Movies & TV / Columns

Top 5 Movies that Deserve a Second Chance

September 29, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Before you jump to the list be sure to read this so you know what you’re complaining about in the comments. This is a list of movies that I didn’t like when I first watched them but came around to liking them upon a second watch. 

This isn’t a guilty pleasure list. This isn’t a list of bad movies that are good. This is a list of movies that I, Steve Gustafson, enjoyed after I gave them a second chance. Your list will be different depending on what your tastes are. Don’t expect to see John Carter or Speed Racer on here because I loved them from the start!

My Top 5…

5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
I know remakes are a necessary evil. Hollywood loves them because they usually get a good return on investment from them and I understand that. I just wish they’d remake movies that had a great concept but didn’t quite execute it or the special effects weren’t quite there. Like The Last Starfighter.
The original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a delight and when I heard they were remaking it with Johnny “Human Dream Catcher” Depp, I was skeptical. 

I had good reason to be. Upon seeing it  I found it lacked the charm and heart of the original. It had all the tones you’d expect from a Tim Burton movie and I quickly dismissed it. 

Then I had kids. 

I read the book by Roald Dahl and happened to watch it again. While I’m not going to say it’s better than the original, it is better than I gave it credit for. The tone is closer to the source materials and I can appreciate that. 
Oh, and before you Depp fans call me out on the dream catcher comment, I’m a fan of his acting but have said for years he dresses like a walking human dream catcher. 

4. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)
What a strange movie this was. We were just getting excited about Marvel’s plans for a shared universe, as Iron Man had come out a few years before and the pieces were being placed on the board for The Avengers, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance seemed…less than. 

Nicolas Cage bravely reprised his role as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider in a movie that I barely paid attention to. In fact I had all but forgotten it was made until I happened to get a free copy of it thanks to a Craigslist Free ad for a couple of boxes of DVDs that someone was getting rid of.

While this isn’t a classic by any standards, this is a solidly well done comic book movie that is visually pleasing and contains some really underrated action scenes for a superhero movie. 

I know Cage is done with the character but there’s plenty of meat left on the bone for Ghost Rider to ride again.

3. The Greatest Showman (2017)
Hype killed The Greatest Showman for me. As a former publicist for a performing arts center, I have a number of friends who trumpet any musical as “the best” and I fell for it. On initial viewing I was left…uninspired. 

I recently purchased Barnum: An American Life by Robert Wilson and enjoyed learning about the man, who I thought I had known before. Turns out, I was missing a lot. With a renewed appreciation I gave The Greatest Showman another chance and for some reason I…liked it. 

Creative liberty? Yes. And that’s what Barnum would have loved. It captures his spirit in a movie that’s made to entice with all the sizzle of a $75 steak. Hugh Jackman is charming in the role and I found myself humming “This is Me” long after the movie ended. 

2. Rat Race (2001)
Fact: I love, love, love, love It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. I’ve mentioned in other columns my enjoyment for it and for Cannonball Run. I believe Cannonball Run could be remade but It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World should not. 

The movie has a magical draw that can’t be duplicated. Edie Adams, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Dorothy Provine, Mickey Rooney, Dick Shawn, Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas, Jonathan Winters…I mean, how could you even try?
Enter Rat Race.

I instantly hated it. Yes, the cast had potential, with Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr., Wayne Knight, Jon Lovitz, Kathy Najimy, Lanai Chapman, Breckin Meyer, Amy Smart, Seth Green, Vince Vieluf, John Cleese and Dave Thomas coming together to bring laughs but I couldn’t be swayed. 

Then one of you readers out there brought it up in a column comments and I decided to watch it again. I hated…that I actually laughed. While it’s never going to overtake It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, it honors the spirit of the movie with some genuinely funny moments. 

1. Waterworld (1995)/The Postman(1997)
Let’s get this out of the way…we owe Kevin Costner a huge apology. The man was delivering gems to us and we shunned him at his brightest. 

Look, it was the 90s. Things were wild back then and audiences didn’t understand the nuances of the cinema that Costner was dropping. Little did we know he was making movies for 2020!

In all seriousness, these two movies are way better than the reputation they got and while they’ve been the butt of jokes for decades, I’ve grown to appreciate and be entertained by them more and more. 

And Mr. Costner, if you’re reading, I’m sorry for doubting you.

OK, what movie or movies did you originally hate but liked (or loved) after a second chance?