Sunday, June 3, 2012

Discussion Starter - Two Great Movies That I Secretly Hate (Part 2)

In my Part 1 post I wrote about hiding the fact that I sometimes have great movies that for whatever reason I simply didn’t like.  You should read it before continuing with this post.  You can find it here.  Two of these films are The Shining and Annie Hall.  In this post I will go into a little more detail on what it was about them that pushed the wrong buttons for me.

First, why are these “great” movies?  Here are my guidelines: 

  1. It should be a film at least 25 years old so that a generation has gone by where it has been hailed as great. 
  2. If possible, it should be both critically acclaimed AND liked by general movie goers. 
  3. And it won’t be one of the trendy, easy targets like Ordinary People beating Raging Bull or other Oscar controversies.  Hating Raging Bull?  Now that would definitely qualify.
The great movies that I secretly hate are The Shining and Annie Hall.  “Hate” is a strong word for me, and I don’t use it lightly.  I can find something likable in almost every movie.  There have been only a handful of movies I would say I truly hated, but among them are these two classics.  There are several others that fall into the “dislike” category, but for now I will concentrate on the two that generated the strongest negative reaction in me.  Please be aware that there will be spoilers below for both of these films.

The Shining (1980)

First, it’s qualifications as a great movie:

  1. Released in 1980 – more than 25 years old
  2. 88% Fresh with critics and 91% Fresh with almost 425,000 audience votes at Rotten Tomatoes – loved by both critics and movie goers
  3. It’s been on every year ending IMDB Top 250 list since at least 1998, with an average position on the list of 75 – loved by movie fans
  4. It’s currently number 48 all time at IMDB, with a ranking of 8.5 from 270,000 votes.  It’s 8.5 with men and 8.4 with women, and all ages rate it at least an 8.1 – loved by current movie fans
  5. Its rating is an even 4 out of five stars on Netflix from 6.4 million votes – loved by movie goers
  6. It’s on pretty much every list of great films you can find, including being #113 on They Shoot Pictures Don’t They – loved by critics
That’s a lot of evidence for why the movie is great.  Here’s why I hated it.

First and foremost, it simply didn’t engage me.  I wasn’t the least bit scared or in suspense by what was happening in the hotel.  I didn’t feel any dread or anticipation.  All I really felt was boredom.  After a while I started noticing the great sets that the film was shot on.  When I am noticing the sets in a movie, no matter how impressive they are, that is not a good sign.  And I wasn’t bored because I’m an adrenaline junkie that can’t stand things moving slowly.  I consider Lawrence of Arabia one of the greatest movies ever made and it’s far longer than The Shining and has very long sequences with (for example) nothing more than a man riding toward the camera out of the heat waves in the desert.

Another thing dooming The Shining for me is that it had no mystery for me.  It took me about a half a second to figure out that “redrum” was “murder” drawn from the perspective of being inside the wall (although it’s not an exact mirror image.)  And of course, the “Here’s Johnny!” moment where Nicholson has gone crazy was part of popular culture.  Knowing that moment was going to happen made the wait for it seem even longer.  I can’t say what my reaction to the film would have been had I not known about that scene.  I still don’t think it would have saved the movie for me.  I knew about the shower scene in Psycho before I ever saw it, but that film still engaged me and I liked it quite a bit.

Even though I did have to make myself finish it, I did manage to watch The Shining in one sitting, unlike the next film I am going to discuss.

Annie Hall (1977)

First, it’s qualifications as a great movie:

  1. Released in 1977 – more than 25 years old
  2. 98% Fresh with critics and 92% Fresh with more than 140,000 audience votes at Rotten Tomatoes – loved by both critics and movie goers
  3. It’s been on every year ending IMDB Top 250 list since at least 1998, with an average position on the list of 102 – loved by movie fans
  4. It’s currently number 148 all time at IMDB, with a ranking of 8.2 from 94,000 votes.  It’s 8.2 with men and 8.0 with women, and all ages rate it at least an 8.0 – loved by current movie fans
  5. Its rating is 3.4 out of five stars on Netflix from 2.5 million votes – loved by movie goers
  6. It’s on pretty much every list of great films you can find, including being #87 on They Shoot Pictures Don’t They – loved by critics
  7. It won the Oscar for Best Picture, as well as Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Original Screenplay – loved by people in the film industry
That’s a lot of evidence for why the movie is great.  Here’s why I hated it.

A little bit of personal history.  I tried watching this movie in the late 1980s.  I didn’t finish it, for what I believe is the first time ever for me with a movie.  When I started using the IMDB Top 250 for suggestions on movies to see, Annie Hall kept being on the list year after year.  I figured maybe I missed something, so in the late 1990s I gave it another chance – same reaction.  Finally, it was one of the last films left that I had not seen, both for Oscar winners and on the IMDB list, so in the 2000s I rented it again.  I determined that I was going to sit down and I was damn well going to watch the thing all the way through.  As you can imagine, this is about the worst possible frame of mind to be in when starting a film.  I did make it through.  The mere 93 minute running time felt like twice that.

This is considered a charming, romantic, comedy/drama.  How could I hate the characters, the romance, the comedy, AND the drama?  I may not have had a stronger negative reaction to two people in a movie than I did to the characters in this one.  I disliked them so much, not only did I not care whether they ended up together or not, I simply wanted the movie to end so that I didn’t have to spend any more time with them.  I disliked them because they were both so self absorbed that it was as if the rest of the world was there to cater to them.  They were actually perfect for each other, but I found that two people I disliked separately became intolerable when together.  This killed any romance for me.  When they split up it was actually a bit of a relief for me.  My dislike of the characters also killed the drama for me.  I didn’t care if they were going to be able to work things out or not.

As for the comedy, I laughed exactly two times – both right at the beginning.  The first is the opening joke Allen tells and the second is when he gets into an argument in line with someone about what a famous person meant and literally pulls that person into the argument to win his point.  You may be wondering, “What about the cocaine scene?”  I saw the sneeze coming a mile away and the joke was decades old by that point (although with substances other than cocaine.)  “What about the lobster scene?”  I found that painfully stupid.  Lobsters don’t sprint around kitchens and get behind appliances like mice do.  Besides being too big to fit behind anything, if you drop a lobster on the floor it will pretty much just lie there.

In Conclusion:

So, there are my confessions of two great movies that I hate.  Please let me know your thoughts on these movies.  I have attempted to explain why I feel this way about these movies.  This wasn’t an attempt to try to convince the world I am right and they are wrong, but to simply show that I did not form these opinions lightly and with no thought.  I wanted this to be more than a “this movie sux!” hatchet job on a film.


  1. I'll give you one--Bringing Up Baby. Here's the breakdown:

    1. Released in 1938 – almost 75 years old
    2. 95% Fresh with critics and 89% Fresh with more than 37,000 audience votes at Rotten Tomatoes – loved by both critics and movie goers
    3. It is not, however on the IMDB Top 250
    4. Currently ranked at an 8.1 on IMDB.
    5. On the National Film Registry since 1990. Also on the AFI's Top 100 Laughs, Passions, and Movies.
    6. Current NetFlix rating of 3.9 based on just over 450,000 votes.

    I'll admit this one has a lot going for it. It's one of the first screwball comedies, and comes out swinging with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn as the two leads. It's also directed by the great Howard Hawks.

    My reaction to this, though, was not unlike yours to Annie Hall. I detested these characters, which was a complete shock to me, since I love both actors. Katherine Hepburn in particular played one of the most annoying movie creations I have ever seen--completely self-absorbed, stupid, insensitive, and completely assured that she is none of these things. At the end of the film, she destroys four years of someone's work, and sloughs it off with a shrug of her shoulders. Her entire life is free of consequence because she's wealthy and has gotten away with it her whole life. And she's someone we're supposed to root for.

    To me, it's telling that in this "romance," he never once admits that he loves, cares, or even thinks favorably of her at all. We're forced to settle for her telling him that he loves her.

    This does not even go into the fact that I am supposed to somehow ignore the Dickensian-level coincidence that at one point there are two leopards loose in Maryland. It was such a disappointment--I had very high expectations for the film, and I just hated it.

    1. Thanks for sharing. I agree that Hepburns' character was definitely used to getting whatever she wanted, which in this case was Grant's character.

      I can add that Bringing Up Baby has been on 10 of the last 14 year end IMDB Top 250 lists, with an average position of 146. (Source is my consolidated spreadsheet at Lists from Chip -

    2. Yeah, if Bringing Up Baby counts under these criteria, count me in the same crowd. I've learned through my trek through the list that I hate screwball comedies, and Bringing Up baby definitely qualifies. I appreciated Grant and Hepburn's performances, but I just didn't like the film personally, and it didn't change my opinion of screwballs in the slightest.

    3. @Adolytsi - I tend to like screwball comedies, but I do agree with Steve about the unlikability of Hepburn's character in Bringing Up Baby. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I hate the Godfather films. I don't know why?

    1. Perhaps it is the genre. How do you feel about Goodfellas? I ask because the gangster genre doesn't do that much for me. I do like the first two Godfather movies quite a bit, although I do not consider them among the best movies of all time like a lot of people do.

    2. Oops. Forgot to thank you for sharing your feelings for these classic movies.

  3. I'm also not a fan of the film, The Shining (1980). I watched it once and that was enough for me.. Although, I'm not really into those type of movies.

    Like you, I could not sit through the film, Annie Hall (1977). I found it very booooring..

    1. Thanks for sharing. It's interesting in that a couple of other people have had some dislike, to one extent or another, for Annie Hall. I thought it was almost universally beloved.

  4. I profoundly dislike Woody Allen films that prominently feature Woody Allen. I have no patience for yuppie whining, and Annie Hall is a shining example of that. There are Allen films I enjoy (Crime and Misdemeanors springs to mind, as does Match Point), but his "classics" like Annie Hall, Sleeper, Manhattan... oh. my. god. Not for me. Actively dislike.

    Again, great idea for a series of articles!

    I wouldn't say that I *hate* Raging Bull, but I was terrifically bored while watching it, and kind of missed what all the fuss was about. Ordinary People all the way, man.

    I love The Shining, though. Then again, I'm mad about Kubrick.

    I'll have to give this more thought...

    1. I liked some of Allen's early comedies. My negative reaction to Annie Hall kept me from watching his later movies for quite some time, but when I finally saw Crimes and Misdemeanors I liked it. I did like Manhattan. I liked Match Point, but not the one that followed. Hannah and Her Sisters didn't do much for me. Vicky Cristina Barcelona was not bad. I loved Midnight in Paris and had it as my number 3 movie of 2011.

      "Again, great idea for a series of articles!" Thanks once again!

      Raging Bull is all about the acting performance of Deniro, and sometimes a great acting performance lifts the film as a whole in people's eyes when maybe it shouldn't (*cough* The Dark Knight *cough*). I do like Raging Bull better than Ordinary people, but Moore also gave a terrific performance in her film.

      I have a love/hate for Kubrick's movies. I love Paths of Glory and Spartacus, as well as finding A Clockwork Orange great. The first part of Full Metal Jacket was fantastic, but the second half pulled it down some in comparison. I liked 2001, but I had read the book first. Barry Lyndon had some good parts, but was a little too long. The Killing was decent. Eyes Wide Shut needed to cut the entire first 45 minutes and start with Cruise's character heading out into the night. Kidman was wasted in this movie. Sellers' characters in Lolita and Dr, Strangelove were too silly to me and they hurt my appreciation of those films. Finally, The Shining I talked about above.

      I look forward to what you may come up with.

  5. I agree with your breakdown of Annie Hall. I still haven't seen a Woody Allen film that I really enjoyed, and that's including last year's critical darling, Midnight in Paris.

    1. Thanks for commenting. I've liked some Allen movies, including Midnight in Paris, but Annie Hall pushed all the wrong buttons for me.