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 Moolaadé
Lowest review score: 0 I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. A mildly psychological suspense thriller with military trappings.
  2. If, like the filmmakers, you're willing to settle for a myth that flatters your sensibilities and shortchanges the past, you're likely to find some agreeable kicks here.
  3. The contrast between Tucker's motormouth and Chan's man of few words should be funnier, but the plot -- which is cliched without quite becoming self-reflexive -- and the uneven pace dampen most of their moments.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    A trio of stridently weird performances--from Nicolas Cage, William Fichtner, and David Morse--brighten this otherwise rote actioner.
  4. The performances are strong, but the spectator often feels adrift in an overly busy intrigue.
  5. 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.
  6. I guessed the big plot twist as soon as Franklin began setting it up, which gave me a good 40 minutes to appreciate the fine supporting cast and weathered coastal Florida locations while waiting for Washington's character to catch up with me.
  7. Passably creepy chiller.
  8. Hovers just this side of "Ghost Whisperer" kitsch but remains compulsively watchable thanks to its smart ensemble cast
  9. This has its sappy moments, but both women give wonderfully detailed performances, aided by Michael Learned as Hunt's mother and Chris Sarandon as the calm, cold minister.
  10. Many of the gags rely on the incongruity of Grant's nervous, cultured character posing as an Italian-American stereotype, but they're subverted by his earnest relationship with his fiancee, whose affection hardly seems worth the trouble.
  11. Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan make an agreeable pair in this above-average comedy.
  12. Alas, most of the surprise and the wit to be found here ends with the title.
  13. As soon as it became clear that this remake has nothing to do with real Georgia moonshiners and everything to do with car chases, smashups, and explosions, I could sit back and enjoy it as good, stupid fun.
  14. Griffith's talent, energy, and sexiness give it some drive and punch.
  15. Lots of men cry lots of tears in this supremely self-indulgent, supremely moving documentary about making a documentary.
  16. Like Fellini's "I vitelloni," this Spanish-French-Italian coproduction is a bittersweet epic about frustration and relative inertia, though with a somewhat older and wiser group of layabouts.
  17. My only reason to recommend this movie is that there's nothing quite like it.
  18. The performances of both Schwarzenegger and O'Brien are labored, the pacing uneven, and maybe only half the gags work, but there's a certain amount of creative energy and audacity mixed in with all the confusion.
  19. This is fairly efficient if you can square efficiency with being twice as long as necessary and overly familiar to boot; at least Jackson and Spacey keep it afloat.
  20. A pleasant, inoffensive, and (quite properly) mindless diversion.
  21. Engagingly corny drama.
  22. Never quite settles on a tone, veering from wacky comedy to earnest sports drama to romantic farce. The results are predictably muddled, if mostly harmless.
  23. Though it strives for broad humor, pushing cuteness and light irony, this bland 1998 movie isn't exactly a comedy.
  24. A businessman is visited by an otherworldly presence who has the nerve to fall in love with his daughter in this savory, extralong feature, whose obvious plotlines unfold with an almost painful slowness that somehow makes them deeper.
  25. Some pieces of the plot feel dishonest, others contrived, but there are also moments of nicely observed detail and plenty of good messages.
  26. George Lucas produced and Jim Henson (of Muppets fame) directed this heftily budgeted 1986 fantasy, which seems to be a conscious attempt to play on the female coming-of-age themes of classic fairy tales.
  27. The payoff matters at least as much as the setup, and this story's secret is way too easy to guess.
  28. Larry Doyle and John Hamburg's script is full of holes, but this is still pretty damn funny--thanks mostly to Barrymore, who seems to be retracing Lucille Ball's trajectory from sex kitten to comedienne.
  29. This 'heartwarming' thriller refuses to distinguish realism from stylization, and much of the plot is a twisted mess of repetition and unpersuasive motivation.
  30. Friedkin does a superb job of serving up the well-appointed script by James Webb and Stephen Gaghan.
  31. Ali
    What's lacking here is a sustained thematic focus -- at least five people worked on the script, including Mann, which may account for the absence of a clear through line -- though the spectacle and characters keep one absorbed.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Where the narrative and characterization work, the visuals are lacking. Director Colin Trevorrow's digital cinematography occasionally resembles a YouTube video in mid-buffer, making the gorgeous and picturesque setting of the Pacific Northwest coastline appear bland and texture-less.
  32. The movie is fairly entertaining, but the high production values and shticky humor invert the dynamic of the show, which was played totally straight despite the fact that the sets were always threatening to fall down.
  33. Coming-of-age drama is pretty familiar stuff.
  34. Within the limitations of the genre, the film succeeds fairly well, with enough giddy sophomoric humor, stunning fights, titillating sex, and exotic sets and costumes to keep an audience entertained.
  35. Though there's a crime to be solved, a romance to go awry, and lots of trooper-police politics to elaborate on, the strangely drawn out pacing somehow feels fresh rather than oppressive.
  36. Inspired, self-referential animated musical.
  37. This has its moments, but don't expect many fresh insights.
  38. The key scene -- is typical of the film's fanciful narrative approach but also its grating pretentiousness.
  39. Unfortunately, Volcano is also faithful to Hollywood's legendary lack of originality.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Episodic and patchy, but well acted and heartfelt.
  40. This is brisk and fun to watch, thanks to the actors...But once you catch the main drift of the plot, it becomes awfully ho-hum.
  41. Martial arts hero Jet Li takes on all comers--with one hand in his hip pocket most of the time--in this absurd but breathlessly paced actioner.
  42. 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.
  43. Diverting, energetic, and even reasonably satisfying, so long as you aren't looking for a real musical to take its place.
  44. The Coens do an efficient job of stamping their signature grotesquerie on sumptuous Beverly Hills and Las Vegas settings and ladling on gallows humor and malice, sometimes with the verve of early Robert Zemeckis.
  45. The drama is hampered by a vague screenplay that takes its sweet time explaining the characters' past and never specifies the nature of the boy's palsy and apparent retardation.
  46. 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.
  47. Sincere, capable, at times moving, but overextended, this picture is seriously hampered by its tendency to linger over everything--especially landscapes with silhouetted figures, and not excluding its own good intentions.
  48. Not at all bad for a toy commercial.
  49. Individually these elements are powerful, but they fail to mesh or collide with one another in any satisfying way, and the movie's score only exacerbates the problem.
  50. The formula works just fine on a more modest scale, without having to carry all the glittering casino sets and A-list movie stars.
  51. The auction makes for a pretty good hinge between the two narratives and, more importantly, allows Madonna to indulge her fetish for fine English things.
  52. Pleasantly acted and moderately funny, but it lacks the genuine bile that made "Heathers" (1987) so bracing.
  53. I can't yet decide whether the film works or not, but it certainly held me for its full two hours.
  54. Like Nicole Holofcener's "Please Give" (2010), this turns on the friction between an unusually altruistic character and the self-centered people around him, though screenwriters David Schisgall and Evgenia Peretz never pursue their premise into the sort of moral comedy that so distinguished the other movie.
  55. Its depiction of teenage behavior appears calculated to seem irreverent while satisfying expectations.
  56. It's slight but likable, and diverting enough as light entertainment.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The film's low-tech styling is roughly the cardboard inversion of the cinematic machines it parodies, and Brooks seems less inclined than usual to push the overkill urges too far. Small compensations, I guess, but at least it's not the total washout you'd expect.
  57. The performances are convincing, and director Gene Rhee does a good job of outlining the messiness of human affections here, showing how we don't always know what we really want or how to get it.
  58. You'd have to be a real curmudgeon not to enjoy a show with Ruth Brown, Mavis Staples, Solomon Burke...
  59. To call this "Farrelly brothers lite" may be a little redundant, but aside from the odd vomit gag, it goes relatively easy on their usual working-class taboo busting.
  60. Writer-director Alan Rudolph has been remaking his own romantic comedy-dramas for so long now that even when he gives us two couples instead of one or substitutes Montreal for Seattle--both of which he does here--the film still comes out feeling the same.
  61. Jones's script leans too heavily on the familiar device of blurring illusion and reality, but his view of the urban landscape is beautiful and distinctive.
  62. Americans desensitized to senseless violence may find the subject matter almost banal, and the interspersed news footage of armed conflict from around the world feels like a rhetorical device. But the coldly telegraphic structure--a series of 71 blackouts following the four strangers to their deaths--yields some striking moments.
  63. Even as you're wincing at what you thought was misguided earnestness, it's being subverted by filmmakers who've turned many of the genre's weaknesses into tiny triumphs.
  64. If one discounts the facile and unconvincing ending, this first feature by Guka Omarova, offers a convincingly bleak view of how a 15-year-old boy could get ahead in rural Kazakhstan in the early 90s.
  65. This is stronger in terms of characters (male ones, that is) than in terms of story or mise en scene, but the actorskeep this pretty watchable.
  66. Writer-director Chris Ver Wiel stocks this diverting crime comedy with familar characters and formulas.
  67. Visually imaginative and even persuasively spiritual.
  68. Enjoyably campy hokum.
  69. Rowlands and Unger deliver sensitive performances, Shields is surprisingly good.
  70. Clooney badly botches the spy plot by casting himself as Barris's agency contact... and a truly awful Julia Roberts as Barris's Mata Hari lover (she's soundly upstaged by Drew Barrymore as his devoted girlfriend). Yet the mounting delirium drives home Kaufman's basic point: that a shadow government rules by bread and circuses.
  71. It's a story worth telling, though once the participants and the filmmakers start basking in their virtue, the material begins to feel overextended.
  72. Seriously uneven but often charming.
  73. Sex and JFK's assassination are intertwined in this puerile, pseudodark story about a wacky family--an adaptation of Wendy MacLeod's play that uses the medium of cinema mainly to exploit archival footage.
  74. Danny Glover and Mel Gibson make a gently contrasted (and nicely self-reflexive) odd couple in this action-comedy sequel.
  75. For what it is, it's fine.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Honkasalo's bleak, meditative 2004 documentary, about children who have been orphaned or dispossessed as a result of the Russian-Chechen conflict, eschews any attempts to make sense out of this long-running war.
  76. Compensates with a sharp sense of rhythm, using hip-hop and turntablist sounds by Zoel to fuel Anthony Hardwick and Tony Wolberg's aggressive cinematography.
  77. Pegg has some good obnoxious moments, but he's only a few movies away from becoming Dudley Moore.
  78. Horror fans may be disappointed by this handsome exorcism drama, which aspires to the serious religious feeling of William Friedkin's "The Exorcist" but delivers little of its shock or gore.
  79. Instructive comedy, which is marvelously neutral toward a type of sexual and domestic relationship that's often exploited or overblown.
  80. The running joke about coffee enemas will date this innocuous, crowd-pleasing adventure comedy.
  81. The cast is OK, and LaBute still has an eye, but the uses they're put to seem contrived and arty.
  82. Too bad the overreaching script has to go after effects recalling "Alien," but as a stylistic exercise this still has its chills.
  83. It's bleak, creepy, and occasionally terrifying. Studio pressure apparently forced Murch to back off from the full fury of his conception, but this is still strong stuff.
  84. According to common usage, the French word stupide comes closer to silly than to dumb, which is how I might rationalize my affection for this harebrained, obvious, but euphoric tale.
  85. Broder's script makes the weird transition from satire to camp as if there were no distinction between the two. It's a bracing if at times bewildering experience.
  86. There's tenderness, humor, a gratuitous body double, and splashy lighting in this ho-hum action drama, which takes itself at times too seriously and at other times not seriously enough.
  87. Writer-director Rob Hardy opts for family-friendly drama but tones down the conflicts so much that none of the story lines can rival the music.
  88. As contrived as this premise may sound (and it isn't much better on-screen), writer-director Mora Stephens manages to push the odd-couple story in some interesting directions.
  89. Engaging and well acted, the film is admirably low-key, yet Burman's relaxed approach becomes a liability--everything goes down smoothly but leaves one hungry for something more substantial.
  90. Much of the three-hour movie takes place in the prison, but the resonant characterization, expansive plotting, and judicious use of exterior locations and flashbacks remove any sense of claustrophobia or sluggishness.
  91. Scripted by Pitre and his wife, Michelle Benoit, this is more interesting for its historical setting than for its rather wooden drama, but Tim Curry gives a pretty good performance as the town's whiskey priest.
  92. While not particularly cohesive, this 2002 film has some nice moments of comedy and father-son poignancy.
  93. This bright noir, with gleaming cinematography by Jeffrey Jur, is as single-minded as a short story, but the premise is almost too clever.
  94. 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.
  95. So visually striking, so compulsively watchable as storytelling, and so personal even in its enigmas that I found it much more pleasurable than any of the Hollywood genre films I've seen lately.

Top Trailers