We all have them: that list of acclaimed films that everyone seems to love but us. Maybe we can’t fully articulate why we hate these otherwise renowned films. Maybe hype ruined them for us, maybe our issues with specific genres promote our negative acknowledgement. Or maybe, just maybe, we simply don’t like them because… we just don’t like them.
The films below are movies that I cannot stand. They’re all popular, Oscar-friendly hits that generated as much critical praise as commercial recognition. Me? I think they’re better off not mentioned than mentioned at all. I’ve seen every film on this list multiple times, because to bash a classic, I think it’s important to understand why you hate it. Basically, I’ve given these movies a fair, unbiased shot, and they simply do not do it for me.
By all means, let chaos ensue in the comments section by bashing my bashes, and, of course, telling me which popular movies you detest.
Movies I Hate That You (Probably) Love
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
The term “Capracorn” is something I understand and appreciate all too well. Most of the time, the term is used as an endearment to describe the positive sentiment associated with most Frank Capra films. For me, it describes the ungodly corniness of the majority of his movies, It’s a Wonderful Life being the chief example.
The film is so undeterred in its every-little-thing-is-gonna-be-all-right sentimentality that it makes me want to puke. It probably doesn’t help that when James Stewart wasn’t being directed by John Ford or Alfred Hitchcock, he was a one note actor of less-than-limited range (but that’s cause for a different post).
Mind you, I don’t consider all Capra to be crap, I quite enjoyed It Happened One Night and You Can’t Take it With You, It’s a Wonderful Life, however, is heavy-handed didacticism at its absolute best. Which is meant as a grand insult.
Musicals/Epics from the ‘50s and ‘60s (1951-1964)
Sure, musicals aren’t my thing, and I don’t typically take a shine to overblown epics, but there are a slew of Best Picture winners from the ‘50s and ‘60s that I think are just laughably awful.
An American in Paris, The Greatest Show on Earth, Around the World in 80 Days, Gigi, My Fair Lady (to name a few): hate ‘em all. While I appreciate the effort that went into the musical numbers and elaborate action sequences, those scenes are not enough to justify these films. Content matters, and aside from their epic scale, these movies have next to none of it.
Also, Audrey Hepburn’s accent in My Fair Lady is arguably the worst voice inflections ever attempted for a film. There’s a reason she wasn’t nominated for her performance.
The Indiana Jones Films (1981-1989)
To be fair, as a cinephile, it’s impossible to not appreciate (if ever so slightly) some of what is achieved in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The opening scene, the nonchalant shootout; that’s all fine and well, but for the most part, I am completely unmoved by these films.
When I profiled Steven Spielberg, I said that in the many times I’ve forced myself to watch the Indy films, I found myself counting the minutes until they were done, and that really is the best way for me to put it.
Raiders of the Lost Ark can have an indifferent pass, but Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade… hated ‘em then, hate ‘em now. At least we can all agree that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was goddamn bloody awful, right?
I get it, Mel wanted to assert himself as a serious director, capable of telling sweeping stories with a nostalgia reminiscent of Ben-Hur, but good god, how much can you possibly shove down our throats? The awful accents, the fake labored love, the rape, the endless talking, the cookie-cutter acting, the forced ending; give me a break.
The battle scenes are impressive, but at just under three hours, I can watch this movie in fast forward and get just as much out of it. Probably not a good thing that the whole “FREEEEDOM!” bit makes me laugh hysterically. Moving on.
There’s obviously a trend going on here. It’s no secret that epic warrior films are a genre that I have little to no interest in. Now, like most every other film on this list, Gladiator has noble feats worth mentioning. Its opening battle is huge and extraordinary, and its coliseum fights (especially the chariot sequence) are astonishing, but that’s what, 20 minutes? I’m more than willing to give credit where credit is due, and I also have no problem calling out faults.
I’ve liked Russell Crowe in a handful of films, but mostly, the guy doesn’t do it for me. Aside from the impressive physicality that’s demanded of him, I think his performance in Gladiator is a series of laughable clichés and moments of monumental hyperbolic grandstanding. Everything he says and does is forced and inadequate. I wasn’t surprised that he won the Best Actor Oscar (an awards competition that is as political as most presidential elections), but his win only made me like the movie less.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)
So far, I’ve tried to point out aspects I appreciate from the films on this list. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, however, will garner no such praise from me. I hate each of these films with a burning passion. They are exaggerated, incoherent pieces of garbage that I wish I had never seen. Here’s why.
When I saw The Fellowship of the Ring in theaters, I sat baffled and pissed when the film “ended.” As if Elijah Wood uttering a few words and fading to black is a suitable way to end a movie. What happened to making every film in a saga its own? If the LOTR films are meant to be seen as one fluid piece of cinema, then release a nine hour movie. More on this in a bit.
The Two Towers, by far the worst film in the series, represents the only time I have ever walked out of a movie theater. I sat there for nearly two hours, completely unaware of anything that was going on, and instead of continuing to play catch-up, I salvaged my night by walking out. (For the record, I later watched the film in its entirety in the theater. I was far more bored the second time.)
And then there’s the Oscar-sweeping Return of the King, which is orgasmic bread and butter for fans, but for me, is an egregious waste of time that I prayed would end hours sooner than it did.
Now, when I bitch and moan about these films to fans, I’m often met with two key arguments. One: if I read the books, I’d appreciate and understand the films more. I’m sorry, but that is utter nonsense. I have seen and loved hundreds of films based on books without reading their source material. A book should in no way be a prerequisite for a movie. A film is a film, and it should stand on its own.
Two: the films are meant to be viewed as one, not as three distinct films. Again, nonsense. By that rationale, every trilogy or film series can only be best appreciated on an all-encompassing basis. I can name you dozens of films that stand fine on their own, and do not need the other movies in their respective series' to complete their stories.
I watched every LOTR film in the theater and, years later, was convinced by a friend to watch them all on DVD. I was glad I did, because it made my argument stronger. As much as I tried to like them a fraction of how much everyone else seems to, they simply do not do it for me, and they certainly never will.
Be sure to tell me what popular movies you loathe in the comments section. Have at it.