Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 4,734 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 74% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 24% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 9.3 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 American Hustle
Lowest review score: 0 Dirty Love
Score distribution:
4,734 movie reviews
  1. O Brother contains sequences that are wonderful in themselves--lovely short films--but the movie never really shapes itself into a whole.
  2. It's skillfully mounted and fitfully intriguing, but weaves such a tangled web that at the end I defy anyone in the audience to explain the exact loyalties and motives of the leading characters.
  3. Tequila Sunrise is an intriguing movie with interesting characters, but it might have worked better if it had found a cleaner narrative line from beginning to end. It's hard to surrender yourself to a film that seems to be toying with you.
  4. She (Taymor) doesn't capture Shakespeare's tone (or his meaning, I believe), but she certainly has boldness in her reinvention.
  5. The movie does have charm and moments of humor, but what it doesn't have is romance.
  6. A sweet, innocent family movie about stray dogs that seem as well-trained as Olympic champions. Friday, the Jack Russell terrier who's the leader of the pack, does more acting than most of the humans, and doesn't even get billing.
  7. The weakness of the film is the weakness of the leading role. That's not a criticism of Mark Wahlberg, who has a quite capable range, but of how he and Russell see the character.
  8. We can enjoy the suspense of the opening scenes, and some of the drama. The performances are in keeping with the material. But toward the end, when we realize that the entire reality of the film is problematical, there is a certain impatience. It's as if our chain is being yanked.
  9. It's innocent and sometimes kind of charming. The sets are entertaining. There are parallels in appearance and theme to a low-rent "Dark City."
  10. The story is determined to be colorful and melodramatic, like a soap opera where the characters suffer in ways that look intriguing.
  11. Dead Snow, as you may have gathered, is a comedy, but played absolutely seriously by sincere, earnest young actors.
  12. It looks great. The technical credits are impeccable, and Clooney and Kidman negotiate assorted dangers skillfully. But it's mostly spare parts from other thrillers.
  13. A little more fury might have been a whole lot better.
  14. As a source of information about his life and work, this interview is almost worthless, but as an insight into his style, it is priceless.
  15. It's a film you enjoy in pieces, but the jigsaw never gets solved.
  16. Absorbing, if somewhat slow-paced, and has without doubt the most blood-curdling scene of live childbirth in a PG-13 movie.
  17. It circles the possibility of mental and spiritual infidelity like a cat wondering if a mouse might still be alive. Watching it, I felt it would be fascinating to see a movie that was really, truthfully, fearlessly about this subject.
  18. This is not a film most people will enjoy. Its qualities are apparent only if appreciates cinematic style for itself.
  19. Seen simply as a film, The Motorcycle Diaries is attenuated and tedious. We understand that Ernesto and Alberto are friends, but that's about all we find out about them; they develop none of the complexities of other on-the-road couples, like Thelma and Louise, Bonnie and Clyde or Huck and Jim. There isn't much chemistry.
  20. It's the kind of movie you can sit back and enjoy, as long as you don't make the mistake of thinking too much.
  21. After seeing Gere and Roberts play much smarter people (even in romantic comedies), it is painful to see them dumbed down here. The screenplay is so sluggish, they're like Derby winners made to carry extra weight.
  22. Director Todd Phillips has delivered a film so different from the first two, one could even ask if this is even supposed to be a comedy. I'm not saying it's an unfunny comedy wannabe; I'm saying it plays more like a straightforward, real-world thriller with a few laughs than a hard-R slapstick farce.
  23. Never quite attains takeoff velocity.
  24. Never comes alive.
  25. That the movie is fun is undeniable. That it is bad is inarguable.
  26. Things play out in predictable fashion, and we’re more than ready to bid farewell to these people and feel grateful they don’t live on our block.
  27. Strange, how good feardotcom is, and how bad. The screenplay is a mess, and yet the visuals are so creative this is one of the rare bad films you might actually want to see.
  28. The movie's problem is that no one seemed to have any fun making it, and it's hard to have much fun watching it. It's a depressing experience.
  29. This whole movie is crazy, with all sorts of well-known folks stumbling and bumbling about in search of a character. At times Reach Me is undeniably intriguing, mostly because it’s just so weird and disconnected. Eventually, though, it just becomes tiresome.
  30. A movie with a lot of funny one-liners, but no place to go with them.
  31. There's a point at which the plot crosses an invisible line, becoming so preposterous that it's no longer moving and is just plain weird.
  32. Love is blind, and movies about that blindness can be maddening.
  33. Too cluttered and busy, but as a glimpse into the affluent culture of a country with economic extremes, it's intriguing. Occasionally it's funny and moving, too.
  34. All of this is intriguing material, but the movie doesn't do much with it.
  35. Proves to be unsatisfactory because it establishes a well-defined group of characters and shows them disrupted by the careless behavior of a tiresome young woman and two adults who allow themselves to be motivated in one way or another by her infectious libido.
  36. This is a well-made thriller traveling over awfully familiar turf.
  37. In the real world, Elle Woods would be chewed up faster than one of little Bruiser's Milk-Bones.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Somewhere in the laundry list of clichés, there is a movie here that we have already seen and forgotten.
  38. The screenplay creates a sense of foreboding and afterboding, but no actual boding.
  39. There is no entry portal in The Rules of Attraction, and I spent most of the movie feeling depressed by the shallow, selfish, greedy characters. I wanted to be at another party.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    As amiable and formfitting as Ghostbusters II can be, it's a thin, dimly conceived affair. For all its rave-up special effects, it adds little to director Ivan Reitman's original, which itself was no fountain of wit but at least had a fresh gimmick going for it. [16 Jun 1989, p.37]
    • Chicago Sun-Times
  40. It's a long, shapeless, undisciplined mess, and every once in awhile it generates a big laugh.
  41. From its juvenile double entendre title to its fascination with prison rape and homophobic humor, “Get Hard” practically announces itself as an offensive, tired and unimaginative comedy in nearly every scene. And yet I didn’t hate it because Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart had such terrific comedic chemistry.
  42. As an idea, the film is fascinating, but as an experience it grows tedious; the concerts lack closeups, the sex lacks context, and Antarctica could use a few penguins.
  43. That the new Casanova lacks such wit is fatal. Heath Ledger is a good actor but Hallstrom's film is busy and unfocused, giving us the view of Casanova's ceaseless activity but not the excitement. It's a sitcom when what is wanted is comic opera.
  44. The movie is pleasant enough, but never quite reaches critical mass as a comedy.
  45. They are, in fact, likable. That's why their comedy is so sad.
  46. The big action set pieces fizzle. And that’s not good for a fantasy adventure movie, especially when the fantasy component is frequently undercut by sub-standard special effects.
  47. Nymphomaniac Part 1 grows flat and monotonous, and comes across as just what it is: half a film.
  48. The plot is lame, but that doesn't matter, because Dumb and Dumber is essentially pitched at the level of an "Airplane!"-style movie, with rapid-fire sight gags.
  49. My own feeling is that the film is one more assault on the notion that young American audiences might be expected to enjoy films with at least some subtlety and depth and pacing and occasional quietness. The filmmakers apparently believe their audience suffers from ADD, and so they supply breakneck action and screaming sound volumes at all times.
  50. A sometimes wickedly funny but ultimately sour, loud, draining tale of one of the most dysfunctional families in modern American drama. And that’s saying a lot.
  51. Director Scott Derrickson and his co-writer, Paul Harris Boardman, deliver a routine procedural with unremarkable frights.
  52. The Distinguished Gentleman prefers to give us measured laughs at a leisurely pace, and then it settles for the sellout upbeat ending. Ho hum.
  53. A few loopholes I can forgive. But when a plot is riddled with them -- I get distracted.
  54. Soppy and sentimental, it evokes "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" without improving on it.
  55. On a technical level, there's a lot to be said for Die Hard. It's when we get to some of the unnecessary adornments of the script that the movie shoots itself in the foot.
  56. House of Wax is not a good movie but it is an efficient one, and will deliver most of what anyone attending House of Wax could reasonably expect, assuming it would be unreasonable to expect very much.
  57. A big, clunky movie containing some sensational sights but lacking the zest and joyous energy we expect from Steven Spielberg.
  58. All very nice, sometimes we smile, but there's nothing compelling.
  59. The kind of movie where you walk in, watch the first 10 minutes, know exactly where it's going, and hope devoutly that you're wrong.
  60. This is a very far from perfect movie, and it ends on an unsatisfactory note.
  61. Black somehow feels reigned in; shaved and barbered, he's lost his anarchic passion and is merely playing a comic role instead of transforming it into a personal mission.
  62. Because the film is well-acted and written with intelligence, it might be worth seeing, despite my objections. I suspect my own feelings.
  63. It's an overwrought Gothic melodrama that has a nice first act before it descends into shameless absurdity.
  64. Until the plot becomes intolerably cornball, there's charm in the story.
  65. The movie wants to be good-hearted but is somehow sort of grudging. It should have gone all the way. I think Fred Claus should have been meaner if he was going to be funnier, and Santa should have been up to something nefarious, instead of the jolly old ho-ho-ho routine.
  66. If I found it creepy beyond all reason, that is no doubt because I have been hopelessly corrupted by the decadent society I inhabit.
  67. The actors cannot be faulted. They bring more to the story than it really deserves.
  68. But when you think of the "Babe" pictures, and indeed even an animated cartoon like "Home on the Range," you realize Stripes is on autopilot with all of the usual elements: a heroine missing one parent, an animal missing both, an underdog (or underzebra), cute animals, the big race.
  69. The movie was more of a revue than a narrative, more about moments than an organizing purpose, and cute to the point that I yearned for some corrosive wit from its second cousin, the Monty Python universe.
  70. The movie has been directed and acted so well, in fact, that almost all my questions have to do with the script: Why was the hero made so uncompromisingly hateful?
  71. Dear John exists only to coddle the sentiments of undemanding dreamers, and plunge us into a world where the only evil is the interruption of the good.
  72. The movie is fun until they set sail.
  73. The movie itself is genial and unfocused and tired.
  74. Lacking a smarter screenplay, it milks the genuine skills of its actors and director for more than it deserves, and then runs off the rails in an ending more laughable than scary.
  75. Benshis were the Japanese performers who stood next to the screen during silent films and explained the plot to the audience. If ever a benshi were needed in a modern movie, Night Watch is that film.
  76. Entertaining if you understand exactly what it is: if you see it as a film made by friends out of the materials presented by their lives and with the freedom to not push too hard.
  77. Despite the fine performance by Witherspoon and a number of the supporting players, Devil’s Knot comes across as a cinematic, slightly dramatized Cliffs Notes edition of a story that’s been told often, and almost always more effectively, in other formats.
  78. It employs depression as a substitute for personality, and believes that if the characters are bitter and morose enough, we won't notice how dull they are.
  79. This movie doesn't contain "offensive language." The offensive language contains the movie.
  80. Here is a movie so concerned with in-jokes and updates for Trekkers that it can barely tear itself away long enough to tell a story. From the weight and attention given to the transfer of command on the Starship Enterprise, you'd think a millennium was ending - which is, by the end of the film, how it feels.
  81. There is a place for whimsy and magic realism, and that place may not be on a cow farm in New Zealand.
  82. Burlesque shows Cher and Christina Aguilera being all that they can be, and that's more than enough.
  83. Ten
    The shame is that more accessible Iranian directors are being neglected in the overpraise of Kiarostami.
  84. If the stream-of-consciousness, imagery-trumps-everything films of Terrence Malick tend to try your patience, this beautifully, beatifically boring imitation by a Malick protégé might be more than the better angels of your nature can endure.
  85. When bodies are buried in cellars and cats are thrown into lighted ovens, the film reveals itself as unworthy of its subject matter.
  86. The movie contains violence and death, but not really very much. For most of its languorous running time, it listens to conversations between Bella and Edward, Bella and David, Edward and David, and Edward and Bella and David. This would play better if any of them were clever conversationalists, but their ideas are limited to simplistic renderings of their desires.
  87. The movie's pleasures are scant, apart from its observance of Gene Siskel's Rule of Swimming Pool Adjacency, which states that when well-dressed people are near a swimming pool, they will - yeah, you got it.
  88. Perhaps it is not supposed to be clear; perhaps the movie's air of confusion is part of its paranoid vision. There are individual moments that create sharp images (shock troops drilling through a ceiling, De Niro wrestling with the almost obscene wiring and tubing inside a wall, the movie's obsession with bizarre duct work), but there seems to be no sure hand at the controls.
  89. The surprise for me is Christina Ricci, who I think of as undernourished and nervous, but who flowers here in warm ripeness.
  90. This Carrie comes off like a Lifetime film, adding little new and nothing substantial to improve on DePalma’s classic.
  91. Volker Schlondorff’s talky drama...is less than persuasive.
  92. A conventional film for an unconventional actor.
  93. It's hard to figure who the movie is intended for. In shape and purpose, it's like a G-rated version of "This Is Spinal Tap," but will its wee target audience understand the joke?
  94. I confess I felt involved in Unknown until it pulled one too many rabbits out of its hat. At some point, a thriller has to play fair.
  95. The adults at the Hotchkiss reunion are played by an assortment of splendid actors.
  96. This is the kind of movie that ends up playing on the TV set over the bar in a better movie.
  97. The movie lacks a port of entry for young viewers -- a character they can identify with. All of the major characters are adults with adult problems like debt, romance, and running (or swimming away from) the mob.
  98. A Sound of Thunder may not be a success, but it loves its audience and wants us to have a great time.

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