It’s one of our favorite ongoing debates: What makes a movie overrated versus underrated? Until now, this has largely been a subjective debate, but Benjamin Moore -- a PhD student in Computational Biology at Edinburgh University – has attempted to find the answer using the witchcraft that is math. You can see the fruits of his labor in the chart below.
Moore’s study involved taking 1,200 films ranked at aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes and graphing the critical and audience scores. He then examined where the breaks in opinion were the strongest and crunched some data to get the most overrated and underrated movies according to RT.
I'm sure it was way more complicated than that, but I only took one college course in statistics – and promptly forgot 95% of it (like I'd been zapped with the Neuralyzer in a Men in Black movie) as soon as I handed in my final exam.
Even if you aren’t a doctoral math student, you can still glean some interesting (and potentially disappointing) information from Moore’s work. What’s fascinating is that for all the grief critics take, critical and popular opinion overlap a whole lot (that “p=0.71” is the Pearson Coefficient, which we're not even going to try to explain – read about it here if you’re interested).
What’s sort of dubious to us is the fact that according to this chart, movies like Grandma’s Boy, Step Up and Diary of a Mad Black Woman are underrated. Granted, there’s a difference between “underrated” and “good," but these aren’t the titles that tend to spring to mind when the classic “underrated movie” debate pops up on a daily basis.
The same applies to the overrated category, where titles like the first two Spy Kids movies and Stuart Little 2 appear. Of course, this is more a sample of how critics and general audiences’ tastes align than a true commentary on the quality of said films. This just means critics liked Spy Kids a whole lot more than audiences. Based on the overrated portion of the chart, critics seem to really like kid movies.
While the data is certainly interesting, I somehow doubt that Moore’s chart will actually end the classic overrated/underrated debate. Check out an even larger interactive version of the chart (featuring a whopping 2,600 films) here.
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