15 Movies the Critics Got Wrong

While the critical consensus can be a helpful indicator of the overall quality of a given film, there certainly are times when professional reviewers fail to appreciate the merits of a worthy film. We asked frequent Metacritic contributor Nick Hyman to dig through Metacritic's vast film database and select 15 poorly-reviewed movies (with Metascores of 39 or below) that are better than their scores would indicate. His picks are listed below, in alphabetical order.

Not so bad after all

Poor critical reviews are often justified, but sometimes a film is too unique, left-of-center, or just ahead of its time to convince critics of its merits. At other times, a terrible film succeeds despite itself. Here are a few of these low-rated flicks that have overcome bad press and sometimes worse scripts or direction.

15 (+ 1) Low-Scoring Movies Worth Seeking Out
Movie Netflix Year Metascore Users
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective 1994 37 8.2

Jim Carrey became a superstar for his all-in, rubber-faced, butt-cheek-talking performance of the titular character, who helps the animal woes of the likes of Courtney Cox, Sean Young, and Dan Marino.

Why it's good: Carrey’s hilariously manic energy as Ventura matched that of his In Living Color characters Fire Marshall Bill and Vera de Milo. Alllllllrighty then!

U.S. Gross: $72M
But I'm A Cheerleader 2000 39 9.6

Natasha Lyonne stars in this light and frothy comedy about a teenager who is sent to rehab for being a lesbian.

Why it's good: Critics who balked at the queer and campy film completely missed the deadpan charm exhibited by not only Lyonne but also co-stars Michelle Williams, Cathy Moriarty, Bud Cort, Mink Stole, RuPaul, Melanie Lynskey, and Clea DuVall.

U.S. Gross: $2M
Cabin Boy 1994 21 6.9

From David Letterman’s cameo to Chris Elliott’s daffy lead performance as the fancy Nathaniel Mayweather, the aquatic fantasy comedy is a uniquely hilarious adventure.

Why it's good: Director and co-writer Adam Resnick worked with Elliott on Late Night with David Letterman and short-lived series Get A Life and their singular brand of comedy carries over to the big screen. Appearances by Andy Richter (as Kenny), Alfred Molina, and Russ Tam add to the fun. “You wanna buy a monkey?”

U.S. Gross: $4M
Clue 1985 36 8.5

This murder mystery ensemble comedy starring Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Martin Mull, Christopher Lloyd, and other ’80s comedy staples was based on the popular board game.

Why it's good: In a clever conceit, the film had three different endings depending on what theater you saw it in (all endings are available on DVD). Pitch-perfect camp, including groan-inducing one-liners and sight gags, make this film an ideal midnight movie. There’s also talk of a remake.

U.S. Gross: $15M
Final Destination 2000 36 7.2
Final Destination 2 2003 38 6.6

Attractive youngsters who unwittingly escaped a gory end are eventually hunted down by Death in entertainingly complex ways. Former X-Files writers/producers James Wong and Glen Morgan kicked off a franchise that had no discernable villain but fate itself.

Why it's good: The elaborate suspense/action set pieces from the first two films are more impressive than most, in particular the intricately crafted highway scene that opens the second film.

U.S. Gross:
(1st/2nd)
$53M
$47M
Flashdance 1983 35 3.0

Pittsburgh welder Alex (Jennifer Beals) pursues her dream to be a dancer while dealing with her dramatic friends and suitor Nick (Michael Nouri) in this Adrian Lyne-directed and Simpson/Bruckheimer-produced drama about a “small-town girl on a Saturday night, locking rhythm to the beat of her heart.”

Why it's good: While critics rejected the MTV-esque mixture of slick, sexy images set to slick, sexy music, audiences loved it.

U.S. Gross: $93M
Freddy Got Fingered 2001 13 6.4

Tom Green’s late ’90s MTV success led to a big screen comedy to rule them all. He stars as skateboarder Gord, who is creates his own cartoon show, finds love with a cripple, and torments his father (masterfully played by Rip Torn).

Why it's good: This deeply polarizing film gets major points for railing against the norms of studio comedies, becoming something that’s part gross-out, part insanity, and dare I say part brilliant.

U.S. Gross: $14M
Happy Gilmore 1996 31 9.0

Sandler’s juvenile Happy must trade his love of hockey for golf in order to win a championship to help pay his grandmother’s back taxes.

Why it's good: The film’s supporting cast is its strong suit; Carl Weathers as Happy’s tutor Chubbs and Christopher McDonald as dastardly villain Shooter McGavin are standouts, but Ben Stiller’s evil retirement home manager and Bob Barker playing himself nearly steal the show in what may be Sandler’s best comedy.

U.S. Gross: $39M
Hudson Hawk 1991 20 7.2

Heathers director Michael Lehmann and screenwriter Daniel Waters teamed up once again with this ambitious comedy about a cat burglar forced to steal priceless works by Leonardo Da Vinci.

Why it's good: The over-the–top, cartoonish vibe rubbed many the wrong way, but the film succeeds largely on its own infectious energy and on star Bruce Willis’ charm. Supporting turns by Danny Aiello and especially Richard E. Grant and Sandra Bernhard as tongue-lashing villains help turn a star's pet project into an entertaining ride.

U.S. Gross: $17M
The Outsiders 1983 38 7.3

Francis Ford Coppola adapted the S.E. Hinton novel in this teen drama about the conflict between two groups of ’60s Tulsa youth, the well-to-do socs and the wrong-side-of-the tracks greasers.

Why it's good: The melodramatic art film’s future-star-laden cast includes C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Diane Lane, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, and Tom Cruise. Enough said? Stay gold, Ponyboy.

U.S. Gross: $26M
Predator 1987 36 8.5

Take one part Arnold Schwarzenegger, one part Alien, and a dash of The Most Dangerous Game, and you have Predator, a clever and suspenseful tale of a human trophy-hunting alien invader.

Why it's good: Critics had had enough of the omnipresent Arnold in the late ’80s, but he’s in classic alpha male form here, along with fellow future governor Jesse Ventura and the amazing Carl Weathers.

U.S. Gross: $60M
Scrooged 1988 38 9.5

Bill Murray’s selfish television exec Frank Cross gets a wake-up call when he’s visited by three ghosts in director Richard Donner’s ’80s take on the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol.

Why it's good: The sly Hollywood behind-the-scenes setting was ahead of its time, and supporting performances by Karen Allen, Carol Kane, Bobcat Goldthwait, Alfre Woodard, and David Johansen are both hilarious and heartfelt. Critics should have put a little love in their hearts.

U.S. Gross: $60M
Speed Racer 2008 37 7.8

The Wachowski brothers followed up their much-maligned Matrix sequels with the even more maligned adaptation of Japanese anime series Speed Racer.

Why it's good: The hyper-cartoonish style of the film -- balked at by some -- was deliberate. While the film is a tad too long, its masterful opening backstory sequence, a standout performance by star Emile Hirsch, and great turns by John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Matthew Fox, and Christina Ricci make Speed Racer a cult film in the making. 

U.S. Gross: $44M
Summer School 1987 27 8.8

Carl Reiner directed this absurd ’80s comedy about a coach forced to teach a rag-tag bunch of kids in summer school. Mark Harmon starred as the affable Mr. Shoop and his fellow teacher Ms. Bishop was played by a shoulder-padded Kirstie Alley.

Why it's good: The now-beloved, superbly executed music montages, plus horror film and Fangoria magazine worshippers Chainsaw and Dave (Dean Cameron, Gary Riley) have earned the film many fans over the years.

U.S. Gross: $36M
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me 1992 28 8.3

After the all-too-soon cancellation of his TV series Twin Peaks, David Lynch created an R-rated big screen prequel that showed the last seven days of series icon Laura Palmer, turning down the quirk and amping up the horror.

Why it's good: This descent into high-school hell is a tragically phantasmagoric epic that contains an extreme performance by Sheryl Lee as the doomed homecoming queen.

U.S. Gross: $4M

What do you think?

Are there any poorly-reviewed movies that you have wound up enjoying? Does anyone agree with our selections above? Let us know in the comments section below.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (234)

  • Mr. X  

    I too support Kung Pow being on a list like this. That movie is a riot.

  • Dave  

    Don't know why people are saying Fight Club, as it has a 66 on here and definitely has the cult following. An underrated comedy IMO is 50 First Dates, one of my all time favorites. Ace Ventura, Happy Gilmore, and Scrooged are all classic comedies as well. I am gonna have to see Speed Racer after all of the talk about it on here.

  • Chris G  

    Sorry but the critics were defintely right on Ace Ventura and Freddy Got Fingered. Absolutely atrocious films. I would say these are basically 14 films the critics got right and metacritic voters got wrong, and 1 film the critics got wrong which is Predator.

  • Frank Valiente  

    In the early 90's i was heavily addicted to opiates and going through a terrible detox and the only thing that got me through that the darkest period of my life was watching the movie Clue five times a day for a month straight. God bless Tim Curry.

  • zvelf  

    This is a horrible list. The only good movies on it are "Predator" and "Twin Peaks," and they are just okay good, not great. The most underrated movies of all time are "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer," "Sex and Lucia," and "Project A, Part II."

  • Marcus Garcia  

    Flash Dance got a lower score from the users. How is it underrated?

  • Bill  

    Hudson Hawk? What are you smoking? That movie was so terrible that my wife and I wanted to leave after 10 minutes, but couldn't, because we were with another couple. Just let me die already, but not sit through this torture again! Worst movie I've ever seen... and don't even try to compare it to 5th Element johnevegas... .

  • Lucent Verner  

    most of those movies are realy awfull, metacritics supposed to be right when rate them so low.

  • Anthony J Langford  

    Good idea for a post. There are other films that didnt do well when they were released , only to be appreciated years late. I was a fan of The Thing long before it became a 'cult classic'. Same with Dawn of the Dead. The same people who gave the poor reviews in the original release change their tune years later. Which goes to prove you shouldnt care too much about reviews.

  • Bernie  

    This just goes to show you that films are simply too subjective to trust anything a critic ever tells you. Many things can be reviewed successfully with a thin layer of bias, but movies are not one. Thank &$&# for user reviews and scores. I hate film critics.

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