Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

My Blockbuster Busts

A while back I wrote a post about certain contrary, non-conformist traits of mine. In general I tend towards the middle-ground both on controversial issues and matters of taste, and am neither a knee-jerk follower of trends, nor a reflexive iconoclast. But there are cases where I do buck the consensus.

I've been thinking about this topic in reference to movies, following my participation in a recent lively discussion on Psychotoddler's blog about movie sequels. I do usually at least somewhat like most popular movies, or at least understand what others see in them. And of course I've seen my fair share of broadly-panned clinkers over the years. But there have also been films that I remember absolutely detesting, or finding completely pointless and dull, yet feeling like I was the only one in the group (or world) that had that view. So here's a list of ten blockbusters that just plain went bust for me:

1) The Color Purple: Slow, convoluted, people behaving in ways that made no sense. Couldn't wait for it to end. Couldn't believe it was done by the same Spielberg that gave us Jaws, Indiana Jones, and ET. And to think that purple actually is my favorite color.

2) Forrest Gump: I was thoroughly disgusted by the early scene with his mother and the school principal, and it went downhill for me from there. How is it supposed to be inspiring that a mentally challenged individual utterly lucks into fame? What is the moral here?

3) Grease: OK, some of the music was catchy, and there were a few cute jokes. But the ending turned me off so badly that it honestly ruined the entire movie for me - and this when I was still only a teenager myself. MAD magazine's parody summed it up perfectly, in having Sandy say "To get a guy, you have to become a slut! What a great lesson for America's youth!" Not.

4) 2001: My dad dragged me to it when I was seven. Thought I was so bored and confused because I was too young to get it. Since then, I read the book, and saw it again as an adult. No change. Close the pod doors, HAL.

5) The Graduate: Someone please explain to me why all of humanity idolizes this movie? Other than being Dustin Hoffman's debut, and a nice S&G song or two, it did nothing for me except counteract insomnia. Maybe if I were born ten years earlier, I'd "get" it. Or maybe not.

6) Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: No, not the vile remake with Johnny Depp, I'm talking about the revered original of my youth. Not sure I can explain this one. I wanted to like it. It's certainly the type of movie I usually adore. But something about it just turned me off as a kid, and never went away. Maybe I was traumatized by the oompa-loompas (shudder).

7) Home Alone: This one I can explain. Some of my favorite movies feature violence, others comedy. But the two don't mix well for me; I don't enjoy stories where people get hurt, over and over, for comedic value (Three Stooges excepted!). I can take it in small doses, but not as the main plot of a movie.

8) Dances With Wolves: Possibly the dullest movie I ever saw, yet still managed to be offensive too. That's a good trick. The epitome of pretentious. Goodfellas lost out on Best Picture/Director to this??

The last two are a slightly different category: hugely popular films that I found just OK:

9) Titanic: Highest grossing movie of all time, by a wide margin. Supposed to appeal to everyone since it's a love story and a disaster film. Well yeah, but it's a mediocre love story and a mediocre disaster film melded together. Spend the same time watching The Towering Inferno followed by Crossing Delancey, and you'll be ahead on both counts.

10) Lord of the Rings: OK, to be fair, I admit that my expectations for this probably never could have been met. And it did have great special effects and battle scenes, I'll give you that. But Jackson just plain changed too many plot points and characterizations, gratuitously, for me to fully enjoy this series. If he had brought in Christopher Tolkien as a creative consultant, similar to J K Rowling's role for the Harry Potter movies, I think it would have made a big difference. But we'll never know.

I showed you mine, now show me yours!


At 5/11/07, 4:59 PM, Blogger Elie said...

OMG, can't believe I forgot this one!

There's Something About Mary: Debbie and I saw it with another couple, who had driven. Otherwise, this would have been the first and only movie I ever walked out of in the middle. It offended and repelled me in so many ways that I can't even begin to list them. And in case you think I'm a prude, my favorite comedy of all time is Animal House! They may both be classified as "gross-out" comedies, but those two movies are about as much alike as United 93 and Farenheit 9/11.

At 5/11/07, 6:22 PM, Blogger Ezzie said...

Hmm... I don't see a ton of movies, but I have to at least disagree with you on Forrest Gump. I never saw it until last year, and assumed it could never be as good as everyone made it out to be... but I thought it was (that scene notwithstanding). I don't know about the theme per se, but it was incredibly entertaining/amusing.

Bad movies? I'm not good at good or bad. Give me a list I can tell you which were which...

At 5/12/07, 10:31 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

The problem with Home Alone is that it's a Chris Columbus movie. Stuff done by Chris Columbus has varying amounts of "cute" sadism that's supposed to be funny. (Think about Dudley running up and down the stairs on top of Harry. Or the mean old lady getting launched out of her house in Gremlins.) It was much worse in Home Alone. And the fact that it was directed towards the bad guys doesn't mitigate the meanness of the spectacle.

I never saw Forrest Gump, but once I saw the scene you mentioned on a bus where it was being shown. It was so offputting, I had no desire, ever, to see the rest of the movie.

My only quibbles with your list is Titanic and Willy Wonka. The first was not my cup of tea, but not awful, though I did enjoy making fun of some the melodrama. (Though I did not see the whole thing.)

Willy Wonka disappointed me because it wasn't the book. OTOH, Roald Dahl was an antisemite.

At 5/13/07, 10:55 AM, Blogger Elie said...

I did like Titanic (and LotR) more than the first eight on my list and agree they weren't awful. I just think Titanic far from deserves its status as the most popular film of all time. It's kind of like how "Stairway to Heaven" is always #1 on every rock countdown. It's not a bad song, but is it really that far ahead of everything else?? It isn't even in my top five favorite Led Zep songs, let along favorite overall.

At 5/14/07, 11:16 AM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Ok, this is where some of our movie interests diverge. I very much enjoyed Something About Mary. Didn't think that it was outstanding, but had fun.

The Color Purple was a better book than movie, although truth be told I only read it because it was a school assignment.

I liked Forrest Gump, not spectacular but good.

Grease was fun. I didn't take it seriously, it was a movie.

The Graduate was just ok.

I am ambivalent about Willy Wonka and Home Alone.

I enjoyed Dances With Wolves, especially the soundtrack.

Titanic was fine.

I couldn't stand As Good As It Gets.

At 5/14/07, 2:22 PM, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

I loved Forrest Gump even if it had no morals. I still never saw the graduate.

At 5/17/07, 10:18 PM, Blogger SS said...

I have an immense dislike of the Harry Potter movies. I liked the second one, and the first was okay, but the next two ... NO WAY! I can't believe that J.K. Rowling was on hand/present for the making of those two movies, and I'm not looking forward to the next one (although I will see it, but not in the theater)

At 6/8/07, 10:10 AM, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

I remember running out to see "The GOds Must Be Crazy" because it was getting all the critical accolades. I thought it was the dumbest movie I had ever seen. Looked like a grade school production.


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