Bob Mondello 2010 i
Doby Photography/NPR
Bob Mondello 2010
Doby Photography/NPR

Bob Mondello

Arts Critic

Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career, "hired to write for every small paper in Washington, D.C., just as it was about to fold," saw that jink broken in 1984, when he came to NPR.

For more than three decades, Mondello has reviewed movies and covered the arts for NPR News, seeing at least 250 films and 100 plays annually, then sharing critiques and commentaries about the most intriguing on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine All Things Considered. In 2005, he conceived and co-produced NPR's eight-part series "American Stages," exploring the history, reach, and accomplishments of the regional theater movement.

Mondello has also written about the arts for such diverse publications as USA Today, The Washington Post, and Preservation Magazine, as well as for commercial and public television stations. And he has been a lead theater critic for Washington City Paper, D.C.'s leading alternative weekly, since 1987.

Before becoming a professional critic, Mondello spent more than a decade in entertainment advertising, working in public relations for a chain of movie theaters, where he learned the ins and outs of the film industry, and for an independent repertory theater, where he reveled in film history.

Asked what NPR pieces he's proudest of, he points to commentaries on silent films – a bit of a trick on radio – and cultural features he's produced from Argentina, where he and his husband have a second home. An avid traveler, Mondello even spends his vacations watching movies and plays in other countries. "I see as many movies in a year," he says. "As most people see in a lifetime."

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Tensions flare when a local "best ram" competition results in a virtual tie, with Gummi's ram taking second place and Kiddi's taking first. Courtesy Cohen Media Group hide caption

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Shirley Jones and Robert Preston star in 1962's The Music Man, about a con man who poses as a band leader. Warner Bros./The Kobal Collection hide caption

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Gone with the Wind has sold more than 200 million tickets — most of them back when there were far fewer people on the planet. Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

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Movie Reviews

Superlatives Notwithstanding, Even 'The Force' Has Its Limits

NPR film critic Bob Mondello has been listening to the Star Wars hype train. Here's why he isn't climbing aboard.

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David Bowie showed off his acting chops as the British-accented alien in the 1976 film The Man Who Fell To Earth. Studiocanal Films Ltd./The Kobal Collection hide caption

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Actor David Thewlis voices Michael Stone as he engages in puppet showering, puppet profanity, puppet nudity and puppet hallucinations. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures hide caption

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(From left) Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant; Amy Poehler as Joy in Inside Out; Matt Damon in The Martian; Kettly Noël in Timbuktu; and Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road. 20th Century Fox/Pixar/20th Century Fox/Cohen Media Group/Warner Bros. hide caption

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Orson Welles plays Sir John Falstaff, the portly Shakespearean rapscallion in Chimes at Midnight. Courtesy of Janus Films hide caption

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Leonardo DiCaprio, as Hugh Glass, bears the elements in a scene from The Revenant. Kimberley French/Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film hide caption

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Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling are a long-married couple unsettled by a revelation from his past in 45 Years. Agatha A. Nitecka/IFC Films hide caption

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Saul (Géza Röhrig) is almost always seen in a near close-up in Son of Saul, putting you right there next to him. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics hide caption

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Both Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) return in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Lucasfilm hide caption

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Teyonah Parris plays an updated Lysistrata in Chi-Raq. Parrish Lewis/Courtesy of Roadside Attractions hide caption

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