Some movies are underappreciated at the time of their release. They come out, are largely ignored, then grow in stature as people catch up with them on home video or cable TV over the years. The Shawshank Redemption and Office Space are good examples of this phenomenon. Both were box office flops that went on to become classics in their respective genres.
Then there are the movies that go the other way. Beloved hits upon release see their reputations diminish with the passage of time. There can be a variety of reasons why this happens. Some have very "of the moment" stories that lose their relevance. Others contain elements that pass muster initially, but are problematic in the rearview mirror. Still others are just plain bad, but fool everyone at first because they've been so heavily hyped.
What follows are fifteen movies that were enthusiastically received when they first hit theaters, only to have their fates change. They no longer maintain the unconditional love they once enjoyed. These titles have become far less well-regarded as they've gotten older, and we will explore the reasons why.
Here are 15 Loved Movies That Have NOT Aged Well.
When it was released in 2005, Paul Haggis's drama Crash received largely rapturous reviews. It was certified "fresh" at Rotten Tomatoes. The venerable Roger Ebert picked it as the best film of the year. The movie broke out at the box office, too. Despite being an arthouse indie, it rode all that acclaim to an impressive $98 million worldwide take. Winning the Oscar as Best Picture was the icing on the cake.
There were, however, some skeptics who disliked the movie's heavy-handed message delivery. Their ranks have grown in the years since. Crash is now regarded by many as a terrible movie, lacking in subtlety and suggesting that there are easy answers to complicated race-related issues. Some have even claimed the film relies on the same types of racial stereotypes it claims to despise.
Despite once being the belle of the ball, Crash is now routinely cited as one of the least-deserving Best Picture winners.
Until Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens came along, James Cameron's Avatar was the highest-grossing movie of all-time, with $760 million in domestic ticket sales to its name. It was #1 at the box office for seven straight weeks, helping to kick off the modern 3D trend in the process. Even people who never went to the movies turned out to see this one. Eventually, it was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.
What's weird is that, for a movie that was so insanely popular, Avatar's pop culture footprint has been almost non-existent. There's not a ton of merchandise related to it. The film hasn't developed the kind of intensely loyal fan base that similar blockbusters have. Cinema buffs don't talk about it with the same breathless enthusiasm they have for other properties - even with multiple sequels on the way. And if you haven't seen it recently, can you describe the plot?
For all the initial fanaticism, you'd think Avatar would have remained a bigger deal.
13 Sixteen Candles
Sixteen Candles provided Molly Ringwald with a breakout role and turned screenwriter John Hughes into one of the most in-demand directors in Hollywood.
The story, which revolves around a teen girl upset that her family has forgotten it's her 16th birthday, is full of warm, observant truths about adolescent angst. There's also a marvelously funny supporting performance from Anthony Michael Hall as "Farmer Ted," a geek with a crush on Ringwald's character.
Those elements remain enjoyable, but Sixteen Candles also has some highly objectionable elements. Hughes was a former National Lampoon writer, unafraid of pushing boundaries, and it shows. A side character, Japanese exchange student Long-Duk Dong, is an offensive Asian caricature.
Just as bad, a scene near the end implies that Farmer Ted violates an intoxicated young woman, with the tacit approval of her boyfriend. Date rape really isn't good fodder for comedy.
12 Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
When Ace Ventura: Pet Detective hit theaters, Jim Carrey wasn't much more than a non-Wayans cast member of the groundbreaking sketch comedy series In Living Color. When it left theaters, he was one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. The film gave his career a massive boost.
The goofball slapstick humor remains a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing. The ending, on the other hand, is undeniably insensitive today. Ace exposes the female villain, played by Sean Young, as a man by revealing that he has "tucked" his private parts inside his underwear. This revelation causes the other characters -- including about a dozen cops and football star Dan Marino -- to begin retching and gagging.
That follows a scene where Ace makes himself vomit after realizing he made out with Young's character. Such hateful transphobic jokes are incredibly unfunny, and they send Ace Ventura out on an uncomfortable note.
11 Garden State
Zach Braff's Garden State went from toast of the town to virtual pariah in about a decade. After taking the Sundance Film Festival by storm in 2004, it was released by Fox Searchlight and went on to receive great reviews. Some critics even compared it favorably to coming-of-age classics like The Graduate. Audiences similarly embraced the movie, turning it into one of the top indie releases that year.
Since then, Garden State has virtually become a joke. There have been several high-profile critical reappraisals, with reviewers' thumbs turning downward after a revisit. The quirky humor that permeates the film now seems forced, like an affectation. Natalie Portman's character is a quintessential example of the played-out Manic Pixie Dream Girl cliche -- the uninhibited girl who exists only to teach the depressed male lead how to appreciate life. Even the soundtrack seems to have passed its expiration date, as it is full of mopey emo music.
Once regarded as an example of hip indie filmmaking, Garden State today plays like a self-impressed story about a whiny guy and his obnoxiously cutesy girlfriend.
10 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
In the late '80s and mid-'90s, Kevin Costner could do no wrong. Everything he touched turned to gold. Thanks to pictures like The Bodyguard, Bull Durham, and JFK, he was the biggest movie star in the country. When celebrities have a major career surge of that sort, they're often able to draw audiences to less-than-stellar projects.
Such was the case with Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. With a North American take of $165 million, it was the #2 movie of 1991, behind Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
Anyone making a list of Costner's best films today probably isn't going to include this one, though. Viewed after the heyday of his career, it's become crystal clear that Robin Hood is, at 143 minutes, too long and incredibly slow. The lack of action is now regarded as a detriment, as well. The movie focuses far more on romantic stuff than on the derring-do one would expect from a Robin Hood story. And don't even get us started on Costner's on-again/off-again British accent.
Porky's was a resounding success in 1982. Its $105 million domestic gross was unheard of for a teen-oriented comedy. (That would translate to $320 million in today's dollars.) To say that the movie was a phenomenon would be accurate. Young people plotted ways to sneak into the R-rated picture, which quickly became a you-gotta-see-it craze.
In some quarters, Porky's is still considered a teen classic. But have you really looked at it recently? The portrayal of women is mind-blowingly offensive. The adolescent female characters are nothing more than sex objects, existing for no other purpose than to strip naked and offer pleasure to the randy male "heroes." The villain, meanwhile, is Coach Balbricker, a cruel and loathsome woman who makes life difficult for them.
Some critics have leveled charges of misogyny against the movie for these reasons. It's not hard to see why.
8 Breakfast at Tiffany's
For years, Breakfast at Tiffany's was considered a perfect example of the romantic comedy. Audrey Hepburn, who is absolutely radiant in the film, plays Holly Golightly, a naive socialite who likes fancy clothes and a good party. She becomes the obsession of a male writer who has just moved into her building. Before long, love is in bloom. The movie is sweet and funny, and Hepburn is so good in it that Holly became the role with which she was most associated.
Having said that, it's impossible to watch Breakfast at Tiffany's without cringing at the supporting performance from Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi, Holly's Asian landlord. Casting a white actor as an Asian is, under any circumstance, racist. But Rooney ups the ante by wearing a wig and sporting buck teeth in the role. He also quints his eyes and talks in an exaggerated accent. It's shockingly racist, and manages to completely overshadow the film's many delightful elements.
7 Crocodile Dundee
Crocodile Dundee started off as a low-budget Australian movie and went on to become a worldwide sensation. Paul Hogan plays the title character, an eccentric bushman who is profiled by an American reporter (Linda Kozlowski). The filmmakers had hopes that the picture would be a hit Down Under and perhaps rake in a few extra bucks around the globe. Instead, they ended up with the second-biggest global hit of 1986.
Two inferior sequels followed, which likely tarnished the original's reputation. Then again, lame sequels do that all the time. The bigger truth is that Crocodile Dundee was never able to expand on its initial popularity. Younger generations didn't cling to it the way they did with other '80s comedies, such as Ghostbusters. They recognized it as formulaic, with one joke -- Dundee does things his own kooky way -- repeated again and again for two hours.
6 Gone with the Wind
It's a basic fact that Gone with the Wind is widely considered one of the most important and notable motion pictures in cinema history. When people talk about "Great Movies," it often comes up. And yet, decades after first hitting screens, the movie is incredibly problematic. The story's depiction of slavery studiously avoids showing the true horrors of it, the character of Mammy (played by Hattie McDaniel) is a racial stereotype, and the romantic view of the Confederacy doesn't sit well with everyone.
More than seventy years later, Gone with the Wind generates more controversy than ever. This past summer, Memphis, Tennessee's historic Orpheum Theater canceled a screening of the movie, saying that showing it would be insensitive to the city's African-American population. Some supported that decision, others screamed that it was political correctness run amok. Whatever you believe, there's no doubt that GWTW has a big cloud hanging over it.
5 The Flintstones
The Flintstones is a perfect example of 1990s-style high-concept filmmaking. It adapted a well-established property with heavy nostalgia value -- specifically, the beloved cartoon series -- and cast it with big stars, such as John Goodman, Rick Moranis, and Rosie O'Donnell.
Universal Pictures heavily hyped the movie in the summer of '94, exploiting Steven Spielberg's association as a producer and even commissioning a remake of the theme song by the B-52s (renamed the BC-52s for the soundtrack). The result was a $341 million worldwide gross.
Now that the marketing machine has been turned off for more than two decades, The Flintstones reveals itself to be pretty lame. The plot is slapped together, the endless parade of prehistoric puns isn't funny, and it's visually cheap looking. Also, the attempt to be slavishly true to the series limits the movie's creativity.
Turning an animated TV show into a live-action feature film turned out be a fundamentally bad idea.
4 Police Academy
In 1984, Warner Brothers brought the world Police Academy, an outrageous R-rated comedy in which Steve Guttenberg plays one member of a misfit group of cop trainees. The movie made a star out of comedian Michael Winslow, whose ability to make a variety of mouth noises turned his Larvell Jones into the breakout character. Audiences laughed at the slapstick shenanigans, making Police Academy one of the top ten hits of the year.
Six increasingly atrocious sequels followed. Cranked out at the pace of one per year, affection for the series waned proportionally. Beyond that, the humor of Police Academy just doesn't hold up. It's got an old-fashioned sense of broadness that doesn't jibe with modern audiences, whose sensibilities tend to favor edgier or more savvy material.
The humor here is badly dated. That probably accounts for why a long-rumored reboot has never actually come to fruition.
3 Dances with Wolves
Kevin Costner made his directorial debut with Dances with Wolves. That went pretty well for him. The movie was a critical and commercial success, and it won the Best Picture Oscar for 1990. Something like that should be revered as an all-time classic, right? In this case, the opposite happened.
Despite overall acclaim, some people grumbled that the storytelling was too politically correct, at the occasional expense of historical accuracy. Native American leaders, meanwhile, lamented that it was yet another movie about their people told from the point of view of a "white savior." Those allegations look even more glaring today than they did at the time.
Additionally, the movie Dances with Wolves beat for the Oscar, Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, actually has become a revered classic. General consensus is that the wrong film won, which does nothing to endear Dances with Wolves to many viewers.
Flashdance was more than just a hit movie. Released in 1983, it immediately began to influence pop culture. Songs from the soundtrack were inescapable on radio and MTV. A fashion trend was born, with women wearing leg warmers and oversized sweatshirts ripped to hang off their shoulders. The image of star Jennifer Beals pulling a chain and soaking herself with water while dancing in one sequence became iconic. Make no mistake, Flashdance was a very big deal.
At the time, the music, dance moves, and bold fashion choices overshadowed problems that are obvious today. The movie is essentially a 95-minute music video, meaning that it looks great but doesn't have much in the way of substance. In addition to a slew of "inspirational" cliches, there are one-dimensional characters and moments of heavy-handed drama. The focus is clearly on creating sleek visuals rather than storytelling. For these reasons, Flashdance now seems like a dusty time capsule relic.
1 Driving Miss Daisy
It seems a bit infathomable now, but Driving Miss Daisy made more than $100 million at the domestic box office and won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1989. If you think about it now -- and odds are you don't, unless you happen to be in your seventies -- it's probably because your grandmother asked you for a movie recommendation. The film received some criticism at the time for being a soft, feel-good movie about complex racial issues.
Looking back, that softness is positively blinding, especially when you consider that Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, a much more probing and authentic look at race, came out that same year, was ignored by the Oscars, and has become a modern classic. With race-related issues continuing to heat up in our society, Driving Miss Daisy's lightweight approach to the subject doesn't play well at all anymore.
What other once-loved movies do you think fail to hold up? Tell us what you think in the comments.
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