We’ve all heard of the movies that receive all the acclaim (Citizen Kane, Gone With the Wind, The Dark Knight etc.), but what about those great movies that have gone mostly unnoticed (outside of certain circles)? What about the movies that came out at the wrong time, or did not get enough backing from the studios; but are just as well-made as their acclaimed counterparts? Through much research and help from friends, I have compiled a list of the ten most underrated movies of all time.
10 Josie and the Pussycats
Now I know that many of you are thinking, that this was simply just a chick flick when Rachel Leigh Cook was in her heyday (Remember that? In the years following She’s All That). This movie was so much more than that. It was an incredibly written satire about how the music industry had become so commercialized that they were basically brainwashing people into liking music by simply overplaying it on the radio. (Think Alvin and the Chipmunks, but better.) Furthermore, the tongue-in-cheek product placement was almost as brilliant of that in Wayne’s World.
9 Varsity Blues
Now, I realize that many of you will disagree with this entry, but ask yourself: if this had not been an MTV movie release would you judge this movie differently? Think of all the coming of age high school movies that you have seen. Now I know this isn’t The Breakfast Club, but what it is, is the story of a Texas town where the only thing that matters is football. Parents hold their kids back in school, coaches risk injuries, and football is seen as the only way out of this town. Enter poor Jonathan Moxson (James VanDerBeek), who is a smart kid, who doesn’t need football to escape. But low and behold, he ends up as the starting quarterback, and becomes a star. Then we see that even he is corruptible by this sport. This movie is one of the better high school stories that has come out in the last fifteen years. And let’s be honest, who can ever forget the whip cream bikini scene?
Now here was a movie that I’m not sure that not too many of you will remember. It was about Owen (Danny Devito) who was a student in Larry’s (Billy Crystal) class. It seems that Owen got Larry’s message a bit mixed up. After watching a Hitchcock film, Owen got the idea that he was supposed to kill Larry’s wife, and Larry would kill his mother. Well, Owen carries out his part of the bargain, and then hilarity ensues. Of course this movie is going to to good. You already have Billy Crystal and Danny Devito, but what makes this movie a classic, is the immortal performance by Anne Ramsey as Owen’s mean, but ultimately lovable mother.
7 The Frighteners
So, Robert Zemekics is a genius. Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? cemented that fact in my mind. Yet not many people raved about another one of his movies The Frighteners. Here was a film that paired up Zemekics and Michael J Fox again. It is the story of a young man who uses his abilities to see and talk with ghosts to make a little bit of money. All of this goes well until he comes across some serious ghosts called frighteners. It’s a movie that was mostly overlooked when it came out, but is surprisingly fun and exciting.
6 Kung-Fu Hustle
Now here was a movie that was not seen by many Americans outside of those who were already Stephen Chow fans. (For those of you who don’t know who Stephen Chow is, think Shoulin Soccer). It’s a movie that is surprisingly heartfelt and sweet at the same time as being a live-action looney tunes cartoon, and an epic martial arts film. Chow pays homage to some of the greatest directors of all time with many of the shots in this film. It is a film that is incredibly funny, aesthetically pleasing as well and at its heart, the message that all of us may have greatness inside.
5 Mars Attacks
Ah, Tim Burton… I think that the reason that this movie didn’t catch on for the absolute genius that it is, is because many people went in thinking that this was going to be a blockbuster, not a campy homage to the B movies of the fifties. Burton took a B movie script, and put in A-list movie actors like Glenn Close, Jack Nicholson, and a very young Natalie Portman, and most importantly, he didn’t take himself or the movie too seriously. And that is what makes it wonderful, a movie in which the Martians’ language is as funny a joke as any other in the movie.
“What the hell is going on? I mean what the hell is going on?!” is arguably the greatest line in one of the most underrated movies of all time. This was a movie which was billed originally as a monster movie, but was indeed so much more. For those of you who don’t know the premise., It involves a small town with a major monster problem. Except these monsters move underground, and apparently have survived since the Jurassic period or something like that. The movie is an incredible throwback to the B monster movies of the 50’s and 60’s, while featuring fantastic performances by Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Reba McIntyre, and Michael Gross.
3 Quigley Down Under
Now here was a movie that I can guarantee that most viewers missed. It was a Tom Selleck movie that had him playing an American gunslinger placed in Australia. His character doesn’t like pistols, so he uses a rifle which can kill from 500 yards away. Originally he thinks has been hired to shoot animals, but then finds out he has been hired to kill Aborigines. So of course he won’t do it, and finds himself at odds with his employer who is wonderfully played by Alan Rickman.
While the story alone doesn’t make this movie stand out, the performances by one, Alan Rickman, and two Laura San Giacomo who plays a crazy woman shunned by the local society takes this film up to a whole other level.
2 Grosse Point Blank
Against my better judgement, I placed this movie in the number two position, as opposed to the number one. It’s a dark comedy featuring a hit man heading home to something that most of us simultaneously look forward to and dread: his high school reunion. Along the way, he tries to reconcile with the girl he left behind, and truly understand who he is. It helps that the film has two of my favorite actors: John and Joan Cusack. It also contains darkly comedic performances by Minnie Driver and Dan Aykroyd as a rival hitman.
1 Galaxy Quest
My favorite type of movie is probably the satire. Satire done well in my opinion is the highest form of comedy. Movies like Scream or Tropic Thunder do a remarkable job of skewering their intended targets while standing on their own as entertaining films. But Galaxy Quest stands on its own. A movie which is completely enjoyable on its own, but is absolutely amazing, it takes the best part of a fish-out-of-water scenario and mixed it with a brilliant parody of Star Trek; not to mention fantastic comedic performances by Tony Shaloub, Sam Rockwell, and the incredible Alan Rickman. When combined together, it makes for one of the most entertaining experiences you will have watching a film.
Honorable mentions include: Dark City, Dogma, The Rundown,