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The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)



Average Rating: 4.2/10
Critic Reviews: 13
Fresh: 0 | Rotten: 13

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 2.6/5
User Ratings: 11,936

My Rating

Movie Info

Brian De Palma's Hollywood sanitization of Tom Wolfe's scabrous satire stars Tom Hanks as Sherman McCoy, the "master of the universe," a shallow Wall Street investor who makes millions while enjoying the good life and the sexual favors of Maria Ruskin (Melanie Griffith), a Southern belle golddigger. Sherman and Maria are driving back to Maria's apartment from the airport when Maria takes a wrong turn on the expressway and the two find themselves in the South Bronx. She sees a black youth



Nov 6, 2001

Warner Home Video

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All Critics (50) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (8) | Rotten (42) | DVD (5)

If you're interested in a faithful visual adaptation of Wolfe's novel, be assured that this isn't it.

June 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What a mess.

June 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
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On film, Bonfire achieves a consistency of ineptitude rare even in this era of over-inflated cinematic air bags.

June 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If you loved Wolfe's book, you may very well hate the movie. If you simply liked the novel, you may be simultaneously entertained and disappointed by what De Palma and Cristofer have done to it.

June 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
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Certainly Wolfe's canvas might lend itself to a broad approach, but broad like Dr. Strangelove, not broad like the Three Stooges.

June 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film was cast wrong and written shallowly.

June 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Brian DePalma lapses into idle, slapsticky digressions. You don't get angry at what he's attacking, or defensive; you just get weary.

June 28, 2013 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

Tom Wolfe's widely read satire becomes a tedious farce, turning one of the year's most anticipated movies into one of the most disappointing.

June 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Philadelphia Daily News

Brian DePalma`s The Bonfire of the Vanities is a perfect example of how a best-selling book can be carefully altered, perceptively pruned and converted into an intriguing motion picture.

June 28, 2013 Full Review Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Reduced to pure plot, the narrative is not so much a sendup of 1980s hypocrisy as an orgy of banal, juvenile mean-spiritedness. The irony of Wolfe's book becomes shrill, screaming sarcasm, unpleasant, and, worse, unfunny.

June 28, 2013 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

In this heavy-handed and uneven treatment, De Palma drains Tom Wolfe's original story of its humour, and must shoulder the blame for its failure.

June 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Film4

Even as they've smoothed the novel's rough edges... the filmmakers have tried to cram a maximum number of its incidents into about two hours of screen time. This gives the picture a hectic pace that adds to its feeling of weightlessness and unreality.

June 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor

Call it Bonfire of the Calamities.

June 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Sun

Has more embarrassing moments than good ones.

April 8, 2009 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Ugh, what a dog.

September 4, 2008

De Palma's characterizations may not have the subtle tongue-in-cheek wit of Tom Wolfe, but his version of the story is both more comic and angrier for it.

September 10, 2006 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

An interesting failure that's not as bad as its reputation. Speaks a lot of truth, but the tone is too broad.

January 24, 2006
Fantastica Daily

Audience Reviews for The Bonfire of the Vanities

Bonfire of the Vanities is not the tumbling shit-fest you've been told it is. In fact the film is pretty funny and shot really nicely. It's not without it's flaws, Hanks is a bit mis cast and Kim Cattrall is downright terrible. It's no American Psycho, but if you're in the mood for a bit of 80's satire, I'd say check it out.
April 5, 2011

Super Reviewer

In no way is it the disaster that most people claim it to be. In fact, itā??s actually a very well done criticism of the 80s yuppie lifestyle as well as racism, sex and politics. You have to feel sorrow for Tom Hanksā?? Sherman McCoy, who accidentally gets himself into the biggest scandal of the time. While he might be prejudiced, in no way does he deserve to be put through all the anguish that he is subjected to. I love the idea of the Jewish District Attorney trying to win the minority vote by charging an innocent man as well as his assistant who has no shame in getting all the false evidence he can gather. Melanie Griffith was amazing as an incredibly over the top seductress and Bruce Willis plays a great drunk. Brian De Palma does a great job creating a captivating set of shots that are both original and fun to watch.
March 30, 2010

Super Reviewer

Tom Wolfe's novel has been shaped into a trivial, cartoon-style movie by director Brian De Palma. This savage comedy is ridiculous and worst film with Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith I ever saw as well as their characters aren't very interesting.
December 17, 2007
Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

From Brian De Palma comes the satirical comedy The Bonfire of the Vanities. Based on an acclaimed novel, the story follows a Wall Street bond trader who's involved in a hit and run accident that becomes sensationalizes by a muckraker journalist. The cast includes Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith, and Morgan Freeman, who all give solid performances. However, the tone of the film is inconsistent, as is the humor; it's not dark enough to be a dark comedy and it's not goofy enough to be a screwball comedy. Yet The Bonfire of the Vanities delivers some good laughs and is an enjoyable film overall.
March 1, 2013
Dann Michalski

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Fegefeuer der Eitelkeiten (DE)
  • Le būcher des vanités (FR)
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