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 3.8 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 A Separation
Lowest review score: 0 Suddenly
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. Jean Gabin wasn't yet 50 when he starred as a big-time, high-style gangster hoping to retire, but he still looks pretty wasted, and this pungent tale about aging and friendship, adapted from a best-selling noir thriller by Albert Simonin, would be hard to imagine without his puffy features.
  2. Their gross-out humor is basically sweet tempered, for all its tweaking of PC attitudes, and though this film looks slapdash, its script (by the Farrellys, Ed Decter, and John J. Strauss) is surprisingly well put together.
  3. On paper this may sound like soap opera, but Bier and screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen (Mifune) have a good feel for character, and they're aided by a fine cast.
  4. The equation of Gilliam with Quixote is so obvious to everyone involved that Fulton and Pepe can hardly be blamed for adopting it.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Jackson's portrait of impotent rage is tremendous, and Affleck, who drops his usual smugness, is surprisingly good.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    You're scared witless much of the time, even if you conclude afterward that this 1973 movie was really pretty amateurish and simpleminded.
  5. Bosnian-born director Emir Kusturica delivers a superb performance as the prisoner, a brutish cipher who gradually reveals his humanity, and the delicate lighting often produces silhouetted faces that evoke the ultimate incomprehensibility of human emotion.
  6. Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island becomes a rousing SF adventure in this animated Disney feature.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The conduct of the French intelligentsia under Nazi occupation remains a tender topic, and the 2002 release of Bertrand Tavernier's film about two filmmakers who follow divergent paths through the Vichy years stirred intense controversy.
  7. Robert Redford's best and richest directorial effort.
  8. If you decide at the outset that this needn't have any recognizable relationship to the world we live in, you might even find it an unadulterated delight.
  9. Unfortunately, a conclusion stuffed with so many improbabilities that it left me gaping in disbelief. Prior to that, this is pretty much fun.
  10. Actor David Morse establishes himself as a truly formidable presence in this powerful first feature by Alex and Andrew Smith.
  11. The simple premise of one scene of table-turning voyeurism is brilliant.
  12. By turns morally compelling and racially paternalistic, this provocative drama may be the first halfway truthful war movie to hit multiplexes since "Three Kings."
  13. A powerful piece of social protest, skillfully written, directed, and acted...Hilary Swank as Brandon and Chloe Sevigny as his girlfriend Lana are especially fine.
  14. Screenwriter Kate Boutilier provides plenty of sharp patter, and Paul Simon contributed the catchy song "Father and Daughter."
  15. In general, the dogs-as-mirrors theme--the crazy things people do with and in relation to their pets--is what keeps this going, and the laughs are sporadic but genuine.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A camp musical-comedy hoot. It comes on like an outrageous episode of "The Simpsons" or "South Park."
  16. Wicked little black comedy.
  17. Borrowing heavily from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," Shyamalan tries to lighten his trademark gloomy tone -- and almost kills the suspense he's working so hard to achieve.
  18. xXx
    Director Rob Cohen supplies plenty of gore, attitude, loud music, and extreme-sports action -- in particular, a thrilling aerial drop that's followed by a crushing avalanche.
  19. This may have its occasional dull stretches, but in contrast to "Saving Private Ryan" it's the work of a grown-up with something to say about the meaning and consequences of war.
  20. This has much of the warmth and feeling for adolescence that Crowe displayed in his first feature ("Say Anything"), though the slick showboating of "Jerry Maguire" isn't entirely absent either.
  21. Subtly profound love story.
  22. Columbus beautifully realizes many of Rowling's fantastic conceits -- but for the last hour I was searching for a spell to make the credits appear.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Superlative documentary by Christian Charles delves into the world of stand-up with a seriousness and attention to detail matched only by Phil Berger's book "The Last Laugh."
  23. There's something almost wearying as well as exhilarating about the perpetual brilliance of Bosnian-born filmmaker Emir Kusturica.
  24. Often coming across as simultaneously out of control and self-possessed, Borchardt can't have been an easy target, but the filmmakers seem to have nailed him.
  25. The slick satire cleverly equates materialism, narcissism, misogyny, and classism with homicide, but you may laugh so loud at the protagonist that you won't be able to hear yourself laughing with him.
  26. The most underestimated commercial movie of 1987 may not be quite as good as Elaine May's three previous features, but it's still a very funny work by one of this country's greatest comic talents.
  27. Especially interesting are the complex relations among the residents of the ghetto.
  28. It's a jaunty adaptation, almost screwball.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Viewers hoping for new revelations will have to be content with learning that Hitler suffered from severe stomach problems. Yet there's much more here than a trickle of unsatisfying tidbits.
  29. It's presented in such a nicely understated manner, and Ambrose turns in such a good lead performance, that it rises several notches above most of today's teen movies.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A gripping and carefully calibrated suspense story.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Mott Hupfel II's noirish photography, Pete Beaudreau's smooth editing, and McAbee's wry script are all wonderful, and Dawn Weisberg's costumes are especially killing.
  30. A hokey but highly entertaining tale of corporate greed that should be especially satisfying if you're pissed off at big business.
  31. None of the characters emerges as very sympathetic.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Best of all, and unusual for a screenwriter, Anderson handles the science consistently (maybe even scientifically).
  32. Notwithstanding its occasional grotesque nods to postmodernist convention, this is highly entertaining Hollywood filmmaking, full of spark and vigor.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This send-up of 70s blaxploitation flicks mixes parody and social commentary to make larger points about the current state of American culture and race relations. The audience I saw the film with was almost choking with laughter.
  33. What mainly registers is the quiet desperation and simple pleasures of ordinary midwestern lives, the fatuous ways that people cover up their emotional and intellectual gaps, and the alternating pointlessness and cuteness of human existence. This may be a masterpiece of sorts, but it left me feeling rotten.
  34. The wonderful Richard Farnsworth plays the lead, and he was clearly born for the part...a highly affecting and suggestive spiritual odyssey.
  35. The plot of the picture is familiar, but it's realized with such delicacy and affection for the characters that it seems as fresh and warm as its verdant setting.
  36. For me it felt like a good many weeks at a politically correct summer camp, though the talented actors--including Cecilia Roth, Eloy Azorin, Marisa Paredes, Toni Canto, Antonia San Juan, and Penelope Cruz--certainly seem to enjoy the taste of the characters they're playing.
  37. Gutsy romance-drama that breaks a cardinal rule of storytelling and pop psychology: its iconic lovers aren't forced by a tragedy to learn that they shouldn't depend on each other to feel whole.
  38. A provocative and stirring climax to the Corleone saga, as well as an autonomous work that sometimes shows Coppola at his near best.
  39. I was wooed by its sexy romanticism all the way through to the mysterious and beautiful coda.
  40. In a perfect marriage of player and part, Reese Witherspoon is Elle Woods.
  41. Exciting mainly because anything can happen and does, the movie drags a bit as it approaches a climax set atop the Statue of Liberty.
  42. Scenes of ingenious slapstick violence.
  43. Allen's movies specialize in contemplating the notion that money can somehow remove vulgarity or produce gentility. Small Time Crooks may conclude quite conventionally that money can't buy you everything, but most of it flirts even more conventionally with the opposite premise.
  44. Illuminating with their energy and wit.
  45. The tone -- a combination of earnestness and gallows humor -- is strangely appropriate.
  46. An adroit piece of storytelling from Irish writer-director Neil Jordan that's ultimately less challenging to conventional notions about race and sexuality than it may at first seem... The three leads are first-rate.
  47. Erkel's folk-flavored music sounds a lot like middle-period Verdi, but many of the melodies are ravishing.
  48. Based on the real-life exploits of Frank W. Abagnale but played more for myth than believability.
  49. This is a remarkably gripping, suggestive, and inventive piece of storytelling that, like Kubrick's other work, is likely to grow in mystery and intensity over time.
  50. It's good old-fashioned rural gothic that would make Flannery O'Connor proud, with tricky switcheroos that keep shaking up our assumptions about what's going on.
  51. This is smooth and at times even sensual -- a well-oiled machine.
  52. Kwietniowski follows up his impressive debut feature, "Love and Death on Long Island," with this equally absorbing study of a compulsive personality.
  53. The film seems a bit studied, but the creepy plot still holds a certain fascination.
  54. Fascinating group portrait of soul and R & B legends who are still touring 40 years after their original fame, enduring even after they've been relegated to the nostalgia circuit.
  55. As a director Carnahan definitely has the goods: the opening foot chase, a sequence that's been done to death, is genuinely terrifying.
  56. Director Peter Kosminsky elicits such genuine performances from his talented cast that the film rarely strikes a false note.
  57. Very competently mounted and acted (there are also juicy parts for Judy Davis, Tony Shalhoub, and Jon Polito), this is basically a midnight-movie gross-out in Sunday-afternoon art-house clothing--an intriguing novelty that revels in effect while oozing with cryptic signifiers.
  58. If it speaks with a quieter voice than many of Bogdanovich's early pictures, what it has to say seems substantially more personal and thoughtful.
  59. Key action points are edited with finesse, but the denouement, with its dutiful hail of gunfire, is heartless and mechanical.
  60. A wily and dogged inquisitor, Broomfield cajoles and confronts a variety of witnesses, charting a web of intrigue that also involved the LAPD, the FBI, and assorted gangbangers and rogue cops.
  61. A must-see.
  62. It's good to see a gay relationship treated no differently than a heterosexual one would be.
  63. The dazzling star power of the French screen royalty Ozon has assembled and the film's sheer exuberance in its own artifice make this a delight from beginning to end.
  64. Often seems more old-fashioned than modern.
  65. Stylistically, it's a remarkable effort -- with a continuous sense of gliding motion -- and the film is entertaining and gripping throughout.
  66. Exuberant music and precision choreography furnish the thrills in this thoroughly enjoyable saga.
  67. The movie has some of the braggadocio of its white-trash hero, building to its competitive climax as if it were a gladiatorial sporting event, and it carried me all the way.
  68. There's nothing really new...but it has craft, pacing, and an overall sense of proportion, three pretty rare classic virtues nowadays.
  69. The high-powered drive of both the storytelling and the music is riveting.
  70. The first 20 minutes are masterful, as Cruise hunts down a killer-to-be; the last 20 are mediocre, as screenwriters Scott Frank and Jon Cohen untangle the mystery they've grafted onto Dick's story. In between lies a conventional but expertly realized cop-on-the-run drama.
  71. I wondered if the movie would end with a round of knock-knock jokes, but instead there's a hilarious trash-talking session with the four guys sitting around gutting one another like fish.
  72. The full-throttle approach of director Doug Liman (Swingers, Go) is impressive.
  73. Expresses with uncommon power the highly relevant issue of public indifference to genocide, which is especially well dramatized by a scene with Elias Koteas as an actor playing a Turk.
  74. This is a twilight film, full of sorrow yet lyrical, beautiful, and dark.
  75. Elegant flamenco tragedy.
  76. We finally learn much more about Moskowitz than about Mossman, and more about Mossman than about his novel, but Moskowitz's passion for books is irresistible.
  77. The film is full of finely observed details.
  78. Superior summer entertainment.
  79. Where other King stories and hundreds of other movies simplistically exploit the archetype, this tale intricately relates the actions of its young evildoer to the more abstract forces bearing down on the adults.
  80. Silly, sophomoric, and slapped together, but would you want it any other way?
  81. The characters (both animal and human) are solidly conceived, and the storytelling and visuals are expertly fashioned.
  82. Provides glorious escapism without asking you to turn your brain off.
  83. Director Ron Howard's deftness in suggesting the subjective experience of Crowe's character, who's later diagnosed with schizophrenia, makes for inspirational narrative.
  84. Not even the crude ethnic humor--Billy Crystal's Mel Brooks-ish Miracle Max--pricks the dream bubble, and the spirited cast has a field day.
  85. The broad Italian family humor gets so thick at times that you could cut it with a bread knife.
  86. Fortunately, the script by Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow isn't half bad, and both Barry Levinson's direction and the performances are agreeably restrained.
  87. The film's storytelling and heartfelt pantheism are both impressive.
  88. McDormand has never been better, but all the performances are interestingly nuanced, including Natascha McElhone's as one of Bale's fellow psychiatric interns.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The animators have re-created equine movement and behavior with uncanny verisimilitude.
  89. The extravagant makeup and special effects are actually unobtrusive because they're demanded by the pleasantly formulaic story, whose conflicts -- and broad, innocuous political allegory -- justify the heartwarming resolution.

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