What’s your reaction to a bad movie? Do you mock it, MST3K-style?  Perhaps you storm out of the cinema and attempt a refund?  If you’re part of one particularly prickly crew, you post your thoughts on the “Mr. Cranky Rates the Movies!” website.  (Warning: the reviews’ language will likely trip workplace internet filters.  You were warned.)   Providing a fistful of internet vigilante justice, the Mr. Cranky site is home to more than two thousand scathing movie reviews written by just a handful of people.

For fun, we’re taking a look at the Mr. Cranky reviews and we decided to share our initial results with you, our faithful readers.

As always, we began with some simple charts to get a feel for the data set.  We first broke down the list of reviews based on the films’ release dates:

Mr Cranky: Ratings by release date

Mr Cranky: Ratings by release date

We see here that most of the reviews cover releases from the past fifteen years.  There are a few outliers though, including a small crop of films released in the early 1970s.  There’s also a curious gap in 2007.  Perhaps Team Cranky needs to rest up before they take on more pain?

We removed the outliers on either end and focused on the 1995-2006 region.  This still comprises about 96% of the data set (about two-thousand movies).

If a movie is bad enough, we may say that it “bombed.”  Instead of the standard one- to four-star ratings, Mr. Cranky’s system is based on explosives: from one bomb (hated the least) to four bombs, then dynamite, and finally, the nuke (hated the most).

Charting the review ratings, broken down by year, we see that Mr. Cranky has been judicious in dishing out the pain.  Each year’s reviews form something of a bell shape, with most movies taking the middle rating of a three-bomb score (green in the chart below).

Mr Cranky: Ratings by release date

Mr Cranky: Ratings by release date


In fact, if we plot these years as lines instead of separate breakdowns, we see plenty of overlap.  The familiar bell shape is rather consistent over time:

Mr Cranky: Movies reviewed by release date

Mr Cranky: Movies reviewed by release date

Given such consistency in the distribution, one would expect the Mr. Cranky crew to have some strict criteria for how to assign the ratings.  The data we have here yield little insight into that process; all we can see is that there’s probably no bias in terms of a film’s release date.  Perhaps its based on the number of child sidekicks, or car chases, or even child sidekicks chasing cars?

With more data, we would ideally be able to model the Mr. Cranky system and predict a movie’s rating.  This makes for a fun party game, yes; but for movie executives such a formula could be useful.  We wager Hollywood studios already have a screening process for scripts, but clearly some clunkers still make it through.   What if the studios could employ a predictive model to enhance their accept/reject process?  A successful model would permit them to divert funds toward sure-fire blockbusters and pull the plug on failures before they go too far.

Hmm…  Hollywood, if you’re listening, drop us a line.  We have an idea.

We’re not done here, not by a long shot.  We’ll revisit the Mr. Cranky data to get a deeper look into the review process.  Stay tuned.

Have some interesting data you’d like us to check out? Need our help making sense of your company’s data? Please drop us a line. Thanks for reading.

Bookmark and Share