10 Great Movies with Low Scores on Rotten Tomatoes

Hugh Jackman in The Fountain

Since the Internet has become a widely used platform for opinion-related writing and content, it didn’t take long for film criticism to make its move from newspapers and television shows to websites, blogs and YouTube. In this new age of criticism, review agitators have become a popular resource for those in need of quick and easy recommendations, and to know what not to waste their money on.

After all, film, like any art form, is a highly subjective field, and it makes sense to want access to a summation of professional critical opinions regarding any particular movie, rather than fishing through each and every review to get a sense of a film’s quality. Rottentomatoes.com is the most popular of these agitators, and on the site you will find an entry for every film ever made, each with a score of 0%-100% , decided by what percentage of critics rated the film “fresh” compared to how many rated it “rotten”. 59% and under is a rotten score – 60% and over is fresh.

The thing about art is that it often takes the world a long time to understand or appreciate it. Some of the greatest films ever made – Citizen Kane, 2001 – weren’t properly respected until years after their theatrical release, and we continue today to see this gap in quality and recognition.

Websites like Rotten Tomatoes can be a handy tool, and more often than not, they do provide a decent indicator of a film’s quality, but by no means is a movie’s score on such sites a definitive gauge of its artistic value. The following ten movies have “rotten” scores on Rotten Tomatoes, yet have managed to prove themselves of greater lasting power and enduring popularity, despite their initial poor reviews.


10. The Hudsucker Proxy (RT Score: 58%)

The Hudsucker Proxy

The Coen brothers have always had a knack for quirky comedy. Humor lines even the darkest of their films, and some of their most memorable works – Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou? – are straight-up comedies. While The Hudsucker Proxy is admittedly not the brothers’ finest achievement nor most memorable comedy, it is by no means a bad film, and is in fact quite a good one.

One issue that many critics took with the movie was that its emphasis on style and production design outweighed the character development and ability to get invested in the story. What many of the detractors failed to acknowledge however, is the film’s hilarious satirical elements, visual inventiveness and quirky storytelling elements, which actually add up to equal a well-made, old-fashioned and purely Coen-esque piece.


9. To the Wonder (RT Score: 45%)

To the Wonder

Coming off of the sensational The Tree of Life, expectations had never been more lofty for a Terrence Malick film. Many critics and cinephiles alike acclaimed Tree of Life to be a cinematic masterpiece, and many were left disappointed and underwhelmed by his follow-up, To the Wonder. Simply not as ambitious its predecessor, To the Wonder muses on love and faith, but puts its characters and plot secondhand to the photography and atmosphere more-so than any Malick film to come before it.

More of an evocation of emotion and an attempt to film pure feeling than an actual story, there is a lot to appreciate in this movie despite its highly divisive nature. To say that the work of Terrence Malick is polarizing would be an understatement. Even his most acclaimed works have many detractors, and when it comes to a movie like To the Wonder, it’s simply for fans only.

Those who appreciate and find meaning in his style will most likely get a lot out of this film, and those that don’t definitely will not. Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography is eye-meltingly gorgeous, and if there’s one aspect of To the Wonder that everyone can agree on, it’s certainly that. Even if it doesn’t feature the cosmic epicness of The Tree of Life, this is a deeply felt, poetic and beautiful movie that didn’t deserve the critical hostility which it received.


8. Mallrats (RT Score: 55%)


Kevin Smith’s sophomore feature lead many critics to scoff at its immaturity and lack of tonal differentiation from Clerks, but twenty years later the film has found its audience, and has garnered a fan-favorite status among Smith’s following. In many ways, Mallrats is something of a Clerks with a higher budget – it features geeky characters engaging in long-winded tirades concerning comics and movies who are simultaneously trying to work themselves out of, or into, romantic entanglements.

However, Mallrats offers more as far as environment, as its mall setting makes for no end of comedic moments, as well as a great backdrop for the ever-present Jay and Silent Bob. Sure, the bigger-production occasionally feels overbearing with the unnecessarily plot-driven last act, but this addition to the ViewAskewniverse is charming, great fun and highly watchable nonetheless.


7. Lost Highway (RT Score: 43% from top critics; only recently went from 59% to 60% from all critics)

Lost Highway (1997)

David Lynch had a streak of films in the nineties which received mixed reactions – Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me and Lost Highway are movies that are only now starting to gather the real respect they deserve. It’s not hard to understand why a movie like Lost Highway would turn off viewers; its seemingly impenetrable qualities introduced the “dream logic” structural style, an experimental narrative technique Lynch would go on to further explore (to more positive critical opinion) with Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire.

This is a film which requires multiple viewings to begin to comprehend, and an appreciation for surrealism to love. An eerie, nightmarish noir, Lost Highway is one of the director’s most hair-raising pieces puzzles.


6. Marie Antoinette (RT Score: 55%)

Marie Antoinette

Sophia Coppola’s dazzlingly cinematic take on the infamous queen of France during the French revolution premiered to mediocre reviews and generally underwhelming reception. Following Sophia’s breakthrough into the echelons of highly respected twenty-first century filmmakers via Lost in Translation, many were let down by the lack of substance and hyper-stylization which Marie Antoinette appeared to drown in.

On a closer look however, the lavish period piece with a modern soundtrack is one of the director’s finest, boldest films. Coppola was more successful than given credit for in distancing herself from the poetic, meditative pacing of The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation; Marie Antoinette is a whole lot of fun, and as far as period drama and historical biopics, it’s one of the more tonally unique to come along this century.

Pairing the pitch-perfect performance of Kirsten Dunst with the opulent production and costume design, Marie Antoinette cares not for historical accuracy or deep meaning, opting instead for taking the viewer on a wildly colorful, entertaining and unexpected ride.