15 Biopics With Terrible Reviews

Now that the critically panned Diana is in theaters, let’s take a look at other biopics that made a less-than-stellar impression.

Entertainment One

“Poor Princess Diana,” Peter Bradshaw wrote in his review of her biopic for The Guardian. “I hesitate to use the term ‘car crash cinema.’ But the awful truth is that, 16 years after that terrible day in 1997, she has died another awful death.” Those are harsh words, but Bradshaw isn’t alone: Diana, now in theaters, has an abysmal 10% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Few of the reviews are as hilariously blistering as Bradshaw’s, but they’re just as dismissive of the film.

To be fair, biopics are tough. How can a filmmaker condense someone’s life into one movie? The results are often muddled, as in the following poorly reviewed biopics — some of which are even lower rated than Diana.

1. Wired (1989)

Taurus Entertainment

Subject: John Belushi
Rotten Tomatoes score: 0%
Choice review:Wired is in some ways a sincere attempt to deal with the material, but it is such an ungainly and hapless movie, so stupidly written, so awkwardly directed and acted, that it never gets off the ground.” - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

2. The Babe (1992)

Universal Pictures

Subject: Babe Ruth
Rotten Tomatoes score: 47%
Choice review: “Spending these 115 minutes with the Babe is a little like being jammed into the window seat on a long-distance bus, next to a big guy with beer and cigars on his breath and nothing to talk about but his next meal and his last broad.” - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

3. The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999)

Gaumont

Subject: Joan of Arc
Rotten Tomatoes score: 30%
Choice review:The Messenger is a truly vulgar movie (and I’ve never described any film with that word), not just because Besson has taken on Joan’s story with no feelings of reverence or awe or even much sympathy for her, but because her story is reduced to an excuse for him to parade himself as Luc Besson, Epic Filmmaker.” - Charles Taylor, Salon

4. Patch Adams (2003)

Universal Pictures

Subject: Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams
Rotten Tomatoes score: 23%
Choice review: “Nothing [Robin] Williams has done is quite as craven and full of horsefeathers as his star turn in Patch Adams, an offensive and deeply false ‘inspirational’ drama that idiotically indicts the entire medical profession in the service of making one man — Adams, which is to say Williams — look like a cockeyed saint.” - Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

5. Radio (2003)

Columbia Pictures

Subject: James Robert Kennedy
Rotten Tomatoes score: 36%
Choice review: “In Radio, Cuba Gooding Jr. falls victim to the Nell syndrome, in which a vibrant, loquacious actor decides that the road to an Oscar nomination is to wear a slack expression and a set of Nutty Professor teeth.” - Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

6. De-Lovely (2004)

MGM

Subject: Cole Porter
Rotten Tomatoes score: 48%
Choice review: “As his musical version of ‘This is Your Life’ grinds glacially on, and Porter waits for his eternal release, you wonder whether De-Lovely is a sly metaphor. What worse hell could a showman endure than a tin-eared procession of his greatest hits?” - Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune

7. Alexander (2004)

Warner Bros. Pictures

Subject: Alexander the Great
Rotten Tomatoes score: 16%
Choice review: “Oliver Stone directs this ancient-world epic with a startling lack of personality or vision. As Alexander, Colin Farrell has no dynamism, no interior force; he’s grand in theory but hollow at the center.” - Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

8. Beyond the Sea (2004)

Lions Gate Films

Subject: Bobby Darin
Rotten Tomatoes score: 42%
Choice review: “This vainglorious biopic about Bobby Darin is really about what the ’60s pop singer and actor means to Kevin Spacey, who co-produces, co-writes, directs, stars in, dances and sings his way through this movie. You hear the name ‘Bobby Darin’ all the time, but you always imagine you hear ‘Kevin Spacey’ instead.” - Desson Thomson, Washington Post

9. Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2005)

Paramount Pictures

Subject: Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson
Rotten Tomatoes score: 16%
Choice review: “Marcus is a poor man’s Tony Montana, and the inert Jackson a piss-poor Pacino. In fact, if you’ve ever wondered what Scarface would be like if only it had less subtlety, a more upbeat ending and Mr. Potato Head cast as the charismatic anti-hero, then this could be your lucky day.” - Colin Kennedy, Empire

10. Factory Girl (2006)

The Weinstein Company

Subject: Edie Sedgwick
Rotten Tomatoes score: 19%
Choice review: “Cookie-cut from the biopic assembly line, this life and times of Edie Sedgwick (Sienna Miller) is the least-fabulous movie imaginable about the most fabulous persona in that most fabulous of scenes, the Warhol Factory at the height of its genius and gaiety.” - Nathan Lee, Village Voice

11. Amelia (2009)

For Searchlight Pictures

Subject: Amelia Earhart
Rotten tomatoes score: 21%
Choice review: “It’s all so glancing and superficial that the movie doesn’t seem to have a present tense. It goes by like coming attractions. It is, however, a treasury of bad biopic dialogue. When Earhart passes over giraffes in Africa, she marvels, ‘Look how free they are … No schedules to keep!’” - David Edelstein, New York Magazine

12. J. Edgar (2011)

Warner Bros.

Subject: J. Edgar Hoover
Rotten Tomatoes score: 43%
Choice review: “Mr. Eastwood’s ponderous direction, a clumsy script by Dustin Lance Black and ghastly slatherings of old-age makeup all conspire to put the story at an emotional and historical distance. It’s a partially animated waxworks.” - Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

13. The Iron Lady (2011)

The Weinstein Company

Subject: Margaret Thatcher
Rotten Tomatoes score: 51%
Choice review: “Maudlin and ham-fisted — when the young Thatcher asserts ‘I cannot die washing up a teacup,’ we know that’s exactly what she’ll be doing as the curtain falls — The Iron Lady is cinematic scrap metal.” - Jeannette Catsoulis, NPR

14. Winnie Mandela (2011)

Image Entertainment

Subject: Winnie Madikizela–Mandela
Rotten Tomatoes score: 15%
Choice review: “The average scene length is about 30 seconds; it’s as if the filmmakers feared actually having to dramatize events and settled for simply indicating them. Winnie Mandela is maybe the closest a movie has come to a series of commemorative plates.” - Scott MacDonald, The AV Club

15. Jobs (2013)

Open Road Films

Subject: Steve Jobs
Rotten Tomatoes score: 26%
Choice review: “Kutcher is everything except interesting. And the script by Matt Whiteley, done no favors by Joshua Michael Stern’s plodding direction, offers sketchy insight into the man whose accomplishments are treated by Jobs as somewhere north of the invention of the wheel and somewhere south, barely, of the birth of human consciousness.” - Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

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