A sign likens Dr. Anthony Fauci’s influence over the government to fascism during a June protest in New York City. A documentary about Fauci’s life is winning praise from professional film critics, but being panned by seemingly everyone else. (Jeenah Moon / Getty Images)
By C. Douglas Golden October 12, 2021 at 6:49am
The disconnect between how the mainstream media feels about Dr. Anthony Fauci and how America feels can be neatly summed up at movie aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.
Disney just released a National Geographic-produced documentary on America’s COVID czar on its Disney+ streaming service, appropriately titled “Fauci.” Among professional film critics, the talking-head paean to the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases currently holds a 91 percent positive rating.
Outside elite circles of opinion, though, it’s a whole different story.
An unprecedented portrait of one of America’s most vital public servants. FAUCI, a Documentary from @NatGeo, is streaming October 6 only on #DisneyPlus. #FauciDoc pic.twitter.com/M9rOmSl3RQ
— Disney+ (@disneyplus) October 4, 2021
I wish this were a “Saturday Night Live” parody, but “Saturday Night Live” isn’t that insightful these days. Whatever the case, critics ate it up, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
“Fauci is a refreshing figure and a standard-bearer for the truth,” wrote Peter Bradshaw of the U.K. Guardian.
“The subject comes away smelling of roses, and it seems deserved this time,” opined David Jenkins of the too-appropriately named movie site Little White Lies.
“‘Fauci’ makes no pretense about where its sentiments lie, lauding a figure whose critics have seemingly twisted his image beyond recognition in their attempts to demonize him,” wrote CNN entertainment writer Brian Lowry.
Do you plan on seeing ‘Fauci?’
As those of you familiar with Rotten Tomatoes know, however, every movie receives two scores: The critics’ consensus, known as the “Tomatometer,” and the audience score. And yet with “Fauci,” the darnedest thing happened: Nobody else but the critics seemed to have an opinion, at least at first.
The audience score was originally not published.
Everything you see is a lie. None of what you see is real. https://t.co/WhbJEhKC8w
— Jesse Kelly (@JesseKellyDC) October 10, 2021
Zero audience ratings? That seemed strange, as Breitbart noted Monday.
“The site will sometimes hide the audience score if a movie hasn’t generated that many user votes, which usually occurs with obscure or little-seen titles,” Breitbart reported. “But ‘Fauci’ is widely available on Disney+, following a limited theatrical release, and has generated ample user feedback on other sites.”
“It remains unclear why Rotten Tomatoes isn’t showing the audience score for the documentary. Representatives from Rotten Tomatoes didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Breitbart News.”
After Breitbart’s report, Rotten Tomatoes apparently relented and we found out why the audience score might have been hidden:
URGENT: #Fauci sets new critics/audience divide on RT pic.twitter.com/oDOtmy92OG
— EW (@ErickWeber) October 11, 2021
As of Tuesday morning, the audience rating has dipped to 2 percent.
Now, how many of these people have seen “Fauci” is an open question, but we’ve been told this guy has a massive cheering section. Surely it should have been able to cancel some of this out, no?
Let’s put that 2 percent audience rating into perspective. Over 40 films in Rotten Tomatoes’ history have received a 0 percent critics score, according to a list from the entertainment website IGN. Every single one of them has a higher audience rating than “Fauci.”
Just so we’re clear what we’re talking about here, let me give you a sampling of these films, at least going by the ones that I’ve seen:
“Jaws 4: Jaws the Revenge” (1987): Despite the big-name franchise, this might be one of the most incompetently filmed, slipshod movies ever released by a major studio. The most infamous scene involves a shot where Michael Caine’s character swims to the boat. As he climbs back aboard, after having braved the choppy waters of the Atlantic Ocean, his hair and his clothes are as dry as if he had just left a business meeting. Critics score: 0 percent. Audience score: 15 percent.
“Problem Child” (1990): A supposed family comedy in which a sociopathic adopted child who idolizes a serial killer (played by “Seinfeld” star Michael Richards) engages in wacky hijinks like driving his father’s car through a sporting goods store and winning a Little League game by assaulting the opposing team with a baseball bat. The film reaches a heartwarming conclusion when the boy’s father, played by the late John Ritter, saves his adopted son from the serial killer. Sorry to spoil it for you. Critics score: 0 percent. Audience score: 42 percent.
“Folks!” (1993): Tom Selleck’s character is tasked with killing his aged parents in another ill-advised comedy. The only joke I remember from the movie involves Selleck stuffing his parents in a Ford Pinto, dousing it in gasoline and pushing it into oncoming traffic. If that’s the high point, imagine what the low points must have been like. Critics score: 0 percent. Audience score: 51 percent.
“Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever” (2002): In a half-star review, Roger Ebert called the movie “a chaotic mess, overloaded with special effects and explosions, light on continuity, sanity and coherence” and “an ungainly mess, submerged in mayhem, occasionally surfacing for cliches.” My take on his review after having seen the movie: Ebert went soft in his later years. Critics score: 0 percent. Audience score: 19 percent.
I doubt “Fauci” is actually worse than any of these movies, but the Rotten Tomatoes scores demonstrate two key disconnects regarding the NIAID chief.
From all appearances, “Fauci” is a fawning, artless talking-head documentary that’s more soft propaganda than insightful information. While far fewer critics have reviewed it, it’s still scoring 7 percent higher than the new James Bond film, “No Time to Die.” (Tomatometer: 84 percent; audience score: 88 percent.)
If these critics wanted to see someone praising Dr. Fauci effusively, just catch him any time he’s on CNN. But that’s not the point — no matter how bland the movie is, saying it’s good really sticks it to the conservatives.
Meanwhile, I doubt most of those contributing to the abysmal audience score for “Fauci” have actually watched it, but that’s not the point, either.
For someone who’s being propped up as a laudable epidemiological hero being attacked by a few irresponsible voices, Fauci certainly doesn’t have too many people on the internet willing to defend his honor. Apparently, not everyone thinks America’s lockdown cheerleader “comes away smelling of roses.”
This is the guy, remember, who has admitted lying to the American public about the usefulness of masks at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to avoid a shortage for health care workers. He’s a man whose public statements about the origin of the coronavirus are openly distrusted by members of Congress.
Whatever the case, “Fauci” appears so boring and disliked it’s unlikely to change any American’s mind. There’s no amount of Mickey Mouse magic that can make this one look good.