New York Observer's Scores

  • Movies
For 479 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 5.4 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 56
Highest review score: 100 The Conspirator
Lowest review score: 0 Life During Wartime
Score distribution:
479 movie reviews
  1. In the often illustrious career oeuvre of Clint Eastwood, Trouble with the Curve is a minor entry, a cinematic footnote.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. The film's weakest link is Rufus Sewell's rumpled gumshoe, inarticulate and mumbling to the point of madness.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. In this overly familiar and ultimately meandering exercise in tedium, Mr. Burns also plays the lead.
  9. 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.
  10. It is to her everlasting credit that a famously exasperating perfectionist like Barbra Streisand could survive a limp noodle like The Guilt Trip.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. The movie doesn’t know if it’s a teen fantasy-romance or a more sophisticated satire that the material can’t support.
  16. 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.
  17. To be honest, I can rarely recall any film, on any subject, that made less sense.
  18. 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.
  19. My boy Viggo is always fascinating, but the movie is a concept searching for a story.
  20. 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.
  21. The result is not without a few moments of exhilaration, although the overall effect is more like the Bard of Avon meets "Glee."
  22. Empty, pointless and stupid, the barrage of gunfire called Welcome to the Punch is another unappealing entry in the overworked British gangster genre.
  23. 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.
  24. Two lost souls on the highway of life — that’s what a well-acted but benign little trifle called Arthur Newman is about.
  25. The dependable Australian actor Guy Pearce is always welcome, even in a well-meaning dud like 33 Postcards.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.”
  29. Petunia augurs more titillation than it delivers and only works occasionally.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. Timely but sluggish and confusing.
  33. Something is missing here, like a clear perspective.
  34. By the way, for reasons nobody bothers to explain, Las Vegas is played by New Orleans. Go figure.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. Enough is enough. One good thing: The jungle scenes were shot in Hawaii, so at least they all got a paid vacation.
  38. Statham and Franco, both well-known sleepwalkers on camera, seem more animated than usual. Suspend belief, and you’ll find Homefront predictable but entertaining.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. The generic title In Secret is as uninspired as the movie itself.
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
  46. 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.
  47. Unfortunately, Hide Your Smiling Faces is so slow it could use a few action sequences to speed things up.
  48. This is not a movie for everybody, but that assessment is not exactly intended as a thumbs down. Alarming thrills are guaranteed.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. It stars Woody Allen, but it still drags along like an oyster trying to walk.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 38 Critic Score
    Speaking of afterthoughts, Olivia Wilde has a bit part as a single mom who unwittingly aids and abets the Brennans in their escape, and Brian Dennehy lurches silently through a number of scenes as John's working-class father. It's jarring to see such big-name actors in such thankless roles.
    • 26 Metascore
    • 38 Critic Score
    I'm not sure what went wrong with this picture. It could just be bad judgment on the part of screenwriter Steve Adams, who for all we know finds stalking adorable.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 38 Critic Score
    It just goes to show, no matter how burnished your backdrop or splendiferous your setting, if your script is crap, you're stuck with a total dud.
  52. The insurmountable problem is that Imogene is not a very original, dynamic or charismatic character, and Kristen Wiig is not a very original, dynamic or charismatic actress. Nobody in this movie is really appealing enough to be much fun. The state of New Jersey should sue.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 38 Critic Score
    If there is a breakout role in Millers, it is that of Will Poulter, the 20-year-old English actor who played Lee Carter in 2007’s "Son of Rambow." As Kenny Rossmore, the hapless neighbor who ends up playing the teenage son of Ms. Aniston and Mr. Sudeikis during their version of National Lampoon’s Mexican Vacation, Mr. Poulter strikes a perfect comedic balance between sweet savant and pop-culture lech.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 25 Critic Score
    It might be time for Johnny Depp and Tim Burton to start thinking about seeing other people. Alice in Wonderland, their seventh film together, is so thoroughly soul-deadening and laborious that the prospect of an eighth collaboration feels like the sword of Damocles.
  53. It’s a romantic piffle stuffed with so much candy that your skin could break out.
  54. A vulgar, happy-as-cancer aberration that takes the dysfunctional family idea to a new low. Whimsical, yes. Happy, never.
  55. There is no hope on the horizon for movies as leaden as The Exploding Girl.
  56. A ludicrously pretentious train wreck masquerading as a movie.
  57. After.Life, with a pretentious point between the two words in the title for no explainable reason, is a horror film with a macabre style but few of the creepy chills of cheaper, cliché-riddled thrillers that are a dime a dozen these days.
  58. Staying awake during this ordeal of incompetent, incomprehensible stupidity is not difficult. It’s so noisy that you can hear it in the next town. Staying interested is something else entirely.
  59. Instead of the feel-good comedy they intended, you are left with the suspicion that the movie is really about a man suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness for which there is no cure.
  60. At a time when every penny counts, where do they come up with the money to finance a movie this boring?
  61. As the film builds to a feverish hysteria, you have to work hard to keep from laughing.
  62. It still has a long way to go before the term Mumblecore (which sounds like a Harry Potter major at Hogwart's) can be confused with the term Class Act.
  63. Salt is about as believable as a secret training program for military pilots consisting entirely of kangaroos in flight helmets. But it must be said that the star carries her load admirably.
  64. I'd like to tell you just how bad Inception really is, but since it is barely even remotely lucid, no sane description is possible.
  65. Even Helen Mirren on a bad day is better than nine out of ten American film queens polluting movie screens on any given Sunday, but really, this is one time she should have stayed in bed.
  66. Valhalla Rising is nothing more than an updated version of the kind of time-honored Hollywood Viking movie Kirk Douglas used to do in his sleep, which means lots of inhuman, bone-crunching violence and no plot.
  67. The film knocks itself unconscious trying to be whimsical and offbeat, but is so contrived that it is as embarrassing as it is unfunny.
  68. Instead of originality, The Romantics recycles the same material with a lot of noise masquerading as style, and no substance whatsoever, producing a grotesquerie of caricatures from central casting that are dead on arrival.
  69. Burlesque is the celluloid equivalent to a Big Mac attack, and any resemblance to a plot is purely coincidental.
  70. The original western won John Wayne a puzzling and undeserved Oscar for finally falling off his horse. Don't expect the same miracle for Jeff Bridges. In the numbing hands of pretentious filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, history does not repeat itself in any way whatsoever.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 25 Critic Score
    The bottom line is, whether you worship God, Satan, Xenu or Ron Paul, The Rite gets it wrong.
  71. Unknown makes no sense at all, so you not only worry about Liam Neeson's judgment in movies, but you begin to wonder if he's forgotten how to read.
  72. Who goes to the movies for 104 minutes of punishment? Where is John Wayne, now that we need him?
  73. Contrived, pretentious and not worth seeing even for the perverse pleasure of watching first-rate talents make second-rate fools of themselves.
  74. Only the great Piper Laurie delivers dollar value. Otherwise, Hesher is to movies what graffiti is to a rotting fence.
  75. The movie knocks itself unconscious trying to be offbeat, but instead of cinematic heart, the director self-indulges in cinematic art, drowning the whole thing in freeze frames, slow-motion and color-coding, owing everything he knows to the worst of Jean-Luc Godard and Wes Anderson.
  76. The Trollhunter writers either have an abundance of imagination or they've been smoking a controlled substance.
  77. Even as a prime example of rotten summer silliness, this is a paralyzing experience.
  78. This is bargain-basement moviemaking, and looks it. Here's wishing Mr. Pierce a vigorous movie career, and better luck next time.
  79. Congenial is the word for Larry Crowne, but it's as flat as an ironing board.
  80. It's a stupid farrago of aborted ideas, misguided actors, lame direction, submental writing and follow-the-dots plotting that never comes anywhere within a 10-mile radius of what I used to call coherent filmmaking.
  81. What to say about an uphill slog called Crazy, Stupid, Love? It's not nearly crazy enough to clear the clogged arteries of summer comedies, and when the love appears, it's in all the wrong places. Oh well, at least they nailed the stupid part.
  82. The charm, versatility and charisma of Jason Bateman and the camera-ready good looks of Ryan Reynolds should add up to more than a piece of crummy, amateurish junk called The Change-Up.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 25 Critic Score
    By the time the end finally comes, there's no relief. You're left with the vague recollection of an interesting movie you were watching before you got kidnapped and subjected to over an hour of torture porn starring a fat, sadistic clown.
  83. Artificial, irresponsible, filthy and forgettable, it knocks itself cross-eyed trying to make you roar with laughter at chemotherapy, with the nauseating Seth Rogen milking most of the yuks. But a stoner comedy about cancer? I don't think so.
  84. How many ways can a film go wrong? Too many to list, and Trespass finds them all.
  85. As a movie, it's so tightly framed you gasp from claustrophobia. As a film of cryptic boredom, I cannot believe the actors were able to say their lines without cue cards.
  86. Rarely has Mr. Gere walked through any movie with so little energy and so much indifference. I've seen more fervor on the face of a man parking a car.
  87. Movies like Sleeping Beauty are as sensual as cottage cheese, not to mention passé.
  88. You anticipate every scene before it happens and figure out every secret before it's revealed.
  89. Haywire makes no sense whatsoever, which should come as no surprise. It's the latest brainless exercise in self-indulgence from Steven Soderbergh, whose films rarely make any sense anyway.
  90. And there is Ewan McGregor, who makes entirely too many movies and only occasionally makes an effort to speak the kind of English anyone can understand.
  91. Ms. Cardellini plays it like a zombie, and she isn't helped by all the loitering camera angles and repetitive close-ups of her head framed against car windows. It's a worthy subject, ploddingly explored in a film that is too modest for its own good.
  92. All of which makes me sad about Denzel Washington's disillusioning participation. I forgive him if the money was irresistible enough to pay off a mortgage or put his kids through Harvard, but Safe House is total junk, and he is one of the producers.

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