There are few topics of conversation that rouse passionate reactions like film talk can.
A beloved movie – especially the ones we share nostalgic connections with – is something most folks are willing to fight ’til the death for. So, when you learn one of your favourite movies has been poorly received by industry critics, it hurts.
The team at Rotten Tomatoes know this – they’ve written an entire book about it. ‘Rotten Movies We Love’ is made up of a collection of essays about well-loved films that got a bad rap on the Tomatometer (i.e. less than 60 per cent). For the book, Rotten Tomatoes editors and film critics banded together in defence of a collection of ‘rotten’ films to dissect why they received poor reviews and to highlight how brilliant they really are.
While at New York Comic-Con this week, Rotten Tomatoes staff Joel Meares (Editor-in-Chief) and Jacqueline Coley (Editor) spoke with critics Monica Castillo, Eric Kohn and Mark Ellis about the ‘bad’ films they love so dearly.
“Can any of you believe that Step Brothers is a rotten movie on the Tomatometer?” Meares said when asked what inspired the book.
“… We’re often as surprised as you are to learn that certain films are rotten,” he continued.
“So, we decided to run with the idea. We put together this book of 101 movies that are rotten on the Tomatometer but very, very fresh in our hearts and it ranges from everything from Step Brothers to Space Jam – which I think is somewhere in the 20 per cent – to I Know What You Did Last Summer…”
On hearing that some of my very favourite movies tanked according to critics, I quickly decided I needed to check out this book and the reasoning behind the *offensively* low ratings for these films.
Here’s what I learnt:
Critics hated some of the best-ever Christmas films:
Do you spend every Christmas afternoon slumped on the couch watching Home Alone 2 and The Holiday with a glass of wine in hand? You should. They’re two of the most delightful holiday films of all time.
It seems certain critics would like to crush our Christmas spirit, however, as they rated the movies 32 and 48 per cent on the Tomatometer, respectively.
On Home Alone 2, critics said it was “a less inspired facsimile of its predecessor”. According to Rotten Tomatoes, though, the film “absolutely nails the elements that it carbon-copies from the original”, calling it “sweetly moving” and funny.
Critics thought The Holiday was “so thoroughly predictable that audiences may end up opting for an early check-out time”. However, Rotten Tomatoes rightly argues there’s genuine heart behind the relationship Iris (Kate Winslet) shares with her screenwriter neighbour Arthur Abbott (Eli Wallach).
If you’re a nineties kid, critics did not enjoy your childhood faves:
Hocus Pocus was given 33 per cent by critics who thought it was “harmlessly hokey, yet never much more than mediocre”.
Bad Boys scored 42 per cent and was attacked for its lack of story, despite Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s “enjoyable chemistry”.
Space Jam came in at just 43 per cent with critics stating adult audiences “may be more annoyed than entertained”.
The Craft is very nearly considered a “fresh” film at 57 per cent, but alas, it’s yet to tick over to side we all know it deserves to sit on. In her Rotten Tomatoes essay, Terri White writes that this cult classic “upended cinematic teen tropes” of the ’90s. Whereas critics initially complained the film’s “campy magic often overrides the feminist message”.
Another witchy classic, Practical Magic (21%), was slammed for “jarring tonal shifts” and an “offbeat story”. Rotten Tomatoes instead points to “young women’s need for depictions of more positive relationships between sisters, aunts, and daughters” – specifically in the form of midnight margaritas.
Some arguably ‘cool’ films made the rotten list:
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou scored 56 per cent. Blade came in at only 54 per cent, and Die Hard: With a Vengeance landed 52 per cent.
Feeling frustrated? Don’t worry, so do I. You can find solace in the fact that there’s an entire book dedicated to this very emotion you’re experiencing. Until then, though, #JusticeForTheCraft.