Chicago Reader's Scores

  • Movies
For 4,911 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 3.7 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 Pépé le Moko (re-release)
Lowest review score: 0 Old Dogs
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. Despite a continuity problem or two, this is one of those rare contemporary romantic comedies that actually work.
  2. Greene delivers a wrenching performance, and like "Smoke Signals," the film ends with a cathartic, triumphant flourish.
    • 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.
  3. The thriller plot, while serviceable, registers as somewhat gratuitous, but the Buenos Aires locations are nicely used.
  4. For the sake of more irony--the movie is lousy with it--the precocious characters have an infantile response to the discovery that their parents are missing: all want their mommies after a night of junk-food excess.
  5. Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski's script may in spots be as much of a skim job as their one for "Ed Wood," but it's almost as sweet and as likable, and if the movie can't ever practice what it and its hillbilly hero preach--the only "beaver" shot in the movie involves a corpse--its heart is certainly in the right place.
  6. The social criticism is as unforced as the humor (and the references to "The Conversation") in this 1998 conspiracy thriller, whose spirited action is balanced by an almost contemplative attitude toward surveillance phobias and the movie cliches they've spawned.
  7. The picture gets to you more through its intensity than its craft, but Hooper does have a talent.
  8. This shocking, violent, and unsentimental (albeit sensationalized) drama about a second-generation drug dealer (Turner) and the callous world he lives in, produced by "To Sleep With Anger's" Darin Scott, is terrifically acted.
  9. The result is a step toward multiculturalism and ecological correctness, though not without a certain amount of confusion. The movie is not quite as entertaining as "The Little Mermaid" or "Beauty and the Beast."
  10. Misses a chance to use the Manhattan setting to add to his protagonist's displacement, instead treating the city as a bland backdrop.
  11. A very curious and eclectic piece of work--fresh even when it's awkward.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Assume that viewers are too hungry for mindless thrills to care whether dead characters spring back to life or live ones change their personalities according to the needs of the moment.
  12. An E.T. spin-off, but it's a very likable and imaginative one.
  13. Some powerful dialogue.
  14. Heart-wrenching documentary.
  15. Jas lots of action, drama, comedy, and corn -- and few pauses, which is striking.
  16. A judicious mix of the lightly gory, the generously cartoonish, and the unexpectedly atmospheric makes for action that's scary yet unintimidating.
  17. The opening half-hour--the burglary of a jewelry store, filmed in meticulous detail--is as good as its inspiration in The Asphalt Jungle, but the film turns moralistic and sour in the last half, when the thieves fall out.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Though Ahola's acting is unschooled, to say the least, Herzog shrewdly uses his blunt sincerity to counterpoint Roth's spectacularly icy performance.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    This is the Classics Illustrated version of Kahlo's story--fun mostly for the sets and the clothes.
  18. This is hardly Flaubert, but it is a fairly beguiling look at moral calculation.
  19. Some of the verbal jousts are hot, and a Laurel and Hardy routine involving a stolen ATM is fitfully hilarious, but this reminds me of a pilot for a cable sitcom.
  20. A first-rate Hollywood entertainment--at least if one can accept the schizophrenia of combining a cop/buddy action thriller with an angry satire about the shamelessness of the media.
  21. Scenes that should have been uproarious are weaker than many of the movie's smaller moments.
  22. Political incorrectness, gross-out humor, references for their own sake, and some real wit are distributed over the 85 minutes with an unusually consistent sense of timing and proportion, and the tone is just right.
  23. An accomplished, effective, grisly, and exceptionally sick slasher film that I can't with any conscience recommend, because the purposes to which it places its considerable ingenuity are ultimately rather foul.
  24. Powerful, funny romantic drama.
  25. Much more deserving of plaudits is the secondary cast--Hope Davis as Schmidt's resentful daughter, Dermot Mulroney as the waterbed salesman she's engaged to, and, above all, Kathy Bates in a hilarious turn as the latter's New Age mother.
  26. As a comedy duo Nicholson and Sandler pose no threat to the legacy of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, in part because Sandler is so outclassed, but mostly because everyone involved is playing it safe.
  27. Only about half of the disconnected gags and oddball conceits pay off, but their gleeful delivery takes up most of the slack.
  28. The Big Lebowski is packed with show-offy filmmaking and as a result is pretty entertaining.
  29. Depp conveys his character's ambivalence and ambiguity with utter conviction, and though the annoying score tries to throw Pacino's monologues over the top, his persuasive, low-key performance puts the violins in their place.
  30. Despite his advancing years, Chan delivers some fleet slapstick; like his hero Buster Keaton he works intuitively with levers, pulleys, ladders, and umbrellas.
  31. A slyly subversive adventure tale that should appeal to children and adults alike.
  32. The action is so relentless that after a while things start to feel hollow, but Rodriguez still seems to believe the moral articulated at the end of the first film -- that keeping a family together is the real adventure.
  33. The movie manages to push buttons without seeming formulaic.
  34. This is very much the work of a cinephile, calling to mind such middle-period Orson Welles jumbles as "The Lady From Shanghai" and "Mr. Arkadin" as well as dozens of other movies I only half remember, a familiarity that's essential to its charm.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Isn't as lavish or flashy as the typical Bollywood product, and cricket aside, there's little to distinguish the plotting and wide-screen visuals from more traditional Hollywood musicals--though few recent American musicals are this fluid or engaging.
  35. A pretty impressive horror film.
  36. Much of this fractured drama and dark fantasy takes place inside the mind of Charlie (Futterman),
  37. The humor about male neurosis doesn't try to remind you of Woody Allen at every turn.
  38. With its persuasive special effects, gentle pace, and more expressionistic than surreal production design, this serious yet far from ponderous drama is something of a marvel.
  39. Potential irony is everywhere in this movie's subtly surreal situations and candy-colored imagery.
  40. Their relationship is so subtly inflected with fear, envy, and self-loathing on both sides of the class divide that I was drawn in nonetheless. Brody is a compelling presence throughout.
  41. Estrada references Welles throughout with his low-angle deep-focus shots, grotesque close-ups, and brassy sound track. The actors are uniformly excellent, embracing their arch roles without succumbing to caricature.
  42. The movie can't explain as much as it wants to about what makes (and unmakes) a skinhead, but it carries us a fair distance.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Slight film of mostly comic tableaux.
  43. Exciting, clever sequences driven by surprisingly little plot and culminating in a climax full of the transmogrification animation was invented for.
  44. This is good, solid work that never achieves either the art or poignance of Van Sant's earlier and more personal projects.
  45. Not quite up to "Airplane!" or "Top Secret!," but there are still laughs aplenty.
  46. Funny, moving, and insightful look at questions about identity and community.
  47. The inventive performances -- keep this story interesting in spite of its puritanical framework.
  48. Clever, warmhearted film.
  49. Eleven years on, someone in Hollywood has finally worked up the nerve to address the LA riots--but only on the slickest terms imaginable.
  50. 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.
  51. There's no real resonance between the two halves of the film, yet Allen keeps things moving quickly enough that the film only reveals its basic shapelessness once it's over.
  52. Undeniably provocative and reasonably entertaining, The Truman Show is one of those high-concept movies whose concept is both clever and dumb.
  53. This effective, well-paced antimilitary thriller has more conflicting flashbacks than you can shake a stick at.
  54. At times Hirsch seems afraid to trust the material's inherent drama and becomes unnecessarily manipulative, staging performances in striking landscapes and playing the footage in slow motion.
  55. The lush, emotional scenes are enhanced by the sound track.
  56. Needless to say, the plot goes nowhere, but under the pornographic circumstances Figgis, Cage, and Shue all do fine jobs.
  57. As in the first movie, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are trotted out periodically to add a little gravitas.
  58. The director (Hallstrom) and cast are all excellent.
  59. A rare example of a successful documentary in the mode of Frederick Wiseman made outside the United States.
  60. It certainly fulfills all the conventions of the genre: sci-fi premise, noir stylings, martial arts, snarky dialogue.
  61. This bleak vision directed by Darren Aronofsky ("Pi") is pointless with good reason.
  62. The story's resolution isn't very satisfying, but I considered most of this movie time well spent.
  63. This is obviously a sincere undertaking, and there's a certain homemade charm to the special effects used in the combat scenes.
  64. The filmmakers aren't exactly cruel, but they focus on compulsion rather than passion, which by implication tends to tarnish the more intellectual and scholarly members of the breed.
  65. An absorbing and compelling account of a historical episode that should be better known.
  66. The gags come fast and furious, and though some are a little stale, Rock and cowriter Ali LeRoi strive for wit over crudity.
  67. Despite a melodramatic score that at times seems almost facetious, the movie's tone is sober and sincere, its unlikely ending persuasive.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Predictably, the violence is overwhelming. But the massacres are glamorized, and the characters look like they're posing for tourism posters.
  68. Stylistic excess, comedy, and romance often help make extremes of cruelty and horror function as cathartic metaphor, and all three figure, not always successfully, in this sequel.
  69. Pacino is typically excitable but also strangely sad, as if the case could take all he's got; Williams, on the other hand, tries playing against type but still goes over the top.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The material is consistently clever and funny.
  70. Chen tries to generate some suspense, but there's never any doubt which side has to win.
  71. Satisfying in a purely infantile way, and the familiarity of everything is oddly comforting. In terms of action, moreover, this makes "The Matrix Reloaded" look like a clodhopper's jamboree.
  72. For the most part this is a scenic and well-scored Holocaust survival tale.
  73. Offers a fascinating inquiry into memory and art, mixing clips from Fellini's films with contemporary shots of the same locales in and around Rome.
  74. The story (what there is of it) doesn't make much sense, but this is a very scary horror thriller that should keep you either on the edge of your seat or halfway under it.
  75. By the film's underwater finale, director Matteo Garrone has bestowed a tragic stature on the pint-size Othello who loves "not wisely but too well."
  76. Before the movie collapses into the utopian nonsense that seems obligatory to this subgenre, a surprising amount of sensitivity and satirical insight emerges from Eleanor Bergstein's script and Emile Ardolino's direction.
  77. Comes to the comforting conclusion that they're just as alienated, idealistic, and vulnerable as the baby boomers of the 1960s.
  78. 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.
  79. Realist fairy tale.
  80. By the time the fighting between clones and their originals turned to fraternal bonding, I was quite moved, even blissed out.
  81. Nicely written as well as filmed.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Between the kinetic and often exciting chase scenes, screenwriter David Koepp plays with every teen's yearning for a secret identity, and Tobey Maguire is charming as the insecure superhero.
  82. The conventional ghost-appeasement scenario isn't very suspenseful, which may be part of the reason it's so gripping.
  83. Comes closer to deification than dramatization--a shame, since the film offers some powerful set pieces and jaw-dropping spectacle.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    There's no denying the music's magic.
  84. This is fun if you're looking mainly for light entertainment.
  85. More entertaining than "The Spanish Prisoner" -- it also turns out to be more conventional and predictable.
  86. This is like a Ferris wheel--the ride's enjoyable but you've gone nowhere once it's over.
  87. The performances are strong without calling attention to themselves--which is more than I can say for the occasionally hackneyed use of rock on the sound track.
  88. Rodriguez has a sure sense of scale and pacing as well as an artisan's relaxed control of the material.
  89. Fine character work by Juliet Stevenson, Archie Panjabi, and Bollywood regular Anupam Kher make this well worth seeing.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The film is a pleasant ramble through an eventful year. Klapisch's special effects--cameras speeding down hallways, superimposed images--are both amusing and annoying.

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