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 Far From Heaven
Lowest review score: 0 Transylmania
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. Intriguing but poorly executed ideas are the basis of this not entirely unappealing romantic comedy.
  2. 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.
  3. Cathartically disgusting adventure movie.
  4. Awkward storytelling and spotty exposition reduce it to a string of rude shocks--not even the eventual denouement provides a lucid enough account of where this is all coming from.
  5. The plot of this PG action thriller, a remake of the 2002 Danish film Klatretosen, is so full of holes that even middle schoolers might give it the raspberry, but a bigger problem is the three leads' lack of on-screen chemistry.
  6. For a filmmaker like Julie Taymor, Shakespeare's language isn't nearly as enticing as Prospero's violent manipulation of the elements, and this screen adaptation of the play-like her egregious Beatles movie "Across the Universe" (2007)-is primarily an exercise in eccentric (and, I would argue, empty) spectacle.
  7. After nine years, Duffy has coughed up a sequel, and like the first movie it's energetic, proudly juvenile, and reverently derivative.
  8. To boost this movie's rating to "worth seeing" would make me feel like a publicist or simply a dope.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    A soporific ghost story.
  9. The panoramic backgrounds have a silky beauty, but the characters are cheaply rendered with doll faces, enlarged musculature, tiny joints, and clunky movement. It's like watching Max Headroom lead his people out of Egypt.
  10. The grad student and her boyfriend (Marc Blucas) are blandly written and the story never develops any psychological depth; the paranormal explanation for what's going on is equally slight.
  11. A murky, directionless plot sinks this big-budget fantasy despite Martin Laing's elaborate production design; the dark, industrial-looking sets often recall "Brazil" but without that film's thrilling sense of an imagination run amok.
  12. 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.
  13. Director Niall Johnson struggles to find the proper tone: the serial murders aren't horrible enough to be funny, and the characters don't respond as if they're horrible at all. As a result the black humor thins into gray fog.
  14. Director Adam Shankman (Bringing Down the House) can't block a sight gag to save his life.
  15. This motorcycle melodrama is so stupid that during the press screening my colleagues' laughter threatened to drown out the roar of the engines.
  16. This remake is interesting mainly for the chance to see top-flight acting talent labor over dialogue so leaden you could cast bullets from it.
  17. Jaglom's 14th consists of his usual weakly improvised relationship comedy.
  18. Director Bruce Beresford -- not intending to be funny but succeeding wildly.
  19. A deeply stupid and offensive action comedy-romance.
  20. Keith is an awkward, galumphing presence, but he's more fun to watch than Kelly Preston as the girl's uptight mother.
  21. Though we are largely spared Leonard Nimoy's stentorian presence as a performer, we must endure his miscalculations as a director: the dialogue scenes are often hilariously turgid; the action scenes—when Nimoy can be bothered to descend from his podium and film them—are zanily maladroit.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    The narrative decays more quickly than the characters.
  22. Two generic ideas amount to nothing in this theatrical dark comedy about violence and information overload.
  23. When the story finally collapses in a heap at the end, you'll probably want your money back, but that's where the title comes in: "Next!"
  24. I'm usually a sucker for courtroom dramas, but Rob Reiner's highly mechanical filming by numbers of Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of his own cliched and fatuous Broadway play kept putting me to sleep.
  25. Loaded with facile social themes, opaque characters, pointlessly intricate flashbacks, and inflated technique.
  26. The drama is torpid, the astronomy lessons pedantic, and the spear-and-sandal production values flat-out cheesy. The whole thing is also historically ludicrous.
  27. The movie's repeated attempts to combine seriousness and humor as in a blender give it a dysfunctionally earnest tone.
  28. Though some of his one-liners are pretty good, his shtick can't sustain this dutifully scripted comedy. Megyn Price, who's done time on the sitcom Grounded for Life, is a welcome distraction as the waitress with a crush on Larry.
  29. The video is heavy on actors and other showbiz types, and the self-centered Gurwitch doesn't distinguish between a factory worker laid off after decades on the job and an actor getting rejected during tryouts.
  30. 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.
  31. The villainous turns by Jon Voight (as a hard-hearted Mormon bishop) and Terence Stamp (as a bloodthirsty Brigham Young) would have been more fun if they weren't part of such a clumsy campaign to lay this tragedy at the church's doorstep.
  32. German supermodel Uschi Obermaier slept with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and all we get is this lousy biopic.
  33. Aside from the waste of a talented cast, the only thing that really caught my attention was the tomblike silence of the audience--at least until the bong jokes started.
  34. With so many dubious elements at play, even the half-good ideas get lost in the shuffle.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    Packed with gung ho war-movie clichés and subpar shock-and-awe visual effects, this terminally stupid sci-fi adventure pits an army of tentacled aliens piloting "Transformer"-style robots against a platoon of stoic warriors from the Fifth Marines' Second Battalion.
  35. Contrasting the erotic with the disgusting is usually provocative and can be funny, but not in this underdog comedy.
  36. The paltry theme is that we can't predict the future, but I spent part of the time calculating how many more feeble movies Allen will make, based on his productivity rate (one per year), his batting average (four duds for every success), his current age (74), and his father's longevity (Martin Konigsberg lived to be 100). Are you ready for 20 more remakes of "Manhattan"?
    • 24 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    The result is TV flavored, less a narrative than a haphazard succession of vignettes populated by crude stereotypes instead of credible characters.
  37. If you can swallow one more amnesia plot and one more recycling of favorite bits from Godard's Bande a part, pressed to serve yet another postmodernist antithriller about redemption, this has its compensations.
  38. Delivers state-of-the-art freeway thrills tenuously held together by an absurd plot, cheap but pretty leads (Martin Henderson, Monet Mazur), diner and gas station locations that look like they've been preserved in amber since the 1950s, and plenty of engine porn.
  39. The mirthlessly sadistic gags tend to target people in wheelchairs or hospital beds and betray a mild if all-encompassing disgust for the source material and the audience.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. As "Saw" demonstrated, Wan and Whannell have a carnivalesque sense of fun and a sure instinct for recycling classic horror tropes, but their characters are so flat and their plotting so listless that this low-budget feature fails to generate much suspense.
  43. Good movie roles have generally eluded her (Agnes Bruckner), and she labors in vain to keep this big-studio horror confection alive.
  44. Overwrought indie crime drama.
  45. I'm a fan of director Bob Odenkirk, but my high hopes for this comedy were dashed by screenwriters Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, and Michael Patrick Jann, all alumi of "Reno 911"!
  46. The film's hatred of Ricci and Channing and its affectionate tolerance of the hero's mousy hypocrisy and his mentor's negativity are familiar Allen motifs, but the faint echoes of his best work only make this one seem grimmer.
  47. Soporific comedy.
  48. This is no restoration but a revision...If there's a difference in overall quality, I'm unaware of it. Dave Kehr calls this 1979 feature "an empty-headed horror movie with nothing to recommend it beyond the disco-inspired art direction and some handsome if gimmicky cinematography.
  49. Written and directed by Tom Six--who doesn't seem to realize that movie theaters rely on popcorn sales--this nasty stuff plays like a cross between "Saw," "Naked Lunch," and "Bride of the Monster."
  50. Paul Bartel's "Death Race 2000" is a beloved camp item, but this slick, loud, violent remake is pitched at the video game crowd.
    • 19 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    There are fascinating moments... but these are overshadowed by an endless stream of sound bites and pep talks to volunteers.
  51. Everything wrong with today's hipster comedy seems to coalesce in this toothless satire.
  52. You can't be both political and incoherent, and even though Kelly's models are "Kiss Me Deadly" and "Blade Runner," this vision of the near-future suggests a random blend of "Dr. No" and "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!"
  53. As the title of this splatter comedy by writer-director Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator) indicates, he's like a bug stuck to her windshield, and that's about the level of humanity and insight one can expect here.
  54. Whether you want to trace this romance back to "La Strada" or Allen's marriage to Soon-Yi Previn is your business, but on-screen it never registers as more than a writer's conceit.
  55. Platinum-selling singer Usher is one hell of a clotheshorse, but he's too amiable to be convincing as a leading man--not that anyone is particularly believable in this feeble comedy.
  56. Torturously dull.
  57. Abysmal thriller.
  58. For me the film creates more embarrassment than sympathy, but at least it's a kind of embarrassment that's instructive.
  59. This is funny mostly for its brazen disregard of common sense.
  60. To her credit, Bello makes a real commitment to this spiteful, self-absorbed character, though the credibility she generates through sheer force of will is no match for the gimmicky plot twist that arrives at the story’s midpoint and sends the movie spinning off into stupid-land.
  61. The very idea of handing him over to professional lad Guy Ritchie (who directed Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), to be played as a punch-throwing quipster by Robert Downey Jr., is so profoundly stupid one can only step back in dismay.
  62. Ferrell and Reilly get more mileage out of juvenile pouting and bickering than any other performers I can imagine, but that's about as far as this goes.
  63. Jarmusch makes some effort to deliver on the promise of suspense near the end, with de Bankole stalking despicable businessman Bill Murray at his fortresslike compound in the hills.
  64. Fast-paced editing doesn't compensate for unconvincing dialogue.
  65. This terrible live-action comedy based on Jay Ward cartoons has its moments and its near misses.
  66. Despite a certain grace in the dialogue and casual plot construction, this is positively reeking of a desire to be cheerful in the face of adversity.
  67. As satire it's toothless and at times close to incoherent; its predictable swipes are aimed equally at conservative racists and bleeding-heart liberals.
  68. Ryan, barely refining her "When Harry Met Sally" persona, is a dud; Annette Bening, playing the best friend who sells her out to a tabloid, is better in the scenes she doesn't share with her.
  69. Every effect is so calculated that only the conscious minds of filmmakers and viewers are engaged--and not by very much or for very long.
  70. This may not be as ill considered as it sounds--some of the sharpest material in Rock's last concert special, "Never Scared," dealt with the eternal conflict between men and women--but his crowd-pleasing gags tend to clash with Rohmer's sly moral comedy.
  71. Misogynistic claptrap about a divorced husband (Dustin Hoffman) fighting for the custody of and learning to cope with his little boy (Justin Henry) - a movie whose classy trimmings (including Nestor Almendros's cinematography) persuaded audiences to regard writer-director Robert Benton as a subtle art-house director.
  72. The orgy of violence, as ghastly as in any video game, should go a long way toward erasing whatever goodwill Stallone earned with his sentimental "Rocky Balboa."
  73. There are a few pretty good design effects en route, but not enough to compensate for all the embarrassments.
  74. By the end, when Moore presents himself as a lone crusader for justice and wraps yellow crime-scene tape around the AIG building, his reasoning is so muddled that he can’t distinguish an economic system (corporate capitalism) from a political one (representative democracy).
  75. Director Ry Russo-Young, who cowrote the script with Schnabel, is gunning for a big generational statement, but her ordnance is strictly small bore.
  76. Even 82 minutes seems an eternity...The net effect is weirdly reminiscent of taking part in any online community, where a "relationship" is more like a juxtaposing of egos.
  77. Underneath the wrapping lies a squalid Tarantino-style crime flick.
  78. This 2005 farce about a hellish Passover seder panders to middle-class Jews as gleefully as Tyler Perry's movies pander to middle-class African-Americans, though there's less religiosity and a greater degree of self-hatred in the vulgar stereotypes.
  79. The unfocused story is so bereft of any clear sense of period or location that the political melodrama sometimes seems to be taking place inside a cigar box.
  80. Robert Altman's busy, detailed mise-en-scene, flattened cartoon-style through space-compacting long lenses, does capture some of the frenetic atmosphere of the Fleischer cartoons, but it tends to crowd out, and neutralize, the story values.
  81. A watered-down satire of the pharmaceutical industry.
  82. Tsai's obvious disgust at the sex is part of what makes the film so unpleasant; he remains a brilliant original, but this is a parody of his gifts.
  83. Sally Field's direction is pedestrian, though she does manage to get winning performances out of Driver and Eisenberg.
  84. At first I thought this was a Michael Haneke knockoff, but it's more depressing and less edifying than most of those narrative experiments, which is why I eventually tuned it out.
  85. In this inept thriller...the script is a coloring book, and the director's careful to stay within the lines.
  86. Spike Lee's fans have learned to take the bad with the good, but this is pretty damn bad.
  87. There's some cute stuff involving Hanks and some teenagers who tool around campus on scooters, but an utter lack of chemistry between him and Roberts dooms the movie.
  88. The film itself regresses, starting in the present and winding up with a cautionary ending that evokes the hokiest SF movies of the 50s.
  89. This is one dull party.
  90. 80 minutes of formulaic unpleasantness isn't even close to my idea of a good time, and I doubt that Hitchcock himself could have done very much with Mark L. Smith's script.
  91. More of the same, though a lot coarser than its immediate predecessor, and the characters and situations have now calcified to the point where they're simply sitcom staples.
  92. Contrived, sentimental, tonally bipolar, and as predictable as clockwork.
  93. 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.
  94. The funny-looking kids steal every scene from Lawrence, simply by virtue of being funny-looking kids.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    Smug and unconvincing.

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