Lisa Alspector, Chicago Reader

  1. Atlantis - The Lost Empire 2001 Visually imaginative and even persuasively spiritual, this animated adventure has some unusually complex villains and heroes, and some of the plot and dialogue transcends what's typical in movies intended for a broad or youthful audience. full review
  2. Donnie Darko 2001 Kelly is a supple and courageous storyteller, boldly free-associating as he mixes parody and satire with earnest psychodrama and coming up with plot points no one could anticipate. full review
  3. Monkeybone 2001 You can almost see money dripping off the walls of the sets and cybersets in this special-effects extravaganza. full review
  4. The Mothman Prophecies 2001 This is the scariest movie I've ever seen. full review
  5. The Wash 2001 Two roommates start to antagonize each other after one becomes the other's superior at an LA car wash, and the conflict is played out with grittiness and flippancy. full review
  6. American Psycho 2000 The slick satire cleverly equates materialism, narcissism, misogyny, and classism with homicide, but you may laugh so loud at the protagonist that you won't be able to hear yourself laughing with him. full review
  7. The Emperor's New Groove 2000 Ingenious action sequences driven by surprisingly little plot lead to a climax full of the transmogrification animation was invented for. full review
  8. The Original Kings of Comedy 2000 Footage shot from over their shoulders reveals a sea of faces out of which individuals quickly emerge, as the comedians -- especially emcee Harvey -- enthrall and provoke audience members. full review
  9. Urban Legends: Final Cut 2000 This horror-and-suspense vehicle, which dabbles pointlessly in reflexivity, doesn't do much with its pseudosavvy characters. full review
  10. 42 Up 1999 Their largely negative or only superficially positive responses make me feel guilty about finding the series so fascinating -- and should make the filmmakers feel even guiltier. full review
  11. She's All That 1999 It's often impossible to distinguish what's meant to be cartoonish from what's meant to be dramatic, but the confusion seems appropriately adolescent. full review
  12. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut 1999 [An] inspired, self-referential animated musical. full review
  13. Stuart Little 1999 [Uses] class and ethnic stereotypes in support of the idea that it's best to be adopted by rich white people. full review
  14. Superstar 1999 Contrasting the erotic with the disgusting is usually provocative and can be funny, but not in this underdog comedy. full review
  15. Can't Hardly Wait 1998 It's not supposed to be a revelation--just a pleasant rendition of a teen-comedy trope. full review
  16. Funny Games 1998 The emotions of the victims are clear and complex -- their conflicts dominate our experience of the narrative as powerfully as all the devices telling us to look elsewhere for the movie's themes. full review
  17. Paulie 1998 Shalhoub gives an impressively nuanced performance in the dangerously cliched role, and Paulie -- a combination of trained parrots, animatronics, and the voice of Mohr -- comes across as a fully developed character. full review
  18. The Prince of Egypt 1998 The blend of animation techniques somehow demonstrates mastery modestly, while the special effects are nothing short of magnificent. full review
  19. Shakespeare in Love 1998 It's easy to suspend disbelief and embrace this historically creative fiction, whose clever relationship to what's known and what's unresolved is part of what makes it so intriguing and so romantic. full review
  20. Waking Ned Devine 1998 Though it strives for broad humor, pushing cuteness and light irony, this bland 1998 movie isn't exactly a comedy. full review
  21. Cop Land 1997 The movie's no roller-coaster ride, but there isn't a boring moment either. full review
  22. Gattaca 1997 I didn't care enough about Hawke's character to ignore a big problem in the story's logic: if this future has such incredible biotechnology, why can't Law just get his damaged body parts fixed? full review
  23. Good Burger 1997 A laboriously slow suburban adventure... full review
  24. Mouse Hunt (Mousehunt) 1997 full review
  25. Scream 1996 The assumption that there's something inherently clever about a slasher movie making reference to both its genre and the filmmaking process is a fundamental flaw of this tiresome, blood-filled comedy. full review

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