Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,229 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 2.6 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 Waitress
Lowest review score: 0 Manderlay
Score distribution:
2,229 movie reviews
  1. Mr. Attal's real-life problem is his simplistic script, which makes the husband a childish fool and a bit of a bore.
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  2. Taken on its own terms, Bolt the movie certainly makes the cut.
  3. The movie reminded me of a relatively new product, the little translucent wafer that you put on your tongue to freshen your breath. One hit of intense flavor and the thing dissolves without a trace.
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  4. Astonishing visually and problematic dramatically.
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  5. Christopher Nolan's latest exploration of the Batman mythology steeps its muddled plot in so much murk that the Joker's maniacal nihilism comes to seem like a recurrent grace note.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The Rocker has the requisite vomit, the view of some very unfortunate hind quarters and the suds. It's also got a vein of sweetness and charm.
  6. Your reaction to the film will depend on your tolerance for scatology -- some of this stuff is very funny, although most of it is grindingly, numbingly awful -- and your interest in standup comics.
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  7. This slapdash farce, arriving three decades after Sellers last inhabited the role, sustains a baseline of good will that often spikes into delight at Mr. Martin's beguiling nonsense.
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  8. Ms. Levy's film gets to say affecting things about the mysteries of identity, and the ironies of ancient enmity. If we can assume, from the nature of the premise, that Joseph and Yacine will soon accept their situation and become friends, we can also assume, from the course of history, that the Israelis and Palestinians will continue to resist doing the same.
  9. Puss made his debut in "Shrek 2," then did time in the two decreasingly funny sequels. Now he's got a movie of his own, and not a moment too soon.
  10. I Love You Phillip Morris is tragedy, or something close to it, decked out in comedy's clothes.
  11. I can't recommend it without reservation, but it's a must-see for those who have followed Mr. Troell's career, and a should-see for those who can look past its oddities to its cumulative power.
  12. Against all odds this panoply of punishment is almost thrilling, even though it's raging bull of a different kind.
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  13. Little by little, though, he (Ledger)and those around him achieve a critical mass -- an extremely light critical mass -- and the plot pops with entertaining complications.
  14. 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.
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  15. 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.
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  16. Mr. Lyne is able to make things look the way they're supposed to look because he trained in the television-commercial world. But he has a hard time getting beneath the gloss. [17 Sep 1987, p.1]
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  17. The landscape is dire, the architecture is haunted, children disappear by the dozens and antique toys inexplicably spark to life. That Mr. Radcliffe doesn't is part of the problem.
  18. Though not terribly interesting as political philosophy, A Few Good Men makes for a passably entertaining movie. [31 Dec 1992, p.A5(E)]
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  19. Most of the film, a debut feature directed by Christophe Barratier, is quite shamelessly formulaic. The Chorus redeems itself, though, with Mr. Jugnot's astute, understated performance.
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  20. The movie snaps sharply to life every now and then, and its unfashionable decency really gets to you.
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    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Amusing enough, especially with its uniquely credible premise of a media fraud, to recommend.
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  21. Absurdist, but also condescending and self-infatuated; The Royal Tenenbaums is at least three times too clever for its own good.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The effect is a haunting vision of neediness, age and rejection.
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  22. To give the film its full due, the people who made it — the writer, John Swetnam, and the director, Steven Quale — got wind of a genuine trend and ran with it. Everyone on screen is busy filming everyone else. It's a shakier-camera version of "The Blair Witch Project" in the era of YouTube.
  23. It looks so stylish that thinking about its plot is strictly optional.
  24. For all of the care and imagination that have been lavished on the production, which was designed by Arthur Max and photographed by Dariusz Wolski, the film’s impact is best expressed by frequent aerial shots that are visually impressive and emotionally remote.
  25. Mr. Nichols decided to preserve the jokiness of the original material, even while shifting the emphasis to the mother-daughter conflict. There may have been a way to do this and end up with a clever movie, but Mr. Nichols seems to have had an even cleverer idea: He decided to use this movie as a way to pay back social obligations. [13 Sep 1990, p.A14]
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  26. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Director David Yates, who is new to the Potter franchise, moves the story along briskly, at the expense of texture and nuance.
  27. A very short and cheerfully scruffy comedy-thriller.
  28. 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."
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  29. Does the film add up to something more than a stunt? Maybe not. I was captivated by the several hours I recently saw of Christian Marclay's 24-hour-long "The Clock," a video mashup in which thousands of clips from hundred of movies contain watches and clocks telling the same time that spectators can read on their wrists. Life in a Day doesn't aspire to such intricacy, but it's fascinating all the same, an electronic update of Alexander Pope's maxim that the proper study of mankind is man.
  30. Mr. Murray gives a fascinating performance, even though his FDR was conceived and written as a fairly small guy at the center of a small film that, for all its considerable charm, miniaturizes its hero in the process of humanizing him.
  31. Adam succeeds at getting inside its hero's mind and, more impressively still, gives us entrée to his singular soul.
  32. One's confidence in factuality is weakened by a cliché-ridden narrative that reads Ma di Tau's mind during her buffalo hunt, and by incessant manipulation of the imagery-not only the use and abuse of slo-mo, but digital enhancement of colors in concert with an almost obsessive concentration on stalking and killing.
  33. Has density enough for several films. What's missing is spontaneity, and variety. And, throughout most of the narrative, velocity.
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  34. 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.
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  35. Somewhat sluggish but reasonably scary.
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  36. One of the brighter aspects of Life of Crime, which otherwise ambles along good naturedly, is the casting.
  37. The movie is much too long, but mostly, and sometimes very, entertaining.
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  38. You may see The Orphanage for what it is, an enjoyable contraption, without believing a bit of it.
  39. What's wrong with this picture? Nothing, as long as you don't expect more than a tossed-off goof.
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  40. It's not a great film, but there's something to be said for a cool-button treatment of a hot-button issue.
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  41. It's "My Dinner With Andre" for the relationship generation.
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  42. It isn't a great film, or even a greatly original one. Still, it has many grace notes, and interesting oddities.
  43. The idea goes only so far--roughly halfway through the 98-minute running time--in staining narrative clarity. Daybreakers finally comes up with some comments on the predatory practices of Big Pharma, but that's an awful comedown from the blood-rushing brilliance of the early scenes.
  44. Yossi spends much of its 84 minutes with a passive hero. This older Yossi is a vestige of the man he once was, an overweight and hollow-eyed vestige who drags himself through his daily rounds and solitary nights. Mr. Knoller's performance is admirable, and Yossi does find new reasons to embrace life. But his rebirth comes only after a very long requiem.
  45. 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.
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  46. The cast is entertaining, though with an asterisk, and the special effects are often spectacular, though sometimes not.
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  47. A powerful drama, albeit a flawed one with a clumsy, didactic script.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The impact of Arctic Tale is blunted by its length (it feels long at 85 minutes) and by its script.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Mostly, though, there's the endlessly resourceful, endlessly inventive, bedazzling Mr. Coogan. Hamlet Schmamlet. Not since "Death of a Salesman" has failure been quite so entertaining.
  48. A tatty but good-natured time-passer.
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  49. The last thing I want to do is represent The Stoning of Soraya M. as entertainment, summer or otherwise. This is classic tragedy in semimodern dress that means to horrify, and does so more successfully than any film in recent memory.
  50. The ending, for instance, is so ridiculously tidy it squeaks. But en route to its kitchen-sink climax, "Man" manages to both amuse and provoke, to cleave to convention and promote ideas.
  51. The director and co-writer, Niels Mueller, has also done his work well, but the film feels insubstantial at 95 minutes, even though -- or maybe because -- it bristles with borrowed ideas and unavoidable associations.
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  52. Some of the comedy bits have a delightful freshness and edge while much of the glue (the romance, for example) holding the routines together remains a little sticky. [31 Jan 1989, p.1]
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  53. Uncritical, but not unaffecting.
  54. 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.
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  55. 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.
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  56. Simultaneously beguiling and frustrating -- the product of an imagist and dramatist uncomfortably conjoined.
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  57. Ms. Moore, for her part, doesn’t need fine writing to create marvelous moments; some of her most powerful scenes are wordless ones in which Alice is looking anxious, confused or utterly haunted. When the script provides exceptional material, however, this extraordinary actress takes it to a memorably high level.
  58. 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.
  59. The script is somewhat predictable and the pace is leisurely, but Ms. Judd makes Lucy's choices seem momentous, and Ms. Adams gives us several beautiful scenes.
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  60. A high school comedy that is sharply observed and often terrifically funny, yet oddly misconceived.
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  61. Joy has been replaced by a sense of laboriousness, even though the action sequences move along energetically enough and the movie does have moments of comic-book charm. [9 Feb 1996, p.A12]
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    • 43 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    As reassuring and soothing as a nursery story.
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  62. Watching this mélange of journalism and dramatic license can be enthralling and maddening at the same time, because the ring of truth, which the film has, is not the same as the truth, which remains unknown.
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  63. Walks a fine line between bold indie film, with the attendant in-your-face roughness, and sodden Lifetime Original Movie.
  64. Some of the movie's most stirring scenes take place during Betty Anne's prison visits, when the laughter has stopped and her innocent brother contemplates his shattered life.
  65. Ms. Campion has shown a gift for pictorialism -- static pictorialism; she's not a fluid filmmaker - and an abiding fascination with sexual repression. She brings both to this long, slow, distanced version of the Henry James novel. [27 Dec 1996]
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  66. It Follows finally loses track of itself in a silly climax. All the same, it’s one more stylish reminder of how readily we the people can be creeped out.
  67. For all its various failures, Fever Pitch taps expertly into our nostalgia for an era when baseball really was the American pastime, unsullied by money, drugs or celebrity.
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  68. This is a film that adds to our understanding of human nature. Yet its impact is lessened by a lack of factual context, and by an inspirational climax that may leave one feeling good and uneasy in equal measure.
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  69. 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.
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  70. In her casually daring - and mostly endearing - debut feature, the Norwegian director Anne Sewitsky mixes and purposely mismatches light and dark moods to tell the story of a rural wife and mother looking for happiness in the wrong places, and finally in the right one.
  71. The best parts are the in-between ones, neither laugh-out-loud funny nor overtly heart-wrenching.
  72. There's no shortage of felicitous lines or interesting performances, yet the movie, like the amusement park of its title, feels constructed from familiar parts.
  73. For those who’ve lived with the series for more than a decade, this fateful pause may heighten the suspense. For a Muggle like me, the storm does gather slowly.
  74. The movie that remains is lovely to look at, but spiritless, a listless coquette. But then, 9 1/2 Weeks isn't about talk. It isn't about sadomasochism. It isn't even about sex. It's about looking good. [20 Feb 1986, p.1]
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  75. 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.
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  76. 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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  77. Mr. McKay is in his mid-30s, and doesn't conceal it, so what's the point? By taking the KIND out of WUNERKIND, the movie also removes the WUNDER.
  78. Less magical is the blind adherence to formula evident in most of Taken 2. As they might say in the advertising department, it's an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride. But it could have been much more.
  79. The Lego Film has a specialness all its own. There's never been a hodgepodge quite like it.
  80. Has the inherent limits of all movies that feed on movies, rather than life -- it's original, yet it's not.
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  81. Needlessly long, visually drab and not just a foreign-language film, with English subtitles, but a film that's ostensibly foreign to our experience. That said, there are compelling reasons to see it.
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  82. If the screenplay to Kill the Messenger were a news story, any capable copydesk would have kicked it back to the reporter — not for a shortage of facts, but a lack of dramatic soul.
  83. It is Mr. Kinnear's slippery charm that keeps Thin Ice from sinking into the frosty Wisconsin slush toward which it seems to be heading from the start.
  84. Writer-director Andrew Okpeaha MacLean, who in his feature debut has lashed together a sturdy vehicle for unadorned morality and pragmatic justice.
  85. Thanks to the redundancy, though, Blood Diamond is dramatically diffuse, and at least 30 minutes too long. Thanks to Mr. DiCaprio's raffishly dashing soldier of fortune, the movie is worth watching all the same.
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  86. I wanted to believe in Bad Santa. At least half of the time I did.
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  87. Eye caviar that doesn't pretend to be much else.
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  88. Merits admiration as an ambitious debut feature, though the impact of its splendid cast is blunted by the awkward structure of its screenplay.
  89. 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.
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  90. Lethal Weapon is vulgar, violent and predictable. Yet, in some outbreak of id, I got caught up in the shenanigans of Danny Glover and Mel Gibson as a mismatched cop team. Mr. Glover is more than solid and Mr. Gibson has added a kind of raw humor to his repertoire that is extremely sexy. [5 Mar 1987, p.1]
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  91. Glorifies its subject without quite knowing what to make of her. There's no question, though, about Ms. Blanchett in the title role. When she's on screen, the Fourth Estate flourishes.
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  92. The result is a film that may stay in the mind's eye longer than it lingers in the heart.
  93. 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.
    • Wall Street Journal

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