And I’m back!

Hi all!

After a harrowing semester where my kid was quite sick (fine now), I fell so far behind on my teaching that I will get terrible evaluations, and I got a doctorate, I’m here! Dr. Woodhouse, PhD. (Note: from now on, I demand the use of both the suffix and the prefix.)

I have barely been able to tamp down the constant clamoring for my blogging presence of late. To satisfy you, my ones of fans, I am back and ready to write. I really did miss you all.

First up: let’s talk movies! What do you think is the most overrated and underrated movie?

Rose Woodhouse

Elizabeth Picciuto was born and reared on Long Island, and, as was the custom for the time and place, got a PhD in philosophy. She freelances, mainly about disability, but once in a while about yeti. Mother to three children, one of whom is disabled, two of whom have brown eyes, three of whom are reasonable cute, you do not want to get her started talking about gardening.


  1. Welcome back, Kotter!

    Er, I mean Dr. Woodhouse, PhD.

    My vote for overrated movie: Wow hard. I’m rather tired of the whole Special Effects driven movies of the past year and superhero movies claiming to be something deeper than they really are. Though part of me is also trying not to be snooty about mainstream stuff as much.

    I’ve come back from a few weeks of cultural misconnections at work. Basically I exist in my own world as compared to my office mates when it came to music, books, and movies. I did not know their stuff and they did not known mine. In terms of music, I drew audible gasps by having negative opinions on Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton and Hotel California by the Eagles.

    Underrated movie: It is more that the movies I love need to be seen by more people. They are well-respected among the Art House set though.

    • “In terms of music, I drew audible gasps by having negative opinions on Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton and Hotel California by the Eagles.”

      were monacles dropped? (presumably cocaine-encrusted monacles?)

      • Hey, did anybody find any monocles around here?

        I’m just, uh…asking for a friend.

        And Showgirls was my finest hour!

    • “I’m rather tired of the whole Special Effects driven movies of the past year and superhero movies claiming to be something deeper than they really are.”

      I don’t know if you had the recent slate of Batman movies in mind when you wrote this, but that’s my feeling. Of the two I saw (I didn’t see the third), I thought the second one overreached in terms of trying to be a deep exploration of Batman’s/Wayne’s inner demons, almost to the point of being preachy. I thought the first was much better at being understated in conveying Wayne’s angst. I imagine I’m in a minority on this one (most people who I’ve heard talk of the movies liked the second one better.)

      • Partially. I enjoyed the Dark Knight when it came out but it does not hold up to afterthought in many ways. Though many things do not.

        That being said, I can go on a whole mini-rant about things that people do to seem deep, philosophical, lone wolfey, and fierce but reveal otherwise. Examples include people who think they are hardcore for making their abodes all Samurai or getting Kanji tattoos.

      • I’d go further. Anything I ever wanted to know about Bruce Wayne I got when I was a 10-year-old reading comic books, and I want to see a new movie about him like I want to see ones about the Flintstones or the Brady Bunch.

  2. I cannot express how morose pissed-off bloated nauseated annoyed petulant eczematous impecunious lethargic delighted your return makes me.

    Most overrated? I’m going with “Sideways,” but there are oh, so many contenders.

    Underrated? Hmmmm. I’ll have to ponder that one.

    • “excematous” is why you’re my best friend.

  3. Overrated: Any of the Star Wars movies.

    Underrated: The Kids Are Alright (the one about The Who), which is simply the best movie about a rock band, ever.

    • You know, I’ve never seen The Kids Are Alright. I should add that to my queue.

      The Fearless Freaks (Flaming Lips doc) was excellent, not just for the window into the band members, but also their family histories and the unique relative cultural isolation of where they live (Oklahoma), all of which which played into their creative processes. Even if you know nothing about the band, it’s a really good doc.

      For the Who tie-in, seeing the Who was a formative experience for Wayne Coyne and he talks about that in the film (Bob Pollard has talked about that too – I guess when you’re a sort of arty weirdo kid in a blue-collar setting, certain things can just hit you like a bolt from the blue).

    • The thing about Star Wars is, I would probably never have realized how bad they were if the prequels hadn’t been made. Those prequels caused me to question the whole franchise.

  4. I’m glad you’re back.

    I’m not sure if I have a vote for *most* overrated movie, but I do think that “Dr. Strangelove” is overrated.

    For underrated, I might say “You Can Count on Me.”….well, I’m not sure it’s “underrated,” but it doesn’t seem like it was a blockbuster

    • I’m not sure if I have a vote for *most* overrated movie, but I do think that “Dr. Strangelove” is overrated.

      You, sir, are dead to me!

      Also, congratulations Dr. Woodhouse, and welcome back.

      • I realize it’s supposed to be really funny and profound: “The military says ‘Peace is our profession’? Wait a minute, that can’t be right. Doesn’t the military fight wars? Those people are a bunch of goofballs. By the way, it’s a really good thing they got Peter Sellers to play all those roles because it would have been a much worse movie with one-actor per character. I used to think nuclear war was a good idea, but now I’m having second thoughts.”

        I’m probably being unfair to the movie. I do realize it’s much more than I’m giving it credit for, and as Orwell pointing out in his review of Tolstoy’s critique of Shakespeare, just because one doesn’t like something doesn’t mean that something is bad. Not that I’m Tolstoy, mind you.

    • By the way, Doctor, I forgot to congratulate you. Hopefully, I’ll too be one of those “doctors who can’t prescribe medicine” in a few weeks.

  5. Congrats. Very impressive.

    I’ll cosign Sideways being overrated. Nice movie, not a revelation. Pulp Fiction is also overrated. Good flick made with lots of style and skill. Nothing cosmic, a lot of flash with much less substance. Snappy dialogue and stylish violence can be fun in a way, but it gets old fast. His followers didn’t really do him a lot of favours since they apparently had a bit to little knowledge of movie history.

    • I was amazed the first time I saw Pulp Fiction, and I still think it’s a pretty good movie. But it’s nowhere near as good (to me, at least) as I thought it was when I first saw it. It seems a bit cliche’d. I wonder if that’s because it’s had so many imitators. (It’s also possible I’m out of my league. I don’t know much about film history.)

      • Pulp Fiction is an awesome movie… in a “cinematic history” sense.

        That doesn’t mean it’s everything and a bag of chips!
        Just that everyone saw it, and said “hey, let’s do that!”

  6. congrats on the phd’ing!

    most overrated: big lebowski
    most underrated: showgirls

      • Agree on that. it is not possible to overrate The Dude.

      • I’ve said this before, and I do quote the film, but Lebowski is a rarity in the Coen’s films for me, in that it mostly doesn’t land.

        • depending on what side of the internet sewer you’re wading in, it’s at least 72% lebowski or firefly quotes.

          anyway, overrated doesn’t mean “bad” – it just means nowhere near as good as it’s played up to be.

          however: i will defend showgirls to the death.

          it’s one of the most brutally nihilistic satires of the american dream ever made. it is incredibly entertaining. not in a so bad it’s good way, but in a so unflinchingly brutal that all of your senses get skullscrewed in a melee.

          the small town girl turns out to be an empty candy shell, and her quest for finding a feeling beyond numb leads to (mostly) tragedy, outside of her antinomian apotheosis.

          she survives vegas by becoming vegas.

          i like bad/”bad” movies, like tokyo drift. or miami connection. i know entertainment. this is more like entertainment through pain, just not as literal as the robo-realtor from robocop, marching you through the detritus of a dream that’s rotted on the vine.

          and say what you will about the directing style of paul verhoeven, at least he has an ethos.

          • My wife loves Showgirls, but I doubt with as much analysis as you’ve put into it here; I think she just finds it enjoyably trashy. I have never seen it.

            Of the Verhoeven films I have seen (the 3 sci-fi ones +Basic Instinct), I liked RoboCop.

            And yeah, Lebowski isn’t bad, it just doesn’t make me laugh the way the Coens can (though it does have a couple funny scenes/bits) Something about the film’s rhythm is off for me, and not in a stoned amusing way, but in a comic-timing-spoiling way.

          • your wife has good taste. the “ver says” scene demonstrates the perfection of the casting. because you get the sense she really is a rube, an empty candy shell, all acting/”acting” aside. you really should watch it, though i warn you to keep a bucket handy as it will melt your mind.

            robocop is just tremendously good moviemaking. it’s what cinema was meant to be.

  7. Most overrated movies:

    Anything with Tom Hanks in it that people consider good.

    The beautifully filmed yet mind-numbingly boring The English Patient.

    Also, the vast majority of Woodie Allens oeuvre.

    • Also, Rose, you need to change your bio in the sidebar. It should say “Dr. Rose Woodhouse, PhD, no longer ABD in philosophy, has totally gotten that dissertation done.”

    • Anything with Tom Hanks in it that people consider good.

      Say, for instance, Forrest Gump? I’ve never understood what all the fuss was about. I found it BORING beyond belief.

    • You didn’t like Big? Or That Thing You Do? Or Toy Story?

  8. Overrated: Magnolia; Little Miss Sunshine; Juno

    Underrated: Southland Tales. A mess, certainly, but an incredibly-ambitious mess that might be as close as recent American “mainstream” (scare quotes intentional, obviously) filmmaking has gotten to Jodorowsky.

    “Scientists are saying the future is going to be far more futuristic than they originally predicted.”

    • I agree with your “overrated’s” (I haven’t seen Southland Tales). Magnolia, in my opinion, could have been much better without the narration with the law-school hypothetical and “different points coming together.” It still might not have been great, but it would have been better.

      • I’m still not sure that I can think clearly enough about Magnolia to offer constructive criticism on what might have helped it, it made me so angry!

        It did have some great performances though, including Cruise’s.

        • For full effect, read “so angry” in Marvin the Martian’s voice.

        • My anger at movies prevents me from thinking well of movies that might not be all that bad (see “Dr. Strangelove” above, and “Princess Bride”). For some reason, Magnolia didn’t make me angry, although I can see how it might make others so.

          • Magnolia and the Princess Bride???!!!

            to quote Chris :You sir are dead to me”

    • Juno was surprisingly good at characterization. But the hype was bad, really bad.

    • I’m with Glyph on Magnolia. It wasn’t bad, I guess, but it was ponderous and made little impression on me. It had some moments, like the search for the missing gun, and Tom Cruise’s pitch for his lecture. But the frogs, the group song… None of it resonated and generally it felt more like it had to be endured than enjoyed.

      Judge if you must.

      • I thought the police character and William H. Macy’s character were the strongest parts of the movie. Even Cruise wasn’t bad, and I tend to…..strongly dislike…..him. I think the frog think *might* have worked if it had been the only weird thing about the movie and hadn’t been accompanied by the group song and some other things in the movie we could mention.

  9. Woo hoo! And congrats on obtaining both the prefix and the suffix!

  10. Salutations and felicitations in equal measures.

  11. Welcome back doctor.

    Overrated is hard, so all I can do is offer some suggestions.

    Star Wars (the whole saga).
    2001: A Space Odyssey. Replace HAL with a soccer ball and you have Castaway.
    No Country for Old Men. – “yeah, you’re boring and killers are weird.”
    Fargo. Ditto.
    The Shining. A character so boring he became killer – who was still pretty boring. It should’ve been a Twilight Zone episode, not a feature length film.
    The Big Chill.
    The Hangover.
    The Shawshank Redemption.
    Citizen Kane.
    Annie Hall.
    Gone With the Wind.
    The Breakfast Club.

    Many films with Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Robin Williams, or Julia Roberts.

    • Let’s see… going through your list top to bottom:

      I like the original trilogy, without the added crap Lucas ruined it with. The prequels are evidence of a cruelly distant God.
      Love bits of it. Could do without a lot of it.
      Never seen it.
      You, sir, are dead to me.
      Never seen it all the way through. I do poorly with scary movies.
      Never seen it.
      Never seen it.
      You are not only dead to me, now I must desecrate your burial ground.
      Agreed. Now I feel bad about desecrating your burial ground, and have purchased a conciliatory wreath.
      And now I am stomping on the wreath.
      Meh. I disagree, but am OK with disagreeing with you.
      Totally agree with you on this one. Making a generous donation to charity in your memory.

      And I agree about the addendum.

      • Always with the desecrating…

        (this was hilarious, Doc).

    • One of my problems with Cruise, Hanks, and Williams (not so much with Roberts, but I see where you’re coming from) is that I have a hard time watching a movie they’re in and separating the actor from the character. I see Cruise, Hanks, or Williams, and not whatever character they’re playing.

      Breakfast Club is SOOOOOOO overrated. They spend the day learning to respect each other, and at the end, they take advantage of the nerd’s writing ability. (That’s not the only thing wrong, but it’s always irked me.)

      • Cruise has occasionally surprised me (Magnolia, Tropic Thunder) but he’s mostly blah. Hanks is almost always blah (Splash and Big excepted). Williams can actually be good when he dials it down (One Hr Photo, Good Will Hunting).

        Roberts is the one that I think future generations will re-evaluate to a better reputation than she has now. She doesn’t have huge range, but she is a movie star, old school – that smile lights up a screen, and in the right role she is incredibly appealing.

        • breakfast club is silly. i think it’s like scientology or patriotism – if you don’t see it when you’re young, it just seems ridiculous when you’re older.

        • Robin Williams can be downright awesome.
          Him playing himself? Well, it /can/ be good, and it /can/ be awful — like any improv.
          (It’s fun when he makes you do spittakes — “You put /what/ in a Disney movie?!”)

          • I saw the movie where they let Robin Williams play a serial murderer. I also saw him doing shakespeare. (and in Toys, which was quite good) The man does know how to act.

          • One Hour Photo. You’ll never look at Mr. Williams the same again.

        • I liked Cruise in Rain Man because instead of “jerk redeemed by love” he played “love turned him into slightly less of a jerk than he started out as”.

  12. For short, can we use Dr. PhD., Rose beyond compare?

    Congratulations. Condolence. Commiserations. A pause to catch my breath, your business is exhausting!

    Most underrated ever? (True admission: I haven’t seen many movies in nearly a decade; they’re migraine triggers.) I’m nominating Repo Man and every single movie staring Uma Thurman except the one about New Jersey.

    Most Overrated? Everything with Mel Gibson in it.

    So you get one movie, one underrated star, and one overrated star.

    I’m very happy for you child’s recovery, Rose. For you Dr. PhD. And for your return.

    • Counterpoint: Road Warrior is one of the all-time great post-apocalyptic AND action movies.

      • Road Warriors is the exception that proves the rule, the square root of -2. It is one of my favorite movies, I have a deep and abiding love of dystopian, which means I should probably embrace the star, who’s living his own end-of-times nightmare.

      • Actually, some of his other early movies are quite good – Galipoli, The Year of Living Dangerously…

        • Both of those, and Road Warrior, are great films despite Mel Gibson. You’d have to pay me an awful lot of money to watch anything he’s produced recently.

  13. “Most Overrated? Everything with Mel Gibson in it. ”

    Even “Signs”?!

    Just kidding, I agree almost completely, although I did like “Year of Living Dangerously.”

        • His remake of Avatar should have him in stocks at the Hague for crimes against humanity in general and crimes against all child-kind in particular.

        • You can add “The Sixth Sense” to the overrated list for me. (Haven’t seen any of his others.) The twist ending distracts from the numerous gaping plot holes, which cause the entire story to collapse if you stop and think about it for thirty seconds.

          • I agree that the “Sixth Sense” is overrated. However, for me, it was good escapism and brain candy, and better than his other stuff.

  14. Yay, welcome back!

    Most overrated: Lost in Translation. Bill Murray’s performance was the only good thing about that film.

    Most underrated: Dune (1984). This version makes up a bunch of stuff that’s not in the books, and that pisses people off, but it was my favorite film for years and years, and I would still watch it again with anyone who would sit with me.

    Also, I’ve only seen two films by Jim Jarmusch–Ghost Dog and Broken Flowers–but both were so excellent I have to give a shout out here.

      • I thought Tokyo also gave a fine performance. Very Tokyo-ish.

        People don’t like Lost in Translation? I had no idea. I think it’s a lovely little mood piece.

        • I liked it OK. I’m no great fan of Scarlett Johansson, but thought she did fine. I just agree that it was terribly overrated. I would probably find it unwatchable now, though.

          “Are you kidding me?!?! You’re stuck in one of the most exciting cities in the world, in a country rich with culture, and with nothing but free time on your hands…. and you don’t have kids?!??!???! You can see incredibly sights and learn a lot and also nap to your heart’s content?” Total sympathy fail.

          • Maybe it is having spent some time in a country where I didn’t speak the language while also going through a bit of romantic turmoil/ambiguity – but you’ll never feel more alone than you do then, and I thought the film tonally captured that sense of displacement/alienation.

            Being depressed is hard enough when you can actually read a menu, or communicate with the driver to get change, or lose yourself in a book. Without even that much, you may as well be a ghost already.

          • Hmmm. I actually can relate to that, as it’s kind of how things were for me during part of my trip to India. Maybe I’ll watch it again one of these days with that in mind.

          • A friend of mine is fond of dumping people in strange places. (yes, they’re alive!)
            Occasionally, there are ways for these people to return to America.

      • In fairness, I watch Dune whenever it scrolls by in the guide.

        It’s totally horrible, though.

        • I have a friend (well, two friends, but one ended up on the cutting room floor) who was in Dune, the blue-eyed, spiced-out mother of a Freman baby.

          And she agrees; totally horrible. So bad it verges on good, like Plan 9 From Outer Space.

          But I could never again read the first book, something I read repeatedly, after watching the movie. And for that, I mourn.

  15. Welcome back Dr. Woodhouse and congratulations on your Ph.D. It’s a wonderful feeling to be out of the ABD wilderness.

    Most overrated movie: Forrest Gump (as mentioned above). Critics loved it, but I found it puerile. And boring. Really, really boring.

  16. Huzzah!!! Welcome back, The Most Honorable Doctor Rose Woodhouse, PhD! The League has been considerably less without you.

    Most overrated movie? Yeah, I’ll go there: Citizen Kane, hands down.

    Most underrated? I’m tempted to say Waterworld, since it is widely considered to be one of the worst movies of all time on the basis that people were getting really tired of Kevin Costner, but in reality is merely tepid and not very interesting. But I think I’ll go with The Fisher King, which I really do love.

    • Overrated, as in, critics say best movie ever and it’s so not? Raging Bull.

  17. Most Overrated: L’uomo che guarda
    Most Underrated: Lemon Popsicle

    There, now I’ve done my standard “suggest something that no one has ever heard of.”

    p.s. Anyone watched Sex is Zero?

  18. I dunno, I can’t put my finger on one for Overrated.

    But I loved the Prestige a lot and was always confused about why it got so little love.

      • I found it interesting but a bit of a let down in the science area that the book explored. It was neat once, but I think I’d need at least on rematch to see if it was worth re watching more than once again.

  19. Welcome back and congrats, Doctor PhD.!

    Several of my nominees for most overrated have already been referenced above (although dhex and Glyph’s outrageous attack on Lebowski demonstrates them to be horrible human beings deserving of time in a League “dark site” for reeducation). So to that list I’ll just add: Grease. Words cannot express just how much I despise every single thing about that movie.

    For underrated movies, I’m not sure if I’m enough of a film afficionado to have a strong opinion, but for now I’ll go with Red State, which I feel would have been better appreciated if it had a different title. It’s not my favorite movie of all time, but I seem to have liked it significantly more than most folks who saw it.

    • Just be grateful you’re not gay, man. You have no idea how often I’ve been forced to pretend to like “Grease.” (I like exactly one song and one performance in that damn movie.) It’s in the fine print of my contract, violation of which will result in being tied to a chair and forced to watch the film version of “Mama Mia” in an endless loop for 48 hours until they break my spirit.

    • I like Grease, but only as a vehicle to listen to the music.

      • This is totally none of my business, but it’s something I’ve not been able suss out from your comments before. Feel free to tell me to cram my nosy questions. But are you a fellow friend of Dorothy? Do you dance at my church?

          • I’m pretty sure that answers my question. Friend of Dorothy = gay, but is a euphemism that’s familiar only to friends of Dorothy.

          • I knew what it meant…because I’m a friend of a friend of Dorothy. 😉

          • Thanks. For a moment, I thought maybe it was a quote from “Grease” that I had forgotten.

            To answer the question (if my ignorance wasn’t answer enough already): I have nothing against Dorothy, and several of her friends are my friends, but I’m not exactly friends with her. Not that she’s a bad gal, just not my type. 🙂

        • … because you can’t spell subtext without buttsex.

  20. Most overrated: Eyes Wide Shut.
    Most underrated: Ed’s Next Move.

    (Although I notice that at Rotten Tomatoes, the former has a rating of 77% fresh, as opposed to the latter’s rating of 80%. The gap is too small, but my faith in humanity is somewhat restored.)

    • Eyes Wide Shut was terrible, but it was one of my favorite movie-going experiences due to one anonymous wag in the darkened theater.

      Kubrick had just died, so when his name came up on screen, there was a round of tasteful applause from the audience, falling into an anticipatory hush, awaiting the final film from the master.

      Then the opening shot comes up, of Nicole Kidman’s shapely nude derriere, and one guy in the back starts applauding like mad, to a damburst of laughter from everyone.

      It was probably the high point of that guy’s life.

      Pity the film didn’t live up to anyone’s expectations.

      • The best thing I can say about “Eyes Wide Shut” is that it finally gave me a reason to ponder whether all those rumors about Cruise being gay were true.

  21. I have no desire to talk movies.

    Only to say “welcome back, professor”. We’ve missed you.

  22. Ultra congratulations, Dr. Woodhouse, Ph.D!

    Most overrated movie: Last Tango in Paris.

  23. Just realized I never answered this question.

    Overrated: Crash. It sucked. Plus, I like giving Russell another opportunity to vent about how much he hated Crash, because I hated it too.

    Underrated: This is hard, because movies that are any damn good are loved by somebody, and somebody always loves it more than its worth. “Hell Comes to Frogtown” is loved by somebody, and given the actual amount that they love it, it’s loved more than it deserves, probably. I’ll say “D.A.R.Y.L.”, because nobody mentions it in a list of childhood movies and it’s truly a great childhood movie.

    • Oh, Patrick. Surely I’ve vented about “Crash” enough.

      I mean, I’ve already lamented its ham-fisted plotting, its empty moralizing, its transparent attempts to Be Important. It would be silly for me to waste any more time noting that not only was “Crash” not the “Best” of anything that year, it was an aggressively bad film, worse not only than the criminally-robbed “Brokeback Mountain” but also all the other nominated films and several dozen others that were made that year. I’m not so foolish as to complain all over again about Sandra Bullock’s character, how she was the single most implausible character I’ve ever seen in any movie ever (including both Tom Riddle and Jabba the Hutt) and how her pathetic “redemption” scene (along with Matt Dillon’s) was some of the laziest hack writing ever put to screen. I have better things to do with my time than gripe about how the dialogue was so lacking in subtlety that I suspect Paul Haggis merely hit his keyboard over and over with a trowel when crafting the screenplay.

      I appreciate your giving me the bait, Patrick. But what kind of twit would I have to be to take it?

  24. Over-rated: A lot of Tom Hanks’ later stuff
    Under Rated: The three musketeers (the one with charlie sheen) People like to make fun of it but it is easily one of my favourite movies of all time. Hell even Back to the future is not given as much love as it deserves.

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