What makes a movie good or bad? For some, it’s their personal enjoyment of the film. Others will wait for reviews to come out before deciding whether something is worth watching.
That’s why we turn to Rotten Tomatoes. The review aggregator uses its Tomatometer to help us understand what the critics are saying about a movie — and whether the audience feels differently. But Rotten Tomatoes scores can be fickle things.
Back in 2021, Citizen Kane, a film considered an absolute classic by Hollywood, lost its 100% fresh rating due to an old negative review that was unearthed. This put a number of 100% fresh films above Citizen Kane in review ranking, including Paddington 2.
But reviews aren’t everything. This got us thinking about movies that are considered bad by critics on Rotten Tomatoes but loved by audiences.
For a movie to be considered bad on Rotten Tomatoes it needs to get less than 60%. Here are some popular films with fans that didn’t earn fresh status.
The best bad movies, as rated by Rotten Tomatoes
Space Jam (1996) – 43%
While it’s no slam dunk, Space Jam’s silly, Looney Toons-laden slapstick and vivid animation will leave younger viewers satisfied — though accompanying adults may be more annoyed than entertained. – Critics’ consensus.
Audience score: 63%
Looney Tunes and basketball players? What could go wrong? Space Jam was beloved by audiences but still couldn’t crack that fresh rating. And 25 years later we got a sequel in Space Jam: A New Legacy, which is a tribute to its cult status (also rotten, unfortunately).
Venom – 29%
Venom’s first standalone movie turns out to be like the comics character in all the wrong ways — chaotic, noisy, and in desperate need of a stronger attachment to Spider-Man. – Critics’ consensus.
Audience score: 81%
Look, Venom can’t hold a candle to a lot of the superhero movies these days, but that didn’t stop it from being popular. It made $US855 million at the box office, making it the seventh highest-grossing film of 2018.
It also got a sequel in 2021, where it slightly improved on some of its criticisms.
Step Brothers – 55%
Step Brothers indulges in a cheerfully relentless immaturity that will quickly turn off viewers unamused by Ferrell and Reilly — and delight those who find their antics hilarious. – Critics’ consensus.
Audience score: 69%
Look, you know what you’re signing up for when you watch a film like Step Brothers and it does exactly what it sets out to do. Unfortunately, it got panned for doing so.
National Treasure – 46%
National Treasure is no treasure, but it’s a fun ride for those who can forgive its highly improbable plot. – Critics’ consensus.
Audience score: 76%
Say what you will but National Treasure is an absolute classic movie and one of Nicolas Cage’s finest works. It was Indiana Jones for a new generation and most of us remember it very fondly.
Hocus Pocus – 38%
Harmlessly hokey yet never much more than mediocre, Hocus Pocus is a muddled family-friendly effort that fails to live up to the talents of its impressive cast. – Critics’ consensus.
Audience score: 71%
It’s sad to think that movies can’t be fun and rated well at the same time, but that’s what happened to Hocus Pocus.
Here’s hoping Hocus Pocus 2 is better received?
The Room – 23%
A bona fide classic of midnight cinema, Tommy Wiseau’s misguided masterpiece subverts the rules of filmmaking with a boundless enthusiasm that renders such mundanities as acting, screenwriting, and cinematography utterly irrelevant. You will never see a football the same way again. – Critics’ consensus.
Audience score: 47%
The Room is not a good movie by any standards, but it is loved by audiences for just how bad it is. Cinemas around the world now hold special screenings of The Room that are consistently packed out by fans. It even has an Oscar-nominated biographical film (The Disaster Artist) about the making of the film, which just goes to show the impact of its cult status.
Jumanji (1995) – 55%
A feast for the eyes with a somewhat malnourished plot, Jumanji is an underachieving adventure that still offers a decent amount of fun for the whole family.
Audience score: 62%
Why do critics want to come for so many of our childhood favourites? Jumanji is hardly a perfect film, but surely it’s entertaining enough for a pass mark.
The modern reimagining of the world of Jumanji has been much more broadly enjoyed, however.
What do you think? Did the critics get it right or do these films deserve to be rated higher?
This article has been updated since its original publish date.