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)

  • Jordan Henderson  

    You're missing Bladerunner from this list. The critics didn't care for it, or were lukewarm to it, on release, but it's clearly a classic today.

  • jp  

    by far the best example for this list is fight club. i remember the critics slammed it and the masses loved it. and what is with you people hating on there will be blood? can you not follow a good story or do you need something to blow up every 2 minutes with eddie murphy in yet another fat suit and adam sandler going doodleydoodledoo all the way through it? and yes the dark knight, although it is by far the best batman movie (which is not saying much), is very overrated too. the critics praised it way too much just because heath ledger died and totally ignored christian bales awful batman voice that he is using in all movies now. and while were at it i'll throw in 2 more overrated movies that got good reviews just because of the subject matter and nobody paid attention that the movie actually sucked was brokeback mountain (because it dealt with manly homo love) and crash (because it dealt with racism). hollywood critics are so predictable and so are todays dumbed-down masses.

  • Owen  

    Groundhog's Day! That is probably the most under-appreciated movie of all time. The critics may not have hated it like some of these other movies, but it is much better than they gave it credit for at the time.

  • Alan  

    @ Ha, haha, hahahahaha so what? It's not like I am the only one who liked that movie for those reasons...who cares? Besides that it was a good movie nonetheless...so you are the one in the wrong. Congratulations

    @ Anonymous and here you come back again...too much of a wuss to put your real name on here...first of all. And no I have better things to do with my time believe it or not...you just didn't like what I had to say. Well cry me a river. Lol, all that stuff you said about the Big Mac and the basement...okay I am quite sure that is a cover-up for your own guilty conscience about doing those things...who knows though really. Who the hell cares. You can say I am wrong because you think I am awful...doesn't change the fact that I am right. And I don't hear a majority agreeing with you so the "widely acceptable" statemtent doesn't even hold. Only idiots say that Avatar was overrated...someone always has to say that when a movie does really well...they have to find some stupid flaw. So it has a similar storyline to other movies...what movie doesn't you dumbass. Every movie borrows something from some other movie. Seriously kid you are flat out pathetic but I do find it hilarious about how much you have to cry about how "awful" I am. Megan Fox is fine as hell (majority agrees) Avatar is badass (majority agrees) Transformers 2 is badass (majority agrees except for the critics and crybabies...and they don't count). So...take that.

  • dangin  

    The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. Great supporting cast, Lauren Holly is smokin hot in this. A few bad lines, but all in all...hysterical.

  • AB  

    Predator is not a good film by any standard. The characters are all unlikable. The soundtrack is typical awful 80s synth that doesn't stand out from any other action film of the era. I can't shake the feeling that they just borrowed elements from other popular movies to make this. Jungle from Rambo, an Alien from Aliens and Arnie because Terminator is popular. There is not much suspense in the fact that a creature is looking at you from far away in gaudy colors for heat vision. Why does it stop being invisible? If it has a gun, why does it bother for close combat? The why it's good factor on Predator doesn't make it "good" as much as it makes it an odd curiosity.

  • Philippe J. Kogler  

    GLADIATOR and KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

  • Ira  

    Always though Freddie Got Fingered was brilliant.

  • Anonymous  

    JESUS CHRIST, ALAN. Seriously. Do you live off of telling other people they suck? Actually, I shouldn't be complaining. It's nice that you decided to put down the Big Mac and crawl out from your mother's basement while you masturbate to Transformers 2. I'm not telling anyone they're wrong (except you, because you're just awful), just giving my OPINION (widely accepted one at that) about the utter awfulness of Transformers 2. Oh. And Avatar WAS overrated. "Dances with Wolves" meets "Pocahontas" in space. Visuals were cool. Story was crap. Script was worse ("I.......see you.". Acting pretty awful. So take that.

  • Randy0984  

    Cabin Boy? Really? OH I get it.... you threw that one in to get a reaction! Ah... you want people to write saying, "How could you?" or "Are you out of your f**king mind?" David Letterman's line "Do you wanna buy a monkey" was like when a drowning man is nearly finished, gets a single breath to live a few seconds longer before he realizes he's doomed to drown in the worst movie (maybe just behind Battlefield Earth) of all time. Chris Elliot is bad in nearly everything he does, but this was by far his crowning achievement. The stinker of all stinkers... the only thing that would have made it better is if he'd been drawn and quartered.

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