New York Observer's Scores

  • Movies
For 681 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 47% higher than the average critic
  • 1% same as the average critic
  • 52% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 5.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 56
Highest review score: 100 Mao's Last Dancer
Lowest review score: 0 The Wait
Score distribution:
681 movie reviews
  1. 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.
  2. In this overly familiar and ultimately meandering exercise in tedium, Mr. Burns also plays the lead.
  3. After Words is part adventure, part love story, part travelogue, and all as synthetic as rayon.
  4. It’s a movie that knocks itself cross-eyed trying to be hip, clever and today about acerbic seniors, but instead it only makes you long for old ladies in aprons exclaiming “Land sakes alive, I smell something burning in the oven!”
  5. 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.
  6. It's a Clint Eastwood role that only proves you can't send a boy to do a man's job.
  7. The generic title In Secret is as uninspired as the movie itself.
  8. 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.
  9. Admirable and respectable, it engages you while you’re watching it, then leaves you empty and wanting more.
  10. It's when the music stops that we run into problems. For starters, there are so many questions left unanswered.
  11. Pan
    It’s not about Peter Pan, but about what happened before Peter Pan. The noise you hear is J. M. Barrie turning over in his grave.
  12. 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.
  13. Not a masterpiece, perhaps, but technically polished, with inspired performances and enough suspense that by the time Mr. Hamm found the redemption that freed him from his own demons, I was so wired I needed a Valium.
  14. The entire movie is about as sexy as a root canal.
  15. This is an oddball tale that is well worth telling, but Mr. Carrey simply cannot resist turning it into a Three Stooges routine in drag.
  16. Too small and dark to appeal to a large audience, it's not a movie to cherish.
  17. Because it’s written and directed by slick slasher king Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel), expect some genuine, well-executed thrills that keep the adrenaline going. This is a good thing, because Keanu Reeves has the adrenaline rush of road kill.
  18. 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.
  19. A well-meaning but desultory descent into darkness based on a memoir of the same name by Amy-Jo Albany, daughter of Joe Albany, the great jazz pianist who died in 1988 at age 63. The book, published in 2003, was subtitled Junk, Jazz and Other Fairy Tales From Childhood, and that just about covers it.
  20. This dumb movie turns from dubious to preposterous.
  21. One thing that defies debate: Zac Efron is going places as an actor of value. But he deserves better movies than Charlie St. Cloud.
  22. The movie, which has all the freshness and insight of a Movie of the Week on the Hallmark channel, is a first for the writer-director, which probably accounts for its lack of any definitive style or focus.
  23. My boy Viggo is always fascinating, but the movie is a concept searching for a story.
  24. 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.
  25. The movie doesn’t know if it’s a teen fantasy-romance or a more sophisticated satire that the material can’t support.
  26. Unfortunately, there aren’t many thrills and the pace is so slow that I fell asleep from tedium waiting for something that resembled a goose bump.
  27. For the Edgerton brothers and for their protagonists, The Square works on several levels, as it shows how far two people will go for love and profit--in more ways than one.
  28. By the way, for reasons nobody bothers to explain, Las Vegas is played by New Orleans. Go figure.
  29. The formulaic cat-and-mouse game played to the death rattle by Michael Douglas’ rich, vicious corporate maniac and Jeremy Irvine’s nice, clean-cut, homespun country boy in Beyond the Reach is so old it’s hairy.
  30. True Story trips and stumbles so much in the telling that you don’t know what to believe, and instead of one man’s irony you end up with two men’s lies.
  31. 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...
  32. Young Mr. Eisenberg and a fine cast give Holy Rollers the ballast it otherwise lacks, but we've been down this road so often that there are times when I could only wonder why I was watching it at all.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. The result is not without a few moments of exhilaration, although the overall effect is more like the Bard of Avon meets "Glee."
  37. 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.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The movie achieves the kind of rhythm of an opera, alternating between arias of animated poetry and the recitative of normal speech.
  38. Stranded is no blockbuster, but it manages to pass the time better than most of them have done in this summer of discontent.
  39. Written by Emma Thompson, it’s literate and respectful, but a dose of lithium in a champagne glass that is too stolid to ever come alive.
  40. One of the least likable characters (Cox) in recent memory--irascible, but with moments of real tenderness--he’s the reason this strange movie takes on a perverse charm that is uniquely its own.
  41. The dependable Australian actor Guy Pearce is always welcome, even in a well-meaning dud like 33 Postcards.
  42. You can't fault the theme that life's darkest moments brighten when two people need each other, but there's no drug strong enough to get me through another movie like Love and Other Drugs.
  43. May not appeal to every taste, but it marks an arresting feature debut for Jordan Scott, a director who is well worth watching.
    • 39 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The problem is the movie never gives us a reason to care about Colin in the first place, or even to dislike him that much, if that’s how we’re supposed to feel. Colin is neutral, a kind of empty vessel, and Mr. Cage is his typical aloof self with a "Con Air" accent.
  44. 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.
  45. In the often illustrious career oeuvre of Clint Eastwood, Trouble with the Curve is a minor entry, a cinematic footnote.
  46. 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.
  47. The situations in Little Accidents cry out for more clarity than the script delivers, but the carefully observed performances are worth perusal, and the dark, industrialized joylessness of Rachel Morrison’s cinematography is a somber mirror to the sad dead-end life of Appalachia.
  48. It's definitely worth seeing for Ms. Cattrall. This gal can really act.
  49. A dull, pretentious trifle from director David Gordon Green with Al Pacino in another of his late-career mishaps that does nothing to elevate his fading film status. How I wish he would stick to the stage.
  50. 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.
  51. 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.
  52. The movie is not great, but the star is not bad. This, in some quarters, is high praise indeed.
  53. 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.
  54. 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.
  55. 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.
  56. Empty, pointless and stupid, the barrage of gunfire called Welcome to the Punch is another unappealing entry in the overworked British gangster genre.
  57. 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.
  58. 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.
  59. The script may be flawed and the narrative storytelling mechanical, but the period details are fascinating, the camerawork swaggers across a maze of squalid row houses and nightclub floors with visual velocity, and whenever either one Tom Hardy (or both) is onscreen, Legend is engrossing stuff indeed.
  60. Michael Caine is such a consummate actor that it's a major cause of concern to see him in Harry Brown, another hateful vigilante flick the wags in England have already labeled Dirty Harry Brown for reasons that are immediately obvious.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Why tell the Sleeping Beauty story anew? With this half-hearted film, Mr. Stromberg, the visual effects wizard behind such big-budget blockbusters as "Oz the Great and Powerful," "Alice in Wonderland" and "Avatar," can’t provide an answer.
  61. As a director, Mr. Crowe’s camera meanders all over the place; as an actor, he mumbles and growls his way through the carnage like it was nothing more important than a re-make of Gladiator, filmed on old sets from Gene Autry westerns.
  62. Danny Collins is nothing to write home about, but it kept me entertained without too much guilt, and I didn’t wince. By today’s American movie standards, that’s becoming very high praise indeed.
  63. 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.
  64. At least Gong is ravishing, which occasionally takes your mind off the gibberish that is going full tilt around her.
  65. Lazy, eccentric, chain-smoking and accident-prone, Mr. Murray gives ’em what they clamor for. His eventual redemption as a saint in disguise is predictable. The direction is negligent and the jokes are mild. It’s an O.K. little picture that doesn’t really go anywhere, but it has a resonance that is easy on the heart.
  66. Like any good cautionary tale, Puncture tells a suspenseful story responsibly, creating food for thought and leaving the audience both enlightened and entertained.
  67. Despite its good intentions, this earnest little film seems embalmed.
  68. A dreary bummer.
  69. Two lost souls on the highway of life — that’s what a well-acted but benign little trifle called Arthur Newman is about.
  70. 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.
  71. Mr. Spall, winner of the Cannes and New York Film Critics Circle best-actor awards, does his best to bring an unpleasant character to life — grunting and snorting like a boar ready to charge, spitting on his canvases and dragging around with a constant wince like a fat baby with colic. With all due respect, he’s too repulsive to watch for 150 minutes.
  72. 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.
  73. What will happen to the man-boy when he's all man and can no longer slouch about in baggy pants and hoodie sweatshirts with perpetually flushed cheeks?
  74. 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.
  75. 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.
  76. 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.
  77. Let it be said that Ms. Streep is galvanizing, even as the film slogs through too much information and not nearly enough illumination.
  78. In a footnote to history that is still too close for comfort, he’s the real meaning of paradise lost.
  79. 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.
  80. 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.
  81. 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.
  82. 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.
  83. Don’t be misled by the title Leaves of Grass. Do not expect literacy, either. This stoner comedy has nothing whatsoever to do with Walt Whitman or poetry of any kind.
  84. To be honest, I can rarely recall any film, on any subject, that made less sense.
  85. 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.
  86. A creepy descent into madness called Dark Was the Night is better than most.
  87. The results are variable, exasperating, challenging, often both disappointing and exhilarating. These elements surface throughout Happy Christmas, often simultaneously. Mr. Swanberg is not a total amateur, but he is called “a doodler” for obvious reasons, all of them on red alert here.
  88. 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.
  89. 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.
  90. A 2½-hour art film that is something of a well-intentioned mess.
  91. 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."
  92. 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.
    • 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.
  93. 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.
  94. 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."
  95. 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.
    • 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.

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