Joe Morgenstern
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For 1,846 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 41% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 57% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 0.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Joe Morgenstern's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Lowest review score: 0 Bedtime Stories
Score distribution:
1,846 movie reviews
    • 79 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    What do the Coen brothers want of us? More specifically, what do they want us to think of the repellent people in this pitilessly bleak movie?
    • 73 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Ordinary moviegoers, on the other hand, may wonder what they're supposed to feel, apart from bored.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 69 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill inflicts intolerable cruelty on its characters, and on its audience -- though I'd like to believe that there is no mainstream audience for what has already been described, quite correctly, as the most violent movie ever released by an American studio.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 68 Metascore
    • 0 Joe Morgenstern
    I found it insufferably fatuous and damned near interminable. [26 Jun 1998]
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 68 Metascore
    • 0 Joe Morgenstern
    This nasty little bottom-feeder of a film is too condescending to be trusted, too manipulative to be believed, too turgid to be enjoyed, too shameless to be endured and, before and after everything else, too inept to make its misanthropic case.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Jarecki undercuts his own case -- not just undercuts but carpet-bombs it -- by using the same propaganda techniques he professes to abhor.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 68 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    The only reason to see it is Riz Ahmed's performance as Omar, the supposed brains of the operation. Mr. Ahmed reminded me a bit of Robert Carlyle. He's dynamic, quick-tongued and intense. And much too classy for this tatty room.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    In The Hunger Games it's both a feast of cheesy spectacle and a famine of genuine feeling, except for the powerful - and touchingly vulnerable - presence of Jennifer Lawrence.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    Only Le Carre fans with tin ears and clouded eyes will fail to note the film's sour tone, crude performances and drab look.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 66 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    The worst part of Ms. Zellweger's plight is that she, along with others in the cast, has fallen victim to a first-time feature director whose vocabulary doesn't seem to include the word "simplicity."
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 65 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Bring Zoloft and a tank of oxygen to Closer, an airless, ultimately joyless drama of sexual politics.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 65 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    A grim disappointment for grown-ups, and far too violent for young kids. I found it to be clumsy, misanthropic and intractably lifeless.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 65 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    When bad movies happen to good people, the first place to look for an explanation is the basic idea. That certainly applies to My Week With Marilyn, a dubious idea done in by Adrian Hodges's shallow script and Simon Curtis's clumsy direction.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    What's worse, some mysterious movie curse has turned the three once-lively adventurers into wood.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    A slow and lugubrious film about the impact of adoption on the lives of three women.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    The video-game sequences are impressive, but you know that a 'toon is in big trouble when its most powerful theme is planned obsolescence.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 63 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    A good subject has been ill-served by Ms. Greenwald's cliched script and clumsy direction.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 63 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    J. Michael Straczynski's disjointed script manages to ring false at almost every significant turn (Collins' psychiatric-hospital stay has grown into a latter-day version of "The Snake Pit") and Clint Eastwood's ponderous direction -- a disheartening departure from his sure touch in "Letters From Iwo Jima" and "The Bridges of Madison County" -- magnifies the flaws.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    The script is dead in the water, and most of the misanthropic repartee rings resoundingly false.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 62 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    A snapshot, to be sure, but scattershot as well.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 62 Metascore
    • 0 Joe Morgenstern
    Killer Joe is, at bottom - and I mean bottom - ugly and vile, not to mention dumb and clumsy.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    Sometime around what I guessed to be the one-hour mark in The Five-Year Engagement, I checked my watch and honestly thought the battery had given out. Five years doesn't begin to tell the interminable tale.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    A train wreck of mind-numbing proportions.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 61 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    Everything that was modest, soundly grounded and therefore horrifying about the 1971 rodentarama that starred Bruce Davison is now insistent, Grand-Guignol-intense and therefore shrug-offable when it isn't downright awful.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 61 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    A guaranteed downer that's devoid of any upside, and free of dangerously entertaining side effects.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 61 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Secretariat stumbles along beneath the weight of leaden life lessons. They're dispensed at frequent intervals by Diane Lane, who does better than anyone had a right to expect, since she is saddled with dialogue of exceptional dreadfulness.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    As juxtapositions go, regressed Goth rock star and Holocaust could hardly be more bizarre, and bizarre can be good when it's done deftly. In this case, however, it's done ponderously and sententiously.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    The denizens of Judd Apatow’s Funny People have been pulled every which way to fit a misshapen concept, yet they remain painfully unfunny, and consistently off-putting.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    The blithely dishonest script would have us believe that the real Napoleon can't prove his identity when the fake Napoleon refuses to come clean. Not only is that patent nonsense, it's cockeyed dramaturgy.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 60 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    Grotesque doesn't begin to describe Ms. McCarthy's new character. Scarily insane comes closer; repulsive occasionally applies. Mullins's insanity can be extremely funny from time to time, but her anger grows as punishing for the audience as it does for the victims of her unrestrained police work.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Comes briefly to life, after many longeurs -- many large longeurs in IMAX -- with the discombobulated entrance of B.E.N., a dysfunctional, hyperverbal robot voiced by Martin Short.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 59 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    Breakfast on Pluto, with an impressive cast that includes Liam Neeson and Brendan Gleeson, deploys its whimsy in many ways, all of them cloying.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 59 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    J. Edgar, with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role, is at war with itself, and everyone loses...Mr. Eastwood's ponderous direction, a clumsy script by Dustin Lance Black and ghastly slatherings of old-age makeup all conspire to put the story at an emotional and historical distance. It's a partially animated waxworks.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Ms. Weisz is always a strong presence, but her talents are wasted here on a naive heroine - the fictional Kathy is exceedingly slow to grasp the extent of the corruption - and a narrative style that turns the horror of the prostitutes' plight into harrowing melodrama.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    There's no maybe about its standing as romantic comedy -- definitely bad.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 10 Joe Morgenstern
    A symphony for tin ears, a sniggering assessment of human nature delivered with the faux-lofty tone of a Lexus commercial.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 58 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    Rarely has a major motion picture -- and this one is major by virtue of its misplaced ambition as well as its budget -- been afflicted by such flagrant dissonance between subject and style.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 58 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    The fault is not in the co-stars; they've been brilliant before and will be brilliant again. It's in the laggardly pace, pedestrian writing and murky viewpoint of Ned Benson's feature.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Li is a master not only of martial arts, but of composure; no one does nothing better. The film itself is no great shakes.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 58 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    These people -- the filmmakers as well as the cast -- have brought a rare sense of camaraderie to their work. Unfortunately, they forgot to bring a script. They even forgot, in the midst of their joyous self-involvement, to take good pictures of the places they visited.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 58 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    The best thing to be said for this lumbering comedy is that it offers a chance to see Vanessa Paradis, the singularly alluring French singer, actress and model, play Avigal, a melancholy Hasidic widow in Brooklyn, N.Y., and play the role with exceptional delicacy. Otherwise, arrgh!
    • 58 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    In the spirit of that world, I cannot tell a lie: The Invention of Lying, which the English comedian both directed and wrote with Matthew Robinson, soon loses altitude and eventually falls flat.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    The result is a queasy combination of speculation and dramatic invention with the ring of half-truth, though the co-stars, Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst, add as much color as they can - not much - to a monochromatic script.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Won't kill you, but it could bore you half to death.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 57 Metascore
    • 10 Joe Morgenstern
    Like Thor's hammer, this ersatz epic bludgeons its victims into submission. What's more, it requires them to stare at the source of their punishment through 3-D glasses.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    For precursors of Guy's perversity, one would have to go back to W.C. Fields, who made antic art out of his characters' abhorrence of children.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    This production is a mess for many reasons, most of them having to do with its frantic efforts to be funny.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Horrible Bosses has preposterousness to burn, but no finesse and no interest in having any.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    The story is rooted in a political past that never comes to life, and its structure is so cockeyed that we don't even get to see Nick's reaction to a climactic surprise that takes place off-screen. The film was shot by an excellent cinematographer, Adriano Goldman, though you'd never know it from the lighting, which is as flat as the writing.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    If only Brotherhood of the Wolf had the wit and grace to match its exceptional physical beauty.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 56 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    What's new here is a severe deficit of style, or even craftsmanship, both in the action sequences and what passes for human interludes.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 56 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    Elegance isn't Zack Snyder's bag; a certain sort of impact is. Watchmen establishes him as Hollywood's reigning master of psychic suffocation.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    The drama is repetitive rather than resonant, an over-calculated, under-ventilated studio production -- even paranoid thrillers need to breathe -- whose plot machinery grinds grim and coarse.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    All of the nonsense piled on nonsense does provide some measure of pleasure. Unknown gets better by getting worse.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Either you buy their Vaseline-lensed visions of the hereafter, or you watch in stony silence, as I did, wondering why there's no one to care about.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    In Troy, and in overreaching, underachieving productions like it, digital imagery is fast becoming both a Trojan horse and Achilles' heel.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 56 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    A bizarre, overcooked broth that combines a broad sitcom style (the banter goes rat-tat-tat like a steam drill) with a preposterous succession of plot complications, plus solemn questions of identity, adoption and the nature of happiness.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    It's really dumb, even though it starts promisingly and continues, in a self-infatuated way, to consider itself quite bright.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Edge of Darkness was one of the most enthralling, intricate and genuinely thrilling productions in the history of the small screen. The big-screen version--directed by Martin Campbell, who did the original--offers an example of why the studios' numbers often add up, and why, at the same time, so many of today's Hollywood movies leave us cool if not downright cold.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Ms. Macdonald works modest wonders within these constraints -- she's a lovely actress, and a skilled one -- but too much is asked of her; Kate's innocence finally wilts beneath the camera's fixed gaze.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    The Terminal is a terminally fraudulent and all-but-interminable comedy.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 55 Metascore
    • 10 Joe Morgenstern
    It's shrill in tone, awash in unexamined narcissism - kids are just pretexts for laughs, rather than objects of love - and afflicted by explosive verbal diarrhea. There's simply no base line of normal human activity, let alone intimacy, until the anticouple finally re-examines their anticommitment credo. By then everyone has been so selfish and dislikable that our commitment to the film is lost.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    This sad excuse for family entertainment tries to enshrine a classic while defacing it.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 10 Joe Morgenstern
    Hitchcock rings false from start to finish.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    Gets to be dislikable in its glib feelgoodness. The movie's many excellent actors do too much acting with too little conviction in scenes that rush through perfunctory setups to deliver pat payoffs.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 55 Metascore
    • 10 Joe Morgenstern
    Huckabees is godawful, a mirthless, bilious bore in which the vividly focused fury of "Three Kings" has become free-floating anger at the follies of human existence.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 55 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    Like most other members of an excellent cast that includes James McAvoy, Kevin Kline and Tom Wilkinson, she (Robin Wright) has come under the deadening directorial hand of Robert Redford.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    The oddest thing about this very odd movie is that it doesn't seem to know what to make of itself.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 55 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    Not to put too fine a point on it, Surviving Picasso is merely the worst movie ever made about a painter; worse movies have been made on other subjects, though none comes immediately to mind. [20 Sep 1996]
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 55 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    What's intractably wrong with the film is that there's no reality to heighten; it's a spectacle in search of a soul.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    You may wonder if this screen version of the book of the same name is as unfunny and strangely mushy as it seems, but trust your instincts.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    The movie's failures are all the more unfortunate because they detract from its central and conspicuous success, the performance of Riz Ahmed in the title role. Mr. Ahmed turns the quicksilver quality of the book's internal monologue into a tour de force of his own creation. He's a bright star in a dim constellation.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    For better or worse, Woody Allen turns out a movie every year. Last year's "Midnight in Paris" was better than better; that is to say, sublime. To Rome With Love is worse than worse, as inert as its predecessor was inspired.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    The larger problem, transcending all realms, is that this action-adventure sequel from Marvel soon turns so dumb and 3-D-murky that it hurts.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 10 Joe Morgenstern
    Here’s the bad news: Brüno is no "Borat." Here’s the worse news: Brüno crosses the line, like a besotted sprinter, from hilariously to genuinely awful.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Rather than the laugh a minute promised by old comedies, Get Smart generates approximately one laugh per hour, and I can't remember either one.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher is the main reason to see The Iron Lady, which was directed by Phyllida Lloyd - not just the main reason but the raison d'être of an otherwise misconceived movie.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    Bee Movie isn't a B movie, it's a Z movie, as in dizmal.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Not a pretty sight, any of it.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 53 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    For all its video-game bedazzlements, Attack of the Clones suffers from severe digital glut, periodically relieved, if you can call it that, by amateur theatrics.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 53 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    A limited movie that can't animate its subject amid all the tricks and glitz. De-Lovely is devoid of life.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 53 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Palindromes finds him (Solondz) stuck with his single theme inside a sealed dollhouse of his own construction. He has gifts to give a larger audience, if ever he breaks out.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 53 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    Most of the prime goofiness is given over to Vassili and Konig sharpshooting at each other while the battle rages. The movie's a red elephant.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 53 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Heart-breakingly awful -- slow, lugubrious, and misconceived to the point of baffling amateurism.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 53 Metascore
    • 0 Joe Morgenstern
    So you think you've seen silly? And smarmy? And inept? Wait till you see Wanderlust, though that's just a figure of speech; I'm not suggesting that you actually lay eyes on this naked grab for box office bucks.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    The failures of White Squall are dismaying as well as perplexing. Director Ridley Scott serves up some ravishing images along the way: the stark geometry of the ship's riggings against an azure sky, crew kids scampering along a verdant ridge toward a volcano's silvery crater lake. But the script is a shambles. [06 Feb 1996]
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 53 Metascore
    • 0 Joe Morgenstern
    Metroland, which is adapted from a novel by Julian Barnes, is an oddly unpleasant variation on the theme of "The Way We Were." [09 Apr 1999]
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 53 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    You'd have to be made of granite to resist all the charms of a free-spirited, 100-pound Lab. Yet the production manages, against heavy odds, to make its canine star an incorrigible bore.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 0 Joe Morgenstern
    The Americans are portrayed with varying degrees of loathsomeness, but there's not much variety in the film. It's all an awful aberration.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Mr. Emmerich, who has often conjured with cosmic themes, sometimes wittily, achieves something new this time around — a level of indifference to the genre and its fans that amounts to a cosmic shrug. What does it matter if the absurdity is slovenly, the whimsy leaden, the extravagance squalid?
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 52 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    For all the preposterous clichés of the plot, which clanks as loudly as Laz's chain, and for all the inertness of Justin Timberlake's performance as Rae's brooding squeeze, Black Snake Moan finds unchained energy in its foolishness, and gives Mr. Jackson a chance to pluck a guitar and sing. He's really good at it, too. The music almost redeems the movie.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 52 Metascore
    • 10 Joe Morgenstern
    The big news in Blade II is that there's something worse than vampires, but is there something worse than Blade II?
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 52 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Nothing stands up to scrutiny -- least of all the lethargic acting and the clumsy script. I was hot to trot for the exit halfway through, but a dogged sense of duty kept me stuck in an endless present.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 52 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    This children's entertainment-grownups beware!-is preoccupied by squishy stuff that includes mud and poop, as well as by syrup that oozes from cabinet drawers.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    How do I count the ways this movie goes wrong?
    • 52 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    Motion is in copious supply -- a frenzied shootout at Manhattan's Guggenheim Museum grows interminable -- but the workings of the abstract plot are unfathomable, the characters are unpleasant and a couple of assassinations leave us as cold as the corpses.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    The Producers is nightmarish, in its febrile way, a head-bangingly primitive version of an overrated Broadway show that grew out of a clumsy 1968 movie with an inflated reputation.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 52 Metascore
    • 20 Joe Morgenstern
    This ripoff, directed by Jerry Zucker, has a few funny moments, but it's a sad sad sad sad example of what Hollywood is currently serving up -- and what audiences are swallowing -- as summer entertainment.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 52 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Unforeseeably bad things can happen to good performers.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 30 Joe Morgenstern
    Labor Day, adapted from a novel by Joyce Maynard, is the kind of movie that turns clarity into stultification; everything is perfectly clear and almost everything — pie-making excepted — is perfectly lifeless.