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Alice's Restaurant (1969)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 1



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Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 3,591

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Movie Info

Intrigued by the counterculture tale of Arlo Guthrie's epic 1968 talking-blues record The Alice's Restaurant Massacree, director Arthur Penn, co-scripting with playwright Venable Herndon, adapted the song into the 1969 feature Alice's Restaurant. Hippie outsider Arlo (Guthrie, playing himself) encounters suspicion from the straight world; visits his dying father, renowned leftist activist/singer Woody Guthrie (Joseph Boley), in the hospital along with friend Pete Seeger; and hangs out in the

Jan 23, 2001

MGM Home Entertainment

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All Critics (16) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (10) | Rotten (5) | DVD (6)

[Penn] has transformed a charming shaggy-dog story into a melancholy epitaph for an entire era.

November 21, 2008 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Penn's genius overtakes the dropout romance, like a final post-bacchanal hangover that suggests liberation as an El Dorado dream.

November 12, 2008 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There are occasional flashes of wry humor and some rib-tickling sequences. But they are all too few.

May 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Brilliantly visualised.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Good work in a minor key.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's worth checking out for the marvelous look back at how the counterculture dropouts related to each other and to the straight older generation in the late 1960s.

July 8, 2011 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

To his credit, Penn refused to romanticize his subjects, and the film stands as a fairly accurate chronicle of the times.

November 21, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Penn's strong sympathy with the outsider and anti-Establishment stance comes across in a film that appealed to those who could identify with this communal hippie haven, but now seems too naive and distant.

November 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

Inspired by Guthrie's ballad, Arthur Penn's film is a summation of the anti-establishment, anti-Vietnam War generation, clinging to the ideal of a collectivist life in a Stockbridge commune.

February 10, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

This is one of those time capsule films - for that it is important

April 13, 2005
Blunt Review

Not nearly as good as everyone keeps telling you that it is.

April 1, 2003
Juicy Cerebellum

The movie hasn't improved any over the years, but fortunately this version has Arlo Guthrie supplying commentary, making the DVD worth some historical value for '60s junkies.

April 17, 2001 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews
Old School Reviews

In the end, the slap-dash narrative loses focus and credulity, particularly when the tale turns to the disintegrating relationship of Alice and Ray, and to an ill-developed subplot involving the ex-con drug addict Shelly.

March 22, 2001 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

...the film itself remains a pleasant, oddball, and highly diverting glimpse into one of the country's most confusing times.

January 1, 2000
Movie Metropolis

Audience Reviews for Alice's Restaurant

Very much of its decade, this sixties' iconoclastic film features the best of the folk era and also re-imagines a true story about the complications of morality in a Vietnam tinged landscape. The movie's premise is based on a true story from the life of lead character and guitarist Arlo Guthrie, who was arrested in 1964 for dumping in a ravine on Thanksgiving when the local dump was closed. His crime made him ineligible for service in Vietnam, which Guthrie found preposterous because the army's atrocities were much worse than his discretion. He wrote an 18-minute long song about the incident which became popular and led to this film being made. That gimmick sustains this in many people's minds as one of the more iconic films of the sixties because it speaks about the revolutionary spirit of that time, the atrocities of a war that would rage for another four years, and the free love attitudes of many young people at this time. Though many elements of the story were true, a large bit was fictionalized in order to stretch it to a longer runtime. Parts of this are entertaining, fluid, and show a lot about what made the sixties so important. Other times it becomes painfully clear that no one can act in this film, especially Arlo Guthrie. Each of these characters is painfully bland and the performances are very wooden. This film also can't decide whether it is a comedy or a dramatic biopic with leanings towards political revolution. This film is simply fueled by the paranoia and hatred from the war, and that last refrain in the song, and in this film, was very powerful and thought provoking. The problem is that the film is bogged down in extra bits that try to make it funny and strange, trying to build off the views of communes, flower power, and other sixties' staples when it accomplishes so much without it.
August 8, 2013

Super Reviewer

Yes it's an off beat off key kind of movie, but that's not always good. I thought this movie was pretty boring for the most part. Maybe that's because I'm not familiar with Guthrie's work outside of the film, but I think the movie could have been more cohesive and entertaining. Overall, it's okay, though.
December 12, 2010

Super Reviewer

One of those 'generational anthems' that's more endearing because it's a tad off key. Arlo Guthrie's semi-autobiographical homage to his father and his friends.
August 1, 2010
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Arlo does well, playing an observer, almost pure of heart; he deals with his own mortality in his father's death from Huntington's; a hippie idyll wise about the delicate equilibrium that keeps their way of life together
May 11, 2008

Super Reviewer

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