Opening

64% Hercules Jul 25
59% Lucy Jul 25
16% And So It Goes Jul 25
—— The Fluffy Movie Jul 25
89% A Most Wanted Man Jul 25

Top Box Office

91% Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes $36.3M
55% The Purge: Anarchy $29.8M
44% Planes: Fire And Rescue $17.5M
19% Sex Tape $14.6M
17% Transformers: Age of Extinction $9.8M
23% Tammy $7.4M
85% 22 Jump Street $4.7M
92% How to Train Your Dragon 2 $3.9M
49% Earth to Echo $3.3M
49% Maleficent $3.2M

Coming Soon

100% Guardians of the Galaxy Aug 01
—— Get On Up Aug 01
93% Calvary Aug 01
—— Behaving Badly Aug 01
46% Child Of God Aug 01

New Episodes Tonight

—— The Almighty Johnsons: Season 1
61% Crossbones: Season 1
82% Girl Meets World: Season 1
—— The Legend of Korra: Season 3

Discuss Last Night's Shows

25% Black Box: Season 1
100% Defiance: Season 2
40% Dominion: Season 1
41% Gang Related: Season 1
86% Maron: Season 2
56% Married: Season 1
94% Rectify: Season 2
39% Rush: Season 1
82% Satisfaction: Season 1
85% Welcome to Sweden: Season 1
41% Working the Engels: Season 1
77% You're the Worst: Season 1

Certified Fresh TV

85% The Bridge (FX): Season 2
83% Extant: Season 1
79% Halt and Catch Fire: Season 1
100% Masters of Sex: Season 2
73% Murder in the First: Season 1
97% Orange is the New Black: Season 2
97% Orphan Black: Season 2
82% Satisfaction: Season 1
87% The Strain: Season 1
85% Welcome to Sweden: Season 1
77% You're the Worst: Season 1

Awakenings (1990)

tomatometer

No Score Yet...

Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 3
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 0

audience

89

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 53,466

My Rating

Movie Info

Based on a true story as related by neurologist Oliver Sacks, Awakenings stars Robin Williams as the Sacks counterpart, here named Dr. Malcolm Sayer. Something of a klutz and naif, Dr. Sayer takes a job at a Bronx psychiatric hospital in 1969. Here he's put in charge of several seemingly catatonic patients who, under Sayer's painstaking guidance, begin responding to certain stimulati. Apprised of the efficacy of a new drug called L-DOPA in treating degenerative-disease victims, Sayer is given

PG-13,

Drama

Aug 28, 2001

Columbia Pictures

Watch It Now

Cast

ADVERTISEMENT

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.

All Critics (37) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (27) | Rotten (4) | DVD (3)

Maybe life affirming, but hardly life-changing.

January 15, 2012 Full Review Source: Projection Booth
Projection Booth

Nonfunny Robin Williams role in moving story.

December 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

A beautifully moving, life-affirming true story.

July 5, 2007
FulvueDrive-in.com

A potentially intriguing story, based on the actual experiences of Dr. Sacks, gets a characteristically middling, sentimental and uplifting from director Penny Marshall.

February 1, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Tour-de-force performances and one memorable storyline

March 10, 2005
Moviehole

I remember this film, which I saw 13 years ago, as a squishy article redeemed by two strong performances; I am not inclined to go back for a second opinion.

November 2, 2004
Nick's Flick Picks

Moving and over-sentimental - but Marshall's best film.

June 5, 2004 | Comment (1)
Shadows on the Wall

Solid medical drama. Williams is terrific in a straight role.

May 23, 2004
Nitrate Online

Utter goo.

August 14, 2003 | Comments (2)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Moving and well-acted.

May 20, 2003
Needcoffee.com

The beginning of Robin Williams' belief that being 'nice' equals cinematic brilliance. A mixed bag that received more acclaim than it should have.

March 25, 2003
Oz
Hollywood Bitchslap

A decent film that thinks it's more important than it actually is.

January 23, 2003
Flipside Movie Emporium

Pitch-perfect performances rescue a potentially melodramatic affair.

July 29, 2002
eFilmCritic.com

Celebrates the deep down joy of life and the healing exchange that can take place between doctor and patient when caring rather than curing is the main emphasis.

January 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for Awakenings

Touching...but not really moving. Well-acted.
June 7, 2013
cchclaw

Super Reviewer

Awakening to the world after thirty years, lost youth, the incomprehensible loss of who you were in contrast to who you could be in the future, is a heavy subject matter. Luckily we have the extraordinary efforts of actors Robin Williams and Robert De Niro to encapsulate the spectrum of human behavioral science and emotion. The aspects of the film that make it true are for certain the most astounding, drawing on the experiences of neurologist and author Oliver Sacks, who worked with catatonic patients from the 1917-1928 encephalitis epidemic. What is really very disturbing about the film, is watching fictionalized Dr. Malcolm Sayer come to the conclusion that these patients are in fact only sedate, and have the mental faculties to make a full recovery. This is both good news for their future state, and devastatingly horrifying to think of their mental prison for the past thirty years, trying to communicate with the broader world but being limited by their own body. We watch the good doctor bring back Leonard Lowe (De Niro), a child at the time of his crisis, and now a full grown man with the faculties of an infant. His transformation is subdued, nothing overall astounding about his awakening, since no one seems able to witness them when they happen. He wakes from sleep, recognizes that he's back with the tender joy of a child, and remembers the death of his former state, but not the events of the past thirty years. As the other patients also awaken, and their journey begins, we're fed the horror of wasted life, the principle of the film to drive you into living when others cannot. The premise was executed in a fairly original way, the acting was sincere and realistic for the otherworldly circumstances that developed from it, and everything is believable and neither sappy nor unenjoyable. It's only the longwinded approach to certain sections that keeps me from enjoying it through and through, the lack of true depression at the very end, only the possibility for Sayer to finally live now that he's seen the worst of unused potential. It's too bittersweet a taste for me when I've gone through the rigmarole of this film.
September 10, 2011
FrizzDrop

Super Reviewer

The last time I saw this was sometime in the early 1990s. but back then I didn't really get much out of it, nor do I really remember much of it. Rediscovering it recently has been a great joy

This is a remarkable and touching film that could have gone so many different ways, such as sappy melodrama, angry One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nestish anti-establishmentarianism, or what have you. There are elements of these things, but the film nicely finds a nice balance, and is probably all the better because of it.

This is a really good film, and I liked it a great deal, but I figured I would love it. That is not the case, but I'm not sure what it is that is keeping me from giving it a higher grade. Let's just call it a very high B+, because that seems like a great way to categorize it.

The performances are terrific. Again, like the film overall, the actors achieve a very nice balance, and avoid sending the wrong message, or overplaying it, espeically De niro and the other catatonics. It is so easy to make a wrong move playing a character such as that which demands sensitivity, yet still getting the point across. As Leonard, this seems to be one of De Niro's forgotten roles. That's a shame too, because he delivers a wonderful performance. Williams is also great as the doctor trying to reach him, as well as make a connection with the rest of the world, of which he has a hard time relating to. Julie Kavner is also really good as the nurse who is the closest to Williams's doctor.

This is going to sound really cynical, but it seems odd to me that this was a theatrical release. This is troubling because it seems to me like this kind of movie, if made today, would more than likely (for the most part) not be a theatrical film, and instead a tv-film for HBO or Showtime or something. I'm not knocking those productions, but it just seems sad to me that really good films like this aren't being made as much as they once seemed to.

Give this one a look, it's a heartwarming film that is touching, inspiring, yet not overbearing in its message.
The last time I saw this was sometime in the early 1990s. but back then I didn't really get much out of it, nor do I really remember much of it. Rediscovering it recently has been a great joy

This is a remarkable and touching film that could have gone so many different ways, such as sappy melodrama, angry One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nestish anti-establishmentarianism, or what have you. There are elements of these things, but the film nicely finds a nice balance, and is probably all the better because of it.

This is a really good film, and I liked it a great deal, but I figured I would love it. That is not the case, but I'm not sure what it is that is keeping me from giving it a higher grade. Let's just call it a very high B+, because that seems like a great way to categorize it.

The performances are terrific. Again, like the film overall, the actors achieve a very nice balance, and avoid sending the wrong message, or overplaying it, espeically De niro and the other catatonics. It is so easy to make a wrong move playing a character such as that which demands sensitivity, yet still getting the point across. As Leonard, this seems to be one of De Niro's forgotten roles. That's a shame too, because he delivers a wonderful performance. Williams is also great as the doctor trying to reach him, as well as make a connection with the rest of the world, of which he has a hard time relating to. Julie Kavner is also really good as the nurse who is the closest to Williams's doctor.

This is going to sound really cynical, but it seems odd to me that this was a theatrical release. This is troubling because it seems to me like this kind of movie, if made today, would more than likely (for the most part) not be a theatrical film, and instead a tv-film for HBO or Showtime or something. I'm not knocking those productions, but it just seems sad to me that really good films like this aren't being made as much as they once seemed to.

Give this one a look, it's a heartwarming film that is touching, inspiring, yet not overbearing in its message.
April 3, 2011
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Wonderful movie, with some truly phenomenal performances by Robert De Niro and Robin Williams. A story that builds quite slowly, but doesn't get boring for a single second, thanks to its beautifully written script and terrific acting. It was fun to see Julie Kavner (known best to the world as the voice of Marge Simpson) in one of the supporting roles. The film is also a proud moment for us Swedes, as two of our greatest actors are found within the cast; namely Max von Sydow and Peter Stormare. A pleasant surprise to be sure, even if their characters have minimal screen-time. But the real treat of this film is the very powerful and touching story, holding many goosebump-inducing moments and a fantastic pay-off. Being based on real-life events, also further increased that emotional magnitude. To make a comparison, it's got a lot of things in common with One flew over the Coocku's Nest, and is just as brilliant. Quite a mystery though that this one has received so little mention. Because it deserves to be seen, and certainly ranks as one of the greatest dramas ever made. A movie for the heart and soul, that will leave you deeply moved by the time the curtains go down and we say goodbye to its characters.
November 25, 2010
CloudStrife84
Mike S

Super Reviewer

    1. Dr. Malcolm Sayer: What we do know is that, as the chemical window closed, another awakening took place; that the human spirit is more powerful than any drug - and THAT is what needs to be nourished: with work, play, friendship, family.
    – Submitted by Chad E (2 years ago)
View all quotes (1)

Discussion Forum

Discuss Awakenings on our Movie forum!

What's Hot On RT

Cosplay Gallery
Cosplay Gallery

See all the Comic-Con Costumes!

Weekly Binge
Weekly Binge

Check out Boardwalk Empire

Historical TV Shows
Historical TV Shows

40 TV depictions of past eras

Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades of Grey

A masochistic trailer

Episode 33
Episode 33

The Leftovers recap

Foreign Titles

  • Despertares (ES)
Find us on:                     
Help | About | Jobs | Critics Submission | Press | API | Licensing | Mobile