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12 Overrated Netflix Film Originals You Should Completely Avoid

As the streaming wars rage on, more and more streamers (Hulu, Netflix, Apple TV+, etc.) offer their own original and exclusive films to draw in wider audiences. Warner Brothers even put their entire 2021 movie lineup directly on HBOMax the same day the films hit theaters.

While each streaming service has found varied levels with success with original content, Netflix has been in the game the longest and has the most wide-ranging track record. Its highs, like "Roma" and "The Power of the Dog," have been dubbed Oscar-worthy and instantly classic. Its lows have featured titles like "The Ridiculous Six" and a so-bad-it-can't-even-be-fun adaptation of the popular anime "Death Note."

In total, the streamer has completed production on over 400 films (via MovieInsider). With a depth chart that stacked, it's definitely time to look back through Netflix's library for any film that may have been overrated upon release. This way, the next time you're title surfing on the platform, you'll know what's worth your time and what should be avoided.

The Gray Man

2022's "The Gray Man” was pitched like a veritable Coachella Festival for action fans. The line-up featured the subtly charismatic Ryan Gosling, the always intriguing Ana de Armas, character-acting black belt Billy Bob Thornton, powerhouse Alfre Woodard, and Chris Evans pulling an extreme heel turn as the movie's heavy. It also featured insane set pieces, wild camera movement, and direction from the Russo brothers, who helmed "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame." All of this reportedly came at a cost of $200 million to Netflix (via The Daily Beast).

Given Netflix's recent market troubles — the company reported the loss of over one million subscribers in the first half of the year — it's understandable that the studio pushed in so many chips on a big-budget movie like "The Gray Man." Their promo efforts included what Reuters called one of the company's "largest marketing campaigns ever," with ad spots during the NBA Finals and 3-D billboards in Times Square, Seoul, and Las Vegas. 

The marketing push paid off when the film premiered; Netflix reported that the movie logged 88.6 million viewing hours in its first weekend (via Reuters). However, "The Gray Man" did not live up to its gargantuan potential or expensive hype. Even though it currently holds a 90% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, critics were quick to point out the film's general blandness and reluctance "to take an actual risk." No movie with all these elements should ever add up to blandness.

Bird Box

In "Bird Box," released in 2014, Sandra Bullock plays Malorie Hayes, a woman trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where monsters whose image alone can kill humans roam the world. Under these dire circumstances, Malorie leads her children on a blindfolded expedition through a decimated landscape in an effort to reach a safe haven. Naturally, the perils of moving without sight through a hostile environment abound. 

It's an interesting premise and when the movie premiered it became a viral hit. But "Bird Box" is heinously overrated. It owes most of its popularity to the "Bird Box Challenge" on TikTok. To participate in this challenge, people began filming themselves navigating mundane situations (like riding an escalator) blindfolded. It got so bad — due to limited vision-related injuries — that Netflix formally issued a warning against the challenge (via The Verge).

While meme-ability doesn't necessarily spell success or doom for a movie, the online popularity of "Bird Box" definitely helped drum up a positive reception for a movie many critics found average. For example, in his review, critic Brian Tallerico called the movie out for its undercooked screenplay and witless climax. Critics and audiences don't always see eye to eye, but it's hard to deny that the movie becomes sillier as it goes on. Viewer be warned: "Bird Box" is more fad than well-crafted movie.

Game Over, Man!

When Netflix originally announced "Game Over, Man!" — an action-comedy send-up of "Die Hard" tropes — comedy lovers were excited. When the trailer came out, IndieWire told fans to "start planning for next year" to catch the movie's release. The movie owed this early hype to its creators and stars, the same brain trust responsible for the beloved comedy series "Workaholics."

At least initially, some of the fan response was positive. When actor Blake Anderson (who plays Joel in the movie) promoted the movie on Twitter upon its April 20, 2018 release, the responding thread was filled with supportive replies. However, the movie received generally poor reviews. IGN, for example, gave "Game Over, Man!" a rating of just one star. 

"Game Over, Man!" sits in an odd place as far as overrated movies go, because it's the rare movie that's often worse than some of its poor fanfare made it out to be. A movie from the guys behind "Workaholics" should have been a comedy lay-up, but instead its harshest critics described it as belonging "in the bottom of the bin." Some slightly more positive reviews suggested it might offer familiar fun for fans of the series. But fans of "Workaholics," presumably, want their comedy to be funny. Unfortunately, "Game Over, Man!" doesn't succeed at that.

Red Notice

Spoilers ahead for "Red Notice."

Not one, not two, but three A-listers (Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, and Ryan Reynolds) star in the 2021 action-comedy "Red Notice." The movie — about FBI agent Frank Hartley's (Johnson) attempts to apprehend the notorious art thief The Bishop (Gadot), with the help of another art thief named Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds) — reportedly cost Netflix as much as $200 million to make.

Currently, the film holds a 32% aggregate score with critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics described it as everything from "empty calorie entertainment" (via The Hollywood Reporter) to "an expensive brandishing of star power" (via The New York Times). However, audiences apparently loved the movie. A month after its release in December 2021, Netflix announced the film was the most watched movie in company history (via Bloomberg). Today, it holds a 96% aggregate score with audiences on Rotten Tomatoes

While "Red Notice" clearly split audiences and critics, it's hard to miss the movie's flaws, the biggest of which is probably the third act twist. Near the end of the film, Hartley reveals that he and The Bishop are actually in cahoots. The pair then triple-cross Booth. The reveal not only undoes the relationship established between Hartley and Booth, but also — to quote The Guardian — "loses the propulsive drive and excitement of the films it imitates," which is one of the movie's other big problems. Fun adventure movies like "Raiders of the Lost Ark" move in a straight line. The plot is simple and the action delightful. "Red Notice" insists on zigging and zagging until the twists overtake the fun. 

Don't Look Up

Adam McKay's "Don't Look Up" — the widely-viewed satire of our refusal to deal with the growing climate crisis —  features an all-star cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Tyler Perry, Timothee Chalamet, and many, many more. In the film, DiCaprio and Lawrence play two astronomers who discover a world-ending meteor is heading straight toward Earth. But the pair's warnings go unheeded by the public and powers-that-be, most of whom are clueless, selfish, or a combination of both.

Upon its release, the movie met with mixed reviews. Some critics loved the movie, with Forbes proclaiming that it hit the satirical bullseye. On the other hand, Rolling Stone ran a review titled "'Don't Look Up'...or You Might See One Bomb of a Movie Hurtling Right Toward You." On Rotten Tomatoes, the film maintains a 56% critics score and 78% audience score, respectively. 

Given the uneven reception, why did the Motion Picture Academy decide to nominate the movie for the Oscar for Best Picture in 2021? While Oscar voters don't make the reasoning behind their specific choices public, it's no secret that "Don't Look Up" isn't exactly a great movie. Its performances are loud, its direction is haphazard, and its script sometimes sounds like a one-note hopeless joke. As a review on RogerEbert.com put it, the film "continuously makes you scrape the walls of its hollow comic sequences for a laugh."

The Unforgivable

Sandra Bullock can still draw a crowd. One of her recent Netflix films, titled "The Unforgivable,"  reached the top spot on the Nielsen streaming chart and ranked No. 6 among the top 10 most streamed programs (via The Hollywood Reporter) the week it came out.

The movie, directed by Nora Fingscheidt, follows Sandra Bullock's Ruth and her road to redemption after she's released from prison. After murdering a sheriff and serving 20 years, she's now looking to reconnect with her estranged younger sister. Yes, the film is depressing as it sounds. 

However, sad doesn't mean bad — but poor writing does. Movie critic Odie Henderson described the film as "an unwatchable, punishing hot mess" in his review, while The New York Times dismissed the movie as a "glum show of flashbacks." Both reviews also cite odd writing choices that convolute the plot and hamstring the movie's attempts at some kind of catharsis. 

Even though the movie maintains a surprisingly solid 74% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, it's hard to disagree with the critics. When it comes to "The Unforgivable," it's more than likely the movie owes its popularity to Bullock's star power and nothing else. 

Hillbilly Elegy

Given that the memoir "Hillbilly Elegy" reached the top spot on USA Today's Best-Selling Books list in 2017, it's no surprise that audience anticipation for Netflix's adaptation was high. The movie follows the life of author J.D. Vance as he works his way out of Appalachia's impoverished Rust Belt and heads to Yale University. 

Sounds like a crowd-pleaser right? Its audience score on Rotten Tomatoes (83%) definitely suggests as much. However, Vance's rags-to-riches story wasn't the reason many found the book provocative. Its status as a talking point came from Vance's no-holds-barred take on class in America. During a 2016 episode of NPR's "Fresh Air," program host Terry Gross told the audience that Vance's book tackled "social isolation, poverty, drug use, as well as religious and political changes in his family and in Greater Appalachia." The movie excludes many of these difficult ideas to keep its narrative upbeat and greatly suffers for that decision. 

A review in Vox described the lack of nuance in Netflix's film as inauthentic to the true circumstances of Vance's background, bemoaning the complete absence of any important political context as well. So while the film may remain popular with viewers, it's definitely not the challenging and dynamic film its popularity suggests. 

The Trial of the Chicago 7

With Araon Sorkin at the helm, an all-star cast, five Oscar nominations (including Best Picture), and a story centered around a historic trial from the previous century, "The Trial of the Chicago 7" may seem like a must-watch. The film recaps a bleak flashpoint — based on the real, infamous trial of anti-Vietnam protesters and their alleged incitement of riots in Chicago in 1968 — in American history.

The movie was met with some positive buzz when it was first released and currently has an 89% rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes. However, some critics didn't appreciate the "Sorkinification" of American history. For example, Rolling Stone gave the movie 2.5 stars in its review, saying that it felt "outright outlandish at times ... as far afield from history as an episode of 'The Twilight Zone.'"

In other words, while the movie's well-acted, well-written, and well-shot, its flights of fancy water down some nasty facts. For example, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's prosecutor Richard Schultz is portrayed as a level-headed good guy caught in a bad situation. In reality, he was known as the "government's pit bull." He also didn't rush to the aid of Black Panther Bobby Seale after Seale was illegally beaten, bound, and gagged in real life as is portrayed in the movie (via The Ringer). Sorkin's dialogue may sing, but "The Trial" is not an accurate representation of American history. 

The Kissing Booth

"The Kissing Booth" left viewers divided when it first appeared on Netflix in May 2018. Tweets from Netflix subscribers during the month following the movie's release ranged from demanding sequels to calling it out for being "too ridiculous." The movie follows the classic "will they, won't they" format: Joey King plays Elle, who's best friends with Lee, played by Joel Courtney. Elle falls for Lee's older brother Noah, a walking amalgamation of bad boy tropes — he plays football, rides a motorcycle, and gets around — played by "Euphoria" star Jacob Elordi. Elle's courtship with Noah naturally complicates her friendship with Lee. 

It's cheesy, to put it mildly. But while everybody is free to enjoy their cheese the way they like it, many a think piece was written about the overnight success of "The Kissing Booth" and its depiction of fairly toxic behavior. For example, this Indiewire review went so far as to describe the film as "rife with sexist rhetoric, casual slut-shaming, and a 'bad boy' lead who never met a put-down (or a punch) he didn't like."

While the movie's popularity resulted in two sequels, it's hard to know if audiences are watching out of love or in search of the sensation only bad movies can give. It's more than likely that anyone looking for a sweet rom-com should look elsewhere.


That audiences may even be remotely split on 2017's "Bright" means the film remains criminally overrated. Even though many critics went after the film tooth and nail upon its release (critic Brian Tallerico gave the movie one star in his review for RogerEbert.com, for example), "Bright" received 11 million views in its first three days (via Variety).

"Bright" is no ordinary buddy cop action yarn, because it takes place in a modern-day Los Angeles shared by elves, orcs, humans, and various other creatures. Will Smith stars as LAPD Officer Darryl Ward and Joel Edgerton plays his orc partner, Nick Jakoby. "Lethal Weapon" meets "The Lord of the Rings" is an incredible logline, but "Bright" fumbles its premise with a hamfisted metaphor regarding race relations. Movie critics were quick to point out its clumsy attempt to deal with race (via The Mary Sue) and even musician Chance the Rapper made a point of describing the way "Bright" deals with race as "shallow" on Twitter (via IndieWire).

The movie also insists on jamming a poorly realized prophecy plot into its third act, which IndieWire's David Ehrlich described as simply a lazy way to get around the many problems that the script already has. Don't be fooled by the film's solid 83% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes: "Bright" is a dark time at the movies. 

A Christmas Prince

Unlike many of the other entries on this list, "A Christmas Prince" currently holds a higher critics' score than an audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, 73% and 47% respectively. 

The movie — a holiday rom-com with "made for TV" energy — follows a plucky reporter named Amber Moore as she attempts to score an interview with Prince Richard. The Prince is the future king of Aldovia and refuses to speak with the public. To get her interview, Amber pretends to be a tutor for Richard's rebellious sister. Will the Prince and the reporter get together? Spoilers (but not really, given the genre): they do. 

Clearly, the movie garnered enough views for Netflix to greenlight two sequels. However, even though the movie clearly has its fans, it's worth skipping. For example, in a review from EW that actually praises the movie for being bad, the phrase "inexplicable nonsense" is used to describe the plot. More important, however, is how "A Christmas Prince" stacks up against the channel-specific movies it's emulating. A review for The AV Club said that Netflix's holiday rom-com lags behind similar offerings from Lifetime and the Hallmark Channel. In other words, pass on the overrated Netflix corniness and stick to the latest movies from the masters of the genre. 

6 Underground

Michael Bay returned to big R-rated action after years of helming the "Transformers" franchise with 2019's "6 Underground." After its first month on Netflix, the streamer reported 83 million member households watched it (via The Hollywood Reporter).

Given its charismatic cast — Ryan Reynolds is the lead, with support from the likes of Corey Hawkins and Melanie Laurent — a well-known director, and the promise of big set pieces, it's no surprise the movie drew so many eyes initially. However, that many views doesn't quite stack up against the way the film split critics. For example, some were happy to give it a passing grade while others, like Collider, described the movie as "'Team America' with people."

While many of the positive reactions praised the movie's fun action, other reviews (good and bad) noted its thin screenplay. Variety even suggested in its review that audiences would find the movie "visually stunning" if they could get past its "imbecilic script."

Mixed reviews may not make a film appear overrated. However, given the massive budget — the movie cost $150 million to make (via The Verge) — the stellar cast, and the seasoned action director, some fans may find it hard not to be entirely disappointed by the picture. Anybody who thinks the words "imbecilic script" shouldn't appear in an otherwise positive review, be warned. The movie's worse than it's made out to be.