Movies that critics hate and audiences love (and vice versa)

It is no surprise that critics and viewers alike agree that The Godfather is the "best film" among the ~2600 films considered on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 100% score among professional reviewers and a 98% score from the audience. It is perhaps somewhat more surprising to learn which films divide those two groups; thanks to Benjamin Moore, we can contemplate that...

“Overrated” and “underrated” are slippery terms to try to quantify. An interesting way of looking at this, I thought, would be to compare the reviews of film critics with those of Joe Public, reasoning that a film which is roundly-lauded by the Hollywood press but proved disappointing for the real audience would be “overrated” and vice versa.

To get some data for this I turned to the most prominent review aggregator: Rotten Tomatoes...

On the whole it should be noted that critics and audience agree most of the time, as shown by the Pearson correlation coefficient between the two scores (0.71 across >1200 films). [But] using our earlier definition it’s easy to build a table of those films where the audience ending up really liking a film that was panned by critics:

Here we’re looking at those films which the critics loved, but paying audiences were then less enthused:

Explore an interactive version of the chart at the top of this post here; and read more of Moore's methodology and findings here.

Notable Replies

  1. So critics are more willing to give bland but inoffensive kids movies a pass than audiences? I guess this makes sense if the target audience for a movie is too young to be making online reviews.

  2. I'm so baffled by this. Babe?? I was fortunate enough to be the mom whose kid got fixated on THIS movie, not Barney. So when I say that I have watched that movie a whole bunch of times, I mean, a whole lotta bunch of times.And that is one kick butt movie. Not many children's films will stand up to that may viewings by an adult.

    In general it seems that audiences are not very appreciative of children's movies that are not Disney and it shows how hard it is to break out of that box - the Spy Kids franchise was made independently and very cheaply but creatively. So yes, compared to a mega zillions Disney release they don't compare in production values, but having some heart and trying to break out of the usual routes for financing a movie - two thumbs way up.

  3. Right, but critics also view these movies with a very different perspective than most of the regular adults that see them - most of the normal adult audience for kids movies (other than perhaps Disney and Pixar movies, which have an adult following) is parents, who are likely to be annoyed by them (or find them bland and inoffensive at best), especially if their kids want to watch them repeatedly.

    If you're really into movies as I am, it can be very interesting to watch one of these kids movies that you'd normally dismiss entirely without a second thought but which critics rate highly. Compare them to true classics of the genre - often the newer ones are more complex, have better stories and scripts, surprisingly deep themes, better acting, everything. Many of the older children's films do have those things too (e.g. the original Willy Wonka film, where the remake is the one lacking those things) but most are pretty bad.

    Anyway the point is, by the metrics that critics rate films by, these are legitimately good films and aren't actually "bland but inoffensive". Those that are are rated accordingly (and really, most kids movies definitely still fall in that category). You're not really missing out if you don't see them, but they'd be worth paying closer attention to if you had to watch something with a kid.

    I think the data bears this out really well. Dumb adults rate extremely dumb adult movies highly while dismissing potentially-actually-good kid's films without giving them a fair chance. I don't mean to actually harshly judge anyone who rates those dumb movies highly, because a couple of them are things I enjoyed, but they are downright bad regardless wink

  4. This has got to be the dumbest use of statistics ever; while the "audiences loved" list is pretty obvious, the "critics loved" list makes no sense. Spy Kids, Babe, Splash... these were all huge box office successes. I assume (since the links are broken) this guy is comparing user reviews on RT with critical ones..? Which is ridiculous; user reviews are not an accurate gauge of public interest, they're an accurate gauge of the few internet geeks who want their strong opinions to be heard so they bother to create an account on RT.

    There are thousands of esoteric, but commercially-available films that critics love and audiences hate. More to the point, the takeway of this little experiment is... no shit, sherlock. The masses are morons!

  5. Just going to leave this here...

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