• R, 2 hr. 6 min.
  • Comedy
  • Directed By:
    Brian DePalma
    In Theaters:
    Dec 21, 1990 Wide
    On DVD:
    Nov 6, 2001
  • Warner Home Video


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53% This Is Where I Leave You Sep 19
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The Bonfire of the Vanities Reviews

Page 1 of 3
Roger Hurlburt
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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.

Full Review Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

June 28, 2013
Paul Schrodt
Slant Magazine

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.

Full Review Source: Slant Magazine | Original Score: 3.5/4

September 10, 2006
Chuck O'Leary
Fantastica Daily

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

| Original Score: 2.5/4

January 24, 2006
Ken Hanke
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

It's botched, but it's more interesting than assumed.

| Original Score: 3/5

November 20, 2003
Fred Topel

Not as bad as originally thought upon reflection. Somewhat compelling story of media manipulation. Nothing huge, but better than remembered.

| Original Score: 3/5

July 14, 2003
Alex Sandell
Juicy Cerebellum

I thought it was an alright movie. The people that hated it hated it because they loved the book.

| Original Score: 3/5

May 30, 2003
Christopher Smith
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

| Original Score: 3/5

October 11, 2002
Philip Martin
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

| Original Score: 3/5

July 26, 2002
Jay Boyar
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel | Original Score: 3/5

June 28, 2013
Ralph Novak
People Magazine

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

Full Review Source: People Magazine

June 28, 2013
Gary Thompson
Philadelphia Daily News

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.

Full Review Source: Philadelphia Daily News | Original Score: 1.5/4

June 28, 2013
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What a mess.

Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer | Original Score: 1.5/4

June 28, 2013
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
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On film, Bonfire achieves a consistency of ineptitude rare even in this era of over-inflated cinematic air bags.

Full Review Source: Rolling Stone

June 28, 2013
John Hartl
Seattle Times
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.

Full Review Source: Seattle Times | Original Score: 2.5/4

June 28, 2013

TV Guide's Movie Guide

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.

Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide | Original Score: 1.5/4

June 28, 2013
Sheila Benson
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Certainly Wolfe's canvas might lend itself to a broad approach, but broad like Dr. Strangelove, not broad like the Three Stooges.

Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Original Score: 1/5

June 28, 2013


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.

Full Review Source: Film4

June 28, 2013
David Sterritt
Christian Science Monitor

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.

Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor

June 28, 2013
Gene Siskel
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film was cast wrong and written shallowly.

Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune | Original Score: 1.5/4

June 28, 2013
Stephen Hunter
Baltimore Sun

Call it Bonfire of the Calamities.

Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun | Original Score: 1.5/4

June 28, 2013
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