Critics are everywhere; great critics, not so much. But all of them have seen their influence wane over the past 15 years, as the Mitchells and Dargises of the world have been subsumed by Rotten Tomatoes and its nuance-flattening Tomatometer score. Why? It’s gameable. (Also, as filmmaker Paul Schrader points out, “audiences are dumber.” No argument there.) Lane Brown digs into the rottenness, aided by one of the grossest lede images you’ll ever see at the top of a magazine feature.

But despite Rotten Tomatoes’ reputed importance, it’s worth a reminder: Its math stinks. Scores are calculated by classifying each review as either positive or negative and then dividing the number of positives by the total. That’s the whole formula. Every review carries the same weight whether it runs in a major newspaper or a Substack with a dozen subscribers.

If a review straddles positive and negative, too bad. “I read some reviews of my own films where the writer might say that he doesn’t think that I pull something off, but, boy, is it interesting in the way that I don’t pull it off,” says Schrader, a former critic. “To me, that’s a good review, but it would count as negative on Rotten Tomatoes.”