"The Godfather, Part II"
"The only remarkable thing about Francis Ford Coppola’s 'The Godfather, Part II' is the insistent manner in which it recalls how much better his original film was … Part II, also written by Mr. Coppola and Mario Puzo, is not a sequel in any engaging way. It’s not really much of anything that can be easily defined."
—Vincent Canby, New York Times, 1974
Think the Times may have blown it in their original assessment of Coppola's masterpiece? Well, they weren't the only ones who got it wrong the first time around.
The Rolling Stones — "Exile on Main Street"
"Hopefully, 'Exile On Main Street' will give them the solid footing they need to open up, and with a little horizon-expanding (perhaps honed by two months on the road), they might even deliver it to us the next time around.”
— Lenny Kaye, Rolling Stone, 1972
"The nightmare that follows is expertly gothic, but the nausea never disappears. Little should be said of [the 'Psycho'] plot — Hitchcock enjoins all viewers to be silent — except that Anthony Perkins, who plays an amateur taxidermist, is sickeningly involved, and that a blow is dealt to mother love from which that sentiment may not recover. Director Hitchcock bears down too heavily in this one, and the delicate illusion of reality necessary for a creak-and-shriek movie becomes, instead, a spectacle of stomach-churning horror."
— Time magazine, 1960
"Lacking much in the way of attitude, the show seems obsolete and irrelevant. What it boils down to is that Seinfeld, likable as he may be, is a mayonnaise clown in a world that requires a little horseradish."
— Matt Roush, USA Today, 1990
"An event not likely to worry Frank Sinatra or Dinah Shore. It was a labored sketch, by no means up to Jackie's best ..."
The New York Times, 1955
Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick"
"An ill-compounded mixture of romance and matter-of-fact. The idea of a connected and collected story has obviously visited and abandoned its writer again and again in the course of composition. The style of his tale is in places disfigured by mad (rather than bad) English; and its catastrophe is hastily, weakly and obscurely managed."
— London Athenaeum, 1851
J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye”
“It’s too long. Gets kind of monotonous. And he should’ve cut out a lot about these jerks and all that crumby school. They depress me.”
— James Stern, The New York Times, 1951
Paul McCartney's "McCartney"
— Richard Williams, Melody Maker, 1970
“Late Night with Conan O'Brien”
“Appearing nervous, unprepared and generally geeky … O'Brien showed few performing skills Monday. Sidekick Andy Richter is hopelessly square and dull.”
— Lon Grank, Chicago Sun-Times, 1993
George Orwell's "Animal Farm"
"The book puzzled and saddened me. It seemed on the whole dull. The allegory turned out to be a creaking machine for saying in a clumsy way things that have been said better directly. And many of the things said are not instantly recognized as the essence of truth, but are of the sort which start endless and boring controversy."
— George Soules, New Republic, 1946
Led Zeppelin's "Led Zeppelin"
"It would seem that, if they’re to help fill the void created by the demise of Cream, they will have to find a producer (and editor) and some material worthy of their collective attention ... [Robert Plant's] as foppish as Rod Stewart, but nowhere near so exciting."
— John Mendelsohn, Rolling Stone, 1969
"The Rocky Horror Picture Show"
"The picture might have made a pretty good college show ... But the wit is too weak to sustain a film, and the songs all sound the same."
— Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader, 1975
Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22”
“... It gasps for want of craft and sensibility … The book is an emotional hodgepodge; no mood is sustained long enough to register for more than a chapter.”
— Richard G. Stern, The New York Times Book Review, 1961
"An incredible and dreary mess of confusion and complexities ... it won't work."
— Variety, 1966
Lou Reed's "Berlin"
“There are certain records that are so patently offensive that one wishes to take some kind of physical vengeance on the artists that perpetrate them.”
— Stephen Davis, Rolling Stone, 1973
Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are"
“The plan and technique of the illustrations are superb … But they may well prove frightening, accompanied as they are by a pointless and confusing story.”
— Publisher’s Weekly, 1963
“‘Friends’ is more a scripted talk show than a sitcom. You keep waiting for Sally Jessy or some other cluck to interrupt the jabbering. The show is so bad that Sally Jessy would actually come as a relief.”
— Tom Shales, Washington Post, 1994
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”
“Mr. Scott Fitzgerald deserves a good shaking ... 'The Great Gatsby' is an absurd story, whether considered as romance, melodrama or plain record of New York high life.”
— L. P. Hartley, The Saturday Review, 1925
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest"
"The fault for this lies in a script that would rather ingratiate than abrade, in direction that is content to realize, in documentary fashion, the ugly surfaces of asylum life. 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest' is an earnest attempt to make a serious film. But in the end, the movie backs away from both the human reality and the cloudy but potent symbolism that Ken Kesey found in the asylum."
— Richard Schickel, Time, 1975
Bob Dylan's "Self Portrait"
"What is this shit?"
— Greil Marcus, Rolling Stone, 1970