5 best and worst Ron Howard-directed movies, according to Rotten Tomatoes

Not every movie can be a hit — but some of them sure can!

Image: The Everett Collection

While we know little Ronny Howard around here as the adorable Opie from The Andy Griffith Show, it's not exactly a secret that the former child star has made just as much — if not more — impact behind the camera than in front of it. He's directed holiday classics, hard-hitting biopics, and sci-fi epics during his career.

Today we thought we'd take a look at his five (well, six... we'll explain) best and five worst movies, according to the website Rotten Tomatoes, which collects reviews from a variety of respected critical sources to give each film a percentage. 

Movies that couldn't get a percentage don't count, and we're only looking at the movies that Howard directed. So let's take a look at the highs and lows of his incredible career!

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Tied for fourth best — Rebuilding Paradise

What? What about fifth? Well, the fourth highest-rated movies in Howard's direction all claimed an impressive 93%. In lieu of trying to pick and choose, we're just listing them as a tie and giving Howard an extra best movie slot — he's earned it.

This 2020 documentary directed and produced by Howard follows the town of Paradise, California attempting to rebuild after the devastating California wildfires in 2018. Specifically, the Camp Fire, known as the most destructive wildfire in California history. Howard's story of a community pulling together in the face of losing everything gathered a 93% rating and a "Certified Fresh" label.

Fifth worst — Grand Theft Auto

Unrelated to the video game franchise, this was Howard's directorial debut on a feature film. The story about a young couple on a road trip/car chase trying to elope didn't quite charm the critics, getting only a 29%. However, the movie more than made back its budget, just over $600k, when it raked in over $15 million at the box office. Howard had proved that he could bring in the bank.

Tied for fourth best — Night Shift

Another early Ron Howard-directed movie, this one cast his Happy Days co-star Henry Winkler alongside Michael Keaton in his first starring role. Playing the tight-laced staight man was a break from character for Winkler, who had previously played cool, tough guys like The Fonz. Winkler chose to step out of his comfort zone, and what resulted got a 93% and established Howard as a director to watch out for.

Fourth worst — Hillbilly Elegy

Now here's proof that a low critic score doesn't mean that a movie is disliked. While Howard's 2020 film only scraped up a 25% rating, the audience score sits at a not-too-shabby 83%. Critics called it a "bland melodrama", but praised Glenn Close and Amy Adams for their performances. Close even picked up a Best Supporting Oscar nomination for the film.

Tied for fourth best — Frost/Nixon

We're down to the last of the 93% tied contenders. This 2008 historical drama was based on a play and even brought back the two original actors from the play's Broadway run, Michael Sheen and Frank Langella. While it didn't do so well financially, only getting its budget back by a thin margin, the film picked up five Oscar nominations — including Best Director for Howard.

Third worst — The Da Vinci Code

Critics couldn't make head or tail of this Tom Hanks mystery thriller. Perhaps it's more famous for the controversy that followed its release, much like the book it was based on. Despite only gaining a 25% rating, the film obliterated the box office, becoming the second-highest grossing movie of 2006, and Howard's highest-grossing movie to date. 

Third best — The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years

This 2016 documentary followed The Beatles from 1962 to 1966, their touring years. From their early performances in Liverpool to their final concert in San Francisco, this documentary boasts "unearthed fan footage and gorgeously restored concert clips". Howard had the cooperation of the surviving Beatles, Paul and Ringo, as well as the widows and family of John and George. This treat for any classic music fan earned a whopping 96%.

Second worst — The Dilemma

The Guardian declared this 2011 movie "rather less fun than a badly executed coronary bypass." Starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, this movie about a man discovering his best friend's wife's affair and struggling with if he should tell his friend or not is billed as a dark comedy. Consensus seems to be that it either wasn't dark enough, or comedic enough, but instead lingered in an uncomfortable area in-between. It only garnered 24%.

Second best — Apollo 13

What is there to say about this movie that hasn't already been said? Some consider this Howard's best work to date. The based-on-a-true-story 1995 film starring Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon held number one at the box office for four weeks and was the third-highest grossing movie of the year. It was nominated for nine Oscars, including Best Picture, and walked away with two. At a 96% rating, it's hard to get much better.

Worst — Inferno

This movie closed out the trilogy started with Howard's The Da Vinci Code, and didn't fare much better than the original as far as the Rotten Tomatoes score (interestingly, the middle movie, Angels & Demons, was better received at 37%). Critics called it overly convoluted and underwhelming. It currently sits at the lowest score of movies that Howard has directed — 23%. However, for someone as prolific as Ron Howard, it's impressive that his lowest score is still... not really all that low. 

Best — We Feed People

Is this one unfamiliar to you? It won't be for long. This 2022 documentary follows chef José Andrés and his nonprofit, World Central Kitchen, as they go from a bunch of wide-eyed volunteers to one of the most highly-regarded humanitarian aid organizations in disaster relief. Critics hailed the documentary as stirring, motivating and evidence that one person can still make a difference in the world. "It’s easy to give in to despair," the Los Angeles Times noted. "What 'We Feed People' makes clear is that you can help with a simple, small act of empathy." Currently, We Feed People has the rare distinction of a perfect 100% score. 

 
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68 Comments

BenSobeleone 4 months ago
There's was a tv-movie that Ron Howard directed about some high school kids in a rock band. Charles Martin Smith and Clint Howard were in that one.
boobs 4 months ago
Where is In The Heart Of The Sea?! Outstanding effort
bagandwallyfan52 4 months ago
https://youtu.be/SB7qDVrgR8M
Richie and Fonzie try to catch
The Kissing Bandit!!
bagandwallyfan52 4 months ago
https://youtu.be/rhIYsY8YV2A
Who the heck is Ed PECK?
Ed Peck played Officer Kirk on Happy Days and Officer Kirk
tried to run Fonzie out of town!!
Ed Peck played a rabbi on an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Officer Kirk never liked Fonz. I think he called Fonz a pinko commie!
BrianMoore 4 months ago
To be fair, no one could make those Dan Brown books enjoyable.
Anthonyk 4 months ago
Going off of rotten tomatoes only?
Sdgrisetti 4 months ago
Not even a mention of "A Beautiful Mind", 2001's Best Picture winner?!!
madmark1 4 months ago
I can’t believe they didn’t list Cocoon as one of the best that was probably one of Ron Howard’s best movies and I cannot believe it was not even listed
Onfireformetv 4 months ago
I’ve never even heard of We Feed People. I’ll have to check that out.
lynngdance 4 months ago
Well, since this article vaguely mentioned the Beatles......it’s time for an off-topic Beatles post!!!

Here are some quite obscure Beatles songs, that are AWESOME, but are not even on one of their original albums (Except for the later-released Anthology and Live At The BBC)







Enjoy!

(Sorry, came across these a few years ago, but was listening to them recently and couldn’t help but post 😄)
texasluva lynngdance 3 months ago
Here's coming attractions this week. Before, during and after Movie Quiz Night. You can always come by and watch the fun or pick up one of your favorite movies.

Coming Attractions for Friday/Saturday. We are emptying the movie coffers for the next couple of weeks.
Bonus movies-

Dirty Harry (1971)-
Clint Eastwood
Dirty Harry (1/10) Movie CLIP - That's My Policy (1971)--


The Birds (1963) 1 hr 59 min- Drama--Horror--Mystery-
Stars
Rod Taylor---Tippi Hedren---Jessica Tandy-
The Birds (1963) The school scene--


Saturday it is coming **SCREAM** (1996)
Stars
Neve Campbell---Courteney Cox---David Arquette---Drew Barrymore---Skeet Ulrich
Scream | Official Trailer (HD) - Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Drew Barrymore --


Movie for coming-
Move Over, Darling (1963) 1 hr 43 min- Comedy--Romance-
Director
Michael Gordon
Stars
Doris Day---James Garner---Polly Bergen---Thelma Ritter---
Don Knotts---Edgar Buchanan-
https://ia902605.us.archive.org/32/items/MODlg1963/MODlg1963.mp4







What's One To Do Movie Before Friday's Movie Quiz-

I might have shown this one before but some of you may not have gotten it. No horror, no Western, no death by Dirty Harry's 44-cal. Magnum . Just straight fun. Rated 7.3 (6.0 is average) Its like the Richter scale. Everyone one whole point up is 10 times better.
The Trouble With Angels (1966) 1 hr 50 min-

These two will try Mother Superior and her staff of bewildered Sisters. He he.
Director
Ida Lupino
Stars
Rosalind Russell---Hayley Mills---Binnie Barnes---Camilla Sparv---June Harding---Barbara Hunter--

https://ia600509.us.archive.org/10/items/ThTrblewAls1966/ThTrblewAls1966.mp4
F5Twitster 4 months ago
"Perhaps it's more famous for the controversy that followed its release, much like the book it was based off of."

You mean the book it was based ON or, if you prefer, from which it was adapted. You do this twice. STOP IT.
ETristanBooth F5Twitster 2 months ago
I teach at a university. Students write "based off of" all the time. I don't know where this trend came from, but I don't like it.
HockeyMike 4 months ago
"Night Shift" is really funny. Michael Keaton is hysterical. Funny movie...and, during the end credits, Rod Stewart sings the original "That`s What Friends Are For"...before Dionne Warwick, Elton, Gladys & Stevie did their version. Too bad Ron Howard turned out to be an a_s, like Rob Reiner. Howard had a Happy Days reunion but wouldn`t let Scott Baio "Chachi" attend because he didn`t support the Dems.
BenSobeleone HockeyMike 1 month ago
Ron Howard should've directed those two Batman movies, the ones with Michael Keaton. Tim Burton did an ok job and he is a mad genius but I would have liked to have seen how the movies would have turned out with Ron Howard. Clint Howard could have played one of The Joker's henchmen.
Mike 4 months ago
I dont care what anyone says but every Christmas I have to watch “Dr Suess How the Grinch Stole Christmas” That to me is his best film as its become a tradition for me and my family.
Michael Mike 4 months ago
I've been watching it since 1966. The animation andsongs are wonderful.

There was never a need to remake it.
lefty418 4 months ago
Where does Cocoon stand in the ratings - one of my all time favorites!
Michael lefty418 4 months ago
Coccoon and Splash and others. There were "good" films on this list I never heard of.
PernellDH Michael 4 months ago
Ron Howard also directed, Backdraft, Apollo 13, and The Paper.
Michael PernellDH 4 months ago
A cavalcade of movies!
kkvegas PernellDH 4 months ago
The Paper is one of my favorite movies, but I don't think a lot people saw it.
SteveAcra 4 months ago
This proves that Rotten Tomatoes is a useless guide to films.
MarshaStapleton 4 months ago
Excuse me -- what happened to "Cocoon"?
DethBiz MarshaStapleton 4 months ago
My thoughts exactly!
Michael MarshaStapleton 4 months ago
As I recall the old people went with the aliens. And then they return in the sequel.

It's always weird to see Wilfrid Brimley clean shaven. He loojs much younger.
Zip 4 months ago
I've said it before and I'll say it again...
Cotton Candy.
And it didn't even make the worst list. How?!
cperrynaples Zip 4 months ago
Well, most people forget TV movies from the '70's UNLESS it's a classic like Trilogy Of Terror!
MarkSpeck cperrynaples 4 months ago
Not to mention Bad Ronald, That Certain Summer, Brian's Song, The Execution of Private Slovik, etc.
cperrynaples MarkSpeck 4 months ago
Well , I disagree on Bad Ronald but yes a lot of great movies! Sadly, most TV movies fell out of copyright, so they're lost! One great movie I just remembered: The Girl Most Likely To written by Joan Rivers and starring a young Stockard Channing! A great dark comedy about revenge that deserves a remake!
How about The Night Stalker with Darren McGavin? The ratings for that movie went through the roof.
MrsPhilHarris 4 months ago
Apollo 13 is the Ron Howard movie I can watch over and over again.
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texasluva Coldnorth 3 months ago

MQ will be @ Can you match these scary dolls to the right show or movie?
Coldnorth texasluva 3 months ago
Won’t have time for a couple of weeks to watch. Heading South for the winter so I’m packing. I saved your posts so I won’t forget how to watch movies . Thanks again for info.
texasluva Coldnorth 3 months ago
You mean like from Minnesota to the Equator kind of South or Texas? Okay. Below is this weeks. Coming Attractions and tomorrows movie.

Coming Attractions for Friday/Saturday. We are emptying the movie coffers for the next couple of weeks.
Bonus movies-

Dirty Harry (1971)-
Clint Eastwood
Dirty Harry (1/10) Movie CLIP - That's My Policy (1971)--


The Birds (1963) 1 hr 59 min- Drama--Horror--Mystery-
Stars
Rod Taylor---Tippi Hedren---Jessica Tandy-
The Birds (1963) The school scene--


Saturday it is coming **SCREAM** (1996)
Stars
Neve Campbell---Courteney Cox---David Arquette---Drew Barrymore---Skeet Ulrich
Scream | Official Trailer (HD) - Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Drew Barrymore --


Movie for coming-
Move Over, Darling (1963) 1 hr 43 min- Comedy--Romance-
Director
Michael Gordon
Stars
Doris Day---James Garner---Polly Bergen---Thelma Ritter---
Don Knotts---Edgar Buchanan-
https://ia902605.us.archive.org/32/items/MODlg1963/MODlg1963.mp4






What's One To Do Movie Before Friday's Movie Quiz-

I might have shown this one before but some of you may not have gotten it. No horror, no Western, no death by Dirty Harry's 44-cal. Magnum . Just straight fun. Rated 7.3 (6.0 is average) Its like the Richter scale. Everyone one whole point up is 10 times better.
The Trouble With Angels (1966) 1 hr 50 min-

These two will try Mother Superior and her staff of bewildered Sisters. He he.
Director
Ida Lupino
Stars
Rosalind Russell---Hayley Mills---Binnie Barnes---Camilla Sparv---June Harding---Barbara Hunter--

https://ia600509.us.archive.org/10/items/ThTrblewAls1966/ThTrblewAls1966.mp4
Coldnorth texasluva 3 months ago
From upper Michigan to Florida. I would love to Texas sometime though
327053 4 months ago
Out of all these I’ve only seen Apollo 13
I would like to see the one with the Fonz. Aayyyy!!!
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