New York Observer's Scores

  • Movies
For 511 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 6.4 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 55
Highest review score: 100 War Horse
Lowest review score: 0 I Melt with You
Score distribution:
511 movie reviews
    • 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.
  1. 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.
  2. It’s a romantic piffle stuffed with so much candy that your skin could break out.
  3. A vulgar, happy-as-cancer aberration that takes the dysfunctional family idea to a new low. Whimsical, yes. Happy, never.
  4. There is no hope on the horizon for movies as leaden as The Exploding Girl.
  5. A ludicrously pretentious train wreck masquerading as a movie.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. At a time when every penny counts, where do they come up with the money to finance a movie this boring?
  10. As the film builds to a feverish hysteria, you have to work hard to keep from laughing.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. The film knocks itself unconscious trying to be whimsical and offbeat, but is so contrived that it is as embarrassing as it is unfunny.
  17. 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.
  18. Burlesque is the celluloid equivalent to a Big Mac attack, and any resemblance to a plot is purely coincidental.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Who goes to the movies for 104 minutes of punishment? Where is John Wayne, now that we need him?
  22. Contrived, pretentious and not worth seeing even for the perverse pleasure of watching first-rate talents make second-rate fools of themselves.
  23. Only the great Piper Laurie delivers dollar value. Otherwise, Hesher is to movies what graffiti is to a rotting fence.
  24. 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.
  25. The Trollhunter writers either have an abundance of imagination or they've been smoking a controlled substance.
  26. Even as a prime example of rotten summer silliness, this is a paralyzing experience.
  27. This is bargain-basement moviemaking, and looks it. Here's wishing Mr. Pierce a vigorous movie career, and better luck next time.
  28. Congenial is the word for Larry Crowne, but it's as flat as an ironing board.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. How many ways can a film go wrong? Too many to list, and Trespass finds them all.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. Movies like Sleeping Beauty are as sensual as cottage cheese, not to mention passé.
  37. You anticipate every scene before it happens and figure out every secret before it's revealed.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. Gifted and sincere as she always is, there's not much Ms. Seyfried can do with this tripe.
  43. Detachment drives a coffin nail through a noble profession with such ruthless virulence that it makes no point at all.
  44. He (Owen) doesn't fail the movie. The movie fails him. As his wife, the superb Carice van Houten has so little to do or say - so peripheral a relation to everything else in the movie - that she seems to be an intruder herself.
  45. A creepfest so stupid it makes trashy slash-and-burn epics like "Humans Versus Zombies" and "I Spit on Your Grave" seem like Molière and Proust.
  46. The result, in the case of Moonrise Kingdom, is what I call transcendentally brainless - an after school special aimed at asinine adolescents over the age of 40.
  47. A nasty piece of work that's been hanging around for two years looking for an audience.
  48. Red Lights goes astray on so many levels that I gave up trying to figure it out before the end of the second reel.
  49. These are neither good people nor interesting savages, and they're not worth caring about. Neither is the movie.
  50. Halfheartedly, I give The Dark Knight Rises - the third and final Batflick in the Nolan trilogy - one star for eardrum-busting sound effects and glaucoma-inducing computerized images in blinding Imax, but talk about stretching things.
  51. Director Lloyd leaves it all to the imagination, but in a movie this slow and indecisive, the imagination is no longer enough when we've seen stronger stuff elsewhere.
  52. The script is breezy, but neither of the two leads have the heft or charm to carry an entire feature-length film - separately or together.
  53. Call The Master whatever you want, but lobotomized catatonia from what I call the New Hacks can never take the place of well-made narrative films about real people that tell profound stories for a broader and more sophisticated audience. Fads come and go, but as Walter Kerr used to say, "I'll yell tripe whenever tripe is served."
  54. The actors are all completely wasted in this dumb travesty of fumbling, unfocused, oversexed numbskulls who work in the movie business. Everyone connected with Nobody Walks should have done just that-early and quickly.
  55. Almost three hours long, a lugubrious sludge of mud soup called Cloud Atlas deserves a limp nod for pure guts, I suppose, but what I'd really like to do is burn it.
  56. A filthy, pretentious, brutally violent and utterly pointless load of rubbish called Killing Them Softly.
  57. Jack Reacher is mostly grim, violent and stupid.
  58. In an age of zombies, werewolves and oversexed vampires, teens won't be shaking in their Uggs over ugly women with bad teeth flying around on brooms, and with its graphic depictions of tortures, mutilations, gang rapes and myriad examples of child abuse, it's no longer a fairy tale suitable for children.
  59. For an old-fashioned crime thriller, you need real pros. Mr. Statham is to acting what Taco Bell is to nutrition.
  60. What it turns out to be is a preposterous puzzle that fails every test under scrutiny, leaving the spectator with a “Huh?” that is meant to be uttered only while chewing gum.
  61. Identity Thief is so bad it’s hard to believe it wasn’t directed by Judd Apatow or the Farrelly Brothers.
  62. Mostly it just redefines the word “asinine.” Marcia Gay Harden never makes a wrong move, but this movie is so futile, one goes away convinced that the moves she makes are hardly worth making.
  63. Blame who you must, but whatever went wrong with 6 Souls, God had nothing to do with it.
  64. This one is so bad it’s hilarious. Sheri Moon Zombie is no Mia Farrow, Rob Zombie is no Roman Polanski, and The Lords of Salem seems to have been made by people on the rubber bus headed for a rubber room with bars on the windows.
  65. Well photographed, lurid enough to cause concern for the teen market it aims to captivate, and with enough blood to refurbish an abattoir, Kiss of the Damned creates an eerie, foreboding anxiety that comes uneasily close to terror. Too bad they seem to be making it up as they go along.
  66. I love the publicity quotes by Baz Luhrmann stating that his intention was to make an epic romantic vision that is enormous. Also: overwrought, asinine, exaggerated and boring. But in the end, about as romantic as a pet rock.
  67. The actual Chilean earthquake killed 300 people and turned thousands more homeless, but this movie distills everything for comic effect. Everyone gets robbed, raped, impaled, mutilated, decapitated or burned alive. But that’s not all. Crawling through the blood-drenched debris, here comes the tsunami!
  68. Sightseers is a morose, unsettling blend of pathology for sport and murder for laughs.
  69. All we know is that the only sure way to avoid the loss of any more I.Q. points in the world today is to stay away from movies like Erased.
  70. Despite the sight of so much cheesecake romping naked through the woods like the girls have never heard of poison ivy, it’s the usual disreputable grindhouse schlock.
  71. This disoriented drivel was written by — and marks the directing debut of — Geoffrey Fletcher, who won an Academy Award for writing "Precious." It’s weird, but not in a good way.
  72. As a nauseating variation on the home-invasion theme, The Purge is as sickening as it is dreary.
  73. Unfortunately, with only the bare outline of a script, no acting is required. The structure of the film is 89 minutes of brutality with a college degree. This is a warning, not a recommendation.
  74. An hour and 20 minutes into this two-hour-and-11-minute endurance test, a hungry Kaiju attacks the city of Hong Kong and eats the neon signs of every Cantonese restaurant in Victoria Harbor. It’s sort of worth waiting around for.
  75. Awkward music cues and choppy camera work add baggage to a film so overwrought that its excesses seem more unintentionally silly than bleakly disturbing.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 25 Critic Score
    A vague and forgettable crime thriller that would have benefited from more character development or at least a grounding of the narrative in one central protagonist.
  76. What passes for a plot has been done a thousand times before — in much better films than A Single Shot.
  77. The script, by Melissa James Gibson, is as scintillating as a dead rodent.
  78. Big Ass Spider, lazily directed by Mike Mendez and unwisely written without a trace of necessary camp by Gregory Gieras, aims for satire and settles for stale shtick. It ends with the song “La Cucaracha,” leaving the door open for more insects to come. Cockroaches, anyone?
  79. This awful rehash, badly directed by Vincenzo Natali (Splice), reeks of stale, recycled ideas.
  80. The film has a restless, nomadic quality similar to Kerouac’s lifestyle, but there’s no there there.
  81. I guess I’ve seen worse teen sex comedies, but it’s rare to encounter one this stupid.
  82. Lamely directed by Brian A. Miller, who co-wrote it with Mr. Fairbrass, this is the kind of curiosity that used to fill the bottom half of a double feature in the day when we still had drive-ins. The real outsider is the movie itself.
  83. Movies get crazier and more incomprehensible every day, but you don’t know demented until you see Winter’s Tale.
  84. Incompetently directed by Scott Coffey and weakly written by Andrew Cochran, a rotten egg called Adult World is anything but.
  85. It’s nice to see a movie about kids that extols the virtues of intelligence over sex, sports, bad music, ugly clothes and tattoos, but aside from some nice autumnal shots of Ivy League college campuses, there’s nothing in HairBrained to sustain much interest.
  86. It takes just under two hours of tedium before you find out what’s in the bag, and you might be sorry you waited.
  87. I’ve had bigger scares from the windows at FAO Schwarz.
  88. The only reason to suffer through a grim wack job called McCanick is to see the late Cory Monteith in his last film role.
  89. I certainly wish Ms. Johansson hadn’t shown up at all. She’s never less than interesting to watch, but Under the Skin is a big waste of her time.
  90. A pointless nightmare of pretentious science fiction twaddle with no plot, no coherence and no heart.
  91. Mr. Franco must have had a very boring adolescence, because Palo Alto is a very boring movie.
  92. There’s nothing remarkable or even remotely intriguing about the dyspeptic gang of submental sad sacks in this dull, flat fiasco.

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