Fifteen years ago today, Pearl Harbor hit theaters. Upon its release, the three-hour Michael Bay-directed war drama immediately became a pretty universally reviled film — you know, the kind that everybody loves to shit all over. The movie — which stars Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett as lifelong BFFs and fighter pilots, and Kate Beckinsale as the nurse who captures both their hearts — garnered a paltry 25% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
"Mostly tests one's patience with unseaworthy dialogue and performers drowning in oily cliches," wrote The Hollywood Reporter. USA Today dubbed it "one of the wimpiest wartime romances ever filmed," while The Wall Street Journal called it a "blockheaded, hollow-hearted industrial enterprise." Slate described the film as "essentially Top Gun with period costumes and the campy homoeroticism in check." (Hold up — that actually sounds pretty groovy to us.)
So, is it really god-awful? Razzie Award-worthy? Listen, I'm not going to lay out an argument for retroactive Oscar recognition or anything here. Nor am I going to try to convince you it's 100% historically accurate and not a minute too long. But is it the indefensible piece of shit everybody made it out to be? Hell no! Pearl Harbor is a pretty decent movie with a pretty decent list of redemptive qualities (not even counting Ben and Josh's good looks). Fifteen years later, here is why you should reconsider your hatred of Pearl Harbor.