When Roger Ebert hated a film, he didn't mince words. Here are 50 movies the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer absolutely loathed (including a couple of surprises that you might very well love), along with his dry assessments of their value (or lack thereof).
1. The Usual Suspects (1995) // 1.5 STARS
"Once again, my comprehension began to slip, and finally I wrote down: 'To the degree that I do understand, I don't care.' It was, however, somewhat reassuring at the end of the movie to discover that I had, after all, understood everything I was intended to understand. It was just that there was less to understand than the movie at first suggests."
2. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) // 1 star
“The whole movie is a failure of taste, tone, and nerve—the waste of a good cast on erratic, offensive material that hasn't been thought through, or maybe even thought about.”
3. Armageddon (1998) // 1 star
“The movie is an assault on the eyes, the ears, the brain, common sense and the human desire to be entertained. No matter what they’re charging to get in, it’s worth more to get out. ... Armageddon reportedly used the services of nine writers. Why did it need any? The dialogue is either shouted one-liners or romantic drivel. ‘It’s gonna blow!’ is used so many times, I wonder if every single writer used it once, and then sat back from his word processor with a contented smile on his face, another day’s work done.”
4. Pink Flamingos (1972) // 0 stars
"John Waters' Pink Flamingos has been restored for its 25th anniversary revival, and with any luck at all that means I won't have to see it again for another 25 years. If I haven't retired by then, I will. ... Note: I am not giving a star rating to Pink Flamingos because stars simply seem not to apply. It should be considered not as a film but as a fact, or perhaps as an object."
5. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) // 1/2 star
“I remembered the movie fantasies when I was a kid. They involved teenagers who fell in love, made out with each other, customized their cars, listened to rock and roll, and were rebels without causes. Neither the kids in those movies nor the kids watching them would have understood a world view in which the primary function of teenagers is to be hacked to death. *This review will suffice for the Friday the 13th film of your choice.”
6. The Brown Bunny (2003) // 0 stars
"I had a colonoscopy once, and they let me watch it on TV. It was more entertaining than The Brown Bunny."
When Vincent Gallo, the movie’s director, responded by mocking Ebert’s weight, Ebert said, “It is true that I am fat, but one day I will be thin, and he will still be the director of The Brown Bunny."
7. Spice World (1997) // 1/2 STAR
"Spice World is obviously intended as a ripoff of A Hard Day's Night, which gave The Beatles to the movies ... the huge difference, of course, is that the Beatles were talented—while, let's face it, the Spice Girls could be duplicated by any five women under the age of 30 standing in line at Dunkin' Donuts."
8. Hocus Pocus (1993) // 1 star
“Of the film’s many problems, the greatest may be that all three witches are thoroughly unpleasant. They don’t have personalities; they have behavior patterns and decibel levels. A good movie inspires the audience to subconsciously ask, ‘Give me more!’ The witches in this one inspired my silent cry, ‘Get me out of here!’”
(What can we say? Ebert was occasionally wrong.)
9. Tommy Boy (1995) // 1 star
"No one is funny in Tommy Boy. There are no memorable lines. None of the characters is interesting, except for the enigmatic figure played by Rob Lowe, who seems to have wandered over from Hamlet. Judging by the evidence on the screen, the movie got a green light before a usable screenplay had been prepared, with everybody reassuring themselves that since they were such funny people, inspiration would overcome them.”
10. The Village (2004) // 1 star
“Eventually the secret of Those, etc., is revealed. It’s a crummy secret, about one step up the ladder of narrative originality from It Was All a Dream. It’s so witless, in fact, that when we do discover the secret, we want to rewind the film so we don’t know the secret anymore. And then keep on rewinding, and rewinding, until we’re back at the beginning, and can get up from our seats and walk backward out of the theater and go down the up escalator and watch the money spring from the cash register into our pockets.”
11. Mad Dog Time (1996) // 0 stars
"Mad Dog Time is the first movie I have seen that does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for the same length of time. Oh, I've seen bad movies before. But they usually made me care about how bad they were. Watching Mad Dog Time is like waiting for the bus in a city where you're not sure they have a bus line ... Mad Dog Time should be cut into free ukulele picks for the poor."
12. Freddy Got Fingered (2001)// 0 stars
"This movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels."
13. Thor (2011) // 1 1/2 stars
“The story might perhaps be adequate for an animated film for children, with Thor, Odin and the others played by piglets. In the arena of movies about comic book superheroes, it is a desolate vastation. Nothing exciting happens, nothing of interest is said, and the special effects evoke not a place or a time but simply special effects.”
14. Charlie's Angels (2000) // 1/2 STAR
“Charlie’s Angels is like the trailer for a video game movie, lacking only the video game, and the movie.”
15. Mannequin (1987) // 1/2 STAR
“A lot of bad movies are fairly throbbing with life. Mannequin is dead. The wake lasts 1 1/2 hours, and then we can leave the theater. Halfway through, I was ready for someone to lead us in reciting the rosary.”
16. Exit To Eden (1994) // 1/2 STAR
“I’m sorry, but I just don’t get Rosie O’Donnell. I’ve seen her in three or four movies now, and she generally had the same effect on me as fingernails on a blackboard. She’s harsh and abrupt and staccato and doesn’t seem to be having any fun. She looks mean. ... What were your first thoughts the first time Rosie turned up in the leather dominatrix uniform? Did you maybe have slight misgivings that you were presiding over one of the more misguided film projects of recent years?”
17. Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo (2005) // 0 STARS
"[The title character] makes a living prostituting himself. How much he charges I'm not sure, but the price is worth it if it keeps him off the streets and out of another movie. Deuce Bigalow is aggressively bad, as if it wants to cause suffering to the audience. The best thing about it is that it runs for only 75 minutes ... Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks."
18. The Love Guru (2008) // 1 star
“[Mike] Myers has some funny moments, but this film could have been written on toilet walls by callow adolescents. Every reference to a human sex organ or process of defecation is not automatically funny simply because it is naughty, but Myers seems to labor under that delusion. He acts as if he’s getting away with something, but in fact all he’s getting away with is selling tickets to a dreary experience.”
19. She's Out Of Control (1989) // 0 stars
“What planet did the makers of this film come from? What assumptions do they have about the purpose and quality of life? I ask because She’s Out of Control is simultaneously so bizarre and so banal that it’s a first: the first movie fabricated entirely from sitcom clichés and plastic lifestyles, without reference to any known plane of reality.”
20. Summer School (1987) // 1/2 STAR
“You see it, you leave the theater, and then it evaporates, leaving just a slight residue, something like a vaguely unpleasant taste in the memory.”
21. Clifford (1994) // 1/2 STAR
“It’s not bad in any usual way. It’s bad in a new way all its own. There is something extraterrestrial about it, as if it’s based on the sense of humor of an alien race with a completely different relationship to the physical universe. The movie is so odd, it’s almost worth seeing just because we’ll never see anything like it again. I hope.”
22. North (1994) // 0 stars
"I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it."
Alan Zweibel wrote this film, and he got a chance to confront Ebert about the review. In a bathroom.
23. 200 Cigarettes (1999)// 1/2 STAR
"Maybe another 200 cigarettes would have helped; coughing would be better than some of this dialogue."
24. Death To Smoochy (2002) // 1/2 STAR
"In all the annals of the movies, few films have been this odd, inexplicable, and unpleasant."
25. Corky Romano (2001) // 1/2 STAR
“Corky Romano is like a dead zone of comedy. The concept is exhausted, the ideas are tired, the physical gags are routine, the story is labored, the actors look like they can barely contain their doubts about the project.”
26. Saving Silverman (2001) // 1/2 STAR
"Saving Silverman is so bad in so many different ways that perhaps you should see it, as an example of the lowest slopes of the bell-shaped curve."
He included a critique of Neil Diamond, who makes a guest appearance in the movie: "As for Neil Diamond, Saving Silverman is his first appearance in a fiction film since The Jazz Singer (1980), and one can only marvel that he waited 20 years to appear in a second film, and found one even worse than his first one."
27. The Jazz Singer (1980) // 1 star
Speaking of Neil Diamond and The Jazz Singer: From rogerebert.com:
"Diamond's whole presence in this movie is offensively narcissistic. His songs are melodramatic, interchangeable, self-aggrandizing groans and anguished shouts, backed protectively by expensive and cloying instrumentation. His dramatic presence also looks over-protected, as if nobody was willing to risk offending him by asking him to seem involved, caring, and engaged. "Diamond plays the whole movie looking at people's third shirt buttons, as if he can't be bothered to meet their eyes and relate with them. It's strange about the Diamond performance: It's not just that he can't act. It's that he sends out creepy vibes. He seems self-absorbed, closed off, grandiose, out of touch with his immediate surroundings."
28. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994) // 1 star
"Most of the people look as if they would rather be in other movies. The movie basically has one joke, which is Ace Ventura's weird nerdy strangeness. If you laugh at this joke, chances are you laugh at Jerry Lewis, too, and I can sympathize with you even if I can't understand you. I found the movie a long, unfunny slog through an impenetrable plot. Kids might like it. Real little kids."
29. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992) // 1/2 STAR
"Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot! is one of those movies so dimwitted, so utterly lacking in even the smallest morsel of redeeming value, that you stare at the screen in stunned disbelief. It is moronic beyond comprehension, an exercise in desperation during which even Sylvester Stallone, a repository of self-confidence, seems to be disheartened."
It should be noted that Stallone pretty much agreed with Ebert's assessment. "I made some truly awful movies," he once stated. "Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."
30. The Dukes Of Hazzard (2005) // 1 star
"Of course you don't have to be smart to get into The Dukes of Hazzard. But people like Willie Nelson and Burt Reynolds should have been smart enough to stay out of it. Here is a lame-brained, outdated wheeze about a couple of good ol' boys who roar around the back roads of the South in the General Lee, their beloved 1969 Dodge Charger. As it happens, I also drove a 1969 Dodge Charger. You could have told them apart because mine did not have a Confederate flag painted on the roof."
31. Godzilla (1998) // 1.5 STARS
"Going to see Godzilla at the Palais of the Cannes Film Festival is like attending a satanic ritual in St. Peter's Basilica. It's a rebuke to the faith that the building represents. Cannes touchingly adheres to a belief that film can be intelligent, moving and grand. Godzilla is a big, ugly, ungainly device to give teenagers the impression they are seeing a movie."
32. The Bucket List (2007) // 1 star
"The Bucket List is a movie about two old codgers who are nothing like people, both suffering from cancer that is nothing like cancer, and setting off on adventures that are nothing like possible. I urgently advise hospitals: Do not make the DVD available to your patients; there may be an outbreak of bedpans thrown at TV screens."
33. Dirty Love (2005) // 0 STARs
"I would like to say more, but—no, I wouldn't. I would not like to say more. I would like to say less. On the basis of Dirty Love, I am not certain that anyone involved has ever seen a movie, or knows what one is."
34. Battlefield Earth (2000) // 1/2 STAR
"This movie is awful in so many different ways. Even the opening titles are cheesy. Sci-fi epics usually begin with a stab at impressive titles, but this one just displays green letters on the screen in a type font that came with my Macintosh. Then the movie's subtitle unscrolls from left to right in the kind of 'effect' you see in home movies."
35. The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas (2000) // 1/2 STAR
"This is an ideal first movie for infants, who can enjoy the bright colors on the screen and wave their tiny hands to the music."
36. The Hot Chick (2002) // 1/2 star
“Through superhuman effort of the will, I did not walk out of The Hot Chick, but reader, I confess I could not sit through the credits. The MPAA rates this PG-13. It is too vulgar for anyone under 13, and too dumb for anyone over 13.”
37. V/H/S (2012) // 1/2 star
"Not ready for d/i/g/i/t/a/l/," Ebert titled this review. "What's the point? None of the segments is particularly compelling. Strung together, it's way too much of a muchness. These ambitious young artists might be better advised to make what I naively call a 'real movie.'"
38. Darling Companion (2012) // 1 star
“It is depressing to reflect on the wealth of talent that conspired to make this inert and listless movie. I walked in knowing it was directed by Lawrence Kasdan (Grand Canyon, The Big Chill). And that its cast included Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Richard Jenkins, Dianne Wiest, and Sam Shepard. How could it fail to be good? Lacking that, how could it fail to be fair? How could it be so appallingly pointless? How could it be such thin soup?”
39. New Year’s Eve (2011) // 1/2 star
“New Year's Eve is a dreary plod through the sands of time until finally the last grain has trickled through the hourglass of cinematic sludge. How is it possible to assemble more than two dozen stars in a movie and find nothing interesting for any of them to do? What sins did poor Hilary Swank commit, that after winning two Oscars, she has to play the role of the woman in charge of the New Year's Eve ball in Times Square? ... I'm not even going to begin to summarize the paltry series of subplots the all-star cast is trapped in. I like you too much.”
40. The Human Centipede (2010) // 0 stars
“I am required to award stars to movies I review. This time, I refuse to do it. The star rating system is unsuited to this film. Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don't shine.”
41. Old Dogs (2009) // 1 star
"Old Dogs is stupefyingly dimwitted. What were John Travolta and Robin Williams thinking of? Apparently their agents weren't perceptive enough to smell the screenplay in its advanced state of decomposition, but wasn't there a loyal young intern in the office to catch them at the elevator and whisper, ‘You've paid too many dues to get involved with such crap at this stage in your careers.'"
42. The Back-Up Plan (2010) // 1 star
“Some movies are no better than second-rate sitcoms. Other movies are no better than third-rate sitcoms. The Back-up Plan doesn't deserve comparison with sitcoms. It plays like an unendurable TV commercial about beautiful people with great lifestyles and not a thought in their empty little heads.”
43. Good Luck Chuck (2007) // 1 star
"There is a word for this movie, and that word is: Ick."
44. The Change-Up (2011) // 1.5 stars
“The film, in fact, seems to go out of its way to be vulgar and offensive, as if ‘adult’ audiences crave such an assault. Anyone who enjoys this film cannot fairly be considered an adult. Pity about the R rating. It will keep out those callow enough to enjoy it.”
45. Atlas Shrugged: PART I (2011) // 1 star
“I feel like my arm is all warmed up and I don’t have a game to pitch. I was primed to review Atlas Shrugged. I figured it might provide a parable of Ayn Rand’s philosophy that I could discuss ... And now I am faced with this movie, the most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone’s vault. I suspect only someone very familiar with Rand’s 1957 novel could understand the film at all, and I doubt they will be happy with it.”
46. Mr. Magoo (1997) // 1/2 STAR
“Magoo drives a red Studebaker convertible in Mr. Magoo, a fact I report because I love Studebakers and his was the only thing I liked in the film. Mr. Magoo is transcendently bad. It soars above ordinary badness as the eagle outreaches the fly.”
47. Jason X (2001) // 1/2 STAR
"'This sucks on so many levels.' Dialogue from Jason X; rare for a movie to so frankly describe itself. Jason X sucks on the levels of storytelling, character development, suspense, special effects, originality, punctuation, neatness, and aptness of thought."
48. Sorority Boys (2002) // 1/2 star
“Because the intelligence level of the characters must be low, very low, very very low, for the masquerade to work, the movie contains no wit, only labored gags involving falsies, lipstick, unruly erections, and straight guys who don't realize they're trying to pick up a man. (I imagine yokels in the audience responding with the Gradually Gathering Guffaw as they catch on. ‘Hey, Jethro! He don't know she's a guy! Haw! Haw! Haw!’) ... Sorority Boys will be the worst movie playing in any multiplex in America this weekend, and, yes, I realize Crossroads is still out there.”
49. The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) // 1/2 star
“Many scenes are so inept as to beggar description. Some of the lion attacks seem to have been staged by telling the actors to scream while a lion rug was waved in front of the camera ... Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas never for a second look like anything other than thoroughly unhappy movie stars stuck in a humid climate and a doomed production. I hope someone made a documentary about the making of The Ghost and the Darkness. Now that would be a movie worth seeing.”
50. Christmas with the Kranks (2004) // 1 star
"It's a holiday movie of stunning awfulness that gets even worse when it turns gooey at the end. And what is it finally so happy about? Why, that the Kranks' neighbors succeed in enforcing their lockstep conformity upon them. They form a herd mentality, without the mentality. The movie is not funny, ever, in any way, beginning to end.”
Reviews via RogerEbert.com.