They say there’s no accounting for taste, and sometimes the divide between the critic and the common person is quite extensive. There is a kind of elitism associated with any kind of criticism whether it’s for art or food or film. People who make a living criticizing other things are often derided when they have an opinion we disagree with but lauded when they have an opinion that we do agree with. It makes it a curious kind of job overall.
No kind of criticism is more popular than film criticism. Back in the day there were only a handful of film critics that rose to prominence, people like Siskel and Ebert. In the age of the internet you could spend a week or more looking through every site dedicated to nothing but film criticism. For all of those critics, there is still a big divide between the movies that they love and the movie the rest of us love. Sometimes critics go crazy over a movie that audiences absolutely hate. Based on Rotten Tomato critic scores versus audience scores, there are some significant gaps over there.
10. Spy Kids
Robert Rodriguez is most known for his action films, things like Desperado and Machete. But Rodriguez is also a family man who has several kids and that inspired him to make a movie that they could enjoy as well. In 2001 he started the Spy Kids franchise, which proved to be incredibly popular. The first Spy Kids movie made over $147 million at the box office. Critics were also big fans of the movie, giving it a score on Rotten Tomatoes of 93% overall. That’s remarkably high for any movie, let alone a children’s action movie.
As popular as Spy Kids was, audiences we’re not quite as in love with it as critics have been. The audience score on Rotten Tomatoes dropped considerably from that 93%, coming in at a much lower 46%. That’s another 47-point difference between audiences and critics.
9. Ad Astra
In 2019, Brad Pitt starred in the dramatic sci-fi film Ad Astra. It’s possible some audiences felt like they got duped by the movie, expecting maybe more of a sci-fi adventure than what they got. The movie ended up being something of a dramatic exploration of the bond between parent and child.
While critics were on board with the human drama and the visuals, a lot of audiences didn’t seem to find the same appreciation for any of those aspects. In a nutshell most audiences just found this one boring. Critics gave the movie an 84% overall, compared to the audience score which was only 40%. That’s one of the largest gaps between audiences at critics you’ll find of any movie on the site.
8. It Comes At Night
It Comes at Night was a psychological horror movie that came out in 2017. The movie relied heavily on implied horror rather than any kind of explicit gore for the most part, and the tension was really what carried this film along for many critics. The result was a Rotten Tomatoes aggregate score of 88%. That’s remarkably high for a horror movie, and few others have managed to reach such heights. Unfortunately, audiences didn’t really feel the scares as much as critics did.
The audience score on Rotten Tomatoes for It Comes at Night is only 44%, half of what the critics score ended up being. A lot of the complaints about this movie seemed to be with how it ended, and also how it was advertised. The ad campaign did lead you to believe that there was something with more teeth relating to the ‘it’ part of It Comes at Night.
7. Hail, Caesar!
You can usually count on the Coen Brothers to deliver a movie that everyone’s going to enjoy. Critics absolutely love their filmography, and in fact they only have two movies that managed to sink to the rotten level in all of the films they’ve directed, which were The Hudsucker Proxy and The Ladykillers. Most of their films score well over 80%. Hail, Caesar! was no different, pulling in a critic score of 85%.
Unfortunately for the Coen brothers and the cast of the movie, audiences weren’t really feeling this one as much as they were on board with past Coen brothers movies like The Big Lebowski. The audience rating for Hail, Caesar! is only 44%. Many of the criticisms lobbed at the movie from audiences directly relate to how the movie kind of feels rushed and disjointed, as though there are a series of unrelated events happening with no consequences related to whatever happened before in the movie.
In the age of Pixar we have come to expect that big-budget animated movies are going to be huge spectacles that include incredible musical numbers, breathtaking artwork, moving voice performances, and a really great story. Animation has really come a long way. That said, sometimes an animated movie comes along that hits the mark with critics a lot more than it does with audiences. Such was the case with the movie Antz back in 1998.
The DreamWorks Studios movie features an all-star voice cast and critics ended up giving it 92% overall. Casual moviegoers were not as enamored with Woody Allen as a talking insect and the average rating for audience scores comes out 40 points lower at 52%.
A lot of audience criticism related to the fact that they felt the movie was a little too advanced for kids, and not interesting enough to hold the attention of adults. It kind of fell in that gray zone where it was really appealing to no one, especially when compared to the film A Bug’s Life, which came out at the same time and was a clear competitor that appealed to audiences much better with a 73% audience score.
5. Nurse Betty
Not many people remember the 2000 movie Nurse Betty starring Renee Zellweger, Chris Rock, and Morgan Freeman. Despite the impressive cast, it seems to have flown under the radar for a lot of people. That said, critics really did take a shine to the movie giving it a rating of 83% overall. That might make you think it’s worth a watch, but keep in mind that the audience rating for this film is 45%. A 38-point disparity makes this one of the more suspect films on the critic aggregator site.
Nurse Betty actually won at the Cannes film festival for having the best screenplay the year that it came out. The mix of overly dark subject matter with comedy didn’t really strike a chord with audiences the same way it did with critics, and the result is kind of a mishmash of views across the board.
It’s rather surprising that critics were as fond of the movie Blockers as they were. To start with, the movie isn’t technically called Blockers. For the sake of being able to advertise it correctly it was called Blockers but most posters and images also include the silhouette of a chicken in front of the word blockers. You can probably guess what popular term that they were attempting to recreate by using that imagery while keeping the name as inoffensive as possible as a result.
As a sort of raunchy sex comedy, this isn’t the movie that most people typically think of critics enjoying. Still, it managed to pull in an 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This kind of film usually plays much better with audiences than it does with critics, so you think the scores would be reversed. In fact, the audience rating for this movie was only 50%.
Critics seemed to really take a shine to the fact that this movie try to flip the sex comedy tropes on its head and focus more on high school girls rather than high school boys looking to get laid. Unfortunately, it used all the same tropes; it just put them on girls and then focused on the parents. Audiences didn’t really take a liking to the story or the acting particularly.
3. The Witch
The Witch came out in 2016 and seemed to usher in what has become an era of more critically admired horror movies. Films like Midsommar, Hereditary, A Quiet Place, and Us have all proven that horror can be intellectual and engaging as well as scary. Critics gave The Witch a 90% rating overall, taking a real liking to this atmospheric period piece that mixes a lot of dread with some very dark imagery.
Not as many audience members were on board with the ideas being presented in The Witch, and the audience score for this movie is only 58%. That’s not terrible, but when you compare it with the overall critic score we’re still looking at a 32-point disparity. Some audience members just found it too boring or too slow to keep their interest.
2. Sausage Party
The fact that critics like 2016’s Sausage Party is a bit of a curveball to the very idea of film criticism. This animated movie featured a great comedic voice cast and detailed the lives of sausages, among the other sentient residents of a supermarket, and what they do during their down time. Not a terrible idea for an animated movie by any means, but the fact that it was also a fairly filthy sex comedy was somewhat surprising. Still, critics were on board with the movie and it’s currently sitting at an impressive 82% on Rotten Tomatoes.
For whatever reason, this movie did not resonate with audiences in nearly the same way. It only managed to pull in a 50% audience rating, which is unusual for a movie featuring the likes of Kristen Wiig and Seth Rogen. It seemed to be that the excessive vulgarity turned a lot of audiences off, perhaps because they just weren’t expecting an animated movie to go as far as this one does.
1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Star Wars fandom is a very weird place to tread into if you’re not already a part of it. Star Wars fans have been passionate about this film series since the 1970s. Forty years of fandom breeds an intense degree of passion. That passion isn’t always in support of their favorite franchise either.
No film in the entire Star Wars pantheon has been more divisive than Star Wars Episode VII: The Last Jedi from 2017. Critics absolutely loved the movie and it has a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the third highest rated Star Wars movie of all-time, just behind A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back.
Audiences did not respond with the same love. The audience score for The Last Jedi on Rotten Tomatoes is a paltry 43%. That makes a 47-point divide between how critics responded to the film and what the audience thought.
If you were on the internet at all after The Last Jedi hit theaters, you may have been aware of the absolute hate and vitriol lobbed at this film. Many fans took issue with what they felt was a liberal bias in the movie. In particular, some of the minority actors in the film were actually harassed so badly they ended up leaving social media altogether — in particular, Kelly Marie Tran was picked out and picked on.
The fact that many feel the criticism levied against The Last Jedi by this subset of so-called fans isn’t valid is another matter entirely. Their responses have forever skewed the way the movie is ranked on sites like Rotten Tomatoes, making it one of the most notably skewed movies when you compare critics versus audience reactions.