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Pleasant Surprises: Movies That Exceeded (Low) Expectations

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Ishtar -- not nearly as bad as the press, industry, and your friends would have you believe.  Sort of prescient too, considering it was done in 1987.

 

Also, Heaven's Gate.  It killed a studio, but that's because director Michael Ciminio went crazy on keeping minute details authentic, and made it tremendously expensive.  HG is beautiful to look at and a decent to good story.  It could use some trimming, but (IMO, of course) it's a decent-to-good movie. 

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Speaking of Brendan Fraser and Alicia Silverstone, there's Blast from the Past, which is a little more charming than your usual rom-com. Mostly due to Brendan Fraser and Dave Foley.

I still crack up about the scene when he ventures out for the first time, passes a black female mail carrier and says "Oh my lucky stars...A NEGRO!"

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I still crack up about the scene when he ventures out for the first time, passes a black female mail carrier and says "Oh my lucky stars...A NEGRO!"

Classic!  I also still crack up when she explains what a "dickhead" is and he damn near passes out saying "I just got a mental picture of that."

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I was surprised by how much I liked Get Smart.  Nobody can ever replace Don Adams as Maxwell Smart, but Steve Carrell did a pretty good job.  I was prepared to hate this movie until I actually saw it, and it was hilarious.  Any movie where Bill Murray shows up for a random cameo can't be that bad.

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Pitch Perfect.  I had no interest whatsoever in this movie (something about Rebel Wilson rubs me the wrong way), but my daughter loved it and wanted us to see it.  Since we make her sit for family movies that she's not interested in (sometimes she ends up really liking them, too), we figured it was only fair.  I really enjoyed it.  I especially liked that while having the opportunity to go really over the top and crass with Fat Amy, they held it back enough to make her really enjoyable.  I could have done without the puking (especially the second scene), but all in all, it turned out to be a lot of fun.  I loved all of the musical sequences. 

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Rewrite with Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei - a pleasant movie with age appropriate casting.  Hugh Grant continues to play the same character he plays in every movie, although they acknowledge aging has diminished his appeal.  Marisa Tomei also seems to be playing version of characters she's played before but she's very likable so I am ok with that.  Plus, she actual looks like she is aging better than Hugh Grant.

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Flushed Away, Aardman's first big film without Wallace and Grommit produced with Dreamworks. With Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellan, Bill Nighy, Andy Serkis, David Suchet and a greek chorus of slugs singing doo wop.

 

This had the most misguided advertising campaign in history, I think (the commercial prominently featured a turd joke), because nobody I know even considered seeing it. It's a really bizarre, fun, sophisticated animated movie, with a likable hero and an ass-kicking heroine and class issues and evil stalking the sewers and an old lady throwing her panties at a rat she thinks is Tom Jones. I'm probably not doing it justice - maybe that's why the ads were so unappetizing, because they couldn't figure it out either - but it's a lot of fun.

Edited by Julia
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So, it's not that I had low expectations for the movie, it's that I had . . . no expectations for it. Anyway, I watched FOCUS last night a really enjoyed the hell out of the damn thing. Movies about con artists aren't usually my thing, but I found it fun and charming. I especially loved the fact that it didn't try to be anything other than a sleek entertaining movie and it was really aided by the fact that Will Smith and Margot Robbie killed it every second they were on screen.

 

All I really remember about the lead up to the theatrical release was the hubbub about Smith literally being old enough to be Robbie's father, but you guys? Holy goddamn their chemistry was insane. For real.

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21 jump street: I was convinced it would be a dumb comedy. But I was actually entertained by it.

 

good fellas: I knew going it that it was a lot of people's favorite mafia movies, but I kept telling my boyfriend that I wasn't going to like it. That it would be to violent. But he convinced me to at least watch it, and I liked it and it's intense moments lol.

 

honorable mention:

 

my big fat greek wedding: While I didn't go in thinking it would be bad by any means but I honestly knew nothing about it. I saw it at an art theater shortly after it came out. My mom said she heard it was good, so we saw it. And now it is one of my favorite movies, definitely my favorite comedy. The kind of movie I stop to watch if it is on TV.

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Knocked Up, I was totally offended by the very premise and only saw it because I got free tickets.  I laughed so hard.  They ways in which it was offensive were entirely different from those I imagined and, although that Apatow / Rogan brand of comedy has become common since then, it was just so unexpected.

 

Pitch Black the Vin Diesel movie that launched the Riddick franchise.  I have not seen any subsequent movies but some friends dragged me to see it and I really expected nothing, so I was impressed with what it was.  I have other friends who had the exact opposite experience, so expectations going in are a key factor in your enjoyment of the film.

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Knocked Up, I was totally offended by the very premise and only saw it because I got free tickets. I laughed so hard. They ways in which it was offensive were entirely different from those I imagined and, although that Apatow / Rogan brand of comedy has become common since then, it was just so unexpected.

I love this movie. I didn't expect much, but on top of finding it very funny, I found it to be very sweet. Seth Rogan's character steadily grew on me as the movie went on, and I had no trouble seeing how Katherine Heigl's character would eventually fall for him.

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I was really impressed with Zach Effron in 17 Again. I thought it was going to be super cheesy but the story was really touching.

I thought Pitch Perfect was going to be terrible- now, it's one of my favorite movies and I immediately bought the DVD.

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Someone mentioned this way earlier in the thread, but I also just discovered Seeking a Friend For the End of the World, and surprisingly, I really liked it a lot. It's kind of unusual I suppose, especially the ending, but still very accessible and kind of heartbreaking. I'd recommend it.

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I was really impressed with Zach Effron in 17 Again. I thought it was going to be super cheesy but the story was really touching.

 

It was the movie where I realized that Zac Efron was more than just a pretty boy. He really can act. That letter scene was just so well-done- he played teenaged boy and middle-aged man so well.

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I was really impressed with Zach Effron in 17 Again. I thought it was going to be super cheesy but the story was really touching.

 

I also thought it would be terrible and cheesey but Zac and Thomas Lennon made that movie.  I guess it was touching but I just thought it was hilarious.

 

"You're shirt is bedazzled."

 

"Yeah, bedazzled with rhinestones!"

 

Love!

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Someone mentioned this way earlier in the thread, but I also just discovered Seeking a Friend For the End of the World, and surprisingly, I really liked it a lot. It's kind of unusual I suppose, especially the ending, but still very accessible and kind of heartbreaking. I'd recommend it.

 

I liked it too.  The plot itself had a lot of holes

(like, was Martin Sheen's plane really going to get them to England?)

, but I liked the warmth between Carrell and Knightley, and I found the way they handled the end a little unsettling.  But in a good way.

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Mean Girls and The Duff were two movies that I went in with zero expectations and ended up really liking them. The cast probably played a big part, but there are a lot of teen cliches that both movies didn't follow that I liked.

Edited by twoods
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I tend to avoid movies I have low expectations for, so I'm not pleasantly surprised all that often. But I went to Fired Up expecting an idiot sex comedy, and thought it had very likable characters and unexpected subversive depth.

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The Night Before was actually REALLY good. And as a 30-year old who's trying to figure out how to maintain friendships when you can't just call someone up late at night to hang out, it hit uncomfortably close to home.

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Most people panned Spike Lee's latest movie Chi-Raq, and I'm a big critic of his movies. But I was surprised to actually enjoy this one. 

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22 Jump Street. I haven't watched the first one and I'm not much of a fan of Jonah Hill or bro comedies so I had really low expectations. But I actually found this pretty funny. Part of what makes it work is that while it is a bro comedy it's pretty aware of how ridiculous bro culture is and almost all of the humor was at the expense of the leads (two straight white guys, which almost never happens). Channing Tatum was as likeable as always and now I finally understand that Iggy Azalea "Jesus died for our Cynthias" meme.

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I had not seen 21 Jump Street, and ended up laughing myself silly over 22 Jump Street. The drug freakout scene cracks me up.

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I remember seeing the trailer for Blended and thinking that it looked like a piece of shit, which seemed like a shame compared to how enjoyable the previous Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore rom-coms were. But I just recently saw it on TV and was surprised to see...it wasn't that bad. It wasn't as good as Weddng Singer, but nowhere near as bad as Pixels

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I had not seen 21 Jump Street, and ended up laughing myself silly over 22 Jump Street. The drug freakout scene cracks me up.

I did see 21 Jump Street but it left me cold wasn't so my expectations so my weren't high when I watched 22. I ended up finding it waaaaay funnier than the first(rare for a comedy sequel) l laughed so hard at the scene when Channing Tatum realized Jonah Hill's character slept with their captain(played by Ice Cube)'s daughter.

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The DUFF is on HBO all the time and I always sit down and watch it. I just think Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell are so freaking charming. I had no expectations when I first watched it and I just really enjoy it.

Same for 17 Again, as has been mentioned in here a bunch.

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So I just watched the infamous Stuart Saves His Family. I didn't think I'd be able to enjoy it because 1) I never liked the Stuart Smolley sketch on SNL and 2) Al Franken.

But you know what? It was actually one of the better SNL movies I've seen. It starts out a little stupid, but when it gets into the dysfunctional family drama, it was surprisingly poignant. It's still difficult to watch due to Al Franken though.

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Can we nominate half movies in here? Because the first half of Power Rangers (2017) was much better than I expected. Unfortunately the quality went down in the second half when they got to the actual Power Rangers part of the movie.

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How to be Single is a perfectly enjoyable rom-com, as long as you don't watch it expecting anything more than what it is.  It's the kind of movie you watch to kill time on a Sunday afternoon.

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9 hours ago, paulvdb said:

Can we nominate half movies in here? Because the first half of Power Rangers (2017) was much better than I expected. Unfortunately the quality went down in the second half when they got to the actual Power Rangers part of the movie.

I actually liked the full movie after going in expecting little. I think it helped that I wasn’t attached to the Power Rangers in any nostalgic way. Also the theater was full of people having a great time. There was some spontaneous clapping and generally happiness when the Morphin started happening. And a couple of people let out a “yes!” at cameos by a former Rangers. 

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G-Force -- the spy "thriller" starring rodents as secrets agents. Did not watch it by choice; from the marketing I thought it was going to be way, WAY dumber than what it was. But it turns out to be a fairly decent spy mission film - that just happens to be aimed at kids. Like they actually put some thought into the plot. If your an adult, and you've seen enough of the genre, I'm sure you can guess all the plot twists, but at least you won't be clawing your eyes out waiting for it to end like some other kid films.

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I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Jumanji: Into the Jungle. It seemed like such a bad idea but it worked way more than it had any right to. It really did become its own thing while still having some nods to the original.

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I liked Jumanji so much (watched it on a plane), that I made my teenagers watch it immediately.  Very clever and totally subversive. I typically don't like Jack Black, and I had really expected the combination of him and Kevin Hart would be a little bit of too much.  It was, surprisingly, just right.

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22 minutes ago, Spartan Girl said:

I enjoyed Happy Death Day more than I thought I would.  I think because it didn't take itself too seriously.

I also thought Jessica Rothe displayed a lot of charisma in that role. She made Tree's redemption really believable while not completely changing the Mean Girl character.

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I'd not bothered when this was released, just because I thought a tardy sequel to a 20-years-dormant franchise was unnecessary and probably a bad idea. I had a sense that it had been polarizing in 2008, and that the people who hated it had become the louder voices in the years since, if not the more numerous.   

I saw it last month, and I...liked much more than I disliked. There were some dopey lowlights, sure, and we can leave the great Cate Blanchett's performance as Irina off her eventual lifetime-achievement reel. But I found the '50s production design delectable. It's a period Spielberg knows and does well. I loved the early campus motorcycle chase, which goes through a library, as well as most of the sequence with the Jeeps in the rain forest (not the Tarzan swing with the CGI monkeys). I liked that the film itself was an homage to escapist entertainment of the '50s, as the earlier ones had been to their '30s equivalents. It was nice seeing the underused Karen Allen return to the fold as Marion.

I suppose Shia LaBeouf's Mutt Williams is the most polarizing element, and how someone feels about Mutt may be determinative of that person's reaction to the film. I thought LaBeouf had good chemistry with Harrison Ford, and I admired his intense commitment to the part's physicality. He even makes the on-the-nose Brando/Dean echoes work. I found a late-middle-aged Indy squabbling with a young-adult son more engaging than I found the mirror image in the 1989 film (a middle-aged Indy reverting to adolescent insecurity opposite a remote father figure). 

It simply worked better for me than it did for some viewers. In my opinion, it's a better movie than Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which, all three times I've seen it, I've found to be a lazy retread. At least the 1984 and 2008 sequels to Raiders of the Lost Ark tried to go their own way.

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I know people rip on it, but I really enjoyed Venom. The movie had fun with itself and it was really fun for me.

I also really liked Shazam, which had surprisingly more depth than I thought it would.

Edited by methodwriter85
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I  a huge fan of horror movies but not a big fan of torture porn.  It took me forever to watch the Saw Franchise.  I think I finally broke down because I am also a huge fan of Julie Benz and she was in #5.  And while not particularly amazing and by the last one (I never did watch Jigsaw so I don’t count that) it had gotten cartoonish the series itself was interesting and quite entertaining.  

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Bumblebee. I originally wrote it off as surefire crap, simply because Michael Bay made such a mess of the Transformers franchise. But I read some good things and decided, 'well, I can't like it any worse than the second Transformers movie'.

I was actually pleasantly surprised. Not only was it pretty good, with a decent story and some good acting, but the Transformers were actually recognisable as their G1 selves. I ended up being really happy I watched it.

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Poms.  Though I really did have very low expectations -- just needed something fairly light and fluffy (and not three hours long) to do on a rainy day.  I thought it was about as fun and funny as a movie about women in a 55+ community becoming cheerleaders can be. 

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On 10/14/2018 at 2:04 PM, Archery said:

I liked Jumanji so much (watched it on a plane), that I made my teenagers watch it immediately.  Very clever and totally subversive. I typically don't like Jack Black, and I had really expected the combination of him and Kevin Hart would be a little bit of too much.  It was, surprisingly, just right.

My brother went on a first date at that movie.  He met his now fiance, they will be married next year.  There's a particular charm around this movie!  😂  They still have the tickets saved and posted by their door.

Edited by Ms Blue Jay
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I went to see Captain Marvel with absolutely no expectations going in. My nephews were on their spring break and out of school, plus they love anything Marvel. I'm not a huge fan of the superhero genre, so I was surprised at how much I liked this one.

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I recently watched King Ralph for the first time in years. Its still a really cute and funny movie. John Goodman does a good job making Ralph a lovable idiot. Peter O'Toole is funny with his remarks. Duncan and Inspector Thomas were really good characters too. Miranda is too she and Ralph have good chemistry. So much of it is hilarious starting out with the hilariously stupid electrocution of the entire royal family. 

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I watched the new Grinch with Benedict Cumberbatch on Netflix. Yes, the original was the best and didn't need a remake, but this...wasn't terrible. I mean, I kind of raised my eyebrows that the Grinch was more grumpy and sour than actually mean, which kind of defeatsthe point of the whole story, but it was still a cute movie. Better than the Jim Carrey one, anyway.

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I'm not into The Grinch (Dr Seuss is actually pretty horrifying to me), but back when they aired, the commercials made me laugh. And Jim Carrey is so annoying, so I never saw the original.

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