Stephanie Zacharek

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For 1,530 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 52% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 46% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 2.1 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Stephanie Zacharek's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 62
Highest review score: 100 The Missing Picture
Lowest review score: 0 Over Her Dead Body
Score distribution:
1,530 movie reviews
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is entertaining and brutal (it's a movie about tough convicts fighting, after all), but it can't figure out what kind of movie it would like to be.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Almost all of the movie's romantic lunacy is too calculated and sly; the picture never quite sweeps us away.
    • 36 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    May be far from perfect, but those small, odd Hartley touches help you warm to it.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    If The Animal -- co-written by Schneider and Tom Brady -- never quite gets fired up, at least it chugs along efficiently on its mildly inspired ridiculousness.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    If you're looking for thrills, you should know that you have to wade through a good seven-eighths of the movie before Sade does anything remotely disreputable, and even then it's a rather mechanical bit of business that would have been more effective (and more disturbing) if it had been handled with a bit of humor.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Marginally romantic and only the tiniest bit thrilling.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    By the end of Wonderland, I might have felt completely pistol-whipped if not for the gracefulness of some of the movie's actors.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's too bad that the glamour wears off about halfway through Entrapment, when it stops being a movie about art heists and starts being one about stealing (ho-hum) money.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Undone by simply trying too hard.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The sad thing about All the Real Girls is that Green seems more in love with his perceived unconventionality than he does with his characters. If that's not a town without pity, I don't know what is.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    A pleasingly disreputable trifle.
    • 32 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Weitzes haven't come up with a masterpiece in Down to Earth, but they have put their stamp on a perfectly pleasant 90-minute diversion
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Promising in its first third, only to end up shambling too aimlessly in the last. But as flawed as this picture is, there's one sequence in it that has already burrowed deep in my memory, and of everything in the movie, it's the one element that convinces me that Tykwer has it in him to one day make a truly great picture.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture never quite finds its footing.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mick Jagger acts his age, finally, in an entertaining but ultimately disappointing fable.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Lee can't tell a story to save his life, but he's something of a visual magician, laying out glittering piles of goodies that you instinctively want to follow.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    This well-cast adaptation somehow feels obvious and overblown.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's an intelligently made (and beautifully edited) picture that at the very least has a spark of life to it -- more than you can say for plenty of movies that flow through the Hollywood pipeline without a hitch.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Sabotages itself by trying too hard. The worst of it is that Maybe Baby feels very much like an Englishman's attempt to make a Nora Ephron movie, all warm and squishy in a decidedly American way.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's to Stiller's credit that he can sustain the joke for the length of the movie, but just barely. Ten more minutes of Zoolander would have been 10 minutes too many.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Just the latest forgettable thriller that might have been enjoyable if only its conclusion lived up to its windup.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Witherspoon's sophisticated-pixie brilliance practically makes the movie, and her easy, confident, curvaceous carriage doesn't hurt, either -- she's the thinking guy's cupcake, maybe because her mind is just as supple as her curves.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Starts out, and ends up, as a thriller trying valiantly to show us layers of moral depth. But in between that beginning and ending, Paxton's vision (as well as that of Brent Hanley, who wrote the script) becomes wavy and indistinct, a blurry muddle of sensationalistic, prurient grisliness masquerading as a meditation on the nature of evil.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    At times fun but mostly maddeningly uneven, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back feels less like a full-fledged movie than a side project Smith took on to amuse himself and his buddies.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Alfredo de Villa's Washington Heights feels stiff and overworked in places, and sometimes the acting is a bit awkward. And yet the story is both compelling and easy to identify with.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Just doesn't give us enough to hold onto, perhaps partly because it's executed with so much restraint and subtlety. It's often a tense, uncomfortable little movie.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    A feebly pleasant surprise: It's not as cheap, loud and sleazy as it might have been, but it's also too eagerly well-meaning and indistinct to really stick. It's a piece of mildly entertaining, inoffensive fluff.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Maybe it's only half of what it could be, but at least it's a healthy half. And in this era of mainstream cookie-cutter moviemaking, that's a feat in itself.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    To paraphrase a line from another Dickens' novel, Nicholas Nickleby is too much like a fragment of an underdone potato. The chef tended it very, very carefully, and still, it didn't turn out quite right.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Tricked up with so many points that there's barely any flow to it.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Not half as clever as its setup leads you to think it might be: It's all buildup and no payoff, the kind of romantic thriller in which if just one sensible character called the police at the moment as any normal human being would -- well, then, you wouldn't have a movie.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Am I alone in thinking that computer animation is the work of the antichrist?
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    "Gunsmoke" meets "Planet of the Apes" in Martin Scorsese's overlarge, overcooked epic of 19th century Manhattan. You should see it anyway.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Even though it has some amusing moments, Swimming Pool crawls entirely too slowly toward -- well, toward nothing much.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Ends up being nothing more than a stifling morality tale dressed up in peekaboo clothing.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's a pleasantly malevolent ridiculousness hovering around How to Lose a Guy. But the movie would have been so much better if it had jumped into its mean-spiritedness with gusto and passion, instead of just splashing around in it halfheartedly.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Malkovich is usually such a numbingly self-serious actor. But he cuts loose here in a way that's outlandishly brilliant: It's his best performance in years.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Just about gets us off the ground on its dreamy, feathery angel wings; it just doesn't have the strength or the stamina to keep us aloft.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Frank Coraci's '80s-nostalgia comedy is predictable and unevenly paced, and it lunges too often for the easy joke.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    As visually arresting as Kill Bill often is, there's a stultifying blankness about it. Despite Tarantino's obvious enthusiasms, he comes off jaded and cynical: He's seen plenty of movies, and this is his proof.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    A not-very-good movie about a fascinating and underexplored subject: the unknowability of a marriage.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's too good a story not to have been made into a movie. Yet Calendar Girls, directed by Nigel Cole ("Saving Grace"), is filled with lots of extras it doesn't need, when the bare-naked bones of the story would have been plenty.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The best and most moving part of Miracle may be the closing credits, in which we see pictures of the actors accompanied by the names of the real-life characters they played and a strip of type that tells us where they are now.
    • 36 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Despite its problems, the picture still satisfies -- more than a lot of allegedly worthy "A list" movies do. In a movie world where heavyweight often means top-heavy, Against the Ropes shows some pretty fleet footwork.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Works if you just give yourself over to its exuberant silliness.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    As an ode to fatherhood, Jersey Girl is sweet without being particularly deep; but Smith is really onto something when he nudges against the ways in which the geographic landscape of a life merges with the genetic one.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    I was so charmed by the opening scenes of 13 Going on 30, and so entertained by the middle portion of it, that I had high hopes for its ending -- hopes that were cruelly dashed. Like a petulant 13-year-old, I'm still pouting over my disappointment.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It has a pleasing, noodly elasticity about it -- the picture knows what its limits are and proceeds to boogie unself-consciously far outside them.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    At the movie's end, nuance is all we have left; beyond the admirable efforts of some of the actors, the picture leaves behind nothing so human as a fingerprint.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Braff, and Garden State, give it the old college try, and at least some, if not all, of the sparks catch. Even if the movie doesn't quite take off, it doesn't leave you feeling stranded, either.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    If you boil the psychology of Collateral down to its essence, what you get, mostly, is Vincent badgering Max for not having enough chutzpah -- in essence, for not being enough of a tough guy.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Begins as a perfectly reasonable thriller and ends up rather an inane one.
    • 29 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The surprise of Anatomy of Hell is that Siffredi's character is ultimately more vulnerable than the woman
    • 47 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Might have been an oversized Hollywood dazzler. Phoenix keeps it firmly and modestly on a human scale.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Feels weirdly impersonal; very little love, or even true thought, shows up on the screen.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It just doesn't have the buoyancy, or the resonance, that this kind of semifactual flight of fancy needs.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Condon's tone is gentle and lifeless and at times baffling: The picture is a weird cross between clinical and whimsical.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    As it ticks by, laboriously, it leaves you feeling that you should be enjoying it more than you are.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Pleasurable.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    By the end of Trembling Before G_d, you desperately wish that at least some of DuBowski's subjects would see the light.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Isn't a great work of horror, but it's admirable simply because it serves the genre so serviceably. It's nicely constructed, and it doesn't have one of those ridiculous extended endings.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    No director yet has found the best use for Hudson, the role that will tap those terrifying and thrilling reserves that are just lying in wait. But Softley comes closer than anybody has.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Well-meaning but remote picture.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    While the filmmaking overall suffers from a kind of tasteful, low-key blandness, Philip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal of Capote keeps the blood coursing through it. He's the bright, chilling spot of color at the center of an otherwise beige movie.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Now that Woody Allen is no longer making acceptable Woody Allen movies, it's surprising we're not seeing more comedies like Prime, a slight but well-meaning picture that strives for the same kind of pleasurably neurotic sophistication that Allen, at his best, used to give us.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Never lets us forget that it's a nonmainstream story about a nonmainstream subject, when ideally, it should simply be a story about a person. The picture too often feels like a lesson in tolerance.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    If there was ever a testament to the resilience of actors, in the face of a flawed script and wonky direction, The Family Stone is it.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    An odd and not wholly successful little comedy. Its pacing is slack, and although it has a gentle heart, it treads so gingerly across the minefield of potential offensiveness that it sometimes snuffs out its sparks of life as quickly as it throws them off.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Watching Last Holiday, I kept waiting for the moment I could decree the movie truly terrible, the instant I could comfortably put my pen and notebook away and give it up for lost. But that moment never came, partly because I never fail to take pleasure in Latifah, and partly because I couldn't shake the eerie feeling that the movie I was watching was something of a ghost from another time.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's just not enough of Forster, who has a small role as Ford's work colleague and confidant. ..Sometimes star quality shines out from the corners of a movie, and not from the center.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The chief problem with Thank You for Smoking, isn't that it's over the top; it's that it fits so neatly UNDER the top.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    A sweet-tempered, mildly entertaining picture.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Only half a mess -- and even with all its flaws, it's an enjoyable diversion that shows both respect and affection for the formidable legacy of the "X-Men" comics.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Cars is an elaborate concoction all right. But it feels soldered together from a scrap heap of tired ideas.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Lake House is an example of the way bad movies can sometimes be more interesting than merely mediocre, workmanlike ones, and of the way they sometimes compel us even against our better judgment.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is Lunson's debut picture and she's smart enough to keep the whole affair very simple.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley manage to sparkle, but this overstuffed sequel is no treasure.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Perhaps only a marginally effective movie about 9/11, because, I suspect, there can be no such thing as an effective movie about 9/11 -- at least not right now.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    While Snakes on a Plane barely stands up as a movie, it definitely qualifies as an event.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    An absurd little trifle, but it does have a kind of buoyant, punky energy.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Even though Brody works hard -- and he's got those magnificent drooping eyes, which suggest both innocence and a seen-it-all-before weariness -- his scenes don't spark, and the movie drags around them.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    As a story of courage and personal growth, The Guardian is perfunctory, a saga of character building that could (and may, advertently or otherwise) serve as a Coast Guard recruitment vehicle. But it's far more interesting as a tale of two faces: Kutcher and Costner have a kind of visual chemistry that's just as elusive as the other kind. And the connection and contrast between them remind us that Hollywood isn't as forgiving of older male actors as we like to think.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    This Diane Arbus, as she's portrayed by a tremulous Nicole Kidman, radiates warmth and empathy that's nowhere to be seen in the work of the real Diane Arbus. Fur is intended to be a tribute to Arbus, but it's more a fancifully embroidered tapestry of wishful thinking.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    I have to hand it to Hardwicke: I was a lot less bored by The Nativity Story than I feared I'd be.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Preachy infotainment that wants to offer thrills, too -- an uneasy hybrid.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    One of those movies where the small pleasures stack up high enough to dwarf the disappointments.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie doesn't for a moment pretend to be subtle, and it has a sprawling, unfocused quality. But it's got some juice, and it's even faithful, in some surprising ways, to the essence of the original.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture might be entertaining if it didn't take itself so seriously.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    A gentle, easygoing picture -- it's not exactly dramatically gripping, but somehow, its spirit carries it through.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Crass, stupid and crudely made. It's also, in places, weirdly brilliant, a picture that plays to the largest possible audience with mechanical efficiency but also, here and there, betrays glimmers of self-deprecating cleverness, as if it were striving, perhaps even unconsciously, to transcend its own dumbness.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    If nature -- if life -- is as wild and precious as the movie makes it out to be, Hirsch needs to give us something, someone, to watch on-screen. We need to feel a presence before we can take the measure of an absence.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Ben Affleck is smart about setting the scene -- he's even better at it than Clint Eastwood was in another Lehane adaptation, "Mystic River." But he's less adept at defining individual personalities, at making us care about the characters who deserve our sympathy -- or, maybe more important, the ones who don't.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    If you can get past its toothpick of a premise, Run Fatboy Run is a perfectly enjoyable light comedy. It's also just good enough that I wanted it be better.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Prince Caspian is elaborate filmmaking, all right. It's the magic of the human touch that's missing.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Hancock is just intriguing enough that I kept wishing it were better. But Berg doesn't have the subtle touch that this material needs.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a good-natured if flimsy comedy that, at the very least, suggests that Murphy hasn't completely lost whatever made him funny in the first place.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Roughly speaking, the characters in Kit Kittredge may be stereotypes, but they're stereotypes with soul. And they live in a very real place.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    W.
    It's when Stone engages in shameless editorializing -- when he lets his freak-flag point of view fly, rather than tempering it -- that W. is most entertaining and most vital. The rest of the time it feels too much like awards bait: stiff, arch and knowing.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Pearce may be the other big star in Traitor, and while his performance is serviceable, it doesn't cut deeply. Taghmaoui, as a radical motivated by moral certainty, is the real actor to watch here.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie itself seems to be locked in a kind of adolescence; it never quite blossoms into maturity, into a fully rounded whole.

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