Rotten Tomatoes is a wonderful website that aggregates movie reviews. Films whose reviews are at least 60% positive get labeled “fresh,” while those that fall below the 60% mark are “rotten.” It’s a useful tool to get a snapshot of what the professional critics think about any given title. Of course, some people take the Tomatometer rating way too seriously. A few critics have been harassed or even received death threats for “breaking” the Tomatometer by preventing a highly-rated film from having a flawless 100% score. No one should be that obsessed with a film’s rating.
Nonetheless, it’s kind of fun to look at the extremes of the Rotten Tomatoes scale, such as the ones that did earn a perfect score. Or the ones at the opposite end that got a 0%. There are quite a few in that latter category. More than you might think. For this list, we’re looking at movies you might not have expected would score 0%, or come perilously close to it. You wouldn’t necessarily anticipate high critical marks for these titles, but if we asked you to predict what they had earned at Rotten Tomatoes, we bet you’d guess higher than the actual answer.
Here are 15 Movies You Didn’t Know Had 0% On Rotten Tomatoes (And Two That Come Really Close).
15. Getaway – 2%
Getaway is a 2013 action movie about a former race car driver (played by Ethan Hawke) whose wife has been kidnapped. The only way to save her is to follow the instructions of a mysterious phone caller, who puts him through a series of driving challenges. Helping Hawke out is a master computer hacker/failed carjacker (Selena Gomez). The film has an unimpressive 2% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, with only three out of 137 critics liking it.
The surprise here is that car chase movies usually offer some degree of fun, even if they don’t pass the logic test (e.g. making it seem credible that Selena Gomez could be an ace hacker, capable of breaking into any secure system with just a few swipes of an iPad). You’d think that a movie offering up ninety minutes of crashing and auto stunts would earn a little more than 2%. You’d be wrong. And that’s a sign of how incompetent Getaway is.
14. The Master of Disguise – 1%
Dana Carvey became a star on Saturday Night Live, where he created a series of hilarious, offbeat characters, including the Church Lady, dim-witted bodybuilder Hans and, of course, Wayne’s right-hand man Garth. His transition to feature films didn’t go so well. Pictures like Opportunity Knocks and Clean Slate failed to take advantage of his gift for character-based silliness.
The Master of Disguise was supposed to change Carvey’s big-screen fate. He co-wrote the script, which tells the story of Italian waiter Pistachio Disguisey, who uses his skills at transforming himself to fight off a criminal mastermind. The role gave Carvey the chance to don various kooky get-ups and utilize trick voices. It should have been a slam dunk for the comedian, but the film was critically savaged. (“As funny as a seeping wound,“ said The AV Club‘s Keith Phipps.) Out of 103 critics who reviewed it, only one — Prairie Miller of the Long Island Press — gave The Master of Disguise a “fresh” tomato, leading to an embarrassing 1% score.
13. Max Steel
Max Steel opened in October of this year and has a perfect (or should we say imperfect?) 0% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. It’s a family-friendly movie about a teenager, Max McGrath (Ben Winchell), who discovers his body possesses an amazing ability to generate energy. He combines this power with that of an alien named Steel to morph into the titular superhero. Together, they fight evil forces that want to control their skills for predictably nefarious reasons.
One of the charges sometimes leveled against film critics is that they give kids’ movies a “pass.” The theory is that, since some movies are clearly aimed at children, there are always a few professionals who figure, “Eh, kids will like it, even if grown-ups won’t.” There may be a few isolated instances where that is true, but generally speaking, it’s an unfair allegation, and Max Steel is proof of that. Not a single critic gave it a pass on the it-was-made-for-kids scale. Not one.
12. The Disappointments Room
We all like Kate Beckinsale, right? Sure, she’s made a few duds, but she has also starred in some high-quality films (Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator and her collaborations with Whit Stillman, for instance) and some fun mindless popcorn flicks (like Underworld). The Disappointments Room teams her with director D.J. Caruso, whose Disturbia and Eagle Eye had their fair share of fans. The movie is a chiller about a mother and son who discover a secret room in the attic of their new home that contains a horrifying secret.
Chillers are an interesting genre, because what scares one person will do absolutely nothing for the next. Consequently, Rotten Tomatoes scores for such movies tend to be all over the map. There are usually at least a few souls who get shaken up by any given cinematic spook-fest. In the case of The Disappointments Room, though, no one seemed to get the goosebumps from it. The unanimous consensus was that the movie simply didn’t deliver anything worthwhile, despite a director and star who generally know how to execute this sort of thing with some degree of competence.
11. Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas
Once a teen heartthrob thanks to his role on the classic sitcom Growing Pains, Kirk Cameron has transitioned into an entirely different kind of career in the past decade. He now works exclusively in the realm of Christian filmmaking. His 2014 holiday effort Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas finds him cast basically as himself. Cameron tries to help his brother-in-law see that the true meaning of Christmas still exists, despite societal commercialization of the holiday. Good old KC even justifies some secular yuletide traditions by asserting that they actually have a Biblical basis.
Critics didn’t like the movie one bit. Christie Lemire actually compared it to the notoriously incompetent The Room, while Peter Sobczynski of RogerEbert.com said it oddly “seems to flat-out endorse materialism, greed, and outright gluttony.” No one expects Oscar-caliber movies from Kirk Cameron, but the 0% score for Saving Christmas is unexpected, nonetheless. Some of the actor’s other faith-based films scored significantly higher. Fireproof, for instance, has a 40%. In the case of this holiday comedy, even the critics who tend to support Christian-themed movies couldn’t work up any enthusiasm.
10. Jury Duty
Pauly Shore was briefly, inexplicably a big thing in the ’90s. After gaining some attention as an MTV VJ, he jumped to movies with the 1992 Brendan Fraser comedy Encino Man. Three years later, he starred in Jury Duty, the story of an aimless slacker who actually volunteers to serve as a juror on a murder trial so that he’ll be sequestered in a fancy hotel and receive the daily stipend of five dollars. The movie is filled with Shore doing his usual shtick: mugging for the camera, leering at attractive women, and acting like a complete idiot.
At least there are two interesting things about Jury Duty: one is that it marked a fairly early screen appearance from Stanley Tucci — a fact we’re betting he’d like everyone to forget about. The other is the movie’s 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s not a shock that Shore’s movies were always low-rated by critics, but his other pathetic comedies all ranked a little higher. Encino Man had a 16%, Son-in-Law a 22%, In the Army Now a 6%, and Bio-Dome a 5%. That’s right, even Bio-Dome was more critically acclaimed than Jury Duty.
9. It’s Pat: The Movie
On Saturday Night Live, Julia Sweeney created one of the most memorable characters in the show’s history. “Pat” was an androgynous person, and the joke of the sketches was that no one could ever figure out if they were talking to a male or a female. They would try to ask questions or elicit information, only to get an answer that was equally confounding. So popular was Pat that they earned a feature-length film, appropriately titled It’s Pat: The Movie. What worked on TV didn’t translate to the silver screen, though. Released in just 33 theaters, the movie made a whopping lifetime gross of $31,370.
While people may not have been clear on Pat’s gender, there’s no denying that It’s Pat was a disaster, both at the box office and with critics. It ranks as the lowest-rated Saturday Night Live-based movie ever. To put that into perspective, consider that other SNL duds have all gotten into the double digits on the Tomatometer. That includes A Night at the Roxbury (11%), The Ladies Man (11%), Stuart Saves His Family (30%), and Superstar (32%).
8. All I Want For Christmas
All I Want For Christmas, released in 1991, is about a little girl named Hallie (Thora Birch) who goes to visit Santa (Leslie Nielsen) at Macy’s department store. She doesn’t ask for a doll baby, or toys, or a new bike. No, she asks for her divorced parents to get back together. (That’s kind of hard for elves to make in a factory.) Hallie and her brother then set about trying to ruin their mother’s new relationship and make her fall in love with their father again. With a little help from the jolly man in red, their scheme works.
There are lots of great Christmas movies. This one certainly doesn’t stand in the same league as Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, or even Home Alone. It’s not awful, though, unlike most of the other pictures on this list. And even if it’s no masterpiece, All I Want For Christmas remains annual viewing for a lot of people who were kids in the 1990s and remember it with fondness and/or relate to the wish fulfillment element. That makes its goose egg of a Tomatometer score somewhat of a head-scratcher.
7. The Thing With Two Heads
Have you ever seen 1972’s The Thing With Two Heads? If not, you absolutely must. It’s one of the craziest movies ever made. The story concerns a racist white man (played by Ray Milland) who is dying. In a desperate effort to stay alive, he pays to have his head transplanted onto another body. Upon awakening from surgery, he finds that his head is now on the body of a black man (former football star Roosevelt Grier). Even worse, the other guy’s head is there, too. The black man is trying to prove his innocence following a murder charge, meaning the racist guy has to help his new body and co-head on this count.
The Thing With Two Heads is a pretty funny movie. Part of that is intentional, as it plays with the idea of a bigot having to share a body with a target of his hatred. Much of it, however, is unintentional, such as the way the two actors are clearly, and uncomfortably, squeezed into costumes together in order to make it appear that their heads are grafted together. To say the effect is unconvincing would be an understatement. This cult classic is a sterling example of the “so bad, it’s good” school of filmmaking. That it didn’t earn a single positive review on that count is shocking.
6. Pinocchio (2002)
The year was 1997. Italian actor Roberto Benigni directed, co-wrote, and starred in Life is Beautiful, a comedy/drama in which he played a man who used humor to shield his young son from the horrors of the Holocaust taking place around them. Critics raved. Audiences lined up. The following year, Benigni won the Academy Award for Best Actor, walking atop the seats as he made his way to the stage. It was the kind of career “moment” every actor dreams of.
It’s also an example of how far one can fall in show business. Benigni’s next project as a triple-threat was a 2002 live-action version of Pinocchio that cast him in the title role. Whereas just a few years earlier everyone loved him, now they roundly rejected the star. The movie was a huge bomb, earning only $3.6 million at the box office. And the reviews? Well, out of fifty-five critics, not a single one had anything kind to say. Carrie Rickey of the Philadelphia Inquirer summed it up best, dubbing Pinocchio “an epic turkey.” Quite a drop for the man who had once been a critical darling.
5. Shut In
The Black List is an annual survey of Hollywood insiders. They are asked to choose the best unproduced screenplays of the year. After making the list, many of those screenplays are fortunate enough to get turned into movies. Argo, Whiplash, and John Wick are just three of the films spawned from Black List scripts. Another is Shut In, the story of a depressed child psychiatrist caring for her disabled son while trying to locate one of her missing patients.
Despite the pedigree and the casting of acclaimed actress Naomi Watts in the lead role, Shut In somehow wasn’t able to translate what people responded to on the page to the big screen. In fact, critics got creative in trying to describe how lousy the film was. Kimber Myers of the Los Angeles Times, for instance, said the movie “is more effective as a 90-minute commercial for the L.L. Bean aesthetic than as a pseudo-psychological thriller.” Given the initial respect for the screenplay and the talented star, it’s safe to say no one involved with the making of Shut In expected the dreaded 0% Tomatometer score their work ultimately received.
4. Surfer, Dude
Matthew McConaughey has had a fairly golden touch in the past few years, following a lengthy dry spell. Once he decided to stop making dopey romantic-comedies (Failure to Launch, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Fool’s Gold) and get back to making films he cared about, his career was suddenly rejuvenated. These days, his name on a poster usually indicates a measure of quality.
There is, however, one personal movie he made that turned out to be anything but alright, alright, alright. That would be 2008’s Surfer, Dude, which he produced and starred in. McConaughey plays Steve Addington, an expert surfer who undergoes a crisis when waves stop coming. He then has to decide whether to wait for them to return (if they ever do) or sell himself out to corporate America by getting into reality TV and virtual reality video games. For McConaughey, Surfer, Dude was a passion project. For the Hollywood Reporter, it was “a lackluster vanity production.” All of his awful rom-coms scored better with critics than his personal film, which came up empty on Rotten Tomatoes.
3. Mulan II
Disney’s Mulan did very well when it was released in 1998, earning $120 million. Over time, its popularity has held up, and has even grown to the point that a live-action adaptation is planned. People remember the story’s emotion, the great music, and the breathtaking animation. That said, there’s no denying that the Disney folks are always looking for a way to squeeze every last dime possible from their products. Often, this comes in the form of unnecessary straight-to-DVD sequels to their classics.
Mulan II was reviled as Mulan was beloved. Critics used words like “trivial,” “charmless,” and “crap” to describe the sequel, which finds the title character sent on a new mission just as she’s planning her wedding. Clearly, they felt it was nothing more than a cynical cash crab. Incidentally, it’s not the only pointless Disney sequel to hit rock bottom on the Tomatometer. Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas and Kronk’s New Groove also have the dreaded 0%. Perhaps there’s a lesson for the “Mouse House” to learn here.
2. A Thousand Words
A Thousand Words stars Eddie Murphy as Jack McCall, a motor-mouthed literary agent. One day, he discovers a strange tree in his yard. Every time he speaks, a leaf falls off the tree, and he eventually realizes that when they’re all gone, so is he. In order to prevent his own extermination, Jack has to find other ways to communicate with the people around them. The role was designed to showcase Murphy’s gift for physical comedy. There are 54 reviews of the film on Rotten Tomatoes. Not a single one is positive.
The reason you might not have known this film has a 0% is that Murphy has made some pretty high-profile duds in his day. The Golden Child, Meet Dave, and The Adventures of Pluto Nash are chief among them. All of them — as well as Holy Man, Metro, A Vampire in Brooklyn, and Daddy Day Care, for that matter — have scored higher than this movie. If we’d asked you to guess what his lowest-rated movie was, would you have guessed A Thousand Words? We didn’t think so.
1. Police Academy 4-7
This has to be some kind of a record. There are seven Police Academy movies. The first three are “rotten” but at least have some positive reviews thrown in there alongside the pans. The other four — Citizens on Patrol, Assignment Miami Beach, City Under Siege, and Mission to Moscow, respectively — all have a 0% Tomatometer score. That’s right, more than half the entries in this franchise earned zilch from the critics who posted their reviews to Rotten Tomatoes.
The weird thing is that these movies have a degree of popularity. There wouldn’t be seven of them if they didn’t. You’d think at least one critic out there would be a fan. After all, most critics would theoretically give up long before the sixth or seventh entry if they didn’t derive at least a little enjoyment from the silly comedies. Even if the professional reviewers weren’t on board, the makers of the Police Academy franchise can at least take comfort in the fact that former president Bill Clinton is a fan, recently acknowledging that he and daughter Chelsea once binge-watched the entire series.
What’s your take on these movies? Are there any that you would deem fresh? If so, why? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.
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