Chicago Reader's Scores

  • Movies
For 5,044 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 42% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 56% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 4.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 Iraq in Fragments
Lowest review score: 0 Event Horizon
Score distribution:
5044 movie reviews
  1. Smart and consistently funny, with sharp performances.
  2. At its best when it’s least overtly allegorical--and fortunately that’s most of the time.
  3. Unlike the many youth movies that can't overcome their makers' hindsight, this one may actually put you in an adolescent frame of mind.
  4. Like most of Lee’s work, this movie bites off a lot more than it can possibly chew, and it bristles with the worst kind of New York provincialism.
  5. Koshashvili effectively captures turn-of-the-century ennui, but, more impressively, some of the feel of literary prose by intercutting characters in different locales, pausing the narrative for thoughtful close-ups that evoke interiority. The excellent excellent acting conveys the principals' emotional ambiguities.
  6. Poirer and director Noam Murro have trouble bringing this to a satisfying climax, but the characters are credible and sharply observed and all four actors go to town.
  7. In this heady documentary, TV footage of left-wing social critic Paul Goodman being interviewed by conservative host William F. Buckley Jr. in 1966 makes one realize how low public discourse in America has sunk since then: despite the men's political differences, their freewheeling discussion, touching on topics from education to pornography, is playful instead of rancorous.
  8. The only problem I was faced with was trying to understand what exactly it was that I enjoyed, and how this movie differed from the play I'd read.
  9. Actually I quite enjoyed the film -- but how do I get rid of this awful discharge?
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Thrilling rehearsal and performance footage of Idina Menzel in "Wicked," Tonya Pinkins in "Caroline," and Euan Morton in "Taboo" is juxtaposed with thoughtful, funny, and revealing interviews with writers, directors, producers, publicists, and critics.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Andrzej Wajda has spent much of his long career dramatizing major events in Polish history, and this poignant feature depicts the circumstances surrounding the Soviet Union's massacre of thousands of Polish officers in the spring of 1940.
  10. The comedy divides cleanly into dark, violent slapstick (much of it hilarious) and more routine gags highlighting the fanatical characters' foolishness and incompetence.
  11. Shani and Copti (who costars as a hipster druggie) elicit moving performances from their nonprofessional actors, who ground the somewhat breathless action in a streetwise realism.
  12. Everything seems to fall into place according to earlier Egoyan films, which suggests that you're likelier to enjoy this one if you haven't seen the others.
  13. Studded with terrorist attacks... Yet Malkovich never exploits these for action-movie thrills: in each instance the loss of life is terrible and the morality of the act is left treacherously ambiguous.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Lou's mobile camera captures the flushed energy of the faces and bodies of beautiful youths in love with all the verve and commitment of the early French New Wave.
  14. Part of Morton's achievement is to present all four people through the viewpoints of the other three; Wagner can't do that, but the performances are so nuanced that the characters remain multilayered, and they're not the sort of people we're accustomed to finding in commercial films.
  15. The consequent pain, anger, and confusion on all sides disrupts the standard martyrology of the genre and exposes the ordinary human wreckage that can follow even the most extraordinary acts of heroism.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Leth moves lightly and briskly, streamlining the weird material into something elemental and true; he's also assembled a knockout supporting cast.
  16. Bale dominates the movie as Dicky Eklund, a pathetic loudmouth who's let his own fight career slip away from him, yet what really holds this together is Wahlberg's low-key, firmly internalized performance as a man torn between his loyalty to the clan and his responsibility to himself.
  17. A sense of authenticity overshadows any contrivance in this subtly classic drama.
    • 33 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Retained my interest and sympathy -- at least until the nonsensical ending,
  18. Sentimental, obvious, but well-nigh irresistible, this jubilant comedy equates England's bland cuisine with its sexual inhibition and suggests we could all use something a little more tasty (at dinnertime, that is).
  19. A very curious and eclectic piece of work--fresh even when it's awkward.
  20. As Dr. Octopus, Alfred Molina makes a more baroque supervillain than Willem Dafoe did as the Green Goblin, but the other stars--seem happy to be giving us more of the same.
  21. Johnston's childish, repetitive tunes prove that he's no Brian Wilson (or even Roky Erickson), which makes you wonder whether Feuerzeig is examining the singer's exploitation or participating in it.
  22. Sam Riley is fascinating as Curtis, a hypersensitive young man hobbled by his incurable disease, and Samantha Morton is poignant as his put-upon wife.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The material is consistently clever and funny.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Uses the seven days of shivah to launch a series of hilariously escalating confrontations, including one in which elderly men nearly come to blows over who's the more genuine Jew.
  23. Shtick isn't all this movie has to offer.
  24. The characters have been designed to make fun of themselves, disguising the craft of writer Neil Cuthbert and director Kinka Usher in getting us to laugh at them.
  25. Lior is an irrepressible character as he works a room, doing exactly what a bar mitzvah boy should: challenging, instructing, and, in his own way, healing the world.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The great cinematographer Tak Fujimoto has the time of his life on this low-budget horror feature, playing with dolly shots, abrupt zooms, and negative space inside the widescreen frame, and the fun is infectious.
  26. A bright, funny family movie that gets everything right, from story to production design to cast (both human and canine).
  27. Depardieu brings such easygoing authority to the title character that you're pulled into the investigation, even as Bellamy becomes increasingly bewildered by his home life.
  28. Effective portrait of an independent woman with a troubled and unstable sense of herself.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The musical fantasy scenes in the new Singing Detective are raw and purposely amateurish. Although Gordon sometimes fumbles the tonal shifts of the material, the acting is rock solid.
  29. Persuasively re-creates the experience of sailing aboard a British man-o'-war during the Napoleonic era, but its story never attains comparable grandeur.
  30. 5x2
    Austere and formally complex, the drama may nevertheless be Ozon's most accessible film due to the physical attractiveness and vitality of the intelligent couple.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The film is fairly formulaic, though some of its puns and wisecracks are hilarious, especially those delivered by the Littles' lazy and cynical Persian cat (Nathan Lane).
  31. The director (Hallstrom) and cast are all excellent.
  32. In the end I didn't believe in their relationship, but I was pleased to see Keaton tearing it up for two hours.
  33. The movie might have amounted to no more than a sunny eco-parable, but it begins to bite harder when the catadores, captivated by their sudden importance, face the unhappy prospect of returning to their previous existence.
  34. It's the romantic sparring with Catherine Zeta-Jones as another glamorous thief -- not the unsuspenseful heists -- that makes this silly thriller lightly bearable.
  35. So playful and imaginative that only at the very end -- in a metafictional tag about their project's success on the festival circuit -- does its narcissism become off-putting.
  36. Novelist Douglas Coupland (Generation X) brings his millennial irony and middle-class angst to the big screen with this offbeat Canadian comedy about the lure of easy money.
  37. The director, Ted Kotcheff, does a good job with the violence and suspense, working well with the wide-screen format, and he seems fully aware of the dark, subversive implications of the material, even if the screenplay doesn't allow him to resolve them successfully.
  38. In this 2006 entry the insights are worthwhile.
  39. Documentary maker Edmon Roch spins a zippy yarn of Pujol's improbable exploits from archival footage, talking heads, and clips from classic espionage dramas.
  40. There's nothing remotely new here, but the movie has the taut, queasy feel of an early 70s drive-in shocker: old-fashioned suspense without any guarantee of old-fashioned mercy.
  41. The result is highly entertaining but hardly ranks with the director's best work; a dramatic subplot involving the money guy and his corrupt father (a disengaged Jack Nicholson) never gains traction.
  42. Wong uses his brief evocations of the future mainly as a way of poetically lamenting the past.
  43. Despite some awkwardness, this feature by writer-directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland is a fascinating look at the area's Mexican-American milieu and other local subcultures, full of feeling, insight, and touching performances.
  44. Endorsed by the Dalai Lama and narrated by his nephew Tenzin L. Choegyal, this delivers an impassioned plea to save Tibet's endangered culture but little new information.
  45. This is the kind of tasteful tearjerker that's often overrated and smothered with prizes because it flatters our tolerance and sensitivity.
  46. The three neighborhood kids who venture inside this toothy trap are wittily conceived (as are other characters, like a goth babysitter), but though the overall conception suggests Hayao Miyazaki's "Howl's Moving Castle," the frenetic pacing seems as American as an apple pie in your face.
  47. In one slender documentary codirectors Shane King and Arne Johnson accomplish what Hollywood routinely bungles: incisively depicting the inner lives of complicated young females.
  48. The language has been changed to English, of course, which is the only real reason this movie exists; the story development, desolate tone, and key set pieces are mostly copied from the original movie, which in turn was based on a novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist.
  49. The electrifying music helps camouflage the screenplay's hyperbole.
  50. Though the filmmaker has by now ridiculed the martial-arts drama virtually out of existence, the final dance number -- actually closer to festive stomping than tapping -- somehow manages to transcend irony, conveying instead only Kitano's childlike exhilaration, with a sense of ease regained.
  51. This is worth catching just for the scene in which Behdad, pulled before an Islamic judge for possession of banned DVDs, intermittently cowers and rages, and ultimately talks his way out of a flogging.
  52. The singing dolphins opener is a giddy prelude to an imaginative romp that's helped along in the slow patches by mind-bending visuals.
  53. Has memorable characters and images. Yet the story is elusive and occasionally puzzling, and some of the ideas are amorphous and self-conscious.
  54. The luminous images--as much the filmmakers' as the painter's--are occasionally transcendent.
  55. An efficient genre piece with a few provocative metaphysical trimmings; the mainly English cast is effective.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    while the war-as-insanity metaphor clearly fits the cruel, heartbreaking story, its force is undercut by a succession of character types -- ambitious television journalists, outmatched UN peacekeepers, overbearing politicians.
  56. Cruise holds the center of the film with a sharply focused performance, though his bonding with the wise samurai chieftain (Ken Watanabe) is noticeably more ardent than his soggy romance with the stoic wife of a man he killed in combat.
  57. Writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore steal from the best, gleefully cribbing from "A Christmas Carol" to fashion a screenplay with heart and sharp one-liners.
  58. The special effects are incredible, blah blah blah, but oddly, the most effective element here is the original movie's striking visual design-everything pitch black except for the luminescent piping on the costumes and foreground objects-which was inspired by the primitive arcade games of the early 80s.
  59. Leslie Dixon's script and TV sitcom specialist Garry Marshall's direction are basically warm, funny, and lighthearted, and the relaxed amiability of the two leads—as well as Chicagoan Michael Hagerty and Roddy McDowall (who doubles as executive producer)—helps to make this good family entertainment.
  60. All this could've collapsed into empty shocks if not for Inoue's gripping performance as an exasperated single woman who senses her happiness slipping away with each vengeful blow.
  61. Needless to say, the plot goes nowhere, but under the pornographic circumstances Figgis, Cage, and Shue all do fine jobs.
  62. Chen tries to generate some suspense, but there's never any doubt which side has to win.
  63. Sam Rockwell plays the brother, and in his handful of scenes he skillfully tracks the character's slow decay from cocky loudmouth to thoroughly beaten man; Swank, delivering her usual spunky turn, suffers badly by comparison.
  64. The two leads keep the movie afloat with their light-footed class warfare. This Anglican buddy romance is buoyed by a spicy history lesson about the scandalous marriage of the duke's elder brother, Edward VIII, to the twice-divorced Wallis Simpson.
  65. An engaged and knowing look at the underground world of improvised rap, concentrating on artists less interested in commercial success and cutting records than in the "spontaneous right now" of "nonconceptual rhyme."
  66. Despite the aggressive silliness of this enjoyable comedy, the emotional focus on the painful social experience of high school makes the film real and immediate, and the flavorsome dialogue in Robin Schiff's script gives the leads a lot to work (as well as play) with.
  67. This is every bit as silly and adolescent as you'd expect from Besson, and about as contemporary as "The Perils of Pauline." But I was delighted by the balletic and acrobatic stunts, some of which evoke Tarzan.
  68. The narrative kept me glued to my seat.
  69. This time the quest plot involves Asian-American pals Harold and Kumar chasing after a Christmas tree to replace one they've accidentally burned down, but that's only an excuse for the relentless barrage of tasteless gags, most of them damned funny.
  70. Though the story drags for the first hour, this becomes a solid character study once the principals arrive at their hiding place.
  71. Occasionally cloying, but the distinguished British cast (Anna Massey, Robert Lang, Georgina Hale, Millicent Martin) generates considerable gravitas.
  72. Set in postwar Berlin, the story involves prostitution, black marketeering, and the death camps, and the tension between the visual style and the adult story makes the movie pretty engrossing -- it's an R-rated "Casablanca."
  73. For a family picture this is still superior.
  74. The result, though clearly flawed, is passionate and ambitious, celebrating that long-gone era when a book of verse could spark a revolution in consciousness.
  75. I appreciated its cogent history lesson, which details China's brutal treatment of Tibetan nationals from the late 1940s through the Cultural Revolution and into the '80s, when it executed 15,000 dissidents.
  76. Fresh, character driven, often funny, and unfashionably upbeat (as well as offbeat).
  77. Director Mark Bamford has a feel for the entanglements of daily life, and his lively editing rhythm holds the multiple stories together.
  78. Everyone in the cast conveys that messy mix of teen self-consciousness and bravado, but Josh Peck is particularly nuanced as the bully.
  79. Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) steals his every scene as the aphorism-spouting Fowley while Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning often fade into the 70s wallpaper as guitarist Joan Jett and front woman Cherie Currie.
  80. The film is still an entertaining and invigorating thriller, with a structure and some curious sexual overtones that suggest Howard Hawks's "A Girl in Every Port."
    • 81 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    This engaging documentary traces the life of folk icon Pete Seeger, emphasizing his lifelong belief in the power of music as both a social and a political force.
  81. Despite a melodramatic score that at times seems almost facetious, the movie's tone is sober and sincere, its unlikely ending persuasive.
  82. The melodrama form allows Tornatore to examine such current issues as human trafficking and black-market babies within a yarn that, for all its sentiment, is never less than gripping.
  83. This documentary about the public education crisis isn't as smart or rigorous as Bob Bowdon's shoestring production "The Cartel," which arrived in town earlier this year and quickly vanished. But the new movie is still an admirable exercise in straight talk.
  84. Director Mike Barker elicits a marvelously agile performance from Hunt, who's well matched by Tom Wilkinson as her new admirer.
  85. Screwball office comedy.
  86. Thanks to a fairly good script, this thriller about a Soviet cop sent to Chicago to apprehend a Soviet drug dealer is a respectable enough star vehicle.
  87. Funny, moving, and insightful look at questions about identity and community.
  88. Posh meets prole in this period drama elegantly directed by Stephen Frears (Dangerous Liaisons, Prick Up Your Ears).

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