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The best and worst Michael Keaton movies according to Rotten Tomatoes

Michael Keaton was born Michael Douglas (no, not that one) in 1951 outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The youngest of seven children, Michael performed comedic skits to stand out in his family. Dropping out of Kent State after only two years, Michael tried stand-up, drove cabs and an ice cream truck, and made his television debut on Mister Roger's Neighborhood before making his way to Hollywood. Trying to distance himself from the famous Michael Douglas, he changed his name to Michael Keaton, though despite the legend, his decision was random and had nothing to do with Diane Keaton. Fame didn't follow the name change, however, as Keaton paid his dues for half a decade until landing a lead role in 1982's Night Shift and finally his breakthrough part in 1983's Mr. Mom

Keaton's career took off, landing him roles in some of most iconic movies of the 1980s and making him a household name along the way. Oh yeah, he became Batman, too. But despite his Certified Icon® status, the uncomfortable reality remains that despite his great films, a lot of his movies are pretty abysmal. Like, really bad. Want to miss any landmines during your next Michael Keaton movie marathon? We did the hard work for you and found the Michael Keaton movies you must watch and the ones you should avoid like a sandworm in Beetlejuice. Here are the best and worst Michael Keaton movies according to Rotten Tomatoes!

Best - Beetlejuice is a great Michael Keaton movie (just don't say it thee times)

"Where do we go when we die?" is a question that has plagued philosophers, theologians, and angsty musicians since the dawn of humankind. We can save them the trouble and point them to Tim Burton's 1988 macabre comedy, Beetlejuice. Turns out the afterlife is just a waiting room, which if you've ever been to the DMV is worse than any Hell imagined by Dante. In the movie, a dead young couple hits a bureaucratic snag on the way to the great beyond and must haunt their old home, which is now occupied by a pack of yuppies (shudder). Given their haunting skills are incompetent at best, they enlist the skills of an expert demon named Betelgeuse (pronounced "Beetlejuice") who can only be summoned by saying his name three times. 

Beetlejuice is the kind of out-there original idea that would never get made today, and honestly, we're shocked it got made in 1988 or that it worked as well as it did. Critics gave it an 84% Tomatometer score, praising Keaton's "most deliciously manic work," and audiences gave it 82%. Supernatural dark comedies tend to die at the box office, but Beetlejuice earned $72 million on a $15 million budget (or $162 million adjusted for inflation). The series launched a successful cartoon series from 1989 to 1991, changed the way we hear "The Banana Boat Song" forever, and gave goth girls their doppelgänger in Lydia Deetz. "It's showtime!"

Worst - Jack Frost is the most horrifying holiday movie ever

"Dead dad haunts son as a snowman abomination" doesn't sound like a family friendly yuletide classic, that is unless you're Michael Keaton, who must've thought this deeply disturbing movie would yield that holiday box office green. In hindsight, he should've burned the script with fire, buried it so deep that nobody could ever find it, and had an exorcist bless the cursed ground where it was entombed. We're not exaggerating. We're used to holiday movies being saccharine and schmaltzy, but Jack Frost somehow managed to be that and terrifying at the same at the same time! 

Keaton plays Jack Frost (that's literally the guy's name, just so you know what kind of movie you're dealing with), a man who never spends enough time with his son and dies in a car wreck because that happens in children's movies ... wait, what? For his life of self-centeredness (i.e. working to put food on his ungrateful family's table), he's cursed, er, blessed to walk the earth one year later as a mutant snowman monster who gets one last day to spend time with his son. What ... the ... BLEEP!? Critics gave it a 19% Tomatometer score, while filmgoers gave it an inexplicable 39%, meaning they must've been high on something stronger than holiday spirit. Jack Frost earned just $34 million on a $85 million budget, becoming one of the biggest holiday box office bombs ever.

Best - The Paper is a charming, Capra-esque comedy drama

Michael Keaton rose to fame with a scene-stealing part in Ron Howard's 1982 Night Shift. A little over ten years and two Batman movies later, he reunited with Howard for 1994's The Paper, an effortlessly charming newspaper dramedy that harkens back to the Frank Capra movies it emulates. Keaton plays Henry Hackett, a metro editor for a dying New York City tabloid during a whirlwind 24 hours where he has to navigate a tight-fisted publisher (Glenn Close), a dying mentor (Robert Duvall), and a pregnant wife (Marisa Tomei). Hackett's also considering a competing job offer while chasing down the story of the year as the slimy tabloid may have the inside scoop on how two young minority men are being blamed by the media for a mob hit. 

The Paper was the only collaboration between Jurassic Park screenwriter David Koepp and his brother Stephen, a senior editor at Time magazine, lending the film an ink-stained authenticity by way of Hollywood melodrama. Critics gave it an 88% Tomatometer score, while audiences were less impressed, giving it 65% and a mediocre $38 domestic gross and $48 million worldwide. The Paper deserves so much better, so if you happen to catch it on late-night cable at midnight, do yourself a favor and give it 1 hour and 52 minutes of your time.

Worst - Desperate Measures is a thoroughly forgettable thriller

Desperate Measures turned out to be as bland as its title, which is a shame because the plot has the makings of a page-turning paperback thriller you'd finish in one sitting. Andy Garcia plays a police officer whose son needs a bone marrow transplant procedure to survive. Wouldn't you know it, his only blood type match is a psycho serial killer played by Michael Keaton, who uses the surgery as a chance to take the hospital hostage. Measures get desperate as Garcia's cop has to catch Keaton's criminal without killing him in order to save his son. In other words, it's the kind of parenting situation Dr. Spock somehow never mentioned in his famous baby book. 

In the late 1990s, John Travolta successfully went from likable movie star to diabolical villain with Broken Arrow in 1996 and Face/Off in 1997, so Keaton tried to do the same with Desperate Measures in 1998. But while Travolta's movies were gloriously over-the-top action flicks from John Woo, Desperate Measures was a wannabe taut thriller from the director of Kiss of Death (the movie that launched, and killed, David Caruso's film career). Desperate Measures earned 17% from critics and 37% from crowds, who gave it a downright horrible $13 million worldwide. Keaton probably made more than that from Batman royalties.

Best - Birdman brought Michael Keaton's career back

Michael Keaton's career took a dive for two decades following his decision to hang up the Bat-suit. Keaton ironically started his comeback with a movie that satirized his most famous role — and satirized pretty much everything else, too — with Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). In esteemed Mexican director Alejandro G. Iñárritu's first foray into comedy, a famous action star (Keaton) who made millions playing the superhero Birdman now finds himself struggling to mount a Broadway production of a short story by Raymond Carver, all while maintaining his family, sobriety and sanity. 

While the movie won raves for its roving one-shot setup, it's saved from mere gimmickry by its clever script and world-class ensemble, led by Keaton, who's almost too close for comfort as the fading movie star trying to reinvent himself. Critics gave Birdman a 91% Tomatometer score and audiences an equally impressive 77%. Movies like this can be hit or miss at the box office, but on an $18 million budget, Birdman earned $42 million domestically and $103 million worldwide. Keaton was nominated for Best Actor for his performance, while Birdman won Best Picture, the first of Keaton's back-to-back Best Picture wins, followed by Spotlight the next year.

Worst - One Good Cop is one bad movie

Naming your movie One Good Cop is almost asking for it to be bad, and sure enough, it's one of the worst in Keaton's string of schmaltzy 1990s melodramas that includes My Life and Jack Frost. Who knew the guy could be so sentimental? Keaton plays a good cop whose partner is killed in the line of duty, leaving behind his three girls who he was raising on his own. Keaton and his wife (Rene Russo) want to adopt them, but their apartment is too small, so he decides to rob a drug dealer to get the money for the down payment on a house. 

It's an interesting shades-of-gray premise, but the movie has the manipulative subtlety of a Hallmark card. Critics gave it an atrocious 15% Tomatometer score while audiences were only slightly less immune to its charms, giving it a 31% score. At the box office where it mattered though, the movie tanked with a mere $11 million worldwide, as Keaton failed to capitalize on his post-Batman box office bump. Despite its R rating, we're not surprised One Good Cop was produced by Walt Disney Studios (under its adult-themed Hollywood Pictures banner), as Keaton's "good cop" is basically Mickey Mouse with a badge and sidearm. In another universe, One Good Cop's "Andy Griffith turns Detective Alonzo" setup would have been a precursor to Breaking Bad. In this universe, it's just a sappy bore.

Best - Spider-Man: Homecoming is Michael Keaton's best superhero movie

Michael Keaton's all-time greatest superhero movie according to Rotten Tomatoes is ... not Batman (that has a 71% score). No, it's not Batman Returns, either, which did even better with critics with an 80% Tomatometer score. Actually, Keaton's best superhero movie didn't have him playing the Dark Knight. In fact, he didn't play a superhero at all. His best superhero movie actually had him playing a (gasp) Marvel Comics super villain! Yep, Keaton's highest-rated superhero movie (and one of his highest-rated movies period) was 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming, which earned an amazing 92% Tomatometer from critics and an equally spectacular 87% from audiences. 

Heck, Spider-Man: Homecoming even has one of the best Rotten Tomato scores in the Marvel Cinematic Universe! So yeah, it's pretty good, which is even more impressive considering it's the sixth Spider-Man movie and the third franchise launch. Spider-Man: Homecoming earned $334 million domestically and $880 million worldwide, a 20% boost from The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Spider-Man: Homecoming was a super successful franchise relaunch however you look at it, and Keaton's role as the villainous Vulture definitely played a part in the movie's achievement.

Worst - The Squeeze is painful to watch

The truest proof of Michael Keaton's star power isn't his box office prowess or even his cinematic staying power. It's that he's been in some truly terrible, career-killing stinkers that should've sent him on the first bus out of L.A., but they somehow never sunk his career. The Squeeze is one of the worst. In the wannabe comedy caper/suspense thriller hybrid, Keaton plays a con man who teams up with a cop (Rae Dawn Chong) to expose a crooked talk show host's ties to the mob. 

Some movies are clearly doomed to failure (cough, Jack Frost, cough), while others have a promising premise but terrible execution (Multiplicity, My Life, Desperate Measures, One Good Cop, most of Michael Keaton's career). The Squeeze falls in the latter category, as the storyline doesn't sound bad, but the movie is awful. Maybe Keaton just needs a better script reader? As Roger Ebert put it in his one-star review, "The Squeeze is a non-movie held together only by the intrinsic appeal of Michael Keaton and Rae Dawn Chong, its stars. They are given nothing to work with here. Nothing." Other critics were equally unkind, giving it a 14% Tomatometer score, while audiences gave it 29%. At the box office, it earned, get this, $2.2 million worldwide. Keaton was lucky this turkey didn't squeeze him out of contention for Batman.

Best - Night Shift launched Michael Keaton's career

Michael Keaton's breakthrough role came in an off-kilter 1982 comedy about a couple of night-shift workers who turn a morgue into a brothel. Not the kind of movie you'd expect to be directed by the guy who played Opie and Richie Cunningham, but that's just part of the brilliance that makes Night Shift one of Keaton's and director Ron Howard's best movies. As for the plot, Keaton plays Bill Blazejowski, a motor-mouthed wheeler-dealer who talks his co-worker (Henry Winkler) into joining him for one of New York's strangest entrepreneurial ventures. 

While the movie is funny on its own, Keaton's star-making, scene-stealing performance takes it over the top, as audiences got their first taste of his trademark twitchy, manic energy. Critics gave Night Shift a 92% Tomatometer score, but audiences were less impressed, with a 63% score and a $21 million gross. Night Shift didn't set the box office on fire, but it got Keaton noticed. He followed it up in 1983 with the John Hughes-penned Mr. Mom, which just missed our cut-off with an 82% Tomatometer score but whose $64 million gross sent Keaton's career to the next level.

Worst - This awful 1994 comedy leaves us Speechless

There's a school of thought that believes if your movie's stars have enough chemistry, it doesn't have to be good. This leaves us Speechless. If you're going to sacrifice story for your stars' surefire chemistry, it helps to make sure they actually have it.

Speechless' strikingly nondescript poster tells the story (not of the movie, but what producers figured they were selling). Michael Keaton and Geena Davis give hauntingly vacant smiles in a soulless pose that looks like it comes with the picture frame at Target. It's basically saying, "Hey, we don't know or care what this movie is about either, but boy, Michael Keaton and Geena Davis are so gosh darn likable!" 

Keaton and Davis play a pair of political speechwriters on opposing campaigns during a presidential race who fall in love. Tracy-Hepburn this is not (it's not even Hanks-Ryan), as Keaton and Davis had the misfortune of being saddled with so much treacly sentimental syrup that The Cheesecake Factory could serve this movie as a dessert. Surprising no one, Speechless earned an abysmal 11% Tomatometer score from critics and 34% from audiences, en route to a $20 million gross. Interestingly, Speechless does feature the only on-screen pairing of Keaton's Batman with the 1978 Superman, with Christopher Reeve as a dashing war correspondent. Other than that, Speechless should be buried at the bottom of the $5 DVD bin at K-Mart.

Best - Spotlight is one of the best journalism movies

The Academy Awards get it wrong a lot of the time. The 88th Annual Academy Awards was not one of those times. Spotlight is pretty much perfect and earned its Best Picture Oscar against a stacked lineup that included The Martian, The Big Short, The Revenant, Bridge of Spies, and Mad Max: Fury Road, a year when it would've been hard to go wrong with any winner. Spotlight won the Oscar's top prize one year after Birdman won Best Picture in 2015, making Michael Keaton one of the few actors to star in back-to-back Best Picture winners. A heck of a comeback and a far cry from his days headlining movies like The Squeeze and Speechless

Keaton plays Walter "Robby" Robinson, the editor of The Boston Globe's "Spotlight" investigative reporting team, a group that uncovers the Boston Catholic Archdiocese's decades-long cover-up of sexual abuse against minors. Spotlight never risked sinking to the depths of its lurid, true-life story, nor did it lionize its heroes like a hagiography. It's a remarkably straightforward but still edge-of-your-seat retelling that makes it one of the best journalism movies ever. Critics gave Spotlight a darn near-perfect 97% Tomatometer score, and audiences followed suit with 93%, which is pretty much perfect for notoriously fickle internet moviegoers. Spotlight did reasonably well at the box office, earning $45 million domestically and $98 million worldwide. It's also Michael Keaton's best movie according to Rotten Tomatoes.

Worst - White Noise takes the ghoulish bottom spot

Michael Keaton's career seemed poised for a comeback in the early 2000s. White Noise arrived in 2005, and riding the coattails of supernatural super hits like The Blair Witch Project, The Sixth Sense, The Ring, and The Grudge, it opened to $24 million, on its way to $56 million domestically and $92 million worldwide, a big hit on a $10 million budget. However, it wasn't the career booster Keaton hoped for. The problem? It wasn't very good. White Noise earned a mere 7% Tomatometer score from critics and 31% from audiences. It failed to relaunch Keaton's career because, let's be honest, White Noise was 100% about the premise (a man trying to contact his dead wife ends up in a spooky situation), and Keaton could've been replaced by any middle-aged actor, and it would've done just as well. 

Headlining B-level horror movies wasn't the direction Keaton's career needed to go. After nearly another decade spent playing supporting roles in abysmal theatrical releases (Herbie: Fully Loaded, Post-Grad, RoboCop), Keaton's career finally recovered with the one-two punch of Birdman and Spotlight, as he's produced some of his best work in just the past six years. Not bad for a four-decade movie career. While we can debate whether or not White Noise is actually worse than The Squeeze or Jack Frost, the Tomatometer has spoken. White Noise is the worst Michael Keaton movie according to Rotten Tomatoes.