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. It's always at least a little disingenuous to attack the medium that's your bread and butter; this media-bashing movie tries to get around the problem by restricting its critique to television, specifically the news.
  2. The banal score seems more appropriate for a western, and there's a certain self-conscious theatricality in the mise en scene, yet this is both handsome and affecting.
  3. Favors character development over rude scares, though given the narrow parameters of the genre, it's not really a worthwhile trade.
  4. Almost too clever for its own good.
  5. Silly and shameless stuff that made me laugh quite a lot.
  6. A strong example of the cinema verite style at work, yet few films of the school show up the crisis of its "noninvolvement" policy more tellingly.
  7. Given how bogus the movie is whenever it departs from formula, it's not surprising that the funniest bit (in which Peter Parker becomes a disco smoothie) is stolen from Jerry Lewis's "The Nutty Professor" or that the best special effects, involving a gigantic Sandman, dimly echo "King Kong."
  8. Coolidge directs as if the characters were believable human beings--at least until she gets to the end, when Hollywood and fairy-tale conventions have to triumph over humanity and common sense.
  9. Silly but enjoyable drama.
  10. This is mildly entertaining, though like the puzzles themselves, it favors diversion over wisdom.
  11. The parallel between the dolphin and the disabled tourists who flock to see it borders on treacle, but Gamble's rapport with his finned costar is so touching that the movie works anyway.
  12. This story of a party girl (Audrey Hepburn) in love with a gigolo (George Peppard) allows Edwards to create a very handsome film, with impeccable Technicolor photography by Franz Planer. [Review of re-release]
  13. Led me to second thoughts about whether the feel-good tactics of "Schindler's List" were any worse than the feel-bad tactics on display here.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Directing real-life street kids, Tan abruptly shifts focus from one character to another, as if mimicking their impatience and short attention span, and like Godard he playfully subverts his own material by having actors address the camera directly, spouting cultural and political asides.
  14. A musical number or two might have balanced the overdetermined politics and spectacle in this version.
  15. A generally effective sex comedy, distinguished by its origins (Brazil) and the considerable appeal of its star, Sonia Braga. (Review of original release)
  16. Sacrifices compelling drama for gratuitous whimsy and big-budget spectacle.
  17. There's little originality in the joy rides, first kisses, and clashes with bullies, yet this 2005 debut feature by writer-director Michael Kang captures the small triumphs of a boy becoming a man.
  18. Denzel Washington's directorial debut reminds me of a 60s British movie called "The Mark": it's liberal minded, heartwarming, sincere, and consequently somewhat old-fashioned and stodgy.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    A fairly standard coming-of-age story, but the peripheral wackos keep it from feeling too pat. The film inhabits that elusive space between sanity and insanity, where most of life takes place.
  19. The episodic structure prevents any real momentum, but Byatt and Fothergill give a visceral sense of the sea's violence and vividly capture the riot of color to be found on the ocean floor.
  20. Chillingly beautiful cinematography makes the state's landscapes appear timeless as it sets the stage for a grim history told with archival portraits.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    This isn't about the verities of hip-hop so much as the chaos and confusion of mounting a big production with a slew of stoned MCs.
  21. The characters are so full-bodied and the feelings so raw and complex that I'd call this the best thing he's (Singleton) done to date.
  22. Bridges and Allen are so bracingly good that you're encouraged to overlook how manipulative the proceedings are.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Director Saverio Costanzo shrewdly de-emphasizes the political issues, instead charting the subtle shifts in power between the prisoners and their captors.
  23. Unfortunately the film never establishes either a perspective of its own or a coherent geography of the city, so the politicians pontificating at ceremonies and architects commiserating at building sites become deadly dull long before the the film exhausts its 88 minutes.
  24. The larger considerations and film noir overtones detract too much from the facts of the case, and what emerges are two effective half-films, each partially at odds with the other.
  25. Binoche is especially effective playing a character that seems to have as many layers as her makeup.
  26. As a literary bodice ripper this is better than average, partly because of its glimpses of early-19th-century bohemianism in France and Italy but mostly because Juliette Binoche and Benoit Magimel manage to keep the story hot and unpredictable.
  27. Maybe you'll enjoy it, but don't expect to remember it ten minutes later, or even to believe in the characters while you're watching them.
  28. Considering that none of the characters is fresh or interesting, it's a commendable achievement that the quality of the storytelling alone keeps the movie watchable and likable.
  29. This adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel is commercial to the core.
  30. It reeks of unearned profundity, but I found it entertaining.
  31. Plotted densely enough to make the lulls forgivable, this movie concerns a contract killer (Bruce Willis) who employs several small-business owners to craft his super-high-tech weapons and the many accessories that enable him to assume multiple identities.
  32. Slapdash but good-natured romantic comedy.
  33. The script dawdles, and in spite of a good cast--Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton (who's especially resourceful), Bridget Fonda, and Brent Briscoe--the movie tends to amble around its points rather than drive straight toward the heart of the matter.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Despite the raunchy material, her humor is essentially ethnic, tweaking the stereotype of Asian women as shy and dainty.
  34. There are several solid laughs and some excellent supporting performances. But this is a film to be wary of.
  35. Gilbert would have done well to stick with these witnesses; instead his History Channel-type video presents a dutiful overview of the Brown case.
  36. Kids who are still subject to the slings and arrows of high school will find this a lot funnier than I did, though I did get a bang out of Kal Penn, Kevin Christy, and Kenan Thompson as Cannon's car-crazy pals.
  37. Episodic but entertaining fantasy.
  38. Almost frantically intercutting between the characters, the movie spends so much energy trying to charm us that when the emotional stakes are raised we're too exhausted to care.
  39. The absence of any moral center makes this a bitter pill.
  40. It's a hokey heart-warmer that works.
  41. The unvarnished quality of some of the acting limits this effort in spots, but the quirky originality of the story, characters, and filmmaking keeps one alert and curious.
  42. This thriller is a lot better than you might expect--especially for a Kevin Costner vehicle.
  43. Benjamin Bratt lacks the dynamism one would expect of the commanding officer of a U.S. Rangers rescue unit; James Franco, however, is solid in the less flashy role of the mission's mastermind, and as the POW leader Joseph Fiennes manages to be heroic while prettily languishing from malaria.
  44. Often seems like a Mike Leigh movie viewed in a fun-house mirror.
  45. Shepard is the whole show here, as weathered and elemental as the harsh Bolivian locations; the movie's best scenes are those that pit him against Stephen Rea as a former Pinkerton man who tracked the outlaws for years and can't believe Cassidy is still drawing breath.
  46. Outlandish but gripping paranoid thriller.
  47. There aren't any big laughs, but there's a steady supply of small ones, and with his overgrown-kid persona Ferrell seems more comfortable in a family comedy than, say, Eddie Murphy.
  48. While few of the paper-thin characters register long enough to make much of an impression, Diesel carries the movie.
  49. This special-effects animal-action comedy is for heavily identified pet owners.
  50. Strictly routine as filmmaking, adhering fairly consistently to the sound-bite approach. But given the subject, there's still a great deal of interest here about the life, art, milieu, and political activity of Ginsberg. (Review of Original Release)
  51. What's really fun about this silly but spirited comedy isn't just the ribbing of "swinging London" fashion and social attitudes but the use of the compulsive zooms and split-screen mosaics of commercial movies of the 60s.
  52. Well-acted drama.
  53. Brad Pitt has fun with his secondary part as a pontificating lunatic, but I wish I'd enjoyed the rest of the cast more.
  54. All in all, an entertaining (if ideologically incoherent) response to the valorization of greed in our midst, with lots of Rambo-esque violence thrown in, as well as an unusually protracted slugfest between ex-wrestler Roddy Piper and costar Keith David.
  55. Shot at the same time as "The Matrix Reloaded," this last installment is the shortest of the bunch at 129 minutes, but I still succumbed to special-effects hypnosis in the last hour.
  56. The international Asian stars gamely tackle their English-language roles, aided by superior costumes, makeup, and set design. But despite all the hothouse intrigue, the film lacks passion.
  57. The problem, as always, is that when you try to mix cliches with more complicated data it's often the cliches that win out.
  58. Director Anne Sewitsky aims for quirky humanism along the lines of Finland's Aki Kaurismaki; she's helped along considerably by Kittelsen's sunny performance, though the film crosses over into Scandinavian kitsch with a series of country-swing interludes sung a capella by a male quartet.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    It's an interesting experiment Cronenberg's attempted, if ultimately in the wrong direction.
  59. The English cast is fun; but this is more spectacle than story, and the Steve Kloves script deserves better handling than director Chris Columbus -- plus any number of studio deliberators -- gave it.
  60. Winterbottom and screenwriter Tony Grisoni were clearly motivated by conscience, but I can't help thinking that Stephen Frears's "Dirty Pretty Things," a much more conventional and contrived movie about third-world refugees, will have a greater social impact than this murky art-house item.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Roberts never surmounts the cracker-barrel contrivance of the plot, but his low-key humor, clear affection for the characters, and strong cast are enough to put this gentle drama across.
  61. I was periodically put off by a certain self-conciousness in delivering this material.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Mills pulls off the nonchronological structure with uncommon sensitivity; unfortunately, he also confuses sensitivity with preciousness (recurring scenes show the hero confiding in a Jack Russell terrier).
  62. It's too bad that Pakula allows this 1993 movie to dawdle after its climax, but prior to that he's adept at suggesting unseen menace and keeping things in motion.
  63. The cast is good and the story affecting, though at times Michael Mayer's direction makes the production seem a little choked up over its own enlightenment. Sissy Spacek is memorable in a secondary role.
  64. There are enough plot points to fill an entire soap-opera season, but writer-director Chi Muoi Lo, who also plays the son, somehow manages to juggle them all, turning seemingly superfluous elements into workable drama and metaphor.
  65. This eerily dry drama bravely attempts to show, without resorting to the literal staging of contradictory scenarios, how much perceptions of the same situation can vary.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The CGI effects are so slick that they undercut the movie's shock value, and the action moves too quickly to instill a real sense of fear, but this is still visually impressive, with spectacular make-up, costumes, and cinematography.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Predictable but sincere.
  66. This sequel ups the ante, asking whether urban renewal means anything now other than turning neighborhoods into giant malls.
  67. Writer-director Mark Brown ruptures and restores the realism in this romantic comedy with ease, dispensing earnest wisdom with a little tongue in cheek instead of undermining it with a lot of irony.
  68. Grisman presents, with a sense of humor, the apparent contradictions of a complex personality.
  69. The project was produced in association with National Geographic World Films, a relationship borne out by the movie's cultural detail, rich earth-toned cinematography (by Falorni), and almost complete lack of dramatic tension.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Reeves's film is distinguished by its formal rigor--she makes beautiful use of an array of avant-garde techniques, including overexposed footage and an elliptical voice-over.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Riegert and his cowriter, Gerald Shapiro, breathe some fresh air into the material with their credible characters.
  70. It's a noble undertaking, and Eastwood is stylistically bold enough to create a view of combat based mainly on images that are clearly manufactured. (As with "Saving Private Ryan," the movie's principal source is "The Big Red One," whose director, Samuel Fuller, actually experienced the war.) But this is underimagined and so thesis ridden that it's nearly over before it starts.
  71. Though the film lacks the frantic imagination of its inspiration, Robert Rodriguez's "Spy Kids" franchise, grade-schoolers should still enjoy its fresh-scrubbed humor and fantasies of youthful omnipotence.
  72. Lacks the raw power of the original but offers its own brand of exploitative fun.
  73. With a mug like hers Cervera must have realized this was her big chance to star in a musical, and she gives a dazzling performance.
  74. Until the story diverges from a similar agenda, the gags about the daily grind and what happens when a drone forgets how to be submissive make for beautifully low-key satire, and the caricatures of office types seem clever.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Michael Chiklis (of the cop show "The Shield") steals the movie as the agonized Thing.
  75. The cast--including Julianna Margulies, Olivia Williams, James Coburn, and Anjelica Huston--keeps this pretty watchable, and casting Mick Jagger as director of the escort service was inspired.
  76. Given all the filmed memory pieces about screaming, violent Italian-American families in New York boroughs, I'm not especially thrilled by even a well-made example.
  77. The Pang brothers rely heavily on visual razzle-dazzle (courtesy of cinematographer Decha Srimantra) and startling sound effects to work up the scares.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Rebecca Miller's second feature shows her to be a careful but somewhat schematic scenarist; her shaky directorial skills are partly offset by her skill at eliciting convincing portrayals from actors.
  78. The tone seesaws between comic wackiness and romantic sincerity, with Paltrow better suited to the latter.
  79. Seriously gruesome docudrama.
  80. There's something more than a little perverse about taking one of the most timid, self-effacing heroines in English literature and turning her into a paragon of modern free-spirited womanhood.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The task of dramatizing this proved too difficult for Niels Arden Oplev when he directed a Swedish adaptation in 2009, but as Fincher demonstrated in "Social Network," he knows how to make information technology eerily seductive. Unfortunately Larsson's salacious plot elements - mass murder, Nazism, and the like - feel just as shallow as they did in the earlier version.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    In this cute 2001 children's feature from the Netherlands, the title cat magically transforms into a woman (Carice von Houten, later of Paul Verhoeven's Black Book) and assists a beat reporter with his field research.
  81. As usual, Tarantino's sense of fun is infectious but fairly heartless.
  82. Even as a simple genre picture it works only in fits and starts.
  83. This French variation on the backwoods horror movie proves that even a little thematic complexity in the early scenes can yield a substantial payoff when things get going.
  84. One gets a pungent look at what makes being a pimp look attractive to some people in certain circumstances.

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