NPR's Scores

  • Movies
For 1,037 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 4.5 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 66
Highest review score: 100 The Tribe
Lowest review score: 0 This Means War
Score distribution:
1,037 movie reviews
  1. But c'mon! Erotic obsession, catfights, naked chicks making out -- at heart Chloe is a midnight movie, and all the Vivaldi in the world can't change that.
  2. Reich has a good sense of humor, as is virtually required of an adult who's less than 5 feet tall — he has Fairbanks disease, the same condition that accounts for Danny DeVito's stature — so he's pretty much guaranteed a laugh when he hops to his feet and asks if he looks like an advocate of "big government."
  3. A little slow for the very youngest kids -- though the messages it imparts are certainly ones you'll want them to hear.
  4. Music drives the movie, and the producers popped for the real stuff: Robert Johnson, Moby Grape and - curiously - the Sex Pistols are all here. The soundtrack is so overstuffed that it relegates Beatles and Dylan tunes to the end credits.
  5. It's not a political satire, or even satire of tabloid journalism. It's just another "bromance," with jokes so bad (they are) "freshmanic."
  6. The students all say and do more than they should in the filmmaker's presence, which certainly makes them watchable -- sort of a slow-motion train wreck.
  7. It's Rush who makes these characters push one another toward healing, and that feels forced. There are moments of poignancy, but mostly the film feels inert and unremarkable, an off-the-shelf indie-spiration fable that employs a manipulatively cruel twist to move the story away from its inherent darkness and toward an uplifting climactic montage.
  8. There's plenty of material for a lively, profound documentary about Norman Foster. But How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster? is, by design, lightweight.
  9. Laughs? Schmaltz? Life lessons? They're all there in Sean McGinly's pleasantly lackadaisical script, but not in such abundance that they seem reason enough to see the film.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The film aims for Hitchcock and gets a bit turned around; we're The Audience That Knew Too Much.
  10. "Driving Miss Daisy" this ain't. Except that it sort of is.
  11. Set in a high-tech yet shabby future, the remake of Total Recall is a fully realized piece of production design. But its script, credited to six authors, is more like a preliminary sketch.
  12. The upside of a Coward-powered letdown is that I had plenty of time to contemplate one particularly improbable fact about Easy Virtue: that it had a previous incarnation on film. As, of all things, a silent picture.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The ride as a whole is at the very least exciting to take part in.
  13. A little focus might have helped. Or not: The Dry Land seems intent to tick off a checklist of PTSD symptoms without animating them with fresh details or creative life. It's cloaked in an earnestness that suffocates.
  14. Unfortunately, brutality is about all this update of 1941's The Wolf Man can do well. Mutilations, decapitations and disembowelments are handled with aplomb in the first R-rated film from director Joe Johnston (Jumanji, Jurassic Park III). But everything that doesn't involve gore feels like an afterthought.
  15. Mirren cuts the figure of a bodice-ripping paperback heroine, a withering desert flower who blooms in the arms of a swarthy prizefighter roughly half her age. Mirren embodies the fantasy beautifully -- but Hackford's feature-length valentine to her all but sabotages the rest of the movie.
  16. Set to Jeremy Turner's spare and mournful score, Narco Cultura is ultimately more pensive than lurid.
  17. Too much of this seething drama is devoted not to characterization but to posturing.
  18. Mostly, though, 44 Inch Chest is complacently in love with the rhythmically profane talk that came so easily to writers Louis Mellis and David Scinto in "Sexy Beast."
  19. A streamlined script might have helped. Curran and Winterbottom lose themselves in the soupy business of union shenanigans, an internal investigation and Lou's intervention in a troubled boy's life, but the added complications -- and the talk, talk, talk they require -- take away from the disquieting core of Thompson's story.
  20. I'd like to credit Mangold, along with writers Christopher McQuarrie, Mark Bomback and Scott Frank for their good intentions; the smaller scope and lighter tone of their film is a tonic after bloated doom and gloom of "Man of Steel."
  21. The lesson at the core of Goethe's poem -- that powerful spirits are not to be taken lightly, and should only be conjured by those who can control them -- goes out the window, and the mentor-student relationship gets swallowed up in the action. Bruckheimer may be the dark lord of Tinseltown, but he's the Mickey Mouse of this scenario, and the mops and brooms get the best of him.
  22. The title is drawn from a verse Hannah wrote just before she was captured -- and that impulse is enough to sustain audience interest.
  23. Like the recent "Mud," The Kings of Summer is a tale of feral adolescent pals in search of freedom and adventure. The movies even share essentially the same awkwardly contrived climax. But of the two films, The Kings of Summer is more of a comedy, with a depiction of the eternal war between teen and parent that's downright farcical.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Far from carving its way into new nightmares, Intruders is bland enough to put old ones to rest.
  24. A theological trifle that ultimately twists itself into a romantic comedy.
  25. The film is more appealing for its scenery, which is as breathtakingly blue as you'd expect, than for its drama.
  26. Save the Date has the vapid, beige feel of an off-the-peg product made to exploit a niche market rather than a film with something on its mind about what it means to make the jump from youth to adulthood today.
    • 41 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Henry can finish a college application test in two minutes, yet Jesus Henry Christ doesn't know what to do with 90.
  27. "Humanize" might not seem the obvious verb for what happens in Chimpanzee, Disneynature's latest kiddie documentary. But it's dead on; this escape to the planet of the apes is anthropomorphic to a fault.
  28. Austrian documentarian Michael Glawogger's Whore's Glory is no "Pretty Woman." But neither does it qualify as an expose.
  29. Tomorrowland is designed, just like its theme park namesake, to celebrate optimism.
  30. Perhaps the clearest evidence that Yelling to the Sky is based on Mahoney's own life is that the movie lets its most troubled characters off pretty easy.
  31. However much Uxbal tries to help Barcelona's dispossessed, Biutiful doesn't really have anything to say about the modern world's economic migrants. Indeed, it could even be said that the movie exploits them.
  32. The movie is less than incisive, but it's utterly well-meaning.
  33. The most terrifying thing about the movie, really, is that plural: Originsssss. So many mutants, so much time. Thank God we can leave that for another summer.
  34. The movie's two bright spots are Cox and Dano, who perform excellently despite the dull inevitabilities the script forces on them.
  35. All of this is at once predictable and implausible -- a two-hander of a story so overplotted and overpopulated that by the time it's winding up, the question isn't so much Is Anybody There? as it is, "Why on earth are so many bodies here?"
  36. The shoddy attention to character, plausibility and detail is particularly surprising coming from Anderson, a director of smart indie thrillers like "The Machinist," "Session 9" and "Transsiberian." He's been a gifted filmmaker with a talent for creating chilling tension through meticulous control of just these elements.
  37. There are some funny bits and characters around the edges of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, but its core is empty of humor. In fact, this purported satire of Las Vegas magicians is a three-void circus: the script, the central character and the main performance.
  38. This slackers-go-gangsta comedy demonstrates that less than 90 minutes can be a very long time.
  39. Say this for Roland Emmerich's latest movie: It IS a disaster.
  40. Now, it's not fair to ask that a romantic comedy be entirely realistic, but some level of plausibility would make the jokes go down easier, as would a touch of delicacy in the writing.
  41. A raucously funny comic romance that's deaf and blind to the blithe spirit of romantic comedy.
  42. Even as a fantasy about where a lack of transparency might go, left unchecked, it's storytelling informed by sloppy, absolutist thinking, and it lends one more uncritical voice to the many who seem unable to distinguish between kinds and degrees of evil.
  43. Idiotic, if reasonably kinetic, Eagle Eye -- in which Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan spend the better part of two hours urgently answering phone calls and dodging hurtling machinery -- is every bit as over-edited as it is under-thunk.
  44. Playing like a mashup of tropes from far superior small- and large-screen entertainments (Scandal, House of Lies, Ides of March), this clunky feature from Bill Guttentag is satire at its most soft-bellied and toadying.
  45. Slack, morally ambiguous, decidedly sub-Dexter serial-killer-cop story that's been cooked up for them (De Niro/Pacino).
  46. The directors can make it fluid, comprehensible and gorgeous to look at, but they can't keep what struck many readers as profound on the page, from seeming profoundly obvious on screen, especially when every point gets reiterated six times.
  47. In the real world or a realer movie, the deceitful Arthur and the larcenous Mike would eventually get in big trouble. Yet this road movie is headed not toward serious consequences, but toward docile acceptance. In spirit, it turns out, Arthur Newman is a pretty much a Wallace Avery.
    • 22 Metascore
    • 45 Critic Score
    The road to hell is paved not just with good intentions, but with movies that attempt to capture the way women really talk.
  48. Awkward, incoherent and plodding.
  49. Renton's approach is, to its benefit, fair and never strident. But it's also gentle and cautious, often to a fault.
  50. Director Neil Burger, whose last divergent character was the smart-drugged protagonist of Limitless, allocates more than enough of this overlong movie to details of life and society in future-Chicagoland. But he fails to make any aspect of the premise persuasive.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 45 Critic Score
    Stolen is less shameless than "Taken" - which featured evil Albanians and other assorted politically incorrect appurtenances - which also makes it less effective.
  51. At times, to be blunt, he (Trejo) comes off like a silent film star who's accidentally lumbered onto the set of a bloody, violent, thoroughly ridiculous talkie: reluctant to speak, sometimes a little confused by his surroundings.
  52. Director Salim Akil deserves credit for keeping the film from falling apart completely. He sets a the brisk pace, and uses the picturesque oceanside setting to give the movie an inviting gloss even as the overstuffed narrative threatens to push viewers away.
  53. When faced with the choice of which gag to go for, Horrible Bosses generally selects the raunchiest laugh possible, all other considerations be damned.
  54. It's not that Part II is bad, exactly. If "The Hangover" had never existed, this movie might feel funnier than it does, if not quite as freshly hilarious.
  55. Such a catalog of missed opportunities, it probably makes sense just to list them.
  56. Based on a graphic novel, Cowboys & Aliens never quite transcends the flat dimensions of its source material.
  57. But more often, the film jumps around in dizzying disorganization, illustrating the fact that part of what a director provides to a film is not just vision and leadership, but also, as the word suggests, a narrative direction.
  58. The entertainment value of the violence trumps most of the larger meaning, and the film exploits its characters just as they do their prisoners.
  59. If the movie fails to conjure soiled 19th-century Paris, that's not primarily because it was shot in Hungary and Serbia. More problematic are the English-language dialogue and actors who speak in a variety of accents and perform in a range of styles.
  60. There's a couple of hundred million dollars' worth of technical wizardry up there on screen, and nothing is at stake. Except, maybe, for some future amusement park ride, and the sequels, and toys and hats and masks. And piles and piles of silver, if enough people lay down their hard-earned dollars to hear Hammer's hearty "Hi-yo."
    • 57 Metascore
    • 45 Critic Score
    What dooms Snow White and the Huntsman is ultimately not how over the top it is, but how dull it is.
  61. To begin with, how painful is it to watch actors as intelligent as Naomi Watts and Robin Wright mug their way through the story of two hard-bodied middle-aged Australian besties hitting the sack with one another's teenaged sons?
  62. What's most surprising, given the latitude provided by all that conjecture, is that the Durst - "David Marks" for the purposes of the film - who emerges is less a character study than a thumbnail sketch.
  63. By anyone's reckoning, Predators is a middling 1980s B movie; too bad this is 2010.
  64. The effect eventually becomes that of about a dozen story pitches all strung together. Any one of them might have the potential for greatness in isolation. Try to mash them up into one movie, though, and much like Jack, they fall to pieces.
  65. Small kids won't really appreciate Johnny Depp, either, though frankly he's getting to be less fun as the series ages, possibly realizing that what's riskiest in Pirates 4 isn't walking the plank, but jumping the shark.
  66. In the end, though, Seeking Justice evokes the post-Watergate paranoia of '70s thrillers like "The Parallax View" and "Three Days of the Condor" without having a worthy conspiracy at the bottom.
  67. The film places a great deal of stock in the role of geography in its characters' happiness, but doesn't really address the fact that their problems don't necessarily stay in the rear-view mirror once they hit the road for that change of scenery.
  68. There's lots of information, some nice images, plenty of earnest sermonizing about culture and almost no suspense, or tension, or character development, or structure. Or, well, art.
  69. It all works out agreeably enough, albeit in strict adherence to rom-com formula, right down to the obligatory wacky-best-friend roles given to space cadets Jeff Goldblum and Juliette Lewis.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    Slowly but surely, Unfinished Song devolves into its premise's worst-case scenario: a generic portrait of suffering, resilience, grief and reconciliation that, even in its postscript dedication — "To Family" — can't reach beyond safe, all-encompassing but ultimately unsatisfying sentiments.
  70. It's stately with a smirk, crossing Bram Stoker with "The Addams Family" to arrive at what sometimes feels like a wildly overproduced "Saturday Night Live" sketch.
  71. Never before has a movie's direction and script lagged so far behind the actor's hapless persona. If Fraser's character is a human Wile E. Coyote, director Roger Kumble is barely Elmer Fudd.
  72. The incoherence is made all the more disappointing because Eisner displays a great deal of raw talent for the genre's tone and set pieces.
  73. What's more annoying than the crassness, really, is the directorial sloppiness that results in a virtually mirthless first half-hour and a slow build to chuckles thereafter.
  74. For all its rhetorical whimsy and hipster dressings, (500) Days of Summer is a thoroughly conservative affair, as culturally and romantically status quo as any Jennifer Aniston vehicle.
  75. This is a film about people who are lost, and the filmmakers draw a direct line between their characters' existential wanderings and the religious obsessions they find for themselves.
    • 28 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    Zackham's film feels as plastic as a cake topper — and just as hard to digest.
  76. It's a strange sort of film that casts Gallic tough guy Jean Reno as a clean-fingernailed mogul while employing cross-dressing comic Tyler Perry as a guy capable of hand-to-hand combat with someone called The Butcher of Sligo.
  77. The problem is that Jonathan is possibly the most annoying romantic lead in any film in recent memory. His gnarly, X-Games-loving, righteous-dude shtick is so grating that my frustration with the lack of ferocity in the movie's monsters may be largely because I kept wishing one of them would act like a proper monster and tear him limb from limb.
  78. Connelly, Harris and Amy Madigan, as Tipton's devastated wife, all do their best to bring a measure of soul to Black's creations, but there's something fundamentally synthetic about Virginia, which lays bare its influences without doing much to reanimate them.
  79. The newest model of the old submarine-from-hell picture.
  80. At heart, though, the movie is as tame as "The Belles of St. Trinian's," the 1954 farce that started it all.
  81. Presumably in response to criticism that "The Da Vinci Code" was static and talky, director Ron Howard has made Angels & Demons frantic -- and, well, talky.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    Though the film features Holmes' fiercest villain and a plot partially cribbed from "The Final Problem," one of Conan Doyle's most beloved stories, the sense of mystery has gone missing. A most heinous crime has taken place. The fun, too, is nowhere in evidence.
  82. Austenland, a clunky broadside aimed at the cult of Jane Austen, is worth seeing primarily for its end credits, a mix of pop oil and water so joyfully dippy it might have produced a stifled giggle even in Herself.
  83. On the page, it's a funny little snapshot of the preteen mind, ruled by prevailing forces of fear and aggression, yet still given to silliness and lowbrow yuks. In a movie, however, Greg's thoughts are made painfully literal, so instead of being a reflection of his hyperactive imagination, they're grotesque cartoons standing in for real life.
  84. The result is verisimilitude without engagement -- a risk-taker's story told entirely without narrative risk -- and a movie that consequently never takes flight.
  85. In the past, the director has usually had an irreverent response on the issues of the day; Survival of the Dead is the first time in the series where he hasn't seemed to bother looking for one.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    All good humor must come to an end, and a love story has to be able to fall back on tenderness and sweetness eventually. Unfortunately, every time Beastly reaches for either of those things, it's ... really bad.
  86. The Ward feels less indebted to cinema's past than a desperate attempt to keep up with the present. Carpenter has made his approximation of a cheap, twisty, shock-filled modern horror movie, and he has lost all but faint sighs of his minimalist swagger in the process.
  87. Motherhood doesn't really need a recession to call attention to its flaws. The movie's a perfect dud on its own terms.
  88. The faux-naive point of view probably worked better in the novel; the literalness of film renders certain of the story's conceits overly precious.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    So it seems like the next logical step in telling a story with a relationship to truth might be that if you're going to fudge things, at least make it entertaining. Please, pull an "Argo."

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