Chicago Reader's Scores

  • Movies
For 4,917 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 4.3 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 Howl's Moving Castle
Lowest review score: 0 Cop Out
Score distribution:
4917 movie reviews
  1. 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.
  2. Ben Affleck directed and cowrote the script; his biggest gamble was casting his irksome little brother as a pistol-whipping tough guy, but the picture is so superbly executed in every other respect that Casey seems more quirky than miscast.
  3. Rob Brown (Stop-Loss) gives a graceful, understated performance as Ernie Davis.
  4. Its brutal take on living under totalitarian rule periodically suggests Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four." Mullan makes the authority figures (such as the nun played by Geraldine McEwan) grimly believable, but as in "Orphans," there are times when he doesn't know when to quit.
  5. Bar-Lev ponders myth in both senses of the word-as a web of lies, but also as a psychological construct that gives life purpose. An atheist and critical thinker, Pat Tillman had no use for either.
  6. An entertainingly offbeat blend of 19th-century science fiction and Hope and Crosby Road comedies.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The ironic twist at the conclusion of this chilling drama underscores the vagaries of human nature--and of the media.
  7. The Warners-style slapstick and gentle Anglophilia charms children and adults alike, but what kills me are the fingerprint ridges that fade in and out of the characters' mugging faces, a reassuring reminder that handmade art can still captivate.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Rick Moranis is properly nerdish as the flower-shop attendant who keeps his carnivorous charge supplied with a steady stream of human plasma, and Ellen Greene makes a good scatterbrained innocent in the ersatz Broadway mold, but the best moments in this 1987 release belong to Dr. Steve Martin as a dentist with a professional yen for pain.
  8. The movie takes as its mantra and organizing principle President Kennedy's observation, during his 1961 speech to the United Nations, that "every man, woman, and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident, or miscalculation, or by madness."
  9. The script by Brannon Braga and Ronald Moore provides all the background necessary for viewers unfamiliar with the characters' previous movie and TV-series exploits, but not so much as to annoy fans.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Kondracki relies on sharp, quotidian detail to show how such atrocities become business as usual; she also makes a point of humanizing the victims of trafficking to emphasize the obscenity of the crimes.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. The 3-D effect is fun: during a thrilling launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, hurtling debris cracks the camera lens, and I found myself checking my goggles for damage.
  13. Based on the real-life exploits of Frank W. Abagnale but played more for myth than believability.
  14. Terry Gilliam's third fantasy feature (1989) may not achieve all it reaches for, but it goes beyond Time Bandits and Brazil in its play with space and time, and as a children's picture offers a fresh and exciting alternative to the Disney stranglehold on the market.
  15. Ronald Bronstein, who wrote and directed the disquieting indie Frownland, steps in front of the cameras for this similarly lo-fi drama, and his loose-limbed performance as the brash, irresponsible father of two young boys establishes him as a genuine triple threat.
  16. It's eminently suitable for children, fully inhabiting their world and finding real laughs there without resorting to sentiment, condescension, or snarky in-jokes for the adults.
  17. A wry, nonjudgmental look at the blind faith and materialistic ambitions permeating the superstitious Indian subculture, though the tone becomes more caustic as the hypocrisy and corruption of colonial politics strip Ganesh of his moral authority. The cast is uniformly excellent.
  18. This low-key romantic comedy proves that destiny-powered love stories can be formulaic without being predictable.
  19. Fortunately, this time around the Ivy League characters project less of a glib sense of entitlement, making them more fun to watch, and Stillman himself gives more evidence of watching rather than simply listening.
  20. Finely calibrated French neonoir.
  21. The movie is truly an open text--its generous poetry inspires free association rather than predictable emotion.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A gripping and carefully calibrated suspense story.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This structure persuasively depicts combat and recovery as two sides of the same struggle, and Dennis strengthens his argument by maintaining a constant perspective throughout: the camera is always within a few feet of the subject.
  24. The result is that virtual oxymoron, an intelligent family film.
  25. It clocks in at over three hours, but Peter Jackson's remake of the 1933 classic is gripping. The film rethinks the characters, turning the original's stark Jungian fantasy into a soulless but skillful set of kinetic and emotional effects.
  26. Screenwriter Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby) has turned the Italian romantic comedy "L'Ultimo Bacio" (2001) into something smarter, funnier, and more penetrating.
  27. Managed to pull the rug out from under me about three-quarters of the way through, and I still hadn't found my feet when the credits rolled.
  28. What's most memorable about it is the period flavor, including a detailed and precise account of the jim crow complications blacks had to contend with.
  29. 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.
  30. Fox keeps the suspense story at a low boil throughout, allowing the politics to emerge as the characters deepen.
  31. A film that throbs with life while keenly noting its passing, this is an ode to the village that welcomed - and let thrive - the director's refugee parents.
  32. 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.
  33. It's good to see a gay relationship treated no differently than a heterosexual one would be.
  34. Kidd has a great ear for dialogue, and he throws in a few unexpected twists. But the real fun is watching an established pro and a newcomer run with the script.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Like Walter Benjamin, Bonello associates this insularity with both innocence and the 19th century; and when, in the final sequence of House of Pleasures, he dispenses with the security exuded by these subjects, the effect is like being shaken violently out of a dream.
  35. As long as Spacey is singing, the movie soars.
  36. A movie to savor.
  37. 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.
    • 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.
  38. This brilliant if unpleasant puzzle without a solution about surveillance and various kinds of denial finds writer-director Michael Haneke near the top of his game, though it's not a game everyone will want to play.
  39. The implied critique of progressive, bohemian parenting is devastating--wise and nuanced, with the painful hilarity of truth.
  40. One can already tell that this film is on to something special during the opening credits.
  41. 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.
  42. Exciting mainly because anything can happen and does, the movie drags a bit as it approaches a climax set atop the Statue of Liberty.
  43. Engrossing and frequently hilarious.
  44. Adapted by Van Sant and Daniel Yost from an unpublished autobiographical novel by James Fogle, this 1989 feature has the kind of stylistic conviction that immediately wins one over.
  45. Period re-creations so rich you can taste them, and the fine cast.
  46. Holiday counterprogramming at its finest. This gut-churning horror indie is based on true stories of tourists disappearing in the vast Australian outback... This scared the hell out of me.
  47. Italian writer-director Emanuele Crialese is best known for the art-house piffle "Respiro" (2002), a sun-kissed fairy tale that didn't prepare me for the weight and solidity of this historical drama about a Sicilian peasant family immigrating to the U.S.
  48. It's a solid indie effort with plenty of nice character strokes by screenwriter Megan Holley and razor-sharp performances by Amy Adams and Emily Blunt.
  49. A singular and essential figure of the Argentinean new wave; [Alonso] is not quite the minimalist some claim, but he can make the simple act of filming feel so monumental that storytelling seems secondary.
  50. By the end theyve acquired a measure of self-knowledge at a cost dearer than they expected, which reminds us that what we think we know can be just the beginning of an existential journey.
  51. Neither PC nor crudely anti-PC, this tough and tender movie, like its characters, is prepared to take emotional risks, and the comic book milieu is deftly sketched in.
  52. 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.
  53. Kwietniowski follows up his impressive debut feature, "Love and Death on Long Island," with this equally absorbing study of a compulsive personality.
  54. The full-throttle approach of director Doug Liman (Swingers, Go) is impressive.
  55. 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.
  56. The detail captured by Kraus's scrupulously neutral camera adds up to a fascinating, fully realized portrait of the man and the job.
  57. Though the film tapers off a little toward the end, there's a climactic scene of recognition between the heroine and her father that was one of the most exquisite pieces of acting I'd seen in ages.
  58. Though it's a good half hour too long, this belated, overblown spin-off of the 60s TV show otherwise adds up to a pretty good suspense thriller.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Jackson's portrait of impotent rage is tremendous, and Affleck, who drops his usual smugness, is surprisingly good.
  59. Well-crafted if relatively impersonal adaptation.
  60. The kids, all real musicians performing, are wonderful, and so is Black; Joan Cusack is both charming and funny as the principal.
  61. Fascinating and instructive throughout.
  62. Played by Ron Perlman, he's the most magnetic action hero I've come across in a long while.
  63. The movie premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival, too soon to include a tragic denouement: in April the U.S. command surrendered the Korangal Valley to the Taliban.
  64. Cillian Murphy gives a tour de force performance.
  65. This absorbing PBS-style documentary by Joseph Dorman follows Aleichem from his early years in the Russian shtetl of Voronko through the pogroms that would drive the Jewish diaspora of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  66. It's a terrific story -- part mystery, part farce, part legal nail-biter -- with a last-minute reversal so bitterly ironic it could have been scripted by Billy Wilder.
  67. A must-see.
  68. Critics, clients, and colleagues all weigh in on the architect, but Pollack is more interested in the mysteries of the creative process, and his studies of Gehry's buildings, deftly edited by Karen Schmeer, capture their dramatic sense of movement and resolution.
  69. The movie is taut with suspense but culminates in wise resignation as the hero comes to understand he's running from a part of himself.
  70. This bracing courtroom thriller is the most entertaining and satisfying John Grisham adaptation I've seen.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The paintings are extraordinary and the 3-D cinematography invites the viewer to get lost in every brushstroke. This is one of the few films to use the format for intellectual, even philosophical ends: the added depth parallels the deeper understanding of humanity that the paintings inspire.
  71. The characters are so vivid that the suspense never lags. Crowe is best in buttoned-down roles like this one, and he holds the husband's fear and resolve in balance.
  72. Lorna's sudden change of heart is a pointed example of what the Dardenne brothers' movies are all about. Capitalism may seem at times like a raging river, but every day, all over the world, people try to make it flow in the opposite direction.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Directed by George Bamber from a witty screenplay by David Vernon, it veers between screwball farce and feel-good sitcom.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Gene Hackman excels in Francis Ford Coppola's tasteful, incisive 1974 study of the awakening of conscience in an "electronic surveillance technician."
  73. Although most of the elements are familiar and virtually all of the characters are unpleasant, this is a better than average melodrama--mainly because of the volcanic power of Kathy Bates in the title role.
  74. Apatow became the hottest comedy director in the business by seamlessly combining relationship comedy that didn't bore the guys and wild comedy that didn't nauseate the girls; this is a knockoff, pure and simple, but its wit and ingenuous characters prove how far the bar's been raised.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The action sequences are expert studies in controlled chaos.
  75. 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.
  76. Kelly is a supple and courageous storyteller, boldly free-associating as he mixes parody and satire with earnest psychodrama and coming up with plot points no one could anticipate.
  77. Chan-wook Park completes his "revenge trilogy" with this ravishing black comedy about a notorious child killer.
  78. 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.
  79. Fannish but intelligent chronicle of indie pop band They Might Be Giants.
  80. Wonderful first feature.
  81. 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.
  82. 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.
  83. This melancholy romance is the first Almodovar feature I’ve ever really liked, an expertly fashioned melodrama that steers mercifully clear of his usual puckishness and star-mongering.
  84. Robert Duvall, who played a similar character in Bruce Beresford's "Tender Mercies" (1983), turns up in a supporting role.
  85. While the outcome is never really in doubt, director Frederic Fonteyne illuminates the wife's inner world with a rich sense of atmosphere, and Emmanuelle Devos' riveting performance manages to convey every shift in her character's suppressed emotional life with the subtlest of gestures and expressions.
  86. The problem with these feats is that they threaten to overwhelm the film's content, both as complex historical commentary and as aesthetic and theoretical gesture.
  87. After trying her hand at Thackeray with "Vanity Fair," director Mira Nair has found a literary property much closer to her heart: Jhumpa Lahiri's best-selling novel about a Bengali couple and their children trying to find their place in American culture.
    • 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."

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