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Don't Believe the Hype

Nothing is more disappointing than waiting for six months to see a movie that everybody says is amazing and then it just turns out to be just okay. Or good, but not great.

Since I have seen exactly one movie in a movie theater in the past three years (and that was "Twilight" last month) this happens to me a lot.

Just call me straight to video Sarah. Seriously, the theater run of a movie is mainly one gigantic ad campaign as far as mt personal viewing habits are concerned.

Last night I finally saw "The Dark Knight". I thought it was good. In fact, I thought it was very good.

The problem is that I was expecting to have my socks blown off. Everybody said Heath Ledger delivered a mind blowing performance. I think he did an excellent job yet my head it still intact.


I seriously think I would have loved this film if I hadn't been expecting some sort of religious awakening.

I fucking hate it when that happens. I was disappointed by a great film.

So - without further ado, I give you four very good films that were ruined for me because they were over-hyped:

1) The Dark Knight - for the reasons I described above and also because Christian Bale sucks as Batman. I know that some of you are going to freak out on me, but I truly believe that. What is up with his Batman voice anyway? He was fine as Bruce Wayne but as soon as he put on the bat suit his voice was too husky and quiet. It was much more like he was hitting on the bad guys than trying to intimidate them.


2) No Country for Old Men - Four Academy Awards. The Coen brothers. Tommy Lee Jones. And guess what. Nothing happened in the movie. Yes, I got it and I am sure it is a wonderful novel. In fact, I bought the book and I plan on reading it. Man, was I disappointed when I finally saw this film. I'm not sure what I was expecting but it definitely was not the movie I saw.


I guess if somebody has told me - you'll love it - there is a lot of shooting I would have enjoyed it because it was more than that. Just not as much as I would have liked.

3) The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - How was this better than the first one? I actually fell asleep watching this movie. It was nominated for 76 awards. It won two Oscars. I suppose it isn't anyones fault. The second movie in a trilogy is always the transitional one.


Sarah, you are saying to yourself, how did you fall asleep during a movie with Orlando Bloom AND Viggo Mortensen in it?  I just don't know. I only know that it wasn't nearly as staggering as people said it was.

4) Sideways - Ah, Sideways, what a great movie. I loved it. I laughed, I cried. I learned stuff about Pinot Noir.


Seriously, I love Indie comedies and I love wine. What could have gone wrong?

I'll tell you what went wrong - people kept telling me it was the funniest film they had ever seen in their entire lives.  I don't mean to be a jerk, but had these so-called friends not even seen Dr. Strangelove or This is Spinal Tap or Better Off Dead?

Sideways was a wonderful film that was ruined for me before I ever saw it.

I think I am going to have to learn how to be a movie pessimist. Either that or I could just start ignoring everybody.

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I fucking hated Sideways.


Check out the movie Heathers, it is a movie with Winona Ryder and Christian Slater from the 80's. There are many similarities between the joker characterization in the dark Knight and Christian Slater's character in Heathers. See for yourself.


two dollars...i want my two dollars...


also? i was disappointed in Hamlet 2, as well as Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Is it just me, or did Judd Apatow steal Kevin Smith's mojo and refuse to give it back?


I want the time I wasted on Sideways BACK.


I don't think you qualify to even speak about movies...in the last 6 months the only movie you cared enough to see was the overly hyped tween cum fest twilight? That's sad. Lets see you act before you judge someone elses abilities

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah

I guess I should clarify for Gary, since he doesn't know me.

What has been holding me back isn't my lack of interest, it is my four year old twins.

They make it tough to get out.


Sideways made me angry. This was supposed to be a smart movie for a smart audience.
Either I'm not as smart as I thought I was or it just plain sucked.
Good to know I'm not the only one because I feel like all the smart people I know sing its praises while sporting smoking jackets and marking their place in The New Yorker. (Although it's possible I imagined the smoking jackets.)


I think we could be movie BFFs. I couldn't agree with you more about other people ruining movies by raving about a film (The Sixth Sense was like this for me, also). I thought the same thing about both The Dark Knight (too long, in my opinion and also Heath just wasn't on screen as much as I expected) and Sideways. On the flip side, when I'm told how awful a movie is, I usually find it much more enjoyable than I have braced myself for.


There was one huge similarity between Twilight and Dark Knight.

In both films, most of the close ups are out of focus.

Chicky Chicky Baby

And this is why you should move closer to me so we can be bestest friends forevah. I actually said out loud "Hell YES" to everything you just wrote. And now the baby is looking at me funny.


My pick is There Will Be Blood. The only thing I took away from that movie was the damn milkshake quote.


Which is why I generally don't read reviews. OR give movie recomendations...
I saw The Dark Knight on opening weekend, so it didn't get ruined for me. But as far as Fabulous Movies That Live Up To The Hype? The only ones I can think of are Million Dollar Baby (and barely) and Brokeback Mountain.


Wow, Gary...say what you want about Sarah's post...but leave Twilight out of it.

KIDDING! Loved the post...and it reminded of when I saw Jerry McGuire. Bleh...


Gary: Because only people who are willing or (dare I say it?) stupid enough to shell out $10 or more to see a movie at a theater are qualified to have opinions on them?

I haven't been to a movie theater since Charlotte's Web came out. I went to see that because my daughter was dying to go to a movie theater and have the whole "big screen" experience.

I personally prefer to wait until movies come out on DVD. I like the convenience of being able to pause when I have to pee, or what to fix something to munch on while watching. Not having to listen to other people have conversations with each other or on their cell phones during critical parts of the film is nice, too. We have a big screen TV with HD set-up, and unless something is playing at an IMAX theater, it looks better at home than it does on the big screen.

That said, I often find myself in the same boat as Sarah. I'll hear all these wonderful things about a movie, and then when I finally see it I have to wonder, "What was all the fuss about? It wasn't that great?" Of course, it works the other way, too. There are some movies that get completely panned, and yet I love them.



It had Brad Pitt and it won best picture. I went to see it in the theater on Thanksgiving wiht my brother and uncle. WE WALKED OUT IT WAS SO GOD-AWFUL. Why did this horrible, depressing-as-all-get-out movie get so much love? I don't know but I want my money back.


Sideways was hyped to me as very very sad. So the funny stuff was a great surprise to me and I liked it a lot. It does take superhuman discernment to filter your friends' reactions and the general cultural reaction to movies to know if you might personally enjoy them.


It's an oldie - but I've gotta say that in recent memory the movie I was most disappointed with was "The Way We Were". Luckily I didn't pay to see it (saw it on the Mall in DC, Screen on the Green type of deal). And I think everyone around me was just as annoyed with Kitty and Hubble, and couldn't wait for the movie to be over with. Epic love story my ass.


Stick to Bollywood and then you'll never hear any hype before viewing your movies. ;-) KIDDING! Actually, I've had much the same experience since my first child was born lo these many years ago...I think my latest let-down was Babel too, Rachel! I felt stupid for not lurving it to bits and pieces. Give me a musical any day.


A lot of time initial good hype morphs into an almost hysterical praise fest. Case in point: Titanic. I didn't see it in the theatre, nut afer months of hearing from every one on the planet that it was the greatest movie ever, I was excited to finally watch it at home! About a half hour into it, I turned to my husband and said, "Umm, is it just me or does this suck?" and he replied, "It's just a cheesy action movie on a big boat!"


Stop talking to people about movies. There, problem solved.

Sideways was a much better book.


Okay, you make some very good points about over-hyping movies.

But the blasphemy you spout about The Two Towers? And Christian Bale?

You can't see me, but I'm sadly shaking my head right now.

Snarky Amber

I thought There Will Be Blood was a fantastic movie, but I too found myself disappointed after all the hype. The best movie of that year, to me, was Michael Clayton, but apart from Tilda Swinton's win, it got nowhere near the hype No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood received.

I also thought Juno was overrated, even though I really liked it.


I'm so glad somebody else said Juno. Cute movie, but not nearly as awesome as I was led to believe going in.

Marmite Breath

Lost in Translation was like that for me. I didn't geddit.


Wings Of Desire. I know, blasphemy. Everyone I knew LOVED it, I expected to at the very least like it, but in the end found it unbearably pretentious.


PS: I for one found Ledger spectacular, for the record. That entire movie really bowled me over, in fact.

Backpacking Dad

I've seen everything. Usually in theaters (four movies this week, actually), and although I disagree with you about No Country and the generalization about second parts (Empire is the best of the Star Wars films) you are dead right about Dark Knight and Sideways. The only Batman is Michael Keaton! And Paul Giamatti is not an actor; he's a moper.

And until Gary learns how to use the apostrophe he doesn't get to participate in the written medium.

Black Hockey Jesus

I can't forgive your Two Towers commentary. I will just try to forget. Let's put it behind us.


I saw The Dark Knight on opening weekend, so I loved it. Although I did hate the seductive voice used when he was Batman. Stupid.

I HATED Sideways. I think I had the same problem you did. Plus I was on bedrest with my pregnancy, so it's possible I hated every movie I saw at that time (Spanglish, included).

That being said, I felt the same was when I finally watched Casablanca last year. Very, very disappointed. I'm going to stop listening to people about movies.


I didn't like Sideways and I totally agree about Christian Bale's voice in the Dark Knight, However I loved Lord of the Rings the Two Towers, so I call blasphemy on that remark.

Also to Gary: as a Mom of two little children, I don't get out to the movies often either. That doesn't mean you are not allowed to have opinions on the movies you see on DVD. In fact, I think that is the whole point of the post.

Maxine Dangerous

I really like Sideways, but it was incorrectly billed as a comedy. That made the sadness so much harder to take. I initially didn't like the movie at all, but went back to it a few times for the scenes I did like. Now I know what sort of mood I need to be before watching it (read: not depressed). I also need to make sure I've picked up my smoking jacket from the dry cleaners. ;)

I blame the hype for my dislike of Lost in Translation and Million Dollar Baby.


After reading all this I'm reminded of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine is kvetching about The English Patient.


I'm glad I'm not the only one who was underwhelmed by "Titanic." Everyone went on and on about how fantastic it was, and I was not impressed. Same with "There's Something About Mary." It was not nearly as hysterically funny as everyone made it out to be.

"Better Off Dead," however, is comedy gold.


I think the Dark Knight has more effect (as do many movies) when you see if on the big screen. Dark Night was shot in IMAX for crying out loud so I think alot of the things that made it mindblowing in the theater just don't translate to your home TV.

For me at least part of the movie experience is seeing it on that big screen. After seeing 300 in a theater I would never want to see it at home on my 27" TV, because the epic nature of it and the massive scale of it just doesn't translate. To me "Blockbusters" rarely have the same feel at home, I think that is because for all intents and purposes movies are made to be seen on a big screen, not on a television set.

Personally, I'm a movie junkie, but I rarely fall into the hype from reviewers or friends, mostly because some of my favorite movies are movies that everyone else either didn't see or thought were crap.

Sorry DK disappointed.


I was actually shocked that I'd seen something that was nominated this year. Dark Night was good, but I had expected better too. Mostly it was so freaking loud. But I saw it in the theater and I was pretty pregnant, so it might have just seemed louder to me.

I like the first Lord of the Rings, but could care less about the other two. Although I love Orlando Bloom as an elf.



Everyone kept telling me it was the best ever - that it was this year's LIttle Miss Sunshine. Um... no. Not even close. It might have been a better movie than I'm giving it credit for but I walked out of the theater completely annoyed by the whole thing.


Totally agree with BlackEyedGurl, seeing them in the theater always helps. Preferably with a large crowd. I almost never make it to the theater, but did manage to see Dark Knight in IMAX and... wow.

I do agree with you, Sarah, about Sideways, though. And don't bother reading No Country For Old Men. The book is even more annoying than the movie.(Maybe when Gary learns about punctuation he can teach Cormac McCarthy.)


I had, and still have, no interest in seeing Sideways. The Two Towers was a necessity to get to The Return of the King, which was awesome. And I'll see No Country For Old Men after I've read the book because I've heard it's damn confusing. But I do think Heath Ledger was amazing in The Dark Knight, and here's why- if it hadn't been for his hair, I wouldn't have ever known it was Heath Ledger. That's why the first scenes were such a surprise, when he's first revealed. How many other actors- even those who wore makeup, prosthetics, etc- can you say that about? He changed his voice, body language, and whole presence in that movie. I think it was a real breakthrough and showed a range that most actors simply aren't capable of.


OK, I get this post and the feeling of movies not being able to live up to their hype, but I've got to say the only person who can be blamed for that is you. If you decide not to see movies until they come out on DVD you should probably just avoid all really amazing movies, because no movie can live up to the hype that many of these movies absolutely deserved. Exactly what you're describing happened when I finally went to see Forest Gump, and my response to that was "next time I'd better not wait so long."

But maybe that's just me.

And Gary needs to repeat kindergarten, the place I learned not to behave that way.


I LOVED Sideways, so there. ;)

The only part that truly pissed me off was the moper (as someone referred to him, above) stealing money from his mom.

Then again, we go to that particular wine country a lot, have been to those restaurants and wineries, etc., so it's a personal thing for me.

What that movie did to wineries that relied solely on their sales of Merlot? YIKES! They were most definitely NOT liking Sideways!


One day civilization will collapse, and on that day we will have to choose one movie, and only one, to carry forward into the barbaric future. That movie must carry the spark of the human spirit with it, so that it will ignite a blaze and redeem us once more. And I think that movie will be Better Off Dead.


Palinode. I told the paperboy to eff off. Your post is totally worth his "Two dollarsss!"


I totally did not get Lost in Translation, and Big Fish, and Titanic. All were overrated.

Karen Sugarpants

Go rent Dan in Real Life. I'm not saying any more than that. I saw it with no expectations.

Out of the movies you listed, I've only seen Old Country and well, meh.

Mr Lady

Sideways pissed me off, for exactly this reason. You know what else did? Blair Witch. I would have loved it if I'd never heard of it before.


I don't let ANYONE tell me more than "liked it" "didn't like" about ANY movie. I have had good movies ruined for the same reason, and hated others for worse. My own mother is the worst offender out of everyone. I had a gag order on her issued.


I had this same problem with Pulp Fiction, years ago. For a year after it came out, everybody told me how amazing it was. When I finally saw it, I was all, "What's so great about this movie?"


L.A. Story is STILL one of my favorite movies. Ever.

Joie at Canned Laughter

You're not alone. I just say Dark Knight yesterday. I was dragging my feet since I disliked the first one with the Welsh Whelp, Bale. It was better, but what was the thing with Heath Ledger sticking his tongue out constantly. It was like he was channeling Beetlejuice instead of Joker. I became so fascinated, obsessed, repulsed by his tongue, I couldn't get what it was that was supposed to be so great about his performance.

Aimee Greeblemonkey

I did love Dark Knight and thought Heath was good, but not mindblowing like people said. But I was going to like Dark Knight no matter what cause I love those kind of movies. They are escapes. I have different expectations for every movie I see. But you are totally right, when people set a movie up as the next coming, it's hard to see it for what it is.

Aimee Greeblemonkey

P.S. I feel asleep during Napoleon Dynamite.


I hated Sideways. Everybody in the film was a loser.

And I agree with you about The Two Towers, both the movie and the book. I once saw it summarized, in total, as "They rode and rode and rode and rode and rode...."

(But Better Off Dead is definitely in my top five.)


I was just clicking through as your birthday present, but I HAD to comment. I also hated No Country for Old Men, AND I also fell asleep during Rings Two Towers. Love this post.


I just happened to stumble on this and wow.. just wow. Why do you even have a blog? That was 5 minutes I'm never getting back. You should get rid of all the films you mentioned and just insert this article in their place. Don't quit your day job. Unless this is your day job in which case please quit.

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