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 Badlands
Lowest review score: 0 Ninja Assassin
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. Nora Ephron, who wrote and directed this, repeatedly alludes to the 1957 "An Affair to Remember" as her principal point of reference, yet at no point does she indicate any awareness of what makes that tragicomic love story sublime and this one merely cutesy.
  2. Producer-star Tom Cruise handed this one to alumni from the TV spy drama "Alias," and the result is nearly as good as the series' best, Woo's Mission: Impossible 2.
  3. This Argentinean comedy is short on plot and leisurely in its character development, though by the end it's become a modest and genial portrait of a dysfunctional family.
  4. If you can get into the spirit of the proceedings, you're likely to find some fun.
  5. As disposable fun, this is every bit as enjoyable and as forgettable as most Hollywood equivalents.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Survivors of the 70s may find their memories stirred by tales of cruising Studio 54 and the Saint, of abandoned piers and empty Allied vans; younger viewers may be fascinated by the contrast between these balding middle-aged men and their black-and-white snapshots, showing them in tight jeans, flannel shirts, long hair, and Zapata mustaches.
  6. This downbeat indie drama gives the leads a few excellent scenes together, and they acquit themselves credibly. But there's also a fair amount of wilted comedy from the stock supporting characters.
  7. One of the most technically proficient of David Cronenberg's early gnawing, Canadian-made horror movies, though it lacks both the logic and the queasy sexual subtext that made his still earlier work - "Rabid," "They Came From Within" - so memorably revolting.
  8. Aside from the Pirandellian games and some interplay of different film stocks there isn't much going on here, though von Trier rewards the patient with a strange and horrifying climax.
  9. With its chase scenes, shoot-outs, explosions, and special effects, this looks more like Jerry Bruckheimer product than a traditional Disney feature. But there are also some light-hearted moments, the best occurring at a UFO convention where the aliens seem more normal than the earthlings.
  10. The movie gets off to a weak start, but the jokes get progressively more bent.
  11. DuBowski focuses on religious faith as much as sexual preference, which may be the most interesting aspect of the film.
  12. This pleasant romantic comedy is essentially "Far From Heaven" with the races reversed.
  13. There's something stirring and gutsy about this evocation of collective ferment -- not to mention timely, in the wake of the Seattle uprising against the World Trade Organization.
  14. The main problem is that Burton operates best on a modest scale; saddled with a blockbuster, he doesn't know how to animate all the dead space.
  15. Be forewarned: this comedy bears only the faintest resemblance to the classic book and film of the same name.
  16. Mimi Leder directed Michael Schiffer's script, handling some of the action sequences deftly enough to promote the latent idea that people who don't speak English don't deserve to live.
  17. As a moral reconsideration of the role of violence in previous Eastwood films, this is strong and sure, and characters who play against genre expectations give the film a provocative aftertaste. The only limitation, really, is that the picture hasn't much dramatic urgency apart from its revisionist context.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Expect nothing but pure showbiz and you won't be disappointed.
    • 26 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Like the drive-in classics of Roger Corman and Samuel Z. Arkoff, this develops the principal characters and conflicts with just enough depth and keeps the narrative moving at a brisk pace.
  18. Fans of the famed porn star, who died of AIDS in 1988, will want to catch this exhaustive 1998 video biography.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    When Sayles has a compelling story line he's one of America's finest (Matewan, Lone Star), but when he doesn't he can be dull and unfocused. Filling out the latter category is this ensemble drama about piracy, both personal and economic, on an island off the coast of northern Florida.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Nonfans may be put off by its relative lack of dramatic tension and soft-focus analog video.
  19. At times the plot developments in this post-Tarantino story seem so random they suggest automatic writing, but the characters and some of the settings kept me interested.
  20. Roth puts a sardonic spin on the puritanism of the 80s slasher.
  21. Would be sweeter if the fair maiden weren't such a pill and more exciting if the villain weren't quite so nasty.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    To showcase the special effects, the filmmakers reportedly trimmed many of the dialogue-based scenes, thereby dulling the dramatic impact of a strong genre premise.
  22. This French biopic of Nicolas Sarkozy plays like a competent TV miniseries, moving briskly and focusing on the hustle and bustle of electoral politics as the protagonist climbs toward the presidency.
  23. What's mainly missing is the sort of conviction and passion that gave El mariachi its charge; one feels at almost every moment that Rodriguez is fulfilling a contract rather than saying something he has to say. There's a lot of panache here, but not much inspiration.
  24. Brainlessly efficient action thriller.
  25. Images about imagery can be diverting, even insightful, but this painterly 1999 feature piles up studies in elaborately choreographed motion that are their own reason for being.
  26. Gets a little soapy, but the dismal working-class milieu and the measured performances by Mezzogiorno and Girotti (a venerable Italian actor who died last year ) bolster the sense of solidity.
  27. This comedy-drama was written by Simon Beaufoy, who brought us "The Full Monty," and it has some of the same gamy mix of alternative sexuality and working-class heart.
  28. The film flits from one relationship to another, dispensing some well-acted bedroom scenes and a fair amount of angst and philosophical dialogue in a neighborhood bar.
  29. Though it easily surpasses most American action flicks, it suffers from the old commercial imperative of making the protagonist a nice guy, something Refn has seldom bothered with in Europe.
  30. An engaging look at what baseball might have been like in the era before big money, with players who love the game struggling to survive.
  31. There are plenty of funny moments, as well as a sweet subplot involving the unkempt drummer and the guitarist's no-nonsense mom (Christina Applegate).
  32. Cher generates much of the movie's limited interest with her powerful screen presence, and Maggie Smith's skill as a diplomat's widow who believes she has a special relationship with Mussolini is undeniable. Yet the story, structured by the fragmented perspectives of too many characters, is more often lightweight than funny.
  33. But the inspirational aspects of the tale--which mainly has to do with the determination of Close to form a vocal orchestra at the camp, despite the class divisions between the women--never quite carry the dramatic impact they're supposed to.
  34. For a kids' picture this is relatively funny.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    It's smart, swanky, and good-looking, but strangely, it's not all that funny.
  35. A few of the bad-taste gags are funny, and Carrey's grimaces have a certain inspired delirium, but this is a long way from the social comedy of Jerry Lewis.
  36. This doomsday scenario takes up the first third of the movie, after which the tension dissipates badly and the husband and wife, now separated by plastic sheeting, wait for help to arrive.
  37. Broomfield, whose celebrity exposés are known for their intrusiveness and innuendo, lost me with his gentle shower scene between an Iraqi woman and her husband; even if it wasn't invented, is it really any of our business?
  38. Fortunately for the company, Largo turns out to be a formidable knife fighter in the corporate sense; fortunately for this sleek, empty thriller, he turns out to be a formidable knife fighter in the street sense too.
  39. The best, Shaking Tokyo, stars the versatile Teruyuki Kagawa.
  40. Whether or not she's alive is the question that's supposed to animate this ostensibly metaphysical horror movie, but thematic rigor mortis sets in long before the final reel.
  41. Stylish color schemes make this pleasing to look at, though the uneven narrative is both a minus and a plus--in one of the best scenes, beggars do an impromptu celebratory dance in the salon.
  42. Whether the character is supposed to be a stand-in for Cody, who grew up in the western 'burbs of Chicago and has since won an Oscar, is more than I can say, but the movie suffers from the sort of self-pitying fog that can envelop a writer when he dives into his own malaise.
  43. Glodell seems to be reaching for the nihilistic buddy romance of a movie like "Mean Streets" (1973), but without the serious intent; despite all the roiling emotions, this begins to feel like a pile-up of macho fetish items and stylistic affectations.
  44. Like some laid-back distant cousin of Tim Burton, writer-director Goran Dukic manages to balance the ghoulishness with whimsy and melancholy, at least for a while. But the strain is obvious in the story's last third, as the filmmaker struggles toward a resolution that fits the logic of the hero's netherworld.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    As in most of Wang's films, a memorable cast of characters compensates for a serviceable plot.
  45. The argument is so tilted against windmills (sorry) that this comes perilously close to an advocacy video. But Israel deserves credit for delivering the bad news that wind power, like natural gas and nuclear, comes with its own array of social and environmental headaches.
  46. Unfortunately, as in many such big-screen comic books, the backstory beats the hell out of the present-tense plot.
  47. Only Depp and Ray Liotta (as Jung's father) manage to animate this tired formula.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The visual effects are as gleefully shoddy as ever, and the playful ideas sometimes achieve a dreamlike suggestiveness.
  48. A bathetic TV-movie-type "learning experience" that provides about as much insight into teenagers as 40s westerns did into Indians--it's all in the costumes and customs.
  49. Broadly speaking, the popular literary biopic is a hopeless subgenre, but this account of the relationship between Sylvia Plath and husband and fellow poet Ted Hughes manages to test the rule thanks to its unusual seriousness and first-rate performances.
  50. The lesson of this barely stylish crime thriller is that a dull story is not improved by withholding information about characters' motives from the audience as long as possible.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Old-time music aficionado John Hartford is on hand to hold it all together, and in fact his presence is the most gripping element of this disappointingly flat production.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Two interesting asides: the director and most of the cast aren't gay, and the film is based on a true story from 1996 -- the real Iron Ladies are shown, too briefly, during the closing credits.
  51. The famously passive-aggressive musicians manage to keep any real drama offscreen; the overriding impression is of four people enduring each other long enough to get their retirement portfolios in order.
  52. Another miscalculation by sophomore director Michael Mayer.
  53. Perhaps it's fitting that a movie about the early CIA be tangled and opaque, but this drama loosely based on the life of uberspook James Angleton verges on incoherence.
  54. I'm a sucker for fantasies, but this one is so undistinguished and arbitrary that it left few traces in my consciousness, apart from the impression that the filmmakers resort to cruelty whenever they run out of ideas, which is often.
  55. Light-bodied comedy.
  56. W.
    It's most entertaining for its stunt casting of movie stars as the president's family and advisers.
  57. Filmmakers Garrett Scott and Ian Olds offer a damning chronicle of failure and chaos.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The movie hits a surprising range of emotional grace notes, including several moments of genuine regret, and concludes with an understated moral lesson about the value of self-respect over social status, something that would never happen in an Allen film.
  58. The theatrical monologues come close to defeating him (Wenders), and only Jessica Lange, as one of Shepard's abandoned girlfriends, manages to avoid cliche.
  59. Well-intentioned but obvious drama.
  60. It's tempting to accuse director and star Kevin Costner of taking the idea of vanity production to a new level in this frontier adventure based on a book by David Brin.
  61. The characters quickly succumb to stereotype.
  62. Brian Cox does sturdy work as the minister who helps Obree combat depression, and first-time director Douglas Mackinnon gets a big assist from Obree himself, who doubled for Miller in some shots and filmed others with a camera strapped to his handlebars.
  63. Jeff Wadlow directed this exploitation flick, which seems designed for students on spring break.
  64. Promises more than it delivers.
  65. This pretentious 2005 art movie is somewhat interesting for its wide-screen photography of the striking locale, but the storytelling is awkward and confusing.
  66. Despite some amateurish moments, Pulido displays genuine visual intelligence, using repeated static angles to emphasize the blandness of the family's anonymous tract house and moving with the characters as they try to individualize themselves.
  67. God save us when director Taylor Hackford decides to become a metaphysician and Al Pacino decides to demonstrate his genius by reading the phone book--or, to be precise, a script only slightly less repetitive and long-winded.
  68. For a movie that consists almost entirely of real sex and real rock 'n' roll, 9 Songs feels remarkably conventional.
  69. If you're happy to watch a thriller about a tenth as good as Alfred Hitchcock's, director D.J. Caruso and screenwriters Christopher B. Landon and Carl Ellsworth hold up their end of the deal, at least until the proceedings devolve into standard horror-movie effects and minimal motivations.
  70. The comic scenes can be arch or shrill, but director Marcos Siega (Pretty Persuasion) does better when the story turns somber and the emotions feel genuine.
  71. Flat and unconvincing.
  72. The filmmakers seem to think they can also manipulate us by combining the erotic with the disgusting. And they can--it's a foolproof tactic.
  73. The current burlesque revival is a throwback to ostensibly more innocent times, and writer-director Steven Antin finds something redemptive in each character.
  74. Writer-director James Mottern has a reasonably good feel for the textures of blue-collar life, but he pounds home the life lessons, underscoring them with poignant country-western songs.
  75. First-time director James Gartner observes all the rituals--the coach busting chops, the team sneaking out to party--but the players are indifferently characterized and the civil rights story has a fake Black History Month feel.
  76. Thanks to Gina Prince-Blythewood's treacly screenplay and plodding direction, the movie quickly congeals into a mess of sentimental cliches.
  77. Director Paul Greengrass has applied his jumpy, tumbling visual style to action blockbusters with Matt Damon and serious dramatizations of political events. This Iraq war drama makes a game attempt to meld the two, though manufacturing thrills takes precedence over any kind of journalistic insight.
  78. All I got was this lousy movie. OK, it's not that bad, though in contrast to "Ocean's Eleven," which gave its megastars a neat little heist story, this sequel is both contrived and convoluted.
  79. The force of the social criticism is diminished by contrivance and the inclusion of peripheral material.
  80. The movie's suggestiveness gives way to a certain thinness and lassitude.
  81. Rather wan in its anything-goes spirit of invention, the movie has a surprisingly low number of laughs; some of the initial premises are good, but there's very little energy in the follow-through, and this time Murray's listlessness seems more anemic than comic.
  82. Samberg can't carry this, though director Akiva Schaffer supplies some hilarious, "Jackass"-style wipeouts and there are nice supporting turns from Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers) as Rod's love interest and Bill Hader as one of his goofball friends.
  83. The special effects, for once, are witty rather than overblown, and director Nora Ephron, writing with her sister Delia, handles the material with some grace and confidence.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    It's odd that a movie featuring a great classical director is notable for some extremely contemporary acting.
  84. His story demands to be heard, though Tucker and Epperlein lack the material for a full feature and pad this out to 73 minutes with some incongruously playful elements (spy music, comic-book illustrations, scenes of Abbas frolicking at a beach).
    • 45 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    While the film's premise is shamelessly hokey and Joe Nussbaum's direction is at best pedestrian, props are due the young cast, especially Bynes, whose can-do optimism seems genuine if ultimately overdone.
  85. Watchable, if at times familiar.
  86. Pine, who expertly approximated William Shatner in the Star Trek reboot, seems to have picked up some of the actor's air of self-serious buffoonery, and it suits him well; as Witherspoon's best pal, late-night TV comedian Chelsea Handler holds down what might be called the Nora Ephron part, dispensing an endless stream of bawdy man jokes.

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