How Do You Use Rotten Tomatoes?

I think I may rely on Rotten Tomatoes too much.

In case you don’t know what Rotten Tomatoes is, it’s a movie review consolidator. Basically, if 67 reviewers rate a movie highly and 33 reviewers give it a low rating, the Rotten Tomatoes score is 67%.

I get the vast majority of my movie news and reviews from Slashfilm, because it’s the best (for television too). But over the last few years, I’ve also been checking Rotten Tomatoes at least once a week to see if upcoming releases are any good.

That’s the thing…”to see if upcoming releases are any good.” While I respect what Rotten Tomatoes is trying to do, is their system accurately represent quality? If a movie has an 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, does that mean I’ll be more entertained by it than a movie with a 62% rating? I’m not so sure.

Case in point: Tonight I watched Office Christmas Party, a silly, funny, R-rated comedy. I laughed a lot. It made me happy. I’m glad I watched it.

Office Christmas Party has a 41% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Only 41% of reviewers liked it. Which, when you think about it, is actually quite a few people.

But I don’t think about it. Back in December, I saw 41% and thought, “41%? That’s a failing grade. I’ll wait for the DVD.”

The thing is, Rotten Tomatoes could actually work great if I could see a rating from reviewers I consistently connect with. I’d rather know what those 10 reviewers think rather than 100 reviewers with vastly different tastes. Is there any service that provides that data?

How do you use Rotten Tomatoes (if at all)?


3 Responses to “How Do You Use Rotten Tomatoes?”

  1. JT says:

    As someone who has studied recommender systems, I can say the one big failing is whether the recommendations are from people who have similar tastes to you. I find that most reviewers and critics are less fond of vampire films, mafia films, and far too fond of political films for my liking. Also cyberpunk. It is rare to find a reviewer who likes cyberpunk other than Blade Runner.

    Have you tracked the Rotten Tomatoes score against the score you’d give the film? Have you seen a film and given it a rating before looking up the Rotten Tomatoes score? I’m curious about the JS-RT correlation here.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      That’s a great question. I haven’t tracked it, but I rate all movies I watch on a 5-point scale, so I could feasibly compare the two. I gave Office Christmas Party a 4 (80%).

  2. Sound so Wonderful! I’ll subscribe to that writer and his future
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