Burn After Reading (2008) - Rotten Tomatoes

Burn After Reading (2008)



Critic Consensus: With Burn After Reading, the Coen Brothers have crafted another clever comedy/thriller with an outlandish plot and memorable characters.

Movie Info

At the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in Arlington, Va., analyst Osborne Cox arrives for a top-secret meeting. Unfortunately for Cox, the secret is soon out: he is being ousted. Cox does not take the news particularly well and returns to his Georgetown home to work on his memoirs and his drinking, not necessarily in that order. His wife Katie is dismayed, though not particularly surprised; she is already well into an illicit affair with Harry Pfarrer, a married federal marshal, and sets about making plans to leave Cox for Harry. Elsewhere in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, and seemingly worlds apart, Hardbodies Fitness Centers employee Linda Litzke can barely concentrate on her work. She is consumed with her life plan for extensive cosmetic surgery, and confides her mission to can-do colleague Chad Feldheimer. Linda is all but oblivious to the fact that the gym's manager Ted Treffon pines for her even as she arranges dates via the Internet with other men. When a computer disc containing material for the CIA analyst's memoirs accidentally falls into the hands of Linda and Chad, the duo are intent on exploiting their find. As Ted frets, "No good can come of this," events spiral out of everyone's and anyone's control, in a cascading series of darkly hilarious encounters.more
Rating: R (for pervasive language, some sexual content and violence)
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Directed By: ,
Written By: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
In Theaters:
On DVD: Dec 21, 2008
Box Office: $60.3M
Focus Features - Official Site


George Clooney
as Harry Pfarrer
Frances McDormand
as Linda Litzke
John Malkovich
as Osbourne Cox
Brad Pitt
as Chad Feldheimer
Tilda Swinton
as Katie Cox
Richard Jenkins
as Ted Treffon
Elizabeth Marvel
as Sandy Pfarrer
David Rasche
as CIA Officer
J.K. Simmons
as CIA Superior
Jeffrey DeMunn
as Cosmetic Surgeon
Olek Krupa
as Krapotkin
Kevin Sussman
as Tuchman Marsh Man
J.R. Horne
as Divorce Lawyer
Pun Bandhu
as Party Guest
Karla Mosley
as Party Guest
Richard Poe
as Stretching Gym Patro...
Dermot Mulroney
as Star of 'Coming Up D...
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Burn After Reading

Critic Reviews for Burn After Reading

All Critics (228) | Top Critics (49)

It might be the same old song, but I could watch these guys play it over and over again.

Full Review… | October 21, 2014

Seldom has a comedy about such thoroughly dumb individuals been so engaging, or so insightful.

Full Review… | July 15, 2014

A comedy so stupid, it doesn't realise it's a comedy. If intelligence is relative, then ignorance is bliss.

Full Review… | October 14, 2012

A quirky tale of lust, greed, vanity, idiocy and ineptitude that spreads its giggly ripples through the bureaucratic buildings and leafy suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Full Review… | September 28, 2011
American Profile

A month from now you'll have forgotten all about it.

Full Review… | August 15, 2011
East Bay Express

Coen fans will also enjoy their distinct brand of whip-cracking dialogue, which is almost musical in its rhythms.

Full Review… | July 14, 2011
Digital Spy

Audience Reviews for Burn After Reading

This film is just fun and funny. A Coen Bros classic that can't be missed. The characters are expertly drawn and the alluring, winding plot is enjoyable. Great performances from the entire cast. Possibly the least dark Coens' movie.

_kelly .King

Super Reviewer

Another fantastic outing for the Coen Brothers whose quirks and kookiness add charm and additional laughs with repeat viewings. Featuring outstanding work from an all-star cast, the Coen Brothers craft memorable characters and situations that will stick with me forever. I haven't laughed as hard as I do at any other movie in recent memory. The plot is ludicrous and hysterical in equal measure and has the right amount of stupid and smart to work. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I consider Burn After Reading a dark comedy masterpiece.

Josh Lewis

Super Reviewer

An insanely hilarious melange of comedy and thriller as one would imagine from the Coen Brothers, with a bizarre story full of characters who are stupid beyond comprehension and great performances by its whole cast, especially Brad Pitt stealing the scene.

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer

Burn After Reading Quotes

CIA Superior: What do we learn, Palmer?
Chad Feldheimer: I dont know sir.
CIA Superior: I don't fucking know either.
Chad Feldheimer: I guess we learned, not to do it again.
Chad Feldheimer: Yes sir.
Chad Feldheimer: I'm fucked if I know what we did.
– Submitted by Directors C (3 years ago)
Chad Feldheimer: I am very surprised that he did not give us that reward!
– Submitted by Moe J (3 years ago)
Chad Feldheimer: Secure your shit.
– Submitted by Cornelius H (4 years ago)
Linda Litzke: Dribble? Dribble?
– Submitted by Tim M (4 years ago)

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