The 10 Most Boring Movies Ever Made Are? Ever spend your movie theater experience by looking at your light-up watch more than at the screen? Well, that’s a boring movie! And that’s just what I’m here to discuss as I name the 10 biggest snoozes du cinema of all time. Please stay awake as I name them.
“The Evening Star” (1996)
“Terms of Endearment” was a wonderful, funny, biting, warm blend of humor and drama as it followed an eccentric family all the way to the Best Picture Oscar. Thirteen unlucky years later came this dull-as-dishwater sequel with Shirley MacLaine reprising her Aurora Greenway role, but falling into a pit of tedium thanks to the film’s astounding lack of incident and utter absence of pace. The whole thing has a soft-spoken, low-key glow to it that renders it virtually inert. “Look alive, people!” you want to shout at the screen, but having given up on the entire affair, you simply don’t.
“Meet Joe Black” (1998)
In this 178-minute slog, Mr. Black represents Death, and when he comes to visit, you’ve reached the afterlife all right. He comes, he sits, he sucks the energy out of the room, and then the party’s over. Brad Pitt was appropriately deadly in the title role, while Anthony Hopkins looked pained as the visitee, and as his daughter, Claire Forlani was like a human sleeping pill. Moments of real quality flash before the energy drains, but then it just goes on and on …
Philip Kaufman directed this sprawling adaptation of the Milan Kundera novel about a 1960s Czech doctor and his vivid life involving women and politics. Critics raved, and it was such the thing to see, but I found the “Unbearable” in the title ended up having way more meaning than I’d hoped. In fact, I was in the minority of folk who felt this was a torturous trudge through pretension, with no lightness of being at all.
“Effi Briest” (1974)
When German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder was all the rage, I went to a Village revival house to catch up with this 135-minute, black and white film of his, that deals with the travails of a 19th Century aristocrat’s daughter (Hanna Schygulla) of ill repute. I found the pacing glacial, complete with icky closeups and long, dull patches. When Fassbinder went on to make the colorfully campy “Veronika Voss,” I couldn’t believe it was the same man — and suddenly I was in his thrall. But he had a lot of ‘splaining to do.
“The Tree of Wooden Clogs” (1979)
Minutae has never been so minute as in Ermanno Olmi’s 186-minute saga about Italian farm life at the beginning of the century. Everyone went wild for the simple artistry of the film’s patchwork of peasant joys and hardships, but I felt I’d rather be shoveling dirt than watching it unspool before me. The big drama happens when the kid’s shoes break as he’s walking home from school. Unfortunately, he does get home … just in time for more boredom, ha!
“Chariots of Fire’s” Hugh Hudson directed this shapeless farrago about the American Revolution, a faux-prestige film which was sunk the second they signed on Al Pacino as the central character, a trapper with a lot of “deses” and “dems” coming out of his mouth. Donald Sutherland and Nastassja Kinski joined him in sheer boredom, and as a result, anyone who’s attempted to do a movie about the Revolution ever since has been braver than a soldier in the trenches. The occasional unintended guffaws from the (very small) audience did significantly help the time go by faster, though.
“The Missouri Breaks” (1976)
Arthur Penn (“Bonnie and Clyde”) directed this western, which is so artily done and so drained of juice that it arrives as dead as a dehydrated horse in the desert. You’d think a movie costarring Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson couldn’t fail, but when Brando gets all pretentious and shit, he’s unbearable, and here he (with help from the creative surroundings) managed to drag the usually mirthy Jack down with him. Leonard Maltin said it best: “Jumbled, excessively violent pseudo-event. A great director’s worst film and one of the worst ‘big’ movies ever made.”
“The Chase” (1966)
Brando and Penn should have known better than to work together again. They had already collaborated on this stinker, which also featured bright lights like Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, Angie Dickinson and Robert Duvall, all primed for a good drama.
Add Lillian Hellman as screenwriter (having adapted the Horton Foote book), and you’d assume this tale of a prison escapee, a sheriff and some townspeople would positively light up the screen. But it fizzled like a defective firework, the “chase” amounting to a snoozy exercise in blah-ness that wasn’t worth the bother. What a freakin’ bore!
“Mystic River” (2003)
A festival favorite and Oscar winner, this Clint Eastwood-directed melodrama about three childhood buddies played by Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins all grown up and interacting again didn’t do it for me. I found it lackluster and spent the whole special screening looking at that watch and waiting for the after buffet, which was fabulous!
“Everything’s Ducky” (1961)
I like Mickey Rooney and Buddy Hackett, and I have nothing against ducks except when they’re undercooked, but this comedy about two sailors and a talking piece of poultry is not only labored, it’s painful to watch. The main problem is that throughout the film, you can only imagine what they had to do to get the duck to sit, jump, move his mouth and so on. It’s not long before “painful” becomes sheer boredom, and in fact, one has to admit that everything’s sucky!