Posted on Thursday, May 8th, 2014 by Angie Han
Put any two movie lovers in a room together, and they’ll be able to argue ’til the cows come home about which films are the most over- or underrated. Everyone seems to have an opinion, and no one ever seems to quite agree.
But now one guy is trying to offer as definitive an answer as possible by bringing actual data into the equation. Using Rotten Tomato ratings and IMDb user scores, he’s come up with a list of films with the greatest divide between critical opinion and general audience reception. Hit the jump to read his findings on the most overrated and underrated movies.
Benjamin Moore created a program to compare films’ Rotten Tomato ratings (representing critical consensus) and IMDb scores (representing public opinion). He looked at over 1,200 pictures for his original analysis, and then about 1,400 more for a later update.
For the most part, he found that — despite all those stereotypes about critics being out of touch with the common man — professional reviewers and paying audience members mostly agreed on which films were good and bad.
But as you can see above, there were a few outliers. Here are the most underrated films, according to his data:
And the most overrated:
Apparently, critics are really big fans of the Spy Kids franchise. Who knew?
Some of the differences are easier to explain than others. Greenberg, with its prickly protagonist and film festival bona fides, seems like the very stereotype of a movie that delights critics but leaves audiences cold. On the flip side, Facing the Giants is an overtly Christian film. People outside the target demographic probably never even saw it to begin with, and therefore didn’t review the film on its IMDb page.
Which, of course, is one of the issues with Moore’s analysis. There’s no guarantee that the IMDb voters are representative of the moviegoing population as a whole. Moreover, Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t differentiate between glowing reviews and mildly positive ones. A brilliant-but-flawed film that polarizes critics and a mediocre one that draws lots of lukewarm reviews could wind up with the exact same score.
Then there’s the question of what “underrated” and “overrated” really mean in the first place, and whether those are meaningful ways to describe a film. But that’s a whole other conversation.
For now, click here for a more in-depth explanation of Moore’s process, or click on the image below to get to the interactive version of his chart.