- The 2000s had a diverse range of movies, including underrated gems like “The One,” an early look at the concept of the multiverse starring Jet Li.
- “Waist Deep” may have disappeared into obscurity, but it showcases Tyrese Gibson’s dramatic range and features pulse-pounding sequences.
- While “Doom” received negative reviews, it offers schlocky fun, a dark aesthetic, and Dwayne Johnson in a rare villainous role.
Netflix has become known for its exclusive series and $200 million action movies, but there are tons of underrated 2000s movies to discover on the platform that long predate Netflix originals. The streamer is home to huge releases such as The Gray Man and Stranger Things, but Netflix has such an extensive back catalog that includes movies that would never show up on a subscriber’s homepage, whether it’s an absurd animated movie or a cult crime drama. While Netflix houses movies from every decade, it’s movies from the 2000s where the streamer’s catalog gets the most interesting.
The 2000s was a transitional period in filmmaking, as studios were beginning to learn what was achievable with CGI, and how to adapt video game movies, and teen movies were still the trend but were phasing out. As a result, the decade is full of negatively received movies but ones that ’90s and 2000s kids are nostalgic for and look back on fondly. There are iconic movies from the era available on Netflix like Anchorman, Mean Girls, and The Departed, which will grab the eye of any subscriber. However, if users dive a little deeper into the world of their Netflix accounts, they’ll stumble upon underrated gems.
25 The One (2001)
It’s hard to believe that anything from the 2000s starring Jet Li went overlooked by a lot of people. The actor was blossoming as the new king of martial arts and action movies at the turn of the century. That included a starring role in the underrated The One. The film stands out because it’s an early look at the concept of the multiverse – something that has ballooned into an overused trend in Hollywood – as Li plays versions of himself from different realities as one attempts to kill the others to gain power, and The One features the perfect multiverse fight. The movie was negatively received upon release, but it would likely have had more success if it was released today.
24 Waist Deep (2006)
Outside of famously playing Fast and the Furious funny man Roman, Tyrese Gibson starred in Waist Deep, but it has seemingly disappeared into obscurity. The movie is loosely based on Bonnie and Clyde, as it follows an ex-convict (Gibson) who gets involved with a gang after his car is stolen with his son inside of it. Waist Deep doesn’t do anything new with the genre, but the movie features some pulse-pounding sequences and solid supporting turns from the likes of Meagan Good, and it proves that Gibson has great dramatic range that has been underutilized in the Fast and Furious franchise.
23 Doom (2005)
Doom is one of the many subpar video game movies released in the 2000s, but there’s still a lot of schlocky fun to be had with the film. Based on the video game of the same name, the sci-fi horror follows a group of Marines investigating a research facility on Mars and are attacked by genetically enhanced survivors. The movie lacks a coherent narrative, but it has a great, dark aesthetic and actually refreshingly sees Dwayne Johnson in a villainous role, something that is rare today given his current brand. However, Doom almost killed Johnson’s career, and he struggled to get back on track in Hollywood until 2011’s Fast Five.
22 Rush Hour 3 (2007)
Rush Hour 3 rounds out the trilogy of Rush Hour movies starring Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan. While the trilogy might not be talked about in the same breath as the Lord of the Rings or Dark Knight movies, they’re still fun popcorn flicks, and Rush Hour 3 is no different. The 2007 movie continues the buddy-cop humor of the first two movies, as Tucker and Chan have never had more chemistry. Rush Hour 3 also features better action sequences and set pieces than its predecessors too, such as the Eiffel Tower fight scene. Though it can quickly fall into action tropes, Rush Hour 3 is a criminally underrated buddy cop comedy.
21 Not Another Teen Movie (2001)
One of the biggest movie trends in the late 1990s was the teen movie, and every studio attempted to capitalize on it. The 2000s saw the release of countless teen movies, as they were relatively cheap to make and were almost guaranteed to make a profit. That was the case for 2001’s Not Another Teen Movie, which straight-up pointed out how oversaturated the market was with teen movies in its very title. However, that’s what makes the 2001 release so unique and misunderstood, as the comedy parodies the tropes of teen movies while also paying homage to them. The movie also showcases Chris Evans’ incredible comedy acting.
20 Bee Movie (2007)
Movies that are built around a pun title will almost always be negatively received. That’s no different for Bee Movie, which was based on Jerry Seinfeld’s idea to make a B-movie about a Bee. There’s no doubt that Bee Movie doesn’t have the greatest animation, and the movie doesn’t exactly have a Pixar-esq thought-provoking narrative, but since the 2007 movie’s release, it has gained a huge cult following. Bee Movie is essentially an extension of Seinfeld, as it’s full of observational humor and is actually dark and nihilistic at times. Given its newfound fanbase, there is now a demand for Bee Movie 2 too.
19 The Pink Panther (2006)
2006’s Steve Martin-starring The Pink Panther is a loose remake of the classic franchise. The movie was universally panned upon release due to focusing too much on slapstick comedy and over-the-top humor involving Inspector Jacques Clouseau. However, while the original Peter Sellers’ portrayal of the character was more reserved and Martin’s portrayal is more of a caricature, the performance is just a different interpretation of the character. Some prefer the over-the-top version of the character, and the 2006 movie features some moments that could never have been pulled off in the 1960s, such as the destruction Clouseau causes when trying to park a Smart car.
18 The Punisher (2004)
The Punisher is based on the Marvel comic book character of the same name, and the 2004 movie arrived at a time before Marvel created Marvel Studios and was still licensing its characters out to other studios. That means that Marvel movies didn’t have the consistent quality they do now. However, while The Punisher was the subject of criticism when it was released, few studios dared to make such a dark and violent Marvel movie. The pulpy aesthetic of the 2004 movie has helped The Punisher find its audience years later, and the mature exploration of themes of revenge a lot different from modern-day superhero movies.
17 A Knight’s Tale (2001)
The 2001 comedy A Knight’s Tale is about peasant squire William Thatcher, who pretends to be a knight to compete in jousting tournaments to win cash. The movie was moderately successful, making $117 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo), but it doesn’t get talked about when discussing the best period movies of the 2000s because it leans on the sillier side. The film isn’t praised enough for its post-modern elements, such as interpolating contemporary music in the period comedy. In fact, the lead actor is partly to thank for that, as Heath Ledger chose the dance scene music.
16 The Scorpion King (2002)
It’s a brave move for a studio to make a spinoff movie about one of the most criticized characters in a movie franchise, which had already gotten stale, but that’s exactly what Universal did. Dwayne Johnson featured in The Mummy Returns as The Scorpion King, and most of his screentime was a CGI likeness of himself attached to a scorpion’s body. It was overwhelmingly ridiculed, but Universal still greenlit The Scorpion King. The 2002 movie received an even worse reception, but it at least features some classic Mummy-esq moments of humor and banter. It’s also notable for being The Rock’s first movie, and without it, Johnson’s acting career might never have happened.
15 Gamer (2009)
Almost like a feature-length Black Mirror episode, Gamer is set in a dystopian future where humans can control real people in violent video games. The movie follows Kable, a video game character/real person, who must fight to stay alive and figure out the truth behind the video game. The 2009 movie has a convoluted 1980s sci-fi movie concept along the lines of Tron, but while it might sound outdated, the movie actually has a thought-provoking narrative about gaming culture and technology in general. However, the movie also leans into the exact thing it criticizes, as Gamer features an incredible shootout choreographed to look like a first-person shooter.
14 Vertical Limit (2000)
Vertical Limit is a survival movie about mountain climber Peter Garrett (Chris O’Donnell), who goes on a rescue mission and attempts to save his sister who is trapped near the summit of the world’s second-highest mountain, K2. The movie doesn’t get the credit it deserves for being a suspenseful and thrilling adventure drama, and while O’Donnell’s movie career struggled after starring in Batman & Robin, he gives such a powerful performance in Vertical Limit. The 2000 release is full of daring scenes and practical stunts, most notably the heartstopping rescue attempt in an ice cave.
13 Funny People (2009)
Following riotously funny and groundbreaking The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, director Judd Apatow’s third movie, Funny People, followed a comedian-turned-movie-star (Adam Sandler) who gets diagnosed with cancer. The movie was criticized for its whiplash-inducing tonal shifts and for being way too long, but it’s unique in both Apatow and Sandler’s filmography. Funny People is an underrated Adam Sandler comedy, as it sees Sandler essentially playing a fictionalized version of himself. The character stars in family movies where plays characters like a merman, which isn’t too far from the roles Sandler plays in his Netflix movies. This kind of introspective movie with Sandler willing to make fun of his career choices makes it a must-watch.
12 Open Season (2006)
Open Season is yet another animated comedy about a group of goofy animals, and the 2006 release follows a domesticated grizzly bear and a deer, who find themselves in the wild as hunting season starts. The movie has a clever premise, but it was drowned out by the tons of other much better-marketed movies surrounding it, such as Flushed Away, Cars, Monster House, and Over the Edge. While some might think Open Season is the worst Sony animated movie ever, it was a victim of its release, and the 2006 film has tons of humor, and it’s a delightful underrated gem.
11 Secret Window (2004)
Secret Window is a psychological thriller based on a story written by Stephen King, but the movie had a mixed reception upon release for not being as scary as it should have been. The 2004 movie follows writer Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp), who moves to a cabin following a rough divorcee, but he’s then confronted by a mysterious man who accuses him of plagiarism. While the movie might not have been all that scary, which is expected of a film that’s marketed as a Stephen King story, it’s still full of clever twists, incredible performances, and an eerie atmosphere. Depp’s performance as Mort as he is pushed to the edge of madness is one of the actor’s best.
10 The Kingdom (2007)
Political thriller The Kingdom follows an elite FBI team that’s led by Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx). The team is ordered to investigate a terrorist attack on an American housing compound in Saudi Arabia. Just like most of director Peter Berg’s movies, The Kingdom is a patriotic isolated war flick that focuses on a small group of people, and it’s just as good as his other similar movies such as Lone Soldier. The film is typically gritty and though the 2007 release might not be for everyone, Foxx is unsurprisingly great and commanding in the lead role, and his performance alone is why The Kingdom is a must-watch.
9 The Squid And The Whale (2005)
The Squid and the Whale is more overlooked than underrated, as it had a positive reception amongst critics, but it struggled to find an audience, and the movie, unfortunately, hasn’t grown much of a following in the time since. The Squid and the Whale is an incredibly poignant drama about the impact of divorce on children, and it’s realistic and totally relatable. The movie is set in Brooklyn in 1986 and follows the downfall of a marriage and how that affects the Husband and Wife’s two sons. Unfortunately, that isn’t exactly the escapism that audiences seek when going to the movies, and it deserves more attention.
8 Accepted (2006)
Accepted arrived on the back end of the teen comedy trend, and that’s why it might not have gotten the reception it deserved. The 2006 movie is one of the few films in the genre that wasn’t a huge success for its studio, despite its smart premise. The film follows a high school graduate who is rejected from every school he applied to, so he creates a fake university that ends up gaining tons of attention. Accepted has a creative premise that’s different from most other teen comedies, and while not every joke lands, it’s a clever satirical take on the education system and the pressure that high school students face.
7 Identity (2003)
He might not have a name on the level of Steven Spielberg or Christopher Nolan, but James Mangold is a very accomplished filmmaker. The filmmaker directed 3:10 to Yuma, Logan, Ford v Ferrari, and so many others, but one that doesn’t get discussed as often is Identity. Loosely based on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, this film focuses on 10 strangers who get killed off one by one at an isolated hotel, leading to the survivors trying to figure out who is behind it all. It has become something of a cult classic due to the gripping story and strong cast. The only thing that keeps the movie from truly being great is that Identity has a poorly received ending.
6 The Sweetest Thing (2002)
The Sweetest Thing had all the makings to be a hit, as it’s a romantic comedy from the early 2000s that stars the bankable Cameron Diaz. The actor was everywhere after the success of There’s Something About Mary, and she appeared in a number of money-making films in the 1990s and early 2000s, but The Sweetest Thing didn’t quite have the same effect. While it wasn’t a hit, there are still so many great moments in The Sweetest Thing, as it follows a group of female friends embarking on a road trip, and it was ahead of its time as a sex-positive female-led film. Diaz is joined by Christina Applegate, Selma Blair, Jason Bateman, and more in the hilarious rom-com.