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 Sin Nombre
Lowest review score: 0 How Do You Know
Score distribution:
2,126 movie reviews
  1. I didn't mind the preposterousness of the premise nearly so much as the general ineptness with which it's presented. After all, good trash has its place. [8 Dec 1994, p.A16]
  2. The makers of Return to Oz say that their rather bleak, nonmusical fantasy is more faithful to Mr. Baum's vision than "The Wizard of Oz" was. What's appropriate, however, isn't always what's right. All Ms. Balk can do is look earnest and young; Ms. Garland opened her mouth and out came Dorothy's soul.
    • 25 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    The inert License to Wed shambles along one lame scene after another.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    Tiresome, pretentious.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    So tightly constructed of clichés, stereotypes and chick-lit tropes that it's inert; no fresh air can blow in.
  3. The drama is repetitive rather than resonant, an over-calculated, under-ventilated studio production -- even paranoid thrillers need to breathe -- whose plot machinery grinds grim and coarse.
  4. Katherine Heigl carries 27 Dresses when all else fails, which it does with great regularity.
  5. There's no maybe about its standing as romantic comedy -- definitely bad.
  6. Penelope was in a trough of trouble before the oink on the script was dry.
  7. A bizarre, overcooked broth that combines a broad sitcom style (the banter goes rat-tat-tat like a steam drill) with a preposterous succession of plot complications, plus solemn questions of identity, adoption and the nature of happiness.
  8. Rather than the laugh a minute promised by old comedies, Get Smart generates approximately one laugh per hour, and I can't remember either one.
    • 35 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    Clone Wars will appeal only to the most tolerant, galactically minded children and their parents.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    Unfortunately, Ms. Faris has neither an adroit script -- House Bunny is a stale collection of dumb bunny jokes -- nor Ms. Witherspoon's wily charm. And the filmmakers do Ms. Faris no favors by inviting comparisons to Marilyn Monroe.
  9. Less than the sum of its parts, which were problematic to begin with.
  10. J. Michael Straczynski's disjointed script manages to ring false at almost every significant turn (Collins' psychiatric-hospital stay has grown into a latter-day version of "The Snake Pit") and Clint Eastwood's ponderous direction -- a disheartening departure from his sure touch in "Letters From Iwo Jima" and "The Bridges of Madison County" -- magnifies the flaws.
  11. It's really dumb, even though it starts promisingly and continues, in a self-infatuated way, to consider itself quite bright.
  12. You'd have to be made of granite to resist all the charms of a free-spirited, 100-pound Lab. Yet the production manages, against heavy odds, to make its canine star an incorrigible bore.
  13. No cues are needed to understand the plot, which feels computer-generated and barely serves to sustain an hour and a half running time.
  14. The production renders totally irrelevant all hopes for a well-made movie. It's one of those ragged, pandemonious studio comedies that hammers at plot points in every contrived scene.
  15. Operates in a dead zone roughly equidistant between parody and idiocy. You do get the connection between tongue and cheek, but much of the humor still goes thud.
  16. Ms. Macdonald works modest wonders within these constraints -- she's a lovely actress, and a skilled one -- but too much is asked of her; Kate's innocence finally wilts beneath the camera's fixed gaze.
  17. The denizens of Judd Apatow’s Funny People have been pulled every which way to fit a misshapen concept, yet they remain painfully unfunny, and consistently off-putting.
  18. This Transformers is a pile of glittering junk.
  19. Why is she (Bullock) demeaning herself with such shoddy goods? She’s a talented woman with a faithful following. She has made formula films of varying quality before, and her fans may well swallow this one, but it’s a formula for disappointment laced with dismay.
  20. The movie on the whole is joyless. Whatever Works doesn’t.
  21. In the spirit of that world, I cannot tell a lie: The Invention of Lying, which the English comedian both directed and wrote with Matthew Robinson, soon loses altitude and eventually falls flat.
  22. What do the Coen brothers want of us? More specifically, what do they want us to think of the repellent people in this pitilessly bleak movie?
  23. Mr. Osunsanmi's chutzpah exceeds his skill.
  24. You may wonder if this screen version of the book of the same name is as unfunny and strangely mushy as it seems, but trust your instincts.
  25. Edge of Darkness was one of the most enthralling, intricate and genuinely thrilling productions in the history of the small screen. The big-screen version--directed by Martin Campbell, who did the original--offers an example of why the studios' numbers often add up, and why, at the same time, so many of today's Hollywood movies leave us cool if not downright cold.
  26. It's impossible to say who's more unhinged: Darwin, caught between faith and reason, or the filmmakers.
  27. Still, the action is ponderous too. Mr. Morel is no Kubrick, or Tarantino, just as Mr. Travolta's caricature of John Travolta is no Travolta.
  28. Adam Green's Frozen explores a tiny idea exhaustively, and I mean exhaustively.
  29. In addition to all else, and it's a lot, The Losers wastes the riches of Hollywood technology in hot pursuit of nothing.
  30. The lesson here is simple: In the digital realm, the bigger the worse. What looks distinctive and believable in short takes and small doses can turn blatantly phony and deadly familiar when the scale is pumped up. Prince of Persia pumps itself up to the bursting point, and bursts.
  31. (It doesn't hurt that Ms. Redgrave gets to play opposite Franco Nero, who was once the love of her life and is the father of her son.) Not even she can transform lines like "Destiny wanted us to meet again."
  32. A slow and lugubrious film about the impact of adoption on the lives of three women.
  33. Pathetically unfunny most of the time.
  34. Still, Eat Pray Love preaches a sermon it doesn't practice-the need to open one's self to the world. In a pictorial sense this is exactly what Liz does; she vacuums up the transformative essence of three continents. Yet the world gets weirdly short shrift because this transcendently narcissistic movie is, in a narrative sense, almost entirely about Liz and the movie star who plays her.
  35. This children's entertainment-grownups beware!-is preoccupied by squishy stuff that includes mud and poop, as well as by syrup that oozes from cabinet drawers.
  36. Secretariat stumbles along beneath the weight of leaden life lessons. They're dispensed at frequent intervals by Diane Lane, who does better than anyone had a right to expect, since she is saddled with dialogue of exceptional dreadfulness.
  37. Either you buy their Vaseline-lensed visions of the hereafter, or you watch in stony silence, as I did, wondering why there's no one to care about.
  38. This dreary drama telegraphs every punch, emotion and plot point with a dedication that would have done the old Western Union proud.
  39. What's worse, some mysterious movie curse has turned the three once-lively adventurers into wood.
  40. The result is a queasy combination of speculation and dramatic invention with the ring of half-truth, though the co-stars, Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst, add as much color as they can - not much - to a monochromatic script.
  41. The only reason to see it is Riz Ahmed's performance as Omar, the supposed brains of the operation. Mr. Ahmed reminded me a bit of Robert Carlyle. He's dynamic, quick-tongued and intense. And much too classy for this tatty room.
  42. This production is a mess for many reasons, most of them having to do with its frantic efforts to be funny.
  43. The basic problem is the script, which is credited to three writers plus the director - seldom a good sign. Never mind that it's a retread of "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" minus the trains, and minus John Candy.
  44. It's dispiriting to see how little attention the filmmakers have paid to the dramatic - read human - possibilities of the original, or how much they've been overwhelmed by technology's demands. It's as though rogue programs took over the production.
  45. Country Strong comes to spontaneous life from time to time, despite maudlin devices and manipulative set pieces.
  46. Mr. Statham, the specialist in English tough guys who was so affecting in "The Bank Job," has more to offer than The Mechanic has the grace to receive.
  47. All of the nonsense piled on nonsense does provide some measure of pleasure. Unknown gets better by getting worse.
  48. There's nothing to be said in favor of sitting through garbage, and this movie is awash in the stuff, both figuratively and literally: One of its main locales is a vast garbage dump.
  49. The IMAX print I saw was so murky as to make you give thanks for the few scenes shot in simple sunlight, the 3-D wasn't worth the bother, and never before have I wanted to chloroform an entire orchestra.
  50. Green Lantern was meant to be a sci-fi adventure, but it proves to be a genuine mystery. How could its megamoola budget have yielded a production that looks almost as tacky as "Flash Gordon" (which had the good grace to deprecate itself at every turn)?
  51. Horrible Bosses has preposterousness to burn, but no finesse and no interest in having any.
  52. The movie transforms a dim idea - "Elmer Gantry" lite - into comedy that's dead in the water and as dull as it is broad.
  53. Cowboys versus aliens is a concept that may make you smile in anticipation, but wipe that smile off your face before buying your ticket.
  54. Ms. Weisz is always a strong presence, but her talents are wasted here on a naive heroine - the fictional Kathy is exceedingly slow to grasp the extent of the corruption - and a narrative style that turns the horror of the prostitutes' plight into harrowing melodrama.
  55. Long after lice from her children's school infested Kate's scalp, I was scratching my head about why a 91-minute movie seemed so long. The answer came from reframing the question. Why was a string of sitcom problems stretched to 91 minutes?
  56. The failure lies not with the film's director, Marc Forster, nor with its impressive star, Gerard Butler, but with Jason Keller's dreadfully earnest script, which charts the hero's spiritual journey, and his Rambo-esque exploits, without offering a scintilla of mature perspective on his state of mind.
  57. In a movie that rings false at every turn, Ms. Redgrave's Elizabeth is truly and infallibly regal.
  58. Despite all the nervous tension, the central drama is flawed - Jonathan isn't trying to find a killer. He is the killer. Something is lacking in the dramatic equation.
  59. When bad movies happen to good people, the first place to look for an explanation is the basic idea. That certainly applies to My Week With Marilyn, a dubious idea done in by Adrian Hodges's shallow script and Simon Curtis's clumsy direction.
  60. Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher is the main reason to see The Iron Lady, which was directed by Phyllida Lloyd - not just the main reason but the raison d'être of an otherwise misconceived movie.
  61. As an experiment in Academy Award psychology, Albert Nobbs is fascinating. As drama? It is, forgive us, a drag.
  62. In The Hunger Games it's both a feast of cheesy spectacle and a famine of genuine feeling, except for the powerful - and touchingly vulnerable - presence of Jennifer Lawrence.
  63. The remake has no grace notes, or grace, no nuance, no humanity, no character quirks, no surprises in the dialogue and no humor.
  64. You're tempted to keep watching, even though the running time is a bloated 154 minutes, to see if anyone, or the movie itself, turns remotely likable. The answer to that, alas, is no.
  65. Mr. Beall, a former LAPD cop, has written a script so devoid of feeling that the cartoons blur into thin line drawings, while what's been done with the marvelous Ms. Stone - i.e. next to nothing - is downright criminal.
  66. The only reason to see this dreary parade of deception and venality is Mark Wahlberg's performance as a disgraced ex-cop caught up in the thick of menacing events he can't understand. It's striking how this tightly focused actor can find his own firmly grounded reality in the falsest of surroundings.
  67. The essence of this grindingly violent movie can be summed up by what Parker says of his handgun to a terrified clerk at a check-cashing service: "It's small, but it hurts."
  68. It's long on Viagra jokes and whorehouse scenes, and comes up short on plausibility.
  69. What a peculiar production this is. Up to a certain point, it really does promise to be romantic.
  70. Oz the Great and Powerful, like so many products of movie studios that have lost their way, is a Tin Man of epic proportions — bright and shiny, with no heart.
  71. Nobody doesn't like Tina Fey, and anyone aware of her starring role in Admission will be wishing her well. But wishing won't make this dramedy any less dreary than it is.
  72. I won't pretend that I had a great time watching G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
  73. The story is rooted in a political past that never comes to life, and its structure is so cockeyed that we don't even get to see Nick's reaction to a climactic surprise that takes place off-screen. The film was shot by an excellent cinematographer, Adriano Goldman, though you'd never know it from the lighting, which is as flat as the writing.
  74. The movie's failures are all the more unfortunate because they detract from its central and conspicuous success, the performance of Riz Ahmed in the title role. Mr. Ahmed turns the quicksilver quality of the book's internal monologue into a tour de force of his own creation. He's a bright star in a dim constellation.
  75. What's intractably wrong with the film is that there's no reality to heighten; it's a spectacle in search of a soul.
  76. Mr. Emmerich, who has often conjured with cosmic themes, sometimes wittily, achieves something new this time around — a level of indifference to the genre and its fans that amounts to a cosmic shrug. What does it matter if the absurdity is slovenly, the whimsy leaden, the extravagance squalid?
  77. Johnny Depp's Tonto wears a dead crow on his head in The Lone Ranger. The star himself carries a dead movie on his shoulders.
  78. The larger problem, transcending all realms, is that this action-adventure sequel from Marvel soon turns so dumb and 3-D-murky that it hurts.
  79. Labor Day, adapted from a novel by Joyce Maynard, is the kind of movie that turns clarity into stultification; everything is perfectly clear and almost everything — pie-making excepted — is perfectly lifeless.
  80. Mr. Goldsman, a first-time director though a veteran screenwriter, has been done in by the source material. Either he climbed aboard a horse that was too much for him, or the universe gave him a bum steer.
  81. For precursors of Guy's perversity, one would have to go back to W.C. Fields, who made antic art out of his characters' abhorrence of children.
  82. The best thing to be said for this lumbering comedy is that it offers a chance to see Vanessa Paradis, the singularly alluring French singer, actress and model, play Avigal, a melancholy Hasidic widow in Brooklyn, N.Y., and play the role with exceptional delicacy. Otherwise, arrgh!
  83. Some of it sputters, settling for smiles instead of laughs, and much of it flounders while the slapdash script searches, at exhausting length, for ever more common denominators in toilet humor.
  84. Instead of soft core, Sex Tape offers no core. No narrative core, just a not-bad notion executed execrably; no core of conviction, just two stars trudging joylessly through swamps of mediocrity.
  85. Most of the prime goofiness is given over to Vassili and Konig sharpshooting at each other while the battle rages. The movie's a red elephant.
  86. It may be lulling to know, almost from the outset, where the plot is going, but thrilling -- or even psychological -- it is not.
  87. Only Le Carre fans with tin ears and clouded eyes will fail to note the film's sour tone, crude performances and drab look.
  88. The last thing we need is entertainment that evokes the horror and then trivializes it with cheesy heroics. Never has a movie taken on a subject of greater immediacy, or handled it more ineptly.
  89. The Navajos must have sent much more crucial messages at much higher levels during the war, but you'd never know it from this movie. Windtalkers is practically all action and no talk.
  90. Everything that was modest, soundly grounded and therefore horrifying about the 1971 rodentarama that starred Bruce Davison is now insistent, Grand-Guignol-intense and therefore shrug-offable when it isn't downright awful.
  91. An ugly exercise in big-budget carnage.
  92. After missing the film on the small screen the first time around, I recently watched it on video, and can only conclude that my screen wasn't small enough.
  93. A generally mirthless comedy of manners.
    • 36 Metascore
    • 20 Critic Score
    The distance between tawdry and tedious can be amazingly short. It is traveled with Concorde speed in the arch Party Monster.
  94. The best thing about a movie as silly as this is that it makes such modest demands on your attention. As the story unfolded with all the energy of California in a Stage 3 alert, I staved off brain death by trying to imagine an alternate version.

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