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 Paprika
Lowest review score: 0 Transylmania
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. I hate to rap this serious-minded filmmaker, but I'm beginning to wonder whether her scripts aren't better realized when they're held in check.
  2. Watchable exercise in Zen hokum.
  3. As his wisecracking roomie, Smith keeps this contrived chick flick afloat, managing to steer past the kind of egregious product placement that would have capsized a less agile performer.
  4. Weird anachronisms (cars, telephones, home computers) contribute to the craziness, but despite the copious imagination on display, this is a fairly long haul.
  5. The film never strays much beyond the obvious, despite a conscientious effort by Tim Robbins to humanize a white security officer.
  6. Canned racial uplift and tear-streaked faces abound, though they're offset somewhat by a nicely funky blaxploitation vibe.
  7. This is the usual cartoon of hound dogs, roadhouses, antebellum mansions, and Civil War reenactments. Aside from that, it's not a bad date movie.
  8. Only loosely connected to the story, the visuals quickly grow monotonous, and as the chronicle arrives at Cobain's late years of curdled fame and fortune, his bitterness and cynicism make even the narration hard to take.
  9. All the comedy, tragedy, and various obstacles to romance seem to have been contrived to divert the story from its tendency toward pulp erotica.
  10. Pederson has no smoking gun that connects Nashi to dirty tricks or violence, but there are plenty of both swirling around Moscow.
  11. You don't have to get too far into Kazuo Ishiguro's brilliant 2005 novel Never Let Me Go to realize it's hopelessly unfilmable.
  12. This culinary fantasy is mildly inspired.
  13. The setup for this Oliver Stone drama keeps its iconic villain so far removed from the financial action that he seems like a dog tied up outside a restaurant.
  14. The behind-the-scenes tragedy gives Gilliam an easy excuse for the dull chaos that engulfs the story, but he might have generated it all on his own.
  15. The movie lapses into a listless romantic triangle.
  16. Though the questionable motives and bad planning of offscreen characters who far outrank Gibson make it difficult to take at face value one soldier's last words -- "I'm glad I could die for my country" -- some viewers will, which may be as the filmmakers intended.
  17. The unusually thoughtful dialogue and soul-searching performances make this romantic drama seem deeper than it is.
  18. A lumpy stew of weak characterization, lame gags, ADD-afflicted storytelling, and dazzling visual.
  19. As a cautionary tale about the perils of nation building, this is both creepy and provocative, but director Rodrigo Cortés blows it in the last few minutes with a rushed ending that feels like a cheat after all the escalating tension.
  20. Sublimely stupid.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Kim keeps dialogue to a minimum and provides the barest of story arcs, using a handheld camera to probe subtle shifts of emotion in her nonprofessional actors.
  21. Ryan's abrasive and rather creepy character is something of a departure for her.
  22. Under the circumstances, MacLaine, Costner, and Ruffalo acquit themselves well.
  23. If not all the gags work, the overall irreverence and all-American anomie are fairly contagious.
  24. Zemeckis captures all the story’s terror, but its pathos has always been the real challenge, and it mostly eludes him.
  25. Chris Klein steals the film as a rival ex-nerd, now the most gorgeous guy in town, while director Roger Kumble (Cruel Intentions) cribs from the Farrelly brothers and the Three Stooges.
  26. Peter Hyams, a pretty good cinematographer but a mediocre director, goes to work on a script by Andrew W. Marlowe that's designed to carry us from one bit of hyperbole to the next.
  27. The earnestness of some of the drama in the only deceptively unsophisticated narrative may be more shocking than any of the gross-outs.
  28. Bong's opening and climactic scenes, in which the old woman bops around to a dance tune amid a vast field of yellow grass, are typical of the movie's cockeyed poetry.
  29. One can certainly be amused and entertained by writer-director Michael Davis's hyperbolic action frolics--I was--but not without feeling pretty low and stupid.
  30. I've heard it said that Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the most talented character actors currently working, can't carry a film himself, and unfortunately this indie feature isn't meaty enough to prove otherwise.
  31. So lackluster both as an homage and as a story in its own right that I was already forgetting it before it was over.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    As werewolf Jake, Taylor Lautner does his best to salvage things by showing his bare chest through almost the entire movie, and the rest of the cast struggles gamely, but the script sucks the life out of them. This is definitely the worst installment of the franchise to date.
  32. Less magic also means less fun and discovery, as Harry battles depression and a hostile press; this is the bleakest Potter installment to date, and under David Yates's choppy direction, Maggie Smith, Emma Thompson, Brendan Gleeson, and David Thewlis have little more than walk-ons.
  33. In these dusty American settings, the wistful melancholy of Wong's earlier movies seems fairly contrived.
  34. The only other adaptations I've seen of the Alexandre Dumas novel (which I haven't read) are the Classics Illustrated comic book and the 1939 James Whale potboiler, both of which I prefer to this vulgar and overwrought 1998 free-for-all, which makes you wait interminably for the story's central narrative premise.
  35. Poor distribution doomed the original movie, though Romero has stuck around long enough to serve as executive producer of this respectable update by Breck Eisner.
  36. The whole thing feels throwaway, but some of the gags are funny.
  37. The movie's studied tranquillity will appeal to some, though its embrace of traditional village life struck me as self-satisfied to the point of smugness.
  38. Christophe Honoré collaborated with Anne-Sophie Birot on the script of her excellent "Girls Can't Swim," but left to his own devices, he seems like a relatively dull cousin of Arnaud Desplechin (My Sex Life . . . or How I Got Into an Argument).
  39. Cox and three others have produced a swift and economical script, but it's just porn with a different money shot--not graphic violence per se but the sort of blood-soaked crime scene that sells true-crime paperbacks.
  40. Director Chad Friedrichs works around Jandek's never having revealed his identity by interpolating shots of the PO box and rocks on the beach with the talking heads of fans, critics, and journalists, and lots of Jandek's wistful, haunting music.
  41. But the bland plot involves nested crimes gone awry and a bad car chase or two, and its bulky, styleless exposition is hard to wait out.
  42. Pretty funny caper comedy.
  43. As a romantic comedy this is a cut above the norm, satirical in its treatment of both spiritually bereft New Yorkers and materialistic Indian immigrants.
  44. Demands that we see as coincidental if not ironic the ease with which Fraser cuts a rug at a swing club when he's hopelessly naive about everything else that's being revived in the 90s when he emerges.
  45. Tasteful, unremarkable art-house fare, rescued from complete irrelevance by Stephen Dillane's bottled-up performance as a writer scarred by the Holocaust.
  46. Proves that a movie can be true to life and still seem utterly preposterous.
  47. Eva Mozes Kor, the lecturer and activist at the center of Forgiving Dr. Mengele, is most notable for her zeal in refusing to be a victim.
  48. Allen gets a chance to unload all his usual patronizing contempt for and middle-class "wisdom" about his own working-class origins.
  49. The movie has plenty to engage one's interest but little to sustain it.
  50. Apart from the grim forebodings of tragedy, writer-director Nick Cassavetes seems to have modeled this ambitious docudrama on Larry Clark's kiddie-porn shockers, but he doesn't know what to leave out, and the movie becomes excessively complicated with ancillary agendas.
  51. Unbelievably pretentious and a bit of a hoot but rarely boring.
  52. This atmosphere-heavy drama, with its comfortably quirky characters, elegant performances, and ever shifting tone, is so innocuous it's not worth panning.
  53. McAdams is typically effervescent here, but she can't rescue this weak comedy from a wooden Ford, whose stick-up-the-ass character is unimaginatively goosed by screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna.
  54. This video profile by Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller allows his significance to register and his charisma to shine despite a pedestrian approach that's especially awkward in its use of archival footage.
  55. Drawn to these fumbling kids, Hurt gradually opens up about his one great, tragic love (Maria Bello), but any catharsis is circumvented by his floundering costars and their risibly cornpone dialogue.
  56. Washes onto the big screen with a tide of weak one-liners, exaggerated reactions, and vaguely nauseating gags.
  57. The gentle Wood isn't very convincing as a bare-knuckle brawler (which bodes ill for his forthcoming role as Iggy Pop), and the movie settles into a payback soap opera reminiscent of "West Side Story."
    • 36 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Rife with the oldest and simplest pleasures of 3-D movies: all sorts of objects fly at the camera, and the climactic battle takes place over a deep, dark chasm. At its best the movie suggests a funhouse at a state-of-the-art county fair; at its worst it's a fairly dumb celebration of brute violence.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    There's a brooding, agonized quality to the violence that almost seems subversive, as if Verhoeven were both appalled and fascinated by his complicity in the toxic action rot.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Zoo
    Interviewees are too busy excusing themselves to offer much illumination into their desires, and Devor's moody style (silhouettes, reenactments, an ominously throbbing score) only heightens the sleazy Dateline NBC feel.
  58. This quirky indie romance is beguiling at first but later succumbs to artifice.
  59. Atypically lame, this is more for spiritual tourists than admirers of "Aguirre: The Wrath of God."
  60. Watchable but not very gripping. Patricia Clarkson does her best with an underwritten part as the young man's terminally ill mother, and British actor Ken Stott is excellent as the grieving husband she leaves behind.
  61. Director Brian De Palma will probably take the rap for this tepid noir, but the real culprits are Josh Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson, red-hot lovers in life but (as ever) gorgeous stiffs on-screen.
  62. Despite a brisk opening and some agreeable (if sloppy) choreography at the very end, I was less than tickled by the premise of David Serrano's script, that the characters lie to and betray one another as naturally as they breathe.
  63. There's not much humor to keep it all life-size, and by the final stretch it's become bloated, mechanical, and tiresome.
  64. Michael Mann was one of the producers, and his daughter Ami Canaan Mann directed; a couple more Manns fill out the credits, which makes you wonder why they couldn't just have a nice picnic and softball game at a state park somewhere.
  65. The real problem, however, is the male protagonist and his foul inner life: Almodovar's impressive recent work has focused on the rich emotionality of women, and though the film provides an interesting take on gender and submission, this sort of nastiness just isn't his thing.
  66. Eastwood is still a primal force on-screen, but his unusual practice of shooting scripts as written, which served him well on "Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby," here leaves him exposed to Nick Schenk's familiar situations and awkward dialogue.
  67. Moodysson’s meticulous attention to surfaces allows him to draw a stark contrast between the Americans’ affluence and the Asians’ poverty, but his final observation--that somehow the rich will muddle through--is hardly a bold statement.
  68. This is based on actual events, but it feels a lot like television.
  69. Not having read the Richler novel, I can't comment on the movie's fidelity to it, but this has the overstuffed feel of a sprawling, life-spanning story that's been wrestled down to feature length.
  70. Mined for comedy and milked for drama, though what results is diminished by the very framing device contrived to punch it up.
  71. The pseudomystical vagueness that seems to be Spielberg's stock-in-trade stifles most of the particularity of the source.
  72. Characters occasionally address the camera, which helps disentangle the competing story lines of madness, adultery, and betrayal.
  73. Jayce Bartok--who plays Stanford's irresponsible musician brother--wrote the screenplay, whose central story of doomed young love gets lost amid the overplotting.
  74. The genre shows serious signs of wear in this needlessly fictionalized feature about Vince Papale.
  75. Gardos -- treats it competently, though without much freshness or imagination.
  76. A killer ending does not a movie make, and ultimately In the Bedroom may be more interesting to talk about than sit through.
  77. Despite the two-hours-plus running time, major plot developments like the actual escape and the eventual departure of Colin Farrell's hardened Stalinist flit by so quickly that they barely register.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    In a sense, Caravaggio has less to do with its ostensible subject than with Jarman's own insistence on sensual, and largely homoerotic, expression, though there's a feeling of stifling enclosure to the images Jarman invents, of eros turned inward, toward private fantasy and longing, rather than outward to a world of real possibility.
  78. Garcia seems to be aping the "Godfather" movies and Warren Beatty's "Reds," but the movie's gracefulness is limited to its handling of the music (some of which Garcia wrote).
  79. Mike White contributed to the script, and though he shares with the Hesses an innocence that can be both sweet and slightly grotesque (e.g., Chuck and Buck), his influence is most evident here in the conventional plotting.
  80. The SF hardware (enjoyable) and thriller mechanics (mechanical) of this Jerry Bruckheimer slam-banger don't mesh very well with reflection, and the action trumps most evidence of thought.
  81. This passable live-action feature from Christian mogul Philip Anschutz (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) also relies heavily on the voices, though the actors are sometimes miscast (Julia Roberts as the spider) or chosen more for their on-screen personas than their pipes (Steve Buscemi as the rat).
  82. Whereas "Posession" was relatively light on its feet, this is so overloaded from the outset that it can only sink.
  83. It's fun, instructive, and stimulating, but never beautiful. Ultimately it's limited by its compulsion to knock our socks off at every turn and to compare itself with "Alice in Wonderland."
  84. Kruger's elaborations on the original mystery are superfluous, but Watts gives this everything she's got.
  85. Despite a certain originality, the movie isn't really a success, not only because the plot bites off more than it can chew (the film doesn't conclude; it simply stops), but also because, like its hero, it has some trouble distinguishing between petty irritations and cataclysmic traumas.
  86. The main activity charted in the documentary is a kind of adolescent mischief, as Dick and a private investigator seek to uncover and expose the anonymous MPAA employees.
  87. Being male, I can't relate to this at all; on the other hand, I don't need Midol either, but I'm glad it's on the market.
  88. This was shot at the legendary Ealing Studios, but I hesitate to call it a British comedy: its two stars are American, it currently has no UK release date, and its innocuous naughtiness seems pitched at grandmothers who watch BBC America.
  89. The Coens' lack of interest in Mississippi is fortunately joined by a healthy appreciation of gospel music, while their smirking appreciation of stupidity extends to every character in the movie while including no one in the audience.
  90. Smarter than its predecessor, the movie aims for the "High School Musical" market.
  91. Cox has some wonderfully funny moments, but both actors are playing heavily to type.
  92. As predictable as the alphabet but should hold particular appeal to women whose maternal impulses inflect their mating instincts.
  93. Silly but fairly harmless.
  94. Wyatt Cenac, the latest addition to "The Daily Show" With Jon Stewart, is the best reason to see this easygoing romantic comedy.

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