NPR's Scores

  • Movies
For 1,023 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 60% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 37% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 4.2 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 66
Highest review score: 100 A Separation
Lowest review score: 0 This Means War
Score distribution:
1,023 movie reviews
  1. For the charming but skin-deep documentary When Comedy Went to School, filmmakers Mevlut Akkaya and Ron Frank gained enviable access to pioneer stars of Borscht Belt standup.
  2. A waka is a traditional Japanese style of poetry, and this documentary does take a lyrical approach. Although barely an hour long, Tokyo Waka leaves room for offhand observations and humorous asides.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    The diminishing returns in part are due to Burdge's performance, which too often settles for the same look of fraught anxiety. But they also result from Fidell's decision to pare her film down to the barest elements.
  3. While Populaire would still have suffered from being overlong and overfamiliar, a smoother leading man could have done much to boost the intended Cary Grant vibe.
  4. As The Fifth Estate excitedly illustrates, in the Internet age no one can ever really have the last word.
  5. Because it serves up Armageddon with a side order of teen romance, How I Live Now is not always credible. But as a portrait of a surly 16-year-old whose internal crisis is overtaken by an external one, the movie is persuasive.
  6. Like "Eve's Bayou," her best-known movie, Kasi Lemmons' Black Nativity presents a child's view of a troubled family. The latter film is sweeter and slenderer, but that's only to be expected.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    Where the film excels is in capturing the quiet revelations in Marie's life over the few days it chronicles — revelations that represent the aftermath of choices made years before, when expectations were higher.
  7. There's black comedy, and then, in the darkest corner of an airtight box buried deep underground, there's the humor of Big Bad Wolves.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 65 Critic Score
    Focusing on this tumultuous period of adjustment, Run & Jump is uneven but admirably authentic in its observation of a family trying to retain something of their past lives while confronting an uncertain future.
  8. What's refreshing, though, is Coffey's skeptical but affectionate feel for the tenacious strivers who cling like limpets to the margins of every arts scene, often for precious years of their impoverished lives.
  9. Like the (far superior) recent Russian film "Elena," Child's Pose paints a compelling portrait of post-Soviet capitalism in all its uncorked appetites, its brash cronyism and graft, its pretensions, its clueless philistinism.
  10. Bethlehem qualifies as a promising debut for its first-time actors and director, but it's slack at first, and the thriller tricks it uses to ratchet up the tension later — musical underscoring, careening vehicles, threatening crowds — keep it from sneaking past your defenses.
  11. The French Minister boasts robust pacing, screwball-comedy banter and an exuberant central performance. For most American viewers, though, the movie could use footnotes to go with its subtitles.
  12. We're here to see the film's leading lizard, who is pretty gorgeously realized by an army of digitizers, even if he seems just a bit-player in his own movie for the first hour or so.
  13. Aided by subtly wounded performances by Daniels and Stone, and a surprisingly affecting comic turn from Reynolds, Paper Man makes up for many of its shortcomings with an abundance of heart.
  14. The movie drowns the deeper questions it raises in a sadistic procedural, an endless circular motion of fight scenes whose only justification is themselves.
  15. Though the film's simple story is squarely aimed at tots, DreamWorks' digitizers have referenced Eastern visual styles -- everything from delicate Chinese screens to flashy Japanese anime -- to enliven the look of the film.
  16. By movie's end, director Marcos Carnevale has made it possible for you to see Elsa through Fred's eyes. Love has bloomed late -- but with sweet exuberance -- in this romantic charmer.
  17. Spectacularly self-absorbed protagonists step on each other, jockeying first for position, and ultimately for survival.
  18. W.
    A surprisingly unsurprising film.
  19. It's an inspiring story, if one that doesn't need quite as much poetic inspiration as Ed Zwick's movie insists on giving it, with dialogue that's too often ornate and parable-inflected.
  20. Kaplan keeps the story breezy and brisk, and provides his down-to-earthily modern fairy tale with an appropriately other-worldly visual style.
  21. Director Saul Dibb, presumably knowing that this is pretty standard stuff for a costume epic, occupies us not just with the usual visuals -- of his star drifting through exquisitely furnished estates, draped in rich silks and brocades -- but also with some intriguingly offbeat sights.
  22. Moore is always watchable, Ruffalo and Bernal get a nice rivalry going without ever establishing eye contact (as it were), and Danny Glover has some nice moments in an underdeveloped part as an older man who finds, to his benefit, that love is blind.
  23. Doubt cast a long moral shadow on Broadway but seems blunter on screen, largely because Shanley's fussy directorial notions ... are less nuanced than the religious and moral arguments he's given his principal characters.
  24. Like the decent B-movie director that he is, Hyams tosses in two gripping car chases and blows up a few more vehicles for good measure. But otherwise, there's little in this pointless rehash to distract audiences from the pleasure of watching Tamblyn.
  25. A preachy parable of suburban discontent, Shorts probably has enough kid-oriented slapstick to please the under-12 set. But it's not likely to rival writer-director Robert Rodriguez's "Spy Kids" series in long-term appeal.
  26. The movie is, as these things go, enjoyably trashy.
  27. In short, Ritchie's come up with precisely what you'd expect of him — a pumped-up, anachronistically modern Sherlock Holmes designed for the ADD crowd. Expect a sequel. Or six.

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