Rotten Tomatoes’ Search Sucks

Rotten Tomatoes Search Sucks

There are people who don’t like, the online movie review site, largely because they don’t like the reviews.  Rotten Tomatoes tried to fix that by offering two review ratings, one by the professional reviewers and, more recently, one by the average audience.  That made it easier to avoid being tricked into watching black and white art films about a French girls who drop scarves in the rain and then contract consumption, just because they got 99% by film critics who found the lighting “pregnant with the dark opulence of meaning.”

(Spoiler alert: The French chick dies, but it takes three actual film hours to do it, two of which are shots of a wall clock ticking but the clock hands are made of Vienna sausage.)

Giving audience opinions some weight also enabled movies with subplots built completely around farting dogs to score much, much higher reviews.

When Mike and I read Rotten Tomatoes reviews to each other, we say things like: “59% by the assholes, 75% by the peoples.” I don’t think all movie reviewers are assholes, it’s just a shorthand we use to differentiate the people who study the art of film making (and possibly take themselves a little too seriously) and the people who think every movie should have a minimum of 70% “shit blowing up.”

It can still be confusing. Take The Expendables 2. The audience reviewers gave it 72%, which makes sense; it has famous actors and lots of exploding things. But the critics gave it 66%?? Between the grunts/accents of Stallone, Lundgren, Jet Li, and Arnold Schwartzenegger I had to watch it with subtitles, which went something like this:

Lungren: *Grunt*

Jet Li: *unintelligible*

Schwartzenegger: *achingly bad acting*

Arnold’s acting was SO bad I couldn’t help but wonder how Maria didn’t know he was diddling the maid 5 seconds after he planted his monster seed. He isn’t believable reporting the sun will rise tomorrow.

Stallone: *Grunt with an Italian accent* (here the movie pauses to allow viewers to peacefully marvel that this guy wrote and was nominated for an Oscar for Rocky.)

Bruce Willis: *What the hell happened to my career? Eh, at least I didn’t get dumped by Ashton Kutcher.*

Jason Statham: *radiating tremendous hotness for a short bald guy*

But after all that, I’m not going to get into the pros/cons/usefulness of Rotten Tomatoes‘ reviews. After a while you learn, based on your tastes. how much to rely on the professional reviewers vs. the peoples.

But Rotten Tomatoes’ Search Sucks

What I DO want to get into is how badly Rotten Tomatoes’ search SUCKS.

Misspell a word? Forget it. No results.

Try and look up a relatively obscure movie with a one-word, common-word title? Forget it, you’ll get every popular title with that word in it before you get the movie actually called THAT. Try typing “Jack” in Rotten Tomatoes’ search. “Jack” with Robin Williams comes up on the second page, twelfth, after “Jackass” and “Full Metal Jacket.”

Maybe Rotten Tomatoes just feels they’ve so cornered the movie review market, they just don’t care anymore. Their reviews even show up on DirectTV listings now.

How to Fix Rotten Tomatoes’ Search, a Plea.

Dear Rotten Tomatoes,

Go back to basic search engine algorithm class and try and make your site a little more user-friendly than a Commodore 64. If you do, maybe I won’t even vent on those annoying full page pop-up ads.

I can type “sushi” into Google and it will return pizza listings because it knows in my heart of hearts I really wanted pizza. If I don’t know how to spell something, I can just type the alphabet into Google and it will spit out the word I meant. When I’m drunk I can type “where is my pocketbook?” and Google will tell me it is in the refrigerator.

Make a partnership with IMDB or Wikipedia or something, because there is where I end up after I type  “Audrey Hepburn young Peter O’Toole checkered floor thieves hide in closet” into Google. I should be able to type that into YOUR search engine and get How to Steal a Million (1966) because that is how people remember movies. By how hot young Peter O’Toole was. Not by the rating a bunch of reviewers gave it or something as silly as the actual title.

Amy Vansant
Latest posts by Amy Vansant (see all)

21 Responses

  1. Michele Drier

    Too true! I can’t type well and Google always manages to find something, along with the admonition at the top, “Did you mean suspense books” when I type “supense boks”. Of course I did. Take that, my college typing teacher!


    • Amy

      Fk yes! Also, when you filter movies in the search (like say 60-100% on the tomatometer) and then you look at a movie search result, when you back up to the previous screen you have to go back and check all the filter/sorting settings AGAIN! I’m like…dudes, you must be making enough money by now to hire web developers and UX/UI people to make this more user friendly! ARRRGH!


  2. Winopants

    I’ve noticed that weird search thing. You’d think with as popular as that site is, they could manage to do a little better. Even dictionary sites give you “did you mean..?” and not “nahah boo boo, learn how to spell”


  3. Lance

    I’m not a very good dude. I have yet to see either Expendables .

    I just watched a documentary made my Jamie Kennedy, the comedian and dude from Scream, called Heckle. It’s pretty profound in revealing how critics have evolved since Siskel and Ebert. A lot of those Rotten Tomatoes people are dudes in their basements trying to make a name for themselves with their blogs…wait, hi pot, I’m kettle.

    Merry Christmas to you and Mike.


  4. Nina Potts

    This is why I rely on Netflix. People can put them down all they want, Netflix has only given me one or two movies that they thought I would like and I really hated (Valhalla Rising and Act of Valor).

    The 2 upsides of Expendables 2 is Charisma Carpenter is in it, and you don’t have to hear Steven Segal once say “don’t you know who I am?” like he did on that reality show about him being a cop. Justification for paying money to see that movie is never having to hear him ask that ever again.


      • Nina Potts

        both actually. She started on Buffy, when they made the Angel spinoff she moved to that. Then the killed her.

        Unless you haven’t seen all of Angel, then she has some very mysterious things happen to her, maybe death.


  5. SarcasticNinja

    The Vienna Sausage clock hands are full of meaning: the girl is pregnant by her Austrian lover, but her fatal illness ticks down the moments of her sausage-spawn, unknown and unseen as she had not yet taken a pregnancy test to realize she was with child.


  6. Suburban Snapshots

    I fell for you at “consumption”. There is no technical reason for Rotten Tomatoes to have such a piece of shit search engine, the same as there’s no technical reason finding anything on Netflix Streaming (all the shitty sequels you didn’t want to see!) is near impossible.


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  8. Damien

    Oh man, deciding between the opinions of reviewers and those of the public is like deciding between Hannibal Lecter and Genghis Khan as your dinner date. I have always relied on word of mouth, well, ever since I was bamboozled into watching The English Patient.

    Hey, don’t mock the Commodore 64 or hot short guys (he shouts from his beautiful, yet slightly Cromagnon, 5’7 perch). Your description of the Expendables 2 dialogue is hilarious and disturbingly spot on.


  9. bruce

    I found this article because I too think the search engine sucks. But to compare it to the best search engine there is (Google) happens to be a bit silly. I dont mind spelling the titles correctly, etc. But How about some simple advanced search settings. I kind of would like to watch some modern movies (not things before 1990) so how about a date filter? Or a time filter? Maybe Im only feeling it for something under 90 minutes?



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