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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. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. Tarzan 1999 The stylized physiques and movements of the characters in this exciting animated musical-romance-adventure are at once realist and fantastic. full review
  10. Ever After: A Cinderella Story 1998 Drew Barrymore plays the complicated belle of the climactic ball and develops a convincing intellectually based friendship with the prince. full review
  11. 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
  12. The Parent Trap 1998 This 1998 romantic comedy mostly bores with its cumbersome exposition and close-ups of trivial objects scattered throughout lackluster montage sequences. full review
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. Two Girls and a Guy 1998 Writer-director James Toback must believe his audience is hopelessly prudish if he thinks this pedantic story, which takes place over several hours in a Manhattan loft, is provocative. full review
  17. Cop Land 1997 The movie's no roller-coaster ride, but there isn't a boring moment either. full review
  18. Good Burger 1997 A laboriously slow suburban adventure... full review
  19. Mouse Hunt (Mousehunt) 1997 full review
  20. 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
  21. /titles/197804 It's not supposed to be a revelation--just a pleasant rendition of a teen-comedy trope. full review
  22. /titles/197808 The finale and a scene set inside the pie-making machinery prove that the Rube Goldberg formula is infallible, and the puns -- another staple of crossover animation -- range from "fowl" to "poultry in motion." full review
  23. /titles/197461 Possibly the most daring and honest drama about sexuality I've ever seen. full review
  24. /titles/197453 Subplots are woven stealthily into the story, taking the pressure off the central drama, allowing it to be affecting rather than melodramatic, and heightening the atmosphere of the lush Louisiana setting. full review
  25. /titles/197452 Fast-moving and very funny. full review

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