18 Movies That Are Shamefully Underrated

Art is subjective. Not everyone is going to like everything, and not every film is going to be a broadly reaching Marvel blockbuster. Of course, in modern cinema, with the reach of the internet, most movies are able to find their demographic and receive proper recognition. That being said, not every film gets its proper due. Whether it’s critically or publicly, these are a few movies that I feel are woefully underappreciated.

-Kiss Kiss Bang Bang-

Director: Shane Black

Writer: Shane Black

Release: October 21, 2005

Metacritic Rating: 72

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a neo-noir starring a post-Heat Val Kilmer, pre-Iron Man Robert Downey Jr., and was written and directed by Shane Black. That sentence should tell you everything you need to know about this movie. It’s a clever, if not a bit convoluted at times, and is packed full of witty dialogue and memorable scenes. It may be my favorite Robert Downey Jr. role and it’s a Val Kilmer that I wish I could see more of. It’s just a flat-out fun movie.

-Other People-

Director: Chris Kelly

Writer: Chris Kelly

Release: September 9, 2016

Metacritic Rating: 68

2016 had its fair share of underrated films, but in my opinion none moreso than Chris Kelly’s comedy/drama Other People. It’s a surprisingly powerful film about a son dealing with his mother’s cancer, while trying to make sense of his own life. As the title suggests the film focuses on how we sometimes get caught up in our own little bubble and overlook the tribulations that other people face. Molly Shannon is absolutely fantastic in this movie and her performance alone warrants a viewing.

-In Bruges-

Director: Martin McDonagh

Writer: Martin McDonagh

Release: February 8, 2008

Metacritic Rating: 67

This film probably appears on almost every “Underrated Films” list that you’ve ever seen. But it definitely deserves to be. It’s a dark- comedy about two hitmen, played by Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell who are forced into hiding in the Belgian city of Bruges. Ralph Fiennes supports and all three actors provide great performances. It’s a witty, dark, unapologetic, and a damn good time.

-Clue-

Director:  Jonathan Lynn

Writer: Jonathan Lynn, John Landis

Release: December 13, 1985

Metacritic Rating: 35

Maybe this movie just caught me at the right time in life, but I’ll never understand why it gets a bad rap. Sure, it’s based on a boardgame. But the cast, particularly Tim Curry,  gives inspired performances and it’s a fun ride throughout. I get that the multiple endings may come across as gimmicky to some, but that never really bothered me.  Even if it falls short of being a timeless classic, the film remains a novel attempt by a truly talented cast, and I can’t help but enjoy it.

 

-Blue Valentine-

Director: Derek Cianfrance

Writer: Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis, Cami Delavigne

Release: December 29, 2010

Metacritic Rating: 81

This movie is an absolutely devastating portrait of a relationship that has ran it’s course. Blue Valentine delves into the stark contrast between the giddy happiness and the painful sadness that come with loving someone. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star as a couple whose marriage is falling apart around them as they try to recapture flashes of love they used to share. It’s intense, and compelling, and most of all powerful, particularly in the third act. This film is brilliantly acted and directed and is a truly bitter, yet beautiful, experience.

-Brick-

Director: Rian Johnson

Writer: Rian Johnson

Release: April 7, 2006

Metacritic Rating: 72

Long before Rian Johnson was directing Star Wars movies he was working on this indie passion project. Brick is a neo-nior mystery that centers on a  hardboiled detective story set in a California suburb. Johnson’s script is smart, if not a bit convoluted at points, and, tonally, Brick nails the classic gumshoe vibe.

-A Goofy Movie-

Director: Kevin Lima

Writer: Chris Matheson, Jymn Magon, Brian Pimental

Release: April 7, 1995

Metacritic Rating: N/A

This 1995 Disney film was neither commercially nor critically successful, and I’ve never been quite sure why. Perhaps it’s been unfairly compared to the other classic Disney films of the 90’s like The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. But if judged on it’s own merits, I feel that A Goofy Movie is a thoroughly enjoyable film. The songs, while not the best Disney has done, are fun and catchy. The animation is crisp and well done and the humor, while slightly *cough* goofy, provides a fair amount of honest laughs. Maybe I’m just looking back with rose-colored glasses, but I’m pretty fond of this film, and I dare say it’s one of my favorite animated films.

-Goon-

Director: Michael Dowse

Writer:  Jay Baruchel, Evan Goldberg

Release: February 24, 2012

Metacritic Rating: 64

A good friend of mine had been recommending this movie to me for a long time, and I’ll admit I should’ve heeded his advice much sooner than I did. Goon is a surprisingly original hockey comedy starring Sean William Scott, Liev Schreiber, and Jay Baruchel. The humor can go pretty blue and the sports scenes can get pretty brutal, but this film has quite a bit of heart and Scott delivers his best performance.

 

-Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story-

Director: Jake Kasdan

Writer: Jake Kasdan, Judd Apatow

Release: December 21, 2007

Metacritic Rating: 63

Both a tribute and satire of the music biopic genre, Walk Hard is both genuinely funny and markedly clever. The film tackles the tropes and flaws of films like Ray, The Doors, and most notably, Walk the Line. However, it does so in a lighthearted manner without patronizing. John C. Reilly is hilarious as the titular character and the supporting cast boasts the likes of Kristen Wiig, Jenna Fischer, Harold Ramis, Tim Meadows, and quite a few more.

-Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping-

Director: Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone

Writer: Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, Andy Samberg

Release: June 3, 2016

Metacritic Rating: 68

I was genuinely shocked that this film ended up being a box office bomb. It grossed only $9.5 million on a $20 million budget despite being bolstered by the talents of The Lonely Island, providing dozens of entertaining cameos, and receiving favorable reviews. Personally, I was extremely excited to see this film and ended up catching it in the theater on its opening day. I laughed my ass off. It was one of, if not the, funniest film(s) of 2016 and, despite having literally two or three jokes a minute, it had only two or three total that didn’t work for me. That’s a ratio very few comedy films can boast.

-Mystery Men-

Director: Kinka Usher

Writer: Neil Cuthbert, Bob Burden

Release: August 6, 1999

Metacritic Rating: 65

We have a tradition in my family that every Christmas Eve we open a couple of bottles wine and watch this movie. It’s to this day probably my favorite superhero movie. Mystery Men is a spinoff of Bob Burden’s comic series The Flaming Carrot, and features several characters from the original work. The film revolves around a team of blue collar wannabe heroes as they attempt to protect their city from a much more legitimate villain. It features a surprisingly star-studded cast with Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, and  William H. Macy as the three leads, Geoffrey Rush as the antagonist Cassanova Frankenstein, and Greg Kinnear as the arrogant, yet successful, hero of the city. Eddie Izzard, Paul Reubens, Wes Studi, Janeane Garofalo, Tom Waits, and Kel Mitchell also play supporting roles.  It’s a unique take on the superhero genre and has a certain quirky charm that few films have.

-Half Nelson-

Director: Ryan Fleck

Writer: Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden

Release: August 11, 2006

Metacritic Rating: 85

This is probably Gosling’s best performance. It’s certainly my favorite. Half Nelson is the story of a inner-city middle school teacher, named Dan Dunne, (played by Gosling) that develops a friendship with one of his students after she discovers his drug addiction. The film tiptoes on the line between the self-destructive Dan trying to be a positive influence on his student, and his battle with his own demons. It’s a poignant look at the complexities of the individual, and how they can affect those around us. Shareeka Epps and Anthony Mackie also give inspired performances as Dan’s student and the neighborhood dealer respectively.

-Chef-

Director: Jon Favreau

Writer:  Jon Favreau

Release: May 9, 2014

Metacritic Rating: 68

Chef is Favreau’s ode to the indie movie, and it’s filled to the brim with all of his passion and enthusiasm for filmmaking. The story is predicatble and the acting is serviceable, but it’s simply a well-made, and likable, film. The strong supporting cast and excellent direction elevate this film from an all too familiar passion project into a charming and feel-good flick.

-Warrior-

Director: Gavin O’Connor

Writer: Gavin O’Connor, Anthony Tambkis, Cliff Dorfman

Release: September 9, 2011

Metacritic Rating: 71

On the surface, Warrior comes across as a cliche brawler that relies on its brutal action to entertain. However, on a deeper level it packs quite an emotional punch. Sure, the fight scenes are cool, but Tom Hardy gives one of his best performances, and Nick Nolte is sensational. Warrior is a gripping and intense sports drama that, despite its initial shallow appearance, proves to be wholly entertaining.

-Lars and the Real Girl-

Director: Craig Gillespie

Writer: Nancy Oliver

Release: October 12, 2007

Metacritic Rating: 70

Lars and the Real Girl is a gentle and somewhat odd comedy about an introverted man who falls in love with a sex doll. Yeah, that premise sounds like it could turn turn out pretty awful, but luckily, Gillespie and company handle the script with care and a patient maturity. They avoid the expected and predictable jokes, and instead focus on the characters and what drives them. What could have very easily been a tonally bland and gimmicky film turns out to be an off-beat study of character, family, and love.

-Sleepwalk with Me-

Director: Mike Birbiglia

Writer: Mike Birbiglia, Ira Glass, Joe Birbiglia, Seth Barrish

Release: August 24, 2012

Metacritic Rating: 71

Birbiglia’s  2016 film Don’t Think Twice is probably interchangeable with this pick, but considering it’s meager $4.4 million box office is double that of  his first film, I’ve decided to go with Sleepwalk with Me. This debut for the stand-up/filmmaker is extremely reminiscent of early Woody Allen works, particularly Annie Hall. Birbiligia loosely bases the film on his own life and experiences and it was actually adapted from his broadway one-man show of the same name. The lead character, aptly named Matt Pandamiglio, is a low-level stand-up whose relationship is falling apart just as he begins suffering from bouts of sleepwalking. It feels surreal,  yet entirely grounded at the same time, and by the end of the film you feel like you know Matt like an old friend.

 

-Everybody Wants Some!!-

Director: Richard Linklater

Writer: Richard Linklater

Release: March 30, 2016

Metacritic Rating: 83

A sort of spiritual successor to Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!!, like many of Linklater’s films, was critically praised and commercially overlooked. Very much like Dazed and Confused, the plot doesn’t move too fast and nor get too fancy. Instead, it focuses a college baseball team in 1980 Texas enjoying the first few days of college life before classes start. It’s a simple premise that packs in a whole lot of clever dialogue, feel-good vibes, and likable characters.

-They Came Together-

Director: David Wain

Writer: David Wain, Michael Showalter

Release: June 27, 2014

Metacritic Rating: 60

This 2014 film is the brainchild of the crew behind cult-classic Wet Hot American Summer, and feels very much the same. It’s packed with absurd humor lampooning a tired trope-ridden genre. Just like Showalter and Wain’s previous works you’ll probably find this movie to be either asinine and childish or ridiculously funny. However, Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler, as the titular “they”, are about as charming as it gets, and their chemistry is palpable. Like most spoof films, the jokes are crammed in as tightly as possible, but most hit the mark.


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