With restaurants and other date options still mostly closed because of COVID-19, many couples will likely cozy up and put on a romantic movie to celebrate Valentine’s Day 2021. While films about love and relationships usually take one of two approaches — sweet and lovable or steamy and intimate — some notable exceptions achieve neither and end up as misguided messes.
24/7 Tempo reviewed audience and critic ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as viewer ratings on IMDb, for romantic movies in order to determine the 20 worst romance movies ever made, and then to pick the absolute worst one.
In a romantic film, the key to success is to have convincing characters, plausible plot, and a believable relationship between the characters. But all this can be thrown off by poor performances from actors, unrealistic dialogue, unfocused directing, or a story that does not make sense. Each of the 20 finalists on this list was criticized for having at least one of these flaws — or even all of them in some cases.
Many of the films on the finalist list came out in early February, in the hopes of cashing in on couples going to the movies to see a romantic film for Valentine’s Day. Though the films on this list were not critically well received, some still managed to capture the top spot at the box office. These are the most popular movies for Valentine’s Day since 1980.
This finalist list also consists largely of sequels. Studios see a winning formula in a movie and hope that audiences will come back to see the same characters in new situations. Unfortunately, these follow-ups often come across as lazy cash grabs, as much of the original magic from the first film is lost.
To determine the worst romantic movie of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data from the Internet Movie Database and Rotten Tomatoes. We created an index based on the average critic rating from Rotten Tomatoes, the average audience rating from Rotten Tomatoes, and the average user rating from IMDb. We only considered romantic feature films with at least 5,000 Rotten Tomatoes audience reviews, 10 Rotten Tomatoes critic reviews, and 10,000 IMDb user reviews. All data is for the most recent period available. Data was collected in February 2021.
“The Hottie & the Nottie” (2008) tops the list of worst romantic films ever made. It falls into the genres of comedy and romance. Directed by Tom Putnam, it starred Paris Hilton, Joel David Moore, Christine Lakin, and Johann Urb. It had an astonishingly small box office gross of $30,000. The cringe-inducing title should be warning enough. David Jenkins of Time Out called this film “an execrable Z-grade eugenics parable.” The film has a 6% Freshness rating among Rotten Tomatoes critics, and 31% of audiences liked the gross-out, sexist comedy.