Tag Archives: Rotten Tomatoes

Most Overrated and Underrated Films According to Rotten Tomatoes

Someone put together a study for what films have the biggest discrepancy between audience and critic ratings on Rotten Tomatoes.  The theory being that movies audiences like more than critics are underrated, and movies critics like more than audiences are overrated.

The underrated list is Facing the Giants, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Grandma’s Boy, Step Up, Because I Said So, Empire Records, A Night at the Roxbury, The Covenant, Madea’s Family Reunion, Raise Your Voice, National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, Stomp the Yard, Bad Boys II, Camp Rock, and Super Troopers.

I think there’s a clear trend in this list.  These are all niche movies that appeal to limited audiences, where it’s very clear to potential viewers ahead of time if this is the sort of movie they’ll like.

If you’re choosing to pay your hard-earned money to see Diary of a Mad Black Woman or Madea’s Family Reunion, it’s because you’re the kind of person who enjoys Tyler Perry Madea movies.  If you see Step Up or Stomp the Yard, you like urban dance movies.  If you see Bad Boys II, you like mindless action movies.  If you see A Night at the Roxbury or Van Wilder, you like dumb comedies.

These are all movies that deliver exactly what they promise.  What they promise isn’t something that appeals to most moviegoers.  But it’s only the moviegoers who it does appeal to and see the movie that are posting their opinions on Rotten Tomatoes.

Whereas with critics, it’s their job to see every movie whether it’s to their taste or not.  So they give bad reviews to the movies they never would have chosen to see if not for professional obligations.

The overrated list, where critics liked them more than the general public, is Spy Kids, 3 Backyards, Stuart Little 2, Momma’s Man, About a Boy, Essential Killing, Spy Kids 2, King Kong (2005), Splash, Sirens, Greenberg, Friends With Money, Freaky Friday (2003), Babe, and The Tailor of Panama.

I don’t see a clear pattern with that.  The study’s author has some suggestions, none of which seem convincing to me. I’d be interested in some of your thoughts on why these movies are liked by critics more than audiences.


The Dangers of Crowdsourced Ratings

This is an interesting article about how IMDB’s ratings system was gamed.

The Story Behind the Worst Movie on IMDB

If you try to find the worst movie on IMDB by fan ratings, it’s not Battlefield Earth, Troll 2, Ishtar, Gigli, or The Hottie and the Nottie.

Instead, it’s the Bollywood movie Gunday, which got reasonable reviews from critics.

The issue is that the film makes reference to some events in South Asian history which offended a lot of Bangladeshis.

This led several activist groups to start a social media campaign encouraging people to give it a 1 star rating on IMDB.  About 40,000 people did so, completely overwhelming the approximately 4,000 people who rated the movie based on their genuine opinion of its quality.

Just something to keep in mind when looking at IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes’ ratings.

Movies We Still Care About – Introduction

How do we define what makes a good movie?

Sure, there are movies that *I* like.  Perhaps that defines what makes a good movie *to me*.  But you don’t necessarily have the same tastes as I do.  Just as you don’t necessarily have the same taste as any particular critic.

The Academy Awards are supposed to list the best movies of the year.  But these are generally limited to dramas.  Comedies and action movies get short shrift when it comes to award season.

You can look at box office numbers, which is a reasonable measure of how many people wanted to see the movie.  But that doesn’t tell you how glad the audience was that they saw it.  Plus there are often a lot of weird factors at work in box office numbers that don’t relate to the quality of the film.  For example, what are you feelings on Shrek 2?  You probably think that at best it was reasonably entertaining, though a step down from the original.  Yet Shrek 2 is the highest grossing animated movie of all time, and the eighth highest grossing movie of all time (US box office).  It outgrossed the original Shrek, any classic Disney animation, any Pixar movie, E.T., Jurassic Park, any Harry Potter movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Empire Strikes Back, and countless other movies that any sane person would agree were greatly superior to Shrek 2.  So box office numbers don’t tell the whole story.

Rotten Tomatoes is a bit better.  This measures what percentage of the audience likes a movie.  But that has its own drawbacks.  It’s limited to people who bother to go to the site and vote, and is further limited by people who actually chose to see a movie.  For example, as I’m writing this I looked at the Rotten Tomatoes home page.  Two of the top three ranked movies opening this weekend are ones I’ve never heard of, and the third is a biblical epic that appeals to church groups but won’t have any interest to secular audiences.

So how do I define what makes a good movie?  I say that a movie is good if it makes the audience care about it.  This definition applies equally well to action, comedy, and drama.  It takes into account whether a large audience wanted to see the movie – if people don’t see a movie, they can’t care about it.  But it doesn’t use box office numbers as the sole judge of quality.

And the best movies are those that we still care about when we look back at them years later.

This series of posts will be looking back at the best pictures of each year by this criteria.  I’ll identify what movies that I think a significant percentage of people still care about.  I’ll start this process with 1977, which is when the modern era of film began, and end it with 2009.  (I think five years is a reasonable minimum for looking back.)

For comparison I’ll also be listing the best picture nominees, top ten grossing movies at the box office, and the top movies on Rotten Tomatoes.  (The Rotten Tomatoes listing will start with 1980, as they don’t have yearly rankings prior to then.)  It will be interesting to see how much overlap there is between these different lists.

For the movies we still care about, I’ll offer a brief analysis as to why we still hold these movies in our hearts.  I’ll also have some brief commentary of other notable movies from that year which don’t quite fit the category of films we still care about, but are worth discussing for some reason.

I hope that you’ll enjoy this journey, as we reflect back on what makes movies great.

(Other posts in this series can be found here.)