Richard Schickel
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For 479 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 54% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 44% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 5.7 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Richard Schickel's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 65
Highest review score: 100 Boyz n the Hood
Lowest review score: 0 Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 62 out of 479
479 movie reviews
    • 60 Metascore
    • 100 Richard Schickel
    Ferris and his adventures represent a teen's dream of glory: to have, at one's fingertips, the technical skills to sabotage the adult world's machinery of oppression and, at the tip of one's tongue, the perfect squelch for grownups' moralistic blather. [23 June 1986]
    • Time
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    The film is high romance, rather like those American movies of the 1940s -- people snatching at happiness in a world aflame. We don't make them anymore -- stupid us --but we ought to be glad someone does.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 Richard Schickel
    The nerve of these people, recycling that story. No, the shrewdness of these people. For Days of Thunder offers adolescent males the possibility of a high-speed crash almost every minute. It offers their dates the possibility of a shy, winning Tom Cruise smile on an equal-opportunity basis. The boys get some sober, silly chat about the nature of courage. The girls get to see one of their sex (Nicole Kidman) play doctor with Cruise. [16 July 1990, p.87]
    • Time
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Richard Schickel
    There are pain and honor in this performance, and they constantly rise up to redeem a film that is less probing, less thoughtful than its director's claims and aspirations for it.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    Director Harlin's only large mistake is staging the several violent deaths too authentically. They momentarily mar the high-speed implausibility of a movie that, like his Die Hard 2, agreeably combines the edgy and the genial.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    Murray, with his curious blend of pathos and aggressiveness, is terrific, and so is an acutely uptight Dreyfuss, never once copping a plea for our sympathy.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    Works as a sweetly loony ensemble piece, a sort of cracked romance that's typical of director Barry Levinson at his shrewd but unpretentious best.
    • Time
    • 59 Metascore
    • 30 Richard Schickel
    What it doesn't have is a central figure you can give a hoot about.
    • Time
    • 59 Metascore
    • 30 Richard Schickel
    Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's screenplay is less a response to its source than a careful college outline of it.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 20 Richard Schickel
    In this climate, turning even a small corner of this century's central horror into feel-good popular entertainment is abhorrent.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 40 Richard Schickel
    Loutishness without self-awareness remains loutishness--and it is finally depressing.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 Richard Schickel
    Reynolds can't help looking rather shifty as he relates his story and Breslin, who was so wonderful in Little Miss Sunshine, is obliged to play a standard-issue wise child.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    Handsome, well-acted, richly textured adaptation of Alexander Pushkin's novel.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 Richard Schickel
    Faithful both to the novel's plot and to its higher aspirations. This is not an entirely good thing. On the other hand -- and somewhat surprisingly -- it is not an entirely bad thing.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    McTiernan does not fall too much in love with any scene, character or gadget. He has judged his material (and our attention spans) very well. His alternation of menace and human interest, technological wizardry and action sequences is subtly calibrated, ultimately hypnotic in its effect. [5 Mar 1990, p.70]
    • Time
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 Richard Schickel
    A pretty but utterly misleading picture in which cheap sentiment is used to supply easy, false resolutions to agonizing issues.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    Just gives us Andy, the pop postmodernist, and permits us to make what we will of him, which is a fascinating activity.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Richard Schickel
    This often vivid movie, though it doesn't quite attain its highest intentions, is well worth seeing. And thinking about.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    An edgy, watchable film, but one that makes you feel more squeamish than screamish.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Richard Schickel
    These stories, alas, are utterly predictable. Still, Samuel L. Jackson breaks through the crust of cliches as an expert called in to verify the instrument's provenance, and violinist Joshua Bell plays and Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts John Corigliano's score ravishingly.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Richard Schickel
    There's nothing world shattering about Smart People. No one is ever going to call it a "must see" movie. But it is a trim, intelligent, reasonably amusing little movie. Call it a "could see."
    • 57 Metascore
    • 40 Richard Schickel
    The Santa Clause presents us with an Anti-Claus, Tim Allen of Home Improvement, hard-edged, discomfitingly frenetic and spritzing cheerless one-liners.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 90 Richard Schickel
    It twists it, shakes it and stands it on its ear. But as before, the film's technical brilliance is the least of its appeals. Satirically acute, intricately structured and deftly paced, it is at heart stout, good and untainted by easy sentiment.
    • Time
    • 56 Metascore
    • 90 Richard Schickel
    One thinks of the great opening line of that great novel The Good Soldier: "This is the saddest story I have ever heard." Like many such tales, this one is worth taking to your aching heart.
    • Time
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Richard Schickel
    Not so good is the absence of hip cross-references to the classic horror tropes.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Richard Schickel
    If you surrender to the film's often inexplicable rhythms, if you let its dark materials reach out and envelop you, it can be a curiously rewarding experience -- a blend of silences and sudden bursts of violence that, despite its highly stylized manner, feels more edgily lifelike and more disturbing than most movies.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Richard Schickel
    Maybe the film loses a little steam as it rolls along, but it is still puffing and tooting as Clooney and Zellweger ride off into the sunset -- on a comically raffish period motorcycle, free as the wind.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    It's an exercise in style by Robert Rodriguez and not to be taken any more (or less) seriously than his giddy "Spy Kids" movies.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Richard Schickel
    Cutting through the epic gesturings of Andy Tennant's direction, he (Yun-Fat Chow) provides reason enough to return one last time to this otherwise weary romance
    • Time
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Richard Schickel
    There's something refreshing about its utterly unembarrassed embrace of the familiar. The director, George Tillman Jr., either doesn't notice or doesn't give a hoot about the way Scott Marshall Smith's script piles up cliches.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    Everyone in the cast has his or her solo, and all rise brilliantly to their occasions, notably Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Beals, Mina Badie and a divinely neurotic Jane Adams.
    • Time
    • 56 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    The Coen brothers merrily subvert that standard caper trope.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Richard Schickel
    The movie and everyone in it remain, under Ivan Reitman's determinedly casual direction, very loosely organized. They amble agreeably, but not necessarily hilariously, from one special-effects sequence to the next. These are not better, worse or even different from the original's trick work, and their lack of punctuating surprise is the film's largest problem, especially at the shamelessly repetitive climax. [26 June 1989, p.89]
    • Time
    • 56 Metascore
    • 30 Richard Schickel
    Maybe kids will like the movie; their lust for dinolore appears to be insatiable. But the rest of us will yearn for Robin Williams' giddy goofing in "Aladdin."
    • Time
    • 55 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    Future III is all smiles, nostalgically respectful of the western genre, serenely sure of the strength of its own more immediate heritage and of our affection for it.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Richard Schickel
    I'll stipulate that in Austen's time spinsterhood was a fate to be strenuously avoided. And being a woman writer was by no means an easy path either. Yet, she embraced it, and the immortal results more than justify a hard choice this film never really explores.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Richard Schickel
    Thin, gulpy, awkward, it stands before us, artlessly begging sympathy but betraying its creator's worst weakness. [9 Mar 1987, p.86]
    • Time
    • 55 Metascore
    • 20 Richard Schickel
    Valmont arrives stiffened by the elegant, inert formalism of Forman's direction, and chilled by Carriere's all too sober respect for his source and by their mutual determination to apply modern psychological understanding to the behavior of the principal figures.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Richard Schickel
    Enough of Curtis' lovably crazed characters do succeed in finding love in all the unlikely places that you leave the theater with your heart humming happily. He has his dark -- well, darkish -- side under control. Which is to say that he is an Englishman, well practiced in masking pain and absurdity and descents into sheer goofiness with mannerly behavior, sly irony and stiff upper lips.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Richard Schickel
    This wisp of a movie turns out to be more thoughtfully affecting than many a more high-flying film.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Richard Schickel
    Starsky & Hutch has moments of hilarity a little greater than you might expect of a movie that is just out for a lazy good time.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Richard Schickel
    There are a reserve and a realism in Huston's work that make her very modest film more affecting than you might expect.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    It features as ghastly a group of interstellar pirates, the Klingons, as ever entered the star log, plus a spectacularly self-destructive planet and plenty of technically adroit and sometimes witty special effects. These are classic directorial occasions, and Nimoy rises to them with fervor, in effect beaming his film up onto a higher pictorial plane than either of its predecessors.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    A perfectly coherent, handsomely rendered couple of hours, animated in particular by Damon's good performance -- shrewd, innocent, angry, wistful and, above all, likable.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    As for Blanchett, she's simply wonderful. She has played her share of queenly figures, but her acting essence is, emotionally speaking, plain-Jane. She's a straight shooter, with an uncanny ability to find a character's spine and communicate it without fuss or feathers.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 90 Richard Schickel
    A movie that demands our surrender -- to its energy, to its bold-stroke moviemaking, to its acting (particularly by Cruise and Watanabe, who blend musing and graceful muscularity) and, above all, to its romantic vision of a lost world.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 60 Richard Schickel
    The result is half Python, half Ivanhoe--and not as much fun as either.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 Richard Schickel
    One of this movie's implications--and it's a common enough one these days--is that sensitivity is a quality impossible to find in straight guys. [20 April 1998]
    • Time
    • 54 Metascore
    • 60 Richard Schickel
    These aren't really characters; they are points on a rigidly conceived political spectrum. Singleton has made all the right political moves given his complicated circumstances, but he hasn't really made a movie of them.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 40 Richard Schickel
    Lee must have thought he could work a similar magic on this clunking, clanking machine. But despite a few witty wipes and split-screen tricks, he fails. Hulk is no better than hulking.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 90 Richard Schickel
    Director Joel Schumacher's breathlessly paced and incident-crammed movie will induce a certain sense of deja vu among veteran viewers.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 70 Richard Schickel
    A lively, nutty film, one full of clumsy, clanging battles filmed by the gifted, eccentric Besson with bloody brio.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    The result is a laff riot. Well, all right, a laff scuffle -- a picture that isn't quite as funny as it might be, but is as funny as it needs to be.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 40 Richard Schickel
    That Max Smart is played by the admirable Steve Carell, who is desperately looking for deadpan jokes in all the wrong places, is beside the point.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 40 Richard Schickel
    Things finally work out all right--except for audiences, who will find this thin movie bereft of the more richly textured sentiments of Tornatore's "Cinema Paradiso."
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 Richard Schickel
    What saves this movie from hopeless sentimentality is Meryl Streep's subtle performance.
    • Time
    • 53 Metascore
    • 70 Richard Schickel
    Most of the fun comes from seeing people fooled by what seems to us, who are in on the joke, a completely penetrable ruse. Curiously enough, what's really unpersuasive about Mrs. Doubtfire -- not to say draggy -- is its nondrag sequences.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 70 Richard Schickel
    The story never runs completely off the rails and is, in any event, just a pretext for a lot of very sharp badinage by Jason Smilovic--a screenwriter who would have been at home writing for Cary Grant--for yards of terrific movie acting and for some well-timed direction by Paul McGuigan.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 90 Richard Schickel
    More important, we should take into account the fact that this is really quite a good movie--a character-driven (as opposed to whammy-driven) suspense drama--dark, fatalistic and, within its melodramatically stretched terms, emotionally plausible.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 50 Richard Schickel
    There's something about her (Nair) Vanity Fair that doesn't quite work. There is no depth beneath its bright surfaces, no potent emotional undercurrents.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Richard Schickel
    Maggie Smith and Judi Dench are glorious comic actresses, while Joan Plowright provides a firm, touching moral center to the film. They almost make you forget Cher's totally out-of-it work as a disapproved-of American and carry the film to its destiny, which is one of inoffensive inconsequence, prettily staged. [24 May 1999, p.88]
    • Time
    • 53 Metascore
    • 30 Richard Schickel
    The Coens have deliberately cut themselves off from their best subject. Try as they will to create a vision of corporate (and urban) hellishness through sheer stylishness, theirs is a truly abstract expressionism, at once heavy, lifeless and dry.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    There is some elemental human desire -- lately largely denied at the cinema -- to see pretty people in handsome landscapes assuaging our need for epic romance. On that level, Australia delivers with real panache.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 40 Richard Schickel
    O
    On your already groaning Shakespeare for Teens video shelf, stack this one above "10 Things I Hate About You" (a.k.a. "The Taming of the Shrew") and quite a bit below "Romeo + Juliet."
    • 53 Metascore
    • 30 Richard Schickel
    This is, or was, a true story, but invested as it is with relentlessly cliched emotions, it plays like cheap fiction.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 70 Richard Schickel
    Metroland finally makes a good, subtle case for the bearable weightiness of middle-class being, for the higher morality of muddling through.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 30 Richard Schickel
    In the end, everything about this glum and self-important adaptation of Anne Tyler's upper-cute novel is dim. [26 Dec 1988, p.83]
    • Time
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Richard Schickel
    The best you can say for this version of Charlie's Angels is that it retains a sort of chipper, eerie good nature as it wastes the studio's money and our time.
    • Time
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Richard Schickel
    Director Pellington's touch is light and flickering, and his actors are solid and persuasive. If you let yourself go with The Mothman Prophecies, it is -- in its lumpen, serious way -- sort of fun.
    • Time
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 Richard Schickel
    It's a pretty, high-strung story, handsomely done in traditional animation (mostly by hand) that you can take the kids to without wincing.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 Richard Schickel
    Perhaps they don't create quite enough deeply funny earthlings to go around, but a thoroughly meanspirited big-budget movie is always a treasurable rarity. And those little guys from far away are a hoot. [30 Dec 1996]
    • Time
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Richard Schickel
    Your affection for Serendipity may depend on how fascinated you are by a movie that is apparently going after the all-time record for delayed consummation.
    • Time
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 Richard Schickel
    Reasonably genial and diverting. [18 May 1987]
    • Time
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Richard Schickel
    Ends up less than the sum of its many, often interesting parts.
    • Time
    • 52 Metascore
    • 30 Richard Schickel
    Agresti's just out to give us a sentimental good time. Which some people, heaven help us, will have -- while the rest of us choke on the cutesiness.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 Richard Schickel
    There's no attempt to address the show's endemic weak spots--a slow start and a contrived end. Mostly Stroman just lets it rip. But in some respects the movie is an improvement on the show.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    It's a fine madness, full of jaunty desperation, survivable disasters and the kind of ferocious concentration on a really stupid idea that once propelled Wile E. Coyote.
    • Time
    • 51 Metascore
    • 10 Richard Schickel
    What must be said is that the new movie is simply awful: poorly structured, vulgarly written, insipidly directed, monotonously performed.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 60 Richard Schickel
    Maybe the filmmakers are so lost in their slambang visual effects that they don't give a hoot about the movie's scariest implications. [10 Nov 1997, p.102]
    • Time
    • 51 Metascore
    • 50 Richard Schickel
    It's all so predictable. And you begin to wonder, as you so often do at the movies these days, why did they bother? And more to the point, why should we bother? [15 June 1998, p.72]
    • Time
    • 50 Metascore
    • 40 Richard Schickel
    But we don't go to movies like this in search of stylish apercus. We go to see innocents like ourselves getting swept up by irresistible tides of terror. And to have the pants scared off us. That doesn't happen in The Pelican Brief.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 30 Richard Schickel
    The film is basically a drag, and not helped by Christopher Cain's stand- around direction. And one's thirst for the clear, cool taste of traditional narrative -- motivated movement, defined antagonists, building suspense -- soon reaches maddening levels. A grownup could die in this wasteland. [5 Sept 1988, p.63]
    • Time
    • 50 Metascore
    • 30 Richard Schickel
    This is not necessarily an improvement, but it's not a total disaster either.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 50 Richard Schickel
    Mostly, the new film reminds us that swell production design is no substitute for a fresh, simple and startling idea.
    • Time
    • 50 Metascore
    • 40 Richard Schickel
    When our sympathies shift to [Cameron Diaz's Kimmy], the movie sours. It is no help either that Ronald Bass neglected to write (or Mulroney was unable to find) a character in Michael. Why all this fuss over this lox, we keep wondering.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 40 Richard Schickel
    Their film is not so much thought out as strung together -- colorful incident upon colorful incident, but without logic, gathering suspense or any attempt to establish emotional connections between audience and actors.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 50 Richard Schickel
    For all the menace of its techno-prattle, its implicit boosts for humanism and its swell production design, the picture is finally a bore. Sci-fi was more powerful when its special effects were cheap and crude, its ideas simple but potently stated.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 70 Richard Schickel
    Director Kelly Makin has a gift for casually tossed-off farce.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 70 Richard Schickel
    The journey is never boring, and it's morally satisfying too. O.K., the movie is what Hollywood likes to call "a ride." But it's one worth taking.
    • Time
    • 49 Metascore
    • 70 Richard Schickel
    It is a talkative film, rather earnest in its tonalities, not at all a deft, witty or well-paced. On the other hand, it is, for Allen, a comparatively rare excursion into lower-class life.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 50 Richard Schickel
    A fine--but not entirely uninteresting—mess. [2 Jun 1997, p. 74]
    • Time
    • 49 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    Simone is a funny, smart, improbably successful satire on contemporary celebrity obsessions, the waning summer's most delirious comedy.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 70 Richard Schickel
    Not in any sense a great movie, a masterpiece that future generations will want to rediscover. But it is a solid, well-made, generally gripping and intelligent movie -- and how many of those have lately been made in America?
    • 49 Metascore
    • 70 Richard Schickel
    Somehow it works, in part because of the way director Howard keeps his crowded frames abustle with activity, in part because of the sheer indomitability with which his leading characters are endowed by the actors and by writer Dolman, but mostly because the movie takes enlivening chances with its material.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 50 Richard Schickel
    Soderbergh doesn't miss a trick, and for a while it's fun for us to share in his fun. But there comes a moment when his Euro-noir film turns into another sort of exercise for the audience: an exercise in boredom.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 30 Richard Schickel
    The problem is that the high-pitched whine of Allie's character finally vitiates not merely the viewer's sympathy for him, but sympathy for the movie he dominates, despite the care and courage that went into its making.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    At some low, what's-next level, Sleepers works like, well, gangbusters. [28 October 1996, p. 113]
    • Time
    • 49 Metascore
    • 80 Richard Schickel
    For us dog saps, it is especially nice to see cuddlesomely real pooches instead of drawn ones doing smart-pet tricks.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 20 Richard Schickel
    The goofy hysteria of something like "A Summer Place" was infinitely more entertaining and emotionally authentic than the distant smugness of this failed clone. [7 April 1997, p. 76]
    • Time
    • 48 Metascore
    • 60 Richard Schickel
    Dolman's comedy isn't exactly a barrel of emotional surprises, but its great cast underachieves admirably. There are worse ways to pass 94 minutes.