New York Observer's Scores

  • Movies
For 567 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 46% higher than the average critic
  • 1% same as the average critic
  • 53% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 6 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 56
Highest review score: 100 Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky
Lowest review score: 0 From Paris with Love
Score distribution:
567 movie reviews
  1. A stupid waste of time and talent, but it might be just what his (Damon) fans are waiting for.
  2. Directed with a pulsating fervor by Neil Burger, Limitless is absurd but entertaining action-adventure escapism. Bradley Cooper is versatile and virile, and a valiant leading man.
  3. May not appeal to every taste, but it marks an arresting feature debut for Jordan Scott, a director who is well worth watching.
  4. It's definitely worth seeing for Ms. Cattrall. This gal can really act.
  5. The movie is not great, but the star is not bad. This, in some quarters, is high praise indeed.
  6. An odd, confusing, ugly and mostly indigestible movie about religious hysteria and rock 'n' roll-two subjects I find about as interesting as opening a tattoo parlor. I wish I liked the movie half as much as I like the actor.
  7. If you have already begun to suspect that Something Borrowed may be something less than the sum of its parts-all of which do indeed seem borrowed from other movies and TV rom-coms too numerous to mention-you are right.
  8. Everything Must Go is the one for the Gipper-the movie in which he steps out of character for his own sake and works hard to lose Will Ferrell. The results are mixed, but I admire the guy for making an effort.
  9. I'm sure there is much to be learned from Forks Over Knives (the title means fruits and veggies can be forked, but anything you cut with a knife is lethal), but what does it have to do with real life?
  10. Content to make movies for himself (Malick) that nobody else wants to see as long as he can find someone to foot the bill, he's also an iconoclast searching for significance. So am I, but not 138 minutes worth. Anyone seeking symmetry in this cinematic taffy pull risks emerging from it with a pretzel for a brain.
  11. The best thing about Super 8, by far, are the kids, all perfectly cast. The script does a much better job making them believable and real than the adults...The rest of the movie steals shamelessly from...
  12. It eventually fails, not because of its philosophical ideas, but because it introduces so many of them at the same time that even a viewer with a score pad can't keep up.
  13. The film is awkward, the situations tenuous and underdeveloped, the pacing torturous as a slow drip from a leaking faucet, and the narrative just plods along, with the body count rising for no clear reason.
  14. A benign slice of life about suburban angst on Long Island. It's not much, but thanks to the noble efforts of a very good cast, I've seen worse.
  15. Cowboys & Aliens is one of the silliest movies ever made, but so many otherwise serious people have attached their names to it that, as Arthur Miller wrote in Death of a Salesman, attention must be paid.
  16. Gun Hill Road is worth seeing for the acting. The great character actress Miriam Colon makes a brief but memorable appearance as the strong matriarch of the household, and Ms. Santana, a true transgendered teen who has never acted before, is especially wrenching.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Senna's accomplishments are impressive, but his story seems more suited to an ESPN special than a feature-length film.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    If you can suspend your disbelief that a cute 22 year-old had the power to succeed with civil rights where Martin Luther King and President Kennedy failed, The Help actually has a lot to offer.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    It's a sweet, harmless, meandering tale with an engaging gimmick, but a great love story - or a great movie - it's not.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    In the end, 30 Minutes or Less is a tidy, entertaining nerd action movie that should provide a good distraction for viewers this summer.
  17. The two-handed duet at the center of Love Crime radiates, but the parade of easily parodied men who stomp in and out of their corporate offices just seem like script rejects from "Mad Men."
  18. Like any good cautionary tale, Puncture tells a suspenseful story responsibly, creating food for thought and leaving the audience both enlightened and entertained.
  19. A 2½-hour art film that is something of a well-intentioned mess.
  20. In case you think Sarah Palin-You Betcha! is a hit job on an easy subject, see the movie and learn something. It's terrifying, but in all fairness, no disgrace, no rumor of extramarital affairs in office, no broadside is explored unless it can be substantiated.
  21. Dirty Girl is a bad movie with no insights that is broadly drawn and genuinely plagued by filthy dialogue. You don't laugh. You just wince, and wonder how the whole thing ever got financed.
  22. Surreal but disappointingly drab, it's still not the best Almodovar in years. Despite the usual Almodovar plot twists, kinky sex and themes of sexual identity reversal, gender bending and mad desire, the cult auteur has gone off the tracks and lost his compass.
  23. I wish all the agony in The Big Year was leading up to something fascinating in the end, but the most inviting thing in the movie was the exit door.
  24. Johnny Depp is dismally miscast as the alter ego of the rebellious author with the "screw you" attitude.
  25. As agreeable as she is to watch, the disappointing thing I feel is that she plays everything the same way. For a film about one person that reveals so little about the subject, 94 minutes is longer than it sounds. My advice is to wait for the DVD. This is definitely a movie to watch with a remote control.
  26. I expected more from a movie about the most feared man in America for half a century. Whatever else you think about him, in retrospect, he had balls of brass - an essential quality replaced in J. Edgar by dull indifference.
  27. I can't imagine what attracted these two megahunks to such a bore.
  28. Director McQueen shares no primal truths, offers no resolutions, and the movie seems pointless. It seems almost wicked to spread on all that enticement and titillation, and then throw the sandwich away.
  29. It's a fatiguing, low-key character study that drags along annoyingly and pleads for patience, but stick with it and you'll find the engrossing centerpiece performance by Ms. Theron a captivating reward that is well worth the effort.
  30. Let it be said that Ms. Streep is galvanizing, even as the film slogs through too much information and not nearly enough illumination.
  31. A middling attempt to peek through a lace curtain for a glimpse of the other Upstairs/Downstairs staff members only leads to too many distracting social functions that fail to relieve the film's otherwise solemn pacing.
  32. The Innkeepers, a desultory indie-prod poorly written and lamely directed by Ti West, and filmed on the cheap at the actual location, is a poor-man's rip-off of Stanley Kubrick's hotel spookfest, "The Shining," promising paranormal horrors to all who dare to enter. Where is Jack Nicholson when we need him?
  33. Boring and sedentary, not to mention only occasionally coherent, this creaking-door mystery is not much of a vehicle to display young Mr. Radcliffe's range and charm.
  34. Too small and dark to appeal to a large audience, it's not a movie to cherish.
  35. The movie is not about the dog. It's about the people who find love, settle their differences, and get their priorities straight while searching for him. Still, when all is said and done, the dog is the only thing you care about in Darling Companion.
  36. As good as Citizen Gangster is, it would be even better if you could understand the dialogue.
  37. Battleship is dopey, preposterous and unintentionally hilarious in all the wrong places, but as directed by Peter Berg, it is also energetic, fast-moving and bracing.
  38. This three-hander has an honesty and a momentum that I found grudgingly rewarding.
  39. To Rome with Love has moments of isolated charm, but it's only moderately entertaining, it isn't very funny, and it's entirely too long.
  40. The actors are so good, though, that they make you want to see what they could do in a better movie than this tedious acting-class experiment.
  41. When this sick, ludicrous cocktail of sex, violence and mayhem was first unveiled a year ago at the Toronto International Film Festival, one wag aptly described it as "the ghost of Tennessee Williams meets the spirit of Quentin Tarantino."
  42. Ms. Farmiga is the only one who seems to be having any fun, as an aging flower child stuck in an earlier decade and addicted to healing vortex workshops and primal screams. Mellow, but very much a work in progress, Goats has a bland but overcrowded menu that could benefit from a little feta.
  43. In the often illustrious career oeuvre of Clint Eastwood, Trouble with the Curve is a minor entry, a cinematic footnote.
  44. James Franco's role hardly exists. He's a doped-up cipher who attends museum openings and drives his car into a cement wall, looking as bored and out of place as he did hosting the Academy Awards.
  45. The film is worth seeing for the excellent ensemble work by a cast that, although diligent and appealing, remain somewhat less than thrilling. They do their best to plumb the depths of domestic dysfunction, but in the end, The Oranges does not quite deliver the goods.
  46. The film was shot in Louisiana, which looks nothing like Iowa. Nobody along the way seems to have a care in the world about cholesterol. And it's the first movie in history that makes Hugh Jackman look repulsive.
  47. The film's weakest link is Rufus Sewell's rumpled gumshoe, inarticulate and mumbling to the point of madness.
  48. It opens our eyes to a subculture about which most of us know very little, but it is so unsteady in its focus that interest wanes.
  49. Lincoln is also a colossal bore. It is so pedantic, slow-moving, sanitized and sentimental that I kept pinching myself to stay awake - which, like the film itself, didn't always work.
  50. In this overly familiar and ultimately meandering exercise in tedium, Mr. Burns also plays the lead.
  51. As a realistic political thriller about Americans in harm's way it is not half as suspenseful or entertaining as "Argo." We may never know the truth about how we found bin Laden, but I still believe what we do know makes a strong enough story on its own without Wonder Woman.
  52. It is to her everlasting credit that a famously exasperating perfectionist like Barbra Streisand could survive a limp noodle like The Guilt Trip.
  53. Trading in her red locks for kohl-lined eyes like a raccoon and the vampire look of Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, [Chastain] is the spookiest thing in Mama. Everything else is cable television.
  54. Ultimately, everyone in the movie is wasted, including Catherine Zeta-Jones, who provides great eye candy but has nothing important to say or do. Most of the roles are so ambiguous you end up scratching your head in the final reel, and some of the loose ends are so irrelevant they seem to have ended up on the cutting-room floor. With Russell Crowe, it really helps if you can read lips.
  55. It reminded me of everything from "Ten Little Indians" to a low-budget take on Neil Simon’s "Murder by Death" without the laughs. It’s diverting for people who love games, but not for the squeamish.
  56. As the narrative builds, the movie shows how the harassed and impatient Chinese-American finds tolerance, acceptance of others, inner salvation and love. A lot for one movie to negotiate, not always successfully, but the enjoyment factor is obvious.
  57. The movie doesn’t know if it’s a teen fantasy-romance or a more sophisticated satire that the material can’t support.
  58. This one blends the scented candles of a daytime soap with the tamer aspects of a middling thriller. Some folks will bring Kleenex. Others will need NoDoz.
  59. To be honest, I can rarely recall any film, on any subject, that made less sense.
  60. There are some lovely and moving things here, but over the long haul it’s more like watching an hour and a half of someone’s weekend trip to Knott’s Berry Farm.
  61. My boy Viggo is always fascinating, but the movie is a concept searching for a story.
  62. Liam Hemsworth, the Ben & Jerry Flavor of the Month, is a sexy Australian centerfold without a trace of an accent who can actually act. His love interest is Teresa Palmer, a fellow Aussie who recently starred in the zombie flick "Warm Bodies." They may be camera-ready smoothies who take their clothes off often enough to keep the teen dweebs drooling.
  63. The result is not without a few moments of exhilaration, although the overall effect is more like the Bard of Avon meets "Glee."
  64. Empty, pointless and stupid, the barrage of gunfire called Welcome to the Punch is another unappealing entry in the overworked British gangster genre.
  65. Far from the offbeat satire on the American dream gone sour it aims to be, The Brass Teapot is more like a dark flirtation with the American nightmare that backfires.
  66. Two lost souls on the highway of life — that’s what a well-acted but benign little trifle called Arthur Newman is about.
  67. The dependable Australian actor Guy Pearce is always welcome, even in a well-meaning dud like 33 Postcards.
  68. A good cast and the speed-dial theme of eco-terrorism should really add up to a film of more substantial mind over matter than the dull, talky and ultimately pointless espionage thriller The East.
  69. Not everything from Ireland travels as well as the whiskey. Like mud-thick porridge, Shadow Dancer, another dreary, confusing conspiracy thriller about the Irish “troubles,” is one of them.
  70. Redundant, unnecessary and a colossal waste of talent and money, you can pretty much sum up Man of Steel in the scene in which a lady police officer watches with her mouth wide open as Superman tosses aside tanks like Tinker Toys. “What are you smiling about, captain?” asks another cop. “Nothing, sir — I just think he’s hot.”
  71. Petunia augurs more titillation than it delivers and only works occasionally.
  72. Stranded is no blockbuster, but it manages to pass the time better than most of them have done in this summer of discontent.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    While the movie may not, in the end, be so effective in tapping into our current class anxieties, that hardly seems to matter. Like a trip to Elysium, it’s a wild ride.
  73. He (Gordon-Levitt) can act, and there’s a possibility he can also direct, but there’s no evidence in Don Jon that he can do both at the same time.
  74. Timely but sluggish and confusing.
  75. Something is missing here, like a clear perspective.
  76. By the way, for reasons nobody bothers to explain, Las Vegas is played by New Orleans. Go figure.
  77. It’s a real pleasure to share some quality time with Mr. Caine as an old man wise enough to know there’s rarely any such thing as a second time around but brave enough to take a chance anyway. But the writing and direction by Sandra Nettelbeck barely support his forceful presence.
  78. The realism is honorable, the acting is exemplary, and all do good work, but life among the unlucky and disenfranchised who exist without hope is not a subject that will put a glow in your heart or a smile on your face. Be forewarned: The depression is inescapable.
  79. Enough is enough. One good thing: The jungle scenes were shot in Hawaii, so at least they all got a paid vacation.
  80. Statham and Franco, both well-known sleepwalkers on camera, seem more animated than usual. Suspend belief, and you’ll find Homefront predictable but entertaining.
  81. More bitter, bleak lives of American mill workers without a compass and no place to go if they had one are showcased in the pessimistic drama Out of the Furnace. It’s getting to be a dismal film director’s obsession bordering on cliché.
  82. If you’re patience doesn’t wear out, the movie culminates in that clever shock ending that not only explains everything but gives what you’ve just seen a rewarding jolt.
  83. By my rough calculation, the real Jack Ryan should be approximately 103. Preposterous but moderately engaging, Jack Ryan has outlived his welcome, and there’s no end in sight.
  84. The good twin/bad twin conceit in 2014 doesn’t have a shred of the original surprise, and Zoe Kazan doesn’t have the chops to carry it off anyway.
  85. The generic title In Secret is as uninspired as the movie itself.
  86. Odd Thomas has high-speed chases, explosions, narrow escapes and masses of special effects—none special enough, I’m afraid, to save it from mediocrity.
  87. As a film, though, Chlorine is as confusing as its title. Moviegoers be warned: With the skyrocketing cost of movie tickets (not to mention popcorn), this one is a bad investment.
  88. Disappointingly tedious, On My Way is a contrived vehicle for Gallic icon Catherine Deneuve. At 70, she’s still the embodiment of placid ripeness we know and love, but the movie has little substance.
  89. Unfortunately, Hide Your Smiling Faces is so slow it could use a few action sequences to speed things up.
  90. This is not a movie for everybody, but that assessment is not exactly intended as a thumbs down. Alarming thrills are guaranteed.
  91. The director’s vision is so dark — and Mr. Crowe’s grumbling, sour-stomach persona so much like a Tums commercial — that you don’t care much what happens to him or his ark, which looks like a big barge with a stove pipe in the middle.
  92. Ms. Carano still has a lot to learn about acting, but she’s certainly the one you want around in case of a home invasion.
  93. It stars Woody Allen, but it still drags along like an oyster trying to walk.
  94. It is not a sequel, just another retread of tired material in a franchise that is more than ready for the big comic book bonfire. And why the title? There is nothing amazing about it.
  95. Another eccentric example of style over content, The Double stars creepy Jesse Eisenberg in two roles, when one is always more than enough.

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