Baltimore Sun's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 1,999 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 55% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 42% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 1.1 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 63
Highest review score: 100 Atonement
Lowest review score: 0 Death Race
Score distribution:
1,999 movie reviews
  1. Cheeky, brass-knuckles British crime film.
  2. Madagascar doesn't do much, except make you laugh. All hail such a minimalist approach.
  3. This is not a great film by any means, too filled with stock characters in stock situations for such praise. But if offers screen time for some fine young actresses, and addresses its story to an audience of teen girls who deserve something to identify with.
  4. It's the pushiest film around - "in your face" is still in-your-face, even if the dancers are in white-face.
  5. Blessedly unimportant, Fantastic Four cruises along on modest yet genuine comic-book pleasures.
  6. The Beautiful Country is not a happy film by any means, but it does offer a fragile hope, that beauty exists at the end of every journey, if only one has the strength to finish the trip.
  7. Bergman's creation of family banter that turns irredeemably cruel remains without peer.
  8. Wedding Crashers is unashamedly profane and, for its first two acts, very funny, a classic guilty pleasure that revels in its basest elements.
  9. In Hustle & Flow, a star is born playing a star who's born.
  10. For those of us who wish that John Hughes' "The Breakfast Club" had kept the cheeky tone of Hughes' "Sixteen Candles," what ensues is the best Hughes farce that Hughes never made about adolescent snobbery and heartbreak as well as adult obtuseness.
  11. It forces you to fill in the blanks, then refuses to judge whether you're right or wrong. It's almost like the audience writes its own script, and everybody appreciates his or her own work.
  12. Craven's films aren't showy, but that should never be held against them. In their streamlined construction and rock-solid simplicity lay their brilliance.
  13. Your basic Lasse Hallstrom formula-film, featuring people in dire situations who are redeemed when their basic goodness comes to the fore, elevated a notch by a pair of actors displaying sides we don't often see.
  14. A bravura, resonant performance by Nicolas Cage, combined with some hard questions raised about American responsibility for the worldwide glut of firearms, make the film close to a must-see, if not a must-love.
  15. Pucci pulls off Justin's transformation without resorting to histrionics; it's like a radio-station signal finally coming in clearly.
  16. Earns few points for originality, but scads for good-hearted exuberance.
  17. Serenity may be short on exposition, but it's smart and fun.
  18. Martin's script offers plenty of opportunities, but Martin the actor never takes advantage of them.
  19. Prime serves as yet another showcase for Streep; to prove how expertly she plays a Jewish mother with a Ph.D. in psychology, just imagine Barbra Streisand in the role -- you'd have a farce only a step above slapstick. With Streep, you get a smartly observant comedy that never overplays its hand.
  20. Sarah Silverman says things you wouldn't expect a nice, attractive Jewish girl to say. But that's only half her appeal.
  21. Producers hits few wrong notes on the big screen.
  22. It offers top actors in Fiennes and Richardson, plus a rare joint appearance by the sisters Redgrave.
  23. Latifah's performance and the film's gentle heart should prove enough to win over even the most churlish.
  24. True, the movie tends toward the treacly at times, and the children's mischievousness seems a bit forced. But Thompson's turn as a glammed-down Mary Poppins with an even more no-nonsense attitude is hard to resist.
  25. Some adults may find the film unbearably simplistic, or its pace burdensomely slow. But it would be a shame if movie audiences have become so hyper-adrenalized that they can't appreciate a charmer like Curious George.
  26. The determinedly cynical needn't bother, but just about everyone else should love Eight Below.
  27. If you have a sneaky taste for the monstrous and a hearty appetite for the outlandish, the pulpy yet engaging Night Watch should leave you merrily sated.
  28. There's comfort in seeing actors we know doing what we've come to expect them to do. But more important, the film surrounds them with supporting characters who are less familiar to us, who act in ways we don't expect.
  29. In some ways, Thank You for Smoking does not bemoan smoking as much as it bemoans people's willingness to be duped by smooth-tongued orators.
  30. Queen Latifah, the star of Barbershop 2 and Beauty Shop, and thus our reigning monarch of big-screen beauty stylists, should fund and narrate a sequel. Because The Beauty Academy of Kabul is good enough to make you want to know how they do.
  31. This movie will be remembered not for the notorious Bettie Page but for its showcase of the burgeoning Gretchen Mol.
  32. Intelligent and robust contempt has become so rare in movies that the first half of Art School Confidential is intermittently exhilarating.
  33. It's easier to accept a breakup when it's clear that the two parties are mismatched, but a better, braver film would reveal what caused the initial attraction.
  34. For better and worse, the entire film goes by like a theme-park cyclone ride. It makes as much sense as it needs to when you're on it. All it leaves in its wake is a residue of vertigo and speed.
  35. With everything this film has going for it - humor, intelligence and a splendid ensemble - Richard Linklater's nightmare drug movie, A Scanner Darkly, should be continually compelling. But it loses its fizz after a strong series of pops.
  36. Yes, the characters in Clerks II hardly qualify as role models, but they can be blisteringly funny in an in-your-face, to-heck-with-taste way.
  37. What's missing is what Pixar never fails to provide: The kind of storytelling heart that is inseparable from imagination.
  38. It may not tell us anything about terror in the new millennium, but the filmmakers' work is solid and affecting. In its own over-emphatic, sometimes clumsy way, it can move an audience to tears, cathartic laughs and cheers.
  39. Quinceanera may be the year's most nonjudgmental film, and therein lies both its greatest strength and most naggingly troublesome weakness.
  40. Looming large over all this is Jackson, who glowers and growls and acts the hero better than any actor out there.
  41. This delightful, if perhaps too calculatedly winsome, comedy presents seniors who are coping with emotional and physical losses and challenges them to act like the young people they still are at heart.
  42. This flight of fancy stays aloft on the power of its acting and its atmosphere.
  43. The American writer and poet Charles Bukowski is certainly an acquired taste, and Factotum may be just the film for determining whether one wants to acquire it.
  44. The result is a passionate, enthralling film that isn't afraid to take chances - even if it sometimes should be.
  45. The movie contains few surprises but has plenty of heart.
  46. The most refreshing thing about Man of the Year is its mingling of comedy and suspense with common decency. Levinson asks his countrymen not just to know their limits, but also to reach them.
  47. In the end, there's enough movie magic in The Prestige to keep you guessing, even after the film's over.
  48. Chilling doesn't begin to describe Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple...But the film never gets behind the chill.
  49. The excitingly well-made Death of a President imagines the assassination of President Bush as a way of analyzing political violence. And Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, sight unseen, has labeled it despicable.
  50. The best sections of Flushed Away, those featuring a nefarious French operative known as Le Frog (a hilarious Jean Reno), are also the most peculiarly British; no one lampoons the French with a better mixture of hard-earned loathing and grudging respect than the Brits.
  51. Casino Royale marks a shrewd relaunching of a franchise. But Campbell and company show too much of their sweat. If these movies continue to follow Fleming's profane pilgrim's progress, the next Bond movies should be more emotional and funny, with a bit of brass-knuckled charm.
  52. Darren Aronofsky labors awfully hard to get across a pretty simple message in The Fountain. But his efforts are so ethereal and extreme, it's almost impossible to turn away.
  53. The result is a movie that inspires without pontificating and plays on the heartstrings without pounding on them incessantly.
  54. Pearce makes you see why Edie found Warhol as irresistible as he found her. His otherworldly eyes focus on both who she is and what she represents. He sees her as a star.
  55. A twisted little comic gem.
  56. Freedom Writers is the rare inspirational-teacher film that is filled with genuine, jaw-dropping coups of real-life poetry.
  57. Touching and insightful.
  58. It's hard to figure where it's going, and when the movie's over, it's even harder figuring where it's been. But the careening roller-coaster ride calling itself Smokin' Aces is such a hoot to be on, who really cares?
  59. This movie doesn't pretend to be anything more than a cheerful night out, and on that count it scores.
  60. There's a persistent innocence to this movie that will work wonders on all but the most churlish.
  61. Director Daniele Thompson gets the point across so airily and pleasantly, in a film cast to perfection, that it's no problem accepting the message with a shrug, while profoundly enjoying the messenger.
  62. 300
    Cinema has once again proven its ability to incorporate every other mass-media art form. Director Zack Snyder and his computer wizards have made the best example yet of the movie-as-comic-book.
  63. Making you feel the presence of absences - of the distant and the departed, of dreams that never quite come true - is the key thing that this uneven film gets exactly right.
  64. There's enough wit to keep audiences of whatever age happy.
  65. Those willing to overlook its emotional grandstanding will find much to admire and even more to think about in this Oscar-nominated Danish drama.
  66. What's not to love?
  67. Surprisingly moving and intellectually satisfying.
  68. In a cinematic landscape where truly original ideas are rarer than floating food, recklessness like this deserves to be appreciated. Not understood, but appreciated.
  69. Uneven and affecting movie.
  70. The original French title is "La Doublure," but The Valet fits Veber. He has become a one-man service industry when it comes to spreading Gallic barbed humor and good cheer.
  71. It inverts the typical Hollywood boy-meets-girl formula into something somehow menacing and yet ultimately moving. [29 Oct 1991]
    • Baltimore Sun
  72. The movie then becomes a story of salvation: how Murphy's Marcus, through the love of a better woman (Halle Berry) manages to rediscover both his decency and his humanity. And yet, pretty much, it stays funny. [01 Jul 1992]
    • Baltimore Sun
  73. The story line meanders and too many scenes drone on; Knocked Up is in serious need of a good editor. But the laughs are plentiful, and it's the rare movie these days where one doesn't feel guilty about finding the whole thing funny.
  74. The best part of Little Women is that it tells a great big story. [24 Dec 1994]
    • Baltimore Sun
  75. The movie is full of macabre surprises. As good as Hoskins is as the little sweat-manufacturer caught in everybody's pliers, far better is Robin Williams in an unbilled appearance as a nihilist dynamiter. [13 Dec 1996]
    • Baltimore Sun
  76. The movie needs more incident and complication; it's modest to a fault.
  77. Few films even try to render the full range of emotions and sensations in female sexuality as the aptly titled Lady Chatterley, directed and co-written by a Frenchwoman, Pascale Ferran.
  78. You Kill Me kills you softly with its smiles.
  79. The film's action doesn't disappoint; if anything, it ups the adrenaline ante considerably.
  80. The whole thing is too giddy to be taken seriously and too much of a confection to leave much of a lasting impression. But for 140 minutes, at least, it should give non-fanboys at least an idea of what all the fuss is about.
  81. The movie is full of holes - it lacks the precision and verve of a Francis Veber farce like "The Dinner Game" - but the two actors brew up a sane kind of comedy from their fractious rapport.
  82. The movie doesn't add up to much, but it's an effervescent expression of an odd brute-hummingbird sensibility.
  83. The movie maintains its comical, rocky equilibrium as long as the screenwriter, Dean Craig, sticks to domestic disasters and a Monty Python parody of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
  84. The movie is best when everything is up in the air.
  85. Because Bar-Lev fails to go the extra mile either as a filmmaker or a friend, My Kid Could Paint That is at best "documentary silver."
  86. The whole movie swings broadly from slapstick and mock suspense to song. But the film develops a strong amorous undertow; Kelly's script neatly allows for all the potential couples to get the fate or comeuppance they deserve.
  87. Redacted is a bristling act of protest that obliterates a target it isn't aiming for.
  88. Kingsley dims divine Elegy.
  89. Weitz doesn't manage Pullman's feat of being rational and magical simultaneously. But he rapidly and intelligently opens up Pullman's world.
  90. he Kite Runner lives in the galvanic performances of two young Afghan actors, Zekeria Ebrahimi and Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada. They bring home the torment of Afghan life before and after the Taliban and, just as important, the resilience of children everywhere.
  91. This film's playful visual language pulls you in rather than shuts you out; it isn't difficult to decipher, and it enables Coppola and his editor, Walter Murch, to navigate the story's many realms with a directness and dexterity that are refreshing.
  92. As Laura, Rueda hits sublime notes of confusion, grief and wrath. She's sympathetic enough to make you root for her and complex enough to get you arguing afterward about whether Laura did anything to deserve all this.
  93. Predictable but utterly engaging, 27 Dresses will likely be remembered as the film that made Katherine Heigl an A-list star.
  94. All three actresses are appealing, but Fisher, proving her scene-stealing turn in Wedding Crashers was no fluke, shines brightest.
  95. The movie conveys the drama of the moment but eschews context. The result is an arresting yet frustrating experience.
  96. Semi-Pro is so shabbily staged, shot and edited that it hardly ranks as a movie, much less a sports film, but hilarious people keep turning up in it.
  97. The filmmakers capture kids and adolescents who haven't hardened their feelings into attitudes or molded their gestures into poses.
  98. Tautou's kind of talent: priceless.
  99. Feisty and good-humored, and if it doesn't have deep characters, it is chock-full of personality.
  100. Forgetting Sarah Marshall lacks snap, tension and bravura...Yet the movie is novel and big-hearted. It often succeeds at substituting a smorgasbord of psychological confusions for comic architecture.

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