The Overrated Films of 2019

I call this the ‘Calm the Fuck Down List’. Because so often people mistake the term overrated to mean ‘bad’. And that’s not what I’m saying. The definition is in the word — overrated. We are prescribing a level of opinion to something that it does not deserve. And that is both for better and for worse. But people always get the wrong impression from when I put a movie on this list. I’m not blaming the movie — I’m blaming you. And by you, I mean the colloquial you, everyone talking up a movie. Which may be the studio, it may be the media, it may just be the ‘film’ section of the internet, it may be the public at large, I may even be included in some of that.

The point is, some of these movies are getting way too much hype (and you can always figure out what the major culprits are) and this list is meant to tell people to just chill. Or, as the Rolling Stones said at Altamont, “Cool out.” And then tomorrow we’ll talk about the movie that should get some of that excess praise, and then after that we’ll talk about some movies that could just use any press whatsoever because no one’s watching them.

But before that, let’s take out some frustration on the movies that are getting far too much credit (and you already know what my unofficial #1 is before I even start the list. Because you’re all fucking guilty of it).

1. Aladdin

Every one of these live action Disney remakes is overrated as shit. They get generally positive reviews, people see them, they make a lot of money, and people are just accepting of them. And they’re all unnecessary money grabs. Don’t buy into the machine. They’re all bad. Anything good about them is because it’s from the movie you saw 20+ years ago. That’s it. That’s all I got. So I will use the rest of my time to talk about the fact that surprisingly, Endgame is not on this list for me. Because I actually felt like they achieved something worthy of the hype. And honestly, the fact that it’s not on this list is one of the more surprising developments of the year for me.

2. Booksmart

Loved it. It’s still one of the most overrated movies of the year. Calm down, people. It’s just good. It’s got a lot of good about it. Stop overrating it. The higher the pitch gets, the more you turn some people off. Just let the movie be good. It’s not reinventing the wheel. It’s just a really great looking wheel. It’s a fun new brand. That’s it. I support everything this movie does, but all the people shouting about it need to take it down a notch or two. People never understand the notion of backlash unless they’re a part of it. Don’t give people a reason to dislike this movie on principle. It’s too likable for that.

3. Captain Marvel

Just because Endgame got a pass doesn’t mean the rest of Marvel does. Their movies are perpetually overrated. Because the definition of overrated is a B being touted as an A-. That was this movie. This movie, at best, is average for Marvel. And that’s me being positive. For me, this is one of the weaker ones they’ve ever had. And people are screaming about how great it is. Just because Marvel deigned to give the public a female superhero a solo movie for the first time in 12 years doesn’t mean it’s progressive. It’s the same formulaic shit as everything else. And my point is not to say that it wasn’t a good thing that Captain Marvel has a movie. My point is that it shouldn’t be a selling point for the movie. That shit should just be normal. I’m not grading the movie on a curve because of its social importance. And it feels like people did that with this. And all of Marvel, really. The fact that people are so in the tank for Big Brother to the point where they defend everything they do and selectively choose to misinterpret and turn the Martin Scorsese comment into a thing is just mind-boggling to me. The movies are just fine, guys.

4. Doctor Sleep

I had to hear about this movie for a year. This should have been put out on Netflix, but instead they made a big deal out of it and put it out in theaters, gave it a prime end of the year weekend, promoted the shit out of it and made it seem like it was gonna be this big thing… and then it was the usual Stephen King movie nonsense. The movies based on his books are almost never good. The only reason The Shining is great is because Stanley Kubrick made it. And King hated that movie. What does that tell you? And even worse, this movie tries to piggyback off The Shining by retrofitting its third act to include the fucking hotel. Mostly what I feel makes this overrated is just how much hype they built up for this, only for the result to not only just be a shitty movie, but also one that desecrates the one that came before it. Don’t overhype something that never had a chance to be good.

5. Frozen II

It’s impossible for there not to be some crossover between yesterday’s ‘Disappointments’ list and today’s Overrated list. This one just came out, so I’m not sure that the overall reaction to it is as strong as something that would normally necessitate being on this list. Though I put the first one on my Overrated list, so ultimately this should come as no surprise. Though this one is actually a bad movie. I may enjoy it, but it’s not good. My review will always be the same — it’s straight-to-video Disney masquerading as a theatrical release. They put no effort into this story. Because honestly, what the fuck actually gets accomplished in this movie? Nothing. Nothing at all. The songs are generic, bordering on bad, and the amount of hype and money this movie got is just insane. The Disney canon used to be a very prestigious thing. And now they’re just throwing out sequels so they can make more money, because that’s all they care about. And people are just going along with it like it’s fine. They didn’t even have the decency to just make Elsa gay and give people something to appreciate from this movie. Maybe instead of pretending like you loved this movie when you didn’t (I know some of you are gonna feel the need to do that), go watch one of the awesome smaller animated films from this year, like Klaus or Okko’s Inn or I Lost My Body. Or even Weathering with You. Just go watch something other than this lazy excuse for a Disney movie.

6. Glass

Another repeat from yesterday. That stemmed from me knowing that Shyamalan was gonna pull the rug out from under everyone and that this movie was gonna suck. This is because I had to fucking listen to the updates about this movie from the minute they announced it. This is all film sites wanted to talk about for a year. (Because now, all people care about is clicks. It’s not about actually following stuff that’s coming out. It’s perpetuating the goddamn hype machine for superhero movies and shit like this.) They hyped the living shit out of this movie because it was pretending to be some sort of comic book movie that ties a universe together. All this goddamn time I had to hear about this movie just knowing it was gonna be dog shit. And for want of a better analogy, I’m gonna give you this — I grew up in New York. Do you know how many years I had to read my local paper and radio shows trying to hype up any number of sports teams for the next season? The Giants, the Jets, the Knicks, the Mets. You hear all offseason how they’re gonna get it turned around and how excited everyone is for it. And you know they’re gonna be terrible. You know how this story ends. And to most people’s credit, the majority of people seemed to hate this movie after they saw it. That still doesn’t excuse how overrated this was before it came out.

7. Hustlers

Don’t anyone dare try to tell me this isn’t. This is probably top three if I were to rank this list (which I never do because it’s not a competition). Holy shit are people overrating this movie. Any movie that has a fast pace and narration they compare with Goodfellas. Every goddamn time. Just because it’s stylistically like Goodfellas does not mean it’s Goodfellas. Draw a goddamn line, people. And people are treating this like it’s some masterpiece. It’s not. It’s just a really fun movie from a really great director (go see Seeking a Friend for the End of the World if you love this movie so much. It’s really good. And also, while you’re there, go see The Meddler. It’s also worthwhile. But something tells me most people won’t bother doing that). I’m not sure where the overhype came from (though I have an idea), but jesus christ, guys. I’m gonna say it again — I feel like the need to celebrate a movie written and directed by a woman and starring women gets turned into a need to proclaim that the movie is amazing. We can celebrate what a movie achieves without grading it on a curve. If you loved this movie, then great. Love it. Love the absolute shit out of it. My goal isn’t to take that away from you. My goal is to say — man, did people talk a bit too much about this one because it’s not as great as the hype machine would make you believe. Don’t give people a reason to irrationally hate the things you love. Talk reasonably about them and maybe you can convince a few people that need convincing.

8. It Chapter Two

Have we all learned our lesson? Just because the first one surprised us all does not mean the second one was going to follow suit. Perhaps the reason the first one worked is because of all the groundwork laid by the writer-director they kicked off the project (who had a take grounded in character drama that is, you know, the foundation of storytelling), only to put the generic horror director onto it. And then what happened with the sequel? All the dramatic stuff and the poignancy of the children is replaced by generic horror scenes that don’t tie together in any meaningful way whatsoever. And the film legitimately ruins what otherwise would have been very good casting of the adults and a satisfying end to the story. I don’t think people in general thought this was good, so this is another one where it’s overrated because we had to hear all goddamn year how this was coming out and all this coverage about it and everyone anticipating this like it was gonna be one of the best movies of the year. Sometimes things just can’t get the easy pass.

9. Joker

The single most overrated movie of the year. Holy shit. Anyone remotely attempting to argue this film’s inclusion on this list or trash something else I haven’t chosen in defense of this is the exact person I’m talking about. Movie looks great. Joaquin is really good in it. It’s a nice dramatic portrait of the character that happens to eventually become a superhero villain. It plays like a drama with the superhero stuff stripped away. It is worthy of praise. My god, though. I shouldn’t even have to defend this one. I should say this movie is overrated and nothing else and everyone should either go, “Absolutely,” “Sure,” or, “fair enough.” Because it is. It’s not one of the greatest movies ever made. It’s not a masterpiece. It’s just a movie that does things differently. That’s all. And you know what? Even if it’s going to become one of those things I just mentioned, it’s not that now, it’s gonna take time, and jesus christ leave it alone. I’m not even going to get into my personal problems with the movie. It’s not about that. It’s just about people talking too much about it. That’s it. We should not be leading all of our Oscar articles with the fact that this might potentially be nominated. This is the single most overrated movie of 2019, and it’s not even close.

10. Late Night

I had this as a ‘disappointment’ yesterday, but really, this list is the list it really belonged on. Because all I heard as this was coming out was how amazing it was. How well-written it was. How Emma Thompson gives her best performance in years, is gonna win all these awards, how it completely gets the behind the scenes of show business right. All these things. But then the reviews were soft and no one actually went to see the movie. And then when I finally saw it (because my only recourse when people go nuts for a movie like this is to wait a while before I see it. I’ve told this story a bunch. I had to wait 15 years on Donnie Darko just because people were so annoying in their praise for it), it was just fine. Emma Thompson is always good, so I don’t understand why we had to go crazier for this performance over any number of great ones she’s given in the last three years, let alone ten. I thought it didn’t go nearly anywhere where it should have regarding the plight of female writers in staff rooms, and I thought the writing and set ups for the scenes were borderline generic at best. Everything that happened with Emma Thompson and the network wanting to take away her show, and the relationship between her and her staff… it felt like someone was trying to make a bad movie version of this stuff. I don’t understand this grading on a curve thing. So yeah, very overrated, this one.

11. Rocketman

They tried to sell it as Bohemian Rhapsody, Part II, essentially. But we all realize that Bohemian Rhapsody is barely Bohemian Rhapsody, right? It’s not even that this is a bad movie. It’s just… they’re trying to sell it as something it isn’t. It’s a perfectly fine movie. Just… let it be its own thing and stop trying to capitalize on the success you weren’t expecting to get. Also, and maybe this is just a personal thing — but what else is this list if not that? — any time I have to read an article in fucking MAY about, “Is this gonna get a nomination?”, it’s overrated. Why can’t things just be and then later when it’s time to start talking about all that other stuff we can talk about it? So yeah, prime contender for ‘calm the fuck down’.

12. Spider-Man: Far from Home

It’s Marvel. Until people en masse calm down about every little thing they put out, they’re gonna keep going on this list. Sadly, it’s not as good as the first one was, but really it’s just everyone treating it like it’s amazing when it’s just fine that puts it on this list. The only thing that could have kept them off this list is that mid-credits sequence, which I’ve said is the greatest thing they’ve ever done in the history of their studio. But it still doesn’t negate all the damn press and overhype.

13. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

It’s preemptive. People are gonna go nuts for this and it’s gonna be tiring. So I’m just gonna call it overrated now and be pretty damn sure I’m gonna be right about it. Or, if not, plug in one of the other half-dozen movies still to come out. Something will fit. But also… let’s not pretend like all of these new Star Wars movies aren’t overrated as shit.

14. Us

Get Out was the most overrated movie of its year and this one suffered from it being Peele’s first post-Get Out film. So you were gonna have people who were overhyped no matter what and then there’d the media who just fucking went wild on this. And here’s the thing — good for the movie. It was a success, it made money on a small budget. Most movies dream of this kind of reception. And again I stress — this isn’t about the film. It’s about the people talking about the film. Just fucking cool it, guys. The movie was just pretty good. I’m not even that in love with Get Out, but this wasn’t even as good as that. And fortunately I think most people felt that way (though there’s always gonna be those contrarians who claim this was better just so they can seem edgy and different), so I don’t have to do too much here. But for the first six months of the year, all I kept hearing about was this movie. So that earned it a spot on this list. Though kind of amazing how, when something new and shiny comes along, people just completely forget this movie even existed.

15. Yesterday

This probably should have gone on yesterday’s list, but my only other major alternative was Hobbs & Shaw, but we know that’s dumb action. Everyone says they loved it and it’s awesome, but no one’s under the delusion that it’s better than it is. Everyone knows the score there. This one… kind of a let down in that premise and the execution, which is why maybe it should have gone on the Disappointments list, but whatever. We’ll put it here. I’m sure some people think this is overrated because their parents or whomever talked about how good it is and then they saw it and said, “That wasn’t so great.” I don’t know. It’s the last one, and I’m trying to move on to the more positive lists. So that’s what we’re doing.

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2 responses

  1. Nice article! A few thoughts:

    — Aladdin, sure, though I feel the critical reception balances out its rating.

    — Yes on Booksmart. Captain Marvel yes, especially given that her presence in Endgame doesn’t measure up to how her solo film presented her as the last piece of the puzzle to defeat Thanos.

    — Yes on Hustlers.

    — Doctor Sleep and Late Night? Ehh…maybe, but their commercial under-performance balances things out for me. I quite liked both, especially Doctor Sleep.

    — It Ch. 2? Sure, if we’re talking about that flash-in-the-pan talk of potential awards for Bill Hader. Otherwise, I feel the praise for it has settled.

    — I get how you feel on Joker. It’s still my favorite comic book film of the 2010s, along with both MCU Spider-Man films. (Yeah, you read that right. Though it lacks the dramatic reveal of Homecoming, I thought Far From Home’s comedic writing was much sharper, and that Berlin Europol scene honestly deserves all the VFX awards in the industry. All that, on top of the mid-credits reveal.)

    — Us? Thought it was shot much more tightly than Get Out, which I felt had some directorial-debut slack on it.

    — And Yesterday…sure. My takeaway from that film is that more people need to read Tune In by Mark Lewisohn to truly grasp what made The Beatles special from before they even became famous.

    If anything, I regard Jojo Rabbit as one of the most overrated films of 2019. You expect this family-with-older-children-friendly fusion of The Great Dictator, Harvey, and Edgar Wright-esque black comedy. Instead, we just get familiar coming-of-age unlikely friendship, padded with older actors who aren’t given much much to do and an imaginary Hitler who disappears too often when he should be causing chuckles in (at least the background of) almost every scene.

    December 8, 2019 at 6:00 pm

  2. I’ll be surprised if Frozen 2 doesn’t get at least a mention on the Unforgivable Films of 2019 list at this rate.

    December 11, 2019 at 8:09 am

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