10 Movies I Thought Would Suck But Turned Out to be Pretty Good (1999-2009)


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.

Zombieland (2009)


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.

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  1. One movie that extremely surprised and impressed me was Have Dreams Will Travel. I usually don’t like kid movies because they are cheesy and annoying but this movie was amazing. Both kids turned out to be amazing actors who delivered some truly great and touching moments. And I was also surprised at how many recognizable names they are in this movie.

    I highly recommend you check it out. Sadly it’s hard to find it because whoever did the marketing completely screwed it up but you can find it online


  2. 2 Girls 1 Cup really surprised me, it seemed just like another ‘ooh lets explore a unique and hideous fetish’ porn film, but this really had something to it, a personality, a heart, a shit.

  3. Avatar: I did not expect it to be very good, or for the 3d effects to work well. But it all came together very well.

    Role Models: The Previews for this movie did not make it seem like it would be funny, but it was pretty good.

  4. I saw The Island on mushrooms with friends who have never done mushrooms….. I realized this was probably a mistake after the first dream sequence.

    When Scarlett Johansen gets picked for the Island my friend next to me stood up & yelled “Dont do it! It’s not real! There is no island!” In the middle of the packed movie theatre, which was better than sitting through the preveiws for Flight Plan when I almost had an anxiety attack because it was just cut scenes of Jodi Foster asking where her daughter was.

    Havent seen a movie on shrooms ever since.

  5. @ boss

    I liked Moulin Rouge, too…I just can’t remember what my impressions were before I saw it.

    @ Alex

    Thanks for the rec, I will try and get to it.

    @ Edzone

    That’s laugh out loud funny. Well done.

    @ Uncoolaidman

    What’s funny is that I think a lot of people would say Avatar was disappointing (not me, I like it a lot).

    Role Models was better than I thought it would be, good call.

  6. @ Madison

    I might have to give it a shot, seeing as I heard it was just a mindless movie with some insane graphics, but I’m not gonna lie, I’m hesitant to ever watch a movie on shroomage again. However, I will play the shit out of scooby doo monopoly.

  7. – Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)
    Has Rupert Everett in it. The plot: A cemetery man must kill the dead a second time when they become zombies.
    But the actual movie is poetry in motion. Yeah … never expected that

    – Gone Baby Gone (2007)
    Heard decent things about it, but it was still directed by Ben Affleck. Well, he nailed it

    – The Fall (2006)
    From the guy who brought you, “the cell” starring Jenifer Lopez’s ass. Well, this guy can direct a hell of a movie

  8. I’m with you on everything except Slumdog (and the fact that you didn’t like The Hurt Locker, which I find shameful).

    Especially on the Hot Rod and Perfume love. Not enough people have seen those movies, but everyone I know who did loved them.

  9. I consider “10 Things I hate about you” to be the best movie of its kind. That is teen-love-comdey. And I also watched “Mean Girls” two or three times. Very nice pics. 😀
    “Wedding Crashers” and “Knocked Up” are also in this better-than-expected cathegory for me.
    I liked “Slumdog Millionaire”, but it’s not that I thought it would be bad. There are many movies, where I didn’t really had any expectations but which where great. “Before Sunset”, “Brokeback Mountain”, “Memento”, “The Prestige”,…
    There are some artsy Michelle Williams movies which I end up liking most of the time.
    You talk about “Perfume” as if you never heard of it before. I mean it’s a ‘read in school’ kinda book, isn’t it?
    I was disappointed with “The Island”, I have to say.

    Real Surprises for me where for example “Bridge to Terabithia” (don’t watch the trailer…it’s so nothing like that…at all).

    Ther are also some movies I would usually don’t like, by the gerne, but which I enjoy never the less. For example “Out of Sight”, “Eagle Eye”, “Live Free or Die Hard”.
    And for some strange reason I like “The Story of Us” and “Queen of the Damned” even though they are considered to be not good movies.

  10. I think I’ll have to toss a vote out for “Josie and the Pussycats”. I can’t say how wonderfully surprised I was by this movie, and I would go so far as to count it as one of my favourite comedies. I think that it’s over the top skewing of the pop music scene from the late 90’s early 00’s is a lot smarter then people are prepared to give the movie credit for on face value. This movie is also easily the best thing Tara Reid has ever done. (Not a huge accomplishment I know.) Seriously Tara Reid does something hysterical every time she is on camera in this movie.

  11. @ J5 & Madison:

    I saw Stir of Echoes in the theater. Yeah, I didn’t sleep well for a few days after that. I’ve also seen Fantasia 2000 (Imax), The South Park Movie (totally worth it), and the Mummy (meh).

    @ Madison:

    Great list. I really enjoyed Hot Rod as well. I’ve never seen Perfume, I will have to rent it.

  12. I’m one of those people who’ll see something funny happen in a movie an think, “I see the humor in that,” but doesn’t laugh. But for a movie marketed mainly to kids, I was cracking up at Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. It was hilarious and heartwarming.

    It was like the feeling I got seeing Shrek for the first time, before you knew all the jokes and they ruined it with those damned sequels.

  13. 17 again, I thought, “why would I want to watch Big in reverse but with Zach Efron instead of Tom Hanks?” I was pleasantly surprised though. It had a good cast of veteran comedic actors around him, Thomas Lennon, Melora Hardin, Leslie Mann. It was a feel good movie that also made you laugh.
    Law Abiding Citizen, I like Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx. But man, this movie looked like 100% pure suckage. I was surprised to see a movie with some cool saw-like traps, good acting and a surprising plot with some twists.
    Death Race was another that I quite enjoy. But its Paul WS Anderson for gods sake. Has he ever made a god movie? But death race was an extremely entertaining movie that I watch whenever its on.

  14. Also, the first Pirates of the Carribean. When I first heard they were making a movie based on an amusement park ride, I did not have high expectations. Gives me hope for the movies to be based on board games. Maybe, just maybe Monopoly and Battleship will be good, but I doubt it.

  15. i had no desire to watch moulin rouge, but when i finally did, it became my absolute favorite movie.

    i thought iron man would suck, but it was fantastic.

  16. Oh sheesh, talking in third person? Laura no like.

    Kiss Kiss Bang Bang came to mind for me. I remember thinking, “Val Kilmer? What happened to you!?!” One of my all time favorite movies. My love for RDJ is limitless…I’ll never question him again.

  17. The Butterfly Effect, The Departed – mostly because I didn’t like pretty boy-type actors, but these caught me off guard.

    Tropic Thunder – I just thought it was gonna be really stupid, what with RDJ playing a guy trying to be a black man? I was shocked, especially with that Tom Cruise surprise.

    District 9 – I really didn’t believe you could make a good sci-fi film for under $50M.

  18. Shawn of the dead.

    The longest yard. (best movie with adam sandler?)

    Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

    Idiocracy. I gave this no chance, but turned out to be fairly charming.

    District 9 looked pretty cool in preview but surpassed all expectations.

    The Trailer Park Boys Movie.

    Maybe I just underestimate comedies. O.T. furry vengeance may be worst movie ever made.

  19. I agree 110% with 10 Things I Hate About You. I was supposed to be studying for a final when this started. I saw it had the girl from Alex Mack and Julia Stiles so I stuck around, and now end up watching it whenever it’s on.

  20. I found “The House Bunny” to be a rather surprising film. Had some good lines in it, even if the plot was predictable. Worth a watch.

  21. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – I know the world’s been on JK Rowling’s pseudo-cock since the first book came out, but given that I’m one who goes anti-hype to anything, I really didn’t even want to catch this movie, but my then-girlfriend did. This movies was the quickest 3hour of my life – love the shix out of that film.

    Dude, Where’s my Car? – Missed it at cinema and watched it only out of boredom. After 25+ viewings, I’m adamant it’s an utterly flawless movie.

    I totally agree on 10 things I hate about you

  22. You talk about perfume like it’s an original movie…but you fail to tell (or notice) the fact that it is based on a book, and it’s actually quite faithful to it.
    there are lots of movies I thought would suck but were kinda cool, but I believe the one that surprised me the most was The pirates of the Caribbean, I truly believed it was going to be just a silly kids movie, but it turned to be actually pretty cool!

  23. Pandorum. I thought that movie would blow ass and it was a solid syfy movie. With much better sets and special effects.

    Also How To Train Your Dragon, my god how epic is that movie. I hate Dreamworks movies normally. Its easily the most enjoyable fun cartoon movie since Toy Story also is has an awesome score. It was just such a blast and the 3-D really did add SO much to the movie.

  24. Also I would say Perfume is better then the book, because they cut out this whole middle section of the book where the main character abondons society and just lives in a cave eating insects for seven years. That was boring.

  25. mean girls was horrible teen flick, and i usually like teen flicks. ugh. i liked the island even tho i hate futuristic sci fi and slumdog millionaire was ok. it definitely deserved best picture.

  26. @moi

    mean girls was hardly a teen flick… if you were looking for something like the notebook or a generic lame teen rom-com, that’s not what this was… mean girls was so intelligently written with amazing dialogue that i find it hard to believe anyone wouldn’t like it.

  27. I just don’t see why everyone loves Slumdog Millionaire, it’s the definition of mediocrity as well as Danny Boyle’s worst work to date. The cinematography looks like it was done by a douchy film student trying to get an A. The writing was far to melodramatic and put too much emphasis on creating false emotions for characters you never really liked. On top of that too many things ‘just happen’ in the film. The acting is incredibly one note, with non of the actors doing anything except being in the scenes. Its a film that grabbed peoples zeigeist but didn’t really deserve it, sort of like Shakespeare in Love. The Island I found to be the most dull Bay flick yet, it seemed like he was trying to actually make a movie which had a central theme other than things exploding. That being said the rest of the list is pretty solid. I completely agree with Speed Racer. Everyone bashed for lack of story and acting, but these people never actually saw speed Racer. The visuals were dazziling and the film was fantastic too say the least. Hills Have eyes was epic. I was expecting yet another Texas Chainsaw massacre suckfest and I got a tense film that showed me another director with a style I like.

  28. Greta list, I’d have to agree on a lot of these, particuarly ‘mean girls’ and ‘hot rod’ which are two of my favourite movies.

    Also, I’d add ‘Fired Up’ to the list- came out last year, pretty unknown but surprisingly hilarious.

  29. The only one I don’t agree with is Perfume, only because I read the book first and Grenouille is totally different. But good choices otherwise

  30. Some of the movies I watched and enjoyed 1. Reign Over Me 2.Little Miss Sunshine 3. The Pianist 4. The English Patient 5.The Departed 6. Higher Learning 7. wrestler 8. Taken 9. Alive 10. Next Friday

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