Thursday, October 19, 2017


So, what separates a big, red, fresh tomato from a squashed green splat over at Rotten Tomatoes?

Now that I'm an officially Tomatometer-approved RT critic myself, I am gaining some insight.

I recently got an email from an RT editor, after the site had been posting my reviews for a few weeks. He thanked me for joining the team, but he had a question about one of my recent reviews.

I'd given the movie 2 1/2 stars out of 4 (according to my official Jensen-o-meter, long in use on the Good Times website). He said the staff had read that as "slightly negative," but they wanted to check with me before assigning a (dreaded) splat to my review of the movie.

I told him 2 1/2 stars was right, smack in the middle: the movie had merits, which I cited, but the narrative drawbacks — for me — slightly outweighed them. On the other hand, it wasn't a terrible movie. So I asked, can we give it, like, half a tomato?

But there is no grey area at Rotten Tomatoes, no ambiguity. It's either a "fresh," or a splat.

Still, I was glad the editor invited me to weigh in, in the interest of fairness. Re-reading my review, I had to admit it read as slightly negative, so I had to stand by my opinion: I authorized the splat.

And while I regret that the nuance of critical thinking might get lost in a strictly pass-fail system, readers are always encouraged to click the reviewer's link next to the Tomatometer icon the get the whole story.

(On the other hand, some reviews are completely unambiguous! The movie in question here is the disaster that was Pan.)

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