Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,126 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 41% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 57% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 2.8 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Lowest review score: 0 Because I Said So
Score distribution:
2,126 movie reviews
  1. Likely to create considerable nervous tension among viewers who think they've seen this all before. They haven't.
  2. The film grows increasingly mirthful as the characters come into focus, and the casting is the key: Ms. Garner, who also helped produce the film, has a gift for catty roles, and Ms. Wilde is so funny she should play hookers all the time.
  3. The Sessions is admirable, and often enjoyable, yet self-limiting in concept. It's exactly about what it sets out to be about - no less but no more.
  4. An overlong adventure enlivened by wonders.
  5. It's a privilege to watch peerless actors at the peak of their powers.
  6. The movie comes up with a couple of tender moments that could pass for human, and a mano-a-mano climax in which the superhero of yore, the glint in his eye dulled but not extinguished, functions as a weirdly touching tyrannosaurus.
  7. The pace is deliberate, verging on slow — Australian filmmakers aren't keen on short takes or quick cuts — but the content is constantly surprising.
  8. In addition to the dismaying facts and figures is a fuller sense of what hunger can look like, and feel like, among the millions of Americans classified as "food-insecure" — those who may not know, for themselves or their children, where the next meal will come from.
  9. Ms. Englert's performance isn't as interesting as it might have been if the writing hadn't favored Ginger. But Ms. Fanning, a young actress of seemingly unerring instincts, is a wonder.
  10. At a time when so many movies look alike, and studio productions sometimes look aggressively ugly, here's a quirky vision at the intersection of sci-fi and romance. Upside Down can be beguiling if you're willing to invert disbelief.
  11. One-third wonderful, The Place Beyond the Pines weakens as it unfolds for lack of what makes the early part so good.
  12. Little by little, though, the cluelessness grew endearing, the cross-purpose conversations intricately funny, the gritty look appealing.
  13. Renoir is so beautiful, and so intelligently conceived, that you keep waiting, in vain, for a bit of fire to break out in the narrative.
  14. I floated in and out of states that included suspense, surprise, delight and shock, all of them adding up to steady-state enjoyment.
  15. The structure is sheer contrivance — three narratives intricately interlocked — while the plot amounts to a convenience store of variably credible, or borderline incredible, strands. Yet the film is impressive all the same.
  16. Ken Loach better watch out. From the start of his illustrious career his name has been synonymous with left-wing politics expressed in remarkably fine, consistently serious social-realist dramas, most of them set in England or Scotland. Now he has gone and directed a comedy from a script by his longtime collaborator Paul Laverty, and it's so delightful that his fans will be clamoring for more.
  17. The cleverness gives considerable pleasure until the story grows absurd and the story within the story turns unpleasant, like the creepily precocious young man who tells it.
  18. What's remarkable, though, is how Ms. Bier's film, in Danish and English, finds beauty in its quiet moments, which are many and close between.
  19. Too bad it isn't more engaging — and dramatic — than it is, but this new film, in French with English subtitles, is still worth seeing for what it says of the turbulent state of France in the early 1970s, when Mr. Assayas was a high-school student in Paris, and of the zigzag pursuit—of painting, beautiful girls and independence from a demanding father—that finally culminated in his becoming the filmmaker he was meant to be.
  20. Noisy, frenetic, grandiose and essentially a soap opera, director J.J. Abrams's second contribution to the franchise has everything, including romance: Never before have Capt. James T. Kirk and his Vulcan antagonist, Mr. Spock, seemed so very much in love.
  21. Even if snorkeling wasn't a major sport in 16th-century Sicily, where the action was originally set, the joyous spirit of the play has been preserved in this modest, homegrown production.
  22. This enjoyable shambles of a sci-fi thriller, directed by Marc Forster in impressive 3-D, stands on its own as a powerful vision of planetary chaos.
  23. I just can't hide my disappointment, though, that the movie doesn't sustain anything like the brilliance of its best scenes, or even the promise of its preface.
  24. The script — by Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul — is erratic, to put it generously. Yet the 3-D animation is so stylish and, from time to time, so downright beautiful, that you hardly notice when the storytelling loses track of itself.
  25. Mr. Damon brings both a weary optimism and convincing physicality to Max, who is no revolutionary. He just wants to live, and is willing to don an exoskeletal combat suit and fight robots to do it.
  26. Jacob Kornbluth's lively documentary is both a polemic and a teaching tool.
  27. The film succeeds on its own terms — an exciting entertainment that makes us feel good about the outcome, and about the reach of American power, rather than its limits. Yet the narrative container is far from full. There isn't enough incident or complexity to sustain the entire length of this elaborately produced star vehicle.
  28. My advice to "Hobbit" fans is not only to see this one, but to see it as I did, in 3-D projected at the normal rate of 24 frames per second. The film will also be shown in what's called High Frame Rate 3-D, at 48 frames a second, but that made the last installment look more like video than a regular movie. Smaug is scary enough without a turbo boost.
  29. Edges have been softened, harshness has been transformed into happiness sprinkled with eccentricity. And the paradox, of course, is that we're glad to be seduced. As Disney films go, this is a good one.
  30. The film transcends its various borrowings and occasional stumblings with a modern, exuberant spirit that draws heat from Broadway-style musical numbers and, before and after everything else, from marvelous 3-D animation
  31. This adroit and understated coming-of-age film reminded me of the New Wave of Czech films in the 1960s, but with a distinctive poignancy that translates to wisdom.
  32. Much of this is fascinating, as far as it goes, but it wouldn't go as far as it does into drama were it not for Ms. Johansson's wonderfully strange performance.
  33. The music is shamelessly entertaining, and the warmth of Morgan Freeman's narration conveys the possibility that, for all the imminent peril, the lemurs of this enchanted forest still have a fighting chance.
  34. Like so much in Chef, the plot resolution seems contrived and a bit silly. By then, though, we've had plenty of laughs, and generous helpings of warm feelings—the meat and potatoes of real life.
  35. They might also have called it "Groundhog Day 2," but that wouldn't have conveyed the film's martial frenzy, its fascinating intricacies or the special delights of its borderline-comic tone.
  36. The repetitions are meant as a sort of metajoke, and it works well enough, more often than not, though heightened levels of raunch and chaos seem not so much meta as frantic.
  37. A series of picaresque adventures in a notably picturesque land. Is it enough to sustain anything resembling dramatic momentum? For a while it isn't, but then, unexpectedly, it is.
  38. A likable lightweight, though it's heavy enough on cosmic combat and dazzling effects.
  39. The problem isn't a lack of substance, and certainly not a dearth of talent, but a shortage of fun.
  40. While the movie is dreadfully clumsy or sentimental around the edges, there's no denying the strength of Mr. Gibson's performance or the power of the savage combat, a 90-minute sequence that's even more graphic than the horrific firefight in Somalia in "Black Hawk Down."
  41. It's interesting to see how a potent premise -- those among us who behave like aliens probably are -- can sustain, more or less, an erratic, disjointed sequel.
  42. The movie finally comes together into something that is genuinely -- and almost quietly -- stirring.
  43. Ms. Judd commands the screen with consistent authority, and Mr. Freeman brings expansive humor to the role of a self-styled wildcard who's still dangerous in court.
  44. Mr. Maquiling's gotta learn more about dramatic arcs, but he has an infectious interest in how the world looks and works, and he can make you laugh unexpectedly. I look forward to his next film.
  45. An attractive, intelligent film that's intractably at odds with itself.
  46. At many points along the way I wanted to wash my hands of Scotland, PA., but then this sly, silly comedy got me smiling again.
  47. This Flubbery fantasy won't win any prizes for elegant craftsmanship or originality, but it's entertaining, good-natured and a slam dunk to be a hit with young kids.
  48. With all its flaws, though, The Grey Zone deserves to be respected, and to be seen.
  49. Absurdist, but also condescending and self-infatuated; The Royal Tenenbaums is at least three times too clever for its own good.
  50. The finished film afflicted my own mind with an unwilling suspension of belief. I couldn't connect with it on any level, despite Sam Rockwell's terrific performance as an emotional desperado who wants only to be loved.
  51. Walks a fine line between bold indie film, with the attendant in-your-face roughness, and sodden Lifetime Original Movie.
  52. Mr. Chan proves yet again that he has the virtuosic grace -- and goofiness -- of any of the great clowns of the silent era, and a complete refusal to abide by the laws of gravity. Do let us be clear, however, that the movie's plot, minus a few roundhouse kicks, is straight out of the Scooby-Doo playbook.
  53. A curious combination of strident preachment and smartly farcical thriller; it's heavy-handed and light-footed at the same time.
  54. To make silk purses from turgid passages, Mr. Scott does what he always does, gooses them up with every trick in the big-budget book.
  55. With all its misfires, though, and with a Strangelovian twist that's a dud, Big Trouble remains a reasonably pleasant way to spend an hour and a half and still get change.
  56. Astonishing visually and problematic dramatically.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Amusing enough, especially with its uniquely credible premise of a media fraud, to recommend.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Notwithstanding a thin script and a color-by-numbers ending, the movie is redeemed by its solid performances.
  57. Ms. Ferrera is an engaging performer; you find yourself rooting for Ana from the start, even though you know, from the predictable script by George LaVoo and Josefina Lopez, that rooting isn't required for a happy outcome.
  58. It's a diverting mess, sometimes even a delightful mess.
  59. Affecting but formulaic.
  60. Entertaining when it's really lurid, and Gerard Depardieu is something to behold as the proprietor of a broken-down hotel. He's a spectacular ruin in his own right.
  61. What's on screen, though, is a cautious approach to cinema wizardry -- broad, colorful strokes and flash-bang effects that turn J.K. Rowling's words into a long, cheerful spectacle with a Muggle soul.
  62. But even as the film's weaknesses make themselves more and more apparent, so does Mr. Turturro's virtuosity. [15 Aug 1991, p.A10(E)]
  63. Watching this surrealist silliness, I would have welcomed the sight of a geezer on a riding mower.
  64. In this second installment of the trilogy, lithe bodies endowed with superior brains do all sorts of spectacular things, but the movie has the dead soul of a video game.
  65. Though his movie wraps challenging ideas and ingenious visual conceits in a futurist film-noir style, it's pretentious, didactic and intentionally but mercilessly bleak in ways that classic noir never was.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    It lacks the redeeming warmth of a character the audience can identify with. But longtime fans of Mr. Williams will enjoy it as an example of the creepiness we always knew he was capable of.
  66. I do wish Mr. Robbins's one-note co-stars had been worthy of his performance, and that some of the melodramatics hadn't been quite so slapdash.
  67. It isn't a great film, or even a greatly original one. Still, it has many grace notes, and interesting oddities.
  68. This is silliness of such a special grade, performed with such zest, that it makes you forgive and even forget the movie's foolishness and borderline incoherence.
  69. Though Hannibal the movie is unresolved in ways the book is not, that isn't Mr. Hopkins's fault. He's still a star for all seasons, and seasonings.
  70. Mr. Ritchie is back with more of the same in his second feature, a comedy called "Snatch" that's a sort of lethal pinball machine in which even more picturesque characters bounce from pillage to post.
  71. Much of the action is interesting, and surprisingly well grounded in science...Yet the script works few variations on its basic idea until the climax, which is crazily out of scale -- the urban-traffic equivalent of a nuclear holocaust.
  72. It's a movie devoted to showing it, shaking it and selling it with huge zest and self-delight, a movie that raises MTV-style dada to the status of superheated mama, even though, toward the end, it wears awfully thin rather than svelte.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The effect is a haunting vision of neediness, age and rejection.
  73. If Ice Age lacks the fit and finish of top-of-the-line films from Pixar, DreamWorks or Disney, it's still an impressive piece of work for a new feature animation group, and a harbinger of cool cartoons to come.
  74. Cleverly conceived, skillfully made and performed with unflagging verve, it's a change of pace (slower) and scale (smaller) for Mr. Scott, the director of such pounding epics as "Gladiator" and "Black Hawk Down." Yet this intimate, intricate con about a couple of petty con men selling water filtration systems is also remote and forgettable in the end, a lapidary icicle.
  75. Dopamine could do with a bit more of whatever hormone governs pacing, but Mr. Decena is a director with a future. He knows how to connect with his actors.
  76. Who knew that one of Billie Holiday's most haunting songs was written in Budapest in the 1930s? I didn't until I saw Gloomy Sunday, a German film, shot in Hungary and directed by Rolf Schubel, that I enjoyed quite a lot, even though it's all over the map in more ways than one.
  77. I wanted to believe in Bad Santa. At least half of the time I did.
  78. Simultaneously beguiling and frustrating -- the product of an imagist and dramatist uncomfortably conjoined.
  79. Eye caviar that doesn't pretend to be much else.
  80. Something of a shambles -- a shambles about a shambles -- but bound for big success and deservedly so.
  81. What's wrong with this picture? Nothing, as long as you don't expect more than a tossed-off goof.
  82. Any shortfalls in Home on the Range a conventional but perfectly pleasant entertainment, have more to do with the ABC's of storytelling than with the D's of animation.
  83. A high school comedy that is sharply observed and often terrifically funny, yet oddly misconceived.
  84. Although mood often substitutes for momentum in Ms. Kalem's film, both of her stars give affecting performances, and there's growth on both sides of the unlikely romance.
  85. A tatty but good-natured time-passer.
  86. At its best, Fahrenheit 9/11 is an impressionist burlesque of contemporary American politics that culminates in a somber lament for lives lost in Iraq. But the good stuff -- and there's some extremely good stuff -- keeps getting tainted by Mr. Moore's poison-camera penchant for drawing dark inferences from dubious evidence.
  87. It's "My Dinner With Andre" for the relationship generation.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    As reassuring and soothing as a nursery story.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Directed by E. Elias Merhige, the film is never less than entertaining, but Sir Ben's portrayal of a sympathetic psychopath gives it a special zing.
  88. A little humanity can go a long way to make up for a movie's shortcomings, and there's more than a little in Ladder 49, a surprisingly stirring celebration of heroic firefighters.
  89. It's not a great film, but there's something to be said for a cool-button treatment of a hot-button issue.
  90. I know this sounds like great fun, and some of it is, but there's nowhere near enough good stuff to fill the 114-minute running time.
  91. Thus does a book of literary distinction become not-so-grand-Guignol.
  92. The movie is much too long, but mostly, and sometimes very, entertaining.
  93. Ting's exploits grow ever more violent and repetitive, but a lot of Ong-Bak is very enjoyable.
  94. In a film that's carefully crafted but also airless and overcalculated, Mos Def walks away with every scene he's in because we're never sure what his character is up to, and we're never told.

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