I am very guilty of ignoring movies or television shows that receive a lot of praise and hype on social media. It seems like if I don’t watch a movie within the first two hours of its release, I’m either getting spoiled or I’ll see so many gushing posts about it that I decide there is no way it could live up to the hype. Most of the time, I am correct. Other times I am very wrong.
21 Jump Street
You probably remember that the pairing of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as the stars of a big-screen reboot of a 1980s TV show was quite questionable in 2012. Tatum was mostly known for his dancing skills in Step Up 2 the Streets, sappy roles like in The Vow, and another ’80s television show turned movie, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Hell, I think we still referred to him as Charming Potato around these parts, a nickname born of his abundance of charm but perceived lack of talent or stand-out qualities. Hill was already established in the Judd Apatow family of comedy flicks and had given an Oscar-nominated performance in Moneyball prior to 21 Jump Street’s release, but initially, the fact that he was writing, producing, and possibly starring was irksome.
While TK’s review of 21 Jump Street was mostly positive, it was the social media feedback that kept me from watching the movie. When I finally rolled my eyes and rented the damn thing, I laughed my ass off and bought the flick for future viewing. Tatum was pitch-perfect as a dim-witted, handsome Jenko that sucked at his job and Hill killed it as the awkward Schmidt — although his ability to seduce and land Molly (Brie Larson) was a huge mismatch. Ignoring the romance aspect, the flick kept little in common with the source material except for the premise of sending cops undercover in a high school. It was absolutely better for it.
Horror films are always a crap shoot — and not because of how different people are terrified by different things. Some people praise a movie in the genre for showing lots of blood and gore while others may talk it up based on how it scared them even though the acting was poor and the script awful. When people started praising a movie in this genre, I side-eye it hard. In this case, the idea of a psychological horror movie from Jennifer Kent that was made possible through a Kickstarter campaign set my crap-o-meter to Code *fart noises*.
Like all horror movies great and heinous, I sat down and watched The Babadook. The hype, the reviews, the praise — none of it was enough for how deeply this film wormed its way into my head. It makes you empathize with a single mother in a way not many other movies attempt: by making you also dislike and long to be rid of her child. Noah Wiseman played Samuel as such an annoying, screeching problem child in the beginning of the film that the audience begins to understand exactly why Amelia (Essie Davis) walks through life as though a car suddenly slamming her into a brick wall would be a welcome respite from the reality of her existence. As the tension builds as your jaw locks up tighter, the release becomes a relief in many respects while still leaving room for the future of Amelia and Samuel to once again be shattered by the resurgence of The Babadook.
After fans were punched in the junk with the horrendous Wolverine: Origins version of our Merc with the Mouth, it was exhilarating to see the “leaked” test footage Fox did with Ryan Reynolds in June 2014. We were scared when the movie was officially announcedin September of that same year and the release date was set for February 16, 2016. I had already read the script that floated around years earlier and wondered how much of it would be in the final product. Luckily, writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, director Tim Miller, and Reynolds treated Deadpool like their baby and destroyed box office records and fan expectations alike.
Perhaps the most over-hyped movie on this list due to when it was released, I did not watch the 1973 horror classic until I was in my late twenties. From the time I understood what scary movies were, The Exorcist was always touted as the most terrifying ever made. Demons, possession, an innocent young girl, and that damned creepy face that subliminally pops up during a scene: all of these were praised and touted as the best ever. What I found when watching Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) fight to save her daughter, Regan (Linda Blair), was a different type of scare than I expected.
I was horrified by the twisting head of Regan and the demonic party tricks splashed on the screen, but my real terror came from being a mother myself. The parts that stayed with me later that night as I tried to sleep were those related to Chris watching nervously as her only child is put through even more torture as doctors attempted to find a concrete cause for her behavior. The sounds of the machines, the needles going into Regan’s neck, and the lack of answers from an entire panel of experts lingered with me forever. Of course, the rest of the movie sticks to places in your mind as well, but as far as relating to terror on a real level, motherhood wins.
The starting point of Marvel’s juggernaut movie universe, Iron Man’s praise to me seemed to be a response to someone other than Batman getting a movie. Who really knew that much about Marvel’s rich, self-centered hero with a suit other than huge fans? So seeing and hearing that the movie was good seemed like a situation where it was better than Wanted or Hancock, so audiences liked it. Obviously, I was wrong. Robert Downey Jr. brought so much to a character most of us were meeting for the first time and Kevin Feige’s vision set in motion something few people could have ever predicted. The best part is, Iron Man still holds up all these years later and reminds us of the incredible ability of Marvel to make us care so deeply so quickly about heroes many of us didn’t grow up reading.
Image sources (in order of posting): Sony Pictures, IFC Films, Fox, Warner Brothers, Marvel