The Most Overrated Films of 2016
One of the mainstays here at B+ Movie Blog in January is me going over what I consider to be the most Overrated, Underrated and Underseen films of the year. These terms should all be self-explanatory.
We begin with the Overrated list, because, as a rule, I try not to be negative about movies. That said, some movies can’t help but be overrated. And it’s not their fault at all. It’s the public’s. Or the studio’s. A studio will hype a movie as one thing, and it won’t be that. Or the public will proclaim something to be the greatest thing since circumcision and it’s just too much. Typically overrated has to do with the praise or hype heaped upon a movie than the quality of the movie itself. That’s how I deal with it.
I’m not indicting a film’s quality so much as I’m indicting the way people talk about them in relation to their quality. Stop treating a B- like an A. And stop treating an A like an A+ that also gives you a blowjob.
With that image in mind, here are the films I consider the most overrated films of 2016:
1. The Birth of a Nation
It’s appropriate that this ended up being the first movie, alphabetically, on this list. No film more epitomized the word “overrated” this year than this one. From the start, right at Sundance, in the midst of “Oscars So White,” a narrative for this film was preconfigured. It was given a standing ovation BEFORE the movie started. It was dubbed the most important movie of the year and a shoo-in for all the major awards. And yet… It was a first time director whose biggest roles came in The Great Debators and Beyond the Lights, two films you probably have heard of but probably have not even seen. There was no way this movie, even if it were great, could live up to that kind of pronouncement.
I’m not going to bring the quality of the film into this discussion whatsoever. Nor will I bring in the external controversy surrounding Parker’s past. Nor will I bring in the racially-based backlash inherent in a film like this being declared a masterpiece sight unseen in today’s film and political climate. I’m purely saying that when you get a ten minute standing ovation before your film is even shown, and are declared the next Best Picture winner in January, when the previous Best Picture hasn’t even won yet, there is a very slim chance that your film isn’t being overrated. A very, very slim chance. This movie couldn’t possibly have made good on that promise.
2. Captain America: Civil War/Doctor Strange
At this point, Marvel becomes both a single entry and a staple of this list. I think we’re all getting real sick of their shit by now. It’s like they’re not even trying at this point. It’s all the same old tired formula. One that’s gonna run out. Unless they pull some weird shit in Infinity War that reconfigures time and space and resets everything. Which I kinda doubt.
Anyway, Captain America is overrated because they billed it as a Captain America movie and it’s actually an Avengers movie. So they lull you in with a good story that you’ve liked for two films, and then they just threw the kitchen sink in there and made them all fight each other like a seven year old playing with action figures. The Captain America (and Bucky) storyline was not furthered whatsoever. It literally goes BACKWARD! Bucky is fucking frozen again! it wasn’t even that good a movie either. Just a series of underdeveloped characters fighting, moments designed to make people think they were cool that weren’t really all that interesting, and designed to get you to pay to see more of their products in the future. Which will be more of the same, and you’ll get no ultimate payoff and have to keep churning out more money while they string you along some more.
Marvel is the cinematic equivalent of Scientology.
Doctor Strange is overrated for different reasons than Civil War. Civil War is about selling us one thing and giving us another. Strange is about Marvel’s selling of itself as the universe that sets up its characters and invests you in them before combining them into the same film. But they’re not even really setting them up anymore. Strange gets almost no backstory whatsoever, we don’t really know what his character is, and we’re thrust into a training sequence and bad guy plot that are meaningless. Marvel ‘s commitment to doing exactly the same thing over and over is really starting to show. They’re really efficient at giving you nothing and making you think something happened. And people were telling me this one was good! But that’s the problem. People say they’re all good. And they’re not. Only like three of the movies are really any good. The idea that they’ve gotten so many people to drink this kool-aid stil is insane to me.
Regardless of your feelings of the actual movie, you would be insane to not call this the most overrated movie of the first half of 2016. Again I remind you that overrated does not solely refer to quality as perceived by the individual. Overrated means gicing more praise to something than is actually deserved. And this movie deserves a lot of praise. For a lot of reasons. But even so, the amount of praise that was heaped upon this movie made it seem like it reinvented the superhero genre. No. It was a clever and unique twist on the genre, taking s character’s strengths and optimizing a perfect movie (on a budget) around that character that both perfectly fit their tone and poked fun at a genre that was starting to become stale and in need of some lightening up. So to actually call this one of the best movies of 2016 (top 15) and actually claim that this was a masterpiece — that’s too much.
My guideline for whether or not a film is overrated is if I look at it, and the reaction to it, and think, “All right, cam down now.” Was there any film more deserving of a “calm down, now” in the first half of this year?
4. Finding Dory
I really enjoyed this movie. I still think it’s overrated. I think people are more forgiving to Pixar than they should be in a lot of cases. I think that, while this isn’t a movie people treated like a masterpiece (I think they thought it was fine), I think this is a movie that people (myself included. I’m not exempt from this) thought was more than just a pandering attempt to make a shit ton of money and sell people the idea that they’re actually getting something interesting, when really they’re getting… holy shit, this is turning into a Marvel entry. Let me just say, I really enjoyed this movie, but it feels like candy to me. It’s cheap entertainment. I’m not emotionally moved by any of it. I think that because it’s Pixar, we’re allowing ourselves not to think about the major storytelling deficiencies going on here. I don’t know. I don’t really have an airtight explanation as to why I think this is overrated, but it just feels like it’s overrated.
Not in terms of finished product. Lord knows that’s certainly not overrated. I mean in terms of the hype and all the — everything — surrounding this. This is the kind of movie that either needed to be really great, or really bad. This needed to surprise everyone and be so great that it shut everyone up, or it needed to be so bad that we could just lay into this and shit into it the way we all wanted to. But instead it’s just okay. I can’t really praise it except in theory, and I can’t shit on it with good reason. It’s just — ehh. And I think all the buzz on this, both positive and negative, was overhyped. Yes, it’s nice that these are female heroes kids can look up to. That’s cool. But it’s also not a very good movie that they’re in and really not all that interesting or different from the original. They didn’t ruin all that is sacred about the original or peoples’ childhoods. They also didn’t reboot a franchise and do something interesting and different and funny that showcased the talents of these actresses and did something we all wanted to see. So, all around — calm down, everyone. It’s just an unnecessary remake that didn’t work that we’re gonna forget about in three years.
Though that Fall Out Boy remake of the theme song is deserving of all the vitriol it gets. That I can’t (or won’t) defend.
6. The Girl on the Train
They tried to sell us Gone Girl. This ain’t Gone Girl. Even if you thought this was halfway decent or even good — this is not what it was sold as. I heard about this movie as an Oscar contender from January. They made it like it was gonna be this really solid movie, yet it’s nothing more than a slightly-above-VOD grade mystery. This could have been put on Lifetime and not a whole lot would change. I’m not gonna pick on this movie for not being Gone Girl, but also… the way they sold it to us, I was expecting something way different than what I got. And I think that is exactly what defines an overrated movie. They made me think I was getting smart and elegant and classy, and instead I got some guy in shorts, drinking Keystone Light out of a stuffed deer head. I’m exaggerating, but you get the point.
At least have it be Natty Light or something.
7. Jason Bourne
I had to. You don’t make a Jason Bourne movie lightly. When you do that, you tell the people they’re getting a certain level of film. So you don’t then give them a watered down rehash of what they’ve already seen and a perfectly generic third act car chase that goes against the basic tenets of your franchise. This one’s in a weird position. It wasn’t exactly hyped all that much by the studio or by people. Nor did people come out of it proclaiming it to be one of the absolute best movies of the year. So I guess I have no real claim to say it’s overrated. And yet… it’s Jason Bourne. The fact that you even made it means this was hyped really highly for all of us. So when it didn’t deliver… that’s disappointing, and that means it’s not as good as it was positioned to be. I’ll allow it.
8. The Jungle Book
We all liked this movie. It looked great, the visuals are fantastic and it’s a perfectly enjoyable popcorn movie. The reason it’s overrated is because — there’s not really a whole lot there. It’s not that good. It’s just decent. They remade a perfectly good movie in live action and didn’t change a whole lot. Let’s not say this is one of the best movies of the year. This is just a perfectly pleasant movie going experience that doesn’t make me hate them for doing exactly what they did fifty years ago in animated form just with way more money and less songs. You threw Christopher Walken and Bill Murray at me, but really, you didn’t give me a whole lot of anything worthwhile. You gave me exactly what the other remakes gave me. This one is more geared toward the people who are trying to think back on this movie with rose-colored glasses. It’s not one of the top 20 movies of this year. It’s just a perfectly solid entry of 2016 and nothing more. Calm down.
9. La La Land
That’s right, I said it. It’s gonna win Best Picture, it’s my favorite movie of the year, but it’s still the most overrated movie of 2016. It just is. I’m aware that it’s not as good as people are making it out to be. I’m aware that this is film student nonsense. My personal feelings on the movie are what they are. This still is just being way too overhyped by everyone. This is just a lovely, charming musical with great intentions. It’s not the savior of cinema (that was Tom fucking Hanks who said that!), it’s not a masterpiece for all time. The more people talk this up as if it is that, the more it’s gonna seem overrated and the more it’s gonna get people to turn on it and hate it on principle. This and Deadpool are the two most overrated movies of 2016, and I don’t think anyone can argue that.
10. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
This one’s personal, because all I keep hearing is how this is one of the best and funniest movies of 2016, and it keeps showing up on random top ten lists, and I fucking hated this movie. So I’m in the camp of — purely overrated. You may disagree. I don’t care. I don’t think this is a particularly strong or memorable comedy at all. Hence, overrated, by those who are telling me otherwise. I have reasons why all the films on this list are overrated that are not purely subjective. This is the only one that’s purely, “Everyone thinks it’s good and I don’t.” Try to find a list that has as few as that. But really, I did not think this movie was very good, and to see people saying it was, I don’t agree.
11. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
I think this is my way of putting Force Awakens on here too. Since that movie wasn’t as good as people said. This, I liked a lot, and I know some people are saying this is the best Star Wars movie since Jedi (or even Empire). Sure. But even that’s really only putting it up against one other movie, since the prequels… well, I won’t even finish that. You line up those six movies in a row, you look at the original trilogy and nod and make comments, and then you look at the prequels and just sort of chuckle and move on without saying anything.
I think we need to calm down all around on this one. We need to let time sink in and let it be whatever it’s gonna be. For now, I think we can all feel okay calling this overrated, whether that’s a shot at the film itself or the people who like the film way too much or the people who sold us the film as something better than it was or all of the above.
12. The Secret Life of Pets
I didn’t intend for this to be on here, but over the past month there’s been an abundance of people who have either told me how much they loved this movie or how much they thought this movie was gonna be great. And I thought that was crazy. So I put it here. I honestly couldn’t think of anything better to put on this list, so here we are. Honestly, though, I think the reason this is overrated is because they tried to make you think this was meant to be an actual movie and that they were trying to tell you a story. Really, this was just an excuse to sell toys. That’s all. This is no better than Minions. Or Sing. They just want to sell you toys and merchandise with these characters’ faces on it. And the idea that they tried to make me think this would be a halfway decent movie and instead gave me some stupid 90 minute toy commercial — I’ll count that as overrated.
13. Suicide Squad
The reason this is on here and not Batman v. Superman is because, while they hyped the shit out of Batman v. Superman, we all kinda knew that was a disaster going in. This one, we weren’t sure. They oversold us on the Joker, and that alone is reason enough to put it on this list. But they sold us so much bullshit on this movie, about how the stars, and the tone, and this and that, and how it was gonna redeem the Batman/Superman thing… and really, this was just another disaster. This is all about the hype going into the film and nothing else. They oversold this one.
14. Swiss Army Man
Calm down, hipsters. I’m not saying this is a bad movie. I’m saying that for this movie to work, and for this movie to get as much of an audience that’s going to get, you can’t scare off the people that are on the fence about it. And that’s what people are doing with this. You can’t tell people this was one of the best movies of the year and talk it up when it’s really just about a farting corpse and a… well, I won’t get into the other stuff. You can’t sell it like that. And the reason that people are is why I’m saying this is overrated. Aside from the fact that I don’t think it’s as good as people are saying. That’s also part of it, but not my main reason for putting it here.
I think the best way to go into this movie is, “This is a movie about a dude stranded on an island with a farting corpse. It’s really weird and fucked up, and kind of interesting too.” And then let people watch it, expecting a weird ass movie and nothing else. And then, either they get a weird ass movie, and are fine, or they go, “You know, that was actually really good.” It’s like Little Sister. The goth nun movie. I’m only selling that as a goth nun movie that’s really interesting because it has weird shit like a dead baby musical number in the middle of it. I’m not saying it’s one of the best movies of 2016. It’s just an interesting little movie you might like. And if you don’t — hey, it’s a goth nun movie. That’s what this should be.
Don’t make this more than the ‘farting corpse’ movie. Because it’s gonna turn people off. So, again, I say, to a different end: calm down, hipsters.
Probably my #3 most overrated film of 2016. Sure, I didn’t like this as much as everyone else. It was fine. I liked it. It was amusing. It had nice moments, it had cringeworthy moments. It’s totally okay. The reason this is overrated is three-fold.
1) 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. I don’t really put a whole lot of stock into those percentages, but for some reason, when I saw that percentage, it made me upset. And it still makes me upset, apparently, because I remembered that nine months after the fact. Calm down, critics. It’s not that fucking good.
2) People are acting as if this solves racism or deals with it on any kind of real level of depth. Really? This deals with racism about as much as Avatar deals with environmental issues. Just because one of the themes of the movie is racism does not mean it makes any kind of bold or original statements on that topic. The fact that this was put forth as one of the selling points for why this movie is so great tells me that people really do not know how to sell a movie to people who are not already pre-sold on that movie. The key is to get people to want to see it, not piss them off with the pretentious notion that a fucking Disney movie just dealt with something the world at large cannot deal with.
And the big one, 3) people calling this one of the greatest Disney movies ever made. Especially within the first six months of this film’s release. First off — The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Fantasia, Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs… do you see where I’m going with this? Give me any good Disney movie the past few years. Are any of them even remotely worth considering to be in the same general conversation as those? I don’t think so.
The most important thing that says whether or not something is worthy of being an all-time Disney movie is time. So the fact that the idea that this was even worthy of potentially being in that conversation right when this movie came out tells me that this movie is overrated. Whether it is or isn’t is beside the point. You don’t do that. To me, saying Zootopia ranks up there with Fantasia is like saying Cafe Society ranks up there with Annie Hall. Please.
The best part about a list like this is that it makes people show their true colors.
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Tomorrow we talk about the underrated movies of the year, which is much easier for me to talk about.