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 The Simpsons Movie
Lowest review score: 0 Enough
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. It binds up introductory lessons in music appreciation, Freudian psychology, and fanciful history with a pulp thriller plot.
  2. As LaMotta, Robert De Niro gives a blank, soulless performance; there's so little of depth or urgency coming from him that he's impossible to despise, or forgive, in any but the most superficial way.
  3. It's full of scenic splendors with a fine sense of scale, but its narrative thrust seems relatively pro forma, and I was bored by the battle scenes.
  4. Nothing that suggests an independent vision, unless you count seeing more limbs blown off than usual.
  5. The fun hardens into Fun after he's (Mr. Incredible) lured out of retirement and imprisoned in a remote island compound, though the sleek computer animation is spellbinding as usual.
  6. Streisand is stunning, but the film is a trial, particularly when the music disappears somewhere around the 90-minute mark and all that's left is leaden melodrama.
  7. Graham Greene's screenplay is centered on the pivotal moment when a child first discovers sin, but the boy's perspective is neglected in favor of facile suspense structures and a thuddingly conventional whodunit finale.
  8. This is the apotheosis of Classics Illustrated filmmaking, aiming at nothing more than tasteful reduction, and the fact that it's done so well here doesn't mean that it's necessarily worth doing.
  9. Long, heavy, and not particularly edifying Holocaust drama.
  10. The film is watchable as well as informative...But I wish I had a better notion of what story he's trying to tell.
  11. There are several solid laughs and some excellent supporting performances. But this is a film to be wary of.
  12. It's reasonably well told and well mounted but little more.
  13. A killer ending does not a movie make, and ultimately In the Bedroom may be more interesting to talk about than sit through.
  14. 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.
  15. While the filmmakers manage to keep things interesting (sexy, kinky, and ambiguous) much of the time, the self-conscious piety that Frears lavishes on this material places it in an uncertain netherworld that prevents it from ever becoming fully convincing, even as a stylistic exercise.
  16. I don't see this slightly better-than-average drug thriller, with slightly better-than-average direction by Steven Soderbergh, as anything more than a routine rubber-stamping of genre reflexes.
  17. The key scene -- is typical of the film's fanciful narrative approach but also its grating pretentiousness.
  18. The surface activity keeps one occupied, but never adds up to much because none of the characters is developed beyond the cartoon level; and the snobby sense of knowingness that's over everything is uncomfortably close to what the movie is supposed to be dissecting.
  19. Lonergan's validation of big-minded small-town life has been neatened up to the point of blandness.
  20. The film looks austere and serious, rather as if it had been shot inside a Frigidaire, and the oppressiveness of the images tends to strangle laughter, even at the most absurd excesses of Alvin Sargent's script.
  21. Like the earlier film, this one has an airless quality, much of the action taking place in the hushed and colorless offices of "the Circus." But whereas the dank tone of "Let the Right One In" served to heighten the moments of poignance and shrieking horror, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy begins to seem phlegmatic after a while.
  22. Characters occasionally address the camera, which helps disentangle the competing story lines of madness, adultery, and betrayal.
  23. The performances, especially of Penn and Robbins, are so powerful and detailed (down to the Boston accents) that they often persuade one to overlook the narrative contrivances (particularly the incessant crosscutting), the arty trimmings (including Eastwood's own score), and the dubious social philosophy.
  24. Alexander Payne has won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay (Sideways), but you'd never guess that from this clumsily written drama: characters keep explaining things that their listeners would already know, and the first couple reels are so thick with expository voice-over that you may think you're listening to a museum tour on a set of headphones.
  25. Even though it's scripted by a woman (Kelly Masterson), this tale of buried family resentments rising to the surface as the brothers plot to rob their parents' jewelry store is concerned only with the guys, and it's marred by an uncharacteristically mannered performance by Albert Finney as the father.
  26. The film does offer a good deal of engaging dark humor.
  27. This obsessive movie, awarded the grand jury prize at the Sundance festival, may not quite live up to its advance billing; the subject is powerful, but the filmmaking often seems slapdash, and the final half hour dithers.
  28. A relatively mindless thrill ride that would have made the old NBC execs grin from ear to ear.
  29. As beautifully mounted as this production is, Scorsese has a way of letting the decor take over, so that Wharton's tale of societal constraints comes through only in fits and starts. But it's a noble failure.
  30. There's some striking camerawork by Christopher Doyle (in 35-millimeter) and Rain Kathy Li (in Super-8), though this doesn't alter the overall feeling of random, nihilistic drift.
  31. As a moral reconsideration of the role of violence in previous Eastwood films, this is strong and sure, and characters who play against genre expectations give the film a provocative aftertaste. The only limitation, really, is that the picture hasn't much dramatic urgency apart from its revisionist context.
  32. Doesn't add up to much more than a series of pretty pictures, and Goldsworthy's gnomic statements about the "energy" he perceives in "the plants and the land" are never fully explored.
  33. The script is funny and observant, full of shocks of recognition, but for all his progress as a writer, Allen's direction remains disconcertingly amateurish. Still, it remains perhaps the only film in which Allen has been able to successfully imagine a personality other than his own.
  34. The result is grimly "effective," but it made me long for Hollywood junk.
  35. Gentle, muted film of limited aesthetic ambition.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The nonsensationalistic results are also somewhat ho-hum--and oddly less convincing than Friedkin's lurid mess, let alone the elegant satanism sagas of Tourneur and Polanski.
  36. I seem to be in a distinct minority in finding the satire toothless, obvious, and insufferably glib -- Still, I found genuine pleasure in watching Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere, and John C. Reilly try their hands at singing and dancing.
  37. The script dawdles, and in spite of a good cast--Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton (who's especially resourceful), Bridget Fonda, and Brent Briscoe--the movie tends to amble around its points rather than drive straight toward the heart of the matter.
  38. The overall feel is phantasmagoric--pitched, like most of Maddin's work, in the style of a half-remembered late silent feature or early talkie.
  39. Half-funny mockumentary.
  40. Maybe you'll enjoy it, but don't expect to remember it ten minutes later, or even to believe in the characters while you're watching them.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Mills pulls off the nonchronological structure with uncommon sensitivity; unfortunately, he also confuses sensitivity with preciousness (recurring scenes show the hero confiding in a Jack Russell terrier).
  41. Everyone who likes this movie calls it "disturbing," but what disturbs me most is the self-loathing laughter it provokes, similar to what one often hears at Woody Allen and Michael Moore comedies.
  42. This sort of thing was considered high art not so long ago; now it seems forced and ponderously symbolic.
  43. The three actors manage to get a lot of mileage out of the material: although one never quite believes that Tandy's character is Jewish, she is remarkable in every other respect, and Freeman and Aykroyd are wonderful throughout.
  44. Remains mired in a smart-alecky film-school sensibility.
  45. The results are watchable enough--sometimes funny, sometimes over the top--and fairly fresh, though also a bit calculated.
  46. The project was produced in association with National Geographic World Films, a relationship borne out by the movie's cultural detail, rich earth-toned cinematography (by Falorni), and almost complete lack of dramatic tension.
  47. Unfortunately, as in many such big-screen comic books, the backstory beats the hell out of the present-tense plot.
  48. The efforts to plant this story in a contemporary vernacular are not always successful but the performances are uniformly fine in their adherence to the material, and consistently avoid any vulgarity or showboating.
  49. The material is powerful--one boxer has been accused of a crime and the trial conflicts with a crucial competition--but much of it feels predigested, the themes inadvertently one-dimensional.
  50. Has its awkward and square moments directorially, but it's also uncommonly honest and serious.
  51. Originally a two-part film running about three hours, this treacle has been reduced by almost a third, though it still seems to run on forever -- a bit like life but much less interesting.
  52. The performances are perfectly distilled, but the traits I dislike in Bergman are all here -- self-pity, brutality, spiritual constipation, and an unwillingness to try to overcome these difficulties.
  53. A strong example of the cinema verite style at work, yet few films of the school show up the crisis of its "noninvolvement" policy more tellingly.
  54. Despite some sentimentality and occasional directorial missteps, this is a respectable piece of work--evocative, very funny in spots, and obviously keenly felt. With Francis Capra, Taral Hicks, and Katherine Narducci.
  55. This 1998 film held my interest for two hours, even taking on an epic feel when it turns into a road movie. It's not bad by any means, but it also happens to resemble a lot of other movies.
  56. The film adopts, somewhat insidiously, the myth that life was simpler back in 1953 and '54, and it offers Murrow as a lesson for today.
  57. Like the incessant ringing of cowbells in the first two segments, the film may either hypnotize you or drive you stark staring mad.
  58. Mainly it's marking time: the characters take a definite backseat to the special effects, and much of the action seems gratuitous, leading nowhere.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    It's an interesting experiment Cronenberg's attempted, if ultimately in the wrong direction.
  59. Visually and dramatically it works well - it's Shakespeare by way of "Black Hawk Down" - but as an allegory of modern-day geopolitics it doesn't really go anywhere.
  60. Apart from some unexaggerated notations about American puritanism in the 1940s and '50s, this is more a work of exploration than a thesis, and Condon mainly avoids sensationalism.
  61. Drove violence to the point of redundancy.
  62. Steven Spielberg's mechanical thriller is guaranteed to make you scream on schedule (John Williams's score even has the audience reactions programmed into the melodies), particularly if your tolerance for weak motivation and other minor inconsistencies is high.
  63. Claudel commits the cardinal sin of withholding the full story until the very end, when it spills out in a histrionic scene between the two sisters and largely exonerates the older one.
  64. It's a noble undertaking, and Eastwood is stylistically bold enough to create a view of combat based mainly on images that are clearly manufactured. (As with "Saving Private Ryan," the movie's principal source is "The Big Red One," whose director, Samuel Fuller, actually experienced the war.) But this is underimagined and so thesis ridden that it's nearly over before it starts.
  65. The larger considerations and film noir overtones detract too much from the facts of the case, and what emerges are two effective half-films, each partially at odds with the other.
  66. In short, it's amusing only if you agree not to think very much about it.
  67. The dual-track plot, with constant cutting between mother and daughter, seems less an attempt to establish meaningful parallels between the two stories than the nervous twitches of a compulsive channel changer.
  68. A brave effort to stare down the specter of American failure, it gets off on the wrong foot by pretentiously turning the doomed hero into a Christ figure--a traffic cop with arms extended in crucifixion mode--before the story even gets started.
  69. If you like being shaken up and don't care too much why or how, this is probably for you; Huppert gives her all to the part, and you won't be bored.
  70. Bong's opening and climactic scenes, in which the old woman bops around to a dance tune amid a vast field of yellow grass, are typical of the movie's cockeyed poetry.
  71. Lacks the scariness, the mystery, and even much of the curiosity of Rivette's better work.
  72. Though it easily surpasses most American action flicks, it suffers from the old commercial imperative of making the protagonist a nice guy, something Refn has seldom bothered with in Europe.
  73. You'd have to be a real curmudgeon not to enjoy a show with Ruth Brown, Mavis Staples, Solomon Burke...
  74. I wouldn't have minded even the Hollywood schlock lurking behind the studied weirdness if I'd believed in any of the characters on any level.
  75. For what it is, it's fine.
  76. Breillat may be serious about creating period ambience, but she also can't resist patterning her heroine after Marlene Dietrich's Concha in "The Devil Is a Woman" (even though Argento sometimes suggests Maria Montez in the pleasure she takes in her own company).
  77. The whole thing's so worthy that I wish I liked it more. It makes time pass agreeably, but Square John still seems about as innocent of fresh ideas (aesthetically and otherwise) as most of his characters, and for this kind of leftist multiplot I found his "City of Hope" more engaging.
  78. In some ways, for better and for worse, this is even more about Graysmith (Jake Gyllehaal)--who became obsessed with solving the Zodiac killings that terrorized northern California in the late 60s--than about the murderer.
  79. Disappointingly conventional though well-made...An OK teen movie, but not a whole lot more.
  80. This bright noir, with gleaming cinematography by Jeffrey Jur, is as single-minded as a short story, but the premise is almost too clever.
  81. This curious ecological parable was directed by George Miller (Babe: Pig in the City), who still has an eye and a sense of humor but on this particular outing can't get the script he wrote with three others to make much sense.
  82. About as entertaining as a no-brainer can be--a lot more fun, for my money, than a cornball theme-park ride like "Speed," and every bit as fast moving. But don't expect much of an aftertaste.
  83. This meticulous but ultimately rather pedestrian drama gradually won me over as a minor if watchable example of the "victory through defeat" brand of military heroism that John Ford specialized in.
  84. The film is all but crushed by Tom Cruise's screen-hogging demand that everything collapse and swoon around him. If the star gave us more of a rest, we might have more of a movie.
  85. Part of the minimalist humor growing out of this small-scale event is that they can barely remember anything, because the revolution scarcely made any difference.
  86. Whenever writer-director Oren Moverman moves past these scattered and admittedly voyeuristic moments into the lives of the two soldiers, the movie drifts into received wisdom and unconvincing romance.
  87. The altitude, extreme cold, quicksand, and crushing poverty are potent dramatic elements, but of course there's no mention of China's complicity in the area's economic ills; instead writer-director Lu Chuan frames the story as a showdown between the head ranger and the leader of the poachers.
  88. I enjoyed the invented trailers the directors fold into the mix, but despite the jokey "missing reels," these two full-length features are each 20 minutes longer than they need to be, and neither one makes much sense as narrative.
  89. A standard mix of performances, interviews, and gimmickry -- the image and sound sometimes loop or jump in a tiresomely literal attempt to translate the techniques of scratching and "beat juggling" into cinema.
  90. Director Bob Clark teamed with nostalgic humorist Jean Shepherd for this squeaky clean and often quite funny 1983 yuletide comedy, adapted from Shepherd's novel In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash.
  91. An unholy mess that becomes steadily more incoherent -- morally, dramatically, and conceptually.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The acting is mainly horrendous, the English dialogue frequently awkward, but they're overcome by the beautiful colors and settings and a grim sense of the uncanny spilling over into twisted humor.
  92. Very slickly and glibly put together, with a sharp eye for yuppie decor and accoutrements; even Woody's habitual, fanciful vision of an all-white New York is respected.
  93. Wyler lays out all the elements with care and precision, but the romantic comedy never comes together - it's charm by computer. [Review of re-release]
  94. Sacrifices compelling drama for gratuitous whimsy and big-budget spectacle.
  95. Naturally, age and infirmity are a major subtext of Shine a Light (and, really, any movie featuring Keith Richards). No matter how cadaverous the Stones appear, they keep climbing onstage, and I’ll miss them when they’re finally gone.
  96. This story of a party girl (Audrey Hepburn) in love with a gigolo (George Peppard) allows Edwards to create a very handsome film, with impeccable Technicolor photography by Franz Planer. [Review of re-release]

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