American Psycho (2000)
This biting satire of ‘80s yuppie culture wasn’t received with open arms. Many critics found the depiction of sadistic killings and exploration of Patrick Bateman’s twisted psyche to be gratuitous and excessive. After the critical storm settled, American Psycho gained acclaim for its dark humor and incisive social commentary on materialism, conformity, and the dehumanizing effects of capitalism.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
The Breakfast Club initially faced criticism for its rigid stereotypes (the jock, geek, etc.) and idealistic resolution. The plot also came under fire, with early reviews calling it thin and predictable. But critical reception soon warmed up, with several outlets praising its deft exploration of teenage angst and the importance of empathy.
The Goonies (1985)
Formulaic, trope-laden, and packed to the brim with over-the-top humor, The Goonies wasn’t an instant hit with critics in the ‘80s. Like The Breakfast Club, its well-worn plot was slated as unoriginal, the characters over the top. But over time, its memorable characters, riveting action sequences, and heartwarming depiction of friendship inspired new generations of fans.
Fight Club (1999)
Fight Club’s critics were repulsed by its dark, nihilistic themes and so-called glorification of violence. The unconventional narrative structure was slammed too, with critics complaining it was confusing and disjointed. But views soon changed, and it’s now regarded as a salient exploration of masculinity and consumerism. First rule of film club: put this one on your list.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
The Big Lebowski follows the laid-back and clueless Jeff Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) as he gets embroiled in a kidnapping scheme involving mistaken identity, nihilists, and a rug. Despite its witty dialogue and all-star cast, critics slated the film as messy and aimless. But that was just, like, their opinion, man.
The Lost Boys (1987)
Genre-bending ‘80s touchstone The Lost Boys didn’t impress critics at first, with many dismissing it as a shallow teen movie reliant on tired vampire tropes. The horror-comedy blend didn’t go down well, either. But despite early criticism, it gained a devoted cult following, with critics and audiences embracing its mishmash of genres, iconic characters, and killer soundtrack.
The Truman Show (1998)
The Truman Show tells the story of a man who discovers that his entire life has been broadcast to the world as part of a reality TV show. Despite its clever premise, innovative visuals, and powerful performances, early reviews slated it as mawkish and heavy-handed. However, The Truman Show has since been recognized as a modern classic and a cautionary tale for the digital age.
Office Space (1999)
Office Space takes a satirical look at the mundane world of corporate America, following a protagonist who despises his job and plans to embezzle his employer. But early reviews were lukewarm; critics were frustrated by the subtle humor and lack of laugh-out-loud punchlines. But it’s since become a cult classic, lauded for its relatable characters and sharp critique of corporate life.
When a teenager receives a mysterious creature called a Mogwai for Christmas, he unwittingly unleashes a horde of mischievous and dangerous Gremlins in his town. Although a clever blend of horror and humor, Gremlins initially received mixed reviews; the most critical dismissing it as a cheap, cynical attempt to cash in on E.T.’s success.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a beautifully crafted film that explores the intricacies of love, loss, and memory. The film’s non-linear narrative and unconventional storytelling initially divided critics, but its poignant themes and stunning visuals have earned it a place among the greatest works of indie cinema.