5 Box Office Flops You Really Should See

Resident film experts Colin & Mitch bring you five films you may have missed but really should see.

Ed Wood (1994)

Can you bear the shocking truth about Tim Burton’s modestly priced film (under $20 million) about Edward D Wood jr, dubbed The Worst Director of all Time, that was blessed with an abundance of talent and a cracking script? Well, Ed Wood bombed. But wait! It then won an Oscar so they re-released it with a fanfare. And it bombed again. The tale of a “failed” director failed. The irony isn’t lost on anyone but this is a solid gold classic (that was deemed so uncommercial that it was years before they bothered releasing it on DVD).

Josie and the Pussycats (2001)

Savage critique of the media industry and the indoctrination of youth through subliminal messaging… wrapped up in candyfloss and filled with both infectious pop-punk and a pitch-perfect boy band parodies. It shouldn’t work – it’s from the writing team that gave the world The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, and Surviving Christmas – but pantomime villains (Alan Cumming, Parker Posey) and likeable leads (yes – shock – even Tara Reid) mix with the music for a mainstream SF winner. Hey it even gets the ‘pussy’ gag over with before the credits have finished. Genius. Made less than £40k in the UK. Even Ken Loach beats that…

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

The return of Shane Black – the writer who made millions for his scripts – and sees the return (as such) of Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jnr. Pin sharp post-modern thriller with more twists than a bag of Twirls and more laughs than a shelf load of big box office teen comedies. There are even stunts, murders and imaginative profanity to add to the mix. Unsound? Check. Self-knowing? Check. Tricksy? Check. Box office bomb? Check. Except in France, where they clearly have taste.

The Iron Giant

It doesn’t look good, at least in the trailer. Take Ted Hughes’ much loved poetic prose science fiction book for children and add a pile of saccharine, schmaltz and sub-Lassie “Yew are my besht fwend” boy and robot hugging. Supply your own sick bag. But wait – it’s all gone wrong! The film itself is a wonderful adventure about military suppression and McCarthyism. With a boy and a giant robot. And a beatnik scrap metal artist. Totally American but closer to the works of Studio Ghibli than any cell animation made outside Japan. Didn’t make its money back.

A Dirty Shame

OK so it may not be his best film but A Dirty Shame is at least a (dis)honest to goodness John Waters film and frankly we need more of his ilk in these cookie cutter times of lame teen sex comedies. Sex-addicts and sillyness abound and like any good comedy it never tops the 90-minute mark (in the US it’s even shorter thanks to the MPAA). Made back less than a tenth of its budget. A dirty shame.

Also Ran: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Babe: Pig in the City, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, The Hudsucker Proxy, Titan A.E.

Film critics Colin and Mitch (aka Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc) are authors and broadcasters who have been writing together for over 12 years. They have written more than 10 books about film directors and genres, the latest is about the marvellous films of Japanese animators Studio Ghibli. Their website is at www.colinandmitch.com where you can also check out their capsule tanka film reviews.