What are the best bad reviews?
June 12, 2017 4:25 PM   Subscribe

Give me your favorite published zero-star and otherwise negative reviews by professional reviewers of media! Mostly interested in book, music, game, and movie/TV reviews by paid reviewers, but if it's especially good then I'll accept non-professional reviews and reviews of other things. Thank you!
posted by capricorn to Media & Arts (71 answers total) 79 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, extra points if anyone can find that Pitchfork review that was just a picture of an animal pooping? Or barfing? I can't remember which and am having a surprisingly hard time googling it.
posted by capricorn at 4:27 PM on June 12, 2017

Best answer: "Tonstant Weader fwowed up"
posted by frumiousb at 4:29 PM on June 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Scott Tobias's review of Birdman from the Dissolve.
posted by Chenko at 4:39 PM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Pitchfork review in question
posted by Beardman at 4:40 PM on June 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

Cineman de Merde (http://cinemademerde.com/) is a website of movie reviews by a guy that loves bad movies. I realize this isn't exactly what you were looking for, but the reviews can be really funny.
posted by xammerboy at 4:45 PM on June 12, 2017

In the "other things" category, some restaurant reviews:

Chris Nuttall-Smith: America Restaurant
Pete Wells: Guy Fieri and other things he didn't much care for.
Bad restaurant reviews in general.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:50 PM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One of my all-time favorites is this review of The Happening.
posted by Hatashran at 4:52 PM on June 12, 2017 [8 favorites]

Roger Ebert published a whole book of 'em.
posted by asterix at 4:54 PM on June 12, 2017 [6 favorites]

Here's an excerpt from Cinema de Merde's review of Battlefield Earth:

Okay, so this mixed-race physically fit babe with high-fashion dreadlocks is waiting anxiously for someone, who turns out to be Johnny Goodboy Tyler, played by Barry Pepper. Okay, our sci-fi hero is named JOHNNY. GOODBOY. TYLER. I don’t know, to me that name sounds more appropriate to a 50s rock star, and I strongly suspect that the “Goodboy” is supposed be a descriptive name, why, perhaps in the vein of “Skywalker.” So no sooner does he show up than his hot GF tells him that his father is dead, and he goes “NOOOOOOOOO!” This is in the FIRST THREE MINUTES, and remember, most of those were the opening crawl. Anyway, the cavemen, who are among the few surviving members of mankind, talk about “demons” and show a cave painting [which unfortunately already-dated editing shows a few times [for IMPACT!], which we assume will be what they think the Psychlo’s are or whatever. Then Johnny makes the first of his SEVERAL inspiring speeches about how they should go out and find a better place to live, one with a Gap, a Wendy’s, and a Citibank ATM, at least, but of course no one else wants to leave. They might as well have a word balloon with an arrow pointing to the others, saying “Afraid of Change.”

Anyway, so Johnny goes out and finds the remains of an amusement park, grown over with a few vines, but remarkably intact, considering it’s 1,000 years later. He then happens upon these other guys, who take him into town. They consider previous humans “Gods” and think that statues are Gods that got frozen in place when Grandmaster Flash yelled “Freeze!” and failed to follow it with “Rock!” I’m sure you’ll agree that this is all SO thought-provoking. To sixth-graders. They take him into this mall [it would have been TOO HOT and META-TASTIC if they had used the mall from Logan’s Run!], where they are attacked by the Psychlos. Now, WHAT were the Psychlos doing at the mall anyway? Regardless, you’ll notice that the color scheme changes from warm orange to cold, evil green when the Psychlos attack. Johnny smashes through multiple panes of glass—now goll-dern it, WHERE have I seen that before?—and finally he and the one good-looking human are captured. The ugly one was shot.
posted by xammerboy at 4:55 PM on June 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

When Apple released the original iPod - which went on to become the best-selling music device evar and helped transform the music business - the review on Slashdot* read simply "No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame. "

*The most popular tech discussion site of the time
posted by xsmasher at 4:55 PM on June 12, 2017 [7 favorites]

Jail reviews on Yelp are not to be missed.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 5:02 PM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Pete Wells is really the guy you want here. Beardman already linked to his Guy Fierri review, but there's also his infamous review of Thomas Keller's Per Se
posted by NoRelationToLea at 5:03 PM on June 12, 2017

Best answer: There's this review of Nine Inch Nails - With Teeth.
posted by aubilenon at 5:09 PM on June 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Whenever I catch myself trying to describe how terrible Dan Brown's writing is, I just stop and send a link to Geoffrey K. Pullam's essay The Dan Brown Code instead.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 5:12 PM on June 12, 2017 [7 favorites]

I very recently enjoyed this pretty scathing review of The Mummy, which begins with "Tom Cruise’s new film barely qualifies as a film at all" and is all downhill from there.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 5:19 PM on June 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: This review of Sex and the City 2 by Lindy West is a classic.

And any of her "I watched/rewatched [movie] and am here to ruin it for all of you":

The Notebook
Love Actually
posted by janerica at 5:24 PM on June 12, 2017 [17 favorites]

Seanbaby.com has a vast archive of furious reviews of bad books, comics, videotapes, etc.
posted by The otter lady at 5:36 PM on June 12, 2017

posted by rhizome at 5:39 PM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

A classic book of negative Classical music reviews is Lexicon of Musical Invective: Critical Assaults on Composers Since Beethoven's Time by Nicolas Slonimsky
posted by larrybob at 5:42 PM on June 12, 2017 [5 favorites]

Fred Clark wrote exhaustively about the terrible Left Behind series.
posted by General Malaise at 5:50 PM on June 12, 2017 [5 favorites]

Best answer: So I have a love/hate relationship with Pitchfork (I hate the reviewers and the way they review, but a great deal of the interesting and good music I've found in the past decade or so has been via them) and I really like Nine Inch Nails' The Fragile but still, this Pitchfork review of it is great.

Also, though their search engine is comprehensively godawful, I still managed to find their awesome takedown of the tremendously shitty Lou Reed/Metallica collab Lulu.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:55 PM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also from Pitchfork, but the review of Travis Morrison's Travistan was a notorious 0 star review. (It's no longer credited to anyone and I'm not sure what's up with that. Most people in the DC area agree there was some personal things going on.)

You definitely want Roger Ebert'sI Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie, as referenced above. Ebert genuinely loved movies, but when he hated a movie, it was glorious.
posted by darksong at 5:58 PM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, and B.R. Myers is a favourite of mine. While not technically a review per se, his Reader's Manifesto could be considered a kind of meta-review of modern literature at the turn of the century. He has written further actual reviews of novels here, and you'll be able to tell which ones are good and which ones are bad by scrolling through the list.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:58 PM on June 12, 2017

In Defense of Facts is the best scathing review of anything I can remember reading. There was an FPP earlier this year.
posted by Gymnopedist at 6:06 PM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is one of my all-time favorites, a scathing takedown of a biography (well, a biographer) of Thomas Hardy: Tom the Misunderstood
posted by Mchelly at 6:11 PM on June 12, 2017

Best answer: Another Dan Brown review, done in the style of Dan Brown: Don't make fun of renowned Dan Brown by Michael Deacon (The Telegraph).
posted by hsieu at 6:19 PM on June 12, 2017 [9 favorites]

This one cracks me up: I Watched Lesbian Classic ‘Everything Relative’ And Whoops I’m Sad Again by Erin at Autostraddle. She's got a whole series of these 90s classic lesbian movie reviews.

So worth it even if you only take in the 90s fashion in the all the screenshots.
posted by oxisos at 6:30 PM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ken Tucker (Rolling Stone) - Abba Arrival
Even more than their three previous American releases, Arrival is Muzak mesmerizing in its modality. By reducing their already vapid lyrics to utter irrelevance, lead singers Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Fältskog are liberated to natter on in their shrill voices without regard to emotion or expression, and the language barrier is broken.
also - Rolling Stone's 500 worst reviews of all time
posted by unliteral at 6:31 PM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

  Chris Nuttall-Smith: America Restaurant

Don't miss this one. It's the most glorious takedown ever.
posted by scruss at 6:42 PM on June 12, 2017

Response by poster: Beardman: "The Pitchfork review in question"

Ah, yes! That is in fact neither pooping nor barfing, but I am glad my description was close enough.
posted by capricorn at 6:49 PM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

My favorite comics review of all time is Protoclown's review of Frank Miller's All Star Batman & Robin. You don't have to be a Frank Miller or Batman fan to understand & enjoy it, but you will probably never be able to take Frank Miller's ~grittiness~ seriously again.

(There are some screencaps of scantily clad women, so possibly NSFW but it's in the service of pointing out how ridiculous comics can be.)
posted by angst at 6:51 PM on June 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: J. D. Considine's three-letter review of album by 80's prog supergroup GTR: "SHT"
posted by thelonius at 6:52 PM on June 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

Chris Havercroft on Chris Brown - NO STARS EVER
posted by unliteral at 7:00 PM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

You might be interested in Joe Bob Briggs, who enthusiastically reviews bad movies.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:14 PM on June 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'm surprised not to see Jay Rayner mentioned yet! His latest review of Le Cinq in Paris caused quite a stir, but I loved his review of Beast from 2014.
posted by maggiemaggie at 7:17 PM on June 12, 2017 [5 favorites]

Peter Howell, film critic for The Toronto Star didn't like The Mummy either.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:20 PM on June 12, 2017

Full House Reviewed hates "Full House"'with a passion, literally.
posted by Melismata at 7:22 PM on June 12, 2017

"Make it rain like Twain."
posted by blixapuff at 9:04 PM on June 12, 2017

Best answer: Prof. Cosma Shalizi reviews Prof. Stephen Wolfram's book on cellular automata.

Review title: "A Rare Blend of Monster Raving Egomania and Utter Batshit Insanity".
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:47 PM on June 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Matt Taibbi's review of "The World is Flat"
posted by dvr at 10:52 PM on June 12, 2017 [5 favorites]

Some of the Melody Maker (defunct British music magazine) writers had a good line in sharp reviews:

Everett True, for example "Billy Corgan is shit"

Neil Kulkarni, notably this two-sentence, 24-line review of Ned's Atomic Dustbin that's an extended insult of the band's audience:
you....invade your local and share your shallowest thoughts play the juke for two hours worth of shit sit there mouthing the lyrics looking at the door trying to blend call brown ale "Newky Brown" drink it out of plastic glasses pissed on two put 'Glory Box' on to show how hip you are sit near to me and with every word of your cretinous jabber make me wanna rip your face off vegetarians apart from fish keep the spliff for too long hold it in too short blow it straight out and dribble a duck's arse all over the roach then giggle for half an hour and fall asleep as it burns off in your hand.....Oh, you'll love it.
posted by Pink Frost at 3:11 AM on June 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

This review of the film Fifty Shades of Grey from The New Yorker:

"On the other hand, the film, by dint of its simple competence—being largely well acted, not too long, and sombrely photographed, by Seamus McGarvey—has to be better than the novel. It could hardly be worse."
posted by GreenEyed at 5:01 AM on June 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

This rant from Mark Kermode on Sex and the City 2 which includes a brief rendition of the internationale.
posted by Erberus at 6:00 AM on June 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Movie Bob review of the movie Pixels is impressively vicious.
posted by helloimjennsco at 6:23 AM on June 13, 2017

Roger Ebert wrote more than one book on this topic.
posted by Melismata at 7:51 AM on June 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

23 years ago, Anthony Lane wrote a review in the New Yorker (June 27/July 4 1994 issue) of the top 10 books in the New York Times bestseller list, and it was AMAZING.

The first great takedown is from No. 9 on the list at the time, Michael Crichton's Disclosure:
This is what might be called an issue novel, something of a Crichton specialty. In his last two books, "Jurassic Park" and "Rising Sun," the issues raised were, respectively, "Look out! Raptors!" an "Look out! Japs!" The new one is intended as a thoughtful, provocative, and altogether serious investigation of sexual harassment. In other words, "Look out! Women!"
This includes entries from Judith Krantz and Clive Cussler as well as the then-inescapable The Bridges of Madison County and a pretty brutal treatment of The Day After Tomorrow (a spy thriller, unrelated to the film of the same name). It's worth seeking out.
posted by uberchet at 8:01 AM on June 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oliver Kamm's recent review -- evisceration, really -- of Harold Evans' new style guide, Do I Make Myself Clear?: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DBoeOd0WsAIlqGp.jpg:large
posted by davemack at 8:26 AM on June 13, 2017

Best answer: I had no idea it was possible to deliver sick burns via book review until I read NPR literary critic Annalisa Quinn's recent review of Ivanka Trump's book Women Who Work:

"Reading it feels like eating scented cotton balls."
posted by unannihilated at 8:37 AM on June 13, 2017 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, and to be super current: Gail Simone reviewed the new Mummy movie in a sequence of brutal tweets that you shouldn't miss.
posted by uberchet at 8:42 AM on June 13, 2017

Best answer: Laurie Penny also eviscerates the president's daughter's book in her review in The Baffler.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 8:52 AM on June 13, 2017

Not a review per se, just a lead line in a major market newspaper years ago:

9pm The Spider Woman: Squish
posted by sammyo at 9:00 AM on June 13, 2017

Best answer: My favorite bad review of all time, for James Joyce's Ulysses.

In searching for that review, I found this book that may be of interest: The worst book I've ever read.
posted by freezer cake at 10:13 AM on June 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Not quite as good as the infamous Guy Fieri, but Kappo Masa is one of my favorites of this ilk.
Some months later I went as part of an event and was supremely disappointed to find it just meh vs. horrifically bad.
posted by TravellingCari at 11:13 AM on June 13, 2017

David Foster Wallace has two great ones:

How Tracy Austin Broke my Heart is a review of a book by one of Wallace's tennis heroes that really gets at both the promise and the (seemingly inevitable) disappointment of sports memoirs in general.

John Updike, Champion Literary Phallocrat, Drops One; Is This Finally the End for Magnificent Narcissists? is a great review of a late-period Updike novel that ends up roasting the whole 'old white man is sad that he's not getting laid' subgenre. A sample:

Besides distracting us with worries about whether Mr. Updike might be
injured or ill, the turgidity of the prose also increases our dislike of
the novel's narrator (it's hard to like a guy whose way of saying his
wife doesn't like going to bed before him is "She hated it when I crept
into bed and disturbed in her the fragile succession of steps whereby
consciousness dissolves"). This dislike absolutely torpedoes Toward the
End of Time, a novel whose tragic climax (in a late chapter called "The
Deaths") is a prostate operation that leaves Turnbull impotent and
extremely bummed. It is made very clear that the author expects us to
sympathize with and even share Turnbull's grief at "the pathetic
shrunken wreck the procedures [have] made of my beloved genitals."

posted by Ragged Richard at 11:34 AM on June 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Jay Rayner's book My Dining Hell: Twenty Ways to Have a Lousy Night Out collects twenty of his most entertainingly savage restaurant reviews and is very funny. His reviews in the Guardian are also entertaining, although it does take skimming to find the ones where he pans the place. Look for the reviews whose summaries include phrases like "exhaustingly grim", like this one:
The first dish arrives: almond milk tofu, peas, morels, thyme oil. Simmonds’s mission statement says he wants to get “maximum flavour out of the ingredients”. If so, this dish is an utter failure, the first of many. It’s a salt hit. The tofu has the texture of phlegm, sticky and gelatinous, forming dribbly strings from lifted spoon to plate. I look up. Simmonds is watching me. “It’s not right, is it?” he says. “No,” I say. He still charges me £7 not to eat most of it.
posted by Lexica at 1:00 PM on June 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

This rant from Mark Kermode on Sex and the City 2 which includes a brief rendition of the internationale.

which starts of with a weary "No point in ranting about this" and works up to a frothing "THIS IS AN ORGY OF DRIPPING WEALTH THAT MAKES ME WANT TO GET SICK!
posted by smugly rowan at 1:11 PM on June 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've always been partial Stephen Hunter's review of Speed 2, most especially for it's wonderful line, "written by monkeys on amphetamines with crayons."
posted by dellsolace at 1:14 PM on June 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

John Holbo's review of David Frum's Dead Right is great:
The Donner party? Where did all these people go? Into each other, to a dismaying extent.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 3:20 PM on June 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have to add the bad perfume reviews in Luca Turin's book, Perfumes:_The_A_to_Z_Guide. Some of the bad reviews are scathing and hilarious.

From Publishers Weekly: "Less a guide in the sense of helping people choose the perfect fragrance than a wide-ranging, critical review of some 1,200 perfumes, both famous and obscure, this comprehensive book is unfailingly entertaining. Their passion for a few scents and their outrage at the others' failings make for entry after entry of hilarious, catty comments interspersed with occasional erudite, eloquent disquisitions. French perfumery Guerlain is subject to both: Jicky is an object lesson in perfumery... a towering masterpiece, while Aqua Allegoria Pivoine Magnifica is like chewing tin foil while staring at a welding arc. Other startlingly evocative metaphors abound, especially those comparing perfumes to people, whether someone real (Amy Winehouse, Paris Hilton) or a general type (socialites, someone ill with bronchitis)."
posted by Altomentis at 5:51 PM on June 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

This Car And Driver Review of the original Cadillac Escalade is amusingly savage:
The 6.0-liter pushrod V-8 emits an audacious whoopitah-whaaaAAAAHH-ing sound that will remind your wife what time you came home and will never be confused with an Orbital two-stroke or a Hoover upright. It may frighten your horses. We mention horses because Cadillac mentioned them first. "This is a great vehicle for suburbanites who own horses," they said. We don't agree. We couldn't fit one in back, even with the "Midgate Utility Enhancement System" (MUES) fully enhanced, extending the bed to eight feet, one inch. In fact, the horse nearly kicked out the removable backlight before we got its attention with a 500,000-volt Panther stun gun ($99.95). Did you know the tonneau comes off in three 20-pound chunks? The horse learned this first.

posted by the duck by the oboe at 7:22 PM on June 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Jenny Trout's Jealous Hater Book Club, especially for 50 Shades.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:12 PM on June 14, 2017

Best answer: I Am a Camera the 1951 Broadway play by John Van Druten received a three word review by Walter Kerr - "Me no Leica".
posted by Brian Lux at 6:18 AM on June 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer:
The rare Steven Seagal movie to open in American theaters, Contract To Kill is so crude and anti-cinematic—so fucking bad—that it becomes its own parody. It is a treasure, as are all of the god-awful movies put out by the onetime black belt with the help of his dedicated team of “whatever, sure” men.
-Ignatiy Vishnevetsky's majestic review of Contract to Kill.
posted by Iridic at 10:28 AM on June 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

I heard the movie reviewer on a local radio station talking about 'Gigli' just after the first weekend it was released. He said, "Jennifer Lopez's ego is so big, that there is no room for anyone else in the film."
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 1:43 PM on June 25, 2017

Mark Twain on James Fenimore Cooper:
[The rules governing literary art] require that the personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others. But this detail has often been overlooked in the Deerslayer tale.
Steven Pinker on Malcolm Gladwell:
The reasoning in “Outliers,” which consists of cherry-picked anecdotes, post-hoc sophistry and false dichotomies, had me gnawing on my Kindle.
Maciej Cegłowski on Paul Graham:
All of these statements are wrong, or dumb, or both, and yet they are sprinkled through various essays like raisins in a fruitcake, with no further justification, and the reader is expected to enjoy the chewy burst of flavor and move on to the next tidbit.
posted by space_lab at 1:28 PM on July 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

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