0002. 10 (or more) Over-Rated Films
- Titanic - This film only began to work when the characters stopped uttering Cameron's godawful dialogue toward the end. Unfortunately, that didn't leave too much time.
- Shakespeare in Love - Name-dropping humor for those who payed attention during high school. Peel away the "Oh, I recognize that name" factor, and the film is incredibly thin and corny.
- Vertigo - Yeah, everybody believes I am a moron for this one, but the film only works if you can suspend your logic long enough for the "atmosphere" to take hold. Unfortunately, the atmosphere ain't nothing compared to a Hal Hartley film or Once Upon a Time in the West, and the plot falls apart after an hour; stick to North by Northwest.
- Grease - Don't get me started; the film is actually worse than the soundtrack.
- Adam's Rib - I haven't seen this in a while, but despite the infamy of Hepburn-Tracy, the sad truth is that Hepburn-Grant made a much better on-screen couple. Check out Bringing Up Baby instead.
- Young Frankenstein - Watch Brooks' earlier The Producers; if you like this better, we'll talk then.
- Schindler's List - I like this film quite a bit; it is simply not the best of the 90s or Spielberg's best. Flawed by the very sentimentality everyone cheered Spielberg for 'avoiding,' this film is not above criticism, despite its subject matter and its valiant attempt at greatness.
- Annie Hall - Again, not bad, but Allen has done much, much better than this episodic early work. It retains its reputation because it made money and won the Oscar. See Manhattan or Hannah and Her Sisters.
- The Searchers - Good Western, not the best Western. Instead, watch The Wild Bunch or Once Upon a Time in the West
- West Side Story - Fantastic dance and songs almost cover up an awful script; Cabaret reigns as the greatest musical film, with Sunday in the Park with George the greatest video-taped Broadway performance.
- M*A*S*H - Very influential, but also very dependent on junior-high humor and lame jokes to generate any chuckles. Some of the scenes are very, very weak. I suggest Nashville or Short Cuts instead, despite his innovative use of multi-plane dialogue.
- Chicago - If you took a print of Cabaret, transferred it to video, ran off a dub, dubbed that dub, then filmed that version as it played on an shabby television set, digitized it, and then tweaked up the color, brightness, treble, and bass levels, you would have a very shiny version of Fosse's masterpiece. The colors would glisten, the sound would boom crisply, and audiences everywhere would gush orgastically over it. There is a problem, however. Fosse's cinematography is a delicate, detailed, textured beast, and even if all those levels mentioned above were humming at eleven, you still would have a shell sucked of a soul. I cannot think of a better or more apt metaphor for Chicago. This film is awful. Awful. Yes, it is probably going to win the Best Picture Oscar, which puts it in the recent company of Gladiator (an even worse movie than this) and A Beautiful Mind (which, while no great shakes, actually does look like a masterpiece held up to this film). In fact, it fits perfectly into the saddest decade for Best Pictures yet seen. You see, for starters, Rob Marshall brought nothing to the direction of this film that he didn't cop from Bob Fosse. Well, that's not entirely true. Everything has been dumbed down, so I suppose the low level of intelligence is unique to ol' Robbie. True, Fosse did the choreography and direction for the original stage version, but for God's sake, Rob, you didn't have steal the freakin' camera shots and edits, did you? I mean, Fosse's Chicago wasn't a film, so that was hardly inherent to the musical. You don't even seem to understand the emotional effects of his tricks; you simply see the flash, hear the snap, and put a dime into the Xerox machine. You're not fooling anybody. You are the Paul Thomas Anderson of modern musicals. It is not entirely your fault, of course. You are a victim of the cynical lawyers posing as artists we call producers. I can see the smoky room stinking of sweat, as very important film people lean back in plush chairs and rewatch a screener of Moulin Rouge. So great, and yet, it didn't win the Oscar. Well, you know, every one blamed the older members of the Academy. It was too wild, too contemporary, and too radical, and the older set just blanked out after the first ten minutes. Wait! We can tame the beast, defang it and dull it down so that all Academy members have a chance to love it. Hmmm, what was the last live action musical to hit Oscar gold? Cabaret. Ah. Let's steal the style of Cabaret, but leave beyond any shred of that sticky substance dealing with complex characters or dramatic situations. And sorry, Bebe Neuwirth. We know you want the role of Velma, that you OWN the role of Thelma, but damn it, we need names and hot sexy things here. Hey, isn't Catherine Zeta-Jones free? She was nominated for Traffic. Sure, she looks like crap in the short hair wig, and sure, her acting, singing, and dancing chops won't carry the day, but she'll help drag the male population in, and we can always edit around the tricky steps any way, and if she glares with a sideswipe of the head around twenty times during the court scene, we'll make her work. Maybe this scene never took place, but I'd lay down money something damn close to it did. Add the fact that Queen Latifah only really clicks when she's singing and the sad truth that Chicago has never had the best or most memorable of scores, and this film never even had a chance artistically, but every chance in the world at Oscar, and thus real monetary, awards. The good vibes on Listology had my hopes up a bit, but truthfully, this movie is worse than I feared. The dedication at the end or the credits to Fosse is both appropriate for a film that dimly copied his style and his style only, and an insult for a movie so shallow that its interest in Fosse's genius stopped there. Chicago won Best Picture gold, but it is one plastic loser.
I may think of others later, but this should tick enough people off to begin with. Remember, over-rated does not necessarily mean 'bad.' It just means the film is not quite as good as its reputation might lead you to believe. With the exception of Grease, which I loath, I have tried to leave out films loved by audiences but (rightly) hated by critics (ie, Independence Day, Highlander, etc.).