Not-So-Rotten Tomatoes: Movie Reviews Rotten Tomatoes Got Wrong
August 11, 2017
By Michelle Maslanka • Producer

Have you ever read a negative review about a movie that you actually really enjoyed? It can certainly incite some confusion, annoyance, and even outrage. But with so many differing opinions out there, it is bound to happen. We decided to conduct an experiment, and took it upon ourselves to actively search for movies we like that received low ratings on the website Rotten Tomatoes. To our surprise, we found A LOT more than we thought we would. Take a look at the “rotten” movies we chose to defend and our own positive reviews of them.

Rotten Tomatoes is a well-known film and television review aggregator website, hosting hundreds and hundreds of reviews from vetted critics. The company was launched in August 1998, and has since become a tool used worldwide. Cleverly, the name derives from the the practice of audiences' throwing rotten tomatoes when disapproving of a poor stage performance. Now, digital tomatoes are thrown, and thus, the Tomatometer® rating that Rotten Tomatoes uses was created.

The Tomatometer® rating is based on the published opinions of hundreds of film and television critics. There are three categories of ratings:

Certified Fresh: Movies and TV shows are Certified Fresh with a steady Tomatometer® of 75% or higher after a set amount of reviews (80 for wide-release movies, 40 for limited-release movies, 20 for TV shows), including 5 reviews from Top Critics.

Fresh: The Tomatometer® is 60% or higher.

Rotten: The Tomatometer® is 59% or lower.


For the purpose of this article, we decided to take it a step further and find the really “rotten” movies, with ratings below 50%, and that still proved not too difficult.

Michelle defends: Hocus Pocus (1993)

30% on Rotten Tomatoes

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I chose Hocus Pocus as my Halloween movie recommendation in a blog article last October, so, of course, I am going to defend this cult classic! I was astounded to see it given a mere 30% rating. Whether it’s October or the middle of summer, this movie is a solid fun film. With a comedic trio like Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker at the forefront, you can’t go wrong. Plus, the subtle adult humor sprinkled throughout this PG family-friendly flick makes it enjoyable for all ages. Those writing reviews of its “mediocracy” have clearly not fallen under the wonderful spell that is Hocus Pocus.


Craig defends: Surf Ninjas (1993)

12% on Rotten Tomatoes


Surf Ninjas is not a good film, not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, considered as cinema, it is terrible. However, it is incredibly fun in a very 90s way: as cliche as it sounds, they just don't make 'em like this anymore. Ultimately, the world of Surf Ninjas was, to a 12-year-old me, the world that I wanted to live in: martial arts battles, good friends, babes. Who wouldn't want to wake up to find out they are the heir to a foreign throne, and then band with their best friends to overtake the current monarchy? Even more so, who wouldn't want one of those best friends to be Rob Schneider?

Steve defends: Godzilla (1998)

16% on Rotten Tomatoes


Perhaps it was youthful ignorance. Maybe it was because Jurassic Park was my favorite movie as a kid, and I desperately wanted anything that resembled that. But Godzilla (1998) gets a bad rap. I genuinely don't understand why people didn't like this movie. It has Jean Reno and Ferris Bueller, versus a bunch of dinosaurs, in New York City. What more do you want out of a film?

Maybe it’s not for Godzilla fans. The monster doesn't particularly look or sound like you would expect Godzilla to. But the action is solid, the characters are likable, (for the most part) and the explanation for the monsters origin is science-ish enough for a twelve year old. I firmly believe that if this movie was called Generic Monster Wrecks New York instead of Godzilla, people would have loved it.


Jeff defends: Rock of Ages (2012)

41% on Rotten Tomatoes


There aren't too many people who will confess to liking this flick and that's a darn shame. For the most part, I'm not one for musicals, but this movie has entertainment value bursting from its seams, much like the pants of rock bands in the 1980s. Combining awesome music mashups from the era with an all-star cast and baby, you've got yourself a good time -- plus it has the one and only, Tom Cruise. I want to know what love is but I also want to know who doesn't secretly love this movie.


Brian defends: Jersey Girl (2004)

41% on Rotten Tomatoes


From the critically acclaimed director of such family films as Mallrats and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, comes a gem straight from the height of the Bennifer era. Follow Ollie Trinkie (Ben Affleck), a New York City publicist who leaves his demanding dream job in order to raise his daughter in suburban New Jersey after losing his wife Gertrude (J-Lo) during childbirth. Lensed by the late Vilmos Zsigmond, Jersey Girl captures the ups and downs of being a dad with scenes of sage advice coming from none other than George Carlin. With appearances by Liv Tyler, Stephen Root, and Will Smith, this often crapped on movie is one of my overlooked favorites.


Moral of the experiment: Don't judge a movie by its rotten rating. There are definitely some gems that have been harshly critiqued. Take a look for yourself. You may be surprised by some of the ratings you find!

Note: All movie images are courtesy of IMDB.