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 Dead Man
Lowest review score: 0 Bamboozled
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. The Holocaust subplot is contrived and schematic. Yet the central love triangle is fairly compelling, aided by Krol's fine performance.
  2. It's hard to tell whether these characters are meant to seem as staunchly symbolic as they do when they deliver some of the back-story-heavy dialogue.
  3. Thornton seems born to play the sort of slow-witted poet of the mundane that the Coens find worthy of their condescending affection.
  4. This obsessive movie, awarded the grand jury prize at the Sundance festival, may not quite live up to its advance billing; the subject is powerful, but the filmmaking often seems slapdash, and the final half hour dithers.
  5. The talented cast--manages to rescue the movie as well as the earth.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Toledo is very funny, and there are some hilarious comic bits, but writer-directors Dominic Harari and Teresa Pelegri drag in several distracting subplots, turning this 2004 Spanish comedy into a scattershot affair.
  6. The film's opening and closing moments are weirdly reminiscent of "Black Hawk Down," another tale of Western soldiers in over their heads on the dark continent -- clearly no one these days understands manifest destiny.
  7. Well-meaning but simpleminded biopic.
  8. In the end, this admirably broadens our knowledge of the era but doesn't much deepen it.
  9. It's all very impressive without being particularly enthralling.
  10. Long, heavy, and not particularly edifying Holocaust drama.
  11. This is the apotheosis of Classics Illustrated filmmaking, aiming at nothing more than tasteful reduction, and the fact that it's done so well here doesn't mean that it's necessarily worth doing.
  12. Apart from some unexaggerated notations about American puritanism in the 1940s and '50s, this is more a work of exploration than a thesis, and Condon mainly avoids sensationalism.
  13. This uninspired comedy drama seems to have been bankrolled by the state tourism board, yet the Celtic music sequences provide welcome relief from the reheated plot.
  14. Though this drifts at times as storytelling, it's mainly lightweight but personable fun.
  15. As one might expect from IFC, actors and directors dominate the interview segments, which may be the reason the narrative never finds its way to Heaven's Gate.
  16. If you don't care about such motivations, this is a pretty good thriller, though not one you're likely to remember for very long.
  17. Full of high spirits and good vibes.
  18. The documentary becomes more poignant and substantial when old age begins to seriously disable some of the dancers.
  19. Director Bob Clark teamed with nostalgic humorist Jean Shepherd for this squeaky clean and often quite funny 1983 yuletide comedy, adapted from Shepherd's novel In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash.
  20. As an undiscovered beauty who frequents open-stage night at the local performance-art club, her rack hidden under paint-spattered overalls, her chiseled face obscured by glasses, Rachael Leigh Cook is charming and sincere, and ultimately so is Prinze, whose character's realization that he's not as shallow as he'd thought is convincing.
  21. Perry's soap opera story lines are awful, with their nobly suffering sistas, gorgeous do-right men, and shamelessly materialistic dream endings. But the movie's message of gospel joy and racial pride couldn't be more sincere, and Perry gives an impeccable comic performance as the title character.
  22. There are moments of high hilarity in the slapstick that results when the characters attempt to minimize mucus-membrane contact during sex.
  23. The sincerity of their performances (Lopez and Caviezel) overrides the intermittent implausibilities of Gerald Dipego's script.
  24. It binds up introductory lessons in music appreciation, Freudian psychology, and fanciful history with a pulp thriller plot.
  25. The animation is remarkable, except for the stiff, marionettelike humans.
  26. Quentin Tarantino's lively and show-offy tribute to Asian martial-arts flicks, bloody anime, and spaghetti westerns he soaked up as a teenager is even more gory and adolescent than its models, which explains both the fun and the unpleasantness of this globe-trotting romp.
  27. With her large, expressive eyes, abundant warmth, and radiant energy, Faour commands our sympathy, even through some weak dialogue and even weaker plot points.
  28. A standard mix of performances, interviews, and gimmickry -- the image and sound sometimes loop or jump in a tiresomely literal attempt to translate the techniques of scratching and "beat juggling" into cinema.
  29. Like the earlier film, this one has an airless quality, much of the action taking place in the hushed and colorless offices of "the Circus." But whereas the dank tone of "Let the Right One In" served to heighten the moments of poignance and shrieking horror, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy begins to seem phlegmatic after a while.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The efforts of victims and victimizers to come to terms with historical trauma are admirable, but the film is too tough-minded to espouse a facile discourse of "healing" in the face of genocide driven by ideology run amok.
  30. The results are watchable enough--sometimes funny, sometimes over the top--and fairly fresh, though also a bit calculated.
  31. Pretty familiar stuff, but the performances--by Adrien Brody, Elise Neal, Simon Baker-Denny, and Lauryn Hill--are relatively fresh and sincere.
  32. Singleton shows some genuine talent in handling character and action, and equal amounts of confusion and attitude when it comes to matters of gender and ghetto politics.
  33. The jokes all revolve around weed, stereotypes, and Neil Patrick Harris; the stereotype stuff is by far the funniest.
  34. This keeps one reasonably amused, titillated, and brain-dead for a little over two hours.
  35. Narrative continuity and momentum have never been among Hopper's strong points, and this time the choppiness of the storytelling diffuses the dramatic impact without offering a shapely mosaic effect (as in [his] previous films) to compensate for it.
  36. The dissection of Edwardian repression never gets beyond the dutiful, tasteful obviousness of a BBC miniseries.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Both Stanford and Neuwirth are excellent in tricky parts, yet screenwriters Heather McGowan and Niels Mueller abruptly end the story just as the characters are arriving at some uncomfortable showdowns.
  37. Beautifully regenerates the Jay Ward TV show its characters were based on.
  38. Overall it's what it aspires to be--a pleasant time-waster.
  39. Whenever writer-director Oren Moverman moves past these scattered and admittedly voyeuristic moments into the lives of the two soldiers, the movie drifts into received wisdom and unconvincing romance.
  40. Perhaps the post-cold-war attitudes behind this film are progressive, but the same old pre-nuclear-war worship of the military goes all but unchallenged.
  41. Stylistically lively and generally well acted. Thematically, however, it's somewhat incoherent.
  42. Norbu tries too hard to please and charm, but his film at least carries the advantages of unactorly faces and a premise based on actual events that dramatizes the issue of religious vocation in a secular world.
  43. The script is funny and observant, full of shocks of recognition, but for all his progress as a writer, Allen's direction remains disconcertingly amateurish. Still, it remains perhaps the only film in which Allen has been able to successfully imagine a personality other than his own.
  44. Unfortunately, once the freshness of the concept wears off, the same premise starts to feel mechanical and willful.
  45. Noah Baumbach collaborated on the arch script, whose bittersweet weirdness leaves a residue even as the narrative disintegrates.
  46. This thriller is effective if you can accept that--as with some of John Dickson Carr's locked-room mysteries--the trickiness counts more than any plausibility.
  47. Highly recommended if you want to watch an assortment of rich movie stars feel your pain.
  48. The filmmakers have lovingly retained and expanded on that film's only flaws, some implausible plot details. But even without the same cultural significance, it's still a good story, and the interesting cast.
  49. All the virtues of the original... are present here, though when Cameron tries to milk some sentiment out of the "personality" and fate of his top machine he comes up flat and empty, and the other characters are scarcely more interesting.
  50. Terence Stamp and Wallace Shawn spend a fair amount of time skulking around as ghostly servants, which kept me amused for the movie's 99 minutes.
  51. This absorbing documentary by George Hickenlooper (Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse) spends too much time on the celebrities in Bingenheimer's life for its analysis of fame and fandom to rise above the banal.
  52. The script by sitcom veteran Gary David Goldberg has weaknesses--it soft-pedals bitterness, and the ending is annoyingly pat. On balance, though, this is a funny and smartly paced love story.
  53. This gently satirical farce is atmospheric when dabbling in religion--the chef turns to spiritual magic to defuse her passion for her husband--and moving during her heart-to-hearts with her friend.
  54. Desperately wants to be whimsical and charming. But whimsy isn't easy to carry off, and director Alan Taylor, who has directed mostly television dramas, has a heavy hand -- scenes meant to be comical are destroyed by leaden pacing and a puzzling mix of tones.
  55. Everyone who likes this movie calls it "disturbing," but what disturbs me most is the self-loathing laughter it provokes, similar to what one often hears at Woody Allen and Michael Moore comedies.
  56. The leads work overtime to make their characters and their relationships pungent, believable, and moving (though with regard to the rest of the cast, the movie seems less focused and confident).
  57. Richard Attenborough's direction achieves that balance of impersonality and brisk pacing we've come to recognize as "professionalism," and he doesn't clog up the dancing with too many stylistic gimmicks.
  58. The connection between his boasting about killing and killing so he can boast about it -- is made beautifully insidious.
  59. This is supposed to be a testament to the nation's diversity, but it's so complacent that you'd never imagine said diversity is one of the greatest social challenges of the new century.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The acting is mainly horrendous, the English dialogue frequently awkward, but they're overcome by the beautiful colors and settings and a grim sense of the uncanny spilling over into twisted humor.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The film features subtle, honest performances by Daniel MacIvor (who also cowrote the screenplay) as the perplexed prof and engaging newcomer Aaron Webber as the sensitive student.
  60. Director Max Farberbock (Aimee & Jaguar) mainly avoids graphic depictions of sexual assault, but that only increases the tension in this austere, claustrophobic drama.
  61. The movie gets old fast--mostly because it’s bringing up the rear after "Undercover Brother" (2002) And "I’m Gonna Git You Sucka" (1988). But the kung-fu climax at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (“the Honky House”) is nearly worth the wait, and Adrian Younge’s score, with its moody horns, is a perfect snapshot of early 70s soul.
  62. The battle scenes are bloody, visceral, and expertly edited, though arterial spray consumes so much screen time that the numerous subplots, involving 11 legendary Siamese defenders well-known to Thais, may feel perfunctory to Westerners despite some strong performances.
  63. Ardant embodies the diva's dazzling blend of glamour, hauteur, and vulnerability, and despite a faintly campy script by Martin Sherman, Zeffirelli captures the artistic imperative that drives both characters-and deepens their loneliness.
  64. The leads are good, and Timothy Hutton is memorably off-putting as the pitcher's disengaged dad. But having created the aching umpire, Ponsoldt occupies him with some fairly shopworn situations.
  65. Breillat may be serious about creating period ambience, but she also can't resist patterning her heroine after Marlene Dietrich's Concha in "The Devil Is a Woman" (even though Argento sometimes suggests Maria Montez in the pleasure she takes in her own company).
  66. Director Roger Michell seems genuinely taken with the contrast between brotherly love and homosexual obsession, but these themes are overwhelmed by the suspense machinery.
  67. The romantic denouement is so predictable it must have driven the animators mad as they worked, but their modest art is eerily effective.
  68. If you don't mind the telegraphed punches of Ruth Epstein's script and Harvey Kahn's direction, this should carry you along.
  69. An admirable if frequently soporific 1992 adaptation of Norman Maclean's account of life in Missoula, Montana.
  70. Not quite a thriller and not quite a character study, though with elements of both, the film is limited by its ambiguous relation to history.
  71. All in all it's pretty lurid, but it delivers what it promises.
  72. The conflict between Hawn, who prizes her freedom, and Sarandon, who values her family, is pretty rich; it reminded me of the friendship between Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft in "The Turning Point."
  73. Fans will dig the abundant performance video and commentary from Henry Rollins and Ian MacKaye; everyone else should steer clear of the mosh pit.
  74. It's marvelous or unwatchable.
  75. Script and direction are both fairly slapdash, but the actors and the overall sweetness keep this chugging along on some level .
  76. I was engaged by Chick's characters...But that point passed pretty soon after the credits rolled, and nothing has come back to haunt me since.
  77. As usual, Sayles's dialogue scenes are as shapely as blown glass, but none of the characters' predicaments has been adequately explored, much less resolved, when the final freeze-frame arrives.
  78. When the movie got serious again at the end I wasn't buying, though the whole endeavor is helped along by an appealing cast.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The stand-up performance is still that of the mom--Sigourney Weaver, making the most of the meatiest part she's had in years
  79. This 1998 film held my interest for two hours, even taking on an epic feel when it turns into a road movie. It's not bad by any means, but it also happens to resemble a lot of other movies.
  80. As in the other two movies, the plot is a thin cardboard box used to carry an assortment of observational doughnuts--in this case, estrogen-fueled shop talk about race, men, and the politics of looking good.
  81. The heaving computer-generated sea swells doesn't match the conventionally animated characters. The action scenes are too antic, but directors Tim Johnson and Patrick Gilmore serve up a sweet romantic subplot.
  82. An unexpectedly troubling crime thriller.
  83. Wyler lays out all the elements with care and precision, but the romantic comedy never comes together - it's charm by computer. [Review of re-release]
  84. Isn't terribly frightening or gory, and at times it's even atmospheric. It also has a sense of humor, and the digs at the prequels hit pay dirt.
  85. Provides an interesting introduction to a compelling figure in contemporary pop music.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Bardwell manages a sincere portrait of what it's like to be young and closeted.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Iranian director Asghar Farhadi follows up his stunning debut feature "Dancing in the Dust" (2003) with this melancholy drama about the aftermath of a senseless murder.
  86. Reasonably entertaining if utterly familiar entry in the long-running SF franchise.
  87. I came to this expecting a standard rock doc, but its cobwebbed tale of an aged parent and grown child's debilitating relationship seems closer to "Grey Gardens."
  88. Though it suggests intriguing ideas about the nature of performance, humor, ambition, and the consumption of spectacle, the movie only superficially explores them.
  89. Director Jim Fall smoothly paces the action while staying true to the girlie thrills (luxury hotels, scenic jaunts, a fashion makeover), delivering an empty-headed but enjoyable romp.
  90. Like the former first lady, the filmmakers go slightly overboard.
  91. But the most stimulating, satisfying aspect of this action fantasy is the theme music.
  92. Aiming at a microcosm of American life comparable in some ways to Do the Right Thing, Singleton can't quite justify or explicate his parting message ("unlearn"), but his passion is exemplary.

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