Joe Morgenstern

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For 2,108 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 42% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 56% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 1.3 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Joe Morgenstern's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 We Are the Best!
Lowest review score: 0 Jack Reacher
Score distribution:
2108 movie reviews
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    The problem isn't a lack of substance, and certainly not a dearth of talent, but a shortage of fun.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    While the movie is dreadfully clumsy or sentimental around the edges, there's no denying the strength of Mr. Gibson's performance or the power of the savage combat, a 90-minute sequence that's even more graphic than the horrific firefight in Somalia in "Black Hawk Down."
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 49 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    It's interesting to see how a potent premise -- those among us who behave like aliens probably are -- can sustain, more or less, an erratic, disjointed sequel.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 48 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    The movie finally comes together into something that is genuinely -- and almost quietly -- stirring.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 48 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Ms. Judd commands the screen with consistent authority, and Mr. Freeman brings expansive humor to the role of a self-styled wildcard who's still dangerous in court.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Maquiling's gotta learn more about dramatic arcs, but he has an infectious interest in how the world looks and works, and he can make you laugh unexpectedly. I look forward to his next film.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    An attractive, intelligent film that's intractably at odds with itself.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 49 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    At many points along the way I wanted to wash my hands of Scotland, PA., but then this sly, silly comedy got me smiling again.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 47 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    This Flubbery fantasy won't win any prizes for elegant craftsmanship or originality, but it's entertaining, good-natured and a slam dunk to be a hit with young kids.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    With all its flaws, though, The Grey Zone deserves to be respected, and to be seen.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 75 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Absurdist, but also condescending and self-infatuated; The Royal Tenenbaums is at least three times too clever for its own good.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    The finished film afflicted my own mind with an unwilling suspension of belief. I couldn't connect with it on any level, despite Sam Rockwell's terrific performance as an emotional desperado who wants only to be loved.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Walks a fine line between bold indie film, with the attendant in-your-face roughness, and sodden Lifetime Original Movie.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Chan proves yet again that he has the virtuosic grace -- and goofiness -- of any of the great clowns of the silent era, and a complete refusal to abide by the laws of gravity. Do let us be clear, however, that the movie's plot, minus a few roundhouse kicks, is straight out of the Scooby-Doo playbook.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    A curious combination of strident preachment and smartly farcical thriller; it's heavy-handed and light-footed at the same time.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    To make silk purses from turgid passages, Mr. Scott does what he always does, gooses them up with every trick in the big-budget book.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 47 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    With all its misfires, though, and with a Strangelovian twist that's a dud, Big Trouble remains a reasonably pleasant way to spend an hour and a half and still get change.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 85 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Astonishing visually and problematic dramatically.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Ms. Ferrera is an engaging performer; you find yourself rooting for Ana from the start, even though you know, from the predictable script by George LaVoo and Josefina Lopez, that rooting isn't required for a happy outcome.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    It's a diverting mess, sometimes even a delightful mess.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Affecting but formulaic.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Entertaining when it's really lurid, and Gerard Depardieu is something to behold as the proprietor of a broken-down hotel. He's a spectacular ruin in his own right.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    What's on screen, though, is a cautious approach to cinema wizardry -- broad, colorful strokes and flash-bang effects that turn J.K. Rowling's words into a long, cheerful spectacle with a Muggle soul.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 81 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Watching this surrealist silliness, I would have welcomed the sight of a geezer on a riding mower.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    In this second installment of the trilogy, lithe bodies endowed with superior brains do all sorts of spectacular things, but the movie has the dead soul of a video game.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 80 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Though his movie wraps challenging ideas and ingenious visual conceits in a futurist film-noir style, it's pretentious, didactic and intentionally but mercilessly bleak in ways that classic noir never was.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 31 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    I do wish Mr. Robbins's one-note co-stars had been worthy of his performance, and that some of the melodramatics hadn't been quite so slapdash.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 42 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    It isn't a great film, or even a greatly original one. Still, it has many grace notes, and interesting oddities.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    This is silliness of such a special grade, performed with such zest, that it makes you forgive and even forget the movie's foolishness and borderline incoherence.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Though Hannibal the movie is unresolved in ways the book is not, that isn't Mr. Hopkins's fault. He's still a star for all seasons, and seasonings.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Ritchie is back with more of the same in his second feature, a comedy called "Snatch" that's a sort of lethal pinball machine in which even more picturesque characters bounce from pillage to post.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Much of the action is interesting, and surprisingly well grounded in science...Yet the script works few variations on its basic idea until the climax, which is crazily out of scale -- the urban-traffic equivalent of a nuclear holocaust.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 48 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    It's a movie devoted to showing it, shaking it and selling it with huge zest and self-delight, a movie that raises MTV-style dada to the status of superheated mama, even though, toward the end, it wears awfully thin rather than svelte.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    If Ice Age lacks the fit and finish of top-of-the-line films from Pixar, DreamWorks or Disney, it's still an impressive piece of work for a new feature animation group, and a harbinger of cool cartoons to come.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 61 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Cleverly conceived, skillfully made and performed with unflagging verve, it's a change of pace (slower) and scale (smaller) for Mr. Scott, the director of such pounding epics as "Gladiator" and "Black Hawk Down." Yet this intimate, intricate con about a couple of petty con men selling water filtration systems is also remote and forgettable in the end, a lapidary icicle.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Dopamine could do with a bit more of whatever hormone governs pacing, but Mr. Decena is a director with a future. He knows how to connect with his actors.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Who knew that one of Billie Holiday's most haunting songs was written in Budapest in the 1930s? I didn't until I saw Gloomy Sunday, a German film, shot in Hungary and directed by Rolf Schubel, that I enjoyed quite a lot, even though it's all over the map in more ways than one.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    I wanted to believe in Bad Santa. At least half of the time I did.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Simultaneously beguiling and frustrating -- the product of an imagist and dramatist uncomfortably conjoined.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Eye caviar that doesn't pretend to be much else.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 46 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Something of a shambles -- a shambles about a shambles -- but bound for big success and deservedly so.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    What's wrong with this picture? Nothing, as long as you don't expect more than a tossed-off goof.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 50 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Any shortfalls in Home on the Range a conventional but perfectly pleasant entertainment, have more to do with the ABC's of storytelling than with the D's of animation.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    A high school comedy that is sharply observed and often terrifically funny, yet oddly misconceived.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Although mood often substitutes for momentum in Ms. Kalem's film, both of her stars give affecting performances, and there's growth on both sides of the unlikely romance.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 49 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    A tatty but good-natured time-passer.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    At its best, Fahrenheit 9/11 is an impressionist burlesque of contemporary American politics that culminates in a somber lament for lives lost in Iraq. But the good stuff -- and there's some extremely good stuff -- keeps getting tainted by Mr. Moore's poison-camera penchant for drawing dark inferences from dubious evidence.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 90 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    It's "My Dinner With Andre" for the relationship generation.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 47 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    A little humanity can go a long way to make up for a movie's shortcomings, and there's more than a little in Ladder 49, a surprisingly stirring celebration of heroic firefighters.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    It's not a great film, but there's something to be said for a cool-button treatment of a hot-button issue.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    I know this sounds like great fun, and some of it is, but there's nowhere near enough good stuff to fill the 114-minute running time.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 61 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Thus does a book of literary distinction become not-so-grand-Guignol.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    The movie is much too long, but mostly, and sometimes very, entertaining.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Ting's exploits grow ever more violent and repetitive, but a lot of Ong-Bak is very enjoyable.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    In a film that's carefully crafted but also airless and overcalculated, Mos Def walks away with every scene he's in because we're never sure what his character is up to, and we're never told.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    The director and co-writer, Niels Mueller, has also done his work well, but the film feels insubstantial at 95 minutes, even though -- or maybe because -- it bristles with borrowed ideas and unavoidable associations.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Glorifies its subject without quite knowing what to make of her. There's no question, though, about Ms. Blanchett in the title role. When she's on screen, the Fourth Estate flourishes.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Attal's real-life problem is his simplistic script, which makes the husband a childish fool and a bit of a bore.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    A smart entertainment that trades on Mr. Jackson's forceful presence, a cast of extremely likable young actors and lots of basketball action.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Most of the film, a debut feature directed by Christophe Barratier, is quite shamelessly formulaic. The Chorus redeems itself, though, with Mr. Jugnot's astute, understated performance.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Somewhat sluggish but reasonably scary.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Has density enough for several films. What's missing is spontaneity, and variety. And, throughout most of the narrative, velocity.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    For all its various failures, Fever Pitch taps expertly into our nostalgia for an era when baseball really was the American pastime, unsullied by money, drugs or celebrity.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    The scenery, effects and balletic, iconic combats are perfectly wonderful, but there's an emotional black hole where the hero should be.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 48 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    That's what is missing from The Longest Yard most egregiously. Charm has been kept on the bench.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    The movie reminded me of a relatively new product, the little translucent wafer that you put on your tongue to freshen your breath. One hit of intense flavor and the thing dissolves without a trace.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    The new version is out of scale with the basic premise -- too much rain, too much water, too much doom, gloom and intricate eccentricity.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Your reaction to the film will depend on your tolerance for scatology -- some of this stuff is very funny, although most of it is grindingly, numbingly awful -- and your interest in standup comics.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 78 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    This, too, is a mood piece, sometimes surreal and dominated by Chow's lovelorn sadness. But it's hard to find an emotional or narrative handle to hang on to, since the filmmaker keeps reaching for dramatic energy that keeps eluding him.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Little by little, though, he (Ledger)and those around him achieve a critical mass -- an extremely light critical mass -- and the plot pops with entertaining complications.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    This slapdash farce, arriving three decades after Sellers last inhabited the role, sustains a baseline of good will that often spikes into delight at Mr. Martin's beguiling nonsense.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    The film as a whole has the gravitas of a really thoughtful rock video.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Has the inherent limits of all movies that feed on movies, rather than life -- it's original, yet it's not.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Anger is the rocket fuel of drama. Of the four women in Nicole Holofcener's Friends With Money, only Frances McDormand's Jane is flamingly angry, and she's the most vivid character in the group.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    This English heart-warmer isn't all that kinky. It's actually quite sweet-spirited, as well as unswervingly formulaic.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 84 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Needlessly long, visually drab and not just a foreign-language film, with English subtitles, but a film that's ostensibly foreign to our experience. That said, there are compelling reasons to see it.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 77 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    A powerful drama, albeit a flawed one with a clumsy, didactic script.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 46 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    By all that's unholy, this third edition of the high-emission franchise should have been at least as awful as the second one was. (The first one was good fun.) Yet it's surprisingly entertaining in its deafening fashion, despite the absence of Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, the co-stars of parts one and two.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Watching this mélange of journalism and dramatic license can be enthralling and maddening at the same time, because the ring of truth, which the film has, is not the same as the truth, which remains unknown.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    The cast is entertaining, though with an asterisk, and the special effects are often spectacular, though sometimes not.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    The movie snaps sharply to life every now and then, and its unfashionable decency really gets to you.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    The script is somewhat predictable and the pace is leisurely, but Ms. Judd makes Lucy's choices seem momentous, and Ms. Adams gives us several beautiful scenes.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Thanks to the redundancy, though, Blood Diamond is dramatically diffuse, and at least 30 minutes too long. Thanks to Mr. DiCaprio's raffishly dashing soldier of fortune, the movie is worth watching all the same.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Against all odds this panoply of punishment is almost thrilling, even though it's raging bull of a different kind.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    This is a film that adds to our understanding of human nature. Yet its impact is lessened by a lack of factual context, and by an inspirational climax that may leave one feeling good and uneasy in equal measure.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 75 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    The film contends admiringly, and convincingly, that Ralph Nader's authentic sense of outrage is the reason he persists when he can't prevail.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 83 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    For all its rich trappings, A Little Princess is impoverished at the core. [18 May 1995, p.A14]
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    The most disturbious part of Disturbia is how engaging this teenage thriller manages to be, even though it's a shameless rip-off of "Rear Window."
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 61 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Ms. Campion has shown a gift for pictorialism -- static pictorialism; she's not a fluid filmmaker - and an abiding fascination with sexual repression. She brings both to this long, slow, distanced version of the Henry James novel. [27 Dec 1996]
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Will the extremely extravagant special effects prove sufficient to sustain the picture? Surely they will, this time. Still, there's a sense of fatigue in the scenes that don't involve high-tensile webs and high-tension suspense.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Joy has been replaced by a sense of laboriousness, even though the action sequences move along energetically enough and the movie does have moments of comic-book charm. [9 Feb 1996, p.A12]
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Del Toro is a fearless actor, and his Jerry, a heroin addict lurching toward redemption, is the heart and soul, as well as the haunted, rubbery visage, of a story of grief and loss that would be fairly lifeless without him.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Uncritical, but not unaffecting.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    You may see The Orphanage for what it is, an enjoyable contraption, without believing a bit of it.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Endearing, though sometimes belabored.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    So many movies these days are overworked or overblown: The Hammer feels genuinely tossed-off. It isn't a great movie, or even a consistently good one. Yet it gets to elusive feelings about failure and success, hope and mortality (and reveals a quietly subversive attitude toward the boxing-movie genre).
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Surprising as it may be, given an unpromising trailer, the 3D update of Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth turns out to be perfectly charming as well as predictably eye-popping.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Christopher Nolan's latest exploration of the Batman mythology steeps its muddled plot in so much murk that the Joker's maniacal nihilism comes to seem like a recurrent grace note.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Trumbo doesn't pretend to be tough-minded about its subject, and its failure to date the letters is an annoyance. But the substance of those letters, along with documentary footage and a touching appearance by Kirk Douglas, throws a baleful light on a bleak chapter of American history.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    A very short and cheerfully scruffy comedy-thriller.

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