Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
Movie fans don’t always agree with the critics, it’s just a fact of life. However, Rotten Tomatoes has become the place to find out both the audience and critic ratings of any film so viewers can compare and make an informed decision. While critics and fans agree on a lot of films, there are many comedies that reviewers panned even though they were loved by the audience. We’ve put together a list of the 10 most surprisingly rotten comedies because, at least on these occasions, the critics are totally wrong!
Wet Hot American SummerCritics Score: 31%Audience Score: 82%The cult hit that is Wet Hot American Summer remains popular among fans to this day, possibly because its cast included some major comedians like Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Michael Ian Black, and Bradley Cooper.
Ace Ventura: Pet DetectiveCritics Score: 45%Audience Score: 57%Though Jim Carrey’s wacky humor isn’t appreciated by everyone, to some, Ace Ventura is one of the funniest movies they’ve ever seen. If nothing else, it’s certainly unique.
Tommy BoyCritics Score: 44%Audience Score: 91%The comedy starring two Saturday Night Live favorites, Chris Farley and David Spade, is a classic! It’s surprising that Tommy Boy received such a low score, and if you narrow the Rotten Tomatoes score from all critics to just the top critics, the score goes down to 18%.
Billy MadisonCritics Score: 46%Audience Score: 80%It may be debatable which of Adam Sandler’s films is his best, but many fans are sure to name Billy Madison. Even if it’s not the best Sandler comedy, it’s easily top five.
Super TroopersCritics Score: 35%Audience Score: 90%Perhaps its silly humor didn’t appeal to the critics, but it did make Super Troopers a hit among movie viewers.
Bring It OnCritics Score: 64%Audience Score: 66%Rotten Tomatoes failed us all around on this one. Bring it On is one of the funniest movies of the past two decades. “We’re awesome, we’re hot, we’re everything you’re not.” You tell ‘em, girls.
Hot RodCritics Score: 40%Audience Score: 64%As Andy Samberg’s first lead role, Hot Rod was the movie that launched his career — with the help of Saturday Night Live, of course. Cool beans!
National Lampoon’s Van WilderCritics Score: 18%Audience Score: 74%Sure, Van Wilder may be a gross-out comedy, but it also launched Ryan Reynolds’ career. And if you can sit through it without laughing, you are a stronger person than I.
The Hot ChickCritics Score: 21%Audience Score: 60%Rob Schneider adopting the airs and mannerisms of a teenaged girl, plus Rachel McAdams portraying a gross small-time crook? C’mon, it’s one of the best body-switching comedies out there.
Grandma’s BoyCritics Score: 18%Audience Score: 86%Another silly-and-gross comedy that critics weren’t amused by is Grandma’s Boy. However, its raunchy humor was such a hit among fans that the movie’s ratings have the biggest disparity of all the comedies on this list.
Summit via Everett Collection
You can imagine that Renny Harlin, director and one quadrant of the writing team for The Legend of Hercules, began his pitch as such: We'll start with a war, because lots of these things start with wars. It feels like this was the principal maxim behind a good deal of the creative choices in this latest update of the Ancient Greek myth. There are always horse riding scenes. There are generally arena battles. There are CGI lions, when you can afford 'em. Oh, and you've got to have a romantic couple canoodling at the base of a waterfall. Weaving them all together cohesively would be a waste of time — just let the common threads take form in a remarkably shouldered Kellan Lutz and action sequences that transubstantiate abjectly to and fro slow-motion.
But pervading through Lutz's shirtless smirks and accent continuity that calls envy from Johnny Depp's Alice in Wonderland performance is the obtrusive lack of thought that went into this picture. A proverbial grab bag of "the basics" of the classic epic genre, The Legend of Hercules boasts familiarity over originality. So much so that the filmmakers didn't stop at Hercules mythology... they barely started with it, in fact. There's more Jesus Christ in the character than there is the Ancient Greek demigod, with no lack of Gladiator to keep things moreover relevant. But even more outrageous than the void of imagination in the construct of Hercules' world is its script — a piece so comically dim, thin, and idiotic that you will laugh. So we can't exactly say this is a totally joyless time at the movies.
Summit via Everett Collection
Surrounding Hercules, a character whose arc takes him from being a nice enough strong dude to a nice enough strong dude who kills people and finally owns up to his fate — "Okay, fine, yes, I guess I'm a god" — are a legion of characters whose makeup and motivations are instituted in their opening scenes and never change thereafter. His de facto stepdad, the teeth-baring King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins), despises the boy for being a living tribute to his supernatural cuckolding; his half-brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan) is the archetypical scheming, neutered, jealous brother figure right down to the facial scar. The dialogue this family of mongoloids tosses around is stunningly brainless, ditto their character beats. Hercules can't understand how a mystical stranger knows his identity, even though he just moments ago exited a packed coliseum chanting his name. Iphicles defies villainy and menace when he threatens his betrothed Hebe (Gaia Weiss), long in love with Hercules, with the terrible fate of "accepting [him] and loving [their] children equally!" And the dad... jeez, that guy must really be proud of his teeth.
With no artistic feat successfully accomplished (or even braved, really) by this movie, we can at the very least call it inoffensive. There is nothing in The Legend of Hercules with which to take issue beyond its dismal intellect, and in a genre especially prone to regressive activity, this is a noteworthy triumph. But you might not have enough energy by the end to award The Legend of Hercules with this superlative. Either because you'll have laughed yourself into a coma at the film's idiocy, or because you'll have lost all strength trying to fend it off.
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Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.
In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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I'll be honest: I was deterred by Up All Night's premise. We've seen young couples adjusting to parental life before, and it's the sort of thing that can sometimes pass for "cute" and "sweet." Maybe it's the sort of thing that new parents can watch and relate to, but rarely the sort of thing that is fuel for genuine laughter. And although it's got Lorne Michaels behind it, and Will Arnett center stage, I didn't get my hopes up. But Up All Night has proven that I've become way too cynical. NBC recently picked up the comedy starring Arnett and Christina Applegate for a full season order, and it is officially my favorite new show of the fall season.
The series actually did itself a disservice with all the baby-centric promos. I imagine it was trying to rope in an audience of young parents with its relatable subject matter. But in doing so, the series painted itself as the kind of show where most of the humor is derived from the new baby spitting up on her parents -- don't say that's not something shows have relied on in the past. Instead, Up All Night has remarkably quick-witted dialogue from each of its three principal players (the third being Maya Rudolph, who plays Applegate's boss and best friend), and problems not limited in interest to those in the same walk of life as main characters Chris and Reagan. In fact, if one had to pinpoint what the show is really about, it's not dealing with the literal stresses of parenthood. It's a desperate fear of aging—and that is something that many of us can understand to some degree.
Chris and Reagan are illustrated as two former partiers who took pride in their adventurous lifestyle; although they are not entirely capable of accepting this, their lives have changed. Reagan is a workaholic producer of a talk show, and Chris is a stay-at-home dad. And although both are incredibly devoted to one another and to their daughter Amy, they consistently show signs of nostalgia for their wilder days.
It is this balance of their good intentions (and general success as parents) and inherent flaws that make the show terrific. “Perfect families” are more or less a thing of television past. “Corrupt” characters work well in many instances, but would be hard to watch and root for if a baby was involved. The creators of Up All Night found a great balance in Chris and Reagan, who are a little bit selfish and immature at times, but who are generally good people and good parents.
And, in case they are too grounded for you, there is Rudolph’s Ava, who is the show’s lovable basketcase. Through her insecurities and her constant need to be loved, she makes Reagan’s life worlds more difficult than it has to be.
Despite their yearning for youth, Chris and Reagan are also comically obsessed with being seen as good parents. Last night’s episode showcased all of the show’s main themes, and very humorously so. Chris strives desperately to be the “best parent” at a baby playgroup led by the insufferable, but sort of ingenious, Mr. Bob (Michael Hitchcock). Reagan resents her inability to stay out late with Ava for a Bangles cover band concert, just like old times. And Ava becomes bitter and irrational as a result of Reagan’s newfound maturity.
The plotlines are not ones we’ve never seen before—they’re simple and familiar. But the talent on this show is the biggest sell. Anyone who has seen Arnett in anything knows he can steal a scene from the best of them. He softens up his ‘slimy jerk’ archetype just enough to be likeable as a dad, but still maintains some remnants of the flawed jackass he plays so well. Applegate is moreover the straight woman, but that doesn’t mean her deadpan reactions to the madness around her aren’t great for laughs. And Rudolph plays crazy like a legend.
To sum up, the show has the rapid fire wit of 30 Rock with the authentic characters of earlier 30 Rock. Don’t let the “new parents” theme deter you—Up All Night's premise is a bonus for new parents, yes, but as a whole it’s so much more than that. It’s about growing up: balancing youth and maturity, work and family, yourself and those around you. It’s a sophisticated show, but is not above silly humor. All in all, it’s a big win.