For 628 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 47% higher than the average critic
  • 1% same as the average critic
  • 52% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 3.7 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

David Denby's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 66
Highest review score: 100 Dreamgirls
Lowest review score: 10 Arthur
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 47 out of 628
628 movie reviews
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Is this a case of spectacularly rotten timing, or is something being kept from us? The account of why the friends cross the border isn’t very persuasive…The young men may be clueless, but the filmmakers’ habit of obfuscating key points makes us wonder whether somebody is lying.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    I have a vision of eight-year-olds leaving the movie in bewilderment. Why are the creatures so unhappy? That question doesn’t return a child to safety or anywhere else. Of one thing I am sure: children will be relieved when Max gets away from this anxious crew.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    I enjoyed parts of "Wedding," and I'm not about to tell people that they should not have enjoyed it. I'm just afraid that Hollywood will respond to its success by making many more sitcoms in the guise of movies. [23 Sept 2002, p. 98]
    • The New Yorker
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The young Welsh-born actor Christian Bale is a serious fellow, but the most interesting thing about him--a glinting sense of superiority--gets erased by the dull earnestness of the screenplay, and the filmmakers haven't developed an adequate villain for him to go up against.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    For all its handsomeness and its occasional moments of piercing intelligence, it's a fundamentally depressing piece of work--not because it deals with tragic events and memories but because the characters seem hapless and even stupid, and the writer-director can't, or won't, take control.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Has an oddly amorphous and inconclusive feeling to it. We never do find out who Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal) is, and his best friend, Troy (Peter Sarsgaard), who shifts back and forth between sanity and hysteria, is a mystery, too.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The revelation is Wilde. A slender beauty with high cheekbones, she makes Anna a full-fledged neurotic, candid and demanding and changeable, shifting abruptly from snuggling happiness to angry defiance.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The film is perceptive and shrewd about such matters as the awkwardness of two kinds of aristocracy and power brought face to face. But "Hyde Park" never catches fire.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Pretty much a miscalculation from beginning to end. [26 Nov. 2012, p.87]
    • The New Yorker
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The script is sketchy and somewhat puzzling (after a blissful night with Mousse, Paul leaves in the morning without explanation), but we're carried along by the potently ambiguous moods, the slow shifts from distant friendship to intimacy.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Apart from Blanchett's performance, Veronica Guerin is not very interesting. The movie offers a brainless Hollywood version of investigative journalism. [10 November 2003, p. 129]
    • The New Yorker
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The movie holds one in its surly grip, but when it's over, few people, I think, are likely to be haunted by it. Futility may work as a mood in a short story, but in a full-scale movie it doesn't bear looking at for very long. (29 Oct 2001, p. 92)
    • The New Yorker
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Damon may be too young, too unformed, to play an amnesiac. Gazing at that blank face, we can't imagine that Bourne has any experiences or memories to forget. [17 & 24 June 2002, p. 176]
    • The New Yorker
    • 82 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The movie is so discreet and respectful that, outside the classroom, within whose walls the glory of French literature and language triumph, it never quite comes to life. [16 April 2012, p. 86]
    • The New Yorker
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The scenes of the musicians rehearsing or talking about music, with the actors playing parts of Opus 131 themselves (the longer stretches are played by the Brentano Quartet), are fascinating and moving for anyone who loves this music; the rest of the movie is conventional.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Estevez has made a vague gesture at a large, metaphoric structure without having the dramatic means to achieve it. His choreography of the panic and misery in the hotel after the shooting is impressive, and some of the actors do fine in their brief roles. But his script never rises above earnest banality, and we are constantly being taught little lessons in tolerance and humanity:
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The Terminal is highly crafted whimsy; it lacks any compelling reason to exist, and its love story is a dud. Ever bashful when it comes to boy-girl stuff, Spielberg has structured the relationship between Amelia and Viktor to be as asexual as possible.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Soderbergh ends the movie with a few jokes, which is casual and neat but leaves you wondering whether the practice of making enormous movies about nothing isn't a little mad.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    This bio-pic, written by Abi Morgan and directed by Phyllida Lloyd, is an oddly unsettled compound of glorification and malice. It whirts around restlessly and winds up nowhere. [2 Jan. 2012, p.78]
    • The New Yorker
    • 74 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Inception, is an astonishment, an engineering feat, and, finally, a folly.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The extreme innocence of Rose (Andrea Riseborough), the young girl whom Pinkie seduces in order to keep her quiet, is no longer very convincing, or even interesting.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Considered as a sequel, Be Cool is not an insult, but it’s a lazy, rhythmless, and redundant piece of moviemaking.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Even as Cold Weather approaches nullity, it gives some pleasure. [7 Feb. 2011, p. 83]
    • The New Yorker
    • 59 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Elegant nonsense. For some years, it's been clear that De Palma's work has lost the jolting intellectual energy and wit of his "Carrie" and "Dressed to Kill" days, and in Femme Fatale the Master is just diddling. [25 November 2002, p. 108]
    • The New Yorker
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Almost nothing engages us emotionally. [8 Oct. 2012, p.86]
    • The New Yorker
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The movie’s heart is certainly in the right place--it’s a quietly outraged work--but I wish there were more excitement in it from moment to moment.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Walk Hard runs down quickly, and suffers further from having the wide-eyed and weightless Reilly as its star.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Even judged by the not excessively demanding standards of middle-aged renovation fantasies, A Good Year isn’t much.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Reitman is a witty filmmaker, but here he seems a little disconnected, too.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    With the exception of Jake Gyllenhaal, whose shambling self-disgust hits the only genuine note, the movie is a classic of Hollywood miscasting and ambition gone askew.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The Oxford theory is ridiculous, yet the filmmakers go all the way with it, producing endless scenes of indecipherable court intrigue in dark, smoky rooms, and a fashion show of ruffs, farthingales, and halberds. The more far-fetched the idea, it seems, the more strenuous the effort to pass it off as authentic.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    A virtual textbook of action clichés.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The movie is a divertissement; it's lightweight and almost meaningless except for the fights, which are extraordinarily violent. [30 Jan. 2012, p.79]
    • The New Yorker
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Somehow the movie that Rob Marshall has made from Golden's novel is a snooze. How did he and the screenwriter, Robin Swicord, let their subject get away from them?
    • 75 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The Wolf of Wall Street is a fake. It’s meant to be an exposé of disgusting, immoral, corrupt, obscene behavior, but it’s made in such an exultant style that it becomes an example of disgusting, obscene filmmaking. It’s actually a little monotonous; spectacular, and energetic beyond belief, but monotonous in the way that all burlesques become monotonous after a while.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Sean Penn’s Into the Wild is certainly visual--it’s entirely too visual, to the point of being cheaply lyrical.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Zwick can’t find anything fresh in this deeply pious East-meets-West stuff. The movie comes close to dying between battle scenes. [8 December 2003, p. 139]
    • The New Yorker
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The movie's conceits are just barely endurable, but the sharpness of Dörrie's eye--for Tokyo's electric night, for Fuji's iconographic landscapes, for cherry blossoms--sustains emotion even when story logic fails.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The ineluctable downward pull of absolutely everything in this movie is more exasperating than moving. [12 January 2004, p. 86]
    • The New Yorker
    • 53 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The filmmakers peddle fear and then try to claim the moral high ground; the treatment is foolish, confused, and borderline irresponsible.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    While re-creating the vast swing of German forces in and out of Russia, Kadelbach tries to capture the inner turmoil of two men. Call it half a victory.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Strange, empty movie, a metaphysical Cracker Jack box without a prize in its empty-calorie depths.
    • 41 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Nothing in the movie makes sense, but I prefer to think that Ride Along is just a badly told joke, rather than an insult to its audience.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Not even Neeson, with his strength and his wounded-giant vulnerability, can prevent our interest in Unknown from sliding into contempt.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The trouble with Holofcener's scheme is that the center of the movie is dead. Olivia has no drives or hopes or powerful regrets. She has nothing to say, and Aniston does most of her acting with her lower lip.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The Dark Knight is hardly routine--it has a kicky sadism in scene after scene, which keeps you on edge and sends you out onto the street with post-movie stress disorder.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    If you were to watch Lockout a few months from now, at home alone, it wouldn't produce more than a shrug. Movies this bad need to be revered in public places. Go see it in a mall, and try to sneak a beer or two in with you.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Like so many earnestly conceived morality tales, Promised Land is built around a man's quandaries. Any actor less skilled and sympathetic than Damon might have betrayed the material into obviousness. [14 Jan. 2013, p.78]
    • The New Yorker
    • 56 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    On the Road is always on the verge of imparting some great truth, but it never arrives. [14 Jan. 2013, p.79]
    • The New Yorker
    • 47 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The plot of Silver City is movieish in the extreme, with filthy abandoned mines subbing for the bars and alleys of urban noir, but it’s no more than mild cheese--“The Big Sleep” or “Chinatown” without the malice, rigorous design, and narrative epiphanies.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Near the end of the journey, chronicling Sunni car bombers in Iraq, he (Baer) talks sorrowfully of Muslims killing Muslims, and he concludes that suicide bombing has lost any coherent political meaning and has taken on an irresistible life of its own as a glamorous cult.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    Tintin is exhausting, and, for all its wonders, it wears one out well before it's over.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The unexciting look and feel of the movie wouldn’t have bothered me if the filmmakers had penetrated Hanssen’s skull a little.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 50 David Denby
    The Duplasses' sensitivity, which is genuine, yields too much tepid relationship-speak, and Marisa Tomei, one of the most appealing actresses in Hollywood, is left with little to play.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    Luhrmann's vulgarity is designed to win over the young audience, and it suggests that he's less a filmmaker than a music-video director with endless resources and a stunning absence of taste. [13 May 2013, p.78]
    • The New Yorker
    • 41 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    The movie isn’t a desecration, but it’s action filmmaking, not America, that needs to be reborn.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    W.
    Richard Dreyfuss, hunching over and baring his teeth like a shark cruising off a Martha's Vineyard beach, does a wicked impersonation of Cheney. His relish for the part suggests that the movie should have been done not as an earnest bio-pic but as a satirical comedy -- as a contemporary "Dr. Strangelove," with a cast of satyrs and clowns.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    Second-rate bawdiness--that is, bawdiness without the wit of Boccaccio or Shakespeare or even Tom Stoppard--is more infantile than funny, and I’m not sure that the American playwright Jeffrey Hatcher, who concocted this piece for the stage and then adapted it into a movie, is even second-rate.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    The Recruit is quick and tense, and some of it is fun, but I didn't believe a single thing in it, and the over-all effect of the movie is to make one depressed that the Christmas "art" season is over. [27 January 2003, p. 94]
    • The New Yorker
    • 63 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    Even Frances McDormand, the salt-of-the-earth actress who has warmed so many of the Coen brothers movies, falls into a queasy dead zone.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    I know there are intelligent people who are awed by this sort of deep-dish magical mystery tour, but surely something is wrong with a movie when you can't tell a live character from a dead one and you don't care which is which. [9 December 2002, p. 142]
    • The New Yorker
    • 49 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    The picture is a kind of fattened goose that's been stuffed with goose-liver pâté. It's overrich and fundamentally unsatisfying.
    • 39 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    The Green Hornet is what you get when someone who dropped out of high school to do standup comedy, then spent a decade in movies and television, conceives a Hollywood "passion project." [24 Jan. 2011, p. 82]
    • The New Yorker
    • 62 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    Bertolucci is trying hard to shock us with this stuff, but, for all the perversities and the abundant nudity, the movie has an air of inconsequence about it. [9 February 2004, p. 74]
    • The New Yorker
    • 56 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    It's not boring (given the subject, how could it be?), but almost nothing in it works.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    In the movie's best moments, the misery has a comic lilt to it. [28 Jan 2002, p. 90]
    • The New Yorker
    • 37 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    Penn gives a strenuous, at times shrewd and acid performance, which has been embedded, unfortunately, in a clumsy and ineffective movie.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    Morning Glory has a depressed, rancid air. [22 Nov. 2010, p. 141]
    • The New Yorker
    • 83 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    A shapeless mess, but at least it’s not as monotonous as “Kill Bill Vol. 1.” [19 & 26 April 2004, p. 202]
    • The New Yorker
    • 46 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    Has its satirical charms, but it repeats itself remorselessly, and it has no emotional center. We are so distant from Val that when he gets his sight back we don't feel a thing. [20 May 2002, p.114]
    • The New Yorker
    • 55 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    Thoroughly derivative, and it doesn't illuminate youth crime -- it exploits it.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    The movie is derivative, flat, halfhearted, its squareness unrelieved by irony or fantasy. [3 March 2003, p. 94]
    • The New Yorker
    • 64 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    The movie is halfhearted, fragmentary, unachieved.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    An interminable, redundant, unnecessary epic devoted to suffering, suffering, suffering.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    The filmmakers, I think, got in over their heads and couldn't decide whether they were making an action thriller or a drama of conscience; they wound up flubbing both.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    Crowe is attempting a modern screwball comedy--the kind of thing that, sixty years ago, Howard Hawks, directing Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, would have turned into romantic farce--but he has scaled the movie as an epic and turned his gabby heroine into a fount of New Age wisdom.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    “Them” — apart from a few affecting scenes — is a hollow, high-minded folly.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    The two characters are ciphers, and the script, which Sachs co-wrote with Mauricio Zacharias, is by turns underwritten or banal.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    After the complex buildup of tensions, the last ten minutes of the movie are a comic-pathetic letdown: the subdued acting and the trash-strewn street scenes lead to nothing more striking than the kind of overexplicit clichés heard in mediocre TV dramas. Even De Niro's discipline and skill can't save lines that should never have been spoken in the first place. [9 September 2002, p.162]
    • The New Yorker
    • 67 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    The futility of a noodling movie star is hardly a revelation of the absurdity of the human condition, or whatever this movie is supposed to be about. [20 & 27 Dec. 2010, p. 146]
    • The New Yorker
    • 61 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    Kevin Kline does his best movie work yet as Nick Bottom...But in most other ways this "Midsummer Night" is hard to endure.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    Michael Moore has teased and bullied his way to some brilliant highs in his career as a political entertainer, but he scrapes bottom in his new documentary, Sicko.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    Not meant to be realistic; it was shot by the director Steven Shainberg in a slow, dreamy neo-De Palma style and in candy colors, and Gyllenhaal has a Kewpie-doll silliness that almost makes the naughty parts of the movie fun. [23 Sept 2002, p. 98]
    • The New Yorker
    • 37 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    Amelia is handsome yet predictable and high-minded--not a dud, exactly, but too proper, too reserved for its swaggering subject.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    The clichéd macho silliness of the picture gets to be infuriating after a while.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    What a comedown, after the weirdly beautiful things Singer and his technicians did in the first two movies.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    War Horse is a bland, bizarrely unimaginative piece of work. [2 Jan. 2012, p.79]
    • The New Yorker
    • 50 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    It seems that the director, who also made "The Incredible Hulk" and "Clash of the Titans," will do anything to distract us from the emptiness to which he has devoted himself. [10 & 17 June 2013, p.110]
    • The New Yorker
    • 80 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    Unfortunately, it's also maddeningly repetitive, and dependent on the kind of strained English whimsy that leaves your throat sore from laughter that dies in the glottal region.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    Much of what Oskar says in the book is amusingly beside the point. Onscreen, however, the sound of a hyper-articulate boy talking semi-nonsense becomes very hard to take.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    As you watch, you don't think of the decline of American civilization; you think that these are good actors giving themselves a hell of a workout in a misbegotten movie. [6 Jan. 2014, p.72]
    • The New Yorker
    • 50 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    May have been written by a young woman, but it feels like a middle-aged man's fantasies about young people. The dialogue is actually - to retrieve an old word - vulgar. [7 Feb. 2011, p. 82]
    • The New Yorker
    • 45 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    The movie is messily ineffective. Daniels likes charged, discordant scenes, with sudden explosions of violence. He shoves the camera in people's faces, and he can't convincingly stage a scene with more than two people in it. [8 Oct. 2012, p.86]
    • The New Yorker
    • 36 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    The Canyons is not porn, but it has the demoralized second-rateness and the lowlife inanity of the porn world.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    The material has been turned into a trivially narcissistic product for teen-age girls who want to feel indignant about wrongs they are unlikely to suffer.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    There’s a big hole in the middle of the movie: the director, Tom Tykwer, and the screenwriter, Eric Warren Singer, forgot to make their two crusaders human beings.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    Off the dance floor, however, Black Swan is trashy and incoherent. Aronofsky, for all his gifts, is a gaudy maestro, opportunistic and insecure as an artist.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    Prince of Persia is meant purely as light entertainment, but the way it draws on layers of junk is depressing.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    The Dictator, like its predecessors, is short (eighty-three minutes), but it runs down fast, and the lewd jokes pile up. [28 May 2012, p. 76]
    • The New Yorker
    • 77 Metascore
    • 40 David Denby
    In this movie, Phoenix turns himself inside out, but Cotillard’s reserved performance doesn’t move us. Bruno advances in his confused way, Ewa resists, and, despite Jeremy Renner’s flickering presence, the movie becomes dour and repetitive. Looking at them, you finally think, Enough! Life must be elsewhere.

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