Stephanie Zacharek
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For 1,523 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 Mulholland Dr.
Lowest review score: 0 The Amityville Horror
Score distribution:
1,523 movie reviews
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Just the latest forgettable thriller that might have been enjoyable if only its conclusion lived up to its windup.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    May be overly sentimental at times, but at least it's about something.
    • 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.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Del Toro loves his creatures. Maybe he loves them too much: He always wants us to get a good look at them, and that's one of the things that saps the spookiness from this Don't Be Afraid of the Dark.
    • 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Cars is an elaborate concoction all right. But it feels soldered together from a scrap heap of tired ideas.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Actually, The Intouchables isn't bad - its merely shameless, but at least it's overtly so.
    • 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.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    This well-cast adaptation somehow feels obvious and overblown.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 20 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Completely harmless and inoffensive, and at the very least, Shyamalan appears to be having a little fun here.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is broken down into narrative chunks that ultimately don't tell much of a story – what you get instead is a series of mini-climaxes held together by banter between characters.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is Lunson's debut picture and she's smart enough to keep the whole affair very simple.
    • 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
    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.
    • 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.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It was a stroke of genius, at least a miniature one, to cast Black in this role – he's made to play the affable teddy bear who could snap at any moment.
    • 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.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It just doesn't have the buoyancy, or the resonance, that this kind of semifactual flight of fancy needs.
    • 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.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture never quite finds its footing.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Jennifer Westfeldt's sort-of romantic comedy Friends with Kids is on to something, even if in the end it suffers from a failure of nerve.
    • 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.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    A well-intentioned, pleasant-enough picture that shoots off in too many directions to ever ignite.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    One of those movies where the small pleasures stack up high enough to dwarf the disappointments.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    An absurd little trifle, but it does have a kind of buoyant, punky energy.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    In the end Red Tails is mostly about the coolness of flying. Its heart is in the clouds, instead of with the men at the controls.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Feels weirdly impersonal; very little love, or even true thought, shows up on the screen.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    In the end, the action sequences are just overblown and dollar-squandering, with no particular payoff in the entertainment department. The supporting actors - particularly Jones, Tucci and Luke - are the thing to watch here; they do all they can to keep the movie's gears running smoothly.
    • 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.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    While Snakes on a Plane barely stands up as a movie, it definitely qualifies as an event.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It doesn't matter if the movie around Firth is a good one or a lousy one: Either way, I wouldn't be able to explain how an actor could come up with a performance as subtle, in both its heartbreak and its magnificence, as this one is.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Unfortunately, Silver's movie doesn't cut deep enough: It glosses over some thorny questions and hammers too fixedly on others.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's imaginative only in a stiff, expensive way. Scott vests the movie with an admirable degree of integrity – it doesn't feel like a cheap grab for our moviegoing dollars – but it doesn't inspire anything so vital as wonder or fear, either.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Am I alone in thinking that computer animation is the work of the antichrist?
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's nothing in Earth that's as moving as the sight of the mother penguin "grieving" for her chick in "March of the Penguins." You can applaud Earth for not jerking tears. On the other hand, an occasional tear isn't such a bad thing.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    [Cutler] approaches all these teenage hyperfeelings with respect and sensitivity. It doesn’t hurt that he has Moretz in his corner.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Johnny English Reborn never quite ignites, even though it starts out promisingly enough.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    LaBeouf shambles through the movie with an endearingly lost quality -- his savoir faire is of the hangdog kind, but it pretty much works. And Monaghan, with that upturned nose and those mischievous eyes, always looks like a woman in search of trouble.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's a wry sweetness to this picture.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Works if you just give yourself over to its exuberant silliness.
    • 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.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Whatever its flaws may be — and there are many — John Ridley's Jimi: All Is By My Side is compelling for one specific reason: It's more attuned to the women in Hendrix's life than it is to Hendrix himself.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's no doubt that Being Flynn is an attempt at something painful and genuine – the movie itself yearns to make a connection, even if it can't quite locate the most effective channels.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Even though it has some amusing moments, Swimming Pool crawls entirely too slowly toward -- well, toward nothing much.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Why can't heroines just be heroines anymore, instead of micromanaged personalities who may as well have the words "Role Model" tattooed across their foreheads?
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Its occasional entertainment value aside, the picture is also blithe to the point of being flimsy.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Tricked up with so many points that there's barely any flow to it.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The animation itself is technically gorgeous, a class act all the way. But there's so little to be found in the faces of the characters, or even in the way their limbs move (much of it adopted, cleverly enough, from Tati's own physical style), that it's not clear what we're supposed to feel for them.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Robin Williams, who's sometimes too overbearing in real-life live action, makes a great cartoon-character voice.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    To be bewildered by Upstream Color is to be human; the story is obtuse by design, though the filmmaking is X-Acto precise. But it's a bloodless movie, and its ideas aren't as tricky or complex as Carruth's arch, mannered approach might suggest.
    • 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.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    A gentle, easygoing picture -- it's not exactly dramatically gripping, but somehow, its spirit carries it through.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Wish I Was Here is at least stretching toward something, and even if its reach exceeds its grasp, Braff's earnest determination as a filmmaker and performer helps smooth out some of the awkward bumps.
    • 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.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Fault in Our Stars doesn't quite capture the discreetly twisted humor, or the muted anger, of Green's book, and its problems can be attributed to a constellation of little annoyances rather than any one serious, North Star–size flaw.
    • 39 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Takes forever to get going and then goes nowhere.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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
    Almost all of the movie's romantic lunacy is too calculated and sly; the picture never quite sweeps us away.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Schumer, writing and performing a character close to the one she’s been presenting to the public, may never be this funny again, but funny she is.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Undone by simply trying too hard.
    • 31 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Winter's Tale, however imperfect, is that rare beast on the movie landscape: an unapologetic romance (for the first two-thirds, anyway), with attractive stars and special effects designed to give audiences something other than the experience of watching worlds get blown up.
    • 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.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Unwieldy, long-winded, self-indulgently nutso and, in places, very, very boring. It also caps off its two-and-a-half-hour run time with an extended finale – partially orchestrated to David Bowie's "Cat People" theme song, no less – that I could watch again and again with pleasure
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's hard to say whether Sound of My Voice is a wholly bogus and pretentious indie enterprise or a weirdly compelling bit of low-budget storytelling.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Most wonderful of all is Josh Brolin as the young Agent K. It's so easy to believe that Brolin could turn into Jones, given a couple of decades.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    If director Tim Johnson -- adapting Adam Rex's book The True Meaning of Smekday -- can't do much with the story's confused, if well-intentioned, agenda, at least he's got some charming, vivid characters to work with.
    • 29 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The surprise of Anatomy of Hell is that Siffredi's character is ultimately more vulnerable than the woman
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The fact that Cronenberg directed almost works against Maps to the Stars: We expect greatness from him, not just proficiency, and he doesn't exactly have a gift for comedy, not even the black kind. But the movie still has the darkly glittering Cronenberg touch, even if it's just a light brushing.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Hickenlooper too often approaches his subject with the filmmaking equivalent of a wry chuckle.
    • 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.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    As lukewarm as We Have a Pope may be as a piece of filmmaking, Moretti doesn't tread particularly gently into sacred territory. The picture could be more irreverent, but at least it dares to suggest that popes are people too.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Cooper may have gone overboard in delineating the hardships of blue-collar life in Out of the Furnace. But he has a gift for getting actors to put some muscle into their work, and enough finesse to make sure the sweat doesn't show.
    • 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
    • 34 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Getting a movie's setup right is one thing. But following through on an intriguing premise is the hard part, and that's where Matthew Chapman's The Ledge, a thriller that wrangles with intricate ideas about faith and religious extremism, goes splat.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Preachy infotainment that wants to offer thrills, too -- an uneasy hybrid.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Somewhat entertaining, in its own little mud-brown way.
    • 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.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Whatever his strengths may be, Nolan lacks the human touch. His movies are numbingly sexless, and by that I don’t mean they need sex scenes or nudity -- those things are rarely really about sex anyway. But in all of Nolan’s films, human connection is such a noble idea that it’s beyond the grasp of flesh-and-blood people.
    • 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.
    • 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.

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