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 Before Sunset
Lowest review score: 0 The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. A tiresome 1998 rip-off of The Hustler, with poker (in a New York Russian Mafia milieu) taking the place of pool, Matt Damon taking over for Paul Newman, and John Malkovich's scenery chewing supplanting Jackie Gleason's self-effacement.
  2. Their splashy gore is more convincing than this incompetent horror-comedy's attempt to mock bourgeois high school dissoluteness without appearing judgmental.
  3. Essentially a one-trick pony.
  4. This movie's story must have been computer generated along with its animation.
  5. It's almost always night and almost always raining.
  6. When the cast is shown during the final credits repeatedly cracking up in blown takes, one would like to think they were laughing at some of the lines they were expected to deliver.
  7. As satire it's toothless and at times close to incoherent; its predictable swipes are aimed equally at conservative racists and bleeding-heart liberals.
  8. The message must have got lost somewhere in the plot twists of this would-be topical thriller about the power of hearsay on a college campus.
  9. Suspense is fairly effective until it's stretched to the point of monotony.
  10. There are a few pretty good design effects en route, but not enough to compensate for all the embarrassments.
  11. The majesty of the landscape and the sweetness of a plot strand about the horse learning survival skills from a 12-year-old girl might have been more intriguing without the cloying voice-over.
  12. This ambiguously pitched comedy--its idea of sexy humor is a cheerleader farting--shoots for camp without bothering with satire.
  13. The script...and Rob Reiner's direction...bristle with phoniness.
  14. By the time the manic camera slows down to reveal the back stories of the characters, everyone's motives are either moot or redundant.
    • 16 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    Writer-producer Paul Kimatian was once a still photographer for Martin Scorsese, who reportedly encouraged him to write this Italian-American soap opera. Given its tired dialogue, predictable situations, and vicious street fighting, Scorsese may wish he'd kept his mouth shut.
  15. Exploits all the cliches about shrewish women and pussy-whipped men without achieving satire.
  16. Kasi Lemmons directed this tepid thriller, whose only genuinely creepy aspect is its cavalier and uninformed use of mental illness and classical music to heighten the meager suspense.
  17. Intriguing but poorly executed ideas are the basis of this not entirely unappealing romantic comedy.
  18. If you're an 11-year-old boy at heart, this is undoubtedly even better than the pile of dinosaur shit in Jurassic Park.
  19. Slow, arty thriller.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    The narrative decays more quickly than the characters.
  20. Viewers have almost two hours to become thoroughly disgusted.
  21. Laughless, brainless, styleless, and clueless.
  22. The end justifies the means as long as everything turns out OK for the not-too-obedient American soldier and everyone else who enjoys Coca-Cola.
  23. Would have proved the point if it weren't so mechanically scripted.
  24. In this inept thriller...the script is a coloring book, and the director's careful to stay within the lines.
  25. Two generic ideas amount to nothing in this theatrical dark comedy about violence and information overload.
  26. Poorly acted, over-the-top, and generally out-of-control bloodbath.
  27. Humorless, lugubrious, and interminable.
  28. In nearly every scene of her dangerously underwritten role, Diaz has a mouthful of cliches.
  29. The story, which is even dumber than it sounds, is told in flashback.
  30. Boring, irksome family movie.
  31. The movie's repeated attempts to combine seriousness and humor as in a blender give it a dysfunctionally earnest tone.
  32. The plot is largely a series of excuses for one-liners expertly delivered by Maguire, making all the hatred, maiming, and killing seem like digressions.
  33. For the first 100 minutes or so I found this hokey but serviceable; after that my watch became more meaningful than anything I could locate on-screen.
  34. Thomas is a couch potato as well as a recluse, and a terminal bore to boot. The women, real and simulated, are only slightly more interesting, and then only when they talk back.
  35. Smug, uninsightful light drama.
  36. Slick and effective escapism with a touch of poetry (a la "The Sixth Sense") that left me vaguely dissatisfied once the mystery was supposedly resolved.
  37. Conveys little sense of a connection, as if di Florio had made it mainly because she had access to a celebrity.
  38. One more sluggish, artfully framed thriller with Rembrandt lighting set in a New York borough--a kind of picture that's awfully hard to do in a fresh manner.
  39. Ultimately the movie is alluring and respectful--its sadness may be what saves it from becoming sensationalist or trite.
  40. Makes for a tiresome antidrama populated mainly by unambiguously good characters who might as well be invulnerable.
  41. Another virtual-reality SF movie -- and you're not likely to care.
  42. Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn are too good for this embarrassing remake.
  43. If misery were inherently interesting, this adaptation starring Emily Watson and Robert Carlyle as a couple plagued by alcoholism and child mortality might be too.
    • 16 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    An exercise in robotic filmmaking.
  44. Proves that the Disney people can sell just about anything--including a misogynistic celebration of big business and prostitution.
  45. I haven't seen the original, and this mishmash -- doesn't make me want to.
  46. Unlike Michael Jordan, this 45-minute large-format movie demonstrates mostly unrealized potential.
  47. Muddled attempt at edgy comedy.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    What matters most is feeding white-bread fantasies (the film is set in the slow-footed 50s, when blacks are only a rumor and nobody's ever heard of slam 'n' jam) and laying on the inspirational corn.
  48. Malkovich is severely miscast as a heartless and conniving thug admired by the hero (apparently Charles Grodin was busy), and Hopper, in a paper-thin role, barely registers.
  49. Initially tolerable but increasingly stupid thriller.
  50. Frantic and unfunny.
  51. A kind of idealist fantasy that seems almost hamstrung by its plot.
  52. The whole movie feels stiff and awkward whenever the actors stop chasing each other long enough to talk.
  53. This is a complete mess, making up its story logic as it goes along, though in contrast to the sluggish "Shanghai Knights" its chief problem is having too many ideas instead of too few.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    The effects are just as delirious this time around, but the nightmare poetry has vanished, along with the sense of archetypal purpose and narrative inevitability that held the jack-in-the-box original together.
  54. This bleak little drama started as a play, and I'd bet that even onstage it felt contrived.
  55. May be amusing if you feel a pressing need to feel superior to somebody, but the aim is too broad and scattershot to add up to much beyond an acknowledgment of small-town desperation--something Sherwood Anderson and Sinclair Lewis did much better back in the 20s and 30s.
  56. Contrasting the erotic with the disgusting is usually provocative and can be funny, but not in this underdog comedy.
  57. This all-day sucker put me to sleep -- though it's possible I retreated out of self-defense.
  58. Loaded with facile social themes, opaque characters, pointlessly intricate flashbacks, and inflated technique.
  59. Cathartically disgusting adventure movie.
  60. Compels questions about Kinski's bravado and artistry, and suggests that it might not always be easy to distinguish his from Herzog's.
  61. The direction is so muted and sentimental and the pacing so soporific that only Ciarian Tanham's saturated color cinematography of the sylvan countryside breaks the monotony.
  62. People frequently cover the camera lens with their hands or refer to the "documentary" being filmed, as if to assure us that what we're seeing is real.
  63. After loosening us up with some irresistible shtick that rigorously fulfills genre expectations, the movie subtly, systematically begins to break down familiar tropes in the depiction of attractiveness, attraction, and heterosexual courtship.
  64. The concept was interesting and charming in "Love Letters," up to a point, but here it quickly becomes repetitive, obvious, and dull.
  65. Fast-paced editing doesn't compensate for unconvincing dialogue.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    Fans of director Lynne Ramsay's first movie, the bleak “Ratcatcher,” won't be surprised that this little existential exercise makes “The Strangef” look like a funwagon.
  66. The kind of ugly-duckling role that's long been ironic for her (Bullock).
  67. This motorcycle melodrama is so stupid that during the press screening my colleagues' laughter threatened to drown out the roar of the engines.
  68. A blandly twisting plot with no meaningful revelations or substantial themes.
  69. It has its moments, but not many, and generally speaking it runs neck and neck with Dune as the least successful and least interesting Lynch feature.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    Suffers from clumsy acting (mainly Hispanic amateurs), an obvious screenplay by Paul Laverty, and a simplistic view of the characters.
  70. Though it's meant as a droll comedy of manners, what emerges is mincing, crabbed, and petty.
  71. Bland comedy romance. Grant and Bullock fail to put across the tired dialogue, and many scenes seem ad-libbed--in desperation.
  72. Even the most shocking elements of the story are made bland by childish overkill.
  73. This comedy-thriller that has no particular motive for changing tones.
  74. It's an utter waste of Watts; there's not a trace here of the talent on display in Mulholland Drive, perhaps because the script doesn't bother to give her a character.
  75. To call this campy would be charitable.
  76. Sally Field's direction is pedestrian, though she does manage to get winning performances out of Driver and Eisenberg.
  77. The thin story covering her acquisition of one wave after another while narrowly escaping death time and again is strictly for player one.
  78. This kind of wheel spinning comes from having the desire to speak but nothing much to say, and Smith, who's made a slight movie about his being a slight filmmaker, seems to know this.
  79. It’s a heart-tugging scenario undermined by a striking hypocrisy: obscuring a hot-button issue in casting, some actors with Down's syndrome have minor roles, while Penn plays the lead -- and chews the scenery.
  80. The film is far too appreciative of its own jokes to let the audience discover anything on its own.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    This frantic sequel finds the diaper-obsessed heroes and their foolish parents marooned on a desert island, where they encounter the family from a more charming Nickelodeon cartoon.
  81. So stale and complacent that it could be a rerun of "Love American Style."
  82. Watching this quick-buck sequel was about as pleasant as having my wisdom teeth pulled.
  83. This terrible live-action comedy based on Jay Ward cartoons has its moments and its near misses.
  84. Like Robert Altman's "M*A*S*H" this has a banquet scene posed like The Last Supper, but the basic idea--toothless satire trimming a dull star party--reminded me more of "Ready to Wear."
    • 54 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    The music could have been better in this spineless drama, which has several angles but no perspective.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    With this odd mixture of elements the film's tone is gloomy, portentous, and hysterical, yet at the same time strangely earnest and square, as if David Lynch had tried to somehow make a movie version of Scientific American.
  85. I don't know the actual budget of this adventure yarn, but it feels like a middle-range effort whose heart is with the bargain-basement offerings of yesteryear.
  86. More of the abundant sight gags and slips of the tongue originate in bathrooms and bedrooms than are actually set there.
  87. Must have been slapped together fast: live-action stunts created by uninspired editing lead up to computer-generated imagery that's just as lame.
  88. Ritchie may be skilled at generating controlled chaos, but his surprise-a-minute strategy ultimately holds no surprises; Snatch is even more frenetically boring than his 1999 "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels."
  89. Most of the action in this 2001 indie drama takes place on computer screens, with grainy faces framed by sharp little boxes; the 21st-century conceit is topical enough but the characters and their problems couldn't be more stale.
  90. If your kids are fans there's probably no escaping this installment.

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