The most ourageously withering and hilariously bad film, restaurant and book reviews ever written

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Whoever said there's no such thing as bad publicity clearly hadn't been on the receiving end of a bad review.

The internet is suffuse with scathing write-ups (just one reason why this genuinely enthusiast Pizza Express piece went viral), but the ones that really stand out are both ingenious and laugh-out-loud funny.

Truly brilliant bad reviews don't just moan for the sake of it. They radiate a sense of authentic outrage, contained within a series of keenly observed and devastatingly acute insults (restaurant critic Fay Maschler once compared a lacklustre carrot cannelloni to "a vegetable-filled condom").  

The following write-ups aren't always justified; in fact they can be completely off the mark - an early review of Wuthering Heights suggests burning what would become a literary masterpiece. But they are brought together by virtue of the fact that they all make us chuckle through the brilliance of language used to evoke the reviewer's sense of boredom, anger, bafflement or disgust.

Come take a look at quotes from the most hilariously withering film, restaurant and book reviews ever written and raise a toast to the time-honoured art of caustic prose.

  • Film review: The Golden Compass

    "Pullman’s flood of magical creativity is turned into a heavy mist of confusing silliness. It is as packed with incident and excitement as a trip to Marks and Spencer’s sock department."

    - Olly Richards writing in Empire magazine, December 2007

  • Film review: Bride Wars

    "If there are ten films worse than Bride Wars this year, I quit... Everyone will tell you it’s a chick flick. Only in the sense that if you ground it up and fed it to battery hens it might be better served than running it through a projector."

    - Mark Kermode speaking on the BBC, January 2009

  • Film review: Mamma Mia!

    "The film is indeed absolute cack: appallingly written, witlessly directed and sung as if by mice being tortured. It makes Teletubbies look like The Iliad in comparison."

    - Stephen Pollard writing in The Spectator, July 2008

  • TV movie review: Liz And Dick

    "It's so terrible, you'll need to ice your face when it's over to ease the pain of wincing for two hours."

    - David Wiegand writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, November 2012

  • Film review: Twilight Saga - Breaking Dawn

    "A significant number of its 117 minutes do seem like hours, and whenever certain actors take the lead and set the pace of the dialogue, time itself begins to crawl backward and the breaking dawn begins to feel like yesterday's breaking dawn, or last Tuesday's."

    - Michael Phillips writing in The Chicago Tribune, November 2011

  • Film review: Sex And The City 2

    "Sex and the City 2 goes on for half a lifetime, brandishes enough product placements to embarrass a Formula One driver, and contains approximately three good one-liners (Samantha’s hope that a Danish architect could be the “Lawrence of my Labia” the best of them)."

    - Sukhdev Sandhu writing in The Telegraph, May 2010

  • Film review: Grace of Monaco

    "It is a film so awe-inspiringly wooden that it is basically a fire-risk."

    - Peter Bradshaw writing in the Guardian, May 2014

  • Restaurant review: Beast, London

    "If Beast were a chap, he would be a part-time rugby player smelling of Ralgex who’s trying to tell you he’s deep and thoughtful, even though he’ll later be implicated in an incident involving a traffic cone and a pint glass of his own urine."

    - Jay Rayner writing in The Guardian, October 2014

  • Restaurant review: Barshu, London

    [Describing an offal dish] "An inferno of blood-curdled oil, Brugelishly bobbing with tripe and lurking flesh, scabbed with chilli... looked like nothing so much as the bucket under a field-hospital operating table."

    - AA Gill writing in The Sunday Times, May 2006

  • Restaurant review: Sakenohana, London

    "The place is rammed with good-looking people whose accessories cost more than my car. One weeny, bandy-legged lady struts across the room lugging a Botox-injected Zagliani handbag so vast it threatens to overbalance her. Sakenohana seems destined to be one of those restaurants like Cipriani or China Tang that thrill rubberneckers. It’s undeniably an experience. An expensive one."

    - Marina O'Loughlin writing in the Metro, February 2008

  • Restaurant review: The Sugar Club, London

    "For £14.50 you would think someone could be bothered properly to trim the scallops served seared with sweet chilli sauce and crëme fraiche as another first course. The presence of a grey membranous "skirt" led to a discussion of how best to convey a piece of food that is in your mouth back to the plate.

    The technique of the closed fist, taught to me by my mother, was decided the winner."

    - Fay Maschler (pictured), writing in The Evening Standard, January 2003

  • Restaurant review: Kaspar's at The Savoy

    "The first problem with the new cat-themed restaurant at the Savoy is that you have to go through the Savoy to get to it. Three words: Norma Major’s knickers. Ever since someone gave someone with literally no eyes a billion billion pounds to turn the lushest, grandest hotel in London into a hideous, chintzy, twinkling, mutant, Lebanese version of Claridge’s, I have barely been able to get past the foyer without wanting to kill all the honking Americans with one of the mincey-mincey Downton Abbey scatter cushions."

    - Camilla Long writing in The Sunday Times, May 2013

  • Restaurant review: The French, Manchester

    "It is a masterclass in everything that is naff, nasty, effortful and regurgitative in catering."

    - AA Gill writing in The Sunday Times, April 2014

  • Restaurant review: Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen & Bar, New York

    "Somewhere within the yawning, three-level interior of Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, is there a long refrigerated tunnel that servers have to pass through to make sure that the French fries, already limp and oil-sogged, are also served cold?

    ... Is the entire restaurant a very expensive piece of conceptual art? Is the shapeless, structureless baked alaska that droops and slumps and collapses while you eat it, or don’t eat it, supposed to be a representation in sugar and eggs of the experience of going insane?"

    - Pete Wells writing in The New York Times, November 2012

  • Book review: Fifty Shades Of Grey by EL James

    "As a reading experience, Fifty Shades or Grey is a sad joke, puny of plot, padded with conversations that are repeated five or six times and email exchanges that are neither romantic nor witty... As porn tricked up to resemble a novel, there's no hope for this book -- it's 'S&M for Dummies.'"

    - Jesse Kornbluth writing in The Huffington Post, December 2012

  • Book review: Unchosen by Julie Burchill

    "I’m afraid I can’t really dignify her latest offering with the ascription "book", nor the contents therein as "writing" – rather they are sophomoric, hammy effusions, wrongheaded, rancorous, and pathetically self-aggrandising... I really don’t see it as my responsibility as a reviewer to catalogue Burchill’s repugnant gallimaufry of insults and half-baked nonsense."

    - Will Self (pictured) writing in the Guardian, November 2014

  • Book review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

    "We rise from the perusal of Wuthering Heights as if we had come fresh from a pest-house. Read Jane Eyre is our advice, but burn Wuthering Heights... "

    - an anonymous reviewer writing in Paterson's Magazine, March 1848

  • Book review: Silver - Return To Treasure Island by Andrew Motion

    "It’s not just that this plot is both boring and implausible, the characters as wooden as absent Silver’s leg and the sentiments screamingly anachronistic (the good guys are all 21st century liberals), but at every turn the former Poet Laureate clogs the works with verbiage. Every act of senseless violence Jim witnesses prompts a gem of cod philosophy or a reverie on his mental state and at every crisis a dreamlike inertia takes hold, as if the characters all sense that the author lacks the correct co-ordinates."

    - Claire Harman writing in the Evening Standard, March 2012

  • Book review: The Discomfort Zone by Jonathan Franzen

    "Franzen turns his unforgiving eye on himself and succeeds in giving us an odious self-portrait of the artist as a young jackass: petulant, pompous, obsessive, selfish, and overwhelmingly self-absorbed... Just why anyone would be interested the self-important and self-promoting contents of Franzen's mind remains something of a mystery. In fact, by the end of this solipsistic book, the reader has begun to feel every bit as suffocated and claustrophobic as Franzen and his estranged wife apparently did in their doomed marriage."

    - Michiko Kakutani writing in The New York Times 

  • Book review: Vagina by Naomi Wolf

    "My problem with Wolf is longstanding and is not about how she looks or climaxes – but it is about how she thinks, or rather doesn't. She comes in a package that is marketed as feminism but is actually breathlessly written self-help... feminism becomes simply a highly mediated form of narcissism devoid of any actual brain/politics connection. What we have here is Californication, with a little trot through some basic women's studies linking female creativity with sexual awakening."

    - Suzanne Moore writing in the Guardian, September 2012  

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