Nov 22 2010

Ten Classic Movies that Critics Hated

Published by at 11:00 am under Lists,Movies

I guess I’m like half a movie critic, as I review over 50 films a year in a pitch to someday get on Rotten Tomatoes. No, I don’t get free tickets or private screenings, but I still try to analyze the best I can.

But there’s a certain expectation of snobbery among critics circles sometimes where a film can be good, but because it doesn’t meet certain intellectual criteria, it must recieve low marks. Using the Rotten Tomatometer, I’ve pinpointed ten titles I consider to be classics that critics seem to generally have hated for one reason or another.

Yes, you can debate the merits of each film, as you too may hate some of these, but surely, not all of them. Check out all the films below, complete with some of the best critical quotes I could find for each of them.

1. Hook – 24%

No matter how much cash Hook earns, it will take more than pixie dust to fly this overstuffed package into our dreams.

– Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

This enormous wheeze comes over like the proverbial movie with a 40 million dollar set and a five cent script, which may hold its interest for under-fives but will leave most others cold.

– Angie Errigo, Empire

Hook is overwhelmed by a screenplay heavy with complicated exposition, by what are, in effect, big busy nonsinging, nondancing production numbers and some contemporary cant about rearing children and the high price paid for success.

– Vincent Canby, New York Times

2. The Mighty Ducks – 8%

Harmless enough, but its schematic retread of a screenplay and its lethargic acting detracts from the unassuming, passable entertainment it might have been.

– TV Guide

I can understand why these unknown child actors were involved with this movie but as for the grown-ups, all I can figure is that they were each fulfilling some kind of community service obligation.

– Majorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle

Steven Brill, who has a small role in the film, constructed the screenplay much as one would put together some of those particleboard bookcases from Ikea.

– Rita Kempley, Washington Post

3. Home Alone – 47%

When Kevin’s parents discover they’ve forgotten him, they find it impossible to get anyone to follow through on their panicked calls – if anyone did so, the movie would be over. The plot is so implausible that it makes it hard for us to really care about the plight of the kid.

– Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Hughes, though, can’t resist turning Home Alone into a sadistic festival of adult-bashing. When Kevin is set upon by a pair of bumbling thieves (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern), the kid proceeds to defend the family castle by rigging an elaborate series of booby traps. The movie devolves into an egregious Three Stooges painfest.

– Owen Glieberman, Entertainment Weekly

4. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – 47%

Unlike Trainspotting, Fear and Loathing doesn’t shock or fascinate. It simply disgusts and repels.

– Judith Egerton, Kentucky Courier-Journal

Although the picture’s final moments establish it as a morality play, it’s been so previously vacuous that the effort is futile.

– Forrest Hartman, Reno Gazette-Journal

As for Depp, what was he thinking he made this movie? He was once in trouble for trashing a New York hotel room, just like the heroes of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” What was that? Research? After River Phoenix died of an overdose outside Depp’s club, you wouldn’t think Depp would see much humor in this story–but then, of course, there *isn’t* much humor in this story.

– Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

5. Death to Smoochy – 42%

A dark comedy that blows up like an exploding cigar, leaving nothing much behind but smoke, noise and a bad taste.

– Michael Wilmington, Chicago Sun-Times

A loud, ugly, irritating movie without any of its satirical salvos hitting a discernible target.

– Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter

A broad, braying yuk fest that revels in coarse jokes … lacks the courage of its own cynicism … and refuses to develop its own premise.

– John Powers, LA Weekly

6. Super Troopers – 36%

Jay Chandrasekhar helms this wacky vehicle with all the conviction of a defective police siren…feels more like an excuse for Chandrasekhar and his fratboy Broken Lizard comedy troupe players to merge and serve up their pet project just to kill some time

– Frank Ochieng, Movie Eye

Just a long string of high school-style pranks and hazing exercises. And as with such gags in real life, they’re never as much fun for those who aren’t taking part.

– Brian Webster, Apollo Guide

This seemingly endless sitcom is too infatuated with its own hijinks to realize they’re virtually witless.

– Mark Palermo, Coast

7. Wet Hot American Summer – 30%

A putrid, insipid, morbidly unfunny comedy.

– Shawn Levy, Oregonian

That whooshing sound you hear is the majority of the jokes in Wet Hot American Summer sailing right over my head.

– David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews

This is an almost laughless bomb.

– Tom Maurstad, Dallas Morning News

8. Equilibrium – 37%

Wimmer delivers the already labored story with the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

– Josh Bell, Las Vegas Weekly

Derivative dystopia is a muddled, maudlin and laughable mess with a few nice fight scenes to break up the failure.

– James Rocci, Netflix

A dull, somnambulant exercise in pretension whose pervasive quiet is broken by frequent outbursts of violence and noise.

– Joe Baltake, Sacramento Bee

9. Man on Fire – 39%

Exemplifies a widely-held mindset of its era, one that calls for simplistic, brutal solutions to highly complex, awful things that are happening in the world.

– Brian Webster, Apollo

Shamelessly manipulative and sadistically violent… a new low for both Washington and Scott, and one of the nastier bits of business in quite some time.

– Steven D. Greydanus, Decent Films Guide

Moviegoers have a duty to admonish Hollywood for turning the multiplex into a Two Hours Hate, asking us to cheer the fascist aesthetic of movies like Man of Fire.

– Stephen Himes, Flak Magazine

10. The Boondock Saints – 19%

An embarrassing waste of time, and nothing even resembling the guiltiest of guilty pleasures…

– Felix Vasquez Jr, Cinema Crazed

A ridiculous, self-important amalgamation of rehashed macho posturing and slow-motion bloodletting. Do yourself a favor: do not attend a convocation with these Saints.

– Brent Simon, Entertainment Today

It is, by turns, hilariously awful and just plain unhilariously awful, full of its own nonexistent momentousness, an unintentional parody of hardboiled gangster flicks.

– MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Filosopher





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25 responses so far

  • http://hbcupride.deco-printing.com hbcupride.deco-printing.com

    Equilibrium was cool. Like a re-imagining of Fahrenheit 451 with gun-fu and face slicing.

  • Sam

    I wouldn’t say all these are “classics” per se, I would only give that title to home alone, hook and boondock saints, but i enjoy all of these movies and would give them all positive ratings if anyone gave a damn about what I thought. I would add teenage mutant ninja turtles to this list, it is a bonafide classic yet it only has a 46% rating.
    I would love to see a similar list to this in the future, but in reverse, movies that are over praised by critics.

  • Sam

    Oh yeah and rocky 4 with only a 44% is a crime

  • J5

    I love equilibrium, it’s one of the few movies I actually bought just based on recommendations, but they story is kind of ridiculous. The action scenes are epic but if you look at the story alone, it’s kind of weak.

  • Guy Incognito

    Mighty Ducks was the biggest shocker there for me. Seriously 8%? When I was a kid that was the best movie. It is remembered fondly by everyone I know. D2 has a higher rating but is remembered more for the ridiculousness of the knucklepuck (which everyone still tries to do out on the rink), Iceland being the best hockey team and at one point it shows a score of Canada getting beat 19-1 by Trinidad and Tobago. Riiiight.

    Also, I bet no one knows this but Keenan Thompson was actually the knucklepuck kid. That’s just amazing.

  • Sam

    @ guy incognito
    I knew that was kenan thompson. Here’s an interesting tidbit I just learned about the mighty ducks. The actors that played guy and fulton are brothers in real life.

  • uncoolaidman

    They got Equilibrium and The Boondock Saints right. It is painful for me to watch those movies. Martial arts specialized with guns? Give me a break. The story was more similar to A Brave New World, which is a book I really enjoyed, but it is based on the premise of every person being emotionless, except for one or two characters. Unless there is a hidden farm of Keanu Reeves somewhere then these other roles will be a disappointment. I was told Equilibrium was as good as, if not better than the Matrix. Boy, was disappointed. The action, which should have been a highlight went between boring and cheesy the entire time.

    As for the Boondock Saints, I have a hard time finding any redeeming value to it. Horrible acting (thanks to terrible casting), no real story, awful dialog. Did anybody notice the guy playing the Italian mob boss? He was also in 24 and one of the Saw films. He is Scottish. Which moron casted him as an Italian mob boss? It was like Gerard Butler in 300, only 20 times worse. I liked the old pub owner who could not keep his sayings straight. That’s it.

  • Bert

    I have to agree with Sam, some of these movies are not exactly “classics”. Only the first four, Super Troopers and Boondock Saints would fit that designation.

  • thegreatfatsby

    I seriously cannot believe that they gave Mighty Ducks such a bad rating. As the poster above mentioned, this movie ruled when you were a kid.

    I’d even put it down as one of the guilty pleasure movies I’d still watch if it was on the TV even now as an adult.

    Agree with the Equilibrium one though. That movie sucked. I mean, Gun-Kata? WTF?

  • BOLT

    Super Troopers was pure gold and for what it is shouldn’t be less then an 90% but another good example is Tommy Boy at 45%…and Dustin Hoffman role as Hook alone should bring the movie to 24% and that was a pretty all star cast so what gives??

  • john v.

    I definitely agree with you on Super Troopers. I love that movie. I didn’t notice until recently that it’s basically Up In Smoke from the cops point of view…. well, with a few twists. The others I could take or leave. Boondock Saints seemed like a good idea that was poorly executed to me.

  • Metallimetal

    Great list, I’m in agreement with most of them. The only movies here that I haven’t seen are Wet Hot American Summer and Equilibrium, but judging by the list, my guess is that I would probably like them… Well maybe not Equilibrium, sometimes the story is important!

    Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas is one of my all-time favorites, so when I see reviews like the ones that were posted I have to wonder if they even watched the movie. How someone could not find humor in the movie, or book, is just insane. Just the physical awkwardness and crazy noises that come out of Hunter S. are enough of a reason to laugh out loud. And wow, really? One reviewer went so far as to say that Depp shouldn’t have done a movie like this because of a tragic event that happened involving River Phoenix. Give me a break!!! Stop judging movies based on your personal beliefs, review the movie for what it is, not what it shoulda, woulda, or coulda been.

    One more thing, were the critics who went to see Super Troopers expecting something entirely different? Comedies usually involve someone or something getting the raw end of the deal, that’s what makes it funny. If you went to see the movie with any intentions other than laughing, then you failed miserably!

  • Jbo

    To Sam, Boondock Saints is NOT a classic. That movie is borderline unwatchable.

    Mighty Ducks, Home Alone and Hook are the classics, and Wet Hot American Summer feels like a classic (a great one at that). Beyond Boondock Saints and Super Troopers, this list is terribly wrong.

  • Steve

    Equilibrium and Boondock Saints=overrated. All style, no substance. Though I’ll admit I came very close to buying Christian Bale’s trenchcoat at one point. Kato costume FTW.

  • Heen

    This is a great list.
    I especially agree with the Boondock Saints, Man on Fire, and Super Troopers.
    I don’t trust rotten tomatoes in the slightest. IMDB is where it’s at.

  • Korky

    When people say things like “all style and no substance” it usually means that they don’t get the jokes. Silly snobs.

  • zomgmouse

    Ebert gave Lost Highway “two thumbs down”, which David Lynch then called “two great reasons to go see Lost Highway”. And that’s fair enough, because it’s a great film.

    Although Equilibrium is pretty terrible.

  • http://nope Hallam

    Some of these aren’t classics by a mile. Still, an interesting idea, and the Tomatometer was the best reference to pull it off. I’m sure there are more of these to find.

    Best entry was The Mighty Ducks… 8%… my entire childhood went *ouch*.

  • Matt Chi

    I liked equilibrium a lot, but i watched it with zero expectations. I think it actually got two thumbs up from Siskel and Ebert.
    As for ragging on the gun-martial arts. I approve of it, as it hasn’t really been done in other movies as specifically and focused as in equilibrium. It was also some-what plausible as they based it on sword forms.

    Hook reallllly surprised me, so did Mightly Ducks (same with everyone here).

    I do agree a few of these wouldn’t be considered “classics”, but they certainly have a strong following that should merit ratings beyond their tomato-ometer.

  • Matthijs

    Wow, I had no idea people could actually not like Fear and Loathing! I found the movie hilarious, “This is bat country!”.

  • Mortecouille

    Mighty ducks 8%, no way! I haven’t seen it in like a decade, this is all my childhood, it was so cool. Maybe when I was eight, my movie critic sense wasn’t as accurate as today, but…Emilio Estevez was fucking great right?
    Whatever, I can’t belive people the majority of people don’t like Home alone and Fear and loathing

  • Ryan

    Boondock Saints is not a classic. It’s easily (EASILY) my least favorite film, ever. My disdain for this film cannot be overstated. Horrible acting, horrible script, horribly racist, and many other horrible aspects. Although I would, under no circumstances, enjoy or recommend this film, I think the fact that some people consider it worthwhile (or “classic”) increases my hatred even more.

  • Steve Potter

    To be fair to Roger Ebert, he doesn’t hate movies because they don’t rise to a certain intellectual level. He gave “Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” a good review, and gave Salt 4 stars. He doesn’t hate stupid movies; he hates stupid movies when they’re not well done.

  • Turd Ferguson

    The best description of a critic came from Robert Heinlein:
    A “critic” is a man who creates nothing and thereby feels qualified to judge the work of creative men. There is logic in this; he is unbiased—he hates all creative, people equally.
    I care nothing for their opinions.

  • MegaSolipsist

    The Boondock Saints, was never meant to be taken too seriously. It was deliberately parodying action movies, like when one of them grabbed some rope because ‘it was really useful in action movies’.
    Man on Fire was a very good film, and though I am not usually a fan of Denzel Washington, I thought he did really good in that.
    Equilibrium may have taken itself a bit too seriously, but I really enjoyed it, and in a Hollywood stuffed full of action movies that did really well with terribly choreographed fight sequences (Kill Bill Vol. 1 anybody?) the final fight in Equilibrium was astonishingly original.
    Basically, everyone has there own taste in movies, and that’s mine.

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