Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 5,604 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 8 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 No End in Sight
Lowest review score: 0 Tomcats
Score distribution:
5604 movie reviews
  1. Cuts back and forth between a tragic story involving the Holocaust and an essentially trivial, feel-good story about a modern-day reporter. It's an awkward fit and diminishes the impact of the earlier story.
  2. A lot of Trollhunter - but not enough - is funny. I imagine the best way to see the movie would be the way it was presented at Sundance, at a "secret" midnight screening at which the capacity audience allegedly has no idea what it is about to see.
  3. I know the novel, and as dark as this film is, I believe it hesitates to follow Greene into his dark abyss. It is about helplessness and evil, but isn't merciless enough.
  4. Mirror Mirror is a sumptuous fantasy for the eyes and a pinball game for the mind, as story elements collide and roll around bumping into each other.
  5. The plot of the movie is meh.
  6. Beautiful Creatures springs to life whenever Irons, Thompson or Rossum is centerstage. The grown-ups get to wear all the coolest costumes and spout all the juiciest lines. Problem is, this isn't their story. It's first and foremost a semi-plodding teen romance with supernatural overtones.
  7. The weakness of Black Girl is in its slow, journeyman style; one feels that Sembene learned filmmaking by making this film. It also suffers from a kind of primitive naturalism, as if the script were by James T. Farrell out of Theodore Dreiser. Every motive is spelled out in unnecessary detail, and little attempt is made to get into the minds of the characters.
  8. Many of the scenes in this movie are almost formula, despite the energy of Scorsese's direction and the good performances. They come in the same places we would expect them to come in a movie by anybody else, and they contain the same events.
  9. Sort of entertaining, but lacks the focus and comic energy of Judge's "Office Space" (1999), and to believe that Suzie would be attracted to the gigolo requires not merely the suspension of disbelief, but its demolition.
  10. Musical Chairs is a feel-good romantic fantasy that is likely to inspire a hollow laugh among some people in wheelchairs. Either it knows little about the realities of disability, or it knows too much.
  11. Road House exists right on the edge between the "good-bad movie" and the merely bad. I hesitate to recommend it, because so much depends on the ironic vision of the viewer. This is not a good movie. But viewed in the right frame of mind, it is not a boring one, either.
  12. One Night at McCool's does not quite work, but it has a lot of fun being a near-miss.
  13. Coppola's new film is not so much about the car as about the man, and it is with the man that he fails to deliver.
  14. By the end of the film the 1949 film noir sources are plainly in view, but earlier, Soderbergh seems more interested in personality quirks than double-crosses, and those are the more interesting scenes.
  15. Employs superb craftsmanship and a powerful Denzel Washington performance in an attempt to elevate genre material above its natural level, but it fails. The underlying story isn't worth the effort.
  16. What a wondrous vision Excalibur is! And what a mess.
  17. Kleine could have used Gregory’s lifelong trajectory to tell a larger story of the international avant-garde theater scene. Instead there is overmuch fuss about his coterie of dear companions.
  18. It is intensely involving at the outset, but it faces an insoluble problem: The story, like the characters, has no place to go.
  19. Is Terminator 3 a skillful piece of work? Indeed. Will it entertain the Friday night action crowd? You bet. Does it tease and intrigue us like the earlier films did? Not really.
  20. The documentary visits elderly women who, then and now, can best be described as tough broads, and listens as they describe the early days of women's wrestling. What they say is not as revealing as how they say it.
  21. I was interested all through the movie--interested, but not riveted. I cared, but not quite enough.
  22. Lopez and Affleck are sweet and appealing in their performances; the buzz said they didn't have chemistry, but the buzz was wrong. What they don't have is conviction.
  23. Big Fish of course is a great-looking film, with a fantastical visual style that could be called Felliniesque if Burton had not by now earned the right to the adjective Burtonesque.
  24. The result is a reassuring fairy tale that will fascinate children and has moments of natural beauty for their parents, but makes the tigers approximately as realistic as the animals in "The Lion King."
  25. This is a framework that could have benefitted from more irony and complexity, especially with the resources of Langella, but at the end, I felt the movie was too easily satisfied.
  26. If the film had been less extreme in the adventures of its heroes, more willing to settle for plausible forms of rebellion, that might have worked. It tries too hard, and overreaches the logic of its own world.
  27. It glories in its silliness, and the actors are permitted the sort of goofy acting that distinguished screwball comedy. We get double takes, slow burns, pratfalls, exploding clothes wardrobes, dropped trays, tear-away dresses, missing maids of honor, overnight fame, public disgrace and not, amazingly, a single obnoxious cat or dog.
  28. Country Strong is a throwback, a pure, heartfelt exercise in '50s social melodrama.
  29. Hotel de Love is a pleasant and sometimes funny film, without being completely satisfying.
  30. While it’s hard to make sense of the narrative developments in The Signal, it must be said that it’s always visually compelling. And that some of the standout sequences (including, yes, the Mind-Blowing Twist Ending) suggest that Eubank could have a terrific future as a director. As a screenwriter, though, maybe not so much.
  31. Here is Lee at his most spontaneous and sincere, but he could have used another screenplay draft, and perhaps a few more transitional scenes.
  32. Comes so close to working that you can see there from here. It has the right approach and the right opening premise, but it lacks the zest and it goes for a plot twist instead of trusting the material.
  33. The movie has many scenes of delicious comedy, Clooney and Zeta-Jones play their characters perfectly in an imperfect screenplay.
  34. The movie's problem is a fundamental lack of substance.
  35. It is a brave experiment, based on life and using actors who play themselves, but it buys into the whole false notion that artists are somehow too brilliant to be sober.
  36. Plays like it was directed as a do-it-yourself project, following instructions that omitted a few steps, and yet the movie has an undeniable charm.
  37. A paean to creative impulses, this work channels the vision of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi.
  38. The result is a little like a comedy crossed with a home movie. It is also, like many home movies, somewhat rambling, and overly dependent on knowing the names of all the players.
  39. There is something not quite right about the film itself.
  40. What is wonderful about Angela's Ashes is Emily Watson's performance, and the other roles that are convincingly cast.
  41. This is a well-intentioned and sometimes quite sharp high school movie that falls just short of the mark due to a few way-off-the-mark scenes and too much heavy-handed preaching.
  42. This is a paint-by-numbers procedural that expects the audience to know the history of Watergate, hits the ground running—but then feels more like a steady jog through the past than a fast-paced thriller.
  43. Branagh is a world-class actor and a fine director, and he scores stylistic points on both counts here, but this “Orient Express” loses steam just when it should be gaining speed and racing to its putatively shocking conclusion, which isn’t all that surprising — even if you haven’t read the book or seen the 1974 movie
  44. The movie's dialogue is constructed out of funny names, puns and old jokes. Sometimes it's painfully juvenile. But there are some great visual gags in the movie, and the best is Pizza the Hutt, a creature who roars and cajoles while cheese melts off its forehead and big hunks of pepperoni slide down its jowls.
  45. Amusing without ever being break-out funny.
  46. This is a modest but likable film, and Anjelica Huston plays a heroine who makes us smile.
  47. Works splendidly as a courtroom thriller about military values as long as you don't expect it to seriously consider those values.
  48. One of the sly pleasures of Latter Days is the sight of this gay-themed movie recycling so many conventions from straight romantic cinema, as if it's time to catch up.
  49. There was a lot I liked in Cletis Tout, including the performances and the very audacity of details like the magic tricks and the carrier pigeons. But it seemed a shame that the writer and director, Chris Ver Wiel, took a perfectly sound story idea and complicated it into an exercise in style. Less is more.
  50. Just remember that its hero stands for countless others.
  51. There's funny stuff here. We like everybody.
  52. The movie did make me smile. It didn't make me laugh, and it didn't involve my emotions, or the higher regions of my intellect, for that matter. It's a perfectly acceptable feature cartoon for kids up to a certain age, but it doesn't have the universal appeal of some of the best recent animation.
  53. Red Tails is entertaining. Audiences are likely to enjoy it. The scenes of aerial combat are skillfully done and exciting.
  54. If The Informers doesn't sound to you like a pleasant time at the movies, you are right. To repeat: dread, despair and doom. It is often however repulsively fascinating and has been directed by Gregor Jordan as a soap opera from hell, with good sets and costumes.
  55. No movie has ever been able to provide a catharsis for the Holocaust, and I suspect none will ever be able to provide one for 9/11. Such subjects overwhelm art.
  56. Could metamorphose into an entertaining sitcom.
  57. If only Deadpool were as clever, dark and funny as it believes itself to be.
  58. The movie is a competent thriller, but maybe could have been more.
  59. Mr. Jealousy isn't quite successful, but it does provide more evidence of Baumbach's talent.
  60. As light as a feather, as fresh as spring, and as lubricious as a centerfold... There is something extroverted and refreshing in the way these women enjoy their beauty and their sexiness.
  61. The high-tech stuff is absorbing. Harrison Ford once again demonstrates what a solid, convincing actor he is, and there's good supporting work from Archer, Thora Birch as the Ryans' precocious daughter, and the irreplaceable James Fox as a British cabinet minister. But at the end, when a character is leaping into a burning speedboat in choppy seas, I wondered if this was exactly what Tom Clancy had in mind.
  62. When the film was over I was not particularly pleased that I had seen it; it was mostly behavior and contrivance. While it was running, I was not bored.
  63. Here is a movie that embraces its goofiness like a Get Out of Jail Free card.
  64. The movie as a whole lacks the conviction of a real story. It is more like a lush morality play, too leisurely in its storytelling, too sure of its morality.
  65. This is not great comedy, and Wayans doesn't find ways to build and improvise, as Carrey does.
  66. Eddie Murphy looks like the latest victim of the Star Magic Syndrome, in which it is assumed that a movie will be a hit simply because it stars an enormously talented person. Thus it is not necessary to give much thought to what he does or says, or to the story he finds himself occupying.
  67. Easy Money is an off-balance and disjointed movie, but that's sort of okay, since it's about an off-balance and disjointed kinda guy. The credits call him Monty Capuletti, but he is clearly Rodney Dangerfield, gloriously playing himself as the nearest thing we are likely to get to W.C. Fields in this lifetime.
  68. The gray, drab monotony of the setting seeps into the marrow of the prison drama Camp X-Ray, though it’s invigorated, somewhat, by strong central performances from actors on opposite sides of a locked steel door.
  69. This version of The Thing, directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., provides such graphic and detailed views of the creature that we are essentially reduced to looking at special effects, and being aware that we are. Think how little you ever really saw in the first "Alien" movie, and how frightening it was.
  70. Despite Redford's sure-handed (but typically stolid) direction, an intriguing premise and a cast filled with top-line talent both veteran and relatively new, nearly every scene had me asking questions about what just transpired when I should have been absorbing what was happening next.
  71. Exhibiting high spirits and a crazed comic energy. It doesn't quite work, but it goes down swinging--with a disembodied hand.
  72. I started out liking this movie, while waiting for something really interesting to happen. When nothing did, I still didn't dislike it; I assume the X-Men will further develop their personalities if there is a sequel.
  73. One of those movies that explains too much while it is explaining too little, and leaves us with a surprise at the end that makes more sense the less we think about it. But the movie's mastery of technique makes up for a lot.
  74. It is done well, yet one is still surprised to find it done at all.
  75. Trouble is, the Room 237 conspirators — er, contributors — don't seem to realize that those meanings are either not hidden, not meanings or not remotely supported by the secret evidence they think they've uncovered.
  76. The movie deals with narrative housekeeping. Perhaps the next one will engage these characters in a more challenging and devious story, one more about testing their personalities than re-establishing them. In the meantime, you want space opera, you got it.
  77. In a way (and maybe it was a conscious choice), some of Almereyda’s flourishes mirror Milgram’s flamboyance — but in both cases, when you have such a provocative foundation and such rich material to work with, pushing it to the next level isn’t necessarily the best choice.
  78. I laughed. I did not always feel proud of myself while I was laughing, however.
  79. A damped-down return to the Kingdom of Far Far Away, lacking the comic energy of the first brilliant film and not measuring up to the second.
  80. The film has been directed by Jonathan Parker; he adapted the Melville story with Catherine DiNapoli. It's his first work, and a promising one. I admire it and yet cannot recommend it, because it overstays its natural running time.
  81. A film peculiar beyond all understanding, based on a premise that begs belief. It takes itself with agonizing seriousness, and although it has the form of a parable, I am at a loss to guess its meaning. Yet I was drawn hypnotically into the weirdness.
  82. It's the kind of movie you can't quite recommend because it is all windup and not much of a pitch, yet you can't bring yourself to dislike it.
  83. There are many moments here that are very funny, but the film as a whole is a bit too long.
  84. I enjoyed a lot of the movie in a relaxed sort of fashion; it's not essential or original in the way "The Truman Show'' was, and it hasn't done any really hard thinking about the ways we interact with TV.
  85. The movie is so extravagant and outrageous in its storytelling that it resists criticism: It's self-satirizing.
  86. Twilight will mesmerize its target audience, 16-year-old girls and their grandmothers. Their mothers know all too much about boys like this.
  87. I realize that Nothing in Common wants to surprise us by inserting tragedy in the midst of laughter, but the problem is, the serious parts of this movie are so much more interesting than the lightweight parts that the whole project gets out of balance.
  88. The Bourne Legacy is always gripping in the moment. The problem is in getting the moments to add up.
  89. Everything chugs along briskly and reasonably entertainingly until running off the rails a bit with a wildly overcomplicated finale.
  90. As it is, Illegal Tender works as a melodrama, and it benefits enormously from the performance of Wanda DeJesus.
  91. Despite some fine production values, lovely photography and smart casting of a range of British stage and screen actors, The Christmas Candle can’t quite move beyond the weary metaphors. It has the feel of a slick television movie.
  92. A sweet, good-looking film about nice people in a beautiful place, and young John Bell is an appealing performer in the tradition of the Culkins. Quinn and Nielsen are pros who take their roles seriously, and Vic Sarin's direction gets the job done.
  93. The movie is finally just a little too ungainly, too jumbled at the end, for me to recommend, but it has heart, and I feel a lot of affection for it.
  94. A sweet but inconsequential romantic comedy.
  95. This is not a great comedy and will be soon forgotten, but it has nice moments.
  96. Apart from funny supporting work by the inventor of the Mind Control and the guy in the "Q" role, the movie is pretty routine.
  97. Guzman and Garcia (reunited from HBO’s “How to Make It in America”) are a joy to watch, and deliver their lines with just enough nuance to make them truly endearing.
  98. Disney’s bland comedy Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day might have been a little more entertaining if it had been a little more, terrible, horrible, no good and so forth.
  99. By the time the Incredible Hulk had completed his hulk-on-hulk showdown with the Incredible Blonsky, I had been using my Timex with the illuminated dial way too often.
  100. The Santa Clause (so named after the clause on Santa's calling card that requires Scott to take over the job) is often a clever and amusing movie, and there's a lot of fresh invention in it.

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