'We’re the Millers', a critically thrashed comedy that stars Jennifer Aniston, who, despite never having had an iconic role in any movie or contributed anything besides eye candy in all roles except 'The Good Girl', is still considered an A-List movie star, opened to a decent haul over its opening weekend to the tune of  $26.4 million dollars, according to Rottentomatoes.com.

Despite a 42% rotten score, this is a better-than-expected opening weekend, which leads to the discussion of the finicky nature between comedy movies and reviews.

Another summer comedy, 'Grown Ups 2', had a $41 million dollars opening weekend and a total box office gross of $128 million dollars, according to IMDB.com.  Again, this film was ravaged by critics, receiving a 7%, yes 7, from Rotten Tomatoes.

Comedy and horror films are the genres most unaffected by reviews—people flock to these movies with the hope of one or two good chuckles, which is why Dane Cook was ever considered funny, or a scare.  For years, audiences have cried that critics just don’t understand these genres.  With comedies, this has been so much more true, with movies that have been given less-than-stellar reviews constantly being quoted by people and replayed on stations like TBS, TNT, and Comedy Central.

Many comedy movies that have been trashed by critics have actually turned into staples of the genre. With that in mind, here is a list of ten comedies that got undeserving horrible reviews:

  • Saving Silverman (2001)

    Rotten Tomatoes Score = 18%

    I’ll sign up for any movie that features Jack Black and Steve Zahn, not to mention a cameo from the other half of Tenacious D, Kyle Gass.  This movie came out a few years after American Pie, and people were starting to get the hint that Jason Biggs just ain’t a movie star.  That could explain the scathing reviews it got.  However, watch this gem, and you’ll get some gut-busting moments—the trio’s Neil Diamond’s cover band, the subsequent replacement, the kidnapping scene, Jack Black’s character, JD McNugent, receiving therapy, and a hilarious third act that prominently features Neil Diamond, R. Lee Emery, and a clichéd-but-funny wedding scene.  Comeinayeahhaaaaaaaa!

  • Death to Smoochy (2002)

    Rotten Tomatoes Score = 42%

    Shakespeare, it ain’t, but that’s true about 99% of the crap that society calls art on a daily basis.  But, for those familiar with the career trajectory of Robin Williams, think about this and tell me you don’t instantaneously want to see this movie and like it:  Remember how coked up he was in the movie Popeye?  You do?  Good.  Now multiply that by 1000, and you get the brilliantly demented performance that is his Randolph Smiley.  Couple that with an aww-shucks Edward Norton as the titular Smoochy the Rhino, throw in a dash (and yes, that is a cheap short joke) of Danny DeVito as a corrupt children’s television show agent,  and a great scene involving neo-Nazis, and you have comedy gold. You’re welcome.

  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

    Rotten Tomatoes Score = 45%

    Jim Carrey, we miss you.  We loved you once.  Yeah, you rocked the crap out of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but the rest of your filmography…meh.  In what is definitely a bizarre character, Jim Carrey takes low-brow humor and forced attempts at jokes and makes it all work.  Why?  Because he was once THAT GOOD at being funny.  If you supplanted Jim Carrey with, say, Seth Rogen, this movie does not work…AT ALL.  But because Carrey actually has charisma in spades, he gave the mercurial Sean Young another shot at having a career.  All a person needs to do to know that this is a good movie is watch Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura check himself in to a mental institution.  Watch how much attention Carrey puts in to his performance.

  • She’s Out of My League (2010)

    Rotten Tomatoes Score = 53%

    This movie is better than it has any right to be.  No one expects Jay Baruchel to actually stick around as a leading man.  He’s a funny guy, but he isn’t Cary Grant.  Despite an untraditional male lead and a cast comprised of key members of Cloverfield, this movie has heart and laughs.  TJ Miller steals almost every scene he’s in, and Kyle Bornheimer comes in a close second for this distinction.  Oh, and Krysten Ritter plays the same exact role she's always played.

  • Ladybugs (1992)

    Rotten Tomatoes Score = 14%

    I felt it my duty to include at least one family-friendly comedy.  I am not trying to qualify Ladybugs’ inclusion on the list, but I am offering that as a guide of what to expect when watching this film.  Rodney Dangerfield’s one-liners, while muzzled a bit, are still completely on par, plus the comedic stylings of Jackée (god, you have no idea how long I’ve wanted to write that sentence) makes for a winning team (pun intended).  One scene in particular that stands out is when Dangerfield and Jonathan Brandis are drowning their sorrows—one at a bar, the other at a soda/milkshake shop.

  • Billy Madison (1995)

    Rotten Tomatoes Score = 45%

    Look, I get it --  As I get older, I find things that are immature to be less funny.  But that doesn’t excuse anyone who can’t find the humor in this one.  Adam Sandler’s funniest movie (not his best—see Reign Over Me, Punch-Drunk Love, and The Wedding Singer) has so many hilarious scenes and lines that it’s hard to fathom why critics didn’t get it.  Chris Farley as a bus driver?  Yup!  Got that.  Chris Farley taking off his shirt?  Check.  Adam Sandler yelling at children?  Sign me up.  Oh, and the best answer to anything ever:  “I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

  • Weekend at Bernie’s (1989)

    Rotten Tomatoes Score = 48%

    My father once said, “I don’t understand why the actor who played Bernie Lomax (Terry Kiser) isn’t nominated for an Academy Award.”

  • National Lampoon’s Van Wilder (2002)

    Rotten Tomatoes Score = 18%

    Poor Ryan Reynolds.  All the charisma and looks in the world have not afforded him what should be a truly huge acting career.  He struck out with Deadpool in X:Men:  Origins, fell flat on his face with The Green Lantern, and took a beating with RIPD.  Thankfully, he’s great here as the smarmy, unctuous titular character who refuses to graduate college.  A couple of forced jokes (one character’s dog having huge balls, another character with an unnecessary unibrow, etc) aside, the movie entertains because Reynolds could charm the pants of your 18 year old sister, mother, grandmother, and hell, even your creepy Uncle Joey.

  • Kingpin (1996)

    Rotten Tomatoes Score = 50%

    Woody Harrelson as a one-armed drunk bowler and Randy Quaid as an Amish guy named Ishmael make a hilarious team.  One of the real treats of the movie is the use of Harrelson’s character’s name “Munsen.”  The true star of the movie, though, is Bill Murray as Big Ernie McCracken.  Just remember this one thing about life:  “The world is an incredibly small place when you have unbelievable tits.”

  • Half Baked (1998)

    Rotten Tomatoes Score = 29%

    While Jim Breuer steals the show as the pot-addled Brian, any movie that is written by a comedic genius like Dave Chappelle is enough of an attraction on its own.  With that said, enjoy the hilarious depictions of the different types of potheads.  Laugh your ass off at Brian’s biography of Scarface’s dog, Killer.  Oh, and Harland Williams is put in jail for feeding a diabetic horse.  Inhale that.

    Alex Csedrik is an MFA graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a college professor.  He does stand up comedy and hosts WOW Comedy at The Shannon Bar in Hoboken, NJ.


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