Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Movies With Terrible Rotten Tomatoes Scores That Are Actually Awesome

For many cinephiles, Rotten Tomatoes is the first stop on the way to deciding what to watch, and the film industry has taken notice. New releases tout their high "Tomatometer" scores in promotional material. "Review bombing" releases has become such an issue, the site has had to institute new policies to combat aggressive campaigns for or against certain films. Fans refresh the site obsessively as anticipated films draw nearer to their release date, eager to see where the score will land. Love it or hate it, Rotten Tomatoes is an inescapable fixture of film criticism, and it doesn't show signs of lessening in importance any time soon.

That said, Rotten Tomatoes isn't always perfect. Sometimes critics get it wrong. Maybe the source material is obscure. Maybe the film is ahead of its time. Maybe its release is overshadowed by scandal. Whatever the reason, certain movies end up tarred with a terrible Tomatometer score they do not deserve.

We're here to celebrate those critically derided films. Each of these entries bears the bright green splat of a low Tomatometer rating, yet every single one is worth watching. Some are inventive fantasy sagas, laid low by weird effects. Some are pulpy thrillers, aimed at a market too niche to be widely understood. Some are daring dramas, years ahead of their time. All of them are awesome, no matter what Rotten Tomatoes has to say.


It isn't hard to see why "Underworld" wasn't a huge hit with critics: It's an unashamedly pulpy ode to vampires, werewolves, and billowing black leather. Characters have names like Kraven and Selene, dual-wielding pistols is de rigeur, and characters say things like "Differences will be set aside, allegiances will be made, and soon, I will become the hunted." Reviewers found it goofy, po-faced, and dumb.

Removed from the period it came out, however, "Underworld" reveals itself as a hell of a lot of fun. Kate Beckinsale is wonderfully steely as Selene, a vampiric assassin known as a "Death Dealer," driven by a centuries-old grudge. The supporting cast is absolutely stacked with talent: Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen, and Erwin Leder give their all as a wide variety of creatures going bump in the night. "Underworld" has become a franchise since the first film's 2003 debut, comprising five films, comic books, video games, and an animated feature. It's exactly as silly, sexy, and violent as you might imagine — and that's why it endures. 

The Chronicles of Riddick

2000's "Pitch Black" is an impressive bit of sci-fi horror that gave the world Richard B. Riddick, one of Vin Diesel's first major roles. It did quite well on a relatively low budget of $23 million, earning a $53 million gross and a solid fanbase. Diesel is a particular highlight of the film: As Riddick, a notorious criminal with sci-fi super-vision, he's a charismatic anti-hero whose martial skill is matched only by his ironclad determination. "Pitch Black" turned a profit, Diesel wowed audiences, and thus, a sequel was ensured: 2004's "The Chronicles of Riddick."

The budget of "Chronicles" grew by leaps and bounds, ultimately landing at $105 million — a far cry from the modest cost of "Pitch Black." This turned out to be a grave mistake. Critics savaged the film as a limp disappointment, all the more lackluster following the surprising success of its predecessor. In the end, "Chronicles" brought in only $115 million. How, then, did the series garner a third installment in 2013's "Riddick," a direct-to-DVD animated feature, and a couple of video games?

In short, it's because "Chronicles" is wildly misunderstood. Unlike "Pitch Black," the focus here is entirely on Riddick, who explores a setting that leans far more towards science fiction than horror. It's sweeping, strange, and an enormous amount of fun, once one takes it on its own merits. Plus, it was on this set that Vin Diesel taught Judi Dench how to play Dungeons and Dragons.

Kung Pow! Enter the Fist

It's baffling why some of the movies on this list have low critical scores. "Kung Pow! Enter the Fist" is not one of those movies: Its reviews are terrible, and it's not hard to see why. But for the purposes of this list, we're talking about awesome movies, and awesomeness is not bound by mainstream standards of quality. "Kung Pow!" might not be good, but it sure as hell is awesome.

Steve Oedekerk wrote, directed and stars in this comedy, which mixes footage from the 1976 Hong Kong action movie "Tiger and Crane Fists" with original material. Together, these two disparate halves combine to tell the ridiculous story of The Chosen One and his search for the man who killed his family, known only as Master Pain, aka Betty.

The Chosen One fights a terrible CGI cow who is also a karate master. French aliens make a surprise appearance. There are faces where they shouldn't be. "The Lion King" is parodied. You'll know within 15 minutes of turning this on whether or not you'll like it. If you do, you'll almost certainly end up laughing to the point of tears by the movie's end. "Kung Pow!" is a parody overflowing with love for the martial arts cinema it mocks, and a comedy unafraid of getting utterly, absolutely weird. It's odd, it's silly, it's a little bit dumb, and that's what makes it awesome.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

The dismal reception to "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" isn't a mystery — it's not a film interested in conventional storytelling. If you want to care about characters (especially human ones) with nuanced struggles and conflicting choices, this ain't the movie for you. If, on the other hand, you want to see Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah and about 300 other classic kaiju duke it out across the planet? Then you've come to the right place. This is the big-budget Godzilla movie you've always wanted to see, full of action, superpowers, and utterly wanton destruction.

Now, in fairness, the story does fall apart if you look at it for too long. There are plenty of strong actors working to keep it together: Ken Watanabe, Millie Bobby Brown, and Bradley Whitford are all here, doing their best with a threadbare plot. But be honest: You come to "Godzilla" for Godzilla, not "Godzilla's friend who is a human," and "King of the Monsters" delivers on that front. Sit back, relax, and enjoy watching giant monsters duke it out.

Wet Hot American Summer

There's just no reasonable explanation for the bleak critical reception to "Wet Hot American Summer." Maybe it was simply ahead of its time? Maybe critics expected a different kind of comedy from the promotional material? Whatever the reason, critics weren't into the cult classic that, 14 years later, garnered its own Netflix series.

Admittedly, the premise is nothing original. It's the last day of summer camp, and everyone is trying to get laid. "Wet Hot American Summer" is a satire of the most absurd sort, full of goofy talent show skits, 1980s Cold War anxiety, and a whole lot of awkward smooching. What truly makes it sing is its cast — and oh, what a cast it is.

"Wet Hot American Summer" stars — deep breath — Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Ian Black, Joe Lo Truglio, Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Michael Showalter, Molly Shannon, H. Jon Benjamin, and Judah Friedlander. Yeah, that's right: "Wet Hot American Summer" has all of them. There are plenty of bad movies with good casts, but an irreverent, ensemble comedy featuring this bunch can't help but end up being more hit than miss. It's a star-studded constellation of talent having an absolute blast. It's impossible not to have a good time in their company, and absolutely no surprise that over a decade later, fans still wanted more.

Hocus Pocus

It's hard to believe that "Hocus Pocus" got trashed so badly by critics, considering how beloved it has become. Part of it is the nostalgia factor. A lot of people who champion "Hocus Pocus" today probably watched it as kids, and have fond memories of it as a result. Kids don't have the most critical eye in the world, and by the time you're grown up, ripping apart the things that brought you joy isn't exactly a high priority. One revisits a movie like "Hocus Pocus" as a stroll down memory lane, not as an opportunity for film criticism.

But still, "Hocus Pocus" fever isn't all nostalgia: It's a genuinely delightful movie, and a showcase for its trio of powerhouse actresses. I mean, you put Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy in a movie, and you're going to end up entertained. The main reason we think this movie did so poorly among critics is because of when it was released: July 1993. What the heck was "Hocus Pocus" doing in the middle of summer? A family-friendly movie with a great cast and gentle thrills could have cleaned up around Halloween. Instead, it had to compete with "Jurassic Park." Do yourself a favor: Save this one for October.


Remember when the video game adaptations we got were movies like "Super Mario Bros." and "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation"? Hollywood has finally figured out that embracing the immersive worlds that games create is the key to a successful adaptation. "Warcraft" is almost a great example of that: It might not have the most interesting characters, but it successfully brings the world of Azeroth to life with impressive visuals and sweeping cinematography. Critics, however, were not impressed.

"Warcraft" brought in esteemed director Duncan Jones to run the show, and his talent and appreciation of the source material shows — almost to a fault. Most of the shortcomings of this film come from its allegiance to the "Warcraft" games: It assumes the viewer is already pretty familiar with Azeroth and its denizens. If you're in the know, you're going to find a ton to enjoy here. If you don't ... well, then you might agree with the critics. Still, for those already devoted to the world of "Warcraft," it's a fine movie that absolutely brims with love for the original game.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

"Tokyo Drift" is the ugly duckling of the "Fast and the Furious" franchise. It's caught somewhere between the series' grounded beginnings and the total insanity that has powered more recent entries. What is unquestionable, however, is how entertaining it is — and how it opened the franchise up to international audiences, who ensured the success of later movies.

"Tokyo Drift" is quite the departure from the first two films. There's no Paul Walker or Vin Diesel in sight (well, until the final shot), and we leave the American muscle car scene behind for the neon-drenched glitz of Tokyo. "Tokyo Drift" has some of the coolest driving sequences in the entire franchise, and also marks a distinct shift towards a more self-aware tone. Ultimately, that change was for the best, as it has allowed "The Fast and the Furious" to become about something more than the relatively niche world of underground street racing. There is also a wonderful simplicity to "Tokyo Drift": It's cool, it's fast, and it's not too hung up on plot. It aims to impress, and in sleek Tokyo fashion, it does.

Drop Dead Fred

Phoebe Cates is often remembered as the eye candy of "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." This is a severe misstep — she's a wonderful actress with serious range. There's no better demonstration of her comedic chops than "Drop Dead Fred," an oft-forgotten 1991 comedy. Sure, the reviews are terrible — but that's only because critics walked in with the wrong expectations.

In "Drop Dead Fred," Cates plays Elizabeth, a woman dealing with a life in which everything has gone wrong. She moves back in with her mother as her marriage falls apart, where she is reunited with her imaginary childhood friend, Drop Dead Fred, played by the phenomenal Rik Mayall. Fred sets out to try to fix Elizabeth's relationships and, obviously, makes things even worse.

"Drop Dead Fred" is an extremely dark comedy, which threw audiences for a loop. The studio was reportedly not happy with how dark it turned out, and tried to unload it after production wrapped. But to anyone who watches it with the correct expectations, it's a biting, surprisingly heartfelt story of adulthood gone wrong. As TriStar head Mike Medvoy put it at the time, it's "a children's movie on drugs" — and that's what fans love about it.


It's tough to match the pedigree of "Legend": It's a Ridley Scott-directed dark fantasy, starring a fresh-faced Tom Cruise as the Robin Hood-esque Jack and Tim Curry, decked out in devilish makeup, as the Lord of Darkness. "Legend" might be eclipsed by contemporaries like "Labyrinth" and "The Dark Crystal," but it's a remarkably well-made film with some serious darkness at its heart.

"Legend" is an unquestionably beautiful watch, absolutely brimming with elegantly realized worlds, costumes, and creatures. Tom Cruise can be polarizing now, but few actors commanded the screen quite like he did throughout the 1980s. Tim Curry is always a joy, especially when he gets to lap up the scenery as a villain like the Lord of Darkness. Mia Sara, best known as Sloane Peterson from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," is wonderful as the impetuous, good-hearted Princess Lili. Add in an intriguingly dark tone, and you've got an absolute classic of a movie. Whether you're a starry-eyed kid or a savvy adult, "Legend" is one fairy tale you can believe in.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie

Yes, 1990's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie" is a goofy low point in the franchise's history. However, a lot of the most cringeworthy stuff you think you remember from this film is actually from the sequel. Vanilla Ice and the "Ninja Rap?" That's "Secret of the Ooze." Feeding Tokka and Rahzar the doughnuts? That too. There's still some silly stuff in the first film, but it's a lot more endearing and a lot less embarrassing than you might remember.

Take the action sequences. Sure, they're a bit stiff, but the choreography is genuinely thrilling. Moreover, the story this movie tells is more mature than you might expect, and there are some genuinely good performances to enjoy. James Saito is great as Shredder, and don't miss Sam Rockwell in his first role in a major film as a street thug.

The real reason "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie" is still so good, however, is because of the impressive, Jim Henson-designed costumes. Sure, they lack the sleek perfection that modern CGI brings to the franchise, but their real-world heft has a charm all its own. Take a walk down memory lane with the Turtles, and recall why you were once obsessed with their sewer-bound adventures. No "Ninja Rap" required.

Boondock Saints

"The Boondock Saints" is certainly a product of its time. Released in 1999, it won't take you long to figure out what influences director Troy Duffy was operating under in making this movie. Quentin Tarantino, Guy Ritchie, Martin Scorsese and Hong Kong action movies like "Hard Target" — they're all present in "The Boondock Saints" at their absolute bloodiest. It's lurid, violent, and extreme, just as the critics said. But its action scenes are genuinely innovative, and for all its blood, it's a whole lot more fun than it's ever given credit for.

"The Boondock Saints" follows brothers Connor and Murphy MacManus who, after getting in a bar fight, are targeted by mobsters. They are soon caught up in a series of violent gunfights, culminating in an assault on the heart of the Russian mob. It's a less self-aware "John Wick," essentially.

What really makes "The Boondock Saints" work is its impressive cast: Willem Dafoe, Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus, and Billy Connolly all feature here at their absolute best. It's an indulgent, violent fantasy, sure — but it's a good one. There's also a sequel but ... the less said about that one, the better.


"Belly" is one is one of the most polarizing films on this list, with, as of this writing, a whopping 72% difference between its critical and audience score. This isn't surprising: "Belly" is a fascinatingly unique movie. The plot isn't anything to write home about, but it has so much style and talent involved that it's impossible to ignore. Complex has even suggested that "Belly" was so far ahead of its time, it reshaped hip hop and Hollywood in ways that are only now becoming clear.

"Belly" is the feature film debut of legendary music video director Hype Williams. It stars an absolute wealth of rap, hip hop and R&B luminaries, including Nas, DMX, Method Man, and Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins. Its leading men, Sincere and Tommy "Buns" Brown, played by Nas and DMX respectively, try to free themselves from their lives of crime after escaping from the run-down Queens neighborhood of their youth. It's a deeply-felt odyssey of music, compromise, and life at the bottom. Sure, it's a little messy, but the sheer talent, verve, and vision of the film radiates from every frame. Many critics saw the film's atmospheric approach as Hype Williams' history in music videos dragging him down. Modern viewers know better — that sleek, style-forward approach makes "Belly" an unforgettable watch.

Grandma's Boy

Critics hated "Grandma's Boy," while audiences loved it: That's what happens when a dumb stoner comedy hits the silver screen. Why the gulf in opinion? Well, for one thing, "Grandma's Boy" is a Happy Madison Productions film, the company that gave us "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" and "You Don't Mess With the Zohan." Yet "Grandma's Boy" is, unlike those films, actually sort of good. For fans of crass stoner comedy, it brings some genuinely fresh humor, plus acting of a quality far superior to what you would expect.

"Grandma's Boy" is about a video game tester, played by frequent Adam Sandler collaborator Allen Covert. He is working on his own game after getting home from his day job, and ... well, let's just say that hijinks ensue. It's essentially a sketch comedy held together by a thin plot and a prayer, but the cast is game for its silly raunchiness, and it all somehow works. It helps that the cast is truly talented, boasting the likes of Linda Cardellini, Doris Roberts, Shirley Knight, and Jonah Hill. With clever writing, charming performances, and a willingness to get weird, "Grandma's Boy" is a stoner comedy even the soberest person can enjoy.

Bad Boys II

There aren't many big, dumb action movies better than the much-maligned "Bad Boys II." It's Michael Bay at his Michael Bay-est, and if you're not down with that, you'll hate it. But if that kind of sounds like your thing? Well, then it's a dream come true. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are out in full force from the first scene to to last. They walk away from explosions. They always find the time for a perfect quip. Rotten Tomatoes' Critics Consensus calls "Bad Boys II," "two and a half hours of explosions and witless banter." To that, we say: It's absolutely full of wit, and being two and a half hours full of explosions is the point.

Haven't seen the first film? Doesn't matter — "Bad Boys II" catches you up in a flash. Smith and Lawrence play Detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, tasked with investigating Miami's ecstasy trade. They soon uncover a massive gang war for control of the city's drug shipments, and their personal relationship is put at stake when Lowrey starts crushing on Burnett's sister, played by Gabrielle Union.

But really, all this plot is just an excuse for bigger and better explosions. That's 100% fine. Go watch "Bad Boys II" if you haven't. Go watch it again if you have. You'll thank us later.

Final Destination

Teen horror doesn't tend to hit home with critics. It's a genre that prioritizes pretty faces and high body counts over skillful execution, often employing questionable logic to get its stars to their bloody ends. Some of them deserve better than the "teen slasher" label they are assigned, however, chief among them the critically derided "Final Destination."

The first film in the five-film series (with a sixth reportedly on the way), "Final Destination" has a killer premise: Once Death has chosen you, there is no escape. A high school student named Alex boards a plane with several classmates, then foresees the plane exploding, killing everyone on board. After several people exit the plane, including Alex, his premonition comes true. Soon, all those who got off the plane start dying in a series of elaborate ways, and the survivors determine that they did not cheat Death — they only delayed it.

"Final Destination" features some truly creative death sequences, making good on its attention-grabbing premise. It's definitely not arthouse horror, but it's impossible to watch it and not be entertained. Save "Midsommar" and "The Witch" for when you're feeling highbrow, and watch "Final Destination" with good friends, a few drinks, and a laid-back attitude.

Empire Records

"Empire Records" is an insanely quotable coming-of-age comedy from 1995. It's both a throwback to similar films from the previous decade and an attempt to be the voice of the indie music-loving children of the 1990s. Teen comedies are usually pretty hit or miss with critics, and "Empire Records" missed with most of them. As the audience score shows, however, it didn't miss with its target viewers.

"Empire Records" doesn't tell a terribly original story: A group of quirky weirdos who work in a record store have to do everything they can to stop a takeover from a major chain. They're all plucky underdogs, they learn about each other, they posture over who has the best music taste. It's exactly what you'd expect in the best possible sense, and it's pulled off thanks to a truly spectacular cast. Liv Tyler, Renee Zellweger, Robin Tunney, Anthony LaPaglia and Rory Cochrane are all part of this show, and all in fine form. The story goes that Michael Nathanson, President of Regency Pictures, greenlit this film the day before he heard the pitch for "Clueless." He turned it down, as he "already had a teen movie" in "Empire Records." "Clueless" became a massive hit and "Empire Records" bombed — but in the end, Nathanson ended up creating an era-defining cult classic.


For a few years, the "Saw" franchise ran like clockwork. You could expect a new film every year, each complete with intricately designed traps and fiendish plot twists. The series definitely went downhill after the first two movies, but they continued to entertain even as the quality degraded. 

The first film, 2004's "Saw," continues to reign supreme as the progenitor of the series and its best outing. "Saw" is the film that got director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell started, as the pair wrote the movie after meeting in film school. Nowadays, they're involved in everything from the "Conjuring" series to 2020's "The Invisible Man." "Saw" made over $100 million on a tiny budget of just $1.2 million. It's no wonder the film spawned so many sequels, despite critics' tepid response. 

"Saw" is about a serial killer who traps his victims inside elaborate puzzles, in an effort to test their will to live. There are a few great kills and a jaw-dropping twist, all brought to life by the likes of Cary Elwes, Ken Leung, and Danny Glover. It's bloody, disgusting, and twisted — and that's why fans love it.


It isn't hard to figure out why "Ravenous" didn't have a great critical reception — there is a ton going on within this bizarre film. Is it a Western? A horror movie? A satire? It has elements of everything, and films that attempt that sort of genre collage frequently get a bad rap from critics. But if you accept "Ravenous" for the whacked-out horror it is, it's hard not to fall in love with its oddball mixture of history, murder, and pitch-black comedy.

Guy Pearce leads the cast as  Second Lieutenant John Boyd, an American soldier fighting in the Mexican-American War. The myth of the Wendigo is blended with the story of the Donner Party, set off by a particularly twisted interpretation of Manifest Destiny. It is, as you might have already guessed, bonkers. But that's the point: "Ravenous" is an insane overload of American myth-making, from its bloody origins to its shining ideals. Sure, there's cannibalism, tuberculosis, and whole cave's worth of skeletons. But "Ravenous" does nothing without reason, and as a result, becomes one of the strangest and most satisfying horror movies of the 1990s.


"Fallen" has a great cast, an awesome premise and a plot that keeps you guessing. It combines psychological horror with a police procedural plot, and manages to pull off a wonderful, impactful ending. We aren't really sure why the critical reception to this one was as bad as it was, but boy, were the critics unimpressed.

The premise of "Fallen" seems simple: Police catch a serial killer, then have to deal with a copycat. Things start going sideways when demonic imagery starts to appear, suggesting that there is a lot more going on with the original killer than what the police initially thought.

"Fallen" is anchored by an awesome cast: Denzel Washington, John Goodman, and Donald Sutherland star, all at their steely best. It's a testament to their skill that they pull the story off, which combines street-level action with forces of literally Biblical proportion. "Fallen" might have seemed flat to critics, but revisited today, one is struck by the film's confidence. It is unique, self-assured, and just the tiniest bit weird — a difficult combination, pulled off with aplomb.

National Treasure

For better or worse, "National Treasure" showcases Nicolas Cage at his goofy best. Considering how many people have a love/hate relationship with the actor, it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that this film proved so divisive with critics. The film follows Ben, a noted historian and treasure hunter, who sets out to discover a hidden secret at the heart of the United States. It also involves a healthy dose of conspiracy as both the Templars and Freemasons have roles to play, while the Declaration of Independence is a central part of the plot.

It is these sillier elements that ensure "National Treasure" was never going to be a critical darling, as the story is way too outlandish. In fact, most reviews commented on the unbelievable narrative as a major negative, but it's also the kind of wacky fun that makes for great escapism in a similar way to "Night at the Museum" or "The Mummy."

Throw in a stellar cast that includes Diane Kruger, Jon Voight, Sean Bean, and Harvey Keitel, and "National Treasure" is a great way to spend a couple of hours — especially if you go into it not expecting to have to think too hard about what's actually going on.


Based on the Chris Van Allsburg novel of the same name, "Jumanji" met with a mixed reception when it hit cinema screens in 1995. That might surprise many people, as the movie is often regarded as a classic of the 1990s and the franchise has continued to grow with two recent sequels starring the likes of Dwayne Johnson and Jack Black. This original story finds Robin Williams caught up in a mystical board game, which brings hazards from the jungle world into real life.

In many ways, "Jumanji" is the ultimate comfort movie, one that can be watched over and over again without losing any of the magic. It even stands the test of time, if you can look past the dated special effects, and can keep kids and adults entertained in equal measure.

That is partly due to the brilliant performances of the cast. Everyone in "Jumanji" is working at an impressive level, from the villainous poacher Van Pelt (Jonathan Hyde) to the two child actors, including a young Kirsten Dunst. Williams fires on all cylinders, demonstrating his undeniable comedic chops with an ability to play a flawed swashbuckling hero. They are helped along by a great musical score and a script that keeps the action focused and the tension always building.

The Mummy Returns

The fact that "The Mummy Returns" didn't get rave reviews when it came out in 2001 might not be all that much of a shock to most people. Yet the way that its predecessor just about scraped up a "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes may be more surprising. In that sense, it was always going to be a difficult task for the sequel to exceed the heights of "The Mummy" but that doesn't make it a terrible film.

Sure, the 2001 film certainly has some pretty clunky dialogue and isn't nearly as memorable as the original movie. A lot of people will also remember the awful CGI for Dwayne Johnson's Scorpion King character. Get past those issues, though, and "The Mummy Returns" is a hell of a lot of fun.

The continuing story of Brendan Fraser's Rick O'Connell and Rachel Weisz's Evelyn Carnahan is always worth watching as the two actors share genuine chemistry and make ideal leading protagonists. Meanwhile, the sequel contains plenty of exhilarating action sequences, from the bus chase through the streets of London to the attack of the cannibal pygmies in the Oasis of Ahm Shere.

The Princess Diaries

Unlike typical Disney princess movies that are fully animated, "The Princess Diaries" is a coming-of-age comedy that is entirely live-action. Featuring the talents of Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews, it is based on Meg Cabot's novel of the same name and follows a young girl living in the U.S. who suddenly discovers that she is the heir to a European kingdom. Tutored in how to act as a royal by her grandmother, she must ultimately decide whether she wants to become a queen or renounce the throne.

Critics were initially underwhelmed with the 2001 film, feeling it was lacking in story and trying to be too many things at once. But there's a good selection of genuinely funny moments and the film is constantly endearing, with standout performances from both Andrews and Hathaway. "The Princess Diaries" never comes across as overly preachy either. Yes, it's full of moral lessons but it doesn't shove them in your face, letting them come out naturally as the action unfolds. As a clean and harmless film, it makes great family viewing and shouldn't be immediately discounted by those just looking at its dismal review scores.

The Cable Guy

Jim Carrey has had what can only be described as a strange career. While he has undeniably been one of the biggest comic actors of the modern era, he has had just as many misses as he has had hits. For every "Liar Liar" and "Ace Ventura" there's a "Dumb and Dumber Too" or "The Number 23." The 1996 black comedy film "The Cable Guy" falls somewhere in between those two groups.

Much of the criticism of the film centered on its darker elements, with Carrey playing a character who is far more violent and subversive than the roles he was accustomed to. This may well have led critics to expect something very different from "The Cable Guy," as they were likely not expecting the comedy giant to play a strange and creepy stalker. Yet it is this characterization of Chip that allows Carrey's talents to shine through. This disturbing but likable character gives the actor the opportunity to use his comedic and dramatic talents at the same time.

There's no denying that "The Cable Guy" is weird, and it's understandable that many people weren't prepared for a comedic actor known for playing goofballs starring in such a film. But it has some brilliant moments that will make anyone laugh out loud, including a karaoke party filled with elderly patrons and a "Star Trek"-inspired fight scene complete with medieval armor.

Wild Wild West

Taking inspiration from a 1960s television series, "Wild Wild West" was Will Smith's first flop. The 1999 movie revolves around two secret agents working to stop a plot hatched by ex-Confederates General 'Bloodbath' McGrath and Dr. Arliss Loveless to kill President Ulysses S. Grant. Smith has since admitted that he views "Wild Wild West" as his worst-ever movie (via People). In fact, he even turned down the role of Neo in "The Matrix" in favor of essentially becoming a cowboy James Bond (via The Wrap).

While "Wild Wild West" gets plenty of hate, is it really all that bad? Roger Ebert went so far as to call it a "comedy dead zone" and it's true that many of the jokes are duds, with the funny moments simply failing to land. But there are some scenes that will make the audience laugh, even if they are not quite as frequent as you might have hoped. Where "Wild Wild West" does stand out, though, is with its steampunk aesthetics. This gives everything within the film a distinctive look and allows for some impressive action sequences that keep you on the edge of your seat. Plus, there's that amazing song Smith did for the film.


Parodies are some of the hardest types of comedy to get right and it is all too easy to have them fall well short of the mark. "Spaceballs" found that out first-hand when it was released in 1987. Meant to be a spoof of the original "Star Wars" trilogy and various other sci-fi series, the Mel Brooks movie just failed to reach a "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes but still had more good reviews than bad. It also failed to inspire audiences at the box office, just about making back its budget with takings of $38 million. 

Yet in the intervening years, "Spaceballs" has become a cult classic and a comedy favorite, as well as being arguably Mel Brooks' most popular release. It contains a wide array of excellent sight gags — including the sandy desert being combed — hilarious quotes that are just as memorable today, and an infectious chemistry between Bill Pullman and John Candy that gives the film a heart-warming sense of camaraderie. Meanwhile, Rick Moranis puts in one of the best performances of his career as the comical Dark Helmet.

Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit

The first "Sister Act" won widespread praise from critics and proved to be a financial hit, making a sequel a foregone conclusion. However, when "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit" arrived a year later, it didn't make anywhere near as good an impression as its predecessor despite the fact that it involved much of the same cast, including Whoopi Goldberg. Despite being a modest financial success, the sequel was largely lambasted upon release and received almost universal negative reviews.

Perhaps the major problem for "Sister Act 2" is that it largely abandons everything that made the first film such a surprise hit. The focus is switched away from Goldberg and the jeopardy is far less intense. Rather than going into witness protection to avoid a violent mob boss, Sister Mary Clarence returns to help stop a school from shutting down by winning a singing contest.

While critics may not have enjoyed the shift to focus on the vocal talents of the young school kids rather than Goldberg, it is a decision that ensures this film is full of energy. There are a number of great musical performances and, although the plot is fairly run-of-the-mill, it serves as a decent vehicle for the songs and comedy stylings of the cast — which is likely what most people would want from such a film.


It might be hard to imagine that critics were not all that fond of "Taken" when it was first released back in 2008. The Liam Neeson action film sees a former special forces soldier embark on a mission to locate his missing daughter and her friend after they are kidnapped by traffickers while vacationing in France.

Like many thrillers, "Taken" doesn't focus on the overarching narrative as much as it does the action. That might well explain why the movie didn't quite reach that elusive "fresh" rating. Some also criticized the acting in the film, but few would argue against "Taken" as a fast-paced romp filled with intense fight scenes and impressive chases.

It also established Neeson as a bona fide action star. While he wasn't unaccustomed to these types of roles, having been cast in "Batman Begins" and "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace," it was "Taken" that really established him as one of the best modern actors at portraying action heroes in the style of Jason Bourne.

Rush Hour 2

Like many sequels, "Rush Hour 2" didn't quite hit the highs of the first film. It can't be said that the 2001 movie was panned across the board, but there were a significant number of negative reviews, many of which focused on the formulaic story and the lack of originality.

That's a fair accusation in many ways. After all, "Rush Hour 2" preserves almost every element from its predecessor that worked. This included the two stars, the basic story beats, and even the crew responsible for putting together the entire experience.

Sticking with what works was probably for the best, and even the original "Rush Hour" was not exactly a smash hit in terms of its critical reception. If you loved that one, then "Rush Hour 2" should hit all the same notes, from the chemistry between Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker to the juxtaposition of funny comedy and intense action sequences.

Space Jam

There are only a few films that successfully blend live-action and animation in a satisfying way. Think of the likes of "Osmosis Jones" or "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" for examples that actually managed to nail this difficult blend. "Space Jam" is undoubtedly another instance, even if it didn't resonate with critics when it arrived in cinemas in 1996. Featuring Michael Jordan and the cast of the Looney Tunes, they all go on an adventure to save the cartoon characters from being enslaved by defeating an alien team in a basketball game.

That might sound a little convoluted, but the story of "Space Jam" isn't quite as important as everything else. Jordan might not be a brilliant actor but his genial nature and energy give the movie a light-hearted feel that makes it ideal fodder for the whole family. Seeing all of your favorite cartoon characters come to life in the real world is always a thrill and "Space Jam" manages to have a charm that has endeared it to fans for decades and enshrined its status as a cult hit. Humorous cameos from the likes of Bill Murray help give it a delightful quality that few movies manage to accomplish.


"Equilibrium" has one of the biggest gaps in audience and critic scores on Rotten Tomatoes, with its poor review ratings in direct opposition to the high marks given by viewers. Many reviews were scathing of the 2002 film, suggesting it was derivative and void of any originality. Nevertheless, the high audience score would point to the fact that many people actually enjoyed this Christian Bale-led dystopian sci-fi adventure.

In a world scarred by a nuclear World War III, the human population in Libria is kept under control by a totalitarian government and a drug that suppresses emotion. Bale portrays Preston, a cleric tasked with executing those who show emotion. He slowly begins to rebel against the government as the film progresses, and his journey from hard-line enforcer to revolutionary is a joy to see unfold. Meanwhile, the gun kata combat, a sort of mix of close-quarters gunplay and martial arts, is exciting enough to warrant a film of its own. "Equilibrium" ends up being a sort of mixture of "The Matrix" and "Fahrenheit 451," which should be enough to interest any sci-fi fans.

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Coming two years after "Home Alone" was released, "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" was an inevitable sequel following the roaring success that came before it. Although its predecessor was not a massive hit with critics, it made so much money at the box office that it was obvious that a second film would come. The sequel fared even worse, with reviews disparaging the way it was apparently completely derivative of the original 1990 movie.

It makes a lot of sense that critics would feel this way. At the end of the day, "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" essentially offers more of the same as the first film. Only this time around there's some extra comedic talent in the form of Tim Curry and Rob Schneider, plus more room for Kevin to cause carnage in the New York townhouse setting. The cast and creative team, including director Chris Columbus and writer John Hughes, all returned for a movie that doubles down on the slapstick comedy in a way that is hard not to enjoy. Watching Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern face off against elaborate booby traps and obstacles is timeless, unadulterated entertainment.


It might be hard to find people who are willing to admit they don't like "Hook" but that wasn't always the case. What is now considered a classic adventure film for the whole family was once lambasted by critics and seen as something of a financial failure despite bringing in more than $300 million at the box office. Even director Steven Spielberg has expressed his disappointment with the film.

Most of the criticism was concentrated on the lack of original ideas to differentiate this from a standard re-telling of the "Peter Pan" story. Others were of the opinion that the plot was weak, with the script not structured in a balanced way as the middle act saw almost nothing important happen.

Yet there is so much to like about "Hook." Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, and Bob Hoskins all put in excellent performances and the film looks great on a technical level, with impressive sets and special effects. John Williams' score for the 1991 film is often considered to be some of his best work as well. Overall, there's much more "Hook" gets right than it gets wrong and it is always worth a watch.

The Mighty Ducks

"The Mighty Ducks" was never likely to be the type of film that would go down well with critics. It's too much of a feel-good story that features every trope you'd expect from a sports film. Whether it's the underdog team or the down-on-his-luck reluctant coach, this 1992 comedy-drama does little in the way of innovating the genre. However, that shouldn't mean it should be disregarded or consigned to the dustbin. After all, there must be some people who really enjoyed the original film, as the franchise has since expanded into multiple movies, a television series on Disney+, and even a real-life NHL ice hockey team.

What makes "The Mighty Ducks" such a popular series is that it is a lighthearted affair that never takes itself too seriously. The cast of delightful characters is easy to root for and seeing them overcome every obstacle in their way is actually heart-warming, if a little predictable. Kids and adults alike can enjoy this kind of uplifting story and the funny moments in "The Mighty Ducks" almost always land.

A Knight's Tale

There are hundreds of medieval movies but few actually manage to be all that good. Of course, there are older classics such as "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," but it is difficult to think of a modern movie set in medieval times that is either not a fantasy film or universally admired. Released in 2001, this Brian Helgeland film features Heath Ledger as a peasant squire who seizes an opportunity to compete as a knight in a series of jousting tournaments. Along with his friends Roland and Wat, played by Mark Addy and Alan Tudyk, he impersonates a noble in an effort to win the world championship.

At its heart, "A Knight's Tale" follows the formula laid down by "Rocky," with a lowly underdog rising from humble beginnings to take on the world, win the girl, and get the fame and fortune he desires. So it's easy to see why some critics might not have been totally enamored with it when it was first released. The anachronistic soundtrack might put some people off as well, although the song choices work perfectly to complement the on-screen action. The interactions between the main characters are natural and funny, while Paul Bettany steals the show with his hilarious antics and rants.

Step Brothers

Comedy films often face a tough time with critics and very rarely get universal acclaim when they are released. Even some of the best comedies don't make an impression with reviewers despite being hugely popular with audiences. "Step Brothers" is a great example of this as it missed out on a "fresh" rating even though it is widely considered to be one of the best comedy movies of the last two decades. Perhaps critics believed the jokes and antics of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly's characters were just too immature or mean-spirited, but what is certain is that this film is fondly remembered by most people who have seen it.

Coming quickly on the heels of "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," it features much of the same cast and crew of that film and has the same sort of chaotic energy as well. There are endless memorable quotes, such as the "did we just become best friends" moment, and childish squabbles that often descend into violence. Perhaps the best part about "Step Brothers," though, is that it isn't trying to be something it isn't. The ridiculous family-based feuds don't have a message to preach to viewers; they are just there to make people laugh, and it is something that this 2008 movie manages to do remarkably frequently.


Sappy comedy-dramas are not exactly the type of films that inspire a great deal of critical acclaim. So few people were likely expecting this 1988 adaptation of Iris Rainer Dart's novel to set the world on fire, although its dreary critical rating suggests it is much worse than it really is. Contrast that with its high audience score of 88% and it quickly becomes clear that viewers found a lot more to like about "Beaches" than critics did.

Driving the plot are Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey, who play two friends as they grow up and face everything life has to throw at them. The rest of the cast is just as impressive in their roles as the two stars, and it is very easy to get invested in their journeys as tragedy strikes. With its fantastic musical score and lovely vocals from Midler, there are numerous moments that can send a tingle down the spine. "Beaches" is a movie that will make even the most cold-hearted of viewers reach for the tissues, as it is a genuine tearjerker that will evoke genuine emotional responses from anyone watching.

Reign of Fire

It's difficult to see what's not to like about "Reign of Fire." It features a post-apocalyptic modern world where dragons have awoken from millions of years of hibernation to wipe out almost all of humanity. There's also a cast made up of Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, and Gerard Butler. With civilization collapsed, hope is pinned on the few survivors scattered across the planet as they plot to kill the dragon leader and end the threat, in order to give humans the chance to avoid extinction.

"Reign of Fire" ended as a critical and commercial failure, grossing just $80 million against a budget of $60 million. Even its audience score sits at a rather low 49%. However, those willing to give this science fantasy film a chance might be pleasantly surprised. Over the course of the film, there's everything from impressive-looking CGI dragons to dramatic fights between modern day knights and fire-breathing monsters. With a seemingly never-ending amount of exciting moments, "Reign of Fire" is a thrilling ride that blends together several genres into an exhilarating mix.

Die Hard with a Vengeance

Ask any fan of "Die Hard" to rank every film in the series and "Die Hard with a Vengeance" is unlikely to be anywhere near the bottom. In fact, the general consensus puts the third film right at the top of the pile, beaten out only by the original 1988 movie. Yet, it is weirdly one of the worst-reviewed entries of the franchise.

In many ways, this third film is completely different to what came before it. John McClane has seen a dramatic fall from grace: kicked off the police force, he is now living a disgraced life as an alcoholic. "Die Hard with a Vengeance" even sees the former detective team up with a reluctant partner, so it is somewhat understandable that it might be viewed more negatively by some people.

All in all, though, these changes are undoubtedly for the better. The banter and chemistry between Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson is second to none and results in some perfect comedy moments. Jeremy Irons' villainous character Simon is another highlight, as is the bizarre "Simon Says" game he plays that has McClane going all over New York to stop bombs from exploding in the city.