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Nope, not gonna touch this one. Too easy.
It’s easy to pick on classics. In fact, by virtue of being considered ‘classic’, they’re almost assuredly not as good as they’re said to be. Anything so beloved is automatically suspect. This is not contrarianism; it’s healthy skepticism. In an age where most people still aren’t atheists and science is constantly hindered by new age nonsense, skepticism is beyond necessary.
I figured I’d apply that maxim to culture and pick the ten most overrated classic movies ever made. But, like I said, it’s easy to pick on the big ones. Casablanca, The Godfather, and Gone With the Wind all have their place in history, but that doesn’t make them better than Back to the Future. And they aren’t. Not artistically, and certainly not in our collective hearts.
However, here, rather than just list the most acclaimed classic movies and call it a day, I really wanted to hone in on some particular titles that I find obnoxiously overrated:
If that ain’t masterful mise-en-scéne, I don’t know what is.
Hell Baby (2013)
Written and Directed by Robert Ben Garant & Thomas Lennon
Today’s review was slated to be Blue Jasmine, because I saw that last week and I certainly have a lot to say about it (sorry, next Monday, I promise) but then I realized that I’d somehow forgotten to ever write about Hell Baby, which I saw a few weeks ago when it came out on VOD and enjoyed a great deal. I suppose I could’ve written about Hell Baby next week, and stuck to writing about Blue Jasmine today, but fuck it—the mere moment the words ‘Hell Baby’ were back in my head, I couldn’t stop giggling. In fact, I’m still smiling, as I write this. And if that ain’t the textbook sign of a perfect summer comedy (and of a more fun thing to write about) I don’t know what is.
I’ve told this story a billion times so this time I’m going to try to include some more details. When my late grandpa, Tom Easton, was ten years old, he saw Fantasia in the theater. He always wanted to be a cartoonist but his dad was cold and distant and thought cartoons were for kids and no way to make a living. But despite that lack of encouragement, Tom did some cool things. He avoided combat in the Korean War by teaching art on base and drawing army posters.
Jokes, almost inherently, aren’t funny. We all know scores of ‘classic’ jokes from the aristocrats to dead babies to chickens crossing roads. None of them are funny. But, in the right context, we’ll laugh at them, because the joke isn’t what’s funny—the idea of the joke being told is. It’s that extra layer, that prefix, that meta, that deeper meaning, which gives a joke life, and makes it funny, and makes you truly laugh. (Laughing simply because you’re ‘supposed to’ is why sitcoms are popular, despite their unfunniness.)