The Best Movies that Nobody Likes

Hudson Hawk rules!Movies, like any other entertainment, are totally subjective. What is great to one person could be hideous to another. But this is the Internet, where billions of people worldwide shriek at the top of their lungs that people who do not share their opinion are bad human beings. And who am I to buck that trend?

What follows is a look at four movies that I swear to God are cinematic wonders, but which everybody seems to hate for some reason. Note that this isn’t the same as movies that I know are bad but which I enjoy anyway; that’s another rant for another time. I am legitimately claiming that the movies below are good. Naturally, you can feel free to insert all the typical Internet acronyms – IMO, YMMV, and so on, as appropriate. This being my corner of the Internet, though, I’m just going to pretend that I’m right and everyone who disagrees with me is a horrible person. Delusions are fun.

Driving a speeding car down the highway while looking behind you and shooting a large-caliber handgun...typical Arnold, but this time with added irony.

Driving a speeding car down the highway while looking behind you and shooting a large-caliber handgun...typical Arnold, but this time with added irony.

Last Action Hero:
Released in 1993 and billed as another typical action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Last Action Hero was actually a comedy that pointed out how silly and ridiculous a typical Schwarzenegger movie is. Schwarzenegger played Jack Slater, a badass cop living in a world of clichés that in reality was all part of a movie series in the real world. Through some hokey magic ticket thingamajig, he winds up meeting someone from the real world and then going into that world himself, where he finds himself hindered by this pesky “real life” thing – he shoots at the fuel tank of a car, but there’s no explosion, he breaks a window with his fist and bleeds, and so on. Despite a bit of a silly plot, it’s a really good comedy and a deconstruction of the 90s action flick. Half of the movie takes place in a world where every single cliché exists and is played totally straight, while the other half of the film turns those clichés on their ear. In between, there are some really funny moments, such as an imaginary trailer for Hamlet II in which Schwarzenegger goes a-killin’ through a Shakespearean landscape.

The movie, for whatever reason, is pretty universally bashed. Part of that probably comes from the fact that it was marketed as an action film instead of the comedy it really was. And yeah, it does have its flaws, including some plot holes and a slightly annoying kid sidekick. But overall it is a very well-done comedy where Schwarzenegger gets to play with some genre awareness for a change. The silly parts are no more silly than a typical 90s action film, but for some reason people seemed really irritated by the fact that Schwarzenegger wasn’t pretending that killing a man with an ice cream cone was serious business. What’s even more baffling is the fact that a year later, True Lies came out, and it’s practically the same schtick – an action-comedy that plays all the stupid action movie tropes tongue-in-cheek. Yet for some reason, True Lies was a big success. Maybe it’s because you can pretend that True Lies isn’t a comedy even though it pretty clearly is. In my mind, though, Last Action Hero is right on par with True Lies – a pretty good comedy that makes some fun of the action films that were prevalent through the 1990s.

I knew the giant purple dinosaur was a Nazi all along.

I knew the giant purple dinosaur was a Nazi all along.

Death to Smoochy:
Death to Smoochy came out in 2002 with a budget of $50 million, and it only grossed $8 million at the box office. It was torn apart by critics, and the DVD commentary opens with director Danny DeVito saying, “Hello. It’s Danny. It’s been, I guess now a few months since the release of Death to Smoochy, so the mourning period is over.”

I thought it was a funny film.

The movie basically revolves around the idea that children’s public broadcasting programs are run like organized crime. Robin Williams plays Rainbow Randolph, a Mister Rogers-esque guy who forces parents to pay large bribes in order to get their kids on his show and who is brought down by a police sting. In his place Ed Norton as Sheldon Mopes, a guy who is wholesome through and through and who parades around as the big purple dinosaur Smoochy, preaching love and kindness to the little ones. Rainbow Randolph tries to bring Smoochy down, the Irish Mob gets involved, and there’s a strangely homicidal charity group called the Parade of Hope. Since I was a teenager around the time when Barney the dinosaur was everywhere and hated that giant purple clod, I appreciated the jabs at that particular character. Moreover, the movie itself just bled cynical, twisted humor and still makes me laugh at how over the top things get. I imagine folks reading this might not hate it as much as the general public does, because a lot of the movie’s humor is the same bizarre comedy that fuels the Fights section. But it got torn apart by critics and became a box office disaster.

While every other film listed here suffered from being marketed as something it’s not and can thus be explained partially because of that, Death to Smoochy was, as far as I know, always bileld as a dark comedy. Maybe the target audience was too small. Maybe DeVito’s directing, which is definitely something people either love or hate, just turned a lot of folks off. Maybe Robin Williams mailed all the nationally-recognized film critics a box of rat feces before its premier. I don’t know. I do know that, as someone who loves dark humor and has a special place in his heart for films that cross the line twice (or more), I think that Death to Smoochy is an awesome movie.

For bonus mood whiplash, watch Death to Smoochy side by side with American History X. I think Ed Norton might hold a record for playing the two most extremely different lead characters in cinema.

Ang Lee presented a very soulful monster.

Ang Lee presented a very soulful monster.

Hulk:
I will not let it go, I will not let it go, I will not let it go. I will defend this movie until the day I die.

Released in 2003, Hulk was a crash down to Earth for Marvel who thought they could do no wrong when it came to putting their superheroes on the big screen. The marketing hype made it a huge first-week hit, but then the movie suffered one of the biggest drops in cinema history as word of mouth circulated. And I still insist that it was all a matter of marketing.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. I will accept that some people’s gripes are legitimate. Lee’s style of imitating a comic book by splitting the screen and using sudden cuts doesn’t work for everybody. I personally like it, but if you don’t, I can see why. Some of the script is a little overly wordy. But overall, this is a good film, and I will fight tooth and nail to anyone who tries to convince me otherwise.

The big problem with Hulk was that it’s a horror film marketed as an action flick. There is a ton of great action, but you’ve got to wait for it. There aren’t a lot of jokes, and most of the humor that is there is visual comedy rather than something that has a punchline. But after X-Men and Spider-Man, Marvel expected this one to be another huge hit based on one of their iconic characters. I really think the guys at Marvel and Universal Pictures just thought audiences would blindly see anything based on a comic book, regardless of content. I mean, really, if you want a summer blockbuster, why would you hire Ang Lee as your director? Even his big action flick Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a meticulously-paced film that placed more emphasis on dialogue and scenery than action. But Marvel put a teaser trailer for this film in front of Spider-Man, then released a trailer that featured unfinished CGI during the Super Bowl. The movie got a June release date, which is summer action movie season, not psychological horror season.

Hulk takes its cues from classic monster movies and psychological dramas. It is a movie that focuses not on how much its title character can smash, but about the traumas that formed said character. It’s honestly quite close to the comic book in that way, although it did take its share of liberties with the source material (no more than X-Men did, however). And while 2008’s The Incredible Hulk was more in line with the type of movie that the studio and fans were expecting with Ang Lee’s effort, I will continue to insist that the 2003 film is far superior and one of the best comic book movies that has been released to date.

Would you like to swing on a star?

Would you like to swing on a star?

Hudson Hawk:
Even people who like silly, over-the-top movies seem to hate Hudson Hawk, and I’m not totally sure why. Released in 1991, it’s kind of a vanity project for Bruce Willis, reminding people that he was a comedian first and an action hero second. It’s got Willis and Danny Aiello singing show tunes as they commit cat burglaries, it’s got Looney Tunes and Nintendo references, Andie MacDowell making dolphin sounds, James Coburn leading a group of CIA operatives named after candy bars, a plot for world domination so silly that it takes two villains who clearly have more money than sense to pull it off, and David Caruso in a red dress.

Whew.

Like most of the other movies listed here, Hudson Hawk had its share of bad marketing. Following on the heels of the first two Die Hard movies, the trailers led audiences to believe that it was another big action movie when in reality it was closer to Willis’ earlier work, the TV series Moonlighting. Strangely, though, this movie seems to get a lot of hate decades later, after the marketing has gone away and people know it’s supposed to be a comedy.

I just don’t get any of the criticisms against the movie. The heists don’t make sense? Of course they don’t – that’s part of the point! The world domination plot is inherently flawed? Look at the movie’s villains! Darwin Mayflower has a special spot on his alchemy machine reserved for making pelvic thrusting motions as his plan comes to fruition. The villains are a pair of trust-fund babies who don’t understand thing one about economics but are willing to kill a whole lot of people because of their insane plan. This movie exists in its own little world of bizarre characters, and poor Eddie Hawkins is the only (semi) sane man in the whole bunch. As a result, it’s pure over-the-top hilarity. To me, this movie is funny in the same way that Who Framed Roger Rabbit or The Blues Brothers is funny – it’s packed with zany situations that everyone plays seriously, leaving only the audience to realize exactly how bizarre everything is. Most importantly, each of the actors give it their all throughout the film. No matter how goofy the line or bizarre the sequence, everyone goes full speed. And honestly, if the cast is having that much fun with a film, it makes it a lot harder for me not to get sucked into that fun.

And thus my short list comes to an end. The fun thing about having a web page is that I can shriek my clearly subjective views out to the world as though they are objective truths. If you have your own shrieking to do, feel free to leave a comment and we can have a good old-fashioned bicker.

Advertisements

2 Responses to “The Best Movies that Nobody Likes”

  1. Last Action Hero was hillarious! And you know how I feel about Smoochy.

  2. Sorry, I disliked all of the movies on this list.

    Last Action Hero has a great soundtrack!

    http://tokyo5.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/best-movie-ost/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: