I don’t generally write reviews after a movie has been released. So, for films where I don’t get around to a press screening and merely catch on my own as a paying consumer, well, you usually have to check out the weekend box office posts to see what I think about them, unless I end up writing a stand-alone post later on. But, if time allows, I may just write a review for Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird.
First, it’s one of my very favorite films of the year, and (with just under $10 million by the end of this week) it’s looking like a true Oscar season breakout in a season that thus far has been lacking in such. Second, I am a participant in Rotten Tomatoes, and apparently Lady Bird needs only just four more positive reviews to break the record for a 100% “fresh” winning streak.
To wit, The Saorise Ronan/Laure Metcalf drama, about a lower-middle-class high schooler and her mother coming to terms with each other as graduation approaching, has earned a full house/straight flush of “fresh” reviews from the famous Fandango-owned review aggregation site. Meaning, every single participating critic has given the movie at least the equivalent of a 6 out of 10 rating. Of course, the average critic rating (a far more important metric than the binary Tomatometer score) is a whopping 8.8/10. That suggests everyone loves it and a lot of people outright adore it. And as of this morning, the movie has 160 positive reviews out of 160 total reviews. Not only is it batting 1.00, it is just shy of an all-time record.
With the caveat that Rotten Tomatoes should not be regarded as the end-all/be-all for movie criticism, Lady Bird earns more total reviews than any 100% fresh film save for one. That pesky outlier is Toy Story 2, which earned a 100% fresh score stemming back to 1999 with 163 reviews in total. Now it’s more than likely that someone will piss in the pot before (or after) the film hits that milestone. But considering how good the film is in a primal and basic fashion, it’s rock-solid meat-and-potatoes entertainment even if you don’t think it’s a new classic, that would surprise me.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Lady Bird is one of the most acclaimed movies of all time. Plenty of movies, like Toy Story 3 or Mad Max: Fury Road, have twice as many reviews with only a handful of negatives. And there are at least a few movies here and there, like Toy Story 3 (9.1/10), Citizen Kane (9.4/10), The Godfather (9.2/10) or Schindler’s List (9/10) that own higher average critic scores but with either a few not so positive reviews or fewer overall reviews. But the Greta Gerwig picture, which now has to be considered an Oscar frontrunner, is just a few positive reviews away from a true milestone.
I’ve given Rotten Tomatoes a little hate as of lately, even though most of my ire is aimed at the media that makes no effort to teach readers on how that Tomatometer actually works and the nuances of average critic ratings versus fresh/rotten scores. But the site is otherwise fine for its specific intention, which is showing a plethora of critical reviews for essentially every film ever created for public consumption. If folks don’t bother to read the reviews and treat the Tomatometer like the touch of God, then that’s not necessarily on the folks who operate said website.
And with that said, Rotten Tomatoes (and the media’s discussion of said site) is at its best when it’s giving a spotlight to critical sweethearts like Lady Bird, The Florida Project (which is also amazing), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (also very good) and Call Me By Your Name (haven’t seen it yet, but everyone I trust loves it). So, yeah, unless someone wants to spoil the fun, Lady Bird is one step from becoming the film with the most unanimously positive reviews in the entire Rotten Tomatoes history. Maybe I’ll do my part this weekend and add the 159th critical rave. Or maybe I’ll submit this as a review and see if anyone notices.