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Not every movie can live up to our expectations. Sometimes, movies have sky-high hype that the film does not live up to. Sometimes we have personal expectations for movies that fall flat. And here’s my countdown of movies that, for one reason or another, disappointed me. I think it’s fair to point out that I don’t hate all of these movies. In fact, I like a few of them. They just didn’t live up to my expectations.
Honorable Mention: Hancock – I’m not going to lie: My reaction to this movie was about the same as most people’s. The trailers about the atypical superhero who was actually surly and didn’t know how to control his powers looked really funny. In fact, most of the movie was really funny and the filmmakers totally ran with the premise. But then the infamous plot shift took place where it was revealed that Charlize Theron was a member of Will Smith’s species. To be fair, at the time it is revealed the movie, it does come off as a pretty clever twist. Then… the movie started taking itself WAY too seriously. Though to be fair, this movie wasn’t a total waste. I made this an honorable mention because… well, I like this movie! Did that part bother me? Yes. But the good outweighed the bad for me. Still, I really wish this movie lived up to the way it was advertised.
6. Real Life – And we’re ending the theme here with the only other film on this list I actually liked… marginally. While I wasn’t alive for An American Family (which this movie so gleefully spoofs), this movie did have a lot going for it. Not only have I enjoyed Albert Brooks’s films in the past – even the oft-maligned film The Scout, but the thing that really caught my attention was this movie’s trailer:
I’ll admit it, that is one of the funniest “original footage” trailers I’ve ever seen (though I don’t think anything will top Comedian – a film I haven’t actually seen yet). Unfortunately, this movie didn’t really live up. The biggest problem is that the pacing for this movie is just a little too dry. I guess that’s to be expected since it is going for a realistic approach. I think the reason films like Borat and Spinal Tap is that the scenarios in those movies are so crazy that the documentary style only makes them funnier by making them seem more realistic. Here, I just found myself constantly thinking, “They could have done so much more with this.” Though I will say the ending is really funny.
5. Game of Death – My expectations for this film were vastly different from the other movies on this list. On one had, I knew about this famous martial arts scenes with Bruce Lee. And I was excited about those. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating: These segments are the only highlight of the film – especially the one with Kareem Abdul-Jabaar. So why else would I have interest in this film? I don’t think It’s any big secret that Bruce Lee didn’t live to finish this film. Ergo, the filmmakers had to resort to seriously cheap measures to put him in the film – body doubles, still frames, stock footage and even resorting to using footage from Lee’s actual funeral. I heard all that and thought, “wow, that sounds so bad, it’s good!” Unfortunately, while some of it was entertaining for a few minutes (like when they cheaply superimposed a towel over a picture of Lee), most of it is the body double – who spends the movie wearing sunglasses (a gimmick that I don’t think even fooled Stevie Wonder). It kind of wears thin quickly, and there’s not enough of the really goofy stuff to at least be entertaining. Overall, I found this movie kind of boring. Also, while I didn’t want to rant about the moral implications of what they did, I will say one thing: If you’re going to do the fake death causes the actor to change his appearance, why don’t you have the body double fake his death and THEN start using the Lee footage? It’s just common sense.
4. Choke – It’s not often that I actually get to read the book BEFORE the movie comes out. And ergo, I haven’t had much of a chance to feel the sting of being let down by an adaption. Now, I don’t think that altering a book for film necessarily makes a film bad. In fact, one of my first blogs was about movie adoptions that surpassed the books they were based on. Unfortunately, this assumption that the filmmakers know better than the authors occasionally lead to films like this. The problem I have is that this movie retells the story in a way that I think the filmmakers completely missed the point of the book. This is another one of those movies that depicts a smarmy unlikable character but half-asses it by trying to make the lead character kind of likable. I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t read the book, but some of the more outlandish elements – that could have made this movie A LOT funnier – are straight up omitted. The movie introduces a key element from the book, but changes the ending in a way to make it completely meaningless. I really don’t want to hate this movie just because it deviated from the book. After all, when I read Forrest Gump, I was astonished at how different the movie was from the book. And frankly, I found the changes for the better. I like the Mission: Impossible movies despite their differences from the show. But the problem is this movie is kind of boring. There was ONE SCENE that I think lived up to the kind of movie I was expecting. That’s where a woman hires Victor to rape him. If the rest of the movie lived up to that scene, I think it would have been something special. The pacing is way too dry and slow-moving. A film should stand on its own regardless of comparisons to material, and I just don’t this movie does that.
3. Larry Crowne – I don’t always agree with popular opinion. I bet a lot of you saw this title and were waiting for me to talk about Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Believe it or not, I actually like that movie. I like a lot of movies that people hate: Batman Forever, Terminator 3, Mystery Men. So, when I heard this movie get slammed by critics, I was skeptical. Especially, since I am a HUGE Tom Hanks fan. And he has shown competence as a filmmaker. That Thing You Do is a really good movie. Not to mention Hanks reeled in some good actors for this movie – not just himself but George Takei, Fez from That ‘70’s Show and I can’t help but get excited any time Bryan Cranston has a meaty role in a movie.
But this movie was just so bland! The common criticism of this movie was that it was just a little too upbeat. One critic called it “the kind of film that would make It’s a Wonderful Life seem like a downer.” While there’s nothing wrong with a feel good film, the problem with this movie is that Tom Hanks and Nia Vardolous created a world that seems completely devoid of conflict. Losing his job and going back to college really doesn’t have a ton of weight on the character. This movie exemplifies one of the reasons I hate the disposable love interest cliché: I just find myself thinking “Don’t worry about cheating on your husband. They’re a bad person. That makes what you’re doing okay.” The reason It’s a Wonderful Life makes us feel good is because it shows George Bailey OVERCOMING obstacles. He doesn’t live in a world where problems don’t exist: He faces the problems and learns how important he really is to his friends and family who support him no matter what.
The humor in this movie… seriously comes off like Hanks and Vardolous never wrote a second draft. Characteristics like George Takei hating cell phones and Bryan Cranston having an obsession with breasts just left me thinking “Is this really the best they could come up with?” There were situations like the revelation that Hanks’s neighbor won all his money on a game show that left me thinking “um… is that the joke?” Surprisingly, the best joke in the movie was a reference so obscure I had to look it up on IMDB (an in-joke when Rob Riggle says his University didn’t just give away degrees when the real life University went into scandal for doing just that). Was this a God awful movie? I can’t go that far, but at the same time I found myself wishing this movie WAS God awful just because then it would have left me feeling something!
2. Funny People – (WARNING: This description includes spoilers) Oh, how I hate this movie… When this movie came out, I was starting to get tired of the Judd Apatow formula. The jokes were becoming by the numbers, and I was finding the characters less likable by the film. Also, I’m not the world’s biggest Adam Sandler fan. I like some of his early work, and he showed a lot of range in Punch-Drunk Love. I did really like Anger Management, but I chalk that up to Jack Nicholson. I even liked Hotel Transylvania… marginally. During the first part of the film, it pretty much met my expectations: It was the same collection of bros delivering the same one-liners. Though to this film’s credit, there was a funny moment here and there. The scene where Adam Sandler asks Seth Rogen to kill him was funny. As was the scene where Eminem provokes Ray Romano (Ironic that it was my favorite scene in the movie because I’m not a fan of either). For most of the movie, it was just that same tired formula, but it was bogged down even further by the fact that I simply didn’t like most of the characters. Obviously, Adam Sandler’s character was selfish and obnoxious, but that was a pretty apt description of most characters! And did I mention there were too many plots floating around? Still for the first half of this movie, it was tolerable. Then something happened that shifted this movie from that dumb Judd Apatow movie my brother dragged me to see to one of my all time least favorite movies. Adam Sandler’s character gets his cancer cured. When that happened, I thought “good, the movie’s over. That wasn’t too bad. My butt’s hurting a little bit, but I’ll be out of here soon enough.” Then Adam Sandler visited his ex. And the movie just kept going… and going – like that bunny on TV with the battery. And it had suddenly shifted gears into a drama – a really mopey drama that was meant to be an allegory for The Great Gatsby. Not only was this turn irksome, but it really exemplified Apatow’s overindulgence: Yeah, people who paid good money to see a goofball comedy and they’ll gladly sit through some lugubrious drama just because it’s his wife. Right… And chew on that one for a second. Man has cancer = comedy. Man mopes and dopes about his ex = drama. The way this movie transformed from tolerable comedy to obnoxious drama still stands as one of the most unpleasant experiences at any movie.
1. Superman Returns – I didn’t get into the Superman movies until I was in middle school so I wasn’t around for the hype of the making of the unmade movies – i.e. Superman Lives – but I have read about it in The Greatest Sci-fi Movies never made (a really good read btw). For years, a Superman movie had been in development hell, so it was fair to get excited that it was finally being made. Even just in the months leading up to its release, this movie was pretty heavily promoted. And it was coming off the heels of Batman Begins. I remember being pumped – like a lot of people, I got swept in Superman fever. I remember getting excited speculating who’d play who. I begged my brother to see it (back when I had to do that to see a movie). I tried to cajole my friends into seeing it. And then I saw it… and if I may steal a phrase from Gene Siskel, “I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t thinking about it much after I saw it.” Seriously, people had been waiting years and years for A Superman movie. I had waited months and months for THIS Superman movie, and this was what we got. So what did this movie do wrong? Well, the thing that stuck out to me was the way it clung to the original Christopher Reeve films. And that’s understandable: Those movies are iconic and left shoes that aren’t going to be easy to fill. But I felt the same way about Tim Burton’s Batman, and look at how Christopher Nolan still did something different. But even looking past that, this movie didn’t do too much horrible. The problem is – like most of the movies on this list – it didn’t do that much good either. The performances were unmemorable (though I still commend the filmmakers for taking a chance on an unknown for Superman), the story was unmemorable and the film makers played it too safe by trying too hard to be like the Christopher Reeve films. To be fair, this movie was okay. But after years of hype and anticipation, it was fair to expect more than okay. Oh well, here’s hoping Man of Steel brings something new to the table.
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