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 4 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

David Denby's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 66
Highest review score: 100 The Hours
Lowest review score: 10 Wild Wild West
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 47 out of 628
628 movie reviews
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Nothing very important happens, but, moment by moment, the movie is alive with the play of gesture and glances, aggression and withdrawal. [31 March 2003, p.106]
    • The New Yorker
    • 84 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    This movie, however incomplete and frustrating, is also fully alive and extraordinarily intelligent.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    An extremely well-crafted exercise in physical invention and fear. Yet within those limits--the limits of a pop-digital survival drama--Poseidon is an exciting show.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Cronenberg has made an eccentric and beautiful-looking movie - a languid, deadpan, conceptualist joke.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    It has a gentle, unforced rhythm, and what’s there is good and true. But there’s not enough of it--the movie needs more plot, more complication, more conflict.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    In Side Effects, the working out of the thriller plot is accomplished with too much verbal explanation. [11 & 18 Feb. 2013, p.114]
    • The New Yorker
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The movie is a lucid and comprehensive picture of a rotten system, but it’s a relief to know that some people in the midst of disaster were doing their jobs.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Fahrenheit 9/11 offers the thrill of a coherent explanation for everything, but parts of the movie are no better than a wild, lunging grab at a supposed master plan. [28 June 2004, p. 108]
    • The New Yorker
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    There's a sourness, a relentlessness about the movie which borders on misanthropy. In both the social and the personal scenes, the conversational tone veers between idiotic pleasantries and fathomless bile, with nothing in between.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The movie is best when it calms down and concentrates on the sinister peculiarities of the experience, and when it focuses on Franco's face. [8 Nov. 2010, p . 93]
    • The New Yorker
    • 81 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    We need another movie, one that shows us why some charter schools work and others don't. And there's an issue that needs to be addressed by Guggenheim and such people as Bill Gates, who appears in the movie as an advocate for charter schools, which he has generously funded.It is the question of scale.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The movie ends in bitterness. Unable to prevent catastrophe, the most honorable man in this entire affair - an outcast among frauds and the cannily acquiescent - considers himself a failure.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    It's a seize-the-day movie, even though the day is a long time coming. [7 May 2012, p.80]
    • The New Yorker
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The Duchess is enragingly elusive and possibly mad; the General is very direct and also possibly mad.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    An accomplished, intelligent, often exciting piece of work, but I can't help wishing that Haggis had figured out how to make it more fun. [22 Nov. 2010, p. 140]
    • The New Yorker
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Judi Dench is especially good; playing a vulnerable character, for a change, she allows her habitual toughness to give way to uncertainty, fear, and moments of gathering resolve, and she delivers one of her most wide-ranging and moving performances. [7 May 2012, p. 81]
    • The New Yorker
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Among other things, Our Brand Is Crisis is about the failure of good intentions--a potent American theme at the moment. As the movie suggests, this failure, born of American arrogance, embraces liberals as well as neocons.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Taymor has played with Shakespeare's text -- switching genders, and inventing, dropping, and transposing passages -- but there's an emotional gain. [20 & 27 Dec. 2010, p. 146]
    • The New Yorker
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Kechiche digs a good story out of the flux, and, in the movie's final forty minutes, the suspense is terrific.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    I don't know if Beethoven and a sympathetic newspaper reporter can redeem a messy American city, but this movie makes a plausible case for so fervent a dream.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Heartbreaker, which begins as a Hollywood-style caper and turns into a romantic comedy, is no more than a luxurious trifle. But it is also enjoyable for the vast difference in temperament between its two stars.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Putting it mildly, this style of shallow, panting composition isn't the way I’d like movies to go, but, of its kind, The Bourne Supremacy is incredibly skilled--much more exciting than its predecessor.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    We are entertained, but we see this squalid world clearly. The great cinematographer Chris Menges keeps the images cool and crisp. [15 September 2003, p.100]
    • The New Yorker
    • 48 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The movie is immensely pleased with itself, in the manner of adorable kids who know they can get away with anything--the commercial opportunism is so self-confident in its silliness that you can’t really fight it. [7 July 2003, p. 84]
    • The New Yorker
    • 59 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    For Apatow, one guesses, the only things that can forestall death are comedy (the movie is full of superb comics, including Albert Brooks and Melissa McCarthy) and the flourishing of his children, Maude and Iris, who appear in the movie as Debbie and Pete's daughters.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    By the end, Soderbergh’s movie subverts common belief far more effectively than some of the fantasy movies knocking around this summer. It’s a vertiginous experience that grows increasingly hilarious, and the joke is on us.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Kasdan is shrewd and funny about such things as the ease with which powerful people can mimic, when they need to, the forms of sincerity and concern. The satire is unrelenting but not too broad; it stays close to common observation.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    So well made, and so compelling as a portrait of a man at war with himself, that, right up until the end, many people will probably be entertained by its intricately preposterous story.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    They are Abbott & Costello with dirty mouths--indomitable, ungovernable, and possibly immortal.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Goodbye, Lenin! is often drab--the color is washed out, the lighting flat. Yet the movie is sweetly enjoyable as a sardonic elegy for a dream that went bust. [8 March 2004, p. 92]
    • The New Yorker
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    An effective political melodrama that induces a peculiar emotion--the bitterness generated by an old anger that has faded into dull exasperation and now flares up again. [8 Nov. 2010, p.92]
    • The New Yorker
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    David Mamet has adapted and directed Terence Rattigan's 1946 play, which was based on a true story, with a fidelity so profound that one doesn't know whether to be amazed or depressed by it.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Watching the movie, you feel the constriction and the disgust of the life below, but Holland, pacing the film well, knows when to come up for air. Each time she does, the daylight seems like a benediction. [13 & 20 Feb. 2012, p 120]
    • The New Yorker
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The movie is sheer hurtling mechanism - the entire world in motion - and it's great silly fun.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Thank You for Smoking is a nifty but slight movie. Some of the writing is obvious, and the dramatic structure is flimsy, if not downright arbitrary. But Eckhart, in a sure-handed performance, holds the picture together.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Improbable and, at times, sadistic, but, considered as a piece of direction, this Western, set in New Mexico in 1885, is as confident as anything that Ron Howard has done. [8 December 2003, p. 139]
    • The New Yorker
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Stop-Loss is not a great movie, but it’s forceful, effective, and alive, with the raw, mixed-up emotions produced by an endless war.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    It’s good-natured and raucous, with many scenes that are just sketched but a few that are truly funny.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Nothing that happens in this movie is in the least surprising, but it's all quite pleasant and even, at times, moving.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Like most porn, even art porn, Nymphomaniac falls apart at the end. Von trier even seems to be pranking the audience. But the director has at last created a genuine scandal -- a provocation worth talking about. [24 March 2014, p.84]
    • The New Yorker
    • 54 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    It's an accomplished, stately movie -- unimpassioned but pleasing. [28 July 2014, p.78]
    • The New Yorker
    • 40 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Is it art? Not remotely. But, up to the final scenes, it’s a tremendous piece of engineering. After all, the narratives have to synch up visually, which can’t be easy to manage. And the hurtling force of Vantage Point is fun to watch.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The intricate baseball knowledge that gets passed back and forth among the characters in Trouble with the Curve is much more interesting than the moral simplicities that the movie offers. [8 Oct. 2012, p.87]
    • The New Yorker
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Lone Survivor will not please people exasperated by an endless war, but it's an achievement nonetheless. [6 Jan. 2014, p. 73]
    • The New Yorker
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Good summer fun, but it’s only about two-thirds the picture it could have been. Since Edward Norton has nothing to play against, the rivalry at the heart of the movie never heats up. [16 & 23 June 2003, p. 200]
    • The New Yorker
    • 51 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Much of the writing is good, and the acting is superb, but the constant wrangling wore me out at times.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Buoyant and observant, 50/50 is a small winner; the director, Jonathan Levine ("The Wackness"), has a great touch, mordant but light-handed.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Singer honors a child's desire not only for adventure but for noble deeds, for loyalty and friendship. [18 March 2013, p.87]
    • The New Yorker
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    A major film without being a great film. It's a strange movie, and a stunningly pessimistic one, and the strangeness and pessimism connect it to other recent American films in ways that suggest that something unhappy in the national mood has crept into the movies.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Murray’s linking up with Jim Jarmusch is a case of Mr. Cool meeting Mr. Cool, and the result is intriguing and elegant, but not quite satisfying.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Jeremy Renner is the main reason to see Kill the Messenger.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The actual robbery that the picture is based on is shrouded in mystery, and the screenwriters, Dick Clement and Ian La Fresnais, have engaged in a fair amount of entertaining invention.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Certainly holds one's attention, but it's a strange and grim experience, ice-cold and borderline pointless. [28 October 2002, p. 119]
    • The New Yorker
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The filmmakers register their point, but I don’t think it’s entirely parochial to note that, two decades from now, the American and Japanese children will probably have many choices open to them (including living close to the land), while the Mongolian and Namibian children are more likely to be restricted in their choices to the soil that nurtured them.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Stewart chose the great Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo to play Bahari’s mother, but, with her tragic face and her magnificent contralto voice, she plays a tiny role as if she were in an amphitheatre.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    She's infuriating, but the movie, for all its morose impassivity, is beautiful and haunting.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Strange and off-putting, and hard-nosed types in the film business will no doubt dismiss it as a nothing. But, even if Bubble hasn't brought down the Bastille, the movie is far from nothing.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The movie feels not only like a trial but like a trial in absentia. [7 Oct 2002, p. 108]
    • The New Yorker
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The movie makes it clear that, for all his snarls and outbursts, he is intelligent, candid, and easily wounded; that he is by turns inordinately proud and inordinately ashamed and, above all, intensely curious about himself, as if his own nature were a mystery that had not yet been solved.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Robert Altman, in a benevolent mood, has made a lovely ensemble comedy from Anne Rapp's original screenplay.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The movie is smart and tightly drawn; it has a throat-gripping urgency and some serious insights, and Scott has a greater command of space and a more explicit way with violence than most thriller directors.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The joke buried in Tabloid is that this sexual obsessive is very likely not a sexual person at all.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Lee Hirsch and Cynthia Lowen, the filmmakers who made the moving documentary Bully, don't try to answer any questions. They avoid charts and graphs, talking heads and sociology. Their approach is more direct and, perhaps, more effective.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    A lyrical throwback to such movies as René Clément's "Forbidden Games" (1952) and other works of the humanist European cinema of a half century ago. [12 April 2003, p. 89]
    • The New Yorker
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Sappy but engaging. [7 & 14 July 2014, p.95]
    • The New Yorker
    • 89 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The project lacks the variety of sensuous pleasures that a great movie has to provide.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    In serious roles, Weisz can be stiff-backed and righteous, but here, doing comedy, she appears to be a major actress eager to reveal everything she’s been holding inside.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Even though we can see it coming, this gruff, inarticulate, half-embarrassed love between men, arrived at after many setbacks, is one of the stories that action movies never tire of telling and that many of us, even though we may laugh it off the next day, still find moving. [17 & 24 June 2002, p. 176]
    • The New Yorker
    • 81 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The movie version of the hit Broadway musical Hairspray is perfectly pleasant--I smiled to myself all the way through it--but it’s not as exhilarating as the show.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Menzel strings his sequences together with great affection and skill, but the movie, an absurdist picaresque, doesn't have much cumulative impact, and perhaps the hero is too much a lightweight to hold an epic together.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Defiance, as it turns out, makes insistent emotional demands, and those who respond to it at all, as I did, are likely to go all the way and even come out of it feeling slightly stunned.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    It's an odd movie - mild in tone and circumspect, yet darkly funny, and done in a hybrid form that I don't think has been used so thoroughly before.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The new movie continues the "Bourne" tradition of exciting, reality-based thrillers, but when the series lost its star it lost most of is soul. [13 & 20 Aug. 2012, p.96]
    • The New Yorker
    • 49 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Ewan McGregor’s bright-eyed Ian, following in the footsteps of characters in Allen’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors” and “Match Point,” is a study in guilt-free violence. But Colin Farrell’s Terry is something new. Terry is a decent guy with many weaknesses, and, after the crime is committed, Farrell gives him a piteous self-loathing that is very touching.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    A genial, messy comedy of marital discord and mismatched lovers.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    No stranger man - not even Nixon - has ever been at the center of an American epic.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    Redford’s patient earnestness — not always a virtue in his earlier work as a director — produces something honorable and absorbing.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    The Box turns into a kind of sacrilegious Christian fable; it’s haunted by God, but it delivers a vicious doctrine. At the risk of impoliteness, I would suggest that Kelly drop his reliance on religio-mystico-eschatological humbug and embrace, in realistic terms, the fantastic possibilities in ordinary acts of murder, fear, heroism, and death. If he pulls himself together, he could be the next Hitchcock.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 David Denby
    A lightweight retelling of Page's life, a sketch, really, which doesn't probe very deeply into Page's bizarre mixture of exhibitionism and piety. But some scenes that might have been borderline exploitation, or just corny…turn out to be ineffably beautiful.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    Has some of the wittiest writing Sayles has ever done for the movies and some of the best acting he's ever coaxed out of his performers, and the picture is a pleasant, if unexciting, experience. [8 July 2002, p.84]
    • The New Yorker
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    Harmless, but it gave me a pain. Why make such a fuss over middle-aged bodies anyway? [22 & 29 December 2003, p. 166]
    • The New Yorker
    • 75 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    The other Grant, the irresistible but slippery Cary, was called to account by such strenuous and willful mates as Irene Dunne, Katharine Hepburn, and Ingrid Bergman. But Hugh Grant has never been matched with a woman who directly challenged his oddly recessive charm. [3 June 2002, p. 100]
    • The New Yorker
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    The Theory of Everything makes a pass at the complexities of love, but what’s onscreen requires a bit more investigation.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    The French creators of the dance numbers take their work very seriously; they speak of it in terms that would have shamed George Balanchine. That they are sincere in their ideas, however, doesn't mean that they aren't provincial in their own way and long out of date; nor does it mean, to our astonishment, that their show isn't repetitive, solemn, and slightly boring.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    Slamming different kinds of experience together, Lee tries to do with montage what he cannot do with dramatic logic.
    • 39 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    Poky but often charming.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    The memoir is strongly written, and I wish that the movie, directed by John Curran (Marion Nelson did the adaptation), had more excitement to it.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    Smart, willful, and perverse, this Frida is nobody's servant, and the tiny Hayek plays her with head held high. You may want to laugh now and then, but you won't look away. [11 November 2002, p. 195]
    • The New Yorker
    • 73 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    It’s the right role for Cruise, but the movie is so devoted to him, so star-driven, that it begins to seem a little demented.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    Seven Psychopaths is the kind of movie that can lift someone who's had a crappy day out of a funk. It's an unstable mess filled with lunatic invention and bizarre nonsense, and some of it is so spontaneous that it's elating. [22 Oct. 2012, p.88]
    • The New Yorker
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    Crowe has an animal quickness and sensitivity, a threatening way of penetrating what someone is up to, a feeling for weakness in friends as well as opponents. He seems every inch a great journalist; it's not his fault that the filmmakers let the big story slip through their fingers.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    The scenery, of course, could stop the heart of a mountain goat, and Wild has an admirable heroine, but the movie itself often feels literal-minded rather than poetic, busy rather than sublime, eager to communicate rather than easily splendid.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    The movie's meaning seems to be: we're all crippled in some way, so just live with it--celebrate it, even. That isn't satire; it's moss-brained sentiment that turns "sensitivity" into a dimly dejected view of life.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    The movie won't do much for anyone who doesn't have an academic or fanboy absorption in junk.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    In 2002, Carnahan made an intense and violent little cop film, "Narc," with Jason Patric and Ray Liotta. He seemed to have absorbed the influences of John Cassavetes and Martin Scorsese and come up with a style of his own. I was a fan of that movie, but Smokin’ Aces feels like Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" pushed much further along into lethal absurdity.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    One of the main virtues of John Rabe is to demonstrate that, however much we know about the worst of all wars, it still has little-known corners that can amaze us.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    I couldn't imagine anyone better suited to play the role. But this movie is a lot less interesting than it might be. Though it's not bad--in fact, it's rather sweet--it's too simple a portrait of a very complicated and calculating entertainer.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    An obscene, ridiculous, and occasionally very funny movie, and if it ever gets to the Middle East it will roil the falafel tables on both sides of the Arab-Israeli divide.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    The movie is overwrought and unfocussed.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 60 David Denby
    This Kong is high-powered entertainment, but Jackson pushes too hard and loses momentum over the more than three hours of the movie. The story was always a goofy fable--that was its charm--and a well-told fable knows when to stop.

Top Trailers