6. August Rush
August Rush came to theaters as a dark horse contender for a Best Picture Oscar, a release around Thanksgiving that could match the heartwarming nature of the holidays. And depending on who you ask, it just might have.
The film centers around an orphan boy who uses his grand musical gifts as signs of finding his birth parents. In the same way Haley Joel Osment was before him or Abigail Breslin after, Freddie Highmore was the child star of the time. This was to be his breakout from one section of his acting career to a more mature one, a movie that was strictly built around him and his talents.
It wasn’t as if his or any of the other performances made the experts growl. In fact, they were one of the few parts of the film that’s at least divided among the critics.
But that couldn’t save the direction of the film itself. For them, this movie doesn’t allow for the emotional drama to properly unfold, doesn’t hold much weight in the category along the way, and then hurries what is supposed to be a powerful ending.
Everything seems like an actual act to them, with all believability out the window thanks to a lot of poorly-written dialogue. It’s all seems so forced, a film that’s as corny as it is unnatural.
But with an 82% audience rating (compared to 37% on Rotten Tomatoes), this is subjectivity at its finest. Between Highmore’s performance, the music in incorporation with the plot, and the imaginative story, the masses were on-board.
7. Super Troopers
There’s no secret to why this movie is loved by the people. Despite the lack of a well-known cast or a proven filmmaker, Super Troopers was a wonderful satire on the law enforcement. It also serves as a source of absurd comedy and clever writing, the best of both worlds in the genre.
At least that’s what the audience thought of it.
Super Troopers involves four Vermont State Troopers who are known to pull some serious shenanigans. But to avoid their station from being cut from the state’s budget, they attempt to bust a drug operation running up to Canada.
While it became a cult comedy under the Broken Lizard team that headed up Beerfest and Club Dread, it’s seen as forgetful by many of those paid to give opinions on it.
They understand if audiences just want crazy hijinks and low-brow comedy, but they’re not necessarily crediting its goofiness either. This movie has been called everything in the neighborhood of predictable, dumb, and uneven. All the amusement audiences seemed to find in it is sucked away in an instant by the contrasting critics.
It may not have been worthy of any award, but 90% of audiences (per Rotten Tomatoes) got plenty enough out of it. While this tomato was patchy, inedible, and flat-out rotten to one group of people, it was worth kicking back to with a beer in-hand for countless others.
8. Man On Fire
It’s hard to find many Denzel Washington movies that aren’t appreciated by cinema fans. Besides being one of the more financially successful R-rated movies at its time of release, Man On Fire’s ranking among fans is higher on IMDb than Training Day is.
Though there’s no doubt what film is really the best out of the two, it just goes to show how much the film was appreciated.
This 2004 crime thriller set in Mexico City involves a CIA operative-turned-bodyguard John Creasy (Washington), who sets out for revenge after the abduction of a young girl he was charged with protecting. The film was first done in 1987, but the result in this version was much more esteemed.
This was mostly because of Washington himself. Also, it was in part to the balance between well-placed action and emotion, a well-paced narrative, and the supporting roles of Dakota Fanning and Christopher Walken.
But on the other end were the critics, who were mostly on board through the first and part of the second act, but saw the film crumble under its own weight in the latter parts. It turns cold, predictable, and too loud, getting caught for its over-flamboyant style and drowning amount of symbolism.
But hey, at least Denzel had 89% of the audience in his corner, and everyone can agree it was better than the original.
9. I Am Sam
Despite Sean Penn being nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars, his performance couldn’t save I Am Sam from the irate reviews it received.
Much of that hate was due to the way the issue in the story seemed easily handled, and the political messages that surrounded it. Critics saw it as a movie with a clear left-wing agenda that was made in by-the-numbers manner. Its message on social acceptance was ham-fisted in a far too sentimental story.
Audiences, meanwhile, were impervious to letting such things effect their experiences with I Am Sam. This story of a mentally-handicapped man trying to raise a daughter is the feel-good movie many hoped it would be. Penn’s character fights to keep custody of his daughter despite the fact she’s beginning to pass him in intelligence at the mere age of 7.
Tugging at the heartstrings of its viewers, the film hit for nearly $100M at the box office while earning an 87% likeability from Rotten Tomatoes users. Penn’s Sam Dawson was someone the crowd loved to root for. His interaction with Dakota Fanning’s Lucy (playing his daughter) and an interesting arc for Michele Pfieffer’s Rita Harrison rounds out a film that hits on its adversity and emotional cues.
At least for the ones buying the popcorn.
10. The Phantom of the Opera
It was boring, it was tensionless, and it lacked the passion that the musical conveyed. That’s what the critics thought of The Phantom of the Opera.
The legendary tale of a disfigured musical prodigy who haunts the Paris Opera was first adapted to the big screen in 1989, and none-to-brilliantly so. Despite being far removed from his Batman and Robin debacle, Joel Schumacher was still being chastised over his comic adaptation seven years later. And things didn’t get much better for the director with the reviews The Phantom of the Opera received.
But as consolation, Opera was not only given positive ratings by moviegoers on popular sites like IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes (84% liked it), but it also treated its budget better than many of Schumacher’s films before it.
The number one aspect that stuck out to audiences was simply the style and extravagance of the visuals themselves. The sets and attire were wonderful to the fans, as was the source soundtrack brought to the screen. On top of that, Emmy Rossum at only 16 years of age brought some seriously golden pipes to such great material.
Though the majority of audiences and critics may never agree on the quality of this adaptation, we all agree that it wasn’t Schumacher’s worst outing.