Lisa Alspector

Lisa Alspector
Tomatometer-approved critic
Publications: Chicago Reader

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
45% Stepmom (1998) [Stepmom] offers some useful insights into how feelings of jealousy and betrayal can limit the potential of family relationships. But these ideas are more or less undermined by the movie's maddeningly typical glamorizing of illness. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 1, 2019
39% But I'm a Cheerleader (2000) Lyonne blends hyperbole and sincerity in perfect proportions. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 31, 2019
36% Wet Hot American Summer (2001) The title of this inventive absurdist comedy (2001) is meant to mislead-it's not a sex movie but a parody, and the loose feel is part of its genius. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 31, 2019
21% Practical Magic (1998) Though its startling shifts in tone sometimes seem unmotivated, this dark yet syrupy 1998 romance has an adolescent charm. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 30, 2019
42% I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) A poorly conceived 1997 thriller with plenty of empty references. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 28, 2019
54% The Legend of 1900 (La leggenda del pianista sull'oceano) (1999) ...the nearly incessant camera movement suggests only the literal: the ship's progress across the ocean. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 5, 2019
59% Deep Blue Sea (1999) The characters are sufficiently naive to get picked off one by one, but their ignorance doesn't extend to the genre conventions governing their behavior, making for some shockingly funny moments. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 11, 2019
45% Deep Impact (1998) Unfortunately Morgan Freeman, the compassionate, helpless U.S. president, and Robert Duvall, an astronaut who finds he hasn't passed his prime, have less time on-screen than Tea Leoni, who's unconvincing as a journalist. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 25, 2018
94% 3-4x juugatsu (Boiling Point) (1990) The allegory in this 1990 yakuza thriller eludes me, but writer-director Takeshi Kitano's handling of tones, which range from the grimly depressive to the irreverently hilarious, is amazing. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 20, 2017
68% Ronin (1998) Not even supercool Robert De Niro can enliven this boring tale. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 18, 2017
35% Spice World (1998) A promotional tool that establishes its superfluousness simply by existing, this clumsy, smirking movie has a bitter soul. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 21, 2016
66% The Pillow Book (1997) One of the most accomplished chapters in Peter Greenaway's quest to turn movies into books, this may be the writer-director's metaphorical autobiography. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 2, 2016
81% X-Men (2000) Exciting mainly because anything can happen and does, the movie drags a bit as it approaches a climax set on top of the Statue of Liberty. But once there it revives. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 15, 2015
58% Flamenco (2014) This 1995 catalog of performances by various artists may represent the historical development of a rich and enthralling art form, but it's presented in such a clinical way it might as well be a list on a chalkboard. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 19, 2014
28% Lost in Space (1998) Time-travel cliches... dialogue that's neither self-mocking nor serious, and an ostentatious though not particularly exciting production design keep the movie from taking off. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 17, 2014
6% A Smile like Yours (1997) Kooky Joan Cusack can't provide sufficient comic relief in this incredibly naive attempt at schmaltz. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 22, 2014
8% Almost Heroes (1998) This 1998 comedy set in the early American west isn't unwatchable, just bad. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 15, 2014
5% The Avengers (1998) Neither elegant nor macho nor elegant-and-macho, Fiennes is terribly cast; Thurman at least provides the equivalent of a dressmaker's dummy on which to hang neo-mod fashions. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 8, 2014
57% Blast From the Past (1999) A stretched-out anecdote. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 21, 2014
75% Wisconsin Death Trip (1999) Chillingly beautiful cinematography makes the state's landscapes appear timeless as it sets the stage for a grim history. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 3, 2014
60% Dream with the Fishes (1997) A harangue on how ironic it is that men often attack one another verbally and physically as a way to get close. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 13, 2014
76% Ransom (1996) If Howard's direction were as stylized and self-aware as Corgan's music, Ransom might be something more than a shallow and unprovocative story of a vigilante with an Achilles' heel. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 22, 2014
97% Chicken Run (2000) 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." - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 4, 2013
80% The Boxer (1997) The screenplay of this 1997 feature, written by Sheridan and Terry George, demonizes one man to make some obvious points and allows Day-Lewis and Watson to talk up their characters' 14-year history more than demonstrate it. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 14, 2013
31% Hugo Pool (1997) I groaned my way through this black -- and blue -- romantic comedy and then decided I liked it. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 1, 2013
61% Kurt & Courtney (1998) This patchwork portrait is hard to look away from, partly because it exposes how one man rationalizes the dirty job of being a documentary filmmaker. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 14, 2013
89% 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. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 14, 2012
65% Hideous Kinky (1998) The fusion of dream sequences and evocative landscapes makes the characters' feverish sense of living at the edge of reality contagious. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 27, 2012
74% Songcatcher (2001) Like the main character, it's stodgy and didactic -- and full of grace and surprises. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 24, 2012
72% In & Out (1997) Fast-moving and very funny. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 11, 2012
72% The Best Man (1999) Viewers who mistake the didacticism for stylistic weakness miss much of the point of this nicely toned movie. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 11, 2012
84% Meet the Parents (2000) Scenes that should have been uproarious are weaker than many of the movie's smaller moments, whose everyday humor isn't specific to the plot or characters. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 9, 2012
88% Shrek (2001) This romantic fantasy complicates the roles of beauty and beast, making it hard to guess what form a sensitive resolution will take. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 17, 2012
76% Black Hawk Down (2001) I also don't know how well this 2001 drama represents the events of October 3 and 4, 1993, though I can see that it represents them in a realist vein, referring to other war movies without becoming frivolous. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 8, 2011
79% Requiem for a Dream (2000) A staccato narrative parallels the experiences and hallucinations of a woman on drugs with those of her son and his friends. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 20, 2011
37% Scream 3 (2000) Tthe movie belabors the idea that it's the last of a trilogy rather than the third in a series. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 7, 2011
86% 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. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 27, 2011
74% Tortilla Soup (2001) Only some of the characterizations exhibit subtlety, though most of the performances have considerable charm. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 27, 2011
68% You've Got Mail (1998) The coincidences that make the destined lovers' paths cross aren't contrived with much finesse, but the characters get in some decidedly clever lines. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 27, 2011
79% The Green Mile (1999) Much of the three-hour movie takes place in the prison, but the resonant characterization, expansive plotting, and judicious use of exterior locations and flashbacks turn the walls into windows. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 8, 2011
68% 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. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 28, 2011
97% The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (2000) Kempner's lighthearted yet not apolitical collage conveys how Greenberg's success as an athlete in the 30s and 40s contradicted an ethnic stereotype. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 16, 2011
49% 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. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 25, 2011
92% Election (1999) The treatment of this touchy material is impressive, neither gratuitous nor mincing, but this 1999 satirical comedy doesn't really go anywhere. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 24, 2010
91% 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. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 16, 2010
60% Mystery Men (1999) The characters have been designed to make fun of themselves, disguising the craft of writer Neil Cuthbert and director Kinka Usher in getting us to laugh at them. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 15, 2010
100% World on a Wire (2011) It's astonishing that such painfully obvious themes can also be so painfully provocative. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 6, 2010
45% Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) I never stopped marveling at the thousands of individually delineated pores and hair strands of the heroine, but the thin story covering her acquisition of one wave after another while narrowly escaping death time and again is strictly for player one. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 12, 2010
80% Beautiful People (2000) Inventively examines bigotry, combining daring humor and hyperbole, dark realism and shining idealism. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 12, 2010
10% Wing Commander (1999) Excruciatingly earnest yet convictionless. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 7, 2010