4 Ridiculously Underrated Movies From 2016
I'm not one to pass judgment on someone else's taste in movies, because the best thing about art is its subjective beauty and the personal experiences we all, as individuals, bring to the table as we consume it. But the following movies were fucking great and you're all goddamn fools for not going to see them. And I know you didn't go to see them, because the internet keeps track of that kind of thing.
Luckily, there's still time. Something like eleven days left in 2016, and then an infinite number of days left until the end of the universe. If you're smart, you'll set aside a few of those days to watch these movies, because they're awesome.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Budget: $20 Million.
Box Office: $9.5 Million
Rotten Tomato Score: 76 percent (Which is pretty good for a comedy)
Back in 2007, the members of the comedy band The Lonely Island (most famous for "I'm On A Boat", "I Just Had Sex" and "Lazy Sunday") put out a movie called Hot Rod about an amateur stuntman who needs to win money to save his abusive stepfather's life so that he can beat him up. It's actually far weirder than it sounds. You pretty much never know what kind of joke you're going to get, but instead of that being stupid and shitty like Napoleon Dynamite, it's the best goddamn thing you've ever seen. At one point a normal conversation becomes a remix breakdown, and it's never commented on by any of the characters. Later, an entire town breaks into a musical number which devolves into a riot, and it is commented on. It's the kind of comedy that people call "random" because they don't get it. It's pretty much my favorite movie.
When I first saw it, I did not think "I hope these people remake Spinal Tap, but about a Justin Bieber type character," because I'm not a genius. Luckily, The Lonely Island are geniuses, so they made Popstar.
Granted I just did this movie an immense disservice by mentioning Spinal Tap because no, of course nothing is ever going to live up to that. That movie is a singular experience. But Popstar comes closer than anything else I've ever seen, and that includes the follow ups to Spinal Tap. So the question is, do you have room in your heart for two Spinal Taps? Of course you do. If not, get your priorities in order and kick out some of your heart's dead weight. I see that you're still pining for Jessica. You made out with her once in 9th Grade, let it go.
The One Awesome Part I'm Going to Spoil:
Joan Cusack plays Connor's mom and she loves cocaine exactly the way a mom would. I'm a sucker for good Joan Cusack, which is luck for me because Joan Cusack is always good.
Budget: $5 Million
Box Office: $3.2 Million
Rotten Tomato Score: 91 percent
I want to point out that my colleague and actual dyed-in-the-wool punk rocker David Christopher Bell recommended this movie to you back in February. But you fuckers didn't listen, so now you have to deal with me.
Green Room is a horror movie about a punk band that plays at a Nazi bar and then, for reasons I won't get into, get trapped in the back of that bar and have to fight to survive. It's also fucking perfect. You know in horror movies when the hero makes a stupid, obvious mistake, or the villain/monster suddenly gains the superhuman ability to teleport or read minds, and we just go along with it because it's part of the fun and we really want to see kids die because we're broken inside? That doesn't happen once in Green Room. Everything unfolds naturally -- the heroic punks are just as smart and pushy as the dickbag neo-Nazis, and every conflict is resolved through a combination of luck, wit, and will. Film Crit Hulk goes into more detail on this, because that guy doesn't miss a trick.
On top of that, the movie is toying with you stylistically -- just when you think you know what a gun signals, it becomes something else. Or fucking does it? This is a movie that doesn't need to talk down to you, because it knows it's smarter than you, and it's confident enough to not even hate you for it. It's just excited that you're there to hear this badass story.
The One Awesome Part I'm Going to Spoil:
When they realize they're in a Nazi bar, Anton Yelchin gets the bright idea to open with a cover of "Nazi Punks Fuck Off." And then some of the Nazi punks in the audience are kinda into it, because even they can recognize that playing a Dead Kennedys cover to a room full of Nazis is punk as fuck.
Also Patrick Stewart plays the lead Nazi villain, and his name is Darcy. Darcy! This movie rules.
The Nice Guys
Budget: $36 Million
Box Office: $57 Million
Rotten Tomatoes: 92 percent
Shane Black is the first screenwriter you learn about when you start paying attention to who writes moves, primarily because he's super good at it. There was a time when you couldn't say that movies like Lethal Weapon, The Long Kiss Goodnight and The Last Boy Scout were classics worthy of our praise and adulation, but now I'm a grown up and it's my job to say stuff I think is true so.
But the cool thing about Black is after he found success with by-the-numbers action blockbusters, he immediately began tearing apart the thing he'd built his career on: Last Action Hero is an action movie parody of itself about three years before winking at the audience became the cool thing to do (and twenty years before it became an industry standard). The first movie Black directed, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, also built its fun out of messing with your expectations as to what a detective story should be like and why you go to a movie in the first place. But The Nice Guys is probably the best execution of this idea possible.
So if you've scrolled TV Tropes or smugly muttered to yourself "saw that coming" while watching an action movie, but you didn't go see The Nice Guys, then I'm here to tell you that you're everything wrong with America. But there's still time to turn things around. Free yourself of existential guilt -- and save America -- by watching this movie.
The Really Awesome Part I'm Going to Spoil
Russell Crowe breaks Ryan Gosling's arm and then slams a Yoo-hoo. Where else you gonna get that?
Kubo And The Two Strings
Budget: $60 Million
Box Office: $69.6 Million
Rotten Tomato Score: 97 percent
Listen up you bunch of mooks: Kubo And The Two Strings is goddamn perfect. Fuck you for not going to see it. Okay. Maybe I'm getting off on the wrong foot here. I'm supposed to be winning hearts and minds here.
A lot of movies like to play with the relationship between parents and children, because that's a hugely important and emotional topic and therefore a rich vein for storytelling. But ever since my dad passed away, I've started to take it personally when a movie gets it wrong. Everyone involved in the making of Suicide Squad, for example, can fuck a razor blade for its depiction of Deadshot's relationship with his daughter. The Martian also lost points in my book for the tearjerker moment when Matt Damon decides to send a message to his parents. It just seemed like an easy cop out. Call me oversensitive if you want, I don't care, I was there to watch Matt Damon's wacky space adventures and the movie decided to try and pluck my heartstrings in the most obvious way possible. You gotta earn that shit, movie.
Kubo And The Two Strings, on the other hand, not only cares about what it's like to be a son, it has something important to say about it. And it says it well. The jokes are funny. And the stop-motion animation is some of the most imaginative and beautiful you'll ever see. And there's a magic guitar pick! Like what else do you want?
The Awesome Part I'm going to Spoil
Nothing! Everything about this story should be seen with fresh eyes. Go watch it with someone you care about.
JF Sargent is a Senior Editor for Cracked.com and he wasn't sure if he should include Keanu on this list because it made a decent profit, but if you haven't seen it, you should totally stream that too. It's on HBO Now, if you have it. Also follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
For more check out 7 Awesome New Movies Nobody Told You About: December 2016 and 6 Insane Upcoming Movies (That Aren't Getting Enough Hype).
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