IMDb Polls

Poll: Premiere's 20 Most Overrated Movies.

In 2006, the late, lamented film publication Premiere magazine published a list of what they considered the 20 most overrated movies in history. Which of them do you feel is most overrated?

Discuss the list here

Note: the text describing each title is from the original Premiere article.

Make Your Choice

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    American Beauty (1999)

    Hey, I dug Kevin Spacey, Conrad Hall's cinematography, and the reach of Alan Ball's script. But under the winkingly parodistic role-playing (frigid wife; unhappy Willy Loman character; Lolita cupcake; homosexually panicked marine; alienated daughter), there's more than a whiff of TV sitcom. Chekhov said if you bring a gun onstage, you'd best fire it before the play ends. Here, when the shot rings out we don't quite know who fired it—a bit of stagy misdirection that may have more to do with the original plot, framed by courtroom scenes, than dramatic necessity.
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    An American in Paris (1951)

    How could something that should be so good be so bad? The film has, like a fine beef bourguignon, all of the right, delicious ingredients: Gene Kelly, songs by George and Ira Gershwin, spectacular dance numbers, lush Technicolor, and the most beautiful city in the world as a backdrop. But, oh, the ennui! Throwing all of these overripe elements together turns the film into a gross exaggeration of the Movie Musical. Although Kelly might just be the dreamiest leading man ever to set foot on an MGM soundstage (Brigadoon...would I?!), he comes off here as a predatory, leering old fop in floods.
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    A Beautiful Mind (2001)

    PR can be a real bitch. On the one hand, it's partly because of Universal's relentless pre-Oscar campaigning that Ron Howard's biopic of Nobel Prize–winning mathematician John Nash became heralded as such a prestige pic. Too bad the film didn't leave nearly as memorable of an impression as the nasty battles surrounding it during awards season. I'll try not to dwell on how the film skirts inconvenient subjects like Nash's illegitimate son or his rumored homosexuality, which he has denied. Nah, I'd rather point out the ridiculously manipulative exploitation of schizophrenia as a plot device in a film that adds up to little more than a Disney-fied version of an entry in the DSM-IV.
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    Chariots of Fire (1981)

    The filmmaking of this Best Picture Oscar winner is so uneven and unsophisticated that it has always irked me. First, the sound is so bad that it sometimes plays like a poorly dubbed Hong Kong flick. Second, a race is depicted once, and then, strangely, shown again from another angle. And then there are spoken lines of dialogue that repeat later in the film as if they're being remembered in some thematic echo chamber. And, wait, the screenplay has characters who aren't developed enough and resolutions that feel rushed. All I'm left with are those notes by Vangelis, whose soundtrack, let's be honest, is really just good Muzak.
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    Chicago (2002)

    The sequins must have blinded Oscar voters in 2003, when Chicago racked up six awards, despite its blip of a story—jazz killers charm a nation, or something—and uninspired staging; its song-and-dance numbers leapt off the Broadway stage and onto...a stage, set in Roxie Hart's limited imagination. A sly celebration of duplicity, Chicago does some fooling of its own, editing furiously to cover the sub-par hoofing of Renée Zellweger and Richard Gere (who sing as if under the spells of asthma and Ethel Merman, respectively).
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    Clerks (1994)

    Kevin Smith's Clerks is a little funny and a lot boring, just like Dante Hicks, the convenience store cashier it follows for one long, pointless day. This trifle's lame acting and anemic plot were celebrated for their street cred because the slackers among us could relate and the critics all wanted to seem cool. So, sure, a corn chip shark in a salsa sea is funny when you're drunk. But a movie shouldn't require beer goggles. And moving the camera occasionally or hiring unknown actors who can actually act doesn't cost any extra, even if you've only got $27 grand.
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    Easy Rider (1969)

    Why is it that movies praised for "defining a generation" never seem to age well? Granted, it's not hard to appreciate Easy Rider's cultural prescience. But for those of us who didn't come of age during the '60s, the film plays more like a music video set to a self-indulgent song about counterculture victimization than a movie that skewers a corrupt and conformist America. Jack Nicholson gives the standout performance (maybe he's the only actor who could handle his smoke), but he's saddled with the absurd task of playing an ACLU lawyer whom Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper just happen to meet in jail after they're arrested for disrupting the "parade" down Main Street, USA. Which leads us to the countless crimes of oh-so-profound symbolism during the antiheroes' ill-fated search for longhair freedom—ham-handed "message" moments that begin with Wyatt (Fonda) throwing his watch into the dirt and end with a shotgun blast from a pickup truck.
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    Fantasia (1940)

    To those who love Fantasia, Walt Disney's marriage of classical music and animation, I suggest skipping your daily dose of acid before breakfast. This film is a mishmash of pedantic narration and erratic tone (the finale's soul-sucking demon gives the death of Bambi's mom a run for the money in the childhood trauma department), and, frankly, some of the animated sequences now seem dangerously akin to screen savers. A flop upon its initial release, the film only reached iconic status when it made a return trip (pun intended) to theaters in the 1960s. As cute as Mickey is in the sorcerer's cap, I prefer some coherency with my gee-whiz animation.
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    Field of Dreams (1989)

    In Roger Ebert's four-star review of Field of Dreams, he dismisses its detractors as "grinches and grouches and realists." Call me all three, but every element of Dreams is just too on the nose: James Earl Jones's authoritative presence, the sweetness of Ray Liotta, Kevin Costner's boyish gait as he wades through corn. Furthermore, the movie's fans mistake Dreams for a well-constructed fantasy, failing to recognize that it fouls into an illogical realm, hoping to coast on its fuzzy sentimentality. What am I to make of inconsistencies like Ray Kinsella's sudden ability to travel through time? To achieve the status of a classic, a movie should do more than play to America's love for the game. It should also make sense.
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    Forrest Gump (1994)

    Being There, done that — only not quite as well. Gump makes a big, sloppy show of adoring its puerile hero to the degree of adopting his idiotic notion that whatever life gives you—be it the growth of your Apple stock or the death of a spouse from AIDS — is like a chocolate bonbon. The film is just a short-bus joke wrapped in cloying nostalgia and faux empathy. Robin Wright Penn's Jenny is redeemed by marrying the pure Forrest, but the junkie whore still must die, a plot contrivance that reveals the film's misguided moralism.
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    Gone with the Wind (1939)

    The only excuse for the adoration of this bloated, nearly four-hour epic about a spoiled southern belle and the passing of the Old South is uncritical nostalgia. Yes, Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable do a swell taming-of-the-shrew routine, but the movie's once-spectacular moments — the burning of Atlanta, the crane shot of wounded soldiers — look uninspired today, and its depiction of a feudal, racist society from the point of view of a victimized aristocracy is (at best) embarrassing. Even if the Max Steiner score and Technicolor cinematography are sublime, frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. As a symbol of Hollywood at its height, Gone With the Wind is more kitsch than classic.
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    Good Will Hunting (1997)

    That Will is an MIT janitor as well as a math genius is the kind of forced premise that would get laughed out of the lowest-tiered undergrad fiction-writing courses. So why did so many fall for Good Will Hunting? It had less to do with the value of the movie's Cinderella story line than it did with the parallel tale of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's rise out of Boston obscurity. Figure in a canned performance by Robin Williams as a nonconformist role model who is, coincidentally, a fellow underachiever, and you've got the kinds of symmetries that, in a movie, are just plain derivative.
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    Jules and Jim (1962)

    This is one of the signature films of New Wave cinema, but those who have trumpeted it as a delirious tribute to free love and bohemian bons vivants have grievously misjudged it. Let college kids fall for a woman who throws herself in rivers and makes love to best friends under one roof. Ultimately, Jules and Jim was never a celebration of this nut job arrangement. It wasn't condemnation either, but its complex, painful last act just never seemed to resonate as much as the three of them frolicking in gay Paris.
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    Monster's Ball (2001)

    Everyone loves seeing pretty people in desperate situations, but this southern drama is so tragic, it's absurd. Pity Leticia Musgrove: First her husband is executed. Then her son, who in addition to being saddled with being chubby, gets killed in a hit-and-run accident. Fortunately, Musgrove finds refuge in the arms of Hank, whose father is an alcoholic racist and whose son commits suicide. Enough! Maybe with a more plausible leading lady (say, Angela Bassett), this sob-fest would have gained some credibility. But a few sweat stains and exposed breasts weren't enough to transform Halle Berry into an actress worthy of Oscar.
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    Moonstruck (1987)

    First things first: Cher deserved her Oscar. She and Olympia Dukakis are wonderful as the practical, lovelorn Castorini women. But what makes this movie less than the intoxicating meditation on romance that many have dubbed it is the men in their lives—childish, selfish, ridiculously neurotic. The speed with which Nicolas Cage's Ronny (whom a character calls "the most tormented man," as if that were a good thing) proclaims his love for Cher's Loretta would startle even Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Their passion never rings true. And by the time the film devolves into one of those extended Italian-American family table scenes, it's hard to take it seriously.
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    Mystic River (2003)

    Clint Eastwood may be one of our most important directors, but even masters can fail. River's pacing feels like an overproduced episode of an underwhelming TV cop drama. What's with the ridiculous coincidences? Dave (Tim Robbins) just happens to kill a child molester the same night Jimmy (Sean Penn)'s daughter is murdered? Or how about subplots that should have been cut from the screenplay: The relationship between Sean (Kevin Bacon) and his wife may have been fully fleshed out in the novel, but here it feels like she's prank-calling him. And what's up with Laura Linney's totally offbeat Lady Macbeth moment? River just doesn't flow right.
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    Nashville (1975)

    The delirious—or, too often, headache-inducing—cacophony that became signature Robert Altman reached its critical apex with Nashville, and, actually, premiere has taken part in the overfluffing, having called the film a "masterpiece" five years ago. But Altman's multiple story line vision is a high-minded concept crippled by overwrought execution. The overlapping dialogue feels overindulgent, the earthy filmmaking looks sloppy, and a lot of the music is sub par, because Altman allowed his cast to write and sing some of their own songs (Keith Carradine's Oscar-winning "I'm Easy" is laughable). Is it satire? Tribute? Realism? More like a mixed-up muddle of the three.
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    The Red Shoes (1948)

    The first time Martin Scorsese saw Michael Powell's Shoes, he was blown away by its visual audacity—and I won't argue that point. But weighed down by heavy-handed direction and blatant melodrama—check out Anton Walbrook's portrayal of a devious ballet company director, and the interminable titular dance sequence—The Red Shoes feels more monotonous than magical. Although it helped pave the way for later greats such as The Band Wagon (which is far more successful in blending music, dance, and story), The Red Shoes doesn't belong in its class.
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    2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

    When I saw 2001 in 1968, I was occasionally thrilled, often bored, and ultimately mystified that the ending was considered a "trip," let alone that the movie was an instant classic. But everybody around me was stoned, and not in the mood for close reasoning. Today, the movie comes off as painfully slow and often achingly obvious (the portentous music, the waltz accompaniment to the oh-so-slow rocket sequences, the flatter-than-a-pancake dialogue). And the acting! The acting is...nonexistent. At least the apes in the opening Dawn of Man sequence show some passion, but the notion that an ape's finding that a thigh bone kills led to spaceships that look like thigh bones seems a little pat. Yes, the design of the movie is beautiful and there are lots of great shots. But a coherent story well-told, it is not.
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    The Wizard of Oz (1939)

    Judy Garland's appeal is undeniable, Bert Lahr ought to have been in more pictures, and most of the tunes have earned their places in the Great American Songbook, but a lot of this monument to studio piecework is an over-calculated self-promo for the dubious brand of enchantment it's pushing. The candy-coated art direction, highlighting Technicolor at its most garish, provokes insulin shock, and the Lollipop Guild, Glinda's damned voice, and Frank Morgan's "folksy" Wizard all give off the pungent aroma of neglected cheese. The film's reputation as kitsch-that-transcends-kitsch precedes it; a new viewer unaware of that rep might see kitsch, plain and simple.