Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,120 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 Lebanon
Lowest review score: 0 A Guy Thing
Score distribution:
2,120 movie reviews
  1. 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.
  2. Somewhat sluggish but reasonably scary.
  3. Has density enough for several films. What's missing is spontaneity, and variety. And, throughout most of the narrative, velocity.
  4. 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.
  5. The scenery, effects and balletic, iconic combats are perfectly wonderful, but there's an emotional black hole where the hero should be.
  6. That's what is missing from The Longest Yard most egregiously. Charm has been kept on the bench.
  7. 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.
  8. The new version is out of scale with the basic premise -- too much rain, too much water, too much doom, gloom and intricate eccentricity.
  9. 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.
  10. This, too, is a mood piece, sometimes surreal and dominated by Chow's lovelorn sadness. But it's hard to find an emotional or narrative handle to hang on to, since the filmmaker keeps reaching for dramatic energy that keeps eluding him.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. The film as a whole has the gravitas of a really thoughtful rock video.
  14. Has the inherent limits of all movies that feed on movies, rather than life -- it's original, yet it's not.
  15. Anger is the rocket fuel of drama. Of the four women in Nicole Holofcener's Friends With Money, only Frances McDormand's Jane is flamingly angry, and she's the most vivid character in the group.
  16. This English heart-warmer isn't all that kinky. It's actually quite sweet-spirited, as well as unswervingly formulaic.
  17. 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.
  18. A powerful drama, albeit a flawed one with a clumsy, didactic script.
  19. By all that's unholy, this third edition of the high-emission franchise should have been at least as awful as the second one was. (The first one was good fun.) Yet it's surprisingly entertaining in its deafening fashion, despite the absence of Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, the co-stars of parts one and two.
  20. 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.
  21. The cast is entertaining, though with an asterisk, and the special effects are often spectacular, though sometimes not.
  22. The movie snaps sharply to life every now and then, and its unfashionable decency really gets to you.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Sympathetic, engaging documentary.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. Against all odds this panoply of punishment is almost thrilling, even though it's raging bull of a different kind.
  26. 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.
  27. The film contends admiringly, and convincingly, that Ralph Nader's authentic sense of outrage is the reason he persists when he can't prevail.
  28. They have also stripped out almost all complexity, reducing the drama to a familiar match between good and evil. You've heard all the speeches before; only the nouns have been changed. [23 Dec 1993, p.A9]
  29. Despite the numerous predictable jokes about geriatric sex, the movie is very appealing for numerous surprising reasons. Many of them have to do with ice fishing in Minnesota. [9 Dec 1993, p.A14]
  30. For all its rich trappings, A Little Princess is impoverished at the core. [18 May 1995, p.A14]
  31. The most disturbious part of Disturbia is how engaging this teenage thriller manages to be, even though it's a shameless rip-off of "Rear Window."
  32. 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]
  33. 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]
  34. Will the extremely extravagant special effects prove sufficient to sustain the picture? Surely they will, this time. Still, there's a sense of fatigue in the scenes that don't involve high-tensile webs and high-tension suspense.
  35. Like the "girls," the movie is flamboyant in almost every respect - the costumes, the humor and the sentimentality. [1 Sep 1994]
  36. 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]
  37. 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]
  38. It's a little precious and a little boring, but he has brought out an interesting performance from Adrienne Shelly, who convincingly pulls off a transformation from aimless pregnant teenager to purposeful young woman. [05 Sep 1991]
  39. A brilliant mess, I suppose, in the way that seriously disturbed people can sometimes deliver a briefly mesmerizing vision of the universe while babbling. If nothing else, Natural Born Killers is the most in-your-face movie ever released by a major Hollywood studio. [25 Aug 1994, p.A10]
  40. 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]
  41. 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]
  42. There weren't any surprises and that's what made it all so comforting. The bad guys got blown away, no questions asked, the snoopy journalists got their comeuppance. When Clint spends the night with his latest girl, you know it only because he wears the same suit the next morning. [21 Jul 1988, p.1]
  43. 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]
    • 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.
    • 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.
  44. Mr. Del Toro is a fearless actor, and his Jerry, a heroin addict lurching toward redemption, is the heart and soul, as well as the haunted, rubbery visage, of a story of grief and loss that would be fairly lifeless without him.
  45. Uncritical, but not unaffecting.
  46. You may see The Orphanage for what it is, an enjoyable contraption, without believing a bit of it.
  47. Endearing, though sometimes belabored.
  48. So many movies these days are overworked or overblown: The Hammer feels genuinely tossed-off. It isn't a great movie, or even a consistently good one. Yet it gets to elusive feelings about failure and success, hope and mortality (and reveals a quietly subversive attitude toward the boxing-movie genre).
  49. Surprising as it may be, given an unpromising trailer, the 3D update of Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth turns out to be perfectly charming as well as predictably eye-popping.
  50. 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.
  51. Trumbo doesn't pretend to be tough-minded about its subject, and its failure to date the letters is an annoyance. But the substance of those letters, along with documentary footage and a touching appearance by Kirk Douglas, throws a baleful light on a bleak chapter of American history.
  52. A very short and cheerfully scruffy comedy-thriller.
  53. 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  54. It's a deafening, sometimes boring, occasionally startling and ultimately impressive war movie with a concern for what it is that makes us human.
  55. Eventually, though, Ghost Town buckles beneath the weight of contrivance -- so many ghosts to dispel, so many lessons to learn.
  56. Taken on its own terms, Bolt the movie certainly makes the cut.
  57. The cast is superb: especially Kate Winslet, who transcends, by far, the limits of her character's narrow soul. Yet The Reader remains schematic, and ultimately reductive.
  58. Its ironic complexities tease the brain without pleasing the heart.
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
  61. 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.
  62. Adam succeeds at getting inside its hero's mind and, more impressively still, gives us entrée to his singular soul.
  63. 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.
  64. Grungily stylish and often funny, at least for a while, though all of the caveats and contradictions that apply to Tarantino films apply here: One man's--or boy's--stylization is another's profane, unrelenting and tedious brutality.
  65. It looks so stylish that thinking about its plot is strictly optional.
  66. For its delicate tone, provocative themes, impeccable craftsmanship and superb performances-by Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley-Never Let Me Go earned my great admiration. I wish I'd been affected in equal measure, but I wasn't, and it's not the sort of film you can will yourself to enjoy.
  67. 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.
  68. I Love You Phillip Morris is tragedy, or something close to it, decked out in comedy's clothes.
  69. Merits admiration as an ambitious debut feature, though the impact of its splendid cast is blunted by the awkward structure of its screenplay.
  70. Mike Leigh's latest film preserves the mystery of why another marriage has flourished over decades. That's not the stated subject of Another Year, but it's at the center of this enjoyable though insistently schematic comedy.
  71. 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.
  72. My heart was warmed by gratuitous moments when Mr. Carrey clowns for clowning's sake - in the best of them, he makes a slo-mo entrance to a press conference, even though the camera is running at normal speed.
  73. 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.
  74. What may feel like Mr. Sfar's indulgences are sometimes just that, but one could hardly make an honest movie about Gainsbourg that wasn't as recklessly ambitious as this.
  75. 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.
  76. The best parts are the in-between ones, neither laugh-out-loud funny nor overtly heart-wrenching.
  77. 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.
  78. A movie you want to like, and a movie you can enjoy if you cut its slackness some slack.
  79. The result is a film that may stay in the mind's eye longer than it lingers in the heart.
  80. 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.
  81. 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.
  82. 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.
  83. Writer-director Andrew Okpeaha MacLean, who in his feature debut has lashed together a sturdy vehicle for unadorned morality and pragmatic justice.
  84. This cheerfully chaotic, gleefully vulgar action-comedy retread of the old television series has box-office success written all over it, and where's the harm? It's irresistibly funny until it isn't.
  85. Surprisingly, though, most of the material avoids the treacle zone, while Jason Segel, as the man-child in residence, gives a performance that I can only describe as gravely affecting.
  86. This is less a film in the lustrous Pixar tradition than a Disney fairy tale told with Pixar's virtuosity. As such, it's enjoyable, consistently beautiful, fairly conventional, occasionally surprising and ultimately disappointing.
  87. 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.
  88. 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.
  89. 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.
  90. Mama itself is above average as a piece of filmmaking, even if its scare quotient is middling or below. That's OK with me. I was content to be impressed by the skill of the first-time director, Andrés Muschietti; absorbed by the performances and smitten by some startling images.
  91. 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.
  92. As a piece of summer entertainment, this strenuously upbeat prequel to Pixar's "Monsters, Inc." passes with vibrant colors and will, of course, excel at the box office...But as an offering from Pixar, the studio that set the platinum standard for contemporary animated features, it's an awful disappointment — and one more reason to worry about Pixar's future under Disney ownership.
  93. The butler, Cecil Gaines, is a fictional creation, an African-American Forrest Gump who bears special witness to the civil-rights movement while serving on the White House staff under seven presidents. The contrivance is stretched to its breaking point over a running time of 132 minutes; some of the episodes cross a different line from almost plausible to downright silly. That's not the whole story, though.
  94. The Lego Film has a specialness all its own. There's never been a hodgepodge quite like it.
  95. Mr. Ayoade's new film, adapted from Dostoyevsky's novella "The Double," is at least as startling as "Submarine" in its visual design, eerie environments and unusual premise. But it's lifeless, for the most part, a drama suffocated by its schematic style.

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