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11 criminally underrated films from the ’00s

Words by Maeve Kerr-Crowley

Vampires, child stars and surfers. Oh, my.

The ’00s was an overabundant breeding ground for iconic, quotable and so-bad-they’re-brilliant films. You know it, I know it, and we’re both incredibly grateful for the experience.

But, frankly, I’m getting sick of hearing about them.

We’ve boxed ourselves in, and if one more person quotes Mean Girls or Legally Blonde at me, I might actually scream.

So, what if we all find something new to watch like clockwork every month and talk about ad nauseam? Personally, I think it would be good for the collective consciousness to branch out and diversify our points of reference.

To help you out, here are 11 films from the 2000s that didn’t get nearly as much attention as they deserved.

Hopefully, there’ll be something for everyone, no matter what genre or level of quality gets you going.

Ginger Snaps, 2000

The 2000s were a good time for fun and whacky takes on horror clichés, and Ginger Snaps takes the cake when it comes to werewolf flicks. Taking the lycanthropy/menstruation metaphor to a whole new level, the film follows two macabre sisters who are painfully relatable in their teen dramatics. There’s a lovely but grim message of sisterhood, and the makeup and styling are pretty killer for the time.

Psycho Beach Party, 2001

I’m not exaggerating when I say that PBP should be awarded the crown for all-time best parody film. It’s a campy ’60s beach flick with ’50s thriller sensibilities, ’70s slasher tropes and a ’00s sense of humour, following a convoluted murder mystery and a teen girl with multiple personalities. The film’s strangely legit cast doesn’t hurt either, with Amy Adams, Thomas Gibson and Buffy’s Nicholas Brendon all appearing on the bill.

The Forsaken, 2001

Eight whole years before Twilight hit screens and hearts everywhere, The Forsaken was doing the hard slog in a world that just wasn’t ready for it. Arguably underrated ’00s star, Kerr Smith, stars in this vampire road movie that’s super overdramatic and, unsurprisingly, a little homoerotic. There’s some interesting if not revolutionary vamp lore thrown in, but mostly it’s just a fun, silly watch. 

Two Weeks Notice, 2002

The ’00s were also a great time for universal sweetheart, Sandra Bullock, which is obviously not to imply that every other decade hasn’t been. And while we can all admit that Miss Congeniality was a cinematic masterpiece (as was Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous), I would love to see even half as much praise given to Two Weeks Notice. I promise, Sandy pulls off lawyer with a conscience who likes yelling at Hugh Grant just as well as she pulls off FBI agent with a heart of gold who likes yelling at… everyone.

Treasure Planet, 2002

Finding an underrated Disney film is not an easy task, but I firmly believe that Treasure Planet fits the bill. It ties with Muppet Treasure Island for the title of best Treasure Island adaptation, and ties with absolutely nothing for coolest animated film of the decade. I mean, it’s pirates but in space. Also, the cast is pretty insane. Also, also, animated Jim Hawkins was just the kind of dreamy, misunderstood troublemaker that tweens of the era were desperate for.   

Honey, 2003

I’m working on a conspiracy theory about the film Honey. When the film came out, my preteen friends and I were almost unhealthily obsessed with it, and yet I’ve barely heard its name mentioned in the years since. Which seems incredibly unfair considering it’s the sexy, Jessica Alba-led predecessor to the Step Up franchise, and also Missy Elliott is there.

Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, 2003

This film is equal parts joyful and poignant, and capitalises on my enduring soft spot for David Spade. The gist is that a badly behaved but undeniably charming former child star hires a family to teach him how to be a functioning human being so he can finally make his comeback but, because this is a feel-good comedy, what he really learns is what love feels like. As a bonus, there’s the most amazing and ridiculous musical number at the end.   

Down with Love, 2003

I don’t know why we’re not all constantly talking about the life-changing combination of Ewan McGregor and Renée Zellweger doing a tongue-in-cheek send up of ridiculous ’60s rom coms. Zellweger is an author telling women to swear off love in favour of sex and self-empowerment, McGregor is a slick journalist slash ladies’ man. Sarah Paulson and David Hyde Pierce are also there making out a lot. It’s genius.

Zathura: A Space Adventure, 2005

Was this film made just to capitalise on the popularity of Jumanji? Probably. Is it still a great watch? Hell yes. You get the same themes of action and consequence, sibling bonding and teamwork, but you also get aliens. Robin Williams isn’t there, but Kristen Stewart is doing what she did best in the ’00s and beyond: brooding.

MirrorMask, 2005

I often have to remind myself that Neil Gaiman’s MirrorMask is a film and not just a recurring fever dream I had as a child. Following a girl who runs away from the circus and ends up trapped in a strange fantasy world, it’s a wild ride of off-kilter and mildly terrifying visuals to rival ’80s classics like Labyrinth and Dark Crystal – which, coincidentally, I did once have a fever dream about that came back to haunt me for years.

The Covenant, 2006

Undoubtedly the lesser-known male equivalent to ’90s cult classic The Craft, this magical boarding school romp is so ridiculous that it might be one of the best films ever made. For those partial to eye candy, it’s also an early entry into the filmographies of future Gossip Girl stars, Sebastian Stan and Chace Crawford. The plot in a nutshell: four teenage boys descended from colonial witches are having a grand time being hoodlums, a fifth teenage hoodlum shows up, attempted murder and homoerotic subtext ensue.

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