56 Rotten Movies We Actually Love

Going to bat for movies that go splat!

by | March 26, 2018 | Comments

Because sometimes all you need is a good bad movie, here are 56 that Rotten Tomatoes staff have no problem confessing we love! Yep, we’re going to bat for films that go splat. Everything here is ordered from almost-Fresh to super-Rotten — staff picks of bad movies that we love for different reasons. Some are underappreciated gems, some grew finer with age, and some are simply so bad they’re plain awesome.

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A Knight's Tale (2001) 59%

#1Yeah, we’re cutting it a little close with this one, since it’s just shy of Fresh at 58%, but come on. An up-and-coming Heath Ledger, sporting wispy hair and medieval grime, in an underdog story set in the 14th century with a rock soundtrack? Alan Tudyk as the comic relief? Paul Bettany as Geoffrey Chaucer himself? It might lay the cheese on a bit thick, but a little bit of cheddar goes great with popcorn.

Taken (2008) 60%

#2Taken once, shame on the kidnapper — but then we’re taken on a slick and grimy thrillride through the Parisian underbelly, with Liam Neeson in late-career breakthrough mode as ex-CIA marauder Bryan Mills. Now, Taken twice or that third time, shame on Mills. Maybe you’re just a bad father at some point?

The Mummy (1999) 62%

#3The year is 1999. Ten years after The Last Crusade, and nine years before the next promised Indiana Jones installment. (Legend has it some people are still waiting for it…) In the meanwhile, enter this straight-shootin’ update of the Universal classic with enough fresh faces to keep the adventure new. There’s the put-upon sidekick (John Hannah), a comic adversary (Kevin J. O’Connor), and a brainy love interest (Rachel Weisz). Brendan Fraser doesn’t bring any particular depth to the hero role, but that’s forgivable, especially in light of the recent Mummy reboot.

The Sandlot (1993) 65%

#4Boomer nostalgia for the 1950s and 1960s apparently ran its course with adults by the time The Sandlot came out (“Bring on That ’70s Show!” they cried from their VW Westfalias), but there’s no shortage of ’90s kids who’ve adopted this as a movie mascot of their generation. It’s about the simple joys of a typical childhood: rowdy sports, poolside crushes, neighborhood tall tales, and treehouse s’mores. Detractors criticize Sandlot‘s slack pacing, but those into its rhythm find a movie that feels like a long, carefree dog day of summer.

Return to Oz (1985) 58%

#5For anyone who left The Wizard of Oz disappointed that their kids weren’t quite terrified enough by the flying monkeys, this sequel is for you — seriously, we still have nightmares about “wheelers”. Oz is a far bleaker place in this ’80s fantasy starring Fairuza Balk as Dorothy, a young teen sent by her auntie to a sanitarium to forget all that “nonsense” that (maybe) happened in the original. It’s almost Lynchian at times.

Spaceballs (1987) 52%

#6It’s unfortunate that Spaceballs essentially marks the downward turn of Mel Brooks‘ directorial career, because while it may not reach the heights of The Producers or Young Frankenstein, there is no better Star Wars parody out there, and it’s endlessly quotable. Considering the horrid output of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer in the ensuing years (Date Movie, Epic Movie, etc.), we’ll take the adventures of Lone Starr, Barf, Princess Vespa (she’s Druish), Dot Matrix, and Yogurt any day. May the Schwartz be with you.

Phase IV (1974) 53%

#7Famous for his title treatments and art in collaboration with the likes of Hitchcock and Preminger, Saul Bass directed a single full-length in his lifetime: Phase IV, an eco-terror curio about ants evolving into possible enslavers of mankind. The snail’s pace sinks the movie for most viewers, but there’s moments of genuine sci-fi spookiness and a memorable psychedelic ending. Put this on an evening double feature with THX-1138.

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004) 57%

#8The Wes Anderson movie that feels the most labored and heavy: apparently, it’s a nightmare shooting at sea, or when given excessive freedom at Cinecitta, the Rome studio of Federico Fellini fame. The Life Aquatic overcompensates for its narrative drift, which means once all formal film expectations are thrown out, you get to luxuriate in the movie’s visual design, punk soundtrack, and relentless insistence to turn Bill Murray into a maritime fashion icon.

Deep Blue Sea (1999) 60%

#9Before he famously battled motherf—ing snakes on mother—ing planes, Samuel L. Jackson battled genetically enhanced megasharks in a sprawling underwater research facility. And, in one of the greatest “Holy S—!” deaths of 1990s cinema, he lost. That scene alone is enough to recommend this Renny Harlin B-movie gem, but that wouldn’t be doing justice to LL Cool J’s wise-cracking chef or a steely Saffron Burrows, who holds an improbably straight face right up to the last bite-y shock.

Step Brothers (2008) 55%

#10This movie probably gets quoted more than any other around the office. It’s got endless one-liners and occasionally perfect punchlines from Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, playing literal manchildren, at the top of their comedy game, not to mention revitalizing the economy of war-torn Catalina Island.

Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995) 59%

#11Within culture at-large, who would consider the second Die Hard movie better than the third? If Die Hard 2 were a sentient, self-conscious being, it’d probably offer to switch its Fresh rating with Vengeance‘s Rotten rating. After all, in Vengeance we finally get to see John McClane in his natural setting — New York — rushing from street to subway to take down a sadistic bomber, with a roped-in Samuel L. Jackson at his sardonic best.

The Fountain (2006) 53%

#12Three visually interconnected love stories told across 1,500 years, out of chronological order, starring (across all eras) Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman, who at one point transforms into a tree. All in 96 minutes. Impressive. If, uh, confusing.

Tron: Legacy (2010) 51%

#13The dialogue is lousy and so is the characterization (why turn Kevin Flynn into The Dude, exactly?), but the special effects are immaculate, especially paired with a soundtrack that’s literally a dream come true: Daft Punk created the score before seeing the visuals, basing it off of childhood memories of watching the original TRON. Hmm: Good premise with incredible audio/visuals and, ultimately, vaguely disappointing? Yep, it’s a TRON movie.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) 52%

#14We can all relate to the desire to get away from our real-world problems and imagine a universe in which we’re heroes. And sometimes, it’s OK if a movie does that for us, even if it’s a little saccharine. Ben Stiller‘s adaptation of James Thurber’s fantastical adventure has such a sweet optimism at its core, and it’s so beautifully shot, that it’s hard not to come away from it feeling a little warmer and fuzzier inside.

The Last Dragon (1985) 61%

#15The Last Dragon is admittedly goofy and outdated, but what its naysayers may not understand is that’s part of what makes it so charming. A hero named Bruce Leroy and a baddie who calls himself Sho’Nuff, the Shogun of Harlem? A Motown soundtrack that features Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, and a top-10 hit from DeBarge? This is a cheesy camp classic absolutely steeped in the 1980s that preaches a positive message and never takes itself too seriously. If you can’t get with that, you can kiss my Converse.

Super (2010) 50%

#16Before he went intergalactic with Guardians of the Galaxy, director James Gunn took a stab at the superhero genre from a decidedly more earthbound perspective, exploring what it would be like if an everyday Joe — or Frank, in this case — decided to throw on a costume and fight crime. The result was this oddball comedy that ultimately put off a lot of critics who weren’t prepared for its surprisingly dark turns and jarring tonal shifts. Still it’s a treat for anyone who, like the folks at Marvel, saw the potential in Gunn to wrangle his off-kilter sensibilities for box office gold.

Miami Vice (2006) 47%

#17An art film disguised as action flick, Miami Vice was a box office bomb, rejected by audiences who expected a pastel-hued nostalgia trip from Michael Mann. Instead it’s an inky black, intense mood piece underscored with the male soap operatic tone that permeates heat. Admittedly, at times the dialogue is incomprehensible, and the narrative thread is barely there, meandering from white supremacist raids to clubbing in Cuba, but these are also the flaws that make Miami Vice gloriously entertaining. We encourage you to shake up some mojitos and take it to the limit one more time.

Three Amigos! (1986) 45%

#181986’s hottest comedy has everything: Steve Martin, an invisible swordsman, Chevy Chase, Chevy Chase killing an invisible swordsman, a gunslinging German pilot, a piñata, Chevy Chase getting stuck in a piñata, a rousing rendition of “My Little Buttercup,” a singing bush voiced by Randy Newman, hip thrusts, and Martin Short. Is it juvenile? Yes. Is it hilarious? Also yes.

Ravenous (1999) 52%

#19A slice of biting, mordant horror. Guy Pearce stars as a disgraced 19th century Army soldier banished to the High Sierras, where he’s greeted by more military with tales of a Wendigo nearby feeding on humans. The setting is the last place one expects ’90s snark and attitude, but here we are — this is a movie as funny as it is bloody.

National Treasure (2004) 46%

#20Before the Indiana Jones franchise was revived in 2008, and after we had already gotten two underwhelming Tomb Raider movies, Nicolas Cage came along to fill the globe-trotting explorer-cum-action star void. We know the story is preposterous, but it’s got Sean Bean in his best villain mode, Harvey Keitel and Jon Voight oozing gravitas, a conspiracy theory-fueled scavenger hunt, and for crying out loud, Cage’s character is named Benjamin Franklin Gates. It’s all ridiculous, but it’s just breezy and whimsical enough to be fun.

St. Elmo's Fire (1985) 42%

#21Yes, it’s vacuous and very, very ’80s, and no, it’s not quite The Breakfast Club all-grown-up that many hoped it might be. But this Joel Schumacher flick has style for days and fun performances from the Brat Pack at the peak of its powers. Think of it as a time capsule.

Tommy Boy (1995) 40%

#22Fat guy in a little coat…fat guy in a little coat… What more needs to be said? OK, how about that Tommy Boy, like Chris Farley was himself, is an overpoweringly daft but earnest and sweet road comedy? It’s the best movie Farley and David Spade did together, and we’re trying hard here not to make that sound like a backhanded compliment.

Convoy (1978) 56%

#23 Hypothesis: Smokey and the Bandit and other 1970s trucker movie were like baby boomer Westerns. Think about it: the open country, discovering America, women, and hijinks, whilst running afoul of the local jurisdiction. One of the better of these meathead movies is the absurd Convoy, with its fun characters and fleet stunt work and destruction, all surprising since it was directed by a down-on-his-luck Sam Peckinpah.

Bad Boys (1995) 44%

#24Get an early look at the auteur that would give us Armageddon and 9,000 Transformers movies! Michael Bay, before succumbing to blockbuster histrionics or hacking his films to death in the edit suite, delivered sleek, exciting (and coherent) action films like this and The Rock.

Legend (1985) 41%

#25Tom Cruise may have made his name on Risky Business and Top Gun, but between those two films, the 23-year-old actor costarred in romantic fantasy film Legend with Mia Sara and Tim Curry in a world inhabited by fairies, elves, and unicorns. Curry’s fantastical performance as the demon Darkness rivals that of his Dr. Frank-N-Furter in Rocky Horror.

The First Wives Club (1996) 50%

#26They’re free, and they love to be free, and they don’t care a bit that the critics dubbed their hilarious revenge flick a dud. And neither do we. Seriously, Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton have so much chemistry that we’d watch them read a phone book. Luckily, they’re given a lot more to do than that in this movie about three friends who’ve all been left by their husbands for younger women. They sing, dance, get plastered, dangle from a high-rise, and 22 years later, have us clamoring for a sequel.

Beerfest (2006) 40%

#27Broken Lizard, the team responsible for Super Troopers, is behind this underappreciated comedy about drunk people, made for drunk people, by drunk people (the idea came to the guys at a beer-drinking competition in Australia). You don’t need to drink a boot full of beer before watching this tale of Americans challenging those dastardly Germans for hoppy supremacy, but it helps — and it might have helped the critics who gave it a too sober response.

Hot Rod (2007) 39%

#28Andy Samberg stars as an aimlessly ambitous amateur stunt cyclist who finds purpose in raising $15,000 to cure his cruel stepfather’s illness, then beat him to death. A supremely stupid comedy with an epic scope a la The Jerk or Dumb & Dumber.

Reign of Fire (2002) 42%

#29Before Game of Thrones lit up the small screen with its trio of badass dragons, Reign of Fire featured menacing fire-breathers in a dystopian modern London. The film stars Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, and Gerard Butler — that’s a lot of testosterone assembled to battle dragons. What could go wrong?

Switchblade Romance (2003) 41%

#30The name doesn’t lie: From the moment terror knocks on the door of a provincial French farmhouse, High Tension is tense as hell. Not much actually happens beyond “crazy person stalks girls” – it’s not unlike The Strangers, released the same year — but it is executed spectacularly well by Alejandre Aja, who would go on to direct the remake of The Hills Have Eyes and Piranha 3D. The twist-ending left a bad taste in some critics’ mouths, but it’s not enough to take away from the awesomeness that leads up to it.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) 50%

#31Watching the only non-Michael-Myers film in the Halloween franchise now — with the understanding that Myers is nowhere to be found — reinforces the strength of Season of the WItch‘s foundation as a classic horror film that is possibly even scarier today than during its release. The corporate/technology fear mongering theme is evergreen, and hearing that kiddy theme song is scarier than many of Michael’s attacks in later films.

Man on Fire (2004) 39%

#32Denzel Washington goes ham in Mexico City to get back the girl (a young Dakota Fanning) he was sworn to protect. That’s the entire story. There was no movie plot so basic that Tony Scott couldn’t jazz it up with crazy color grading, fast cuts, hard action, and swirling camera movements.

Equilibrium (2002) 40%

#33A sci-fi film starring Christian Bale dismissed as derivative when it came out in 2002 may now seem prescient in 2018, with the world chipping away at privacy, personal lives on vivid display on social media, and workplaces asking employees to rate their colleagues using software. Have you taken your Prozium today? If not, watch Equilibrium and weep for humanity.

Xanadu (1980) 30%

#34The roller-disco queen of so-bad-they’re-good movies, Xanadu was dismissed as a strange little bubblegum confection at the time of its release. It hasn’t aged well – bubblegum rarely does — but that’s half the fun: Come for the peak Olivia Newton-John, stay for the earworms, costumes, and choreography. The movie also features Gene Kelly in his final big-screen performance.

Space Jam (1996) 43%

#35No way you could name the last memorable Mickey Mouse movie the same way you could for Bugs Bunny. That wascally wabbit traveled up and down the court and into the next cartoon dimension with Space Jam, a glorious time capsule of streetball, hip-hop, James Newton Howard, and pre-crying meme Michael Jordan. He’s seen in this movie pursuing a baseball career, a lazy fictional construct for Hollywood screenwriters.

Saw II (2005) 37%

#36Common knowledge says you can watch the first Saw and be done with the series. But we say Saw II is also worth exposing your vulnerable eyeballs to: It’s got a mighty fine twist, and it was written before the series went up its own a– with convoluted mythology and uninspired character arcs.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) 37%

#37The red-headed stepchild of the franchise is also its dark horse, the riveting tale of a cultural outsider forced to find his place in Tokyo by driving kinda sideways. Or something. We still don’t totally get the mechanics of the “drift”. What we do get is the awesomeness of the Hulk Mobile, the mean green machine owned by Twinkie (Bow Wow), and the chase sequences which, at least by the standards of later series entries, respected the laws of physics.

Beaches (1988) 42%

#38Filed under “chick-flicks-that-make-ya-tick”, Beaches is a tearjerker that works. Even the recent Lifetime remake couldn’t come close to evoking the same feelings as the original. It’s become a jokey reference point for sappy films, but it at least does sappy well. The music and singing are staples to this day (and “Otto Titsling”, people, come on!), and if you watch it with your mother — sorry, guys — you’re gonna cry. And the cast? To die for!

Super Troopers (2001) 36%

#39After cutting their teeth on a super low-budget comedy in 1996, the guys at Broken Lizard clearly figured out their audience: Nothing screams “fan favorite” like a 90% audience score based on over 262,000 votes. Watching Super Troopers is practically a stoner rite of passage meow, and its huge cult popularity has even spawned a sequel 18 years in the making, due out this 4/20 (of course).

Tango & Cash (1989) 31%

#40Stallone put out a lot of respectable garbage at the height of his popularity, almost none more respectable than this fun, brawling team-up with Kurt Russell. The two’s friendly rivalry produces real on-screen chemistry, to the point fans were looking forward to their reunion in the second Guardians of the Galaxy. Imagine the ’80s fanboy disappointment when they didn’t get any screentime together. Maybe the two had a good time reminiscing at the craft table; hopefully someone recorded that.

Wet Hot American Summer (2001) 38%

#41This comedy from the frequently hilarious minds behind sketch comedy show The State is worth watching, if only to see a bunch of stars before they went on to bigger things. We’re talking early Paul Rudd, pre-SNL/Parks and Rec Amy Poehler, pre-Archer/Bob’s Burgers H. Jon Benjamin, and Bradley Cooper in his feature film debut, among others. But it’s also a wacky, nostalgic, and often funny send-up of summer camps of yore, and how many of those are there, really?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991) 36%

#42Another movie we’re not ashamed we can’t detach from childhood memories. The first Ninja Turtles is better in just about every objective way, but there’s something about how this film goes for broke on neutering the violence, a state-of-the-art (for the ’90s) ecological message, and the stupid “Ninja Rap” song that has remained wholesome and watchable through the years.

The Thirteenth Floor (1999) 28%

#43The Thirteenth Floor had the misfortune of coming out the same year as The Matrix. Lacking star power, CGI wizardry, and guns — lots of guns — this movie got ignored as just a reality-bending sci-fi clone. But watching the movie nearly 20 years after the fact, it’s a mildly bold, relatively compelling thriller about peeling away layers of consciousness.

Silent Hill (2006) 32%

#44Like its Konami namesake, the movie is about a mysterious, fog-shrouded town that traps desperate people within its nightmarish streets and decrepit buildings. Its latest victim is played by Radha Mitchell, who’s drawn to the city after her daughter repeatedly calls out for the place while sleepwalking. Up until the new Tomb Raider, this was the most solidly entertaining video game adaptation out there.

Hook (1991) 29%

#45Some movies really work because you see them as a kid, and as much as that’s a detriment, the concept is firing at its finest with Hook. Steven Spielberg, who became a household name on the back of movies featuring absent fathers, reconciled with his real-life dad in the early ’90s and started making redemptive movies during this era. Hook was the first: it’s mawkish but wholly earnest, which can be felt if one grows up with this film. Along the same theme, Spielberg’s next movie, Jurassic Park, features Sam Neill becoming a father figure over the course of the plot.

Jupiter Ascending (2015) 28%

#46Yes, Channing Tatum plays a shirtless space wolf- man. Yes, there’s Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne camping it up like he wants to test the volume control on your TV. Yes, this is the Wachowskis going all-in on ridiculous, world-building, original sci-fi. Wait, what’s not to like (when chemically enhanced with your friends)?

Showgirls (1995) 23%

#47Some bad movies earn so-bad-they’re-good status with age, but Paul Verhoeven’s Vegas shocker earned that notoriety from the moment it was born. Forget everything you knew about Elizabeth Berkley from Saved by the Bell.

Blind Date (1987) 24%

#48Bruce Willis in fine, frantic ’80s form, Kim Basinger making the most of a thankless role, and John Larroquette playing another perfectly unctuous yuppie you love to hate — all topped off with a delightful scene-stealing performance by William “Feeny” Daniels. It’s far from Blake Edwards‘ best, in other words, but there’s a lot to like about Blind Date.

Son-in-Law (1993) 32%

#49The world may not have been ready for Pauly Shore at the time, but in hindsight, his films were the right amount of stupid to keep the crappiness of the real world at bay. Son-In-Law is arguably the funniest of the Shore films. This might be a totally awesome time to kick back and re-watch a tubularly radical dude question things like whether farm chickens are “extra crispy or original recipe.”

Just Go With It (2011) 19%

#50This shenanigans-in-Hawaii comedy is nowhere near as good as the island-set Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which came three years before, but it’s also nowhere near as bad as some of Sandler’s latest Netflix efforts. The movie boasts genuine chemistry between the comedian and co-star Jennifer Aniston, and a hilarious turn by Nicole Kidman in a supporting role. Yes, you heard that right: Kidman and Sandler, together at last.

Judge Dredd (1995) 22%

#51Two years after the Freshly scored Demolition Man — also starring Stallone — Judge Dredd fell victim to harsh comparisons to its comic book source material (and of course the Anthrax song “I Am the Law”). But in a time when comic adaptations were relatively subpar, Judge Dredd served its purpose with no-frills action and an over-the-top premise that — in hindsight — makes it arguably as memorable as Demolition Man and others of the ilk.

Grandma's Boy (2006) 15%

#52A raunchy, ridiculous but overall amiable stoner comedy from Happy Madison. Adam Sandler’s pals Allen Covert and Peter Dante, who we’ve seen hanging around in his past films, take the lead for the first (and only) time, which gives the movie even more of its underdog, unpredictable quality. Toss in attention-grabbing performances by Nick Swardson and Joel Moore, naughty grandmas, a sexy post-Freaks and Geeks Linda Cardellini, and you got a bona fide cult classic.

Encino Man (1992) 14%

#53There is only one way to watch this irresistibly dumb early ’90s relic about a teenager (Sean Astin) who finds a caveman (Fraser) frozen in his backyard and thaws him out for some high-school shenanigans: After way too many Slurpees. Pauly Shore steals the show as Astin’s best friend Stoney, for better or worse, depending on your tolerance for the actor. If that tolerance is high, make it a double feature with Son-In-Law, Bio-Dome or Jury Duty.

Black Knight (2001) 15%

#54For baseball fans, Rob Deer is fondly remembered as the kind of guy who mostly struck out but would occasionally blast a picturesque 500-foot home run. Black Knight is the ultimate Rob Deer movie: batting average isn’t all that high, but when it connects — during a scene in which Martin Lawrence leads a band of troubadours in a stirring rendition of “Dance to the Music,” or when our hero uses a lighter to breathe fire through a knight’s helmet — it just kills.

Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (2002) 13%

#55Remember when Woody Allen took an old Japanese spy movie, redubbed all of the original dialogue, and came up with a nonsensical new storyline? This is like Steve Oedekerk‘s version of that, but with an obscure kung fu flick, and with added scenes that he filmed himself. It’s absolutely inane, and you will not come away from this movie a smarter person — we can pretty much guarantee that — but you will laugh, and you will later criticize yourself for it. Perfect for those of you who like to indulge in a little self-loathing.

Drop Dead Fred (1991) 11%

#56How can you not want to watch Princess Leia and Kate from Gremlins try to ward off Rick from The Young Ones? Maybe Carrie Fisher should have played the lead, and had Robin Williams accepted the role of Drop Dead Fred over his Hook project, it may have fared better. But we still get Rik Mayall as the imaginary friend who returns to kick some childishness back into Phoebe Cates’ soul — and face — and the result is a deliciously dumb comedy that still brings dem guffaws.