legally Kertész)

        Then move on to:
        Serbia – Kusturica
        Hong Kong – Kar-wai (a bit of a cheat since Kar-Wai is his last name, but not his family name)

        Canada – Cronenberg and Cameron

        1. You left out Edward L. Cahn. He has 128 directing credits at the IMDB, from 1931 to 1962. A sizable proportion of those were shorts, but at least half are features. So he was making at least 2 features and 2 shorts a year, on the average, during his entire career.

          Therefore, based on completely objective criteria instead of artsy-fartsy stuff, he was a MUCH better director than Kubrick. I rest my case.

  8. I can’t stand Fight Club. Super pretentious and in love with itself. Thinks its delivering such a powerful message. It isn’t.

    1. Another film really in love with itself is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I don’t dispute there are some very good lines in the film, but not enough to justify the smug self satisfaction in which every line is delivered.

      That is especially true of Paul Newman who is in every scene in the film except for one, so the smugness runs through the entire film.

      The most interesting thing in terms of self satisfaction was the bicycle scene. I mentioned here before how the ‘safety bicycle’ was a relatively modern invention which seems to surprise a lot of people (only invented a few years before the automobile), but I still find it hard to believe that a grown adult could enjoy riding a bicycle, even as a novelty, as much as Paul Newman does in the movie and to give it that much screen time. I like that scene though because I love the song Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.

      I realize this was the ‘anti hero’ period, but I also have trouble with the film romanticizing cold blooded murderers.

    2. Not to mention it steps on its own message. The “club” espouses a philosophy of non-conformity. Of not giving in ti the pressures of the world to be a part of “the system.” Meanwhile all of the members worship at the feet of their leader and do whatever he tells them. So they gave up conformity with the outside world just to find it again under a different banner.

  9. Inception. “OMG, it’s a dream within a dream, within a dream! So deep!” And the action scenes might as well have been done by Michael Bay.

      1. IMDB is an irrelevant barometer for films. Ruled by fanboys with thousands of fake accounts who give dishonest appraisals of films so they can get their favorites high on the list. That said, every Kubrick film should be preserved forever. They are all great.

        1. Should IMDB do a better job of policing its ratings? Yes.

          But in the case of Inception there’s probably a substantial number of legitimate voters. First the Top 1000 reviewers put it at an 8.2. This metric is hard to game.

          There are also very few low rated views. Yes, there are a lot of 10/10’s aka the Publicists, Friends and Families of the crew and last but certainly not least Fake Fanboys. There are still a lot of high reviews in the 7-9 range. Its also well reviewed across all age groups and both genders.

          If we went beyond IMDB you’ll also find strong critical reviews and high audience scores. Does that add up to 13th best movie all times? /shrug. Fuck if I know but its regard is still very, very good.

  10. Tom Jones wasn’t a bad movie but, given the quality of the actors and the source novel, was a real let-down from what it might have been, Too much 60s bullshit camera froo froo.
    Blow-Up. The Italian director who thought all English bands destroyed their guitars.

    1. Another “Best Picture” selection that seems difficult to comprehend. It’s a bawdy comedy that is neither very sexy nor very funny, kind of a tepid entry in the “Carry On” series. On the other hand, I just reviewed the 1963 alternatives, and it was not a banner year for filmmaking, so maybe Tom Jones was outstanding for its era.

      Tom Jones could get some kind of special award if I could find the correct wording. Something like “Film that did the worst job at delivering on the promise of its trailer.” Or maybe we should just give the award to the guy who cut the trailer, who made an OK movie seem like a truly rollicking, fast-paced, action-packed good time.

        1. I actually disagree with that at least somewhat. While there are outliers, there is also a great deal of evidence that most people tend to prefer similar things, whether it’s symmetry in faces or ‘sad notes’ in songs.

          Somewhat related: it was assumed for along time by economists that ‘irrational people’ tended to cancel each other out, but Robert Shiller won a Nobel Prize in economics for showing that when people behave irrationally they tend to all make the same irrational choices in the same area.

  11. Babel

    With you on,
    Eyes Wide Shut

    Sometimes nudity won’t make it better.

    1. Makes ’em far more watchable. I consider it insurance against me wasting my time. Jane Birkin is worth watching Blow-Up. And Page and Beck playing together, history on film.

      1. Would have been far better if they had played together on a whole album as opposed to just one great single, “Happenings …”. It was fun watching Jeff do a rowdy though, even if not quite Townshend quality.

  12. I’d choose Event Horizon. It’s one of those movies the studio interfering with the director’s vision.

    1. Your point is good, and I agree with it, but I’m not sure that’s entirely on topic (films that are supposed to be good), given that most people think the movie stinks (29% on RT).

      It does raise a point related to the original question. Event Horizon is basically a Hollywood version of Tarkovsky’s Solaris. Tarkovsky’s movie is rated 8.0 on IMDb, has a 90 rating on Metacritic, and is barely watchable at best. Even Tarkovsky didn’t much care for it. That definitely deserves mention among the worst movies that are supposed to be great, but I didn’t mention it at first because so few people are familiar with it.

        1. Since Tarkovsky is famous for merely thirty minutes of plot per three hours of film, I’ve mentioned before that Nostalghia is much better if you play it 8x speed (unless you want to hear the Russian, because that speed screws up the sound, so you have to play it in mute and read the sub-titles).

          At that speed, the images are still beautiful, and you can still read the sub-titles, but the characters seem to move at normal walking speed, as opposed to the usual Tarkovsky pace, which is where everyone walks in quarter-steps as in a church processional.

          So I’m guessing that Solaris would work at about 3x, since it is not as languid as Nostalghia.

  13. Avatar, which is just a remake of Disney’s Pocahontas. I’ve never been able to make it through to the end.

    1. I haven’t even made to the beginning. It just didn’t look interesting to me.

    1. I wouldn’t called Gump a “bad” film by any means, but to this day many people feel it unjust that Gump managed to beat both The Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction for that Best Picture Oscar.

      It is quite an anomaly that three of the top eleven films on the IMDb Top 250 were made in 1994. Shawshank is #1, Pulp #8, Gump #11.

      1. I never got into Pulp Fiction, to be honest. Nothing in it interested me (OK, maybe some of the soundtrack), and the movie bored me to sleep, both time I tried to watch. Shawshank, enjoyed, Morgan Freeman grabbed his character and did something special with it (Robbins…meh). Gump, enjoyed, not so much anymore, not understandable how it beat Shawshank, other than the (even at the times) bad effects. 95% of the movies mentioned in these post, never watched, and those I have, have not enjoyed (not bringing much positivity to this discussion, sorry…)

  14. Just to go back a little on It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad world. I liked the first two scenes. The sight gag where the dead guy rolls over ‘in his grave’ is funny and the second scene involving the people who come upon the dead guy trying to negotiate with each other is funny as well. Part of why I dislike the film so much may be that it started off with such promise.

    1. I liked “Mad, Mad” the first time I saw it, but then I was just a kid; Jimmy Durante literally kicking the bucket is still one of my all-time favorite sight gags. But it hasn’t aged well, mainly for the reason stated, that all the characters are unlikable, but also because so much of it is slapstick, and with a few exceptions we can all list (Blazing Saddles, Airplane!, etc.) slapstick mostly died with the coming of sound.

  15. Independence Day, hands down. Worst movie I ever paid money to see.

    Showgirls is in the top 3, but at least it was made to be over the top and they get credit for Gina Gershon topless in a thong and an open beaver shot by Liz Berkley

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