It's a Wonderful Life - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

It's a Wonderful Life Reviews

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Super Reviewer
October 1, 2010
Juggling with your emotions union first viewing, you really do not know what kind of film you are in for her. "It's a Wonderful Life" follows George Bailey as he starts up a banking company, get's married, and becomes one of the wealthiest men in town. What is hidden in the background is that his status is all about to change when the company loses all of it's money, right before Christmas. Debating suicide, George is then shown by his guardian angel, what life would have been like for the town if he hadn't been born. The payoff to this film is one of the most emotionally satisfying endings to any film I think I have ever seen. It really makes you appreciate life no matter how harsh, easy, brutal, or depressing it can be. Life can be happy as long as you make it that way. Terrific screenplay, amazing direction, great camerawork, and a cast that brought me to tears by the end, "It's a Wonderful Life" is one of the definitive Christmas movies. Halfway through this film, you may question if it seems worth watching all the way through, because it almost feels like a different film, but it is all worth it in the end. Brilliant film all around.
Super Reviewer
September 10, 2007
Maybe considered a timeless classic, however I wish time had moved a little faster during the movie. For me a forgettable movie that drags in places. Huge fan of Stewart, not a huge fan of this movie!
Super Reviewer
½ April 27, 2007
Joyous, timeless classic! I can't say I've seen many movies from the 1940's, let alone any Christmas ones, but this was a very pleasant viewing experience, in several senses of the word. James Stewart is fantastic and brings a lot of vigor to his performance, but above all it's got a story that can be applied still today. It isn't confined to the values of the era, as it's broadly and universally human in its message. Basic themes like love, loss, greed and empathy, provides it with a wide spectrum of emotions that we can all relate to in some way (which is pretty amazing, considering it's over half a century old). A riveting, jolly and beautifully narrated holiday tale, that will add some extra lustre to your Christmas.
Super Reviewer
½ November 8, 2012
Capra finds the most perfect balance between bittersweet and optimistic in this timeless holiday tale, to remind us that life is always worth it, even in the worst of circumstances. A wonderful story that resonates for a very long time after it is over.
Super Reviewer
January 1, 2012
Great. Definitely a film to watch each and every Christmas holiday. Rather wholesome and simple message gets across to anybody and everybody.
Movie Monster
Super Reviewer
December 21, 2011
George Bailey is a man with many hopes and dreams. However, his sacrifices, economic woes, and the achievements of his brother, Harrry, get in the way. On Christmas Eve, a frustrated Geroge Bailey is visited by a guardian angel named Clarence who gives him a new, and not so pleasant, look on his life.

It's A Wonderful Life is a film that should not be missed. I found it to be a perfect movie with fantastic performances, an original plot, and awesome build up. If you haven't sat down to watch it this Christmas season, you're making a big mistake, my friend.

The film features an array of top notch performances. The highlight of the film is James Stewart in his Oscar nominated role as George Bailey. Despite his behavior in the film's third act, he is a very likable character and we learn to feel for him during his tribulations. His performance is excellent. He will have you at the edge of your seat in some moments. That is a sign of a great actor. Donna Reed, who plays George's gourgeous wife, Mary, is great as well. My favorite of the entertaining supporting cast was Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter. One of the greatest jerks to ever grace the silver screen. You're going to fall in love with Henry Travers by the end of the film. Believe me when I say that. The cast is marvelous.

Where do I begin with the script? It's practically flawless because the film features a simple story and the entire film builds up to the final act. Frank Capra's script features classic dialogue that is both heartfelt and funny. One of ym favorite dialogue sequences involves George telling Mary that he'll lasso the moon for her. How romantic. I'm probably gonna use that line when I hit on girls. Frank Capra's direction is perfect as well. I want to explore this guy's filmography.

When I finished watching this, I came to realize why this has becomes a staple of Christmas. The film shows how wonderful your life can be and I think Christmas is probably the most perfect time of year to reflect on it. We learn from George Bailey and how he values his life. When the powerful moral hits us, we learn how we can imporve upon our lives. I like to reflect on what I did over the year around Chrsitmas time and this is the movie that accommodates that. Plus, it's at the very end of the year so it works perfectly. It's A Wonderful Life is a perfect movie with fantastic performacnes, build up, a nice score, and an amazing moral. Inspirational and enjoyable. Watching this movie is something I plan to make a Christmas tradition. A truly wonderful and beautiful movie. Go watch it now! And have a box of Kleenex in hand when you do.

Merry Christmas, RT Community!

"That's why all children should be girls."
Super Reviewer
December 17, 2011
They just don't make 'em like this anymore. Jimmy Stewart: the epitome of weakness and strength, goofy likability and romantic sweeper of feets.
Super Reviewer
January 13, 2011
Clarence: You've been given a great gift, George: A chance to see what the world would be like without you. 

"They're making memories tonight!"

How to even start to describe It's A Wonderful Life. I guess I should start with the biggest and most obvious detail; it is a complete masterpiece and probably the only Christmas masterpiece ever made. It is in a world all by itself when it comes to not only holiday films, but films in general. I'll make this bold statement here; while It's A Wonderful Life isn't my number one favorite film(definitely top 10), I still believe it to be THE best movie ever made. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind. Yeah The Godfather is great, sure 2001 is magnificent, but nothing touches this film. 

When it comes to storytelling, this is unmatched in its brilliance. Every time I watch this, which is every Christmas Eve, plus one or two more times during the year; I am astonished at how engrossed I am with every detail of the story. From the beginning where Joseph is showing Clarence George's life from when he was a kid to the final heartwarming scene, every detail is pure magic. Frank Capra and James Stewart are both not only on the top of their game with this one, but are out of this world. 

I'm sure you know the story as this is the most famous holiday film of all-time, but I'll touch on it slightly just in case. George Bailey takes on his father's business at a crummy little loan business. This isn't what George wanted for himself; he wanted to travel the world and build skyscrapers. Instead, he is carrying out his father's work, which is helping the people who would otherwise be taken advantage of by Potter. Things go very bad in George's life on Christmas Eve and he wishes he were never born. From there it is film history.

Never have I watched a movie where my emotions were on as hilly a ride as this. At one moment, you'll be laughing, then you'll just be enjoying the great character of George, the you'll be saddened, and ultimately you'll feel extreme joy. I can't think of a better shot to some up the Christmas season then the ending of this film, where George holds his youngest daughter Zuzu in his arm, with his wife by his side and the Christmas tree in the background while they all sing. If the ending of this movie doesn't make you feel good then there is something seriously wrong with you.

If for some reason you haven't seen this movie for any reason watch it as soon as possible. It doesn't matter if it is the Christmas season or not; just watch it. Definitely on the list must see movies.

Zuzu Bailey: Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings. 
Super Reviewer
November 5, 2006
Small town boy George Bailey dreams of making it big and travelling the world but finds himself trapped by a sense of duty to family and community. In his darkest hour, his mind turns to suicide which leads to the appearance of his guardian angel Clarence who gives him the opportunity to see how the world would be if he had never been born. It's A Wonderful Life is the very definition of the word "classic". James Stewart gives an appropriately wonderful performance as George, someone so selfless and devoted to his fellow man that you can't help but love him. He's not some one-dimensional do-gooder however, and it is sometimes easy to forget about the dark edge to the story; after all George often feels as if he's being held in Bedford Falls against his will. It's still typical Capra, in that it's a modern fable that shows a genuine belief in the innate goodness of man, and it does so with such infectious, innocent charm that even the most hard-bitten cynic cannot help but be swept away by it. It is the kind of engaging fantasy that just cannot be made without sincerity, and every year Hollywood attempts to milk its sentiment to fill its coffers and always fails for that very reason. One of those films I never tire of seeing, and is rightly considered to be one of the best films ever made.
Super Reviewer
January 4, 2011
Alright, so basically everyone raves about this one. While it's not flawless (no film ever truly is), it somehow holds up after all these years. Nevermind the specific details of the plot and time periods in relation to what year one views it in (in terms of datedness), what is on display is the type of thing where the message counts, not the little things.

I've seen this several times, but I watched it again recently and I began to feel odd about it. I began to root for Potter. That sounds very cynical, but I couldn't help it. It made me realize that this film is really, really sentimental, ALMOST to a fault. It takes the high road and happy ending, and the message is important, but still- Capra is the master of being almost too sugary.

I'm not docking this film any points though, because sometimes we need to have films like this. Plus, this is really well made, and it's hard not to find something enjoyable. The acting is quite nice, there's lots of humor, and the look and camera work are both great. The message is a good one, albeit maybe too easy and simple. I don't completely buy the unrealistic idea that as long as someone has friends they are not a failure.

Once again, that's my cynicism coming out. Perhaps George should have died. It would have been more realistic, but also it would have been perhaps too cruel. I do like that two of the characters are named Bert and Ernie though, that's pretty funny.
Super Reviewer
½ May 9, 2011
One of the greatest holiday films ever made.
Super Reviewer
November 13, 2011
Probably the most fully realized vision of what all Capra's films have running through them. This film will fill anybody with holiday spirit.
Super Reviewer
October 7, 2007
As near to perfection as film-making can get. It is blissful storytelling at its finest. The film confirms Jimmy Stewart as one of the greatest actors ever to have lived, he gives arguably the most memorable performance of his career as the reluctantly selfless hero George Bailey. The film has a powerfully beautiful screenplay, tender humour, fantastic performances and Capra's unforgettable direction. A special movie, comfortably in my top ten of all time.
Super Reviewer
August 18, 2011
Probably the greatest Christmas film in the history of Hollywood.
Super Reviewer
June 23, 2011
Exceptional film! One of my all time favourite films and a classic Christmas film! A must see!
Super Reviewer
½ January 4, 2007
A "wonderful", touching film, and a holiday classic!

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is perfect for Christmas day, but it's a fantastic movie that can be viewed anytime.

Frank Capra directs, and who better than Jimmy Stewart, a true movie star and a very talented actor, to portray the film's hero, George Bailey, while giving the best performance of his career.

I won't deny that at the end, I had some tears in my eyes.
Super Reviewer
½ May 6, 2009
yea i guess so. yea.
michael e.
Super Reviewer
December 25, 2010
This is by far my favorite Christmas movie of all time, no matter how I look at it, there is not one thing I hate about it. This Christmas movie defines what classic means in the movie world, it has great acting, great drama, great suspense, and a great and creative story, and the story now is a staple of Christmas. And i am not ashamed to admit this but I just don't like Black and white films, mainly because the color black and white isn't that lively of a color and when a movie is in black in white it just makes the movie boring and not fun or vibrant. Now Ive been proven wrong in the past, with the Felix the Cat silent cartoons, the Boris Karloff film "The Mummy," and of course "Persepolis," and this movie is no exception, in fact, id say that this is my 9th favorite movie of all time. And this is one of those movies that you watch and see if there is at least one flaw but can't find a single one and that's what makes this Christmas classic stand out among all of the Christmas classics. And here's a brief little fun fact, Frank Capra's great grandson Frank Capra III worked on the Michael Keaton Christmas movie "Jack Frost." And you know how they say He-Haw in the movie constantly, during an interview with Jimmy Stewart in his older years about "It's A Wonderful Life" he said that it was a practical joke that the cast pulled, to see how many times they could say it without Frank Capra noticing, That is Hysterical.
Super Reviewer
March 5, 2008
A classic holiday film that will remain special in everyones hearts forever :)
Super Reviewer
October 21, 2007
A bona fide classic. Definitely poses some crucial questions when it comes to asking what life is about and if we matter. James Stewart's extraordinary performance is the driving force behind this masterpiece, one whose ending is one of the more heart-rendering ones I can recall. Undoubtedly one of the best movies to watch around Christmas time, and one that captures the mood of a Depression ridden era in which the lead character in the story is conflicted, and never uninteresting.
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