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      Rita Kempley

      Rita Kempley

      Tomatometer-approved critic

      Movies reviews only

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      Rating T-Meter Title | Year Review
      Back to School (1986) Like Groucho before him, Dangerfield is at his best playing against straight society, humbling the smug with his audacious wit. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Aug 25, 2023
      Magnolia (1999) Magnolia, Paul Thomas Anderson's frenzied follow-up to Boogie Nights, can be as intoxicating as the flower it's named for, and its characters, most of them as flawed and fascinating as the film itself, seem intoxicated by the overpowering scent. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Jul 15, 2023
      The Color Purple (1985) Whatever its faults, whatever its excesses, The Color Purple will make you cry and cry some more. It's an important film, heart- warming, heartbreaking and heartfelt -- a very American saga. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted May 31, 2023
      An American Tail (1986) A bright-eyed tale of Jewish triumphs that will find a place in many young hearts. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted May 18, 2023
      Yentl (1983) Yentl is Streisand. Either you like her or you don't. And if a little Streisand means a lot, then a lot is what you've got. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted May 12, 2023
      Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) Spielberg and Lucas tried too hard in Temple. It has more complex stunts, more technical perfection, and more than a touch of genius. It's fun at both ends. But it's also mean-spirited and corrupt at its core. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Apr 18, 2023
      Boys on the Side (1995) An engagingly acted, likable, fried green Thelma & Louise. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2023
      Godzilla (1998) Its sodden state derives from its shameless assault on the moviegoing public. This isn't art. It isn't even great trash. It's a con game, and we bear the claw marks. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Feb 15, 2023
      The Big Lebowski (1998) The Stranger sums it up best in the self-serving epilogue: "It was a purty good story, dontcha think? Made me laugh to beat the band... Parts, anyway." - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Jan 24, 2023
      Cabeza de Vaca (1991) Alvar's bizarre enlightenment makes for a good yarn, even if it isn't clearly or grippingly told by the writer-director, whose background is in making documentaries. What Echevarria does best is create a living diorama... - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Nov 30, 2022
      Creepshow (1982) It's an unabashedly juvenile junk movie... Most of the time Creepshow works, though. Ghouls will be ghouls, after all, and Romero, creator of the classic 'Night of the Living Dead, does push a mean panic button. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Aug 09, 2022
      Terms of Endearment (1983) The story is simple, the characters complex. The lines are brilliant; so is the screenplay. It all goes by so swiftly that you're dragged right in, not knowing what happened or what hit you as you move with the characters. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Jul 20, 2022
      The Last Starfighter (1984) This ingenuous film is probably the summer's best escape, a cosmic getaway with a clever cast and a down-to-earth director who uses computer graphics the way TRON should have. It's user friendly, with people taking precedence over its bifurcated effects. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted May 03, 2022
      The Witches of Eastwick (1987) [George Miller] directs this eccentric fairy tale with customary flair and adolescent gusto. His proportions are as outsized as they were in The Road Warrior, but the mood is demonic Disney. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Apr 21, 2022
      Jumanji (1995) The technology both overwhelms the human cast and stalls the narrative drive. Even Williams's manic energy finally flags. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Apr 20, 2022
      Pushing Hands (1992) An unhurried and engaging domestic dramedy by Ang Lee. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Apr 01, 2022
      Thousand Pieces of Gold (1990) With her producer husband, Kenji Yamamoto, Kelly rediscovers another missing chapter in American history. Too bad it couldn't have been a bit more strongly worded. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Feb 15, 2022
      The Secret of NIMH (1982) Sadly, The Secret of NIMH is beautiful but unbalanced: The animators gambled when they should have gamboled. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Nov 11, 2021
      The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984) The performers are perfectionists and their work packs a wallop. But their characters are as annoying as gnats. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Oct 30, 2021
      El Norte (1983) Despite its length and sadness, a tolerant viewer will appreciate the portrait of the intricacies of a hidden culture in El Norte. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Aug 03, 2021
      Romantic Comedy (1983) Never has there been such a dreary screen duo -- they're positively limp for each other. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Aug 03, 2021
      Big Trouble in Little China (1986) A bad marriage of martial arts and action spoofery, bungled by director John Carpenter working from the world's worst screenplay. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Jun 29, 2021
      Target (1985) "Target" isn't a suspenseful spy movie, but it makes up for its shortcomings with its genuine good- heartedness. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted May 26, 2021
      The Sting II (1983) The twists and turns from there on are more predictable than suspenseful. So are the jokes. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Jan 09, 2021
      The Truth About Cats & Dogs (1996) Why quibble? You'll still go home purring and wagging your tail. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Sep 09, 2020
      Absolute Power (1997) Eastwood the director sets a pace so poky that grannies with walkers seem fleet in comparison. Of course, this makes the many plot holes and implausibilities all the more evident... - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Jun 25, 2020
      The Journey of Natty Gann (1985) It's a typical animal adventure, stripped of its guts by an enfeebling if commendable effort to shield young viewers from violence and death. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Mar 31, 2020
      A Love in Germany (1983) While you know it's all going to turn out rather badly, you can't help but be seduced by star Hanna Schygulla. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Mar 24, 2020
      Out of Africa (1985) The relationship between Blixen and her lover Denys Finch Hatton is an idyllic series of outings among the gazelles -- picnics with poetry, beach parties, club dances and overnight hunts. It's an adoring, boring relationship. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Jan 29, 2020
      Amadeus (1984) Amadeus isn't meant to be a biography of the composer's life, but a bawdy, black fantasy, a fiction based on a few curious facts. Peter Shaffer adapted the screenplay from his own stage play: What was intimate is now opulent. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Jan 22, 2020
      Immortal Beloved (1994) A turgid affair with a palette that recalls used Ace bandages. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted May 24, 2019
      Practical Magic (1998) Though the tale is not without its charms, its spell is repeatedly broken by the random pace and tone. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Mar 30, 2019
      A Chorus Line (1985) A Chorus Line: The Movie is like a soccer match seen only from the waist up. They've cut off the feet, which is all the more frustrating when you're supposed to be enjoying the fancy footwork. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Mar 07, 2019
      The Legend of 1900 (1998) The Legend of 1900 would have benefited from more story and less music, and tends to wear thin before it quite reaches the dock, but it is a ravishing film. Titanic should have looked so good. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Mar 06, 2019
      Police Academy (1984) Police Academy is the most uproarious film to come along in years. You have the right to remain silent, but you can't help bt laugh out loud. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Mar 06, 2019
      The First Wives Club (1996) In the end, "The First Wives Club" even betrays its own bylaws. Revenge is a dish not served. Did Thelma and Louise make their sacrifice for nothing? - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Jan 09, 2019
      The Object of My Affection (1998) It is the sort of story best left to the French, who take great delight in such trifles. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Dec 28, 2018
      Dead Man (1995) The landscape outside and the passengers inside become wilder and woollier with every weary mile. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Nov 09, 2018
      Splash (1984) Splash, an aquacade of myth and laughter, glimmers like moonlit tide. It's an enrapturing underwater romance pairing dry-lander Tom Hanks with mermaid Daryl Hannah (not an easy affair for a nonswimmer). - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Jul 03, 2018
      Deep Impact (1998) These folks are so blase, you'd think that scientists had predicted pennies from Heaven instead of world's end within the year. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Jun 25, 2018
      Under the Cherry Moon (1986) Cherry Moon had some potential as a cultish Trading Places. But it drowns in its pretenses. No doubt, Prince fancies himself an auteur in his directing debut. But he has no restraint, no true vision. It's as if we've all been mooned. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Apr 22, 2016
      Murphy's Romance (1985) Martin Ritt directs the screenplay by Harriet Frank Jr. and Irving Ravetch, who cross the country wisdom of Tennessee Ernie Ford with the stale wit of the Johnny Carson joke team. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Feb 29, 2016
      Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) Lucas's ingenuity is reaffirmed by Darth Vader's every asthmatic exhalation, by Princess Leia's cinnamon-bun chignons. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Dec 09, 2015
      A Christmas Story (1983) It's a nostalgic comedy featuring a family of eccentrics who lovingly celebrate the holidays and life itself in Midwestern America in the 1940s. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Nov 30, 2015
      Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) Though the 1983 film's effects seem almost quaint by today's awesome standards, Jedi has something the newer movies don't: characters we care about, not to mention a plot that involves both them and us. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Nov 05, 2015
      Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) A zippy 007 romp that draws as heavily from the Asian action genre as from the formula that has served the series so well for 35 years. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Nov 01, 2015
      Revenge of the Nerds (1984) If you've seen Porky's, Animal House, D.C. Cab, or Police Academy, you've seen Nerds. And if you liked the prototypes, you'll like the latest of the genre, low humor and all -- belching, mooning, panty raids, peeping at girls and booger jokes. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Oct 02, 2015
      The Hit (1984) It is a dexterously balanced killer thriller by the idiosyncratic Frears, whose every scene becomes a matter of life and death. A lighter clicks, a gun clicks; life or death, it all sounds the same. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Sep 15, 2015
      Lost in Space (1998) Boasting state-of-the-art gimcracks and a solid cast, the motion picture lifts off easily enough. Only it's not long before you realize that mission control forgot to load the Tang. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Sep 17, 2014
      The Truman Show (1998) One of the smartest, most inventive movies in memory, it manages to be as endearing as it is provocative. - Washington Post
      Read More | Posted Aug 18, 2014
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