These movies mostly qualified as highly rated by being on one list or another of critics’ favorites. That means a lot of people who get paid to do so think these movies are truly great, but I watched them and I think they fall somewhere short of “best ever.” I reserve the right to add to this in the future, as I know there are lot of overrated movies I thankfully haven’t gotten around to being disappointed by.
7. The Shining. Watching Jack Nicholson go mad is mildly creepy and amusing but not all that scary. Watching Shelly Duvall watch him go mad is mildly irritating but not scary. Watching other various scary things you don’t understand unless you’ve read the book is mildly unsettling, but not scary. So, I guess you could say it’s the Citizen Kane of unscary horror films.
6. Pulp Fiction. The Seinfeld movie: a movie about nothing. Is it funny, scary, shocking and at times compelling? Yes. Do I love the funky chronology? Yes. Did I ever I tire of the overly clever and ironic dialog Tarantino loves to write? Eventually. But is it the greatest film of our generation? No: for that a movie’s got to be about something, have something to say about something. But this is, to quote Jules, “one of the ones that became nothing.”
5. 2001: A Space Odyssey. This movie is huge for me – seeing it when I was kid was monumental – but a recent viewing, wherein I nodded off while Dave was flying through some flashing Andy Warhol paintings, forced me to see that, as good and groundbreaking as it is, it still does not deserve the place it has been given by critics.
4. Some like it Hot. In a word, oversold. Too much praise as one of, if not the funniest movies ever, builds quite a bit of expectation, and promises more than it delivers. Especially if you waited until you were well into your forties as I did. Lots of the humor seems pretty juvenile now. If it weren’t for Marilyn Monroe, would this movie be so revered? Watch a Pink Panther movie instead.
3. The Producers. This movie suffers from the same oversell as Some Like it Hot. When you’re told from birth that this the most hilarious, side-splitting work of comic genius the human race has ever beheld, you expect a lot of laughs. What I got instead was one really good laugh, from a scene/segment many of us have seen more than once, and which was, I’ll grant, even funnier when seen in the context of the whole film. But the rest of the movie, not so much.
2. The Rules of the Game. I love Jean Renoir, and don’t think La Grande Illusion is overrated. And I don’t hate this movie. I like it and recommend it, but it has been ranked very high, even number one on some lists of the best movies of all time. It’s good, but not that good. Come on. Yes, the French give it the number one spot, but remember: number two is The Nutty Professor.
1. M*A*S*H. Hands down, this is number one. I hate this movie. I consider it one of the most deplorable well-known movies I’ve seen. I realize this really sets me apart from the vast majority movie buffs, and even family and friends. Look, the movie has some laughs, but there is just no getting around what a smug, callous, mean, cooler-than-thou stench hangs over this movie. I’ve seen the movie probably three times in my life, and each time was more unpleasant than the last. I find it unwatchable now. It’s the sort of film that actually seems to detract from my humanity just by watching it. I feel something has been taken, and it isn’t just two hours.
I recall that when I saw it as a young person, I was horrified by the shower scene with Sally Kellerman (Houlihan), and utterly perplexed that audiences laughed at it. That pretty much exemplifies what I dislike about the whole thing: it celebrates bullies (The Swampmen), more than any movie I can think of. Sure, they’re hip, free-wheeling and ironic. But it’s the worst instance of bullies: Altman has you rooting for them, because being cool, smart and funny makes them superior to their victims. Barf.