Sometimes a thing is so bad there’s no way to say it nicely. Here are ten reviews that don’t even try.
1. The first season of American Idol ended with runner-up Justin Guarini clapping from the sidelines as winner Kelly Clarkson, under a shower of confetti, cried through “A Moment Like This.” Shortly thereafter the pair starred in their first and only collaborative film project, From Justin to Kelly, which was predictably not well received. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly summed up the awfulness pretty neatly, if not nicely: "How bad is From Justin to Kelly? Set in Miami during spring break, it's like Grease: The Next Generation acted out by the food-court staff at SeaWorld." No offense, SeaWorld food-court staff.
2. Leonard Maltin's complete review of the 1948 film Isn't It Romantic?: "No."
3. Movies and restaurants aren’t the only recipients of bad reviews. Take for example this review on RateMyProfessor that turned up on Reddit: "I dont wear my seat belt driving to school because I want to die before I can make it to this class."
4. A user review from Amazon for Dan Brown Angels & Demons: "I realize that a great many people like Dan Brown’s books and think he is a talented author, but then again there are significant numbers of people who enjoy being peed on or watching Carrot Top."
5. The artist formerly and currently known as Prince was unimpressed with some of Michael Jackson's work. "Michael Jackson's album was only called 'Bad’ because there wasn't enough room on the sleeve for 'Pathetic.'"
6. Roger Ebert is no novice at handing out bad reviews. Sometimes, he’s forthright. His review of North, which he hated: "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."
And sometimes, he’s witty with his disdain, as with his opinion of Larry David’s film:
“I can't easily remember a film I've enjoyed less. North, a comedy I hated, was at least able to inflame me with dislike. Sour Grapes is a movie that deserves its title: It's puckered, deflated and vinegary.”
7. Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce were friends, but that didn’t stop Clemens from being his unflinchingly honest and witty self when Bierce’s publisher asked him to review a book that needed a little extra publicity. Twain called Bierce’s Nuggets and Dust Panned Out in California the “vilest book that exists in print,” just before he declared that “for every laugh that is in his book, there are five blushes, ten shudders and a vomit.”
8. Gore Vidal’s novel Myra Breckinridge didn’t adapt well to the silver screen. Filled with strangely euphemistic classic film clips and one especially, um, controversial scene, the movie was a critical failure and reviews didn’t bother with kindness. TIME said, "Myra Breckinridge is about as funny as a child molester." So you can take it out of your Netflix queue, probably.
9. Reinterpretations can be a risk, especially when crossing cultural lines. The Black Ensemble’s African-themed rework of Euripides’
Madea Medea was one such experiment that, at least according to Tom Boeker, wasn’t worth the risk. Boeker’s review in the Chicago Reader was a wholesale rant, but the highlights include calling the play “as phony and unexotic as a wicker coffee table from Pier One Imports,” and declaring that the actors are so unskilled that “if Benji were in this production, he wouldn't give a convincing performance as a dog.” To top it off, Boeker admits to a third-act suicidal fantasy: “When Medea finally got around to murdering her children, I entertained a final, desperate hope that one of those kids would grab the sword from her and rewrite mythology. But--abandon all hope--no deus ex machina will save you here”
10. L’Ami Louis is Paris’s “worst-kept secret,” a bistro so perfectly French that visiting Americans and Brits with plenty of cash on-hand are reluctant to tell their friends about it just to keep it hush-hush. But it’s not all that, according to a Vanity Fair review by A.A. Gill. From the décor (“painted a shiny, distressed dung brown”) and the staff (“paunchy, combative, surly men”) to the food (pâté that tastes of “pressed liposuction” and veal so unevenly cooked his companion “can’t decide which side to complain about”) and the check ($430 for two), Gill is so confounded by the restaurant’s cultish status that he asks, “Why do [Americans and Brits] continue to come here? They can’t all have brain tumors.”
What’s the funniest bad review you’ve seen? Or, leave your own biting assessments in the comments.