Joe Morgenstern

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For 2,178 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 1.7 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Joe Morgenstern's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 60
Highest review score: 100 Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Lowest review score: 0 Storks
Score distribution:
2178 movie reviews
    • 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
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    An attractive, intelligent film that's intractably at odds with itself.
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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
    Thus does a book of literary distinction become not-so-grand-Guignol.
    • 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
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    The cast is superb: especially Kate Winslet, who transcends, by far, the limits of her character's narrow soul. Yet The Reader remains schematic, and ultimately reductive.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    It’s a reasonably clever contrivance built around a pair of droll, skin-deep performances that are smart and entertaining, yet oddly lacking in intensity.
    • 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).
    • 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.
    • 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
    Watching this surrealist silliness, I would have welcomed the sight of a geezer on a riding mower.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Grungily stylish and often funny, at least for a while, though all of the caveats and contradictions that apply to Tarantino films apply here: One man's--or boy's--stylization is another's profane, unrelenting and tedious brutality.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Silly is endangered these days, and normal has come under withering fire from stupendous, yet tedious, visual effects. Busting ghosts used to be a lot more fun.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    The butler, Cecil Gaines, is a fictional creation, an African-American Forrest Gump who bears special witness to the civil-rights movement while serving on the White House staff under seven presidents. The contrivance is stretched to its breaking point over a running time of 132 minutes; some of the episodes cross a different line from almost plausible to downright silly. That's not the whole story, though.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    This is less a film in the lustrous Pixar tradition than a Disney fairy tale told with Pixar's virtuosity. As such, it's enjoyable, consistently beautiful, fairly conventional, occasionally surprising and ultimately disappointing.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    With all its flaws, though, The Grey Zone deserves to be respected, and to be seen.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Affecting but formulaic.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Mama itself is above average as a piece of filmmaking, even if its scare quotient is middling or below. That's OK with me. I was content to be impressed by the skill of the first-time director, Andrés Muschietti; absorbed by the performances and smitten by some startling images.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Ms. Kawase’s sweet, slow film — very slow, I’m obliged to say — becomes a meditation on solitary lives lived at the margins of society; on old age, and on the urgency of telling our stories, which may sometimes include recipes.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Mike Leigh's latest film preserves the mystery of why another marriage has flourished over decades. That's not the stated subject of Another Year, but it's at the center of this enjoyable though insistently schematic comedy.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Eventually, though, Ghost Town buckles beneath the weight of contrivance -- so many ghosts to dispel, so many lessons to learn.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    The tone is earnest, with dialogue that sometimes plods when you want it to fly — a running time of 127 minutes doesn’t help the pacing — and a couple of pieces of casting are infelicitous: Jim Parsons gives a flat performance as the fictional Paul Stafford, NASA’s lead engineer, and Glen Powell is years too young to play John Glenn, who looks like a gung-ho frat boy.
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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
    • 61 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    It's a diverting mess, sometimes even a delightful mess.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Its ironic complexities tease the brain without pleasing the heart.
    • 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    It’s a marvelous story about science and humanity, plus a great performance by Benedict Cumberbatch, plus first-rate filmmaking and cinematography, minus a script that muddles its source material to the point of betraying it. Those strengths make the movie worth seeing, but the writing keeps eating away at the narrative’s clarity — and integrity — until it’s impossible to separate the glib fictions from the remarkable facts.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    At the center of this swirl of events, poignant recollections and utter pandemonium, Ms. Portman’s Jackie is a mesmerizing presence.
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 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
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    A movie you want to like, and a movie you can enjoy if you cut its slackness some slack.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    The movie is a pleaser, for the most part, even though the attitude it takes toward its subject is often problematic.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 45 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
    • 49 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    It's a deafening, sometimes boring, occasionally startling and ultimately impressive war movie with a concern for what it is that makes us human.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    In the wake of Walker’s death, it constitutes a farewell of fitting elegance.
    • 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
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Ayoade's new film, adapted from Dostoyevsky's novella "The Double," is at least as startling as "Submarine" in its visual design, eerie environments and unusual premise. But it's lifeless, for the most part, a drama suffocated by its schematic style.
    • 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
    • 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
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    The film as a whole has the gravitas of a really thoughtful rock video.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    This cheerfully chaotic, gleefully vulgar action-comedy retread of the old television series has box-office success written all over it, and where's the harm? It's irresistibly funny until it isn't.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    Surprisingly, though, most of the material avoids the treacle zone, while Jason Segel, as the man-child in residence, gives a performance that I can only describe as gravely affecting.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    My heart was warmed by gratuitous moments when Mr. Carrey clowns for clowning's sake - in the best of them, he makes a slo-mo entrance to a press conference, even though the camera is running at normal speed.
    • 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
    • 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
    It’s a win for Mr. Gyllenhaal, while the movie loses out to its clichés.
    • 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
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Joe Morgenstern
    For its delicate tone, provocative themes, impeccable craftsmanship and superb performances-by Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley-Never Let Me Go earned my great admiration. I wish I'd been affected in equal measure, but I wasn't, and it's not the sort of film you can will yourself to enjoy.
    • 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
    • 73 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    It doesn't make Cars a bad picture -- the visual inventions are worth the price of admission -- but it constitutes conduct unbecoming to a maker of magic.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 57 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    This is Coupland's first screenplay, and it shows -- in a cheerfully discursive quality, but also in a reliance on gestures, contrivance and dialectic speeches rather than dramatic development and conflict.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 48 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    The movie is a relentlessly intense, grotesquely overblown and numbingly long account of extraordinary heroism on the part of six American security operators in the midst of horrific chaos.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    Monster House benefits from strong graphic design and lovely lighting, but the script is nothing to write home about.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    A textbook case of a film that's befuddled by its subject.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    It’s ultimately a genre film with all that implies, meaning omissions, simplifications, conventional heroics, dramatic banalities and, given the narrative’s limited scope, little sense of the event’s complex causes or its environmental cost.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    In spite of the film's surface allure -- no, not the leather, the period evocation -- and a fine performance by Gretchen Mol in the title role, Bettie is in bondage to a shallow, black-and-white script.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    The more elaborate the plot becomes, the sillier it gets.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    The sweet spirit that made last year's "Elf" such a success has curdled considerably.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    The movie wears thin as its style turns from light parody into affectation, and the plot, which certainly generates lots of anxiety, eventually settles for facile irony.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    James Caviezel makes us care more about that innocent romantic, Edmond Dantes, than we may care to care about the rest of the picture, which entertains in fits and starts, with startling ruptures in tone.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 57 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Fuqua, who did such a fine job directing Mr. Washington and Ethan Hawke in "Training Day," loses control of an increasingly slapdash script, and the whole movie turns into a slaughterhouse. The question isn't who wants it — box office action is assured — but who needs it?
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    All the pieces would seem to be in place for an effective film, but the direction is zestless, the pace is more often laggardly than leisurely, and the lead performances are surprisingly lifeless, although Mr. Isaac manages to make a virtue of his scammer's deliberate vagueness.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    This would-be epic is beautifully photographed, elegantly crafted and adventurously cast. Unfortunately, though, it plays like a gargantuan trailer for a movie still to be made.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    What’s unusual, and admirable, about the film is its close concern with colonialist machinations that make Seretse and Ruth the pawns of implacable power. What’s unfortunate is that Ms. Asante’s direction and Mr. Hibbert’s script aren’t up to the dramatic task; the pace grows slower as the couple’s plight deepens.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    Ms. Stone is a consistent delight, whether thanks to or in spite of the script’s flirtations with self-parody. But Irrational Man isn’t funny either. It’s a Woody Allen film that the next one will make us forget.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Field is a filmmaker with an exceptional gift for directing actors -- he's an actor himself -- and an eye for telling detail. (His cinematographer here, as in the previous film, is Antonio Calvache, and again the images are quietly sumptuous.) Yet I was put off by Little Children's satiric tone.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 53 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    Andrew Niccol's In Time looks great, sounds stilted and plays like a clever videogame with too many rules.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    My First Mister, which was written by Jill Franklyn, watches Jennifer with lively interest, but rarely pierces the mysteries of her soul.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 39 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    His (Eddie Murphy's) performance in Daddy Day Care isn't bad. He's restrained, and even tender in some of the scenes he plays with the kids. But restraint is the last thing we want from a comic of his caliber. It's no fun at all.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 81 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    The movie comes on like a put-on--next to nothing happens for an excruciatingly long time--and ends as a fascinating dialectic between following one's conscience or following the law.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    You could also say it's like they're likable tourists on a quest to plunder an endearing movie that didn't need this mediocre remake.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    Ask the Dust is beautifully shot -- sepia becomes the ravishing, affecting Ms. Hayek. Unfortunately the images of the heaving waves of the Pacific in the moonlight, of mountains rising over scrub and cactus in the sunlight here, serve only to emphasize the emptiness of the drama unfolding in the foreground.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 51 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    Looks magical, seethes with elusive profundities and makes remarkably little sense, though the murkiness makes perfect sense on a shallower level.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    To the Arctic 3-D is an impassioned plea for action on global warming, and the passion is intensified by the music.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    From time to time the movie grabs you (though the music keeps repelling you). Taking stock and letting go-of superfluous things, of worn-out love-is a strong theme. But the progression of the script is like Nick's self-help program. We're familiar with the steps.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    What's on screen, though, is a peculiar clutter of gentle sentiment, awkward dialogue, shaky contrivance — especially the resolution of Joey's feelings — and monotonous performances from a supporting cast that includes Marisa Tomei and Darren Burrows.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    It's sometimes exciting but rarely thrilling, a victory of formula over finesse.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    Whatever the cause, the movie turns sour when the singers aren't singing. And the first-person accounts don't work at all, even though much of their substance comes from the show.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    Weaves a sensual spell of extraordinary delicacy, then sustains it -- up to a point.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 56 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    Doesn't measure up to the depth of detail, let alone the drama, of "Unzipped," the 1995 documentary about Isaac Mizrahi. Still, this new documentary conveys an ample sense of the process.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    Much of the fun is awfully silly. The story strains logic, as well as credulity. It's been cobbled together, often crudely, from pieces of classic predecessors. (Here snippets of Hitchcock, there stretches of "Speed," with wings on the bus.) Yet the silliness parades itself in a spirit of cheerful self-awareness, while Liam Neeson fills the thrill quotient impressively as an air marshal.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    Terrific actors give glum performances.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    Takes liberties with its hero, which is hardly a crime (the real-life Barrie was extremely childlike), but the movie chases after magic with overproduced fantasy sequences, and a feel-good, literalist climax that betrays the very notion of imagination as a force superior to reality.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    Two dramatic problems beset Roman Polanski's darkly handsome new film of the Dickens novel. The boy is as passive as ever, and bleak in the bargain -- instead of glowing like the Oliver of the musical, he takes light in -- while Ben Kingsley's Fagin and Jamie Foreman's Bill Sikes manage to make villainy a bit of a bore.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 80 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    Remaking a cherished movie is not, to borrow a fancy phrase from the dialogue, malum in se - wrong in itself - but there are always losses along with the changes and gains.
    • 39 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    A small story, a monodrama with a hero but no antagonists.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    Once again, Queen Latifah survives some remarkably clumsy filmmaking. More than survives; she manages to prevail.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Joe Morgenstern
    All of it amounts to a been-there-done-that-better recapitulation of Mr. Spielberg's career.

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