I’m Throwing Tomatoes At Rotten Tomatoes

Who among us hasn’t cited an RT percentage when trying to convince someone to see a movie?  It’s easy and fast and has a good reputation.  But two movies this year have exposed the flaw in the RT methodology: Ladybird (of the famous 100% rating) and Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi (of the 94% rating).

When I think of a 94%, I think a movie is 6% points away from being a perfect movie.  That’s the impression I get.  But the actual rotten tomatoes algorithm is a far different thing.  Let’s say there are 100 critics and each rates a movie on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 6 or above getting a “fresh” rating.  This isn’t how it works but let’s pretend.  Ladybird, in my opinion, should have gotten about 100 “7.5’s”.  And it should have been rated a 75 (%). It was pretty good but nowhere near perfect and not even great. But unfortunately RT only gives a binary fresh or rotten label to each critic’s review.  So even though no critic gave Ladybird (or can give any movie a perfect 10 score), let alone all 100 critics, it still got a “fresh” rating from each one and thereby gets that magical 100% rating.

This is bullshit of course.  It makes people expect an amazing movie when it is nowhere near amazing. Would RT ever be able to convince critics to rate each movie on a scale of 1 to 10 so they could get a more precise score?  No way.  Critics believe movies are art and they are loathe to reduce their precious reviews to a number system.  And for the most part I agree with them.  There’s so much that goes into what makes a movie “good.”  There’s just not enough nuance in the current model.

For the record, if I were to give a percentage to Episode 8, it would be 82%.

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