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10 Beloved Summer Blockbusters the Critics Got Dead Wrong

It’s easy to get jaded, in this season of After Earths and Hangover IIIs and Furious 6es, but let’s remember: sometimes big summer blockbusters attain that phenomenal degree of success for a reason. There’s nothing wrong with a good, old-fashioned popcorn movie, and those that do it well deserve our praise. But in researching a recent roundup of favorite summer movies, your film editor was shocked to discover how many presumably beloved modern classics were not, in fact, universally acclaimed. So, as with award winners and cult classics, it’s time for another round of “movies the critics got dead wrong.”

Jaws

“The ads show a gaping shark’s mouth. If sharks can yawn, that’s presumably what this one was doing. It’s certainly what I was doing all through this picture… The direction is by Steven Spielberg, who did the unbearable ‘Sugarland Express.’ At least here he has shucked most of his arty mannerisms and has progressed almost to the level of a stock director of the ’30s — say, Roy del Ruth.” – Stanley Kauffman, The New Republic

“The characters, for the most part, and the non-fish elements in the story, are comparatively weak and not believable. When the fear level drops off, for example, you’ll begin questioning the realism of how this little town fights the fish that threatens to close its beaches and thereby destroy its summer tourist economy. You’ll wonder why they don’t ultimately call in the Coast Guard, and you’ll wonder, when it comes to killing the fish, why three men have to risk their necks. Why doesn’t somebody just get a big mother of a gun and blow the shark out of the water?” – Gene Siskel, The Chicago Tribune

“While I have no doubt that ‘Jaws’ will make a bloody fortune for Universal and producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown, it is a coarse-grained and exploitive work which depends on excess for its impact. Ashore it is a bore, awkwardly staged and lumpily written.” – Charles Champlin, The Los Angeles Times