Chicago Reader's Scores

  • Movies
For 5,295 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 4.8 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 Bamako
Lowest review score: 0 Evita
Score distribution:
5295 movie reviews
  1. It's as if Russ Meyer had made "Death Wish III" with an adenoidal cast, though it isn't that good.
  2. Sidney Lumet's wired-up, hysterical direction overwhelms the minor pleasures of Ira Levin's play.
  3. Levinson's dialogue feels fresh and improvised, yet it hits its mark every time, and the performances he gets are complex and original (particularly from Mickey Rourke, who plays a lothario with a late-blooming conscience) - enough so that Levinson's occasional forced "cinematic" effects cause barely a ripple in the smooth, naturalistic surface.
  4. Craven seems to have set out to make a bad movie, and he's succeeded.
  5. The film has no qualities beyond its formal polish--and its careful avoidance (or rather, displacement) of the moral and political issues involved can seem too crafty, too convenient.
  6. Warren Beatty's shapely 1981 epic, based on the life of radical journalist John Reed, is a stunningly successful application of a novelistic aesthetic—a film that makes full and thoughtful use of its three-and-a-half-hour length to develop characters, ideas, and motifs with a depth seldom seen in movies.
  7. For all of its simplemindedness and deck stacking, the film is distressingly well made—Pollack is no artist, but he has a glistening technique (there aren't many American directors left who know how to plan their shots for such smooth cutting) and a strong sense of how to hold, cajole, and gratify an audience.
  8. Burt Reynolds showed signs of becoming a very personal filmmaker with this police thriller, his third outing as a director. It has the wistful faith in innocence and the extreme moral outrage of Gator coupled with the subversive infantilism of The End; what Reynolds lacks in technique (which is plenty) is nearly compensated for by the almost embarrassing intensity of his feelings. The context is extremely violent, which makes the intimate moments—between Reynolds and the girl and Reynolds and his buddies—stand out in agonizingly stark relief.
  9. The film exudes complacency and self-congratulation; it is a very cowardly, craven piece of ersatz art.
  10. What's left is a curiously disconnected illustration of American racism, which nevertheless fails to realize the power and irony inherent in its pop-Marxist analysis.
  11. Parents may not approve of this dark, violent 1981 children's film, which is what makes it such a good one. The film is resolutely, passionately antiadult, yet much of the humor has an adult sophistication and edge to it; this is one kids' movie that doesn't condescend.
  12. The visual style--the orange-and-blue color scheme, the elegant 'Scope compositions, the graceful tracking shots, and the shrewd use of shallow focus--has been reproduced almost perfectly from John Carpenter's original, yet the wit and intelligence are gone.
  13. It's rich, stimulating thought in spite of itself. Lots of elegant clothes and settings, weirdly linked to a shock rhythm of tension and release. It's a movie dream turned into a movie nightmare, a wonderful idea the film doesn't know it has.
  14. Classy and lifeless - a prettily photographed, heavily directed antiwar film.
  15. Lawrence Kasdan's 1981 noir fable is highly derivative in its overall conception, but it finds some freshness in its details. All in all, this evokes the spirit of James M. Cain more effectively than the 1981 remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice did.
  16. It's a failure, less because the odd stylistic mix doesn't take (it does from time to time, and to striking effect) than because Landis hasn't bothered to put his story into any kind of satisfying shape.
  17. The film never transcends the racist, sexist, neofascist implications of its base material, but it works entertainingly within them, and even manages a bit of auto-analysis in John Candy's ironic, adolescent narration of the "Den" episode. Better than it had to be, for which some honor is due.
  18. So little care has gone into the characterizations, the structure, and the situations that the film merely feints at significant comedy.
  19. The movie is never less than entertaining, but it fails to satisfy—it gives us too little of too much. Oddly, much of its pleasure is in the acting, which up to this point hadn't been Carpenter's strong suit: Donald Pleasence, Adrienne Barbeau, and Harry Dean Stanton offer excellent turns.
  20. The live sets by X, Black Flag, the Circle Jerks, the Germs, and Fear, recorded between December 1979 and May 1980, still thunder after all these years; unfortunately so do the scene's racism, queer baiting, and utter despair.
  21. Glen's style...goes for the measured and elegant over the flashy and excessive.
  22. Bill Murray is the star of this pleasant 1981 comedy, but the late-60s values he incarnates (skepticism, spontaneity, antiauthoritarianism) are seriously out of step with the values of director Ivan Reitman, who prefers conformity, loyalty, and even something a little like patriotism. As a result the second banana of this service comedy, the affable Harold Ramis, becomes its genuine dramatic center: his struggles to keep his buddy Bill in line have a strange urgency and poignance.
  23. The film excels as a visual exercise, as a study in adolescent psychology, and even as astute political analysis (it's the dragon who holds the fiefdom together).
  24. John Cleese, Peter Ustinov, Robert Morley, and Muppet creator Jim Henson make cameo appearances, but they're all upstaged by an uncredited Peter Falk, whose monologue on a park bench opposite Kermit the Frog is an exercise in virtuoso daffiness.
  25. With his perfect pacing, elegant narrative design, and depth of characterization, Richard Lester has made as good a matinee movie as could be imagined: it's a big, generous, beautifully crafted piece of entertainment, with the distinctive Lester touch in the busy backgrounds and the throwaway dialogue.
  26. Travels fast and straight down a linear plot, and the ceaseless rush quickly becomes monotonous.
  27. John Boorman's 1981 retelling of the Arthurian legends is a continuation of the thematic thrust and visual plan of his Exorcist II, though the failure of that bold, hallucinatory, and flawed film seems to have put Boorman into partial retreat.
  28. The film slides into its situation in a clever, fresh way, and the balance of wit and horror is well maintained throughout, though Sayles's decision to divide up the protagonist's chores among four main characters costs him something in the intensity of audience identification.
  29. One of the most technically proficient of David Cronenberg's early gnawing, Canadian-made horror movies, though it lacks both the logic and the queasy sexual subtext that made his still earlier work - "Rabid," "They Came From Within" - so memorably revolting.
  30. There isn't a lucid moment in it (and much of the dialogue is rendered unintelligible by Russell's subversive direction), but it has dash, style, and good looks, as well as the funniest curtain line since Some Like It Hot.

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