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The Pretentious-O-Meter Shows The Gap Between Critical Reviews And Public Opinion

We’re looking at you, Sideways.

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Film critics have a tough line to walk–they see countless movies every year, and sometimes have to string together several hundred words about, say, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, which is no mean feat. But the fact that they’re constantly watching movies also makes them susceptible to novelty, which is how movies with titles like Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance) end up with 93% Rotten Tomatoes scores and eventually Best Picture Oscars. So how do you know if a movie is actually good, or if it just appeals to critics who like stories about neurotic dudes struggling with existential questions? Fortunately, there’s now a surefire way to tell: The Pretentious-O-Meter.

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The product of someone with too much time on their hands at Reddit (as are most things these days), the Pretentious-O-Meter–created by Niall Beard–calculates a film’s user-generated ratings on sites like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb with its critical scores on those same sites. Thus, a movie like Sideways, which enjoys a 96% Rotten Tomatoes score from critics, but only a 78% audience score, gets reassessed and judged: 100% pretentious, where critics adore it and everybody else seems to think that it’s just okay, at best.


The Pretentious-O-Meter works the other way, too–a critically reviled, publicly tolerated film like Mrs. Doubtfire lands a 77% Mass Market score, proving that sometimes the critics should be trusted over your friends and neighbors. And, of course, if you want a movie on whose merits everyone can agree, there’s always Argo, which lands a 0% pretentious on the scale, as everybody likes it, but nobody thinks Ben Affleck deserved an Oscar nomination for it.

About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club

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