The divisiveness that the art of film has been able to evoke over the course of its relatively short history is astounding. With each new release, be it a summer blockbuster or straight-to-DVD dud, all films have the ability to generate strong emotional feelings. The 2000s brought about many movies that have been heralded as critical and artistic masterpieces in their own right. Films such as There Will Be Blood, The Dark Knight and Pan’s Labyrinth took the world by storm, and raised the bar for the next generation of filmmakers. Much like the decades that preceded it, the 2000s also housed its fair share of duds and disappointments.
Then, you have the movies that I’m about to discuss; the overrated films that leave us all scratching our heads and wondering how they have managed to receive such great amounts of praise in the first place. It’s not to say that these movies are terrible or had no business being made. It’s the simple fact that they didn’t resonate with me the same way that they resonated with the millions of fans that they have accumulated over the years.
While the debate of the quality of movies will never fully be settled, I figured I would save you some hours, and weed out some films that are better off leaving your Netflix queue. So, allow me to be your Sherpa as we trek up the mountain of movies that have the distinction of making our list of The 15 Most Overrated Movies of the 2000s.
15. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
With a tiny budget of only 400 thousand dollars, Napoleon Dynamite became one of the biggest cult hits of the decade back in 2004. While it earned a modest 46 million dollars at the box office, this movie and its quotable dialogue took over. You were hard pressed to go anywhere without seeing a “Vote For Pedro” shirt, or having someone call you a “freakin’ idiot.” It was everywhere. And while the movie had its funny moments, I never understood how this movie seemingly took over the world for about six months.
Overall, Napoleon Dynamite was a boring pseudo-love story about an awkward teenager and his bland life in rural U.S.A. Many jokes failed to land, and most of the actors lacked any sort of enthusiasm. But, the movie was quotable, and Napoleon’s dance scene genuinely had me laughing. While I didn’t think it was terrible, I still can’t wrap my head around the phenomenon that was Napoleon Dynamite.
14. Juno (2007)
Diablo Cody’s Juno debuted in 2007, and quickly became a critical darling. Many praised the overall direction of the movie’s indie spirit, and the acting of Ellen Page. The story of a young girl and her accidental pregnancy, the movie’s title character agrees to go through her full pregnancy, and eventually agrees to a closed adoption with the Loring family who are portrayed by Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman. Juno proved to be a financial success, and appeared on many year-end lists of top movies.
Acclaim and success aside, I couldn’t have agreed less with most critics. For me, Juno was a dull, odd movie, with frumpy acting, which kept me bored and wondering why this was considered such an amazing movie. Every once in a while, an indie movie comes along, and makes its presence felt in critics circles. Typically, I enjoy those films, but this snooze fest just didn’t do it for me.
13. Donnie Darko (2001)
One of the more unique and interesting movies of the decade, Donnie Darko has developed quite the devoted following over the years. Led by the always talented Jake Gyllenhaal, Donnie Darko is a film that bends reality, and really makes you think. The movie is predicated on its ending, though there are a number of people who found it rather off putting. Eight years later, a sequel was released, but was crushed by critics, and failed to live up to its predecessor.
As someone who first saw the film back when I was a young teenager, I really enjoyed it at the time. It was unlike most movies around, and I seemed to be part of a small minority who had even heard of it. Having watched it many years later, I quickly lost interest in it. While Gyllenhaal more than holds his own, most other supporting actors don’t seem to be able to find their place. After all this time, it just didn’t resonate the same with me now as it did when I was an angst-riddled teenager.
12. District 9 (2009)
In 2009, District 9 was one of the most anticipated films to roll out that summer. The marketing campaign had viewers eager to see the Peter Jackson produced movie, as reflected in the 210 million dollars it made. The allegorical film tackled many adult themes, and critics showered the film with praise. Ultimately, District 9 would be nominated for a total of four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
While it dutifully tackles themes of racism and xenophobia, District 9 was a movie that wound up being a disappointment. Its attempt at blending humor fell flat, and it had enough violence to hold you over until the next blockbuster. However, the films effects are fantastic, and while I found it disappointing, the movie overall isn’t terrible by any means. District 9 is worth a watch for those who haven’t seen it, but the movie just wasn’t what it was built up to be.
11. Shrek 2 (2004)
This movie is a classic case of a sequel not being nearly as good as its predecessor. The first Shrek movie was an absolute blast. Witty humor, top-tier voice acting (Mike Myers was practically born for the role), and a soundtrack that was catchy as hell made this film one of the coolest animated movies ever. With that said, Shrek 2 was a massive success, netting over 900 million dollars at the box office, and was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards. Even the soundtrack cracked the Top 10 of the Billboard 200.
All of its success aside, Shrek 2 just didn’t live up to its lofty expectations. A lot of aspects of the film seemed to be a bit rehashed, and the introduction of some newer characters just didn’t do it for me. What’s worse is that the following sequels continued the downward trend for the franchise. Hopefully this changes in 2019 when an announced sequel to the beloved franchise is tentatively set to hit theaters.
10. V for Vendetta (2005)
Based off of the 1988 graphic novel of the same name, V for Vendetta was released in theaters 18 years later, and has become nothing short of a cult classic. The mask worn by V, the film’s main character, has become a symbol of rebellion, and is used by hacker group Anonymous in their online videos. Its 132 million dollars at the box office made the film a financial success, and its 73 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes is an indication of the critical praised its received.
Despite its cult status, I couldn’t help but wish that I was reading the graphic novel as opposed to watching the movie. Film adaptations rarely surpass the quality of its source material, and this movie is no exception. One aspect of the film that I found really disheartening is that V’s character is changed from being absolutely ruthless in the graphic novel to more romantic and sympathetic in the film. Personally, I would recommend reading the graphic novel, and leaving the movie on the shelf.
9. Milk (2008)
The story of Harvey Milk is an incredible one, and, having been raised in the Bay Area, I was excited to see a film that paid tribute to a man that brought incredible political change not only to California, but the entire country. Sean Penn was perfect for the role, and Diego Luna’s portrayal of Harvey’s tragic lover Jack Lira was superb. Director Gus Van Sant’s capturing of 1970s San Francisco was excellent, and he did a fine job displaying the prejudice that many LGBTQ people dealt with in fighting for their rights.
The movie, overall, felt a bit flat to me. There were plenty of moments where I felt the movie slowed to a creep, and it seemed that many supporting characters spent too much time in the background, and not enough time contributing to the film. It’s still worth a watch for those interested in enjoying an important part of political history, and those eager to see Sean Penn in one of his best roles to date.
8. Moulin Rouge! (2001)
With over 470 million dollars earned, 8 Academy Award Nominations, and legions of fans, Moulin Rouge is a film that has remained popular a decade and a half after its theatrical run. Anchored by solid performances from both Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, Moulin Rouge was able to blend decades spanning music with a constant barrage of colors and eccentricity to form a film that herds of people are still hopelessly devoted to.
It’s quite a divisive film, typically causing people to fall into either extremes of love or hate. Personally, I still can’t figure out where I sit with this movie. Yes, I enjoyed it, but, I also found myself annoyed with the dizzying array of it all, and I haven’t been clamoring to watch it again. Any movie that includes Elton John songs usually has my vote of approval, but this one just doesn’t do it for me.
7. Spider-Man (2002)
Before we were treated to Tom Holland’s version of Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, Tobey Maguire donned the suit, and navigated his way through high school in 2002’s Spider-Man. Peter Parker’s adventure on the big screen saw the death of his beloved Uncle Ben, and his fortuitous accident that gave him great powers and great responsibilities. With over 800 million dollars made worldwide, Spider-Man was everywhere in 2002.
The acting of Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn (Green Goblin) was a real highlight in the film, and Maguire certainly held his own as Spider-Man. However, many aspects of the film felt a bit cheesy, namely the infamous kiss in the rain. The movie toed the line throughout, even taking a swing and a miss at Green Goblin’s costume. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the film, but the movie garnered more praise than I thought it should. I felt that Spider-Man 2 was an improvement, but it all fell apart with Spider-Man 3 and its embarrassing portrayal of Venom.
6. WALL-E (2008)
Disney’s partnership with Pixar has produced some of the greatest animated movies of all-time, and its track record speaks for itself. I had elevated expectations for this movie, in hopes that it would reach the same level of Toy Story or Finding Nemo. The movie was touted as quite possibly the best movie of the year by critics, and when it came to DVD, I rented a copy, and braced myself for what was sure to be a movie that I would watch over and over again.
I did enjoy the film, and its animation was truly next level. Then again, Pixar has always been ahead of the curve in the animation department. However, it wasn’t nearly as good as I thought it would be. Unlike most animated movies, the utilization of a universal theme in WALL-E was brilliant, but, overall, I didn’t care for the film. It felt slow, and wasn’t Pixar’s best outing. Was it as bad as Cars? Not at all. But, when a movie has this much hype, I would hope for a little bit more.
5. The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
In 1999, The Matrix was released, and with its success came the announcement of two sequels that would both be hitting theaters in 2003. The visual effects of the first film completely changed the game, and I, in all of my pubescent glory, was ready for the continuation of a story that seemed like a stroke of genius. What would become of Neo? How would Agent Smith retaliate? Who were those albino twins from the trailer, and how awesome would they be? What did happen was something that I never saw coming.
I was terribly disappointed. I couldn’t help but think that the movie felt forced, and I found myself more than ready for it to end. The story would end up becoming so ridiculous that I lost faith in the yet to debut Matrix Revolutions. Thankfully, the effects were still outstanding, but the series had lost its luster. Somehow, the next installment was even worse than I could have imagined, leaving me incredibly bitter. Thank goodness that I’m still able to watch the original, because its successors were simple not worthy.
4. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)
The sixth and final Star Wars film with creator George Lucas at the helm capped off the modern trilogy of perhaps the most beloved movie franchise in history. Released in 2005, this movie had the unfortunate situation of following the two Star Wars movies that most would argue are the worst of the franchise. Despite its disappointing predecessors, this film garnered plenty of critical praise, and secured quite the bounty at the box office.
The problem, however, is that the first two installments were so disappointing that this film was considered great by simply not being terrible. It’s my favorite of the early 2000s trilogy, but it’s not as good as the original three. The movie suffers from too much CGI, and the acting, well, that’s another story for another day. With the insanely successful seventh installment kicking off a new trilogy for the next generation, Star Wars fans can rest easy, as the franchise is on its way to brighter days.
3. Batman Begins (2005)
The re-launch of Batman on the big screen couldn’t have gone much better. After the travesty that was the one-liner plagued Batman & Robin, Christoper Nolan put on his big boy pants, and righted the ship for the Caped Crusader. After dishing out my eight bucks, I parked my rear end down with a bucket of popcorn, and watched the triumphant return of Batman. The film made nearly 375 million dollars at the box office, and gave way to The Dark Knight, which is, in my opinion, the greatest super hero move there has ever been.
Now, why is it on the list? Well, the beginning of the movie keeps the viewers in a bit of a lull, as it slowly develops, and struggles to find its footing. Many super hero origin movies suffer from the same issues, so it’s nothing too catastrophic. The chemistry between Bruce Wayne and Rachel Dawes just wasn’t there, and their story seemed to be skimmed over. Toss in an underwhelming, but well played villain in Scarecrow, and you have yourself a movie that was good, but definitely overrated.
2. Avatar (2009)
Back in 2009, it seemed that every person on the planet was making their way to a theater to feast their eyes on Avatar. The highest-grossing movie of all-time went on to make over two billion dollars at the box office worldwide, and seeing the film in IMAX 3D was an absolute treat for the eyes with no drugs needed. The film ended up being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, but, ultimately lost out to The Hurt Locker. Despite all of its impressive achievements and accolades, this movie is not what it was built up to be.
After treating myself and seeing this in IMAX 3D, I was dying to get this movie and give it a whirl at home. I quickly learned that this movie was really mediocre. It’s not that Avatar is a bad movie; it just wasn’t as great as I had remembered. The theatrical screening was such a visually astounding experience that I didn’t really notice that this story is an all too familiar one. Crazy blue people and spaceships aside, this futuristic retelling of Pocahontas doesn’t hold its own outside of the gigantic screens that it was intended for. Will that stop me from seeing the sequels? Absolutely not.
1. No Country for Old Men (2007)
To say that I was excited for this movie is a bit of an understatement. At the time, it was a critical darling after a successful showcase at the Cannes Film Festival, and I was a much younger man peddling movie rentals at Blockbuster Video. After everything that I had read, it seemed to me that this was one of those few movies in a lifetime that couldn’t possibly be a disappointment. Oh how wrong I was.
Throughout the 122 minutes of this film, I found myself constantly waiting for it to get better. Simply put, I found myself bored and underwhelmed. This is not to say that I hated everything about the film. When it comes to art, I believe there can be good in just about anything if you squint your eyes enough. The acting in the film was top notch, as evident by Javier Bardem‘s Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Despite being a massive fan of the Coen Brothers, I felt that this was one of their poorer outings. But, it did win an Academy Award for Best Picture, so maybe I’m the crazy one.
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