17 Times Movie Critics Were Incredibly Wrong About A Movie After Its Release

Sometimes, critics can praise a film at the time of its release, and years later, that same film can be a hated pile of garbage. And sometimes, a film will receive horrible reviews after its release, but somewhere down the line, it becomes a beloved classic. In both instances, the critics’ original reviews were wrong.

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I know reviews are subjective, so they can’t exactly be “wrong” or “right.” But, these critics were wrong, only in the sense that their reviews don’t hold up anymore. Either the movie means something entirely different now due to age/changing viewpoints/society progressing, or critics failed, at the time, to see how audiences could find significant meaning in a film that they thought was trash.


So here are eight highly rated films that turned out to be pretty unwatchable, and nine movies that were critically trashed, but [pushes up glasses] are actually good:

1.Actually, it’s good — Jennifer’s Body (Rotten Tomatoes score: 45%)

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This 2009 feminist horror comedy was panned by critics when it was first released. The inaccurate marketing for the movie made it seem like it was just a vehicle for straight guys to stare at Megan Fox, while in reality, it’s a complex social commentary on the patriarchy. In recent years, audiences have seen the movie for what it really is, and it has garnered new fans and a new appreciation.

20th Century Studios

2.Actually, it’s bad — American Beauty (RT score: 87%)

Ricky saying,

This Oscar-winner was loved by both audiences and critics after its 1999 release. Looking back though, a movie centered around a middle-aged man pining after his 16-year-old daughter’s best friend isn’t the best idea. Plus, it’s hard to watch anything starring Kevin Spacey now. The problematic plot, Spacey’s multiple claims, and the pretentiousness of the “Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can’t take it” scene is enough to leave you with a pit in your stomach and a bad taste in your mouth.


3.Actually, it’s good — Scooby-Doo (RT score: 32%)

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When a live-action version of Scooby-Doo was released in 2002, critics called it “tired” and full of “lame jokes.” It was even nominated for two Razzie awards. But over the years, the film has gained quite a bit of a cult followingespecially as the writer, James Gunn, gains more acclaim as a filmmaker, and it’s now considered to be classic.

Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

4.Actually, it’s bad — Love Actually (RT score: 64%)

A woman saying,

After its 2003 release, critics praised Love Actually for its wit and charm. Audiences agreed, and it quickly became a Christmas classic. Over the past few years, however, people have pointed out some glaring issues with the film. There’s stalking (masquerading as love), blatant fat-shaming, and multiple inappropriate employer/employee romances.

Universal Pictures

5.Actually, it’s good — National Treasure (RT score: 46%)

Nic Cage's character saying,

At the time of its release, critics called National Treasure a “pedestrian ripoff of Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and thought Nic Cage’s performance was boring (uh, were we all watching the same movie?). But audiences, on the other hand, locked to see it. Its bad reviews clearly don’t hold up today, as it’s become a truly beloved Disney movie and an absolutely classic adventure film!


6.Actually, it’s bad — Forrest Gump (RT score: 71%)

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In 1995, Forrest Gump won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Since its release, it has been on countless “Best of” lists, and is even #76 on AFI’s “100 Greatest American Films of All Timelist. But not long after the movie received its accolades, people began criticizing Forrest Gump for simplifying and whitewashing important moments in history, its portrayal of Black people and women, and overtly pandering to its audience.

Paramount Pictures Studios

7.Actually, it’s good — Josie and the Pussycats (RT score: 53%)

Tara Reid, Rachael Leigh Cook, and Rosario Dawson in

It’s pretty funny to me that Roger Ebert claimed that Josie and the Pussycats “ignores bountiful opportunities to be a satire,” when it is, in fact, jam-packed with satire. It pokes fun at the music industry, MTV, record companies, product placement, pop culture in general — I mean, the list goes on. So it really doesn’t matter what the critics said when it came out, because it’s a HUUUGE classic now and more relevant than ever.

Universal Pictures

8.Actually, it’s bad — Crash (RT score: 74%)

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Crash won three Oscars in 2006, including Best Picture. Yes, there was backlash from this, but mostly because people preferred Brokeback Mountain. But, the fact is, critics still loved the film (even if they favored Brokeback), despite the fact that it’s…problematic, to say the least.

After its Oscar wins, people started calling out Crash for its ignorant understanding of racism, and it quickly became the “worst movie of the decade.”


9.Actually, it’s good — Hocus Pocus (RT score: 39%)

Kathy Najimy, Bette Midler, and Sarah Jessica Parker in

Critics in 1993 didn’t like Hocus Pocusnoting that pretty soon, we would find it in the “rental-store bins, or as part of a Halloween ‘Trick or Treat’ package (three bags of candies with Hocus Pocus for $5.95).” First of all, wow that’s cheap. And second of all, it’s been 30 years since this review, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. This movie’s a Halloween staple, it comes back to movie theaters every October, and it’s about to have a sequel.


10.Actually, it’s bad — Green Book (RT score: 77%)

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This Best Picture winner was met with positive reviews after its release. Critics praised it for its “anti-racialist message,” and loved the fact that it’s based on a true story. Green Book does that Hollywood thing of trying to convince us that racism is fixed now. Plus, similar to Crashthe movie only understands racism on a very superficial level.

People, including his familynow believe that Don Shirley, the Black jazz pianist in the film, should have been the focus of the film, rather than his racist driver/bodyguard Tony Vallelonga.

Universal Pictures

11.Actually, it’s good — The Thing (RT score: 83%)

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John Carpenter’s 1982 horror classic The Thing was hated by critics when it was first released. (The RT score is based off of reviews that are primarily from the 2000s). The New York Times called it “instant junk” and a “foolish, depressing, overproduced movie.” My favorite part, though, is when the author says, “There may be a metaphor in all this, but I doubt it.”

Fast-forward and The Thing is *famously* a metaphor for an array of society’s fears (paranoia, epidemics, loss of identity, etc.). It’s now considered one of the greatest horror movies of all time.

Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

12.Actually, it’s bad — Manhattan (RT score: 94%)

Woody Allen and Mariel Hemingway in

In 1979, Woody Allen released Manhattan. Critics loved it, and it’s widely seen as his best movie. But it’s about a 42-year-old man dating a 17-year-old girl. This is gross on its own, but add Allen’s history in the mix, and the film is completely unwatchable.

United Artists

13.Actually, it’s good — Wet Hot American Summer (RT score: 37%)

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In 2001, critics dismissed this film as “silly” and “nearly unwatchableOver the years, however, Wet Hot American Summer has amassed tons of fans, and is now a cult classic. A prequel TV series premiered on Netflix in 2015, followed by a sequel series two years later.

Focus Features

14.Actually, it’s bad — Garden State (RT score: 86%)

Natalie Portman and Zach Braff in

When Garden State was released in 2004, it broke ground for being one of the first indie movies to really break into the mainstream. Critics loved its charm and *quirk*, and they praised Natalie Portman’s performance. Just a few years later, however, film critic Nathan Rabin, coined the term “manic pixie dream girlThough in reference to another movie, people quickly connected the term to Portman’s character. This, along with the fact that *quirk* quickly became passé, people now view Garden State as a pretty pretentious and insufferable movie.

Searchlight Pictures

15th.Actually, it’s good — Venom (RT score: 30%)

Tom Hardy in

When Venom was released in 2018, critics basshed the film, citing it as boring and unfocused. One criticize even said it’s “easily the worst Marvel-affiliated title to hit screens since 2005’s ElektraBut, if you look at Rotten Tomatoesyou can see the audience clearly loves this “fun” and “excitingmovie despite what the critics said. Venom even got a 2021 sequel, with plans for a third installment.

Sony Pictures Release

16.Actually, it’s bad — Gigi (RT score: 87%)

Character saying,

In 1959, this movie musical won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture. But with an opening song like “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” (and lyrics like “Those little eyes/So helpless and appealing”), it was kind of doomed to not age well. It’s now considered the worst best picture winner of all time in many circles.


17.Actually, it’s good — Empire Records (RT score: 29%)

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This 1995 teen comedy was met with negative reviews when it was released. Roger Ebert even called it “a lost cause.” But just like so many other movies on this list, after a few years, people started to really appreciate it. Empire Records has a pretty well-known cast, an incredible soundtrack, and it explores that very specific teenage angst that carries into adulthood. And since audiences can relate to this movie, no matter what decade they’re watching it in, the movie seems just as relevant as ever.

Warner Bros. Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

What other movies did critics get seriously wrong? Sound off in the comments!

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