This is actually pretty fun.
Most of my readers are familiar with RottenTomatoes.com. For those of you who aren't: RT is basically a site that collects just about every review they can grab for every movie that comes out. You can then search for the movie you're interested in and RT will post snippets from each of the reviews. They also divide the reviews into favorable and unfavorable or, in this case, "fresh" and "rotten." Hence the name. There's a Tomatometer at the top of each movie's page indicating what percentage of the reviews collected were considered "fresh." They also have a staff that gathers news and gossip and write features and what not, but really it's all about the Tomatometer.
Yesterday, I came across their ranking of "all fifty" Disney animated movies. (Why the quotations marks? Because I noticed neither the Duck Tales movie nor A Goofy Movie were on the list, so I'm sure there had to have been another omission or two along the way) Everything from Snow White to Tangled is tallied and Tomato-fied. I'm gonna link to the list in just a minute, but first a disclaimer:
First, it's a really fun list to look at. It's like taking a scenic tour of your childhood. "I remember that movie. I liked that movie! I'd forgotten about that movie!" You sort of realize how much emotionally you still have invested in some of these classics. And there are a lot of really solid films on this list. Unfortunately, that emotional attachment for your childhood that makes the list fun also makes it a bit maddening. "How in the world is this behind that?" "This movie has no place in the top twenty!" "I hate movie critics!" Et cetera.
So a few things to keep in mind:
1) It's not ranking the movies from worst to best, nor even from least to most successful (box office-wise); it's just telling you which were most favorably reviewed by critics.
2) That said, it's not even really that. It's a numerical tabulation based on general impressions of specific film critics. If a review ultimately says, "Well, it's nothing special, but it was pretty entertaining anyway," that could be considered either a positive or negative review by RT. I've seen it go both ways. So a 91% rating on the Tomatometer could hypothetically just mean 91% of reviewers thought it was slightly better than average, whereas slightly fewer critics (say, 88% or so) who were crazy about another movie would put it a step below on the list.
3) That said, it's a passable way to rate critic response, just not a perfect one. So try not to take minor discrepancies personally. ;-)
4) Remember that you're comparing 1950s critics with 2010's critics. So again, it's not a terribly scientific comparison. When Snow White came out, people were so blown away with the fact that it existed at all that they probably would have raved about it no matter what. They would probably have even thought Shrek the Third was a triumph. (Man, imagine what would have happened if you'd shown those people Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) Sure, a lot of critics gave this movie or that movie a good (or bad) review, but why? Animation? Music? Story? They were paid off by Don Bluth?
5) HOWEVER...I'm gonna admit one of my favorite things about this list was how easy it was to get riled up about it. Because we all have our favorites. And we all have one or two that we hate and feel offended that anybody ever liked. And they're all here (unless Duck Tales or A Goofy Movie are your favorite Disney movies). Overall, I'm pretty happy. Most of mine made a decent showing. Some clearly needed to be knocked down a peg or ten, and I personally don't know what Robin Hood did to make so many critics hate it. But hey, this is what it is, so go check it out and remember hours and hours in a movie theater seat with parents, friends, friends' parents, or whoever you always dragged with you to watch a two-hour cartoon.
And feel free to come back here and gripe about it in the comments. We'll have a grand old time!!