Stephanie Zacharek
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For 1,507 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 Before Midnight
Lowest review score: 0 Over Her Dead Body
Score distribution:
1,507 movie reviews
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A flinty and deeply enjoyable little comedy. There's genius in its absurdity.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Witty and intelligently made. It's also utterly baffling.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    You feel you've been both a little creeped out and vigorously entertained. Its showmanship comes through in the clutch.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    xXx
    Brash, chaotic and jostlingly entertaining.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Made with confidence that borders on bravado, and sometimes it shows more conviction than it does grace.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's sharply chiseled but not cynical, and that's a delicate line to walk.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Given the choice between a movie that's better structured and only half as funny, I'd take The Spy Who Shagged Me (or its predecessor, for that matter) any day.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A romance for the deeply romantic, which means that some people will certainly view it as cynical.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Tamahori's Die Another Day is an imperfect Bond movie. But for every patch where it's dull and lifeless or just plain stupid, there are also sections that are significantly different from anything we've seen before in a Bond movie.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    One of those gentle surprises, a kids' picture made with enough thought and care to keep adults entertained too.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Who cares about the fate of privacy, of all things, when you can watch three sexy babes stamp out crime in zip-off suits and high-heeled boots?
    • 59 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    At least entertaining enough to keep you amused for an hour or two.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Scorpion King, so far from perfect it isn't funny, is nevertheless one of those movies that catches you up in something bigger than yourself, namely, an archetypal desire to enjoy good trash every now and then.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    In some ways, X2 is an obvious improvement on its predecessor: It looks more expensive, and its special effects seem to swoop out of nowhere...But "X-Men" was undoubtedly the most elegiac comic-book adaptation of the past few years.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A definite improvement on the recent spate of dull action movies, if only because it has such a marked sense of humor about itself and the genre it belongs to. But somehow it never quite finds its center.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Talk to Her is much better than Almodóvar's "bad" movies. But it never soars as freely as his best ones do -- it has a very trim, manicured wingspan.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    May not be a very grand picture, but it's a gently satisfying one. And if it brings Smith's book just a few hundred more readers, it's admirably done its job.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Whatever allure The Son has lies in its very remoteness, in its resolute refusal to show us all but the most delicate emotional vibrations. It also moves very sluggishly.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Janney's role is smaller than Moore's, but it's hardly insignificant. Moore has youth on her side, and youth is timelessly appealing. But Janney is the bigger, more memorable presence, and she's much more fun to watch.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a universe invented for our delight and pleasure and nothing else, a world made up of colors not found in nature but in a little girl's sock drawer. In Powerpuff Girls, shapes, images and colors make up the most crucial part of the message. It's a hot-pink little movie.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Beneath the veneer of fake dicks and fart jokes, it's really a righteous paean to saying whatever the hell you want.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It may follow a formula, but sometimes formula equals comforting routine. And there are times, in the movies and elsewhere, when routine is exactly what you need.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Even though this is a light, cheerful picture about family relationships, it never feels overplayed -- its tone is bright without being garish. And it moves breezily.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's all beautiful, all right. But before long I began to feel beaten against the rocks of that beauty -- Finding Nemo smacks of looky-what-I-can-do virtuosity, and after the first 10 minutes or so, it's exhausting.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Fast and funny and brings back some of the wonder to the series.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    When Pirates of the Caribbean is good, it's certainly something to behold.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Writer-director Thom Fitzgerald -- his previous feature was "The Hanging Garden" -- has managed to make a comedy about assisted suicide that hardly feels black at all.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Although Pieces of April doesn't quite stick together as a whole -- in some places it's conventional and a bit contrived, particularly the ending, which feels rushed and a little tough to buy -- Hedges peppers it with enough wonderful moments that you can't help warming up to it.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Smart, tightly coiled.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a friendly, unpretentious little thing -- at times it's a bit too muted and indistinct, but then, you have to at least give the Farrellys credit for not making the mistake of trying too hard.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Represents a failure of nerve: As if Gondry and Kaufman weren't sure that the story of Joel and Clementine would hold us, the doomed couple's unfolding-in-reverse romance is intercut with a subplot filled with zany touches.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Weighed down with self-important messages, but it's also splashily opulent.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A weird delight.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    What comes through most vibrantly in Mayor of Sunset Strip, shining through Bingenheimer's low-key, laid-back, almost monotone manner of speaking, is how much the music has meant to him, even if it never exactly lined his pockets.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Super Size Me is exploratory, as opposed to being just numbingly didactic, and that's what makes it so engaging.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Although these vignettes are unified visually -- they're all in black-and-white and they all have the same gorgeous, silky visual texture -- they were shot by several different cinematographers.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Strangely exhilarating.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Part of what's so entertaining about Six Days, Seven Nights is the way Reitman happily mixes all the conventions of the stranded-on-an-island motif -- unpleasant encounters with creepy-crawly nature, the building of stuff out of bamboo and found objects, the first kiss in paradise.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    I'll Sleep When I'm Dead has its problems: As beautifully made as it is, Hodges leaves some crucial portions of the story maddeningly unclear, particularly at the end.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    May have said more about race in America today than any other movie of last year.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Kentis and Lau succeed in doing what all filmmakers worth their salt strive to do: They make us care about their characters.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie swirls around Kline a little too much -- he's a brilliant comic actor, but he isn't allowed to cut loose as much as we'd like, to show us the slightly loony person we know is lurking beneath this ultrasane. character's veneer.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    While End of the Century feels a bit straggly toward the end (the rise of the Ramones is exhilarating; their slow, unfair demise is a downer), and its chronology is sometimes a little vague, the movie captures the spirit of both the band and the era they helped shape.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Basinger's debasement in the early part of the film is unpleasant to watch, and it's an unsettling bump in the context of the entertaining sheen of the rest of the picture. So much of Cellular is right on the button. If only it hadn't gotten its wires crossed.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    With big Hollywood movies getting glossier and more mechanical, and indie movies increasingly mistaking drabness for seriousness, we need Waters' sub-B-movie aesthetic more now than ever.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Crisp, informative documentary.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    An entertainment as billowy as a Shakespearean nurse's sail-shaped hat.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Like a truffle in a fluted paper cup, a small delight made with care and attention to detail.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Parillaud's performance is sharp on its surface and soft at its core. And if Jeanne truly is Breillat's alter ego, she is a pitiless self-portrait.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A light, smartly turned-out amusement, the sort of thing that's becoming more and more rare on the movie landscape these days.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Almost always a pleasure to watch. Pushing Tin is, essentially, a western -- Cusack really is the fastest gun in the West.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's a curiously ho-hum quality to the murders, despite the fact that the two victims are bludgeoned, sliced, chopped and jabbed, and also (the movie suggests) get their eyeballs gouged out.
    • 34 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A cupcake of a movie, a sweet and lightweight little thing that's all but served up in a ruffled paper cup.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    If you love actors, it's the sort of thing you might be tempted to see a second time, even after you've found out whodunit, just to examine more carefully the way the performers -- particularly the mesmerizing Cate Blanchett -- weave shining silken threads around what's essentially a pretty uninvolving narrative.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Coach Carter, its flaws aside, is as interesting for what it doesn't do as for what it does.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Smith deserves a better romantic comedy than Hitch, but at least he somehow manages to improve the material around him.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A sweet little picture with a sense of humor as well as a mission. If money can't buy you love, at least it can buy you 90 minutes of warmth.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    As flawed as it is, Major Dundee maintains its dignity in the face of the injustices that were done to it. Ripped-up and ragtag, it still holds its head high.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Does so many things right, and still doesn't quite hit the mark.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The sort of small, independent-minded picture that so much of American indie cinema strives, and often fails, to give us. It's a conventional picture, but it feels so deeply alive that it's practically a novelty.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mysterious Skin isn't a picture about existential vacancy; it isn't even about anything so simplistic as the horrors of child abuse. It's more of a meditation on the necessity of making your way past, or through, any obstacle that prevents you from being a thinking, feeling person.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Pathos isn't a cheap gimmick when it comes from the soul, and Li knows how to channel it, through his brain, his limbs and his heart.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It has the heart and spirit of a true romantic comedy, and a lightness of touch that you rarely see in a debut picture.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    There are times when even a director's worst impulses aren't enough to sink a movie, and somehow Lords of Dogtown stays afloat, largely because many of its actors transcend Hardwicke's heavy-handed storytelling.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Some people will see Mr. and Mrs. Smith as cynical, but I think its heart is deeply romantic, admittedly in an anvil-on-the-head kind of way. It's a love story not for the faint of heart. In other words, it's a lot like marriage.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a haunted picture, one that feels inhabited not just by actors and scenery but by spirits, too.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    While 9 Songs is sexually explicit in the basic sense, its DIRECTNESS is what's most fascinating, and ultimately most moving, about it.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Gripping: Even when it wobbles off-track, it has some juice to it.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    That a movie can run on empty and still be so obscenely enjoyable is a pretty slick stunt in itself.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Even though Prize Winner ultimately asks us to swallow that golfball-size happy pill, Anderson and her not-so-secret weapon Moore are actually clawing their way toward something deeper and far more complex than a cheerful, embroidered slogan.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Has so much going for it -- including intelligent performances that mesh beautifully, and a keen understanding of how seemingly small moments can rattle the foundations of families -- that you walk away from it feeling it should add up to more.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    This isn't Sheridan's most complex or richest picture, but there's lots of life to it: This is an unapologetically glossy pop product, powered by a strong, old-fashioned sense of B-movie melodrama.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture consists mostly of performance footage of Silverman, which, despite the fact that it's shot on grainy, anemic-looking digital video, is a pleasure to watch.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Clooney is the soul of Syriana, and his face is what you're left with long after the movie's obsessive plot details have sifted away.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Munich is both astonishing and frustrating. It's not easy to tell how much of the tone comes directly from Spielberg and how much comes from Kushner, who was called in to polish the script after Roth completed it.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    When a movie plays every card, it's bound to win a hand or two. You can't exactly call that approach craftsmanship. But in the case of the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced inspirational sports drama Glory Road, it at least amounts to a kind of blunt effectiveness.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Heart of Gold is a sweet, gentle picture, if not a particularly exhilarating one.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a sturdy little cop thriller, and even when it stretches the bounds of plausibility, you go with it, partly because you believe -- almost against your better judgment -- in what the characters are doing.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    As its title suggests, the picture is something of a ballad, an ode to an elusive character who's both quintessentially human and so outlandish he almost seems unreal.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Its considerable charm lies in the way it fulfills, rather than bucks, our expectations.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The jokes in American Dreamz whiz by with speed and grace, and Weitz maintains control of the material every minute.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's by no means the greatest Altman, and not even a great Altman. And yet, even though it was written and conceived by Garrison Keillor -- as a fanciful fiction that draws on elements of his popular radio show -- it is somehow pure Altman.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    At its best when Creadon is burrowing deep into the world of the puzzles themselves, particularly when he sits down with puzzle constructor extraordinaire Merl Reagle.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    I'm not really sure how strong this material is on its own: I kept trying to imagine what The Oh in Ohio would have been like with other actors in the leading roles, and I couldn't -- Rudd, DeVito and especially Posey seem integral to it.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Clerks II has its problems: It rambles into sentimentality, and it doesn't need to -- the movie is more affecting when the characters are just cracking jokes. But Smith, an inherent optimist, has made a movie full of crude humor that also manages to explore the enduring qualities of friendship.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mann turns Miami Vice into an exploration of tone and mood, and he makes that enough.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's the kind of small pleasure that can make you feel intensely grateful.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    An affable entertainment, both a celebration and a satire of lowbrow pleasures.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    So beautiful to look at that it practically feels like a drug.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Part of what makes "ackass Number Two so frighteningly watchable -- even against your better judgment -- is the way the guys delight in one another's bumps, bangs and bruisings: First, they feel one another's pain; then they laugh like hell.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The sex is the most unremarkable thing about it. What surprised me most about this gentle-spirited sprawl of a movie, set in post-9/11 New York City, is what I can only call the friendly, Midwestern quality of the filmmaking.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Ridley Scott's A Good Year is a bonbon made by a mechanic, a well-intentioned diversion put together by someone who clumsily adds the right ingredients in the wrong proportions at the wrong time. But sometimes, if you get the sugar level close to right, you can do OK, and A Good Year offers some pretty basic pleasures that movies often fail to give us these days.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    So few filmmakers even know how to make an entertaining trifle these days, and For Your Consideration is that, at least.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The material has crackle, but its vibrancy feels far off and muted, like a fireworks display going off in a neighboring town.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's nice to see a bit of intimate, offhanded moviemaking that focuses on actors, as opposed to stars.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A very gentle-spirited picture, but it's not a self-consciously precious one.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    If the filmmaking is in some ways awkward and elementary, Hickenlooper's attitude toward his subject is more complex, and more admirable.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a scrapbook, a happy jumble, of many of the things we instinctively respond to in movies: color, shape, sound and movement, all intensified by heightened emotion.
    • 33 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Never having read the book, I found Blood and Chocolate to be a lovely surprise, an imaginative and visually lush picture firmly rooted in the tradition of gothic romance and elegiac horror films about misunderstood monsters.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It may be slight, but it's also buoyant and pleasurable, partly because the leads make the whole thing feel like a spontaneous duet. Lawrence trusts them to carry the picture, without feeling the need to throw in a lot of extraneous fluff.

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