Popularity isn’t everything, even in the world of movies. One moment you’re a Harry Potter sequel on top of the world, or a comedic cultural touchstone like American Pie, and the next you’re a passe favorite that’s lost its luster. Prepare for a trip down memory lane with all of the bumps as we’re looking at the total opposite of the best 2000s movies, with these flicks that have not stood the test of time.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
The Harry Potter movies have always been a cultural touchstone for fans of the Wizarding World and will continue to be for some time. That doesn’t cover for the fact that the series’ second shortest movie came from its longest source novel, with so much missing that it still hurts to this day.
Monsters Inc. (2001)
Many people will probably fight me on this, as Monsters Inc. is a Disney/Pixar movie plenty of people probably still hold dear. That’s childhood nostalgia talking, friends. While Billy Crystal and John Goodman are still a team for the ages, this installment feels rooted in that earlier era of Pixar where they were fixated on “secret worlds.” Once Finding Nemo came along to change everything, this formula just didn’t hold up.
Superman Returns (2006)
Oh Brandon Routh, you deserved better. Between the controversial nature of director Bryan Singer and co-star Kevin Spacey, as well as some baffling choices in its storyline, Superman Returns is an embattled legacy-quel. There’s still some magic in there, but tough conversations are always waiting to be had with this would-be franchise reboot.
The Blind Side (2009)
The Blind Side’s eventual controversies surrounding the legal battle between Michael Oher and the family that took him in are the major component that soured this film in the public eye. But to be completely honest, even its initial wave of release saw audiences wondering if this was really the movie to give Sandra Bullock an Oscar for.
Wedding Crashers (2005)
Comedy is a hard genre to age gracefully, and a film like Wedding Crashers is a prime example of why. Though it did provide one of Will Ferrell’s most quotable moments, a lot of the humor in this Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson vehicle might not work with present-day viewers. This ride is neither built for speed, nor comfort.
Scary Movie (2000)
Spoof movies are a sub-genre that’s one of the hardest to make into a hit that can stand the test of time. Though Scary Movie certainly felt like a huge hit in its early days, the diminishing returns of sequels and the era-specific nature of the jokes doomed it in the long run. Also, the wave of infamous copycats like Date Movie only sank this ship even further.
American Pie 2 (2001)
I know what you’re thinking: why attack American Pie 2 rather than the original film? Well, to be perfectly honest, almost this entire franchise has aged poorly. But the greatest sin the 2001 installment committed was to be a carbon copy sequel, only set at college. At least American Wedding and American Reunion changed up the setting, creating somewhat of a trilogy.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
At one point, My Big Fat Greek Wedding saw Nia Vardalos’ 2002 rom-com hit was the highest-grossing independent film of all time. Two legacy-quels later, the now expanded franchise hasn’t seen that sort of lofty success repeated. Though anyone could have told you that the moment its sitcom follow-up, My Big Fat Greek Life, was canceled within a year of the picture’s release.
50 First Dates (2004)
Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore fans are going to come for my neck for this one, but it has to be said. While 50 First Dates is initially cute, and still has some of that Wedding Singer magic that decades later still makes Drew cry, it sounds more like a horror movie when you strip away those charms. How else would you view the concept of a woman waking up every day, only to learn that years of her life happened with no memory?
Pearl Harbor (2001)
There have been many movies about Pearl Harbor, and the one that lives with the most infamy has to be director Michael Bay’s 2001 film named after that pivotal World War II battle. What felt like an ill-fated cross between Titanic and Saving Private Ryan, movie fans have always loved to dunk on one of its year’s highest-grossing films.
X-Men: Origins - Wolverine (2009)
Without X-Men: Origins - Wolverine, we might not have gotten James Mangold’s superior sequels or the Deadpool franchise. So while this entry may not be most people’s favorite Wolverine movie, its sparking of Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman’s faux feud is just one of the many good things that came from this seemingly heinous act.
Bruce Almighty (2003)
Jim Carrey and director Tom Shadyac have a rather interesting history as collaborators. Starting with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, the pair branched out into goofier, less edgy films as they went on. By the time 2003’s Bruce Almighty hit, the formula seemed to have run its course; as barely anyone talks about the fifth highest-grossing movie from that year’s domestic box office.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
In an age where Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings started to make book-to-movie adaptations look like money-makers, The Chronicles of Narnia felt like a surefire bet. 2005’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe did manage to hit when it was released, but two sequels failed to have the gas in the tank that we saw with the franchise starter.
The Da Vinci Code (2006)
It used to be that a Dan Brown novel adaptation was something that brought readers and moviegoers together. The runaway success of The Da Vinci Code proved as much when bringing Tom Hanks’ Robert Langdon to the big screen. It’s hard to gauge which turned people off first: the repetitive nature of the source material, or Hanks’ unfortunate hairstyle, but both did not bode well for these adventures in the long term.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
People are going to try and tell you that Spider-Man 3 is “good, actually.” These people are, unfortunately, wrong. Between the goofy antics of Tobey Maguire’s black-suited Spidey and the unfortunate miscasting of Topher Grace as Venom, not even a hammy James Franco could save this Sam Raimi flick.
Meet The Parents (2000)
DreamWorks struck while the iron was hot when they made a trilogy around 2000’s Meet the Parents. But even taken on its own, the Ben Stiller/Robert De Niro rom-com shows its age in a lot of ways. Most notably, the fact that what once felt fresh about this chain of romantic mishaps has become old hat.
What Women Want (2000)
How off the radar is 2000’s What Women Want? Try this on for size: not only did the Mel Gibson rom-com blockbuster fall into obscurity on its own merits, but it wasn’t enough of a draw to make its 2019 reboot What Men Want into as big of a hit. Then again, when’s the last time you heard the phrase “Mel Gibson rom-com” thrown around in casual conversation?
The Santa Clause 2 (2002)
The Santa Clause was a massive hit that put comedian Tim Allen on the map as a star of TV and movies. The Santa Clause 2, on the other hand, was the beginning of the end for this would-be theatrical titan, as the magic of Christmas was replaced with…Santa trying to find a wife. One has to imagine this movie inspired many future holiday rom-com writers to pursue their eventual vocation.
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
Sometimes a topical blockbuster is too rooted in its present-day reality for its own good. Disaster movie director Roland Emmerich landed such a film with The Day After Tomorrow; a movie so 2004 that dealt with caricatures of major political figures of the time as it delivered environmental disaster action. And even the action wasn’t the best the Independence Day director had to offer in that particular space.
Anger Management (2003)
Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson: together at last! That seemed to be the major selling point for 2003’s Anger Management, and at the time it seemed to work. Jump ahead to our present day and more people might think you’re talking about the Charlie Sheen FX sitcom when you mention its name.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
I would go on record as saying that the entire pre-Bumblebee run of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies has aged rather poorly. But if I were going to single out one entry for particularly horrific aging, it has to be the casually racist, horribly scattershot Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Though Transformers: Age of Extinction does come in a close second.
Not everything Zack Snyder touches turns to gold. And while his adaptation of 300 was a big deal back in the day, it pales in comparison to his other films. That’s partially because of the legacy that author Frank Miller’s creation has accrued over time, and also due to Snyder topping himself with Watchmen and Zack Snyder’s Justice League. On the plus side, Snyder’s original 300 sequel pitch, Blood and Ashes, is sitting there, just waiting for its creator to make it happen.
The Pacifier (2005)
Level with me: did you even remember that Vin Diesel’s The Pacifier existed? I could have very easily put The Game Plan or Bedtime Stories into this slot, and I bet you’d have trouble naming who starred in those films. Come to think of it, did Vin Diesel star in The Pacifier? Can you tell me for certain without looking it up? The defense rests, your honor.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Biopics are always a flashpoint of controversy, as adaptation efforts on a movie like director Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind have inspired the phrase “historical drama” to be used in pictures of this ilk. The Russell Crowe starring picture that depicts mathematician John Nash’s struggles with schizophrenia was not only a box office hit, but also 2002’s Best Picture winner at the Oscars.
Bringing Down The House (2003)
With a leading cast like Steve Martin, Queen Latifah, and Eugene Levy, you would think that more people would remember 2003’s Bringing Down The House. People certainly saw the movie back in the day, as it was a top 20 hit at the domestic box office. But not even Mr. Levy’s lovestruck affections for the Queen herself have escaped the rigors of time and evolving culture unscathed.
Shark Tale (2004)
Hoo boy, where to start with this one? DreamWorks Animation’s Shark Tale has two major strikes against it when it comes to aging well. First, a movie about a Will Smith protagonist trying to look like a tough conqueror just doesn’t hit like it did back then; and with good reason. But second, and more importantly, Jack Black’s vegetarian shark being unsubtly coded as a metaphor for queerness is, as the kids of aughts would have called it, “two thousand and late.”
Horton Hears A Who! (2008)
Horton Hears A Who! feels like a bingo card of hit-making when you look over its pedigree. A Dr. Seuss animated adaptation that stars both Jim Carrey and Steve Carell, along with a bevy of notable co-stars. And in the year that brought us Iron Man and The Dark Knight, this flick managed to be a top 10 finisher at the domestic box office. As you can see, that historical fact doesn’t explain how music from The Lorax became a TikTok trend, but this movie hasn’t had a similar resurgence.
A sequel to The Silence of the Lambs directed by Ridley Scott must have sounded like catnip to MGM when they greenlit Hannibal. And if you were looking for a campy follow-up that was trippy, disturbing, and ignored Thomas Harris’ literary source to the point of radically altering its ending, you got it. But if you were hoping for a movie that could stand toe to toe with its mythic predecessor, the lambs are still screaming about that failure to this day.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)
Was Paul Blart: Mall Cop ever destined to age well? That’s a question for Kevin James scholars to debate in smoke-filled rooms while chugging Mountain Dew and recalling many articles from the halcyon days of Maxim. For the rest of us, the combination of Happy Madison resting on its laurels, and a severely dated sense of humor, shows why this sort of movie lost popularity after 2009; especially when it comes to the drop off in grosses reported for the 2015 sequel.
Knocked Up (2007)
Flashback to 2007: Judd Apatow’s line-o-rama approach to comedy is still fresh, and after delivering The 40-Year-Old Virgin, the man hit us all with the massive hit that was Knocked Up. If you were thinking about watching that movie again, you may want to stay in that flashback, as time has not been kind to this story at all. The more time passes, the more Anne Hathaway’s decision to pass on this movie stands as a shrewd business move.
In its release window, Juno was a lightning rod of both controversy and applause, as Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody’s collaboration was an almost instant pop culture hit. That fate is also what led to this picture’s downfall, as the Elliot Page/Michael Cera dramedy’s hipster dialogue is, honest to blog, severely dated.
Just because your franchise has lasted to include two sequels, a couple of spin-offs, and some TV shows doesn’t mean it has aged well. In fact, the further success of Madagascar only highlights how weak that first movie was, as later entries have outshined the OG. Not to mention The Penguins of Madagascar is where the real fun has always been, but perhaps the world isn’t ready for that discussion.
Discussing how a film has aged can be a controversial subject, as die-hard fans of titles like the ones we’ve discussed are obviously going to object. At the same time, chats like this are only going to reveal even more candidates for these sorts of discussions, as well as help crown which movies truly have aged like milk. So if you’ve got an opinion on either side of the fence, hold it high, and keep the controversy going!