Which movies have you not been able to finish?

Some things are just too darn difficult to follow through right to the end. Monopoly. Baseball. The Oscars. But surely setting aside a measly two hours to watch a film in your own home should be no trouble, right? Wrong…

Ironically, this is a post I have been meaning to write for some time – like Super Mario Bros 3, I just never felt able to complete it. Admitting you decided to switch off a classic movie part of the way through because you were bored, tired or disgusted is not easy to put into words. There have been a number of times when I have sat down to watch a film, only to find ten minutes in that there is something else I’d rather be doing. Like holding my hand in the freezer for an hour and 45 minutes. Of course there are some films everyone should try to see, but at the same time movie-watching should never be a chore, and if you’re stuck watching something you don’t like you should have the balls – and the sense – to turn it off. You should also have the nerve to not be ashamed of it either, even it it means dissing what others call a classic.

I have never walked out of a movie at the cinema (that’s a subject for another post as I’m sure many of you have). There have been times when I should have walked out of the cinema (if Tim Burton is a regular reader of our blog, he will once again realise I am referring to his Planet Of The Apes) but I’m usually selective – perhaps too narrow-mindedly selective – enough in my viewing choices that I rarely go to see a complete dud. In the comfort of my own home, however, things are entirely different. I had gone a long time without ejecting a DVD in frustration seven minutes after inserting it, but recently my patience seems to have deserted me.

Let’s start with a biggie. I was round at the less-than-humble abode of RvR contributor Lester Square a few weeks ago when I slyly noticed he had a still-packaged copy of acclaimed Italian crimefest Gomorrah hiding behind his TV. After much faffing (Lester argued he might watch it that weekend, even though it had been sitting behind his TV for more than a year. Thankfully, Mrs Square was on hand to persuade him otherwise) he allowed me to take it home. And so I left Square Towers with Gomorrah, although I forgot my umbrella. If I could go back in time, I would swap them around.

A few days later I slid Gomorrah into my DVD player and sat back ready to enjoy it. And then… nothing. Gomorrah just didn’t grab me at all. Its disparate tales of Naples drugs gangs were so disparate that I didn’t feel any connection to any of the characters. I didn’t care who lived or died. It was all a bit… cold. I could tell this was the type of film I was ‘supposed’ to be liking but I didn’t enjoy it. I gave it 40 minutes. And then it came out of the DVD player. I had a fair idea of what the movie was going to be like – I wasn’t expecting Goodfellas-style gangster entertainment – but I just didn’t get it. Put simply, I was bored. Perhaps if I watch the remaining one hour and 40 minutes (!) it will all make sense. But you know what? I’m not sure I’ll ever do that.

Pity I didn't get this far. This bit looks good

Another movie I watched a few weeks ago got nowhere near the 40-minute mark. There may be some people out there who have seen Laurel Canyon and think it’s good, but don’t let them talk you into watching it. In fairness, the couple who lent it to me on DVD informed me it was shit, and I quite like shit films, but this was a whole new level of shit. Laurel Canyon opens with Christian Bale performing oral sex on Kate Beckinsale. But don’t let that fool you. Frances McDormand… I’m not sure what else you could have been doing during that week of filming – washing your hair, chopping tomatoes – but you should have done it instead. Laurel Canyon defiled my DVD player for no more than ten minutes. I actually turned it off to fold some clothes. That’s how good those ten minutes were. Judging by the synopsis, I got out at just about the right time.

Christian always dozed off once Kate tried to explain the plot of the Underworld movies to him

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I review movies quite regularly. Which means no matter how desperate I am to turn off The Ugly Truth or Law Abiding Citizen or Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead or The Informant!, I have to see them through to the end. Gerard Butler… is he the new Vince Vaughn?

But in your own time and in your own living room, I don’t think you should force yourself to finish a crap movie. Among the other films to be switched off early are Music And Lyrics (Drew Barrymore definitely went to acting school with Kate Beckinsale), Dude, Where’s My Car? (exactly like Wayne’s World, except you won’t laugh. Not in the first 17 minutes, anyway) and The Player. Yes, that’s right, Altman’s ‘masterpiece’ The Player. It came out of the VHS machine – yes, this was a while ago – within minutes. But then Robert Altman always was the king of dull movies.


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57 Responses to “Which movies have you not been able to finish?”

  1. That’s so weird about Gomorrah, one of the few movies I’ve come across that people either love or hate with no gray area to be seen. Still wanna check it out, but man, must have sucked.

    Only movie I’ve ever considered turning off every time I’ve seen it is Requiem for a Dream. Not much to explain there, but that’s the only one I can think of.

    Can’t believe I made it through Dune though.

  2. Requiem is just hard to watch. For me, it was Southland Tales… what the fuck was that all about?
    Oh, and looking at that Christian Bale and Beckinsale pic, why do girls in movies always have sex with their tops on… very annoying!!!

  3. Aiden: I admit I may be the only one, but I am totally in that gray area. I got through Gomorrah and thought it was okay. There was one story among the five that I think could have been removed to make things flow more easily.

    Anyways, on to the question, I have never been able to finish The Thing. I have no problem watching a 3-hour film, but every time I watch the thing, I notice at the 45 minute mark that I either don’t want to watch it or that I have spaced out. I have seen the first 45 minutes a good 5 or 6 times. I think that may be the only one. If I don’t like a film, I usually fast forward it a bit. I watched Carl Bessai’s Johnny the other day and it was terrible, but I fast-forwarded to the end and watched the last ten minutes, just to see the horrible ending. One thing that I can say, though, is that I have turned off old, foreign films (it seems to be only the old foreign films that have this problem) for showing too many instances of non-simulated, extreme animal cruelty (Tree of Wooden Clogs for that long sequence with the pig stabbing and Padre Padrone for the scene where the kid stabs the sheep in the throat have both been immediately turned off. I don’t care if they’re both palme d’or winners.)

  4. I can’t ever finish Goodfellas. I’m so sick of gangster movies, I can’t get through the admittedly excellent opening narration.

  5. Public enemy!! I want to see Christian Bale but the movie is too boring and I ended up turning it off before it was over.

    Girl with a pearl earring is also that kinda of movie…but I manage to see till the end (with a lot of fast-forwarding), I won’t be able to finish it if it isn’t because I am curious will Cillian Appears again

  6. […] Ross McG and Ross McD wonder about which movies you were never able to finish (Ross vs Ross) […]

  7. There’s only been a few films I never finished. Funny you mention Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead because that’s one of the ones I couldn’t finish. It bored me to tears.

    Also, I never finished Apocalypse Now Redux and I was a good ways into it. I’m gonna give the theatrical cut another try.

  8. Good shout on Gomorrah, being pitched as a gangster epic has got to be the biggest let down of late. My friends and I made it to the end (TWO GOD DAMN HOURS) but we were waiting for it to liven up a bit. Other films I would have topped myself watching if I didn’t have the fast-forward would have been.

    Forgetting Sarah Marshal
    Elephant / My Own Private Idaho
    I Spit on Your Grave
    5ive Girls
    Ghost Rider
    Requiem For A Dream

  9. Oh, and OPEN WATER was the worst film I’ve never walked out on. Afterwards I went to an M&S to get some nice food and was bitching about it to my friends when this lovely looking old lady just leaned in and said “You’re not talking about Open Water, are you?”

    It made my day!

  10. Recently I sat down to watch The Cotton Club and only managed about 30 mins before pushing the eject button…

    I also walked out the cinema earlier this week but I’m going to be blogging about that later.

  11. hmmm.. CinemaScream… think I can guess what you walked out of but I won’t guess here. will hold my tongue until I read your post

  12. I also have never walked out of the Cinema but think I should have this week. My review of Shelter will be posted tomorrow if I can be bothered to finish it.

  13. @ Joe: I hope you’re not talking about John Carpenter’s The Thing. We might have a problem on our hands.

  14. I’m sure there are more. But the ones I do remember are Requiem for a Dream and Annie Hall.

  15. Inland Empire. I need to finish that…

  16. Novroz – Pulic Enemies, I hear ya. That was mind-numbing muck.
    I’ve nevr walked out of a cinema (if i’ve paid for it, might as well enjoy the seat at least) but I have fallen asleep during The Hulk and Pineapple Express.
    The Informant!, McG knows how I feel about this. Watched it recently on a plane, kept waiting for something to happen, it didnt. Still annoyed with myself for siting through the whole thing, especially since there were other films on demand I really wanted to see.
    Because I don’t actually own a DVD player, and watch everything on my Xbox, the temptation is always very much there to press one button and switch to Toy Soldiers (which is what I’m playing at the moment – awesome).
    However, I usually watch films to the death, as I enjoy complaining about the bad ones as much as I enjoy watching the good ones

  17. Up in the air, lasted 4.5 minutes in my dvd player.

  18. Agree about the Informant! Another super boring one is Meet Joe Black, I probably won’t ever see it if it weren’t for Anthony Hopkins. The New World is painfully slow at times, but good thing I didn’t turn it off because the last half hour with Christian Bale is sooo rewarding!

    Heck no, Gerard Butler is NOT the new Vince Vaughn. This is madness!!!

  19. @ Castor: Getting through Inland Empire was an accomplishment alright.

  20. mcarteratthemovies Says:

    “Gone with the Wind.” I’ve attempted to see it four times and I can’t make it past hour 14 … hell, I think I’m STILL WATCHING IT. Scarlett O’Hara is such a simpering wet wrag with her stupid come-hither eyes. I hate her.

    I’ve also never succeeded in finishing any Steven Seagal movie. If I want action, he’s just not my first choice.

    Much as I love Sir Ben Kingsley, I can’t do “Gandhi.” I swear that one seems twice as long as “Gone with the Wind.”

  21. I found I couldn’t stomach “The Passion of the Christ” to even half way.

    “Public Enemies” was so dull it sent me to sleep.

    Little known flick “Tough Guys Don’t Dance”, directed by Norman Mailer was so hilariously full of his macho ethos I had to give up.

    Ron Zombie films, it hardly needs saying.

    “The Black Dahlia” was such a a tedious bore.

    The hideous Roberto Begnini’s “Pinocchio” was utterly unwatchable.

    … and about one quarter of a “Hostel” movie had delighted me quite enough, thank you.

  22. mcarter… ‘Im STILL watching it’ — lol

  23. rtm… you have a great site and it’s pretty obvious you have a brain, so why is Gerard Butler your favourite actor?

  24. I tried Enemy Mine and really wanted to like it, but I just couldn’t endure the cheese factor past the forty minutes mark. In fairness, with family movies we all try harder – I’m able to endure movies I wouldn’t dream of sitting through otherwise (and it works both ways). I was amazed myself, my aunt and uncle all made it through The Comfort of Strangers earlier in the week, because none of us were mad about it and two of us downright hated it.

  25. Mr. McG, why thank you for thinking I have a brain 🙂 The answer is I’ve seen most of his movies BEFORE 300/TUT and a lot of them proved he’s got talent… and brains. And hey, I didn’t judge you for liking The Lake House, ok??

  26. I had to turn off both The Day the Earth Stood Still, and The Box. Almost turned off Burn After Reading…but after seeing the end, I kinda wish I had.
    Also, maybe I was just tired but I couldn’t finish Slumdog Millionare and The Hurt Locker…yeah I was tired alright. Started those waaay to late one night:P

  27. I usually watch a full film and pride myself on my commitment to giving a movie a chance till the end, but I just couldn’t.

    Battlefield Earth was another.

  28. I meant Black Dahlia for the first one! ha.

  29. rtm… The Ugly Truth, TUT TUT indeed.
    bonus points for remembering my love of The Lake House
    ill defend that film any day of the week
    its a masterpiece

  30. @Ross fortunately I never go to the cinema if I am not sure the movie will at least earns 3 stars from me. Public Enemy is just something I wanted to see because Bale is in it…but I never really like gangster/mafia movies…especially if it is too slow.

    Another movie I didn’t finish is Trainspotting by Danny Boyle…it’s just to weird for my taste.

    And I share the same feeling with you on The Lake House 🙂

  31. When Get Shorty was released, I remember watching it on VHS for about an hour and switching it off. I was about 10 years old at the time, so maybe I should rewatch now that I’m a couple of years older..!

  32. Wait, wait… WAIT!!!
    Fight Club sucks but the Lake House is a masterpiece. MASTERPIECE??? Have I drank that much tonite? Did I enter the friggin’ Twilight Zone? Are cats and Dogs coexisting peacefully? What the frack???

  33. the Eye, cannot stand Jessica Alba when it comes to what she calls, “acting”. Whats even worse is that she does it with clothes on too, damn!!

  34. It took me about 7 times to finally watch Pulp Fiction from beginning to end, does that make me a bad citizen?

  35. O yea, and I still haven’t finished Inland Empire.

    And Ross McG is right, The Lake House is a masterpiece.

  36. I never actually walked out of a movie, but I did rent Syriana twice and fell asleep during it both times if that counts in anyway haha.

  37. I got an hour and 18 minutes into “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” but stopped because it was incredibly boring. So some day I swear I’ll finish it, but I’ll probably take years.

  38. Don’t bother with Benjamin Button – it’s twenty minutes of good movie lost amid three hours of crap.

    Oh, Rosses, I’ve tagged you with the meme o’ the moment. Ten pieces of personal movie trivia, post haste!

  39. Hey Kai, you have indeed entered the ‘McG’s Twilight Zone’ … so no, you didn’t have much to drink. But you might want to when he starts ‘defending’ his masterpiece persuasion!! 🙂

  40. Hi Ross…I’ve tagged you for a meme on 10 movie facts about me. 🙂

    @RTM hahaha I do love Lake House too…tho I’m not going to consider it as a masterpiece

  41. nothatwasacompliment Says:

    well, there have been quite a few in the last year i would have quit on if i wasn’t reviewing them.

    – Death at a Funeral (the british version)
    – Year One
    – Next
    – Animal House
    – Crank 2
    – Zack and Miri

    The only movie I recall walking out of at the theater was “O”. I lasted as long as I could, but then left with about 15-20 minutes to go.

  42. Usually I’ll watch a full movie even if it turns out to be crap but I just couldn’t watch either Pathfinder or The New World, and I wanted to walk out of cloverfield but I had paid to see it so I sat through it anyway.

  43. Thank god someone else in the world didn’t like “Gomorrah!” I managed to finish it, but I had Facebook open on the other side of my computer for the last hour. What a snoozefest that movie was.

    To be honest, I think I have to see every movie through to the end. There’s only one that I can think of that I just turned off and never returned…I think I’ll talk about that on my site today. Thanks for the inspiration!

  44. […] Random Factoid #267 21 04 2010 This factoid is brought to you by Ross v Ross’ post “Which Movies Have You Not Been Able to Finish?” […]

  45. that movie with michael douglas and gwyneth paltrow (i forgot the title). it was actually quite suspenseful, nonetheless i fell asleep.

  46. Lester Square Says:


  47. @Anna, I think that’s called A Perfect Murder. I remember it because it’s got dashing Viggo Mortensen as Gwynie’s lover

  48. 2001 – i couldn’t even get past the apes, and im not ashamed to admit it.

  49. Two friends forced me to see ‘Wild Wild West’ because “All Will Smith movies are good!” (a sentiment with which I cannot agree). They woke me up about three-quarters of the way through (my second time falling asleep) so that we could leave. I still have not watched the rest of that film and with pride I can say I never will.

  50. The only movie I’ve ever shut off and not finished is Amelie. I turned off La Vie en Rose halfway through (ironically they are both French) but ended up finishing it. I should have shut off Public Enemies but I was waiting for it to get good. and I almost shot myself at the end of Across the Universe for finishing that crap.

  51. hobbinal Says:

    I couldn’t get through The Fellowship of the Ring on video–and I fell asleep during The Return of the King at the theater.

  52. Destination: Infestation. It is absolutely the most ridiculous movie I’ve ever had the misfortune of flipping channels onto…that and Shoot ‘Em Up, which for some inexplicable reason, I watched all the way through…

  53. …and that is 21 minutes 52 seconds of Shanghai Surprise.

    holy shit – as soon as Madonna stepped on set they must have realised the steamer they had stepped in.

  54. Yeah!! the black Dahlia!! thats a boring movie!! And I must confess that the first time that I watched Mouling Rouge I only stayed for the first 15 minutes and said what the (bleep) is this °_°!! but the second time I stayed watch it and now I love IT!!

  55. Ok, there have been few or many times that I have fastforwarded movies and one of the was Training Day man I should have never watched that film I mean why the heck does people think that Denzel was good in it. But I have made myself the rule if you think that it doesn´t look like a good movie then don´t see it, but I have gone wrong few times over the past years.

  56. Duplicity. so, so boring.

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