Rotten Tomatoes, now celebrating its 10th anniversary, operates on a simple concept. It looks at all* the movie reviews on the Internet, translates each into either “Fresh” or “Rotten” (i.e., positive or negative), then tells you what percentage of critics liked a particular movie. If the percentage is 60 or higher, then the film is considered “Fresh.”
“WALL-E” is the “Freshest” movie of the year so far, with a current Tomatometer score of 96% — that is, 147 out of 153 critics reviewed it favorably. Those other six critics … well, they’re in the distinct minority.
And so I got to thinking: When have I been in the distinct minority? What is the “Freshest” movie that I’ve ever given a “Rotten” rating to?
Each individual critic’s page at Rotten Tomatoes (here’s mine) actually lets you sort his or her reviews by Tomatometer, making it easy to check: It was “The Pianist,” which has a 95% Tomatometer score. I gave it a C+, which is just barely on the “Rotten” side, but “Rotten” nonetheless. I’m one of only eight critics (out of 165) to review it negatively.
A few other noteworthy instances where my negative reviews were in the minority: “Sicko” (93% on RT), “2 Days in Paris” (87%), “The Woodsman” (86%), “Akeelah and the Bee” (83), and “The Bourne Identity” (83%). (I know! I gave it a C+, and I stand by that.)
Naturally, I was curious about the other end of the spectrum, too. Which universally panned movies did I like?
The lowest: “Yours, Mine & Ours,” which stands at 5% on the Tomatometer. My B- review was one of only five “Fresh” ratings it got.
Other notable “Fresh” ratings for low-scoring movies: “Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles” (12%), “Over Her Dead Body” (13%), “Mr. Woodcock” (13%), “The Haunted Mansion” (13%), and “The Love Guru” (15%).
In almost every instance, my “positive” review is a B-, which is the dividing line between “Fresh” and “Rotten.” Similarly, almost all of my “negative” reviews of the high-scoring films are C+. There haven’t been any instances where I absolutely LOVED a movie that was hated by nearly everyone else, or vice versa.
All of this calls to mind an obvious question: Does it bother me being in the minority?
Meh, not really. Particularly in the case of comedies — if I laughed, I laughed. What can I do about that? If I ever did LOVE something that everyone else loathed, I’d probably start to second-guess myself. But we’re mostly just talking about degrees — “OK” compared to “mediocre” compared to “bad.” Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t allow for much subtlety, so it’s easy to look at the numbers and think, “Wow, everyone HATED ‘Yours, Mine & Ours,’ but I LOVED it!,” when that’s not actually the case.
*All those by critics who are on RT’s official list, anyway.