Overrated movies: A statistical approach

When discussing film quality, people often resort to declaring popular movies overrated and defending their favorites as underrated gems. These are common defenses, especially in the face of critical drubbing or universal acclaim. And sometimes, that makes it hard to figure out if movies were ever actually beloved or hated to begin with.

Intrigued by this notion, informatician Ben Moore has wielded the statistical powers of film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes to create a graph of what movies audiences loved but critics hated (and vice-versa). Moore found that, for the most part, critics and audiences do tend to agree on ratings. But there are notable outliers.

The most statistically underrated films tend to be crude comedies (Grandma’s Boy and Super Troopers) and niche audience programming (such Tyler Perry’s films and evangelical movies). This makes some sense, as mainstream reviewers generally tend to dislike these types of movies. On the other hand, overrated films mostly include prestige dramas (Greenberg) and children’s movies (Babe and Spy Kids). In the case of the latter category, Moore theorizes that children’s opinions are understandably left out Rotten Tomatoes user ratings.

Unfortunately, Moore did not include his complete data set. It would have been fascinating to see which other films flaunted the critical consensus. He does include recommendations for future studies in case anyone wants to try their own hand, but we’re content knowing that there is apparently a sizable audience for Step Up. (Also, who hates Babe? Really?!)

UPDATE: An interactive version of the chart is now available here. Other highlights include audiences enjoying Mulan II but hating 101 Dalmatians II.

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