The Tomatometer rating – based on the published opinions of hundreds of film and television critics – is a trusted measurement of movie and TV programming quality for millions of moviegoers. It represents the percentage of professional critic reviews that are positive for a given film or television show.
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The Tomatometer is 60% or higher.
The Tomatometer is 59% or lower.
Movies and TV shows are Certified Fresh with a steady Tomatometer of 75% or higher after a set amount of reviews (80 for wide-release movies, 40 for limited-release movies, 20 for TV shows), including 5 reviews from Top Critics.
Percentage of users who rate a movie or TV show positively.
At the end of the film, we learn that many world-changing ideas originated in the Washington character's classrooms, so there are obviously great stories to tell. If only somebody could figure out how to tell them.
The film avoids potentially interesting frictions by always letting the team debate (and win) on the 'correct' side of every issue -- that which aligns with generally accepted modern liberal sympathies.
When The Great Debaters ends, expect to be uplifted despite the inherent schmaltz. Think about the film for any length of time afterwards, and the wheels of its storytelling undeniably begin to deflate.
For a movie about a debate team -- one with the word 'debaters' in the title, no less -- Denzel Washington's second effort as a director doesn't have that much interest in what a debate looks and sounds like.