Animal Factory - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Animal Factory Reviews

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Super Reviewer
January 23, 2009
Somewhat edgy, somewhat anticlimactic. Buscemi's directing is superb but his casting is hit & miss.
Super Reviewer
April 21, 2012
Earl Copen: Better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven. 

"On the Inside the Rules Are Brutal and the Stakes Are High"

Steve Buscemi can definitely direct. Animal Factory was his follow up to the very good character driven alcoholic drama, Trees Lounge. Like his debut, this film has a very gritty, independent feel to it. Animal Factory is also very character driven as well, and the performances are good across the board, especially Willem Dafoe; but would you expect any different. Edward Furlong is well cast as the new fish in the prison. His character stands out as a small, young, and inexperienced inmate, that is thrown into a prison with ruthless criminals. He is taken under the wing of a institutionalized convict named Earl. Earl shows him the ropes and helps him out of some situations that he wouldn't have been able to get himself out of. The great thing about Animal Factory is how it makes you like the criminals without inserting any doubt of their innocence or guilt. We like Earl because of how he helps Ron, despite the fact that he is a ruthless and drug addicted criminal. 

Animal Factory doesn't go out of its way to insert any added drama. It feels very held back, when lesser films may have chosen to insert dumb little subplots to make the viewer feel more at home. This is one of those movies you appreciate even more when you look at some of the other efforts from the genre. Where those movies go wrong, this one doesn't. It doesn't simplify or intensify any part of the plot in order to get reactions from the audience. This may put off some viewers, but I really respect movies that are try and succeed at doing just that. This is just a realistic portrayal of prison life, shot in a real prison, with real inmates. It can't get much more realistic than that. It isn't a Shawshank Redemption caliber film, but it is a damn good one. Entertaining and powerful, without being melodramatic or overblown.
Super Reviewer
July 12, 2007
Directed by Steve Buscemi, Animal Factory is a tough prison drama following young convict Edward Furlong as he is taught the ropes of life behind bars by institutionalized inmate Willem Dafoe. Its lack of either melodrama or sensationalism is admirable, and solid writing and good performances for the most part make this a worthy and interesting window onto the ins and outs of prison existence. Willem Dafoe and Danny Trejo are completely believable as the two hard bitten convicts who take Furlong under their wing. The message is that imprisonment may just mean that otherwise good kids who have made a mistake will be transformed into career criminals if they are surrounded by men who will do nothing but take advantage of them or teach them nothing but the "tricks of the trade". Unfortunately the weak link in the performance chain is Furlong himself, who doesn't really capture the transformation of character to get the point across. I also felt the ending was a little bit of anti-climax, but as a whole it's one of the better prison films I've seen and well worth a look for its more realistic approach .
Super Reviewer
½ August 2, 2008
Nothing new here. Entertaining, but not special. Prison sucks, join gangs or die, and escape at the end. Clean cut.
Super Reviewer
July 27, 2008
Not bad But it's a typical prison movie & has nothing special
Super Reviewer
February 25, 2015
This Steve Buscemi directed crime drama is not of the same calibre as say, Shawshank, but it offers some originality and is much more easily digestible.
Super Reviewer
September 6, 2007
Animal Factory is the second film directed by Boardwalk Empire Star, Steve Buscemi. The story is about what happens to a young guy who is convicted of a serious crime and sentenced to Federal prison. We've all seen Oz and other shows that take you inside, but this is different. In Animal Factory, you see prison from a totally new perspective, through the eyes of someone who is basically still a child. You see that even if you can figure out how to survive, you still witness untold horrors. Edward Furlong is very underrated and great as always. Willem Dafoe is also very good in what is an unusual role for him. The movie also has some great cameos, including Mickey Rourke as a drag queen claiming to have a vagina. It's clever, well written, and isn't what you expect from a prison movie.
Super Reviewer
May 31, 2012
I will never understand why this film got so much critical acclaim. Yes Dafoes performance was absolutely stunning everyone else was very rubbish especially furlong. I felt zero emotion from him whatsoever his character was annoying. Another major problem is that they make this sound like a very corrupt and Bad prison but yet they didn't show it. Yes there were scenes of violence and a scene of attempted rape but they didn't get in detail enough to make you feel it. All that Dafoes performance offered was to point out how bad the other performances were. It was plain and boring and I can't think of more than one thing I liked about. This movie does not get my recommendation.
Super Reviewer
July 14, 2008
Quite regular.
Super Reviewer
August 9, 2007
I found this film pretty boring. It mostly shows what life in prisons is like. If you want to see a good film like that, I'd say Shawshank Redemption is a way better option.
½ April 10, 2013
Edward Furlong plays a 12 year old prison inmate who bunks with Jan The Actress, who is a quite possibly the scariest character ever put on screen.

Also, Tom Arnold proves that he only needs to be in a movie for a total of 3 minutes, to completely ruin it.
January 11, 2013
Buscemi directs an average movie about a young man in prison. The cast is pretty good but there really is nothing new in Animal Factory. Its watchable and decent but hardly anything groundbreaking
November 17, 2012
Unfortunately, a stellar cast of seasoned actors doesn't compensate for the lack of a compelling story. Steve Buscemi delivers a realistic and authentic portrayal of surviving on the inside. Micky Rourke is unrecognizable and Eddie Furlong barely seems present until Tom Arnold tries to rape him. Well-made but nothing truly captivating.
November 13, 2012

Not as gritty as, let's say, AMERICAN ME or MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, but still engrossing. Great cast of characters and Mickey Rourke like I've never seen him, as Jan the Actress.
November 4, 2011
Good, but predictable. It didn't offer too many surprises. What it did offer was good acting which contributed to the portrayal of the different character types residing in and adapting to prisons.
½ October 30, 2010
Pretty good, the performances were great. And it was quite interesting to watch. Recommended to anyone who likes prison films.
½ December 24, 2009
Not all jail birds are the same, nor the movies about them. This was a well crafted movie with a solid acting base that kept me satisfied until the end.

Ron (Edward Furlong) a newbie in the world of convicts gets sentenced for the sale of drugs. While an inmate he meets a companion Earl (Willem Dafoe) who takes him under his wing and shows him the way of prison life. Together they portray the trials and tribulations of life on the inside. All there is left to do is to make it back out to freedom and life on the outside.

There is a good pace throughout this movie even though it is not a fast, intense or emotional one. Steve Buscemi did a great job keeping everything on track and consistent. Even though this was no Shawshank it was fun to watch. It did end a little abruptly for my liking but I can't have everything. The only thing I really didn't like was that they made it seem like a cakewalk in jail. Any one who has been in or has known someone who has served time will know that it sucks more than they portrayed.

While I wasn't dancing off my seat I was thoroughly impressed with this film. It kept me up watching at 2:30 A.M. and that sometimes is a feat in itself. If you enjoy prison films don't pass it up because this is a good one.
December 20, 2009
This is definitely one of the best overlooked prison movies out there today, and I mean seriously overlooked most people haven't even heard of it! Steve Buscemi directs this movie which was adapted from a novel by Edward Bunker, who himself spent most of his life in and out of prison. So we got a director who knows the business, a writer who's been to prison, a great assembled cast, and a very harsh and realistic look at prison which makes for a great movie for those of you who like to see the "behind bars" type of movies.
½ November 10, 2009
It was a bit anti-climatic. Needed to be jazzed up a little bit. Otherwisde, it was an excellent movie on prison life. Not to mention, scattered of weird cameos and charactors portrayed by B grade actors (Tom Arnold) and one A list actor (Rourke).
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