What Movies Do People Love Only Because of Nostalgia?

“Bangarang” is something a 45-year-old thinks a cool kid would say.

“Bangarang” is something a 45-year-old thinks a cool kid would say.
Screenshot: Hook/Sony Pictures Entertainment

In fandom circles, people fear a visit from the Suck Fairy. This mythical being alights upon the books, movies, and TV shows you loved as a kid—we’re talking works foundationally important to your development—and taints them with toxic magic. “Oh man, I loved this when I was 12!” you think, scrolling past an old show on Netflix. And you click play with an enthusiasm that quickly fades as you realize…oh, this is bad, actually, if not deeply problematic (or downright offensive) in retrospect.

But if the Suck Fairy has a weakness, it’s nostalgia, and sometimes nostalgia is stronger than…let’s call it “good taste.” This is why so many movies that got terrible reviews upon original release are weirdly reclassified as cult favorites a few decades later. It’s not that Steven Spielberg’s Hook suddenly became a good movie (it did not; the original 29% Tomato-meter score is right on the money). It’s more that many of the people who were watching it back in 1991 were kids, and now they are grown, and they cannot watch the movie without wistfully recalling a simpler time, a time when mohawks, skateboarding, and neon glop food fights were the height of cool.

(I’ll spare you my rant about how I didn’t even like Hook back then, at age 10; lest it sound like I’m boasting of my precocious good taste, I’ll fully admit to spending so many hours watching utter crap. Just not Hook. Which is bad.)

I’m not saying the critical consensus is always right, or that audience tastes don’t collectively change with time. I think some films really do arrive on the scene too soon (the mainstream definitely wasn’t ready for the overt anime influences of 2008’s Speed Racer, an outright bomb critically and commercially that became a cult classic about five minutes after it left theaters). But sometimes a bad movie is just a bad movie. It’s fine if you like it—it’s OK to like things that aren’t “good” and you can still watch and enjoy them—but that doesn’t fix what is wrong with them.

So I want to know: What movies have been incorrectly canonized as “actually pretty good!” in retrospect, whether by your friends and family or the internet as a whole? How infuriating do you find it that I once polled Twitter and a significant margin of people said Hocus Pocus (Rotten Tomatoes score: 38%) is a better Halloween movie than The Nightmare Before Christmas (Rotten Tomatoes score: 95%)? What unexpectedly beloved “classics” prove that it’s the children who are wrong? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll round up your answers in a future post. (Hurry, before someone else mentions the Star Wars prequels!)
 

Leave a Comment

Advertise