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 Enter the Void
Lowest review score: 0 Event Horizon
Score distribution:
4911 movie reviews
  1. There are times when this leisurely movie seems so much in love with its own virtue and nobility that there's not much room left for the spectator.
  2. Ben Stiller produced, and the movie is so reminiscent of "Zoolander" that I wish he had rounded up Owen Wilson and starred in it himself. Farrell and Heder are pretty funny, but they're consistently upstaged by supporting players William Fichtner, Will Arnett, and Amy Poehler.
  3. The characters and themes are redolent of earlier and better Williams works, and the story unexpectedly putters out at the end--but seeing it now, you can't help but treasure the simple, lyrical dialogue and sure-handed narrative thrust.
  4. Highly recommended if you want to see a distinguished cast of British character actors tarted up in garish Victorian costumes and badly executing a Three Stooges-style cake fight.
  5. 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.
  6. The tragic and highly "symbolic" death toward the end, which is supposed to illustrate the sins of the parents being visited upon their children, barely resonates at all, because most of the insights are strictly incidental. The film elicits guilty, lascivious chuckles, not analysis.
  7. Its virtues are still genuine and durable enough to resist the blandishments of hype.
  8. The vicarious catharsis offered by this adaptation of Anna Quindlen's novel is as efficient as that of any family-affected-by-illness drama.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Estevez strains to prove his earnestness at every turn, undermining the film's good intentions with a surfeit of explanatory dialogue and a sappy adult-contemporary soundtrack. But for all his awkwardness Estevez is undeniably sincere, regarding both people and nature with disarming good will and maintaining a steady, soothing pace that allows the life lessons to resonate.
  9. 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.
  10. It has plenty of visual sweep, fine action sequences, and, thanks especially to Brad Pitt (as Achilles) and Peter O'Toole (as King Priam), a deeper sense of character than one might expect from a sword-and-sandal epic.
  11. Television director Michael Lembeck maintains a tidy pace suitable for commercial breaks, and though the committee-written script cites fuzzy logic, eBay, and Utah marital customs, it predictably avoids any mention of Christ.
  12. Michael Webber's documentary "The Elephant in the Living Room" (2010) makes such a powerful case against private ownership of exotic wild animals that this portrait of circus owner David Balding and his beloved elephant Flora seems sentimental by comparison.
  13. The remake is plenty scary, though any moral inquiry into the cost of revenge seemed to fly over the heads of the screaming, laughing crowd I saw it with.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Saldana makes this watchable, James supplies a fitful plausibility, and director Olivier Megaton (a former graffiti artist) keeps things racing along, preposterously.
  14. Missing is most of Tarkovsky's contemplative and mystical poetry (which is why it's 90 minutes shorter), and added are some unfortunate Hollywood-style designer flashbacks -- The story is still strong and haunting, but I'd recommend seeing this, if at all, only after the Tarkovsky.
  15. As usual, the three instrumentalists (Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Robby Krieger) take a backseat to their gorgeous front man, though their nimble, idiosyncratic playing has aged much better than his pretentious poetry.
  16. The characters' behavior isn't always believable, and the jerky rhythm takes some getting used to (there may be more attitude here than observation). But the defiant absence of any conventional plot has a cumulative charm.
  17. On the very edge of coherence -- but I find its decadent erotic poetry irresistible.
  18. Director Kevin Reynolds strikes a good balance between action and romance in this version of the medieval legend, but his leading man is upstaged by the supporting cast.
  19. The first two are total stinkers, but things pick up with Joe Dante's creepy, claustrophobic, and very funny study of a brattish kid who lives in a cartoon universe, and come slamming home with George Miller's final sketch about a paranoid airline passenger.
  20. The climactic sight gag is lifted from Monicelli's movie like a diamond from a jeweler's window.
  21. It's good sleazy fun for a while, jacked up with an assortment of edgy visuals, but the greenish yellow tint favored by action director Tony Scott is a good metaphor for the movie's jaundiced sensibility.
  22. In a lumbering way, this depressing feel-good drama about the impact of cancer on two children, their divorced parents, and the father's girlfriend offers some useful insights into how feelings of jealousy and betrayal can limit the potential of family relationships.
  23. Fedja van Huet gives a fascinating performance as two very different twin brothers.
  24. The tone is bleak and the comic-book violence relentless, but the wirework and Yuta Morokaji's stunt choreography are impressive, culminating in a breathless showdown between the title character (Aya Ueto) and 200 foes.
  25. Maybe I've seen too many James Bond movies by now, or maybe the trouble with this 20th installment is that the filmmakers are trying too hard to top the excesses of the predecessors.
  26. This Indiana Jones knockoff goes down smoothly enough, and Jolie isn't bad at all, though every time she opened her mouth I expected Mick Jagger to come dancing down her tongue.
  27. A philosophical comedy about man's place in a universe colonized by Targets and Wal-Marts.
  28. The precredits sequence is exciting--it's the only part of the movie that even begins to use the idea of the vulnerability of a horror-movie audience reflexively. The rest of the story is a straightforward narrative that's threatening only to the ingenues in the cast.
  29. Takes a while to arrive at what it has to say, but some of the performances kept me occupied in the meantime.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    An occasionally touching, more often clumsy variation on the formula of crusty oldster and problem child bonding on a road trip. The main reason to see it is "Desperate Housewives" star Felicity Huffman.
  30. After she's forced to confess, director Marc Rothemund doesn't have much to do but marvel at her heroic defiance, and the film is overtaken by its talkiness, claustrophobia, and polarized morality.
  31. Entertaining but forgettable action flick.
  32. The film asks us to embrace not only the death of beauty but the beauty of death.
  33. The charm of the three leads makes it a movie worth seeing.
  34. Watchable if far-fetched movie is seriously marred by its three leads; only Garrel manages to suggest a person rather than a fashion model dutifully following instructions.
  35. Carefully re-creates the first movie's lightweight romance and mildly cheeky gender comedy.
  36. It's doubtful that the haste with which two actors of the same sex break away from a kiss in this comedy was in the script, but otherwise everybody stays in character, which is impressive given the manic range of some of the roles and the comic monotony of others.
  37. The screenplay becomes annoyingly vague--Byler tries to conjure heavy weather out of Charlotte's mysterious past, but the details are confusing and the ending bewilderingly abrupt.
    • 41 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    There aren't that many laugh-out-loud jokes in this comedy, yet Billy Bob Thornton's portrayal of ass-kicking gym coach Mr. Woodcock is almost worth the price of admission.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Like Bryan Singer's X2 (2003), this fifth entry in the X-Men franchise is noteworthy for its gay-rights subtext and for its noted actors delivering comic book dialogue with Shakespearean portent. Otherwise it's indistinguishable from most other recent blockbusters.
  38. Paul Giamatti steals the picture as a sardonic grifter with a phobic terror of dirty toilet seats.
  39. Mostly the three comics stick to the Bill Cosby formula, dispensing with racial anger in favor of good-natured and family- and relationship-based crossover material.
  40. Though it's aimed at preschoolers, it's tuneful and funny enough to amuse any adult.
  41. While its slender plot (stripper Karina wants a baby and turns to Belmondo when her boyfriend Brialy won't oblige her) can irritate in spots, the film's high spirits may still win you over.
  42. Sam Raimi tries to do a Sergio Leone, and though this 1995 feature is highly enjoyable in spots, it doesn't come across as very convincing, perhaps because nothing can turn Sharon Stone into Charles Bronson.
  43. An Austin Powers movie for grown-ups.
  44. George is suitably adorable, wreaking the kind of havoc that gives tykes a guilty thrill. Yet the movie concludes with the specious moral that reading is inferior to experiencing life firsthand.
  45. Includes extensive performance footage but never drags, and it isn't exposé or self-mockery.
  46. Impressively nuanced.
  47. This insidiously complex satire is filled with apparent digressions, and our complete identification with the man occurs so gradually that it's impossible to pinpoint just when our previous disdain becomes a position of relative comfort.
  48. Sandler is disarming and compelling as Sonny.
  49. The deliberately obvious equating of knife throwing with sex would be funnier if it weren't so serious, and the undercut eroticism is part of what makes the movie themeless, merely a conceptual exercise.
  50. The film doesn't transcend its genre, but it's an honorable achievement within it.
  51. With the jokes coming about one per second, you're bound to find something to laugh at. I found myself laughing a lot--even as I began to feel the whole thing wearing thin.
  52. This is mainly the girl's story, though the numerous southern archetypes out of Tennessee Williams and Carson McCullers (who's explicitly referenced) keep threatening to overwhelm her.
  53. 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.
  54. Never lives up to the hilarity of the opening, partly because the large-scale production smothers the gags but mostly because those gags are so easy to smother.
  55. The actors are brilliant, the dialogue extremely clever, and the direction assured. But by the end I couldn't have cared less about any of the characters.
  56. This one's slightly better than average these days, which means slightly diverting.
  57. The movie, which leans too heavily on the metaphorical value of the two historic events, dives from heady romance into heavy moralizing.
  58. A pretty good chronicle of a certain phase of French working-class life.
  59. The comedy sci-fi franchise returns after a ten-year hiatus, with the same formula of respectably funny wisecracks and obsessively detailed space monsters.
  60. Paid in Full isn't a complete success; still, it moves beyond many cliches to create an honest portrait of several Harlem drug kingpins on their way up and inevitably down.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Julian Jarrold's adaptation of the Evelyn Waugh novel isn't entirely faithful, but it conveys the book's universal themes.
  61. Cheerful mess of a pulp-fiction parody.
  62. There are no big surprises, but Mac and director Charles Stone III (Drumline) hit all the right dramatic notes.
  63. Less about the characters than about the first two movies, whose best scenes it congeals into ritual or parody.
  64. Debutant director Richard Day, a seasoned TV producer, delivers a steady stream of cheerful vulgarity and a few clever gags.
  65. Fans of Coppola's movies (and/or perfume ads) will find this free of the absurd pop-rock flourishes in "Antoinette" and more consistent with the skilled tonality and narrative ambiguity of "Translation."
  66. With its diabolical ending, this is the movie equivalent of a crossword puzzle: fun, clever, and disposable.
  67. Despite its nasty facade, this comedy is surprisingly good-natured.
  68. 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.
  69. The tag here is more silly than haunting, but this is still a pretty wild ride, with a fine, knife-wielding score by Bennett Salvay.
  70. Falk throws himself into the part and almost single-handedly enables this comedy drama to transcend some of its sitcom limitations.
  71. This British drama is so overplotted it smothers the two main characters as much as they do each other.
    • 32 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    This doesn't lack for crazy charm, particularly when Nicolas Cage (in his go-for-broke Bad Lieutenant mode) and Ciaran Hinds (playing the devil) try to out-weird each other with broad, even cartoonish performances.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Director Gary Ross (Pleasantville) generally avoids the elaborate exterior shots and special effects that dominate high-concept blockbusters.
  72. This buddy movie grows on you.
  73. A seemingly mad dog periodically turns into a well-trained pet.
  74. This 1985 western does a decent job of developing some dry 80s humor without completely undermining the genre, yet Kasdan's considerable skills as a plot carpenter seem to desert him as soon as the story moves to the town of the title--the action turns choppy, confused, and arbitrary.
  75. Like "The Hustler," this absorbing Las Vegas story about a professional poker player (Eric Bana) uses gambling to tell a tale of moral regeneration. But Bana can't carry a picture like Paul Newman, and poker proves less photogenic than pool.
  76. Cox's style is a step beyond camp into a comedy of pure disgust; much of the film is churlishly unpleasant, but there's a core of genuine anger that gives the project an emotional validation lacking in the flabby American comedies of the early 80s.
  77. The film may never fully attain the emotional resonance it seems to be striving for, but it's still an accomplished and interesting piece of work.
  78. By accident or design, the resolution here is morally ambiguous and vaguely distasteful, which may be the reason I liked it.
  79. The dual point of view is used effectively, though it's less valid as social criticism (where Penn's observations tend toward facile revisionism) than as an index of the uncertainty that characterizes most of Penn's heroes.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Capable, if slightly show-offy, performances by McTeer and Brown give this Sundance favorite a little sparkle.
  80. This arty and moody account of her formation as an artist, as its subtitle declares, is basically invented. Its nerviness only pays off in a few details and in Nicole Kidman's resourcefulness.
  81. The film's relaxed pace, unassuming tone, and respect for its characters all recall the films of Abbas Kiarostami, who provided the story idea, but director Ali Reza Raisian adds a slightly more dramatic and emotional edge.
  82. The film's elliptical structure seems little more than a device to compensate for the thin dramatic material, but it's saved by a fine ensemble cast and Akhavan's convincing transformation from a naive romantic to a disturbing reactionary.
  83. The cultural cock-strutting gets to be a bit much, but Neville handily captures the excitement of an art scene percolating, breaking wide open, and finally burning itself out.
  84. Making Shakur the narrator works pretty well at first...But once he becomes an overnight star at age 20, his relentless self-articulation to Tabitha Soren begins to sound like the usual white noise of celebrity, his ideas about race and power in America potent but undeveloped.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Like most of Perry's movies, this one oscillates wildly and shamelessly between raunch and pathos, leaving plenty of room for the performers to work. The lively ensemble includes a scene-stealing Cassi Davis as pothead Aunt Bam.
  85. The results are easy to watch, though awfully familiar and simpleminded.
  86. 8MM
    I can't say I warmed to the results, but I was solidly held for the film's two hours.
  87. Singer draws heavily on the 1978 hit that launched the Warner Brothers franchise, with Brandon Routh dully impersonating Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel, Kevin Spacey getting all the good lines as the villainous Lex Luthor, and stock footage of Marlon Brando proving that death isn't always a good career move.
  88. Ken Hanes's witty script shows its origins in his stage play, with the repartee often a bit too thick and fast for the screen.
  89. Against the lush backdrop of the Andes, Crowe and Caruso define on-screen cool: good guys in a match of wits and firepower who even talk about their emotions.
  90. 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.

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