Somewhere between the peak of his teen heartthrob years – iceberg, right ahead! – and the dawn of his Scorsese years, Leonard DiCaprio made turn-of-the-century curio The Beach. It was the kind of project you would expect to easily surf into the Certified Fresh zone: Based on a book by sci-fi darling Alex Garland (who would go on to write and direct Ex Machina); directed by indie wunderkind Danny Boyle, just a few years after Trainspotting; and starring arguably the most popular and talented actor of his generation – not to mention that it featured an about-to-break-out-big actress named Tilda Swinton. And yet The Beach didn’t make any waves, bringing in tepid box office receipts in the U.S. and coming in Rotten with critics at 20% on the Tomatometer.
The movie was messy, the story of an adventure-seeking traveler that is sometimes a sexy tropical romance, sometimes a Manson-esque cult thriller, sometimes a video game (really!), and sometimes a Heart of Darkness-style examination of a man on the edge. Critics liked the look of it – thank legendary French-Iranian lenser Darius Khondji for all that Insta porn – and acknowledged it was ambitious, but something didn’t gel. And Leo, who played said thrill-seeker, Richard, couldn’t save things. (He was nominated for a Razzie for his efforts, though, losing out to John Travolta for Battlefield Earth.)
Cut to 20 years later, and Boyle and Co.’s ambition might be paying off, with The Beach earning something of a cult following. (Yes, we see the irony.) It’s certainly near and dear to the heart of actor and filmmaker Jim Cummings, who says that when it comes to the DiCaprio movie he counts among his top five films of all time, the Tomatometer is way off base. So, of course, we had to have him on our podcast. In the latest episode of the new podcast, Rotten Tomatoes is Wrong, Cummings – who’s latest film, the terrifying and hilarious The Wolf Of Snow Hollow is Certified Fresh (Rotten Tomatoes is Right on that one!) – explains why The Beach appealed so much to him as a teenage boy and aspiring filmmaker, and why he still thinks it’s one of the most daring, audacious, and underrated films ever made.
Will co-hosts Jacqueline Coley and Mark Ellis be convinced? Listen in to find out.
Be sure to check in every Thursday for a new episode of Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong (A Podcast From Rotten Tomatoes). Each week, hosts Jacqueline and Mark and guests go deep and settle the score on some of the most beloved – and despised – movies and TV shows ever made, directly taking on the statement we hear from so many fans: “Rotten Tomatoes is wrong.”
If you have a suggestion for a movie or show you think we should do an episode on, let us know in the comments, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet the hosts
Jacqueline Coley is an editor at Rotten Tomatoes, with a focus on awards and indie coverage but with a passion for everything, from the MCU to musicals and period pieces. Coley is a regular moderator at conventions and other events, can be seen on Access Hollywood and other shows, and will not stand Constantine slander of any kind. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter: @THATjacqueline.
Mark Ellis is a comedian and contributing editor for Rotten Tomatoes. He currently hosts the Rotten Tomatoes series Versus, among others, and can be seen co-hosting the sports entertainment phenomenon Movie Trivia Schmoedown. His favorite Star Wars movie is Jedi (guess which one!), his favorite person is actually a dog (his beloved stepdaughter Mollie), and – thanks to this podcast – he’s about to watch Burlesque for the first time in his life. Follow Mark on Twitter: @markellislive.