NPR's Scores

  • Movies
For 1,025 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 The King's Speech
Lowest review score: 0 This Means War
Score distribution:
1,025 movie reviews
  1. There's a better documentary to be carved out of Hit So Hard, but not necessarily a great one, because the gossip and drug-fueled capers offered up by Love are simply more compelling than the tremulous course of Schemel's life. Here, as then, Schemel plays backup to history.
  2. It's the sort of well-meaning fable that's ultimately more admirable than persuasive.
    • 41 Metascore
    • 55 Critic Score
    Grassroots is a movie where bad ideas, because they're the ones championed by the "correct" side, are king. It never acknowledges that sometimes idealism is just another kind of manipulation.
  3. It's populated by characters who are just too good to be plausible.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 55 Critic Score
    On the plus side, the action sequences - desaturated, chopped up and herky-jerky as they are - are mildly thrilling.
  4. Orchestra of Exiles will interest anyone who's concerned with European Jewry or classical music in the first half of the 20th century. But it provides mostly the facts of Huberman's legacy and little of the flavor.
  5. The comic relief, an attempt to buoy the sinking feeling of Dolly and Joseph's difficulties, steals away the emotional weight of their story. The dominance of the madcap side of the film's split personality lays an airy veneer over Dolly and Joseph's woes, making them seem inconsequential - as unsubstantial as an observation about wedding-day weather.
  6. The movie's violence, although gruesome, flirts with slapstick, and the story appears bound for domestic comedy when all the major characters sit down for Thanksgiving dinner at June and Chet's grand Victorian farmhouse. But the meal becomes more freak show than satire.
  7. Cumming always gives good value, and his regular bursts into cabaret numbers are certainly an added bonus. Yet this instinctively ironic actor doesn't seem best suited to play the movie's most sentimental creation. A mouthy, heart-of-gold construct, Rudy dresses like Ratso Rizzo and comes on like The Fonz.
  8. Once the colorful anecdotes sprawl out into an actual narrative, the film gets convoluted and loud, amplifying the weirdness without doing much to clarify it.
  9. The thriller elements of the plot — which Karpovsky delivers quite ably, with an electric tension that carries through much of the film — aren't really balanced by the personal revelations on which Karpovsky eventually hangs Paul's problems. Both the mystery and the character piece wind up feeling incomplete.
  10. Whatever lizard-brain fun might have been had in watching Johnson do battle against a drug cartel is weakened by the occasional hard tug at the social conscience. The film winds up divided against itself.
  11. J.H. Wyman's script is grim and fairly audacious, without anything so goofy as the silliest stuff in "Dragon Tattoo." The story involves some Grand Guignol violence, but its wildest notion is that a suicide-mission plot might somehow yield a happy ending.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 55 Critic Score
    Even though Hogan has some terrific actors to work with — Toni Collette and Liev Schreiber among them — it's never clear what he's trying to say or do with Mental.
  12. DeChristopher's primary concern is climate change, which is no small issue. But Bidder 70 would be more compelling if it had used the U.S. government's assault on the ad hoc activist to also discuss threats to the American political environment.
  13. While Europa Report recalls such small-ensemble stuck-in-space flicks as "Moon" and "Sunshine," it's basically "The Blair Witch Project" relocated to the vicinity of Jupiter.
  14. So the principal point of controversy involved here is not Jobs himself, but Ashton Kutcher, who plays him. The actor's approach is to ape Jobs' speech and movements, which he does quite well. Whether mimicry qualifies as characterization is a question for Jobs' viewers to answer for themselves.
  15. Many of the White House scenes are jarringly motley, as Whitaker maintains Gaines' dignity against a series of performances that range from bland (James Marsden's JFK) to cartoonish (Liev Schreiber's LBJ). It comes as a relief when Daniels reduces Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford to TV clips — though that strategy makes the film even more of a stylistic jumble.
  16. If Drinking Buddies is meant to be his ticket into mainstream comedy, it feels mumblecore-ishly vague and rambling in its construction, like "Hannah Takes the Stairs" without the raffish charm.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 55 Critic Score
    By the end, Macy's presence is just one part of what makes A Single Shot recall the Coen brothers' "Fargo." That film's now-famous wood-chipper scene can seem strangely tame a decade and a half on, but it still has a lesson to teach: When you show violence in a story that's not really about violence, there'd better be more of a point than just making us squirm.
  17. Zaytoun is different: This time, the director allows his characters to cross the frontier. That makes for a story that's sweeter, but also less convincing.
  18. If The Counselor is a failure, it's at least a fascinating one. Much of the reason for that is time spent in the theater examining why the film isn't working.
  19. It may seem odd for a teen-focused action movie to feel so glum, but that's actually something that the director gets right, even if it threatens to make this a dull affair: Ender's Game is a dark story of a children's crusade built on the crushed psyches of damaged youths, and too much uplift would undermine it.
  20. Basically the anti-"Kill Bill." Both movies are quilted together from their auteurs' favorite Asian action flicks, but where Tarantino's was overheated, Reeves' is elegantly iced.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 55 Critic Score
    There are few enough directors with either Sayles' independent streak or his ability to parse the U.S.'s social and political divisions. In the best cases, the combination of the two makes his films vital. Go For Sisters, unfortunately, isn't the best case, even for itself.
  21. The film was shot entirely in South Africa, and revels in golden light on dry yellow grasslands. But it's still a very British movie, a respectful view from a suitable distance.
  22. Cooper does slow the action and set it in the least glamorous of circumstances, which drains the pleasure from the thriller conventions. But just because Out of the Furnace isn't much fun doesn't make it profound.
  23. This all essentially serves to distract from the fact that all that really happens in the film is that the company manages to eventually reach the mountain.
  24. If you're only going to see one film about the Battle of Stalingrad — and there are many — Stalingrad would be the wrong choice. Russian director Fedor Bondarchuk's treatment of the World War II turning point is shallow and contrived, if sometimes impressively staged.
  25. Shot in New Mexico on a limited budget, Boys of Abu Ghraib is a credible depiction of the tedium, frustration and humiliation of wartime service. (Jack gets coated in human excrement not once but twice.) Naturalistic scenes of boxing, bantering and masturbation, set to a rap and hard-rock score, emphasize that these boys are young American everymen.

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