Barbara VanDenburgh
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For 74 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 48% higher than the average critic
  • 6% same as the average critic
  • 46% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 1 point lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Barbara VanDenburgh's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 Short Term 12
Lowest review score: 30 R.I.P.D.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 74
  2. Negative: 6 out of 74
74 movie reviews
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The resulting portrait is nothing short of a tiny filmmaking miracle. It’s guaranteed to make you feel something — hopeful, probably, for Grace and her wards. And maybe even for the future of indie filmmaking.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Farhadi again burrows deep into his characters to tell an achingly intimate story, spinning grand tragedies out of minor lives in which the past lingers in the air, a perfume that haunts long after its wearer has left the room.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Even if its stunted ambitions come as a disappointment, Pieta nevertheless is an expertly crafted thriller and a fine addition to East Asian revenge cinema.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    20 Feet From Stardom is frequently sad and frustrating. But while there’s heartbreak aplenty, the film doesn’t function as a pitying paean to unmined talent — it’s ultimately a celebration of the unsung.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The Patience Stone largely functions as a one-woman play, with Farahani’s character soliloquizing over her husband’s body.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It’s a powerfully sensual movie, gorgeously lensed colors and textures conveying its characters emotional states while thoughtfully exploring the range of human sexuality through Adenike’s experience.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It’s a Fellini-esque carnival of humanity on display, a more debauched phantasmagoria reminiscent of “La Dolce Vita.” But “La Dolce Vita” created the paparazzi; The Great Beauty takes place in a world where the paparazzi have existed for decades.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Particle Fever does an excellent job of laying out what's at stake as it documents the creation and fine-tuning of the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Blue Ruin is a movie about revenge, but it reaches far past the bottom-shelf titillations of fantasy to tell a richer, character-driven story with a protagonist who's less avenging angel than ghost.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It's a well-written rom-com with rascally charm, a modest story of an awkward Brooklyn girl making a go of life. It's irreverent and rough around the edges with an imperfect protagonist, blue language, scatological humor and rambling confessional stand-up monologues, sometimes about bodily fluids. The laughs are frequent and ribald.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    There's a purity to the experience of watching a film so naturalistic, like living in someone else's life for two hours.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The brutally sparse documentary Rich Hill removes poverty from the realm of the abstract and makes it personal.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The film wraps up too neatly to be believed, not leaving questions unanswered so much as failing to ask them.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It’s predictable. It’s saccharine. It’s silly. It’s also, thanks to the consummate talents of Stamp and Redgrave, occasionally a joy.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It’s clever. It’s also occasionally a chore to watch, true to the boredom you’d expect to feel listening to computer programmers hash out chess logistics.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Turns out You’re Next isn’t a slave to horror-movie conventions after all — rather, it’s having tongue-in-cheek fun with conventions while playing up to them, complete with a killer retro ’80s-horror synth score and a gruesome finale that recalls the excess of Peter Jackson’s “Dead Alive.”
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It’s aggressively charming, and competitions and training montages are filmed with kinetic whimsy. The film’s chief triumph is in spinning something remotely thrilling out of something as inherently dull as speed typing.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It makes for a unique sort of concert film, but also a weaker one. It would have been better if it had dispensed with the frail narrative or else committed to being completely bananas. But as die-hard Metallica fans well know, a little buffoonery is worth weathering for the main attraction.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The children may tug at the heartstrings, but it’s the adults who give the film its heart.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Dom Hemingway is a naughty good time while it lives up to the unpredictable bawdiness of its opening line.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The plain facts, presented without commentary, are an effective plea for a more compassionate immigration policy.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Violette doesn't abandon that playbook, but it does a better job than most of putting the viewer in its artist's headspace.
    • 39 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The film ricochets between Tammy being an oblivious cartoon goblin and a textured, sympathetic human being who just wants to be loved. Perhaps if the film had catered a little less to McCarthy's comedic gifts — the curse-word fugue states, the slapstick humor, the non sequiturs — the end result would have felt more balanced and rewarding.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The film is less effective, and less focused, when it switches into activism mode. Not that its heart isn't in the right place — we all know about the appalling state of institutionalized elder care. Which is the problem with those segments: We all know this already, and the filmmaking feels like perfunctory, necessary padding.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It's adorable. It's also very thin. There's a disconcerting literalism to the songs' dramatic representation that chokes the drama.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    As an exegesis on tortured creative genius, Harmontown proves wanting. It's in the exploration of how "Community" fandom formed its own distinctive community of outcasts that the film excels.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Point and Shoot is a fascinating, frequently frustrating documentary.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The story is good enough to tell itself, and the filmmakers should have let it.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The ambitious visual stylings don’t do enough to buoy a film that lacks a certain soaring spirit. If the adaptation is serviceable, it’s also dull — a disappointing fate for a story that’s anything but.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Scenes go on too long. Jokes outwear their welcome. The plot, though perfunctory (it’s no more complex or intriguing than the average hourlong television crime procedural), gets muddled. Even though McCarthy keeps the laughs coming, The Heat doesn’t really pack enough.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Our teenage years are so overwrought with emotion; not to put them in play at all makes Brandy feel like little more than a cipher for Plaza’s deadpan dark humor. And that’s pleasurable enough for a quick fling, but hardly the foundation of a lasting relationship.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    As far as missteps go, Prince Avalanche is at least an interesting one, which is better than Green has done in awhile.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Riddick aims much lower than the stars and still doesn't quite hit its target. But when you consider a summer overstuffed with disappointing prestige pics that cost the GDP of several island nations to produce, Riddick's more modest (and less expensive) stumbling doesn't seem so bad in comparison.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Props to Bad Milo for its fearlessly pulp approach in exploring well-worn characters and their ho-hum dilemmas, but you know you’ve got a dull story on your hands when not even a butt monster can jazz it up enough.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    If you have a yen for martial-arts action, Man of Tai Chi could do the trick depending on how seriously you take Reeves’ performance. At the film’s worst, it’s empty yet still attractive (much, it can be argued, like Reeves).
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It’s all very competent, containing all the separate components we ask of period pieces and literary adaptations: great actors, dramatic staging, lush scenery, elaborate costuming. It looks as pretty as a tightly cinched corset, and leaves just as little room to breathe.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The intentions are noble, but the film’s eagerness to honor Mandela instead shortchanges him. Mandela was a man who broke the mold; “Mandela” is a film content to nestle very neatly into it.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Attractively staged and spiced through with raunch, About Last Night is still a pleasant enough romp, even if you have no intention of returning its phone calls.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    In spite of the compelling raw material in the lives of its ostensible subjects, it strikes out as an act of storytelling.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    For a film about art forgeries, The Art of the Steal is itself something of a forgery, a painstaking, brushstroke-by-brushstroke re-creation of masterworks dreamed up by better artists. And like a good forgery, it's enjoyable on the surface, but loses its charm a bit once you do some digging.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    There's a welcome lack of pretension to the proceedings. Stalwarts like Hurt and Ian McShane are on hand to class up the joint — everyone's got a British accent except for Johnson — while the predictable story bludgeons its way towards an inevitable conclusion.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Nothing fresh is being brought to the table, but it's a sufficient bit of fun for anyone who longs for the days of Brosnan's spy swagger.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Mostly, it's fine. The acting is fine. The writing is fine. The story is fine. There are a few laughs. And that should be fine enough. But with material as rich as Leonard's serving as the foundation, just fine is a disappointment.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The film really pops to life only when it gets a little messy, and it's never messier than when it loses itself in family dynamics.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Life lessons are learned, children do some growing up, nothing too terribly upsetting happens, and the corniness is, mostly, kept to tolerable levels.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The Zero Theorem feels like Gilliam's keen intellect chasing its own tail.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    All the glossy, kinetic animation and inventive action sequences get lost in the gag machine. The film throws jokes out like a tennis-ball machine on the fritz: gross humor, slapstick pratfalls, bizarre non sequiturs. The randomness does land a few laughs, but it's also exhausting.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 50 Barbara VanDenburgh
    There’s a certain kinetic charm to the first half of the movie, a freewheeling silliness to these outsized characters that makes you curious to see just how wrong things will go. But as the weightlifters’ plot spirals out of control, so does the movie’s.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Mira Nair has crafted a handsome but clubfooted film that lurches through predictable hot spots. It most disappoints as a thriller, the flashbacks and voiceovers and romantic entanglements so dominating the proceedings you forget that someone is bound and gagged in real time.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 50 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Redemption doesn’t have the chutzpah to let loose and be as dumb as it needs to be, so it instead bores the audience comatose with long stretches of sad-face Statham putzing around an apartment to justify the too-brief bursts of giddy bone-breaking.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 50 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The end result is as dour and unilluminating as British weather.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 50 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Delivery Man means well, but it’s innocuous to the point of non-existence. In trying to please everyone, the film runs the risk of pleasing no one.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It's more thought experiment than film, and although it's laudable for its daring to be unlike any film you’re likely to have ever seen, it ultimately doesn't have more meaning to import than a well-photographed daily affirmations calendar.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 50 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It's the PG-13 version of "The Hangover," and more than anything, that's just boring.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 50 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The found-footage approach loses its shine quickly.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 50 Barbara VanDenburgh
    How disappointing that a movie about challenging authority should be such a slave to convention.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 50 Barbara VanDenburgh
    There's a surface elegance that might play as depth in smaller doses, but at feature length, the stylistic flourishes seem to be covering for deficiencies rather than servicing the material.
    • 41 Metascore
    • 40 Barbara VanDenburgh
    If you’re just going to rip off the action movies of yore, why not rip off more of the good stuff?
    • 40 Metascore
    • 40 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It’s a juicy story squandered by the poor telling. It’s got all the trappings of a good ol’-fashioned Merchant Ivory pic — lush locales, exotic period trappings — but none of the soul.
    • 32 Metascore
    • 40 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Paranoia is ostensibly a thriller, but there’s nothing remotely thrilling about it. This slick, plodding bore is as exciting as watching somebody else tap out text messages.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 40 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Austenland plays out like an overly elaborate excuse to have people act silly in corsets and bloomers.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 40 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Except where “The Conjuring” invigorated horror-movie tropes with inventive application and strong characters, Insidious only wallows in them.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 40 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The characters aren’t the only things painted in broad strokes. Sweetwater is rife with gauche symbolism and imagery.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 40 Barbara VanDenburgh
    For a film that purports to love dinosaurs, this bigger, flashier Walking With Dinosaurs sure doesn’t trust them to be interesting enough to carry five minutes of a movie without the copious aid of slapstick and bathroom humor in a screenplay so rote it makes creatures that have been dead for 65 million years feel less fossilized than the jokes.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 40 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The script feels structurally inept, building up scenes and characters then cutting them off, never to be revisited. The end result is a film that feels full of staircases that lead nowhere.
    • 34 Metascore
    • 40 Barbara VanDenburgh
    There's nothing surprising or fresh about these people, their problems or their pairing, each character fitting snugly into his or her familiar archetype.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 40 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Aside from Dance and some hazy views of impaled bodies, the film is low on shock and gore. It's aiming more for sweeping historical epic, but it doesn't work on either level.
    • 29 Metascore
    • 40 Barbara VanDenburgh
    You'd learn a lot more if you went out and, well, actually met a Mormon.
    • 25 Metascore
    • 30 Barbara VanDenburgh
    A by-the-numbers thriller that wouldn’t even have made for a particularly good hourlong episode of a weekly crime procedural, never mind an honest-to-God feature-length movie.
    • 25 Metascore
    • 30 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It's an unpleasant way to pass a couple summer hours.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 30 Barbara VanDenburgh
    If there’s any social commentary being made here, it doesn’t come through in performances so wooden you can’t tell if the actors are that bad or the characters that vapid.
    • 22 Metascore
    • 30 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It’s a spectacularly wrong-headed, chemistry-free romance, and too dumb to know how sexist it is.
    • 39 Metascore
    • 30 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It fails to offer as single compelling character as a sacrifice to the angry volcano.
    • 36 Metascore
    • 30 Barbara VanDenburgh
    For a movie filled with amateur porn, sex toys, cocaine and Cameron Diaz's butt, "Sex Tape" is awfully tame. You're in greater danger of taking a nap than needing a safe word.

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