On Friday, I wrote about 10 movies from the past decade that left me sorely disappointed after watching them. Today, I decided to go in the opposite direction and bring you 10 movies from the past decade that I thought would suck, but that turned out to be pretty damn good. Now, these aren’t movies for which I didn’t have any expectations; these are movies that I thought would, for one reason or another, be terrible. It’s one of the few times when it actually feels good to be wrong.
Again, my picks are totally subjective, so you may think that some of these movies suck anyway. At any rate, these are 10 movies from the past decade that I thought would be terrible but turned out to be pretty awesome. If there are any movies you thought would suck but ended up being really enjoyable, let me know in the comments section.
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)
Perfume came and went when it was in theaters, and I can hardly remember it being released in the first place. Being pretty narrow-minded at the time my girlfriend ordered it on Netflix, I figured a movie about a killer who also makes perfume could only be horrible. Was it going to be like Sweeney Todd without the singing? And how come I’ve never heard anything about this movie?
It’s a shame more people haven’t seen Perfume, because it’s original and features a unique protagonist the likes of which I’ve never really seen in film before. Plus, the movie incorporates the art of perfume making – a subject in which I have almost zero interest – and somehow makes it very interesting. Significantly, it’s a film that will stay with you for awhile.
Hot Rod (2007)
With so many horrible comedies released each year, it’s reasonable to expect that one featuring Andy Samberg as a terrible stunt man wouldn’t be worth watching. Samberg was doing some funny things on SNL, but from the very few previews I had seen of Hot Rod, it looked like he was simply playing a character that was a cross between Adam Sandler and Napoleon Dynamite. Danny McBride was relatively unknown, too, and I hadn’t yet come to the realization that he’s never really been unfunny.
Like some other comedies, the funniest parts of Hot Rod weren’t in the previews. And it turns out that not only was Samberg’s “Rod” (no, not that sort of rod, sicko, his character in the movie) was nothing like a re-hashed, generic character I thought he’d be. Finally, Hot Rod is the type of comedy that you can tell was written to make certain people – not everyone – laugh, and it’s those type of honest comedies that I find to be the funniest.
To be honest, I’m sick of zombies. They’re everywhere, from movies to books to video games, and all sorts of spins have been put on the genre. I don’t think they’re nearly annoying as vampires, but still, enough is enough already. I figured that Zombieland was just going to be another half-baked comedy trying to capitalize on the popularity of zombies.
Nope – Zombieland was clever, well-written, and actually focused more on the human characters as people than it did on surviving zombie attacks. I definitely liked this movie a ton, and I loved the out-of-nowhere cameo, too.
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
Remaking horror movies is almost always a recipe for a pile of suck, so I was more than reluctant when I agreed to see this movie in the theater. Not only did The Hills Have Eyes not suck, it was a surprisingly well-made no holds barred take on a classic horror film. People died early and often – not t mention in horrific fashion – and I was kept on the edge of my seat the entire film. I don’t scare easily, and The Hills Have Eyes certainly wasn’t the scariest movie I’ve ever seen, but it was suspenseful and entertaining enough to keep my interest the entire time. That’s a lot to ask of a horror remake, in my opinion.
Speed Racer (2008)
I’m one of the very few who sticks up for the Matrix sequels, so I was immediately interested in the Wachowskis’ next effort, Speed Racer. So why did I think it would suck? That’s what happens when you listen to everyone else’s opinion instead of simply seeing a movie for yourself. Sure, Speed Racer is cheesy and childish at times, but then again, it’s friggin’ Speed Racer.
I’ve always liked Emile Hirsch, and I’ve always had a thing for Christina Ricci – but the real appeal of Speed Racer is, of course, the dynamic, vibrant visuals. Love it or hate it, Speed Racer is simply a gorgeous movie and an undeniable triumph of aesthetics. Watching the film in an altered state will undoubtedly leave an impression, as well as the desire for repeat viewings. Speed Racer isn’t for everyone, but it’s for me, and I never should have listened to the critiques of the mob.
Bad Santa (2003)
Like horror remakes, I generally avoid Christmas movies. And no, it has nothing to do with me being Jewish. It’s just that most Christmas movies I’ve seen are usually cheesy, feel-good Hollywood vehicles where, predictably, everything is gonna be alright. I figured that Bad Santa would be a safe, Christmas comedy in which Bill Bob Thornton would play a jerk who learns the true meaning of Christmas.
But Bad Santa is really nothing like I thought it’d be. Maybe Willie Stokes (Billy Bob) sort of learns a lesson at the end, but not before he gets so drunk he pisses himself, fornicates with plus-sized women in dressing rooms, and screams and curses at little kids whose only crime is telling Santa what they want for Christmas. It’s a hysterical movie, and nothing like the sort of generic Christmas comedy I expected.
The Island (2005)
I think there’s somewhat of a pattern here: Madison avoids certain types of movies based on categorical biases, only to have his initial impressions proven incorrect. Zombie movies, horror remakes, Christmas movies, and now Michael Bay movies are some of the types I have tried to avoid. But, I mean, you can’t really blame me for avoiding Michael Bay, right?
Anyway, The Island isn’t amazing, it’s a ripoff of The Clonus Horror, and totally crumbles into a Michael Bay action-fest at the end, but overall, it’s a good time and much more thoughtful than I had originally anticipated. It’s almost as if I enjoyed this movie despite myself and despite Michael Bay.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Just because a movie is nominated for Best Picture doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be good – I really dislike both Crash and The Hurt Locker, for instance. There was a ton of hype surrounding Slumdog Millionaire, but I didn’t think it would be for me. A feel-good, poor-kid-against-all-odds story of triumph, complete with a Hollywood happy ending? I’ll pass. What that says about me as a person, I don’t know, but I’m just not a fan of run-of-the-mill, predictable happy endings. I mean, if you can sort of figure out how everything’s going to end, then what’s the point?
Slumdog Millionaire does indeed have a happy ending, but the way director Danny Boyle gets you there is commendable. The backdrop of India is fascinating, as is the way children are gathered up and then sent out to beg for money. Slumdog Millionaire was anything but typical and rightly deserved to be nominated for Best Picture.
Mean Girls (2004)
Had I known that Tina Fey wrote the screenplay for Mean Girls, I probably would have been a lot more optimistic with regard to how good of a movie it’d be. Still, this was a movie with an uninspired title about high school girls, so I didn’t think I was really the target demographic. Mean Girls, of course, is pretty funny, very well-written, and pretty accurate when it comes to how conniving and bitchy girls can be to each other.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
I figured that 10 Things I Hate About You would be another forgettable teen comedy, but I end up watching it every single time it’s on. Sorry, I love this movie.
What movies did you think would suck but turned out to be pretty good? Let me know in the comments section.