Call it a box office bomb all you want ($17 million and rising!), but I loved the new X-Files movie… both times I saw it. And while that should come as no surprise to anyone who read my recent feature on the year I spent tracking the movie’s mysterious march to theaters, I sure as hell have been shocked by the dismissive, occasionally vicious beating it’s taken from critics. My hometown Houston Chronicle, for example, gave it one star and called it “stupid, lackadaisical and schlocky.” My mother, on the other hand, walked into an H-Town multiplex on Wednesday, and walked out calling the movie “wonderful.”
So, what’s going on? Are my mother and I just that stupid, lackadaisical and schlocky when it comes to our taste in movies? I’d like to think that’s not true. And there are complimentary, thoughtful reviews from the likes of Roger Ebert, Salon.com’s Stephanie Zacharek, and John Kenneth Muir to reassure me we’re not crazy. More likely, I think this introspective little movie fell victim to a number of traps, some self-inflicted, some not: It came out the week after Batman, for example, and Hitchcock himself would have been hard-pressed to compete with that colossal pile of overstimulation. Chris Carter’s insistence on total secrecy read, in some circles, as code for “this movie is bad so we’re keeping it hidden until the last minute” instead of an attempt to fight internet piracy — and once cynics get it in their mind that something’s bad, they’re often unwilling to change their minds. It was awkwardly marketed as a big blockbuster action flick, which it was most certainly not. And, perhaps most importantly, it wasn’t a summer movie. In October, this thing might have stood a chance.
But love it I do, and shall, and probably always will. I’m also completely obsessed with and haunted by the ooky science on display in the film’s central mystery, and would encourage anyone who thought it was a load of Frankenstein nonsense to go to YouTube and type in “russian dog severed head” — but only before lunch, not after. And here’s my question for you, PopWatchers, in the spirit of Mandi Bierly’s long-ago P-Dubs Confessional on underappreciated movies: Are there any critically reviled movies that you truly, madly, deeply love, even as society is telling you that love is wrong? Shout ’em out in the comments. Do it for Mulder and Scully. Do it for the truth. And if you’ve also seen and loved the X-Files: I Want To Believe, back me up, people!
addCredit(“The X-Files: Diyah Pera”)