Some movies are great. They blow your mind, show you the world in a bold, new way, and otherwise stick with you in one way or another long after you watch. Other movies are god-awful and make you question all of the various life choices that led you to purchasing a ticket to that screening of that film on that particular day.
As good or bad as movies can be, there are also those that you watch, were perfectly serviceable, and that, after you walk out of the theater, turn off your TV, or close your laptop, you never, ever think of again. They're fine, existing in a space that is neither good nor bad, and that's okay. With that in mind, we've compiled a list of movies that are most remarkable for how unremarkable they are. There are, of course, many more, so let us know what movies you think are just good enough.
We Bought A Zoo
Cameron Crowe, Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, and a ton more recognizable names working together should add up to something spectacular, right? But 2011's We Bought a Zoo, which is a comedic family drama about a father and daughter who literally buy and run a zoo, is just kind of okay. A perfectly functional film, it never rises above its formulaic, predictable plot and never achieves the levels of emotion or connection it needed to be something more. In retrospect, maybe we can look at this as an antecedent to the flop that was last year's Aloha.
Kate & Leopold
We love Meg Ryan, we love Hugh Jackman, and the idea of them together in a romantic comedy has so much promise. Jackman and director James Mangold have put their stamp on Wolverine, but the first time they teamed up was in 2001's Kate & Leopold. Unfortunately, the story of a 19th Century nobleman transported to modern day New York City is bland and expected. The leads are, as you can imagine, charming and are the real strength of the movie, but the rest of the picture fails to gel into anything particularly noteworthy.
Will Smith has shown that he can handle himself when it comes to drama, but 2008's Seven Pounds is not one of his greatest. His performance is fine, as is costar Rosario Dawson's, but the story about a man's extended, sprawling quest for redemption after causing a horrible car accident, by donating his vital organs no less, is an overly sentimental affair. But a jellyfish does play an integral part, which is something you don't come across all that often in cinema. Seven Pounds isn't a terrible film (unless you agree with A.O. Scott's brutal review), but it's not particularly noteworthy either.
We Are Marshall
True-life inspirational sports stories are a big part of Hollywood, and use the stage of athletics show everything from the power of friendship, determination, and commitment to overcome huge obstacles, to how sports can unite people across great barriers. Based on a remarkable real story---the aftermath of the 1970 death of 37 Marshall University football players in a plane crash---this seems tailor made for dramatic interpretation. A cast fronted by Matthew McConaughey only adds to its potential. And it's almost really, really good, but falls into too many easy, feel-good, sports movie clichés to distinguish itself from the herd.
Dan In Real Life
Steve Carell has the ability to balance comedy and drama like few other actors working today, and the idea was that he would bring this skill to the sad-sack role of Dan, a widower, overprotective parent, and general bummer of a dude to be around. And he does deliver a fine performance, full of deadpan humor. However, the surrounding film, though it tries to deal with themes of love, loss, and grief, reeks of Hallmark Channel style sentimentality, and there's an inauthentic feel to much of it that hamstrings it from being anything more remarkable.
Knight And Day
The 2010 romantic comedy spy adventure Knight and Day, starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, is a decently fun movie. The two leads are charming and entertaining to watch, director James Mangold delivers some solid action scenes, and a quick, snappy pace carries the audience along. Aside from that, however, there's not much substance. There are some logical jumps, underdeveloped characters, and the plot is purely paint by numbers. You can watch Knight and Day, it fills almost two hours of your day, and then you can go on about your life without expending any more energy on it than that.
Killing Them Softly
How do you follow up a movie a remarkable as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford? That was what writer/director Andrew Dominik had to do with the noir-style crime film Killing Them Softly. With great performances from Brad Pitt and Scoot McNairy, and support form the likes of Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini, and Richard Jenkins, the picture sags and meanders. And though its gallows humor is funnier than you expect, and it's perfectly interesting at times, by the end, all of the pieces never come together in any substantial way.
What Lies Beneath
A psychological thriller full of supernatural horror elements directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford? Yes, please. The idea of whether a Vermont home is truly haunted or if Michelle Pfieffer's character is losing her mind, is an intriguing one, but 2000's What Lies Beneath is less Hitchcock than it was intended to be. The first hour is fine, spooky and creepy as it should be, but as it goes on, the film falls into creaky clichés, the script runs out of steam, and for every jump scare that lands there is one that is equally laughable.
Robert Duvall received nominations for an Academy Award, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award, and more for 2014's The Judge. It is, in fact, a wonderful performance, and costar Robert Downey Jr. also delivers a nice turn. While watching these two actors share the screen as an estranged father and son is compelling, that's really all The Judge has going for it. Outside of Duvall and RDJ, the script is super formulaic and full of contrivances, and there is little development for the supporting characters---which is a horrible waste as it includes the likes of Vera Farmiga, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Billy Bob Thornton. The Judge really could have been so much more than just okay.
If you ever wanted to spend a few hours withTom Hanks in an airport, then Steven Spielberg's 2004 film, The Terminal, was your chance. Too bad the movie wasn't as much fun as actually hanging out with Tom Hanks in an airport. The story follows an immigrant who is detained at JFK Airport and not allowed to enter into the U.S., while at the same time he can't return to his home country due to a revolution. Inspired by real-life events, it's an interesting story, one that tries to be a post-9/11 statement about the condition of our national psyche, but it's toothless and light and it's really hard to make a movie about being stuck in an airport engaging. Steven Spielberg tried his best, but this is as good as it gets.
Sandra Bullock is charming, Ryan Reynolds is charming, put them together in a romantic comedy, you're bound to get something at least reasonably charming, and that movie is The Proposal. When a high-powered editor (Bullock) staves off deportation by saying she's engaged to her harried, tormented assistant (Reynolds), shenanigans ensue. This is a standard, unoriginal mismatched rom-com, and while it checks all the boxes and hits all the marks, the two leads can only carry it so far. This is the kind of movie that you can watch on cable some rainy weekend afternoon and not entirely feel like you wasted your time.
Just Go With It
Adam Sandler has a spotty track record when it comes to romantic comedies. The Wedding Singer is great, but the likes of Just Go With It are, let's just say less remarkable. Costarring Jennifer Aniston, the story follows a plastic surgeon on vacation who gets his assistant to pose as his soon-to-be-ex-wife to cover a lie he hold his too-young-for-him girlfriend (Brooklyn Decker). Apparently, at least according to this list, bosses often ask assistants to do some wildly inappropriate things. Just Go With It is never anything more than a run of the mill romantic comedy, totally forgettable, but it is exactly what it sets out to be.
Jim Carrey is at his comedic best when he's given free reign go big and run wild and generally do his thing. He gets to do that to a degree in Bruce Almighty, when he has the opportunity to actually play God (taking over for Morgan Freeman, and if you've got to cast God, you can do a lot worse than that voice). While the 2003 comedy has some deranged, manic moments worthy of a place in Carrey's canon, a lot of it has a been-there-done-that feel. In the end, though this concept has a ton of potential, it runs out of momentum and ends up nothing more than a modest effort from Carrey.
Dr. Seuss' 1971 book The Lorax is a beloved classic with a contemporary environmental message that was just itching to be brought to the big screen. It's also only 45 pages long, and it's not a packed 45 pages. When it was adapted by Illumination Entertainment, the folks behind Despicable Me, in 2012, they added a bunch of new characters and storylines that muddies what was originally an elegantly simple plot and moral stance. It's a solid family film, but it is nothing spectacular, and more than anything, The Lorax film feels entirely divorced from the source material.
Ricki And The Flash
Meryl Streep is not an actress known for making bad movies. Sure, there are some middling entries on her resume, but there aren't many out and out dogs. One of these middling movies came just last year, with Ricki and the Flash. A family drama about an aging rocker trying to reconnect with her estranged daughter (Streep's real-life daughter Mamie Gummer), it's easy to see why it might attract the renowned actress---who doesn't want the chance to rock? And though Streep delivers a strong performance, the plot and tone are inconsistent, the plot is predictable, and the end result is a shoulder shrug of a movie.
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