Classic Movies That Got Harsh Reviews From Chronicle Movie Critics

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The Little Man has been the visual expression of Chronicle film critics since 1942, much to the delight and angst of many. A movie can elicit one of five reactions from him, ranging from jumping out of his chair for the best movies to leaving his chair empty for the absolute worst.

But it’s the critics whose names are on these stories, and sometimes that means opening up to criticism when they don’t like a movie as much as the fans. Peter Hartlaub of The Chronicle recently shared some angry reactions to his Sleeping Man take “Aquaman”, for example.

Hartlaub wrote about the classic films that the Panoramic chronicle at the time, and we went looking for more. In reality, it was hard to do – we went back decades and found that most of the time the best movies were positively received.

But there are always exceptions, especially since one person’s classic may be another’s insult to cinema. Click through our slideshow at the top for examples of classic movies that Chronicle critics dissed back in the day. Unsurprisingly, many of them are comedies and horror films, on which the critics can be the harshest.

It’s not all cases of critics hating a movie. Hartlaub said the review that got him the most feedback from readers was a lukewarm review of Sitting Man’s “Moneyball,” which was nominated for six Oscars and was about Oakland’s beloved A’s.

Fellow Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle said he gave Sitting Man reviews of four films that won the Best Picture Oscar – “I was probably right about all but ‘Unforgiven’. “

When asked if he’s ever questioned a review he gave on a hit movie, Hartlaub said, “I often question myself, but it’s usually to give a movie a score too high, not the other way around. And that’s often for movies no one else remembers — my positive reviews for “Eragon,” “Chicken Little,” and not-negative enough for “The Smurfs” come to mind.

“There are movies that get better with time – I call it the ‘lasagna effect’. I’m grateful I didn’t rewatch “Inside Out” because my first reaction was a man clapping (as opposed to Little Man falling off his chair), but I now consider it a classic.


Plus, if you’re wondering, he doesn’t regret his “Moneyball” review.

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