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Exposed - The Most Overrated Scripts in Film History

As great as it is to analyze the greatest films made, sometimes it’s equally as valuable to view something deemed overrated. Obviously, the overrated term is subjective and doesn’t necessarily mean a film is bad. There are plenty of films I think are overrated that I still enjoy.

Regardless, in this list, we’ll discuss a few of the most overrated screenplays in film history. We’ll highlight the film, why I think they’re overrated, and a few tidbits that you can take away for your writing. Remember, just because a film is on this list, doesn’t mean you should have the same opinion.

Still from 'Mystic River (2003)'. Photo credit: Netflix

Logline - The lives of three men who were childhood friends are shattered when one of them has a family tragedy.

Most people agree that Mystic River is a very good film, largely thanks to its performances and solid direction from Clint Eastwood. What the film lacks is its final act, which goes on too long and feels separate from the rest of the film. If it ended ten minutes sooner, I’d have a different opinion on the matter.

Still, Mystic River is worth watching and has plenty to say on trauma, youth, compromise, and mystery. I’m not sure why the film goes on for as long as it does, and then again, what do I know, since it was nominated for six awards at the 76th Academy Awards.

Logline - Two Boston area detectives investigate a little girl's kidnapping, which ultimately turns into a crisis both professionally and personally.

You ever have a movie you watch years prior and think of it highly, then rewatch it years later, and it’s nothing like you remember? That happened to me somewhat recently with Gone Baby Gone, a film that’s nowhere near the high praise I had for it when I saw it years prior.

The film is shot and acted well and has the general reception of a good film–it’s rated well on Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, and Letterboxd. However, in my opinion, its script is flawed and floats too much in the melodramatic dialogue that plagued the 2000s. Maybe I was in a bad mood that day, but to me, it doesn’t hold up well.

Logline - The rise of Arthur Fleck, from aspiring stand-up comedian and pariah to Gotham's clown prince and leader of the revolution.

Joker didn’t receive the acclaim to the same degree that The Dark Knight did, but it has a similar appreciation from the audience side. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Joker and still consider it one of the better superhero movies. However, much of that is thanks to Joaquin Phoenix's performance and direction.

If you’re going to point out a flaw, it’d be its script. Being hyper-serious and pessimistic is a tough job for any script, and Phoenix captivates the audience enough that most won’t notice.

Logline - "The Washington Post" reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that leads to President Richard Nixon's resignation.

I first saw All the President’s Men for a journalism class I took a few years back, and boy, was I disappointed. Looking back, I thought it might’ve been my mood at the time, but nope, it just isn’t for me. I’m not sure if deeming its script overrated is the right word; maybe more on the side of dissatisfaction. It’s as slow as you’d think it is and doesn’t offer much script-wise.

Logline - Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.

Let me preface this by saying I love Steven Spielberg, and that Saving Private Ryan is a great film–just not the best war film from 1998 (The Thin Red Line). What Saving Private Ryan excels at in its action sequences and set design, it lacks in character development. We connect more with the characters based on who’s playing them, rather than the characters themselves. We don’t know anything about them, besides Captain Miller (Tom Hanks).

Logline - A paraplegic Marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home.

Listen, I think it’s incredible what James Cameron has been able to accomplish from the technical side, and I’ve enjoyed most of his films. That being said, we can all agree Avatar is a touch overrated, and that declaration comes from its script. It’s predictable, has surface-level dialogue, and doesn’t offer anything fresh and new story-wise.

Logline - An insomniac office worker and a devil-may-care soap maker form an underground fight club that evolves into much more.

I don’t know if this is the natural contrarian in me or if it's the fan base; yeah, I have Fight Club on this list. I enjoy Fight Club, and no one can deny how influential and notable the film is. Unfortunately, the script loses me at times and forces the themes a bit too much. I still think it’s great; it’s challenging for any film of this magnitude to live up to the countless hype.


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