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 Army of Shadows
Lowest review score: 0 Bless the Child
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A late radical shift in tone, from jittery exuberance to ruinous alienation, strikes an impressive contemporary note amid all the obeisance to custom.
  1. Starts out silly, gets sillier by the minute, and frequently had me and most of the people around me in stitches.
  2. In short, I never quite believed the story, but this movie is more about feeling than thinking.
  3. Blitz shows us these kids in all their quirkiness and dorkiness, letting them do much of the talking as he records them and their families at home.
  4. For a Disney movie, Holes is mercifully low in saccharine.
  5. Spielberg does an uncommonly good job both of holding our interest over 185 minutes and of showing more of the nuts and bolts of the Holocaust than we usually get from fiction films. Despite some characteristic simplifications, he's generally scrupulous about both his source and the historical record.
  6. Eventually writer-director M. Night Shyamalan neutralizes Willis's star presence with impressive plotting that's a fine excuse for the powerful atmosphere.
  7. Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios join forces on an entertaining computer-generated, hyperrealist animation feature that's also in effect a toy catalog.
  8. It's not a sex movie but a parody, and the loose feel is part of its genius.
  9. This outrageous comic fantasy may not sustain its brilliance throughout all of its 112 minutes, but it keeps cooking for so much of that time that I don't have many complaints.
  10. Yet some of the laughs come too easy and linger too long; for the film's message to have maximum impact, the laughter has to stick in your throat.
  11. I'm not sure what it all means, but, as in Ed Wood, Burton's visual flair and affection for the characters make it fun.
  12. I laughed a lot at the anti-Hollywood humor and generally had a fine time, in spite of the holier-than-thou hypocrisy that makes this movie easily and even intentionally Mamet's most Hollywoodish picture to date.
  13. Fresh and edgy; the images of a wasted London and the details of a paramilitary organization in the countryside are both creepy and persuasive.
  14. The actors are charismatic, particularly Ricardo Darin.
  15. The story is so black-and-white that one feels like hissing the villain (Kenneth Branagh) and cheering the heroines at every stage, but it's so amazing that the simplicity of the telling seems warranted.
  16. Franky G.'s performance as the protective yet combustible older brother is as real as it gets.
  17. Transcendently kitschy, trippingly funny fairy tale, which has a surprising amount of psychological insight and a dance number to die for.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A bit abstract, though gorgeously shot (by John Alonzo) and cleverly plotted (by Robert Towne), Polanski's film suggests that the rules of the game are written in some strange, untranslatable language, and that everyone's an alien and, ultimately, a victim.
  18. The premise provides a fine showcase for the two appealing actresses, who appropriate each other's vocal and physical mannerisms with dead-on accuracy.
  19. Fannish but intelligent chronicle of indie pop band They Might Be Giants.
  20. Stark, mysterious, and often weirdly funny.
  21. If you can accept the flouting of logic and credibility that usually goes with this kind of horror picture, this scary and suspenseful genre exercise, chock-full of false alarms and brutal shocks, really delivers.
  22. It's gripping and provocative, making effective use of Charles Berling and the music of Sonic Youth, though I wish it were a little less indebted to David Cronenberg's "Videodrome."
  23. Juicy, adroit, and likable.
  24. For better and for worse, this is seductive storytelling as well as investigative journalism, and I wasn't always sure which mode I was in.
  25. The kids, all real musicians performing, are wonderful, and so is Black; Joan Cusack is both charming and funny as the principal.
  26. This bracing courtroom thriller is the most entertaining and satisfying John Grisham adaptation I've seen.
  27. Proves again that the best documentaries currently outshine Hollywood features as the most watchable, energizing, and relevant movies around.
  28. Fiercely uncompromising psychodrama infused with a keen intelligence and a sinister primordiality.
  29. Superior 2002 farce by Walsh, Roberts, and Katie Roberts, all veterans of Chicago's ImprovOlympic who went on to form the Upright Citizens Brigade.
  30. Spirited, quintessential, and often hilarious.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The result is a blend of kitchen-sink and magical realism: sentimental, but well acted and freshly observed.
  31. AKA
    Roy's story is fascinating in its own right, exploring the hero's mingled shame over his class background and homosexuality, and painting a vicious portrait of Britain's coke-snorting upper crust in the late 70s.
  32. Kidman and Zellweger are uncommonly good, and I especially liked the timely treatment of war as universally brutalizing: even the outcomes of battles are ignored, as are the motives behind the conflict.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The first half involves some dully familiar cross-cultural comedy, as the two grate on each other's nerves. But the descending action veers into unexpected emotional territory, deftly handled by screenwriter Alison Tilson.
  33. Although Broomfield's grandstanding has provoked charges of hypocrisy, this is a genuinely moral work that raises unsettling questions about the haphazard application of the death penalty, and it's certainly more complex and affecting than the fictionalized portrait of Wuornos in "Monster."
  34. Gary Baseman's Emmy-winning cartoon series arrives on the big screen in a delightful blast of bold drawing, brainy humor, and hard-charging songs.
  35. Behind the camera Belvaux builds suspense with an austere tone and clever false alarms; in front of it he plays Bruno as chivalrous yet ruthless.
  36. Beautifully shot in black and white by Pawel Edelman (The Pianist), this 2000 feature is both funny and unexpectedly touching.
  37. Its particularities are the best thing about it.
  38. Wonderful first feature.
  39. As usual, Lee tries many kinds of stylistic effects and uses wall-to-wall music (by Aaron Copland and Public Enemy); what’s different this time is how personally driven the story feels.
  40. This low-key romantic comedy proves that destiny-powered love stories can be formulaic without being predictable.
  41. Irish playwright Mark O'Rowe, who wrote the script, has an admirable sense of dramatic proportion that suits his intertwining stories; theater director John Crowley, making his film debut, has a sure hand with his actors; and an excellent cast enlivens this web of romantic and criminal intrigue, set in a gray suburb of Dublin. R.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Kari combines Kaurismaki's deadpan minimalism and Truffaut's sensitivity toward adolescent yearning with a hefty dose of gallows humor, and tops it all off with an apocalyptic ending.
  42. Played by Ron Perlman, he's the most magnetic action hero I've come across in a long while.
  43. Wise, gentle, and simply constructed.
  44. This extraordinary Italian thriller is a study in contrasts: light versus dark, youth versus maturity, the playful versus the lethal.
  45. Despite the flashback structure, this is a film in which mood matters more than plot, while the hero's heroic stature steadily shrinks.
  46. Fascinating and instructive throughout.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The contrast between Cadigan in recovery and at his most disturbed provides an excellent antidote to romanticized and sensationalized portrayals of mental illness in Hollywood films and on TV talk shows.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Demme's moving documentary turns the story of his dead friend into the story of Haiti.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Evoking Curtis's mystique and eccentric personality, filmmaker Craig Highberger also delivers an invaluable chronicle of New York's barrier-smashing underground arts scene circa 1968-'74.
  47. It's a fascinating cultural artifact and a stomping good time.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's a haunting portrait of a young man who, while genuinely gifted and loved by friends and family, couldn't cope with the world.
  48. Long, grim, but utterly engrossing.
  49. This documentary profile of poet and novelist Charles Bukowski exploits the writer's counterculture persona but also works to dispel it, revealing a gifted and extremely complicated man.
  50. It's been a long time since I've seen a teen movie as lively, as unpredictable, as generous, and as tough-minded as this one.
  51. Kar Kar's singing is wonderfully expressive, and an improvised song to his wife at her grave site demonstrates the emotional wellspring of his music.
  52. Upon closer inspection its story and characters grow more mysterious, ultimately bordering on the unfathomable.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    While Cazeneuve's story is about gay love, it also charts universal truths about adolescent romance and high school politics with great aplomb.
  53. The result is that virtual oxymoron, an intelligent family film.
  54. Haneke is still a masterful director, and his authority carries this well-acted and attractively shot account of a family from an unnamed city trying to survive in the sticks after an unspecified catastrophe.
  55. The voice-over narration by Bill Kurtis is a stroke of genius.
  56. Goldblum and Murphy outdo each other in their odd roles, each minimizing his tendency toward shtick and giving a convincing dramatic performance.
  57. The blend of animation techniques somehow demonstrates mastery modestly, while the special effects are nothing short of magnificent.
  58. The depiction of her risky voyage and what happens afterward is highly suspenseful and entirely believable.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The action sequences are expert studies in controlled chaos.
  59. Eastwood essentially uses the Lady Chablis the same way he did a few extended Charlie Parker solos in Bird--as unbridled, inventive improvisations that challenge the well-rehearsed "head" arrangements of everyone else.
  60. The movie's no roller-coaster ride, but there isn't a boring moment either.
  61. Director John Madden calmly dissects the emotions of a woman whose personal life is effectively nonexistent.
  62. The movie never finds a consistent tone -- the humor is dynamically offbeat, the dramatic moments a bit canned -- but Braff's affection for his misfit characters and skeptical take on how people sell themselves short in America make this the truest generational statement I've seen since "Donnie Darko."
  63. Superlative chiller.
  64. Genuinely sad: few bands have burst onto the scene with such a perfectly realized look, sound, and philosophy or been more trapped by their own meatheaded genius.
  65. This surreal, subversive teen drama tanked at the box office but has since become a cult favorite, prompting this new release with 20 minutes of additional footage.
  66. Director Simon West hits just the right note between self-conscious silliness and real dramatic intensity in this 1997 action thriller, which uses typecast actors to make the characters' one-liners and predictable behavior resonate.
  67. I was haunted afterward by its seething rage at the malicious paternalism and sexual hypocrisy of fundamentalist Christians.
  68. The master principle of film noir -- that everyone is corruptible -- turns a pinwheel of plot complications in this fleet, stylish little crime drama from Mexico.
  69. On paper the story may seem hopelessly contrived -- another nostalgia piece for art-house liberals -- but on-screen it's presented in purely emotional terms, which allows Duigan and his excellent leads to inhabit and ultimately transcend the period.
  70. Turns out to be surprisingly layered.
  71. A runaway hit in Hong Kong, this 2002 crime thriller reinvigorated the genre with its airtight script, taut editing, and sleek cinematography.
  72. Pegg and Wright are out of their depth in the second half, when they try to engage the more disturbing elements of Romero's movies, but their disaffected slacker take on the genre is a welcome alternative to the usual bloodbaths.
  73. Writer-director Pupi Avati has a such a fine sense of narrative proportion that this Italian feature unspools like silk.
  74. More good-natured than Michael Moore, these guys score by raising the issue of just how much their amateur antics exaggerate the neocon principles of the WTO.
  75. The video is narrated by Taylor, who magnanimously presents Newcombe as a Byronic hero, but ultimately proves that the pursuit of success and the pursuit of cool can be equally pointless.
  76. The most powerful and telling image is a black-and-white still of Kerry burying his face in his arms after he threw his ribbons onto the Capitol steps; it's a moment true enough to cost him the presidency.
  77. Captures all the action of a tumultuous season while showing the emotional toll on the players.
  78. A highly entertaining form of ecological agitprop--radical but accessible.
  79. The obviously authentic love these couples shared should settle the question for all but bigots.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Witty, satisfying, and a terrific showcase for the radiant Bening.
  80. A consistently light yet derisive tone, modest production values, and masterful comic timing allow writer-director-star Trey Parker to expose cultural hypocrisies with precision. His performance--in both the movie and the movie within the movie--is dramatic and poker-faced, seamless and hilarious.
  81. So perversely enjoyable it gives the lie to her (Breillat's) image as a serious, politically incorrect purveyor of pornographic instincts.
  82. This moving story is full of breathtaking compositions, gorgeous spectacle, and inspiring philosophies articulated by sympathetic figures.
  83. This is hilarious, deadly stuff, sparked by the cynical gusto of the two leads as well as the fascinating technical display of how TV "documentary evidence" can be digitally manufactured inside a studio.
  84. The story offers lessons in faith and self-esteem; the darker passages of the child's journey are countered by shimmering, cascading beacons of light; and fine period detail adds to the nostalgic glow.
  85. Bear Cub casually pulls off an amazing feat--combining innocent childhood nostalgia and graphic sexuality.
  86. It's hard to deny that Marlon Brando's performance as a dock worker and ex-fighter who finally decides to rat on his gangster brother (Rod Steiger) is pretty terrific.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    If you're a fan of professional bad boy and Spanish gender bender Pedro Almodovar, far be it from me to dissuade you from enjoying this elaborate Chinese-box narrative, which boasts an especially resourceful performance by Gael Garcia Bernal.
  87. Fascinating oddity.

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