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 Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame
Lowest review score: 0 The Last Airbender
Score distribution:
2,126 movie reviews
  1. The Loss of Sexual Innocence is a work of intransigent anger and barely relieved depression. [28 May 1999]
  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.
  3. The island locale rings with reggae music regardless of its proximity to Jamaica, and any action sequence is rendered in painfully deliberate slo-mo.
  4. If the movie gets by, as it surely will during the current entertainment drought, most of the credit should go to a couple of performers (Latifah/Keaton) who come from different traditions, yet share a gift for breathing life into moribund material.
  5. I won't pretend that I had a great time watching G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
  6. Like "Transformers," which it rivals in relentlessness, Battleship comes with its own force field, a furious energy that renders criticism irrelevant.
  7. Young audiences may welcome this movie, but girls, and boys, should want more.
  8. It's long on Viagra jokes and whorehouse scenes, and comes up short on plausibility.
  9. Ride Along, set in Atlanta, gives shoddiness a bad name.
  10. It's going to be a hit with libidinous boys, and their parents could do worse (see first review) than to watch the lavish, James Bondish gadgetry and cheerful anarchy of an action-adventure that's been made with all the finesse it needs, though not a jot more.
  11. Does Meet the Fockers make you laugh? Sure it does, from time to time. Just lower your expectations to the altitude of the gag that's showcased in the trailer, the one in which Jinx the cat flushes a little dog named Moses down a toilet.
  12. Olympus Has Fallen is no fun at all. To the contrary, it soon grows tedious, odious and oppressive.
  13. Jim Jarmusch's Dada meander, shot by Christopher Doyle, is empty and excruciating -- that's really all you need to know.
    • 41 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    This is slash and burn strictly by the numbers. There's never an ounce of doubt where the movie's going; the only suspense is how long it's going to take to get there and how high the body count is going to get.
  14. Aspiring to pure action -- several very long passages are wordless -- the movie ends up teetering on the brink of self-parody.
  15. The revelations of The Invisible Circus don't justify the quest.
  16. 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.
  17. The special effects are variable, but even when they're good they don't have much impact because Evolution, with its self-trashing spirit, turns moviegoers into bemused bysitters.
  18. Why, beating the audience about the ears, eyes and brain with essentially the same sequence of events from eight characters' points of view, none of which adds much more than deafening hysteria and identically dreadful music. The filmmakers seem to have missed the point that each re-enactment in "Rashomon" provides new and conflicting information. It makes you wonder if they studied the wrong movie. Maybe they rented "Rush Hour," or a video on Rosh Hashanah.
  19. Jennifer Aniston brings a needed liveliness to Derailed, though not enough to go around.
  20. An experience best likened to being battered by hurricane-force winds generated by an organ with all stops pulled permanently out.
  21. Adds up to one numbingly unfunny comedy.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 20 Critic Score
    Built on such a goofy premise that your average soap-opera scriptwriter would laugh it out of a story meeting.
  22. The result is a movie groping for a comic tone while its FX machinery spews vast clouds of visual gibberish.
  23. 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.
  24. Pretty bad, and pretty funny.
  25. 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.
  26. What's never explained is why anyone would do such a dumb remake of Robert Wise's 1951 sci-fi classic.
  27. 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.
  28. The movie drills itself into our skulls, which are all too vulnerable to such an assault, though I must say my brain glazed over and my heart turned adamantine while the stupidities of this action thriller played themselves out.
  29. 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)?
  30. You keep rooting for the child to get a new pair of lungs, but all of the beatings, betrayals and bitter ironies leave a bad taste in your head.
  31. Let's give this ghastly studio comedy a Truthiness in Advertising award, if nothing else.
  32. Mr. Carter's intelligent, straight-forward style and the good performances of the young actors prohibit hooting at the story's completely American approach to a German story. [11 Mar 1993]
  33. What's wrong with this sad fiasco goes far beyond its visual deficits.
  34. The film's only unqualified success is the end title sequence-because it's genuinely stylish, because it looks like it was shot in genuine 3-D and, most of all, because it's the end.
  35. If you go to see this sloppy sitcom, in which Mr. Martin plays a divorced, repressed lawyer named Peter Sanderson, do expect to be surprised, seduced and entertained by Queen Latifah.
  36. Disney's National Treasure is supposed to be family-friendly, a PG-rated action adventure free of hard violence and bad language. That's admirable, to be sure, but with a friend like this a family doesn't need sleeping pills.
  37. Do not attempt to see this film, derived loosely from the videogame of the same name, unless you're prepared for wobbly writing, lead-footed direction and acting that must have been boosted by nitrous-oxide injectors, plus a starring performance that could have used a boost and didn't get one.
  38. Less than the sum of its parts, which were problematic to begin with.
  39. The movie will surely find an audience, since it speaks to young people's anxieties about marriage and parenting. But what are two particularly engaging performers doing in a dump of a comedy like this?
  40. The result is a mess -- sometimes an entertaining mess, but mostly a movie that makes a perfunctory mockery of the mockery currently passing for political discourse.
  41. His (Eddie Murphy's) performance in Daddy Day Care isn't bad. He's restrained, and even tender in some of the scenes he plays with the kids. But restraint is the last thing we want from a comic of his caliber. It's no fun at all.
    • 39 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The devil had taken Reagan to the mountaintop and offered a world of spoils, from peace prizes to popular acclaim and a glamorous place in history. To reject it took more than guts. It took a man who put freedom ahead of his own glory. This is not a biography but the story of a man who faced off against the 20th century's "heart of darkness" and won.
  42. A small story, a monodrama with a hero but no antagonists.
  43. Alice and John are good company — especially Alice, thanks to Ms. Temple's buoyant humor and lovely poignancy. The problem comes when the couple gets greedy, the gods grow angry and the tone turns dark. It doesn't stay dark, but getting back to the brightness is a painful process.
  44. There's no zest to the general depravity, no coherence to the script or the spectacle -- clarity is missing in some of the camera work -- and, most important, no character to give a Greek fig about.
  45. Depending on how you feel about Zac Efron, he is either a sensitive hunk or an inexpressive hunk, but definitely a hunk. Unable as I am to locate any feelings about him, I see Mr. Efron as a hunk with a problem delivering sustained dialogue in units of more than one or two sentences.
  46. The star of this fantasy adventure for young audiences is a charmer from the moment she is hatched (from a huge blue egg that starts to rock like a Mexican jumping bean). Her name is Saphira, she speaks with the voice of Rachel Weisz, and it doesn't matter that she's too young to breathe fire -- at first -- or that she waddles a bit on the ground, because she lives and breathes the joy of flight, which is exactly what was missing from most of Harry Potter's solos on a broom.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Like our two loose cannons with badges, the movie misses its target at least as often as it hits it.
  47. Mr. Gooding is out there in almost every scene, and the destruction of his once-promising career proceeds apace.
  48. Consider this more a consumer warning than a movie review: The Life Before Her Eyes will draw you in, then intrigue you, then bore you, then bewilder you, then make you crazy with its incessant flashbacks and flash forwards, and finally leave you feeling like the victim of a fraud.
  49. 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.
  50. Mr. Hopkins gives the production what he was hired for. Whenever you wonder how much longer he can trade on Hannibal Lecter's special zest, the same answer comes up-a lot.
  51. This shabby enterprise gets so many things so wrong that it freezes your face into a cringe.
  52. Ms. Hudson makes the most of her role, even though that's not saying so very much -- the writing is terribly thin -- while John Corbett gives an unaccountably clumsy performance as a romantic pastor. Joan Cusack gets the funniest lines as Helen's sister, a model of boring mommyhood, but she also stops the movie dead in its tracks every time she plays a scene.
  53. 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?
  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.
  55. This noirish, sourish thriller left me unmoving as well as unmoved.
  56. Certainly trashy, but, stripped of Mr. Diesel's services and directed by John Singleton, it's a no-go Yugo in muscle-car sheet metal.
  57. 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.
  58. Wayne Kramer's interlocking saga of immigration in 21st-century America definitely crosses over, from workaday mediocrity to distinctive dreadfulness.
  59. Ms. Berry works hard in her role, generating some excitement in the course of her distress. But the story's convolutions can't cover a deficit of substance, or sense.
  60. Cold and clever to a fault, like the main character played by Liam Neeson, the movie is based on a fundamental miscalculation—that our desire to penetrate its mysteries will trump our need for people to care about.
  61. Amelia Earhart is still missing.
  62. Quirky. Wacky. Offbeat. Outré. The words that come to mind regarding Paper Man might prompt you run in the opposite direction. And perhaps you should, except for the performances of Jeff Daniels and Emma Stone.
  63. Manages the dubious trick of being both execrable and boring.
  64. It's unlikely that a dinosaur wrote the script — the Writers Guild of America makes no provision for Cambrian membership — but this animated feature is dimwitted all the same. The title should be "Trudging With Dinosaurs" (in 2.5-D, for all the grandeur the glasses confer), because the only semblance of a plot is provided by a long migration to winter grounds.
  65. This woefully botched mystery-adventure-thriller-caper-romance-comedy, or whatever it was meant to be, is no fun at all.
  66. Certainly grows in its own right, into a coarse-grained summer vaudeville that could have been much smarter and sharper without losing its target audience.
  67. A rube's-eye view of Hollywood, but the rube is weary, and those around him seem to be suffering from terminal torpor.
  68. Some of the action sequences, and a few of the performances, are enjoyable enough to make up for the dialogue, which has been upgraded to cheerfully absurd, and the plot, which has been simplified to the point of actual coherence.
  69. 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.
  70. This is movie-making by and for dummies, a sappy little bible story, blissed out on its own ineptitude.
  71. Given the importance of that subject, the real mystery of Mr. Lee's movie is why it's so diffuse, dispirited, emotionally distanced and dramatically inert.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 10 Critic Score
    In under two hours, the synthetic, insufferable I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry manages to insult gays, straights, men, women, children, African-Americans, Asians, pastors, mailmen, insurance adjusters, firemen, doctors -- and fans of show music. That's championship stuff.
  72. Lest my own reaction be misconstrued, let me explain that I didn't like a single one of these insufferable narcissists, the kid included.
  73. What a botch. All the King's Men, a remake of Robert Rossen's classic 1949 film about the rise and fall of a Southern demagogue, has no center, no coherence, no soul and no shame.
  74. Sorry excuse for political satire.
  75. Mr. Crystal underplays his role wisely and well, while Mr. De Niro parodies -- maybe the better word is pillages -- himself and his career with scary gusto.
  76. A gothic thriller called Cold Creek Manor extrudes an 80-minute idea -- I may be overgenerous here -- into 118 minutes that feel like an eternity.
    • 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.
  77. Only God Forgives would seem to be a parody of something or other — "Blue Velvet"? "Last Year At Marienbad"? — except that the film takes itself seriously to the point of suffocation in telling its lurid tale of slaughter and revenge.
  78. The script's foolish contrivances crush its content.
  79. This toxic admixture of computer-generated frenzy and live-action torpor succeeds in being, almost simultaneously, genuinely painful -- the esthetic equivalent of needles in eyeballs -- and weirdly benumbing, like eye candy laced with lidocaine.
  80. The director's apparent blindness to the epic banality of her subjects suggests that the whole project is one royally misguided mess.
  81. Mr. Smith's latest film is about nothing less than life and death, sin and atonement, and it takes the soggy cake for multiple layers of sentimentality topped by indigestible grandiosity.
    • 36 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    "Working Girl," is also heard in Little Black Book; it serves only to remind audiences of that far more winning story of triumph in the office. But there are many reminders of what a tiresome effort this is.
  82. The dialogue is clumsy, the tone swings between somber and silly and the whole bizarre venture eventually succumbs to rigor mortis.
  83. A shopworn studio contraption, slapped together from second-hand parts.
  84. It's all played for giggles, this grim anti-humanism. [21 May 1992]
  85. 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.
  86. This cloying piece of claptrap sets a high-water mark for pomposity, condescension, false profundity and true turgidity -- no small accomplishment for the man whose last two features were the deadly duo "Signs" and "The Village."
    • 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.
  87. I wish I'd brought a pair of peas to the screening. Then I could have taken in the glorious scenery without the dumb dialogue, which is delivered in a jangle of accents that makes a mockery of ethnicity.
    • 36 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Squanders endless opportunities for sharp satire, keeping to a steady course of tame, toothless comedy, and wrapping things up with the kind of vapid ending "The Brady Bunch" would be proud to call its own.
  88. What Happens in Vegas... should have stayed in development -- forever. This ramshackle -- and occasionally repulsive -- farce doesn't even deliver on the minimal promise of its title; most of it takes place in Manhattan.
  89. This time he (Martin) goes through the motions.
  90. Domino is a new definition of a snuff movie. It snuffs out every vestige of feeling.
  91. This time Rambo pulls off his superhuman Soviet-blasting stunts in Afghanistan, not quite as late on the scene as he was in Vietnam. Not very exciting; very noisy. [2 Jun 1988, p.1]

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