Rotten Tomatoes Summer 2009 Wrap-Up

History may look back upon summer 2009 as one of cinema's weirdest seasons. Free of any discernible trends or patterns, Hollywood offered a wild smorgasbord, heavy with comedies and original material, light on tentpole flicks (shockingly, there was only one superhero movie). But let's not forget about the limiteds (which were excluded for contention for this article), movies like The Hurt Locker and Moon that fused philosophy and violence.

And now with the May-August period officially over, Rotten Tomatoes looks back on the passing of another summer season with our Summer Wrap-Up. In this article, you'll find the 10 best Tomatometers of the summer, the 10 worst, an analysis of how each studio fared, and our own favorite summer movie choices!


THE TOP 10 TOMATOMETERS OF THE SUMMER


79%
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Fresh

10. The Hangover

The Hangover, featuring a cast of relative unknowns and opening smack dab in the midst of blockbusters like Up and the Transformers and Terminator sequels, performed beyond expectations. Audiences boosted box office numbers for the bachelor party-themed comedy, and critics like the San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle were quick to dub it "the funniest movie so far this year." Some were put off by the film's raunchy humor and outrageous scenarios, but director Todd Phillips and gang had the last laugh, earning a solid 78% on the Tomatometer on the way to Certified Fresh status.


81%
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Fresh

9. Bandslam

On the surface, Bandslam doesn't look particularly fresh. It's a mix of the old teen outcast underdog tale and "Hey gang! Let's put on a show!" tropes. However, it's all in the telling, and Bandslam proves to be winning, heartwarming, and smart -- in other words, fine family entertainment that's deeper than one might suspect. "Tidy, heartfelt direction by Todd Graff; astute song references; and a David Bowie cameo transcend the formula underpinnings and keep Bandslam buoyant, gratifying and, yes, rocking," wrote Andy Webster of the New York Times.


84%
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Fresh

8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Cole Smithey of ColeSmithey.com felt "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the most balanced Harry Potter film to come along." Balanced is a fair word, as this, the sixth entry in the Harry Potter franchise, let go of the cagey threats and goofy monsters of the earlier films and focused on more intense battles, explicit dangers and obvious romances. The stakes are higher in Half-Blood Prince, the characters make clear which sides they favor (dark or light), and a staggering amount of snogging is going on, which surprisingly adds (not detracts) from all that magic we've come to love in the Potter films. So far, this one's the moody theme park ride of the franchise and were over that ugly pubescent phase. It wasn't as bad as it could have been, but even wizards suffer a little in junior high.


86%
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Fresh

7. (500) Days of Summer

Both heavy hearted and light as air, the hip romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer is carved out of upbeat retro-pop, thrillingly euphoric highs and crushing disappointments. Making his feature debut, director Mark Webb clearly poured all his carefully observed, admiring, wounded fascinations with the ladies into this one, and we should thank him for focusing on twentysomething professionals instead of sensitive, irritable teenagers. Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald said, "This is a romantic comedy that makes the concept of romantic comedies appealing again -- that reminds you how resonant and transporting they can be when they're done right." The musical number set to Hall and Oates didnt hurt.


89%
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Fresh

6. Inglourious Basterds

Welcome back, Mr. Tarantino! Your public has missed you. Yes, you gave us Death Proof just a couple of years ago, but the less said about that, the better; really, we've been waiting for something new from you since the second installment of Kill Bill finished slicing and dicing its way across our screens in 2004. So a little patience has been necessary, but it all paid off with Inglourious Basterds, a wickedly entertaining, typically violent cannonball of a movie that braids the white-hot rage of the revenge fantasy at the center of its premise with all the humor, gleeful pop culture references, and sharp dialogue you'd expect from a Tarantino film. Late August is usually where summer movies go to die; this year, Basterds gave us one last, glorious jolt. In the words of Antagony & Ecstasy's Tim Brayton, "This is filmmaking at its bravest, and whether Tarantino is a genius or a fool, he does nothing by accident."


90%
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Fresh

5. District 9

With a viral campaign that turned local bus stops into quasi-political commentary, District 9 made allegory out of Apartheid three decades later and added a bit more comedy and space ships. The story of a mild mannered administrator and the journey that brings him increasingly closer to the aliens he takes pains to segregate, District 9 was based on a short by director Neil Blompkamp that producer Peter Jackson got behind in a big (feature length) way. The result is a mix of action, science fiction, drama and social satire. According to John Anderson at the Washington Post, "District 9 is A sci-fi-fueled indictment of man's inhumanity to man -- and the non-human -- District 9 is all horribly familiar, and transfixing. Its an actioner, but one surely offering more than explosions."


92%
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Fresh

4. Ponyo

Ponyo may be the last film in the illustrious career of Hayao Miyazaki, and a fairy tale about a fish who wants to be human just might be the perfect capper. Its simple, elegant, straight-forward storytelling charmed critics and adults, but it's obviously a movie made for kids. A gift for the next generation, Ponyo is, as Philippa Hawker states in The Age, "an imaginative, exhilarating work, but its vigour and energy are achieved with surprising simplicity."


92%
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Fresh

3. Drag Me to Hell

Clearly seeking a change of pace after the extravagance of the Spider-Man series (and the negative experience of the third one), Sam Raimi went back to his roots with this low-budget, button-pushing comedy/horror. The twisted tale of a young banker cursed to go to hell was given a PG-13 rating, sparking concerns that Raimi had gone soft. But as reviews started coming in, it was clear that Raimi had given us one of the most memorable horror movies in years, an effective, disgusting non-stop carnival ride. Brian Juergens from CampBlood.org notes that "[t]his fabulously compact little morality tale is the most fun you'll ever have analyzing our economic collapse."


95%
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Fresh

2. Star Trek

As with many franchises these days, Star Trek got the reboot treatment this year when J.J. Abrams, the mind behind television shows such as Alias and Lost, dared to direct a prequel to the original Star Trek series. As it turned out, critics and audiences alike warmly embraced Abrams' take on the sci-fi adventure, and Star Trek landed in Certified Fresh territory. While some die-hard fans were a bit put off by some of the liberties Abrams took with the overarching mythology of the franchise, an overwhelming majority found the film to be, in the words of Tom Long of the Detroit News, "a film that should appeal to longtime Trekkies, sci-fi neophytes, and pretty much anybody who likes a good action flick."


98%
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Fresh

1. Up

It probably comes as no surprise to you that Up takes the top spot for the summer (and is a strong contender of taking the prize for the year). Pixar flicks have been dominating Tomatometer lists for 10 years running now and their latest, a story of a man, his house, a kid, and their journey to South America, is no exception. Audiences of all ages were thrilled by the film's stunning visuals, classical storytelling, and surprising bursts of emotion and heartbreak. "How much do I love this movie?" Philadelphia Inquirer's Carrie Rickey asked her readers, "If it were mathematically possible, I'd give it five stars out of four."


Comments

piratefan60

Donna Storey

I know why alot of the movies didn't do as well at the box office. Way to much competiton. Take example Public Enemies a good movie with a great cast. It was the only movie that was going to be released on July 1. Then Ice Age was moved from July 4 back July 1. If you have children you are going to see Ice Age. Star Trek, The Hangover, etc were still doing well at the box office. Although where I lived the theater for Public Enemies was sold out for 5 days. Yet it still did not do good at the box office. Some people do not like that type of movie either. Then you have Harry Potter coming out, which all the teenagers are going to see. So it's hard to predict what people will see. It depends on your taste. Some don't do good at the box office, but do good on rental or purchasing. Some people stay away from the theaters, because the prices are crazy. If two people go to the movies, you can a movie what it cost. If you buy refreshments you could buy two movies. It's a shame how much it cost today.

Sep 6 - 01:18 PM

inactive user

Jared King

Hey, I see probably less than 10 movies a year in theaters for the core reason of price. So yeah, it's too damn expensive.

Not that anyone asked, but here's I rank the 5 measly films I sae this summer. Yes only 5. I have to use money to buy food and used games you know. Can't go out everyweek, or even every month. But here's my ranking.

1. Star Trek - 10/10
2. Up - 10/10
3. Drag Me to Hell - 9/10
4. X-Men Origins: Wolverine - 7/10
5. Terminator Salvation - 6/10

Okay Summer, May was packed, but the other months suffered because of that.

Sep 6 - 01:29 PM

inactive user

Jared King

Hey, I see probably less than 10 movies a year in theaters for the core reason of price. So yeah, it's too damn expensive.

Not that anyone asked, but here's I rank the 5 measly films I sae this summer. Yes only 5. I have to use money to buy food and used games you know. Can't go out everyweek, or even every month. But here's my ranking.

1. Star Trek - 10/10
2. Up - 10/10
3. Drag Me to Hell - 9/10
4. X-Men Origins: Wolverine - 7/10
5. Terminator Salvation - 6/10

Okay Summer, May was packed, but the other months suffered because of that.

Sep 6 - 01:29 PM

Bryan W.

Bryan Warcholek

Terminator Salvation was absolute garbage.....1. Up 2. Star Trek 3. Basterds

Sep 6 - 01:40 PM

Justin T.

Justin Tucker

I was going to say the same thing about Terminator. Trash.

Sep 7 - 02:19 PM

Marlon E.

Marlon Elsbree

Can't believe G-Force didn't make the bottom ten, being the large piece of fecal matter that it was.

1. Up
2. Star Trek
3. District 9
4. The Hurt Locker
5. Inglorious Basterds

Sep 6 - 01:45 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Good list, but I would have put Basterds, The Hangover in for D9 and Ponyo and probably would have to find a place for The Hurt Locker as well, though I don't know who I'd sacrifice. Good Summer I thought with a strong late push.

Sep 6 - 02:12 PM

vashfanatic

Martha Boatright

Um, I think the review for "Humpday" was accidentally added to the review for "District 9," the second paragraph of which matches it word for word.

Sep 6 - 02:12 PM

Alex Vo

Alex Vo

Thanks, we fixed it.

As for The Hurt Locker's exclusion, 500 Days of Summer did indeed go wide, while HL was just shy of that status.

Sep 6 - 05:31 PM

Zaraki

Rick V

I still say Transformers was underrated. It was fun for what it was, I didn't expect Oscar material and I got a pretty good time out of it. It was good, but by no means great. I suppose that's just me, though.

Agreed with the top 3 of the summer, Up, Drag me to Hell, and Star Trek deserve it.

Sep 6 - 02:19 PM

Some guy you dont know

Bruce Campbell

''crowning Joesph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel as the new king and queen of indie cinema.''

Thats all that mattered to me. That and Star Trek being epic win.

Sep 6 - 02:31 PM

MsSissiePooh

Stephanie Fryar

Although this summer movie season wasn't as good as past summers, there were several movies I really enjoyed...

1. Up
2. Star Trek
3. Inglorious Basterds
4. The Hurt Locker
5. District 9
6. Public Enemies
7. Drag Me To Hell

Sep 6 - 02:36 PM

smartmoviekid

jonathan ramirez

for me it was:

1.District 9
2.Inglorious Basterds
3.Up
4.Star Trek
5.Bruno
6.Drag me to Hell
7.Public Enemies
8.Funny People
9.The Hangover
10.Terminator:Salvation (Yes it could've been light years better, but anything is favorable to Transformers.)

This would also add to my favorite overall films of '09, but i would have to add Watchmen, I love you,man and Observe and Report to the list as well.

Sep 6 - 03:16 PM

sunsaz

Chris Moore

Scratching my head trying to figure out why Hurt Locker isn't in there. Can't be because it was in limited release since 500 Days is in there.

Oh well. Still a pretty good list. Loved Basterds, Up, and Trek. Need to see Potter, Hangover, District, Ponyo, and 500 Days when they get to DVD. Just wish I had more time this summer to see some more of those movies.

Sep 6 - 03:34 PM

southfrisco

Dan Huck

Am I the only one here who thinks Up, Drag Me to Hell and District 9 are a little overrated with critics and audiences this year?

Up = Flat story. Seems all the praise is based on "because it is a Pixar movie." I was really itching to leave in the middle of it and the good vs. evil plot again made me cringe *rolleyes*. Would have been 10 times better without that plot twist (if you can call it that). Just showing the journey of the old man and kid would have made me more interested. Leave the dogs and the bad man out of it.

Drag Me to Hell = More gross than horror jump out of your seat scary which is what I was looking for from the reviews. Very disappointed in it. Better than Raimi's last product which isn't praise from me.

District 9 = Who says Hollywood isn't original? Lets take a bunch of ideas from many films, throw them together in a different backdrop and hopefully movie goers will call it original...they did with Star Wars. See the problem right now is most Hollywood products just take one or two ideas of unoriginality and combine them. Lets shoot for the whole kitchen sink and throw in as many ideas as possible. Surely dumb audiences will think something in it is original, no? BTW that plot device of the fuel cell liquid being a virus that when coming in contact with human tissue can change humans into those prawns was utter garbage in my mind.

I liked the Hangover but some of the scenarios are outlandish. Inglorious Basterds was very good. I guess I expect more out of movies now and when they pander to the same old boring formulas I just check out. Maybe it is due to me being more mature now than when I was in my teens and twenties. Don't get me wrong, I can enjoy some crappy cinema after all I actually liked the last Rambo movie for the violence in it. But I just seem to be able to spot twists and turns so easily now that it just takes the fun out of watching movies these days. Where are the fresh and interesting risk taking writers and directors of my youth? They have gone the way of the big budget studio and producer who thinks they know what audiences want based on ticket sales.

Hollywood I hope you get a brain soon.

Sep 6 - 04:30 PM

Elissa D.

Elissa DAries

I haven't seen District 9 or Drag Me to Hell, but I agree with you on Up. I thought it was going to be much better. The plot twist was what made it bad for me too.

Sep 7 - 01:17 AM

Bruce K.

Bruce Kilkowski

Both Bruno and Public Enemies got cheated at the box office because of Ice Age and Harry Potter respectively. Universal must have looked at that when they delayed The Wolfman to February from November so it wouldn't get killed by New Moon.

Sep 6 - 04:34 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Public Enemies probably shouldn't have ever been a Summer movie. If Depp, Bale and Cottilard weren't so hot at the time, it probably wouldn't have been. It was a fall indie flick masquerading as a Summer blockbuster.

Sep 6 - 05:24 PM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

Great summer. 1- UP, 2-Inglorious Basterds, 3- District 9, 4-Moon, 5- The Hurt Locker, 6- Funny People, 7- Public Enemies, 8- World's Greatest Dad, 9- Drag Me to Hell, 10- The Brother's Bloom, (Hon. Mention- Harry Potter, 500 Days of Summer, Away We Go, and Star Trek).

Worst
1- The Ugly Truth- It contains everything you fear most from typical rom coms.
2- Transformers ROTF- Bloated, Beyond stupid, horribly cut action (last 30 minutes), laughably bad at times (all the slow motion and robot heaven). Extremely unfunny, unless you find humping dogs and two annoying robots funny. The first one was fun, this one was hard to watch.
3- Wolverine, the biggest disappointment. Its fricking Wolverine! His origin story could have been epic, instead it was a cliched superhero parody movie. Wasted characters, really stupid, pretty horrid action, and Roger Rabbit like CGI.
4- Orphan, it was funny bad.
5- Can't think of another bad movie I saw.

Sep 6 - 05:05 PM

inactive user

Jared King

I don't know if this summer was "Great", but it was good. 2008 was far better. Would you not agree?

Sep 6 - 09:06 PM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

No I would say great, I liked more then 10 movies this summer and I actually loved plenty of them. Last summer there was only two movies I loved (that I can remember)- Wall-e and The Dark Knight. But I still really liked Iron Man, HB II, Tropic Thunder, and Pineapple Express. Last summer was filled with movies I mostly *just* liked, where this summer had a lot of movies I loved.

Sep 6 - 10:27 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Land of the Lost, Taking of Pelham 1,2,3 or Year One? Those were the three bad ones for me you didn't mention. I thought Angels andb Demons, G.I. Joe and Terminator were OK, but not terribly good.

Sep 6 - 05:21 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Public Enemies probably shouldn't have ever been a Summer movie. If Depp, Bale and Cottilard weren't so hot at the time, it probably wouldn't have been. It was a fall indie flick masquerading as a Summer blockbuster.

Sep 6 - 05:24 PM

Alex Vo

Alex Vo

Thanks, we fixed it.

As for The Hurt Locker's exclusion, 500 Days of Summer did indeed go wide, while HL was just shy of that status.

Sep 6 - 05:31 PM

warlock716

Bryan Jacobson

My favorite films of the summer were

1. Moon
2. Up
3. Inglourious Basterds
4. District 9
5. Away We Go
6. 500 Days of Summer
7. Star Trek
8. Drag Me To Hell
9. World's Greatest Dad
10. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
11. The Hangover

Sep 6 - 05:44 PM

Sean P.

Sean Peecook

Great list.

Sep 6 - 08:34 PM

Johnny A

Johnny A

A few of my favourite films, that I've seen:

1. The Hurt Locker
2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
3. Star Trek
4. The Hangover

Not a nice round number I know. Plenty of movies to catch up on. Atm, my horror binge tonight.

Sep 6 - 05:56 PM

ColinTheCimmerian

Colin Hay

I'd say it was a mediocre summer; though I liked several movies nothing really blew me away. Public Enemies, Star Trek and The Hangover impressed me, but looking at my ratings there's a whole lot of 6 or lower, which means a lot of stuff either disappointed me or met my expectations when I wasn't expecting much in the first place.

I was hoping for a lot out of Public Enemies and it didn't disappoint; Star Trek, The Hangover, Transformers and Year One were all better than I was expecting (though in the case of Transformers and Year One, my expectations were not particularly high). Up was considerably more emotionally evocative than I thought it would be; I was simultaneously pleasantly surprised and saddened while watching it.

I had high expectations for Terminator, Drag Me to Hell and District 9. They all had their moments, but as a whole each disappointed me considerably.

G.I.Joe and Angels & Demons were both decent for what they were; I wasn't expecting a great deal from either of them.

Wolverine was a big disappointment for me. Not so much in the sense that I actually thought it would be really good, but moreso in that I know it had the *potential* to be really good. But it ended up being far worse than I feared it would be, even at the low end of my expectations. I so hope Fox will eventually relinquish the rights to the X-men property.

Public Enemies 8/10
Star Trek 8/10
Transformers 2 7/10
The Hangover 7/10
Year One 7/10
Up 7/10
Drag Me to Hell 6/10
Terminator Salvation 6/10
District 9 6/10
G.I. Joe 6/10
Angels and Demons 6/10
X-men Origins: Wolverine 4/10

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