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 We Live in Public
Lowest review score: 0 White House Down
Score distribution:
4,734 movie reviews
  1. Firth and Stone, appealing as they are as actors, are so disconnected as potential romantic leads it sometimes appears as if they’re barely in the same scene together.
  2. Not the worst of the countless recent movies about good kids and hidebound, authoritatian older people. It may, however, be the most shameless in its attempt to pander to an adolescent audience.
  3. By the ending of the film, which is unconvincingly neat, I was distracted by too many questions to care about the answers.
  4. Seemed kind of stuffy.
  5. America's Sweethearts recycles "Singin' in the Rain" but lacks the sassy genius of that 1952 musical, which is still the best comedy ever made about Hollywood.
  6. Far and Away is a movie that joins astonishing visual splendor with a story so simple-minded it seems intended for adolescents.
  7. The movie is rated R, but it's the most watery R I've seen. It's more of a PG-13 playing dress-up.
  8. National Treasure is so silly that the Monty Python version could use the same screenplay, line for line.
  9. If the movie is not original, at least it's a showcase for the actors and writers. It does not speak as well, alas, for director Jordan Melamed and his cinematographer, Nick Hay.
  10. It's a shaggy ghost story, an exercise in style, a film made with a certain breezy contempt for audiences.
  11. The racing is spectacular, especially when you consider director Courtney Solomon’s claim that no CGI was used in the crash scenes... Solomon wanted to put the audience in the middle of events and inside the car; he certainly does pull that off. Believe me, your head will spin. After a while it all becomes mind-numbing.
  12. The Higgins performance owes more than a little to Fred Willard's unforgettable dog show commentary in "Best in Show," but it was clear that Willard was part of a telecast.
  13. The movie is simply not clear about where it wants to go and what it wants to do. It is heavy on episode and light on insight, and although it takes courage to bring up touchy topics it would have taken more to treat them frankly.
  14. Director Peter MacDonald keeps the action exploding across the screen, building to a climactic game of "chicken" between Rambo in a Russian tank and the Soviet commander in a helicopter. Gung-ho Rambo fans won't be disappointed. [25 May 1988, p.43]
    • Chicago Sun-Times
  15. The movie is a mess: a gassy costume epic with nobody at the center.
  16. Both the lottery scene and the anti-union material seem to be fictionalized versions of material in the powerful documentary "Waiting for Superman," which covered similar material with infinitely greater depth.
  17. A dim-witted but visually intriguing movie.
  18. The more I think about Simon Magus, the less I'm sure what it's trying to say.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Rather than trusting in the verbal powers of this master storyteller, who requires only a desk to sit behind, Soderbergh subjects him to light-show effects, tilted camera angles and projected backdrops -- urban setting, forest, eyeball blowup. [1 August 1997, p.27]
    • Chicago Sun-Times
  19. Director Kasper Barfoed defaults to intense replays of surveillance audio recordings, frantic strokes on computer keyboards, and standard-issue chases.
  20. A technically proficient horror movie and well acted.
  21. The film is bold and passionate, but not subtle, and that is its downfall.
  22. A family movie that some will find wholesome and heartwarming and others will find cornball and tiresome. You know who you are. I know who I am. This is not my kind of movie.
  23. I guess there's an audience for it, and Ice Cube has paid dues in better and more positive movies ("Barbershop" among them). But surely laughs can be found in something other than this worked-over material.
  24. The movie is pretty cornball. Little kids would probably enjoy it, but their older brothers and sisters will be rolling their eyes, and their parents will be using their iPods.
  25. The plot is easily summarized: "Dumb and Dumber Meet Dumbbell."
  26. It wants to be "Midnight Run" meets "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," but it carries little of the dramatic heft and real-world semi-plausibility of those much superior efforts.
  27. Unfortunately, I was also convinced that trapped within this 98-minute film is a good 30-minute news report struggling to get out. Shearer, who is bright and funny, comes across here as a solemn lecturer.
  28. We're left with a promising idea for a comedy, which arrives at some laughs but never finds its destination.
  29. The plot becomes a juggling act just when it should be a sprint. And there's another problem: Is it intended as a comedy, or not?
  30. But, lord, the characters are tireless in their peculiarities; it's as if the movie took the most colorful folks in Lake Wobegon, dehydrated them, concentrated the granules, shipped them to Newfoundland, reconstituted them with Molson's and issued them Canadian passports.
  31. Peter Sellers was a genius who somehow made Inspector Clouseau seem as if he really were helplessly incapable of functioning in the real world and somehow incapable of knowing that. Steve Martin is a genius, too, but not at being Clouseau. It seems more like an exercise.
  32. A film that little kids might find perfectly acceptable. Little, little, little kids. My best guess is, above fourth-grade level, you'd be pushing it.
  33. I have never seen anything remotely approaching the mess that the new punk version of "Romeo & Juliet" makes of Shakespeare's tragedy.
  34. You know I am a fan of Nic Cage and Ron Perlman. Here, like cows, they devour the scenery, regurgitate it to a second stomach found only in actors and chew it as cud. It is a noble effort, but I prefer them in their straight-through Human Centipede mode.
  35. Bourdos’ high-minded aspirations are obvious, but his visually satisfying film is dramatically elusive.
  36. Every Secret Thing is a small, well-crafted film with a few chilling moments and some fine performances, but it’s a muddled, pedestrian crime thriller.
  37. Too much self-pity.
  38. Stick It uses the story of a gymnast's comeback attempt as a backdrop for overwrought visual effects, music videos, sitcom dialogue and general pandering. The movie seems to fear that if it pauses long enough to actually be about gymnastics, the audience will grow restless.
  39. Like many other cultural experiments (minimalist art, "Finnegan's Wake," the Chicago Tribune's new Friday section), it is more amusing to talk about than to experience.
  40. People may go to see Eddie Murphy once, twice, three or even six times in disposable movies like Harlem Nights, but if he wants to realize his potential he needs to work with a better writer and director than himself.
  41. There’s some first-rate camerawork aboard the sub, that strong lead performance from Law and one nifty plot twist. It’s a shame the script gives us one of the most incompetent and ridiculous submarine crews this side of “Down Periscope.”
  42. The whole movie is so solemn, so worshipful toward its theme, that it's finally just silly.
  43. It is always a problem in a love story when the rival seems more interesting than the hero, and that's what happens here.
  44. It's a thriller, a bad thriller, completely lacking in psychological or emotional truth.
  45. Since the scenes where they're together are so much less convincing than the ones where they fall apart, watching the movie is like being on a double-date from hell.
  46. There are laughs, to be sure, and some gleeful supporting performances, but after a promising start the movie sinks in a bog of sentiment.
  47. After an intriguing setup, “Runner Runner” devolves into a by-the-books thriller.
  48. The performances are strong, although undermined a little by Anselmo's peculiar style of dialogue, which sometimes sounds more like experimental poetry or song lyrics than like speech.
  49. The movie is only 84 minutes long, including credit cookies, but that is quite long enough. All the same, it's fitfully amusing and I have the sense that Spanish-speaking audiences will like it more than I did, although whether they'll be laughing with it or at it, I cannot say.
  50. Language of a Broken Heart has the Lifetime Network written all over it. It’s a fitting entry for that venue but as a theatrical feature, it’s simply not up to the task.
  51. Strongly told stories have a way of carrying their characters along with them. But here we have an undefined character in an aimless story. Too bad.
  52. The script must have been a funny read. It's the movie that somehow never achieves takeoff speed.
  53. Director Jose Padilha (the “Elite Squad” movies) knows how to create slick, sometimes clever fast-moving battle sequences... But other than Keaton’s Sellars, the bad guys are mostly generic nitwits.
  54. The film indulges in sentimental and sensational tropes. The manipulative touches do more than dis­­­­­­tract, they irk. This story could have been retold without resorting to all the unfortunate formulas used in prime-time and cable fare.
  55. Did I care if Largo Winch won his struggle for control of Winch International? Not at all. Did I care about him? No, because all of his action and dialogue were shunted into narrow corridors of movie formulas.
  56. The film is competently made, and the attractive cast emotes and screams energetically.
  57. My problem was that I didn't care who killed Mona Dearly, or why, and didn't want to know anyone in town except for Chief Rash and his daughter.
  58. Has slick production credits and performances that are quite adequate given the (narrow) opportunities of the genre.
  59. This is a well-made, topical thriller with a top-notch cast — but the script and the directorial/editing choices undercut nearly every pivotal scene, and every plot twist we can see coming two scenes in advance.
  60. True crime procedurals can have a certain fascination, but not when they're jumbled glimpses of what might or might not have happened involving a lot of empty people whose main claim to fame is that they're dead.
  61. Repo Men makes sci-fi's strongest possible case for universal health care.
  62. The Giver doesn’t seem entirely consistent about its own rules and races far too quickly to a thoroughly unsatisfactory conclusion that raises three questions for each answer it provides.
  63. Carrey and Daniels throw themselves into the characters they inhabited 20 years ago, whether it means allowing their crotches to be doused, using their rear ends as comedic weapons, or just saying really stupid things. Sometimes it’s pretty damn funny. Almost always, it feels just a little bit desperate.
  64. It follows the well-worn pathways of countless police dramas before it.
  65. To spend 82 minutes watching Not Another Teen Movie would be a reckless waste of your time, no matter how many decades you may have to burn.
  66. From beginning to end, we've been there, seen that.
  67. Patton lightens the aggravation, for the most part, by combining a likable presence with a knack for physical comedy and a willingness to hop into dumpsters, etc., as needed, making the most of the script’s meager opportunities for comedy.
  68. I can't recommend the movie, except to younger viewers, but I don't dislike it. It's "Coach Carter" Lite, and it does what it does.
  69. The problem — and it’s an insurmountable, deadly, comedy-killing, consistent problem throughout — is a tired, uninspired, derivative screenplay that brings everyone to Vegas for a wedding and incorporates nearly every weekend-in-Vegas cliche explored in dozens of previous films.
  70. For one of the few times in Eastwood’s career as a director, he seems indecisive about what kind of movie he wanted to make.
  71. The exploration of gender politics grows tedious as the gender dynamic between the two leads reverses, and the same points are hammered home again and again.
  72. The film's failure is to get from A to B. We buy both good Sam and bad Sam, but we don't see him making the transition.
  73. There are moments of sudden truth in the film; Freundlich, who also made "The Myth of Fingerprints" (1997), about an almost heroically depressed family at Thanksgiving, can create and write characters, even if he doesn't always know where to take them.
  74. Everyone in The Other Side of the Bed, alas, has the depth of a character in a TV commercial: They're all surface, clothes, hair and attitude, and the men have the obligatory three-day beards.
  75. The beauty of Twilight Zone -- The Movie is the same as the secret of the TV series: It takes ordinary people in ordinary situations and then (can you hear Rod Serling?) zaps them with "next stop -- the Twilight Zone!"
  76. They might have been able to make a nice little thriller out of Antitrust if they'd kept one eye on the Goofy Meter.
  77. Steven Spielberg, a gifted filmmaker, should have reimagined the material, should have seen it through the eyes of someone looking at dinosaurs, rather than through the eyes of someone looking at a box-office sequel.
  78. The actors are splendid, especially Sarah Polley and Sean Penn, but we never feel confident that these two plots fit together, belong together, or work together.
  79. Not a successful movie--it's too stilted and pre-programmed to come alive--but in the center of it McDormand occupies a place for her character and makes that place into a brilliant movie of its own.
  80. Seems conventional in its ideas about where it can go and what it can accomplish. You don't get the idea anyone laughed out loud while writing the screenplay. It lacks a strange light in its eyes. It is too easily satisfied.
  81. Individual moments and lines and events in I Heart Huckabees are funny in and of themselves. Viewers may be mystified but will occasionally be amused. It took boundless optimism and energy for Russell to make the film, but it reminds me of the Buster Keaton short where he builds a boat but doesn't know how to get it out of the basement.
  82. This question, which will instinctively occur to many viewers, is never quite dealt with in the film. The photographers sometimes drive into the middle of violent situations, hold up a camera, and say "press!" - as if that will solve everything.
  83. It's sweet when it should be raunchy, or vice versa, and the result is a movie that seems uneasy with itself.
  84. The movie is mostly about our nasty heroes being attacked by terrifying antagonists in incomprehensible muddles of lightning-fast special effects. It lacks the quiet suspense of the first “Predator,” and please don't even mention the “Alien vs. Predator” pictures, which lacked the subtlety of “Mothra vs. Godzilla.”
  85. Once you get past the amazement this thing was made at all, the movie itself is an intermittently clever but mostly tedious, convoluted David Lynch knockoff that wanders all over the place.
  86. The word preposterous is too moderate to describe Eagle Eye. This film contains not a single plausible moment after the opening sequence, and that's borderline. It's not an assault on intelligence. It's an assault on consciousness.
  87. The movie sidesteps the existence of the Greek gods, turns its heroes into action movie cliches and demonstrates that we're getting tired of computer-generated armies.
  88. There are forces here you couldn't possibly comprehend...You can say that again.
  89. The climactic events are shameless, contrived, and wildly out of tune with the rest of the story. To saddle Costner, Penn and Newman with such goofy melodrama is like hiring Fred Astaire and strapping a tractor on his back.
  90. The movie's strategic error is to set the deadline too far in the future. There is something annoying about a comedy where a guy is strapped to a bomb and nevertheless has time to spare for off-topic shouting matches with his best buddy. A buddy comedy loses some of its charm in a situation like that.
  91. Slight and sometimes wearisome.
  92. The skill of the actors, who invest their characters with small touches of humanity, is useful in distracting us from the emotional manipulations, but it's like they're brightening separate rooms of a haunted house.
  93. Lots of sight gags and one-liners are attempted, but few of them succeed. The cast is talented but stranded in weak material.
  94. Each scene works within itself on its own terms. But there is no whole here. I've rarely seen a narrative film that seemed so reluctant to flow. Nor perhaps one with a more accurate title.
  95. The actors do their best. The problem here is simply a formulaic screenplay and less-than-inspired direction.
  96. As preposterous as the plot was, there was never a line of Hackman dialogue that didn't sound as if he believed it. The same can't be said, alas, for Sharon Stone, who apparently believed that if she played her character as silent, still, impassive and mysterious, we would find that interesting. More swagger might have helped.
  97. Give Shadyac credit: He sells his Pasadena mansion, starts teaching college and moves into a mobile home (in Malibu, it's true). Now he offers us this hopeful if somewhat undigested cut of his findings, in a film as watchable as a really good TV commercial, and just as deep.
  98. There is a curious problem with Birthday Girl, hard to put your finger on: The movie is kind of sour. It wants to be funny and a little nasty, it wants to surprise us and then console us, but what it mostly does is make us restless.
  99. The movie is unconvincing. At the end, Jim is seen going in through a "stage door," and then we hear him telling the story of his descent and recovery. We can't tell if this is supposed to be genuine testimony or a performance. That's the problem with the whole movie.

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