After last year’s surprise critical hit, Free Guy‘s Shawn Levy is looking to follow it up with Netflix’s The Adam Project. Before all that, Levy has had a long and interesting career in the film industry. While most of his work has been in comedy, he’s also been a producer and director on Stranger Things. Soon, Disney+ is reviving two of his movies in the form of an animated Night at the Museum and an adaptation of Real Steel.
Over on Rotten Tomatoes, critic reviews are tallied to give audiences to get a general idea of how they feel about certain films. In this case, critics haven’t seemed too happy with Shawn Levy over the years, and while that may soon change thanks to Free Guy, it’s no secret that he’s struggled to gain favor with them.
10 Cheaper By The Dozen (2003) – 24%
The 2003 remake of the 1950’s film, Cheaper by the Dozen, follows Steve Martin as one of his best characters, Tom Baker, and Bonnie Hunt as Kate Baker. The two have 12 children in total and the film follows their family as Kate goes off on a book tour and Tom has to watch the kids with his eldest daughter and her boyfriend, who hates kids.
The critical consensus of this film is short and to the point, merely just saying “In this family of twelve children, much chaos ensues, but little hilarity.” Sadly, for a comedy, the film fell short in that regard. It’s got a solid cast with the likes of Hillary Duff and Tom Welling as two of the Baker children, but that wasn’t enough to give this anything but a “Rotten” rating.
9 The Internship (2013) – 35%
The Internship follows two salesmen, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, as their job goes out of business. Vince Vaughn’s character, Billy McMahon, convinces Owen Wilson’s character, Nick Campbell, to apply to a Google internship in the hopes of finding a job with them. But they have to team up and compete with younger interns in the hopes of getting a spot.
Even with a script co-written by Vaughn himself, Shawn Levy couldn’t save this movie from a “Rotten” score of 35 percent. While the leads are charming as always and they have good interplay, the script does weigh down the movie, according to critics. Levy’s direction is solid and he’s got good comedic timing, the film was just too generic for critics to get behind.
8 Big Fat Liar (2002) – 44%
Shawn Levy, Frankie Munez, and Amanda Bynes teamed up for Big Fat Liar, a movie about a Hollywood producer who steals the story of a movie from a high school kid. Munez and Bynes team up to take him down by making his life a living nightmare.
Shawn Levy had previous films, but Big Fat Liar was his first big movie. Coming in at 44 percent, it wasn’t exactly the perfect start to his career. Critics didn’t seem too concerned with this film, and most of them write it off as another kid’s movie. The slapstick humor was sure to please kids at the time, however.
7 Night At The Museum (2006) – 44%
Coming out at the same time as Levy’s Pink Panther remake, Night at the Museum, a very quotable movie, follows Ben Stiller as he becomes the night security guard for the Museum of Natural History in New York. Thanks to a magical Egyptian tablet, the exhibits in the museum all come to life at sundown. The former night security guards want to steal the tablet so they can remain in good health, so Stiller has to team up with the museum to stop them.
This was another film that critics wrote off as just a kid’s film. The review consensus reads as “a shallow and vapid CG-fest,” which sounds more than a little harsh. However, some critics found enough to like in the film. Thanks to an all-star cast, such as a Robbin Williams and Owen Wilson, the film has plenty to enjoy for kids and some adults, as well.
6 Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian (2009) – 44%
The second installment in the Night at the Museum trilogy sees Ben Stiller’s character needing to go to the Smithsonian. Dex, the monkey from the first film, has stolen the tablet that brings the exhibits to life and is bringing it to their new home at the Smithsonian. Stiller arrives and the tablet gets activated, which brings all the exhibits in the famous Washington landmark to life.
Most of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes seem to have it out for either Levy or kids movies. The consensus reads that the film is “busy enough to keep the kids interested but the slapstick goes overboard and the special effects (however well executed) throw the production into mania.” However, enough critics found it entertaining enough to keep this film on the same level as the first.
5 This Is Where I Leave You (2014) – 44%
The first film Shawn Levy put out in 2014, This is Where I Leave You follows a family whose father has just died, and they’re now all under one roof for the first time in years. The film’s cast includes Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Adam Driver, and much more. Bateman’s character has just gotten out of a relationship and reconnects with an old flame from years past.
Even with the impressive cast assembled for the film, the script doesn’t do the film any favors, according to critics. The consensus on Rotten Tomatoes reads “the rather pedestrian results can’t help but feel like a letdown.” While some critics found it to be a heartwarming family comedy with a solid cast, most felt the cast was wasted.
4 Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb (2014) – 47%
The final entry in Shawn Levy’s Night at the Museum trilogy, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb once again sees Ben Stiller team up with an all-star cast of museum exhibits, once again including Robin Williams, but this time in Great Britain. The tablet is beginning to corrode, which is causing the exhibits to sporadically act out, so Stiller has to find Ahkmenrah’s parents to find out what’s going on.
This film faired slightly better than Levy’s other Night at the Museum films but still received a “Rotten” score. Many who enjoyed the previous entries in the trilogy felt that the film was not quite the sendoff that they were hoping for. It still has its moments, though, and does deliver some emotional beats that fans enjoyed.
3 Real Steel (2011) – 60%
Real Steel follows the exploits of a former boxer (Hugh Jackman). He’s been trying to win robot boxing matches with any robot he can find. He’s eventually saddled with the robot Atom and a son that he didn’t know he had. Charlie Kenton, Jackman, and his son Max learn to work together to make Atom the boxing star they know he can be.
This is one of the few films in Shawn Levy’s filmography that has a “Fresh” rating. While critics didn’t fall in love with it, there is still plenty to enjoy in this film. Most initially wrote the film off as a “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em” robots movie, but the film surprised many with its heart and thrilling boxing scenes that had some jumping in the theatre.
2 Date Night (2010) – 66%
The first film that Shawn Levy directed that received a “Fresh” rating was Date Night. In the film, Steve Carell, in one of his best roles, and Tina Fey are worried that their relationship is growing stale, so they decide to spice things up by going to a fancy restaurant in the city. They steal someone’s reservations and get entangled in a plot to blackmail the mayor of New York.
“Steve Carell and Tina Fey still manage to shine through most of the movie’s flaws” reads the consensus. Some critics do highlight the exciting action scenes, but mostly the performances of the cast are seen as the movie’s major selling point. That said, the film still manages to blend action and humor in a way that remains fresh enough to keep audiences engaged.
1 Free Guy (2022) – 80%
Ryan Reynolds plays a non-playable-character in Free Guy, one of the biggest surprises of 2021. The film follows Guy as he begins to grow outside of his programming after meeting a player with who he falls in love. He becomes the main focus of the game and the eyes of the world are on him as he tries to uncover the secret behind the game.
It’s safe to say that Free Guy took critics by surprise. Constant praise has been lobbied towards the film, as many point to the hilarious and fresh script. Critics couldn’t say enough about the fully realized world and unexpected characters and twists. “Free Guy is frivolous fun” is how the consensus ends.
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