Whatever issues you may have with Rotten Tomatoes — and lots of people see lots of problems in the site in particular and in the larger notion that something as idiosyncratic as 150 film reviews can be boiled down and compressed into one metric — it’s surely easy to admit that at least some people find a certain narrow use in knowing what the very general critical consensus is on a film. And as of this moment, 165 reviews have been tallied for Toy Story 3: 162 are Fresh, or generally more positive than negative, and three are Rotten, or generally more negative than positive. Which gives the film a Freshness rating of 98 percent.
Now, if you were on the fence about seeing Toy Story 3, would it make any difference whether that Freshness rating were 97 percent, or 95 percent… or, in the other direction 99 percent or 100 percent? By the measure of what Rotten Tomatoes promises, 98 percent tells you what you need to know.
But some fans are upset. More than upset. You see, for a while, when reviews of Toy Story 3 started rolling in, the film was 100 percent Fresh. And fans were excited because Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are also both 100 percent Fresh, and hitting this trifecta was important, for some reason. And then Armond White and Cole Smithey checked in with negative reviews, spoiling that lovely one with its lovely two zeroes. It’s true that White probably is a troll (we discussed this last summer when his apparent trollishness reached a previous high-water mark), but no one has ever accused Smithey of that (though he’s getting hit with that accusation now).
The reaction has been bizarre, even by fannish standards. Zach Dionne at PopEater is truly distressed over these “unsavory reviews keep[ing] ‘Toy Story’ from being the only trilogy of all time to receive perfect marks.” Josh Tyler at Cinema Blend calls White and Smithy “assholes.” The comments on RT in response to White’s and Smithey’s reviews are the usual cesspool of insults and idiocy… though there are, surprisingly, more than a few calls for people to just calm the fuck down.
And then Jeremy Heilman — who, like Smithey, has not been considered a troll — logged a negative review. The RT uproar got louder.
The best argument against Rotten Tomatoes, perhaps, is that it reduces criticism to a number, and is uninterested in what any individual critic has to actually say about a film. Of course, RT can be used wisely by those who do wish to read a critic’s words — the links are right there. But it’s sort of strange that RT’s own users appear to be going out of their way to prove the point of that contention.