Entertainment

11 2000s Movies That Are Way Better Than Their Rotten Tomatoes Score

They're Certified Fresh in our hearts.

the house bunny
Anna Faris in 'The House Bunny' | Maitane Romagosa/Thrillist
Anna Faris in 'The House Bunny' | Maitane Romagosa/Thrillist

There is perhaps no decade in history with pop culture as trashy as the 2000s. The aughts were infamouslytrashy! Part of what contributed to that, aside from people ravenously consuming tabloids about heiresses and young starlets in outfits of questionable taste, was the lot of outrageous, cringe-worthy, and typically befallen to the category of good-bad-movie-that's-fun-to-watch that came out at the time. Many were teen movies featuring ridiculous plots for the sake of entertainment and led by one of those headline-making young stars, and therefore became big commercial successes. But were they loved by critics? Not so much, and because of Rotten Tomatoes' algorithm that weighs movies as good or bad, they've since rotted away on the site and cemented themselves in aughties trash-dom. 

While a handful of those '00s favorites are objectively garbage heaps, by no means reaching accolades of high-brow cinema, few critics had taken teen media seriously until recently, writing off movies because they were explicitly targeted at teenage girls. So, in the Thrillist tradition of re-evaluatingmovies that are much better than their Rotten Tomato score, we've taken a look at many of the movies millennials and older gen Z-ers grew up renting from Blockbuster and cherish still today (no matter how outrageous they are).  

along came polly
Universal Pictures

Along Came Polly

Release date: January 16, 2004
Director: John Hamburg
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 27%
Why it's better than that: Many of the most beloved romantic comedies came out in the '90s, and then a whole slew of them kept coming out in the '00s, even though they weren't really instant classics like their predecessors. Along Came Polly is one those movies, being just a little bit cruder than typical entries into the genre, but featuring Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston, it still makes for a lovely oddball comedy. With Stiller's neurotic (amazingly named) Reuben Feffer determined to make it work with his former classmate Polly when he's reunited with her serendipitously after his marriage gets called off, it's an amusing arrangement for everything that could go wrong to go wrong. Largely owed to Stiller forever being a great leading funnyman, the scene where he destroys her plumbing and when they go dancing are rom-com moments that are actually laugh-out-loud worthy, no matter how juvenile. Plus, she has a pet ferret named Rodolfo and Philip Seymour Hoffman gets to goof it up as Stiller's corny best friend! 

a cinderella story
Warner Bros. Pictures

A Cinderella Story 

Release date: July 16, 2004
Director: Mark Rosman
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 12%
Why it's better than that: Okay, yes -- as it is one of the most famous and frequently retold fairy tales of all time -- everybody is familiar with Cinderella. So, yeah, sure, a Cinderella story set in an LA high school is extremely predictable, but that doesn't mean this tween flick doesn't have its own magic. With heartthrobs Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray chatting online under secret identities before meeting IRL at the school dance, the story is updated to perfection -- especially since everybody was basically wishing for their own version of Prince Charming hiding behind a screen name when they were chatting with strangers online back in the day. The rest of the cast is great, too, with Jennifer Coolidge playing the Botox-injected wicked stepmother and Regina King as the fairy godmother, working alongside Duff at her family diner. There may not be any literal bibbidi-bobbidi-boo in this version, but there's a comfort in seeing the happily ever after unfold between the clichéd outcast and popular kid no matter how dramatic -- cue the "waiting for you is like waiting for rain in this drought" line -- right up into that seminal, rain-drenched kiss. 

the house bunny
Sony Pictures Releasing

The House Bunny

Release date: August 22, 2008
Director: Fred Wolf
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 44%
Why it's better than that: Anna Faris is very funny -- so funny that, at least in the '00s, she was underrated and underused in movies. Thanks to The House Bunny, she finally got her time to shine, playing a Playboy bunny who ends up as a house mother to a sorority struggling to stay afloat when she's forced to retire from the Playboy mansion at 27. It's a silly, kinda misogynist set-up for sure, but it's the kind of movie that's basically begged to be watched at sleepovers (AKA super enjoyable) and has a stellar ensemble of women (Emma Stone, Kat Dennings) who all do a heartwarming job at painting their characters as multidimensional, especially Faris' ditzy, misunderstood Shelley. She gives a performance that's almost Goldie Hawn-like, meaning even though she never got to be the centerfold she hoped to be, she remains a centerfold in our hearts. 

jennifer's body
20th Century Fox

Jennifer's Body 

Release date: September 18, 2009
Director: Karyn Kusama
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 44%
Why it's better than that: There is perhaps no 2000s movie of which the consensus has been so dramatically revisited as Jennifer's Body. When it was released, all reviewers seemed to focus on was how the horror movie was scary but not scary enough, and/or star Megan Fox's sex appeal even as a flesh-eating demon. But now? It's all about Jennifer's Body, Feminist Text, as many film fans and writers have looked back on how much people missed the mark on the flick upon its initial release. Critics seemed to view the movie written by Juno filmmaker Diablo Cody as your run-of-the-mill teen scream flick about a possessed high schooler, and didn't look into its subtext as a pseudo-assault revenge tale. Fox does kill and devour that performance, though, and it's almost even more powerful upon reflection, now knowing how the actress was treated by Hollywood at the time. Maybe audiences then weren't so impressed or freaked out by Fox's razor sharp teeth, but women can certainly recognize the Hell her character's living in. 

john tucker must die
20th Century Fox

John Tucker Must Die 

Release date: July 27, 2006
Director: Betty Thomas
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 27%
Why it's better than that: No matter how trashy, revenge stories are almost always extremely satisfying in their own way. John Tucker Must Die is one that's as delicious as a tube of cherry lip gloss from Bath and Body Works. While girls frequently gang up on each other in teen movies (Heathers, Mean Girls) -- which, fair enough, as girls can be nasty -- John Tucker Must Die finds them teaming up and weaponizing their anger against a shared villain: the teenage boy who broke their hearts. The pranks they pull are definitely problematic in the way they shame gender norms and sexuality, but altogether it indicts toxic masculinity in a way teen romps rarely did in the '00s. It's messy, but so is love in high school! 

the lizzie mcguire movie
Buena Vista Pictures/Walt Disney Pictures

The Lizzie McGuire Movie 

Release date: May 2, 2003
Director: Jim Fall
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 41%
Why it's better than that: Any property, especially a tween Disney property, runs the risk of turning a good thing into a flat-out bad movie when plans arise to adapt it for the big screen. The Lizzie McGuire Movie is anything but that, and it's likely a shock to the system to anyone who grew up with the Disney Channel series to hear that its feature film was so poorly received by critics. As the iconic character sings on the soundtrack, this is what dreams are made of! It doesn't matter that the film is completely ludicrous -- that following her middle school (yes, you read that right, middle school) gradation, she travels to Italy and gets mistaken for an international pop star -- it's what anyone who grew up obsessed with Disney Channel dreamt for themselves whether they admit it or not, and that suspension of reality you sometimes want from a movie. Hilary Duff is as charming as ever as the quirky and relatable Lizzie, and the movie deserves to be Certified Fresh for the soundtrack alone.

new york minute
Warner Bros. Pictures

New York Minute

Release date: May 7, 2004
Director: Dennie Gordon
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 11%
Why it's better than that: Okay, New York Minute is wild, and not to mention super problematic -- but it's also one of the few Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen movies that made its way to a theatrical release and is exciting for that reason alone. It follows the same Olsen twins formula -- sisters with clashing personalities get caught up in some sort of kefuffle and learn to love one another nonetheless -- but the scale is bigger than ever (the Big Apple, baby!). The pirating scheme they wind up in on their day trip into NYC is a recipe for disaster (and befallen to racist stereotypes, including a bizarre appearance by Andy Richter in a fake Chinese accent), but when you accept it's just a silly adventure movie about one thing after another going wrong, you can see the whole thing is like a comedic playground for the Olsens -- and they're fully capable of pulling laughs. It's also the only movie to feature an excellent on-screen performance by pop-punk icons Simple Plan, and few pieces of cinema can say that! Were New York Minute to be evaluated on a scale of solely Olsen twins movies, including everything from the You're Invited To… series to their many straight to VHS releases, there's no denying this one would be Certified Fresh.

she's the man
DreamWorks Pictures

She's The Man

Release date: March 17, 2006
Director: Andy Fickman
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 43%
Why it's better than that: Hollywood loves to take a classic Shakespeare play and turn it into a contemporary teen movie. It worked well in one of the best teen movies of all time, 10 Things I Hate About You, and it's a format that's even more fun in She's The Man, adapting the convoluted, love-triangle-filled Twelfth Night. If it weren't for Amanda Bynes, who plays the headstrong Viola who disguises herself as her brother Sebastian to prove to the boys that girls are just as capable on the soccer field, the movie admittedly could've been less enjoyable -- but the actress is so damn hysterical in this. Few aughties stars had the comedic timing and unhinged delivery that she did throughout her career on screen. I can still hear her pronunciation of "BEYOTCH" and "UGLY" from this movie in the back of my mind, and I'm sure anyone who's seen She's The Man at least once can too. Bless this movie for its memorable lines, queer subtleties, and truly funny moments, including Viola's tampon nose bleed tip -- may it play on slow days in high school literature classes forevermore.

uptown girls
MGM Distribution Co.

Uptown Girls

Release date: August 15, 2003
Director: Boaz Yakin
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 14%
Why it's better than that: Uptown Girls is perhaps the most unfairly rated movie on this list. First of all, critics called it too sweet for its own good, but that sweetness is what makes it so lovable. Second of all, they thought Brittany Murphy's performance as a childish heiress who takes to nannying when her money runs out was annoying -- but really the way Murphy plays her character, who is all about embracing youth, is imbued with a special liveliness. It's about an unconventional female friendship and the way we process grief at its emotional core. It may be both saccharine and a sob fest, but it's beloved by many for a reason (even if one of which is that Murphy has a pet pig), and we're lucky the late actress's warmth lives on in this film.

wet hot american summer
USA Films

Wet Hot American Summer

Release date: July 27, 2001 
Director: David Wain
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 38%
Why it's better than that: There are spoofs, and then there is Wet Hot American Summer, which is genius level parody. Critics may have thought that the adults playing teenage camp counselors bit would've worked better as a brief SNL skit, but there really is in art in this comedy written by Michael Showalter (The Big Sick) and director David Wain, to which the astounding cast of then up-and-comers (Elizabeth Banks! Bradley Cooper! Paul Rudd! Amy Poehler! Molly Shannon!) instills the chaotic vibrance and naïvety of teens returning to their beloved (or reviled) Camp Firewood. With not one but two Netflix original reboots, this one's of course been reevaluated, but fans who've held onto it 4ever like the friendship bracelets they made at Crafts know the ensemble was always great, the lines were extremely quotable, and it's the perfect balance of actual nostalgia and poking fun at nostalgia. If you disagree, you can "leave your bullshit attitude and baggage at the door because we don't need it!"

what a girl wants
Warner Bros. Pictures

What a Girl Wants

Release date: March 27, 2003
Director: Dennie Gordon
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 35%
Why it's better than that: Is Colin Firth's best role the one he won an Oscar for in The King's Speech? No: It's playing Amanda Bynes' long-lost father in What a Girl Wants. Okay, maybe not actually, but this movie about a girl who sets off across the globe to London to meet her dad for the first time is an endearing little family fairy tale -- and you can't help but want to give a big hug to Firth as he turns his Bridget Jones charisma into a performance as a Cool Dad. It's sort of a Princess Diaries-esque story since Bynes' Daphne finds out her dad is a famous British Lord, but this movie's more about being unafraid to stick to who you are, which allows Bynes to be as delightful as ever as an unrestrained American abroad. It's sincere, about a relationship seldom explored in teen movies, and against an exciting European backdrop (with a cute British bad boy love interest!), so really this movie is just what anybody who isn't heartless wants!

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Sadie Bell is the entertainment editorial assistant at Thrillist. She's on Twitter at @mssadiebell.