6. Freaky Friday (88%)
How did this happen? How is it possible that this film, which is also the second remake, got such a high rating? How is it possible that even the late Roger Ebert praised this film, giving it three out of four stars?! The only redeeming quality of this film is the performances of Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan. However, even their best efforts cannot save this flawed and predictable film.
Body-swapping is so overused throughout Hollywood, just look at the many examples: Big, Face/off, 13 Going On 30, The Hot Chick, the list goes on and on with some pretty horrible titles along the way. You kind of get the sense that Hollywood is starting to pat itself on the back for liking and recycling its own inventions. By making these films over and over again critics seem to have become brainwashed into thinking this is how films should be. And, of course, no one will stop Hollywood from making more of these films as long as there is an audience.
Freaky Friday is really no different to any other body-swapping story out there following all of the typical conventions associated with it. The two protagonists don’t get on and don’t understand each other (a lot of the time there is a difference in age or maybe sex).
Then, as the result of some unexplained magic, which usually is never explained, the two swap bodies and have to live at least one day in the other’s shoes until they realize that life is not that easy for the other either. Finally, once back in their bodies, they reconcile, and their relationship improves with a better understanding of each other. Lovely!
The 2003 version of Freaky Friday had a chance to bring up new things, but they decided not to. Between the 1970’s original and the 2003 version many things had changed, particularly in how we see women and Freak Friday could have explored in more depth the social pressures for teenage girls in the modern world as well as how tough it is to be a woman in the workplace. The film is more or less the same as the original, with the primary difference focusing on how culture – fashion and music, etc. – has changed.
Extra bonus overrated point: Freaky Friday is also remembered for its stereotypical portrayal of Chinese people too! The body-swapping scene takes place at a Chinese restaurant where Curtis and Lohan start arguing about how difficult their lives are and a Chinese lady approaches them offering them, of all things, magical fortune cookies in a broken Chinese accent. At first, the two are not interested in the cookies, but then the Chinese lady starts speaking loudly in Chinese and out of awkwardness they take the cookies. It’s all very heavy and unnecessary, using bludgeoning stereotypes just to move the plot along.
7. Spy Kids (93%)
Spy Kids repeatedly tops the charts for one of the most overrated films of all time. While it holds a 93% approval rating by critics on Rotten Tomatoes, only 46% of audience members say they enjoyed it. Surely for a film to be good, the margin between critics’ ratings and audience approval should be smaller than that, especially for a blockbuster film, a film that was specifically made to appeal to the masses, not necessarily critics.
With such a high approval rating by critics, it’s almost as if the critics are telling the audience that this is how a kid’s film should be. That’s right, fully grown adults are basically telling kids and parents what kids should find entertaining!
One of the most surprising things about this film is that it was directed by Robert Rodriguez, which is pretty hard to imagine and probably something he’s not too proud of. The second most surprising thing about Spy Kids is that is a victim of mashing genres together in the hopes of putting a new spin on exhausted ones. In this case, the spy genre and family comedy. It’s a weird mix and big gamble, and unfortunately, it doesn’t really work if you view it as either genre because they are both fighting something much larger – the special effects.
Back in the early 2000s, CGI was becoming a big deal and Spy Kids is essentially a showcase of what well-crafted special effects can do for film. That showcase swallowed the script and spat out a film where the characters are, as Desson Howe of the Washington Post said, no more than mere props. You end up asking yourself what are you really supposed to be watching?
8. The Deer Hunter (94%)
The Deer Hunter really has a great story, no doubt about it. It features themes such as the decline of industrial America and the psychological effects of war, and it also brought Russian Roulette into people’s lives. But there is one major issue with the film that kills it – it’s length.
Now, while there isn’t anything wrong with long films – The Deer Hunter is 183 minutes long (that’s three minutes over three hours) – if the pacing of events is also slow it kind of gets annoying. If you were to watch The Deer Hunter from the beginning without any prior knowledge of it, you could be forgiven for starting to think that the entire film might just be about a wedding and group of guys hunting in the woods.
Why is the film so long? Well, director Michael Cimino apparently tricked everyone into making it this way. A well-known example is how Cimino extended the wedding scene by 30 minutes from 21 minutes to 51, and if you do that throughout the whole film, of course, it’s going to be very long.
The Deer Hunter really is a victim of Cimino’s own self-indulgence. Behind the scenes, The Deer Hunter had a number of issues with the script (in particular the original writer) and went majorly over budget. The Deer Hunter was a success, but Cimino didn’t learn from his mistakes which would ruin his career.
Sadly, for him, all of his films after The Deer Hunter were commercial failures. Though The Deer Hunter won an Oscar for best film, his next film, Heaven’s Gate won him a Razzie for Worst Director, and like The Deer Hunter, Heaven’s Gate was extremely long.
In a sense, The Deer Hunter is symptomatic of 1970s films – bogged down far too much in realism. To be a truly great film, it really deserved to have two versions – a theatrical version and a director’s cut. There are many people out there that can barely stand a film as long as an hour and a half, let alone three hours!
9. About A Boy (93%)
About A Boy is another example of a blockbuster film that critics seem to love, but audiences found kind of boring. To be fair, it does start off kind of well. Looking through the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, one rotten review seems to hit the nail on the head with the issue: “You can’t help but shake the feeling that you were having more fun with the old, sarcastic, lying Will [Hugh Grant]” says critic Jeremy Heilman of MovieMartyr.com.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth in that statement. Can we really believe that he left his old womanizing ways behind? Is it really believable to suggest that adults who have lived more or less the same life for 20-30 odd years can change so suddenly after a chance encounter? Probably not, and it’s a problem that is also very apparent in Silver Linings Playbook.
Speaking of Silver Linings Playbook, there are some more similarities in ‘overratedness’. Both films feature two unlikely characters coming together first as a deal (or through blackmail) to do something. In both films, the characters end up bonding. Both feature mental illness but use it more as a plot point rather than discuss its importance or clear up how it is overcome – Marcus’s (Nicholas Hoult) mother Fiona (Toni Collete) tries to commit suicide.
Both films feature a soppy ending – the climax of About A Boy is geared towards Marcus singing on stage and Will coming at the last minute to save him, very original. Both are adaptations of books. But, perhaps the worst similarity is how they both seem to just be vehicles for the stars – in About A Boy’s case, Hugh Grant. Maybe some filmmakers have just found the perfect way to tickle critics interests? About A Boy definitely seems to have done that.
10. Annie Hall (97%)
Here’s a question for you; how many times can you comfortably watch Woody Allen trying to woo Diane Keaton? Once? Maybe twice? How does four times sound? A little too much right?
Okay, Woody, we get it you like her, but does it really have to be you and her every single time? You could easily have hired some new faces! It’s kind of as if you’re constantly trying to perfect something you got wrong in the previous film over and over again (or maybe that’s the point?). And it’s not like Woody Allen accidentally ended up casting Diane Keaton, again. The role of Annie was specifically written for Diane Keaton, in fact, the film’s name is even based on Keaton’s – Annie was a nickname she used to go by and Hall is her original surname.
It is this self-indulgence that makes Annie Hall overrated. It dives far too deep into Allen’s insecurities to be relatable, insecurities the audience has already seen glimpses of in his previous films and that don’t necessarily mean anything to other people aside from Allen.
Annie Hall is also well-known for exploring gender relations between men and women, and while that was a landmark in 1977, looking over Woody Allen’s unusual family life since then – marrying his daughter-in-law and being accused of child abuse – you wonder how honest he was about everything he explored in the film.
When watching the film now you can’t help but wonder about Allen’s creepy life which makes it feel very awkward. Perhaps Annie Hall deserved the acclaim it received in 1977 but maybe it’s time to back away from it now.