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 3.9 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 (500) Days of Summer
Lowest review score: 0 Saw II
Score distribution:
4911 movie reviews
  1. 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.
  2. Director Jonathan Demme's farcical and broad 1988 comedy, written by Barry Strugatz and Mark R. Burns, doesn't really work, but there are plenty of enjoyable compensations.
  3. Though frustratingly superficial and shot through a nostalgic, rose-colored lens, this enthralling 2010 doc opens a wider window on forgotten world of burlesque shows than anything I've previously seen.
  4. There's some excellent comedy early on involving the mutual incomprehension of Africans and Americans, though this eventually gives way to solemn, ethnocentric mush about one African's reading of the story of Jesus, demonstrating as usual that sustained subtlety is hardly Spielberg's forte.
  5. Lacks the scariness, the mystery, and even much of the curiosity of Rivette's better work.
  6. The script by producer David Franzoni, John Logan, and William Nicholson is serviceable but not exactly inspired.
  7. 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.
  8. There are some striking visuals and Hartnett is a magnetic presence.
  9. Helms's screen persona-the stiff-necked nerd who triumphs through sheer doggedness-is heavily reminiscent of Harold Lloyd's, though Lloyd was handsome and endearing enough to succeed as a romantic lead.
  10. Wears its art, as well as its heart, on its sleeve -- so much so that I feel guilty for not liking it more.
  11. Storper is pretty good at playing with and against certain western cliches in his treatment of the good guys (including Annette Bening's character), but resorts to pure cliche when it comes to the villians (e.g., Gambon and James Russo).
  12. A mainly routine Hong Kong action film from fleet and floppy-haired action hero Jackie Chan. It's light on plot and character, but the stunts are well staged.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    If you can tolerate the overbearing music (think John Williams at his most manipulative), this is relatively painless, thanks to a lighthearted tone and some energetic lead performances.
  13. Foreigners who argue that Americans are Neanderthal savages can point to this movie as persuasive evidence.
  14. Whether the story's bald ironies are historical cliches or just dramatic ones, they convey only platitudes about gender, sexuality, and power.
  15. At 116 minutes, it's a test not of speed but endurance.
  16. Soggy and predictable screenplay.
  17. The action is exciting, but the rapid-fire narration jumps around too quickly, making it difficult to keep straight the personalities meant to hold the film together.
  18. If the Disney animated original (1961) -- adapted from Dodie Smith's novel -- tried to approximate live action, this 1996 Disney live-action remake often tries to evoke cartoon.
  19. Vigilant viewers may spend many of the 101 minutes fixating on tiny holes in the plot, but I was busy being moved by the premise and the filmmakers' confidence in the power of their metaphor: a little boy who's disappointed in the man he grew up to be.
  20. Formulaic but fairly well-done.
  21. I kind of liked this slow, stoner comedy.
  22. A pleasure.
  23. Unafraid to look absurd but lacks the self-conviction needed to come off as camp.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    RED
    The film preserves many of Ellis's amoral one liners (best delivered by Malkovich and by Richard Dreyfuss as one of the villains), though as in much of his writing, the fun is discolored by a profound cynicism.
  24. Enjoyable but thin.
  25. The eroticism is powerful, and the documentary candor and directness of the sex scenes make this well worth seeing.
  26. Even though I appreciate this movie's craft, I wish I hadn't seen it. It's a heady, progressive -- or perhaps elaborately conservative? -- romance, but it's also a tale of terrible suffering.
  27. A realist mode that strains credibility; it's tenuous and inflexible -- and easily ruptured by the contrived irony in Jimmy McGovern's screenplay.
  28. 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.
  29. Australian mockumentary offers plenty of cheap laughs early on.
  30. Carax has a wonderful cinematic eye and a personal feeling for editing rhythms, and his sense of overripeness and excess virtually defines him.
  31. 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.
  32. There's little rapport between Duchovny and Driver after their initial meeting. More exciting and suspenseful is the relationship between Driver's confidant (Hunt) and her husband (James Belushi), who can't seem to get all their kids to go to sleep at the same time.
  33. This held me, but I was grateful when it released me.
  34. Ron Howard, an exemplar of honorable mediocrity, reunites with actor Russell Crowe and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman of "A Beautiful Mind" for this epic treatment of a seven-year stretch (1928-'35) in the career of New Jersey boxer James J. Braddock.
  35. As the driven competitor who learns to make hubris work for him, Jared Leto gives a complex performance that suggests a deep, intriguing interior to the character even as he maintains a convincing one-dimensional facade.
  36. The new jokes all seem like discards from a Rob Schneider comedy, but for the most part director Peter Segal (Anger Management) and screenwriter Sheldon Turner play a good defensive game, sticking close to the original film's story.
  37. As summer shoot-'em-ups go, this is pretty well executed, with plenty of macho posing and gunfire.
  38. The hinted romance, featuring Aaliyah, makes for some decent drama and some fine comedy.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. I guess one out of three ain't bad.
  42. Bartlett and Mevoli give appealing performances, and Bell adds to the authenticity by peppering their radical clique with real-life activists.
  43. If you're looking to be romantically captivated, this movie just might do the job.
  44. It milks the characters' father-son relationship for drama without making the fairly obvious connection to the agency's paternalistic view of the world.
  45. As personal and political agendas mix, with deadly results, director Jim Sheridan parallels the moderated violence of boxing with the unchecked violence of terrorism.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Despite the show-offy cast, it took me a while to warm to these people and their self-consciously idyllic settings--as well as to the slick direction of former cinematographer Lajos Koltai--but I was eventually won over.
  46. There are still plenty of laughs and some inventiveness along the way...although some of the gags and contrived plot moves stumble over their own cuteness.
  47. As old-fashioned movie fun, this isn't bad, even -- especially? -- when it skirts the edge of silliness, and it's better than the 1960 George Pal version.
  48. The result is grimly "effective," but it made me long for Hollywood junk.
  49. Despite the practical nature of the costars' bond, I spent most of the lukewarm actioner wondering when the hell they were going to start kissing.
  50. Donzelli, a busy actress in France, directed this drama from a script she wrote with Elkaim, which may explain why the parents become the center of the movie while the ostensibly suffering boy never takes shape as a character.
  51. You won't be too bored.
  52. The movie is about the interactions between these characters, and though I'm still trying to figure out what all the pieces mean, there's no way I can shake off the experience.
  53. Luc Besson--and Andrew Birkin wrote the pandering, adolescent screenplay for this pseudosubversive hagiography, and nearly every scene screams out its sensationalist intent, though few actually achieve the status of spectacle.
  54. Only August's assured direction and the leads' solid performances elevate this above a TV "disease of the week" movie.
  55. The end result is more like a supermarket on Saturday afternoon. The content is engaging, though.
  56. Anthony Peckham's script is formulaic, woodenly reverent, and devoid of real dramatic tension.
  57. This fairly serious meditation on conventionality and monogamy blames his ennui on external forces, remaining adolescent even when it suggests its hero has grown up.
  58. I found it more pleasurable as a time waster than either "Mission: Impossible."
  59. Director Jon Chu (Step Up 2 the Streets) ably exploits the 3D format, constantly moving the action forward and upward. The color and music also pop, as do scene stealers Martin and Facundo Lombard, Argentine twins whose comedic talents nearly match their dizzying footwork.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The nonstop action in this British romp should ensure that its target audience, sugar-buzzed prepubescent boys, stay strapped in their seats.
  60. The plot contrivances that bring them together to torture each other are so deftly handled that I almost bought them, and the two leads are charming and funny enough to offset the characters' obnoxious motives.
  61. At some point in this endless thriller the suspense turns into an extremely unpleasant ordeal that Dahl doesn't know when to stop.
  62. Though I hate to ruin the complex experience of following a rather calm story about a lonely widower as it becomes something else, I feel obliged to point out that the hard-core gore and soft-core surrealism of this baroque morality play may not support any theme.
  63. Writer-director Aiyana Elliott gives her father his due in this evenhanded yet impassioned documentary.
  64. As usual with Stallone's Rocky sequels, the schmaltz is unbearable, but the fight is plausibly handled, and Stallone's sincere sadness at growing older makes this an unexpectedly satisfying conclusion to the series.
  65. Though its ending feels protracted--especially the climactic chase--it kept me reasonably distracted.
  66. It's well mounted and lushly photographed, and Rappeneau deftly orchestrates the crowd scenes as Parisian elites flock to Bordeaux, but the large cast doesn't mesh.
  67. Undeniably well executed.
  68. It's Joan Cusack as her doting single mom who holds the film together--her sensitive turn as a flawed feminist hints at what she could do with a meatier role.
  69. Watt's script is a bit overstuffed, and by the end the roiling animated sequences (drawn by Emma Kelly and inked by Watt and Clare Callinan) are wearing out their welcome. But the convincing characters and hearty examination of mortality make this fresh and oddly uplifting.
  70. On a mindless exploitation level this is pretty good, but on other levels it seems to make promises that it fails to deliver on; none of the deaths carries any moral weight, and the climactic special-effects free-for-all tends to drown out all other interests.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    A rich but regrettably lumpy pastry, with moments of genuine drama redeeming an almost defiantly hokey plot.
  71. Kurt Russell gives a terse, unsentimental performance as coach Herb Brooks, but director Gavin O'Connor sticks to the "Hoosiers" playbook.
  72. For torture and violence freaks, every clank and thud is duly and hyperbolically registered.
  73. The gags are as idiotic as you'd expect, but they consistently hit the bull's-eye.
  74. This realist fairy tale of impossible love has a fair amount of nuance and charm.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Moderately entertaining popcorn thriller.
  75. A box office phenomenon in France, this crowd-pleasing drama is based on a true story but sticks closely to the template for a Hollywood buddy movie.
  76. This early-1900s costume drama surely differs from Henry James's source novel.
  77. The main novelty of this conventional, slight, but charming youth picture is that it's English and therefore more class-conscious than most American equivalents.
  78. Half-funny mockumentary.
  79. Lonergan's validation of big-minded small-town life has been neatened up to the point of blandness.
  80. If Wahlberg in a beret is your idea of fun, don't let me get in your way.
  81. I can't think of another film remotely like it.
  82. Snippets of the band's brutally percussive music punctuate the endless encounter sessions, which expose the musicians' boundless self-absorption (the 9-11 attacks come and go without so much as a mention) and cowed obedience to their psychological guru.
  83. Crudup takes a riskier path: his architect isn't very nice and is possibly irredeemable. His performance is subtle, complicated, and fresh, and it's a shame the movie doesn't live up to it.
  84. Sheridan gives this a pacing and depth one doesn't often find in "urban" product, though Jackson, reliving his own life traumas, is handily upstaged at every turn by Terrence Howard (Crash) as his oddball manager.
  85. Agresti has more on his mind than tugging at heartstrings.
  86. Krause is completely believeable as the solid old man, and though the story moves slower than molasses, it leaves the same dark aftertaste.
  87. Remains mired in a smart-alecky film-school sensibility.
  88. It's full of pain and quirky characters standing at oblique angles to one another, and while it doesn't add up it held me throughout.
  89. As bad-taste comedies go, this is more clever than gross.
  90. In a recent "Sun-Times" article Jeff said he purposely avoided taking a son's perspective, which leaves him without much perspective at all.
  91. Though it isn't so much funny as clever, the parody will hopefully discourage some aspiring teen-movie makers from doing the same old thing.
  92. As an avid media watcher, I didn't come away from this with any new insights, but the movie is a pretty good snapshot of the daily newspaper business in transition and turmoil.
  93. 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.
  94. This is more like "The Sixth Sense" writ large: we are all dead but don't know it.

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