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The History Boys (2006)



Average Rating: 6.4/10
Reviews Counted: 105
Fresh: 68 | Rotten: 37

While not quite having the impact of its original stage version, The History Boys nevertheless is a witty and involving school drama.


Average Rating: 6.5/10
Critic Reviews: 41
Fresh: 25 | Rotten: 16

While not quite having the impact of its original stage version, The History Boys nevertheless is a witty and involving school drama.



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Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 35,203

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Movie Info

An unruly collection of clever but crass Thatcher-era English high-school students seek to earn the scores needed to enroll in Oxford and Cambridge in director Nicholas Hytner and screenwriter Alan Bennett's screen adaptation of Bennett's Tony-winning play. The History Boys focuses on a group of eight students, all of them deemed by their overeager headmaster (Clive Merrison) to be the best and the brightest. Though they've been coddled by their humanities-loving instructor, Hector (Richard


Drama, Comedy

Alan Bennett

Apr 17, 2007


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All Critics (116) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (68) | Rotten (37) | DVD (13)

Taking a production pretty much intact from stage to screen robs it of its surprises. The cast seems to know what's coming, and so do we. There's not a single moment where you sense 'discovery' taking place.

December 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A funny thing happened to The History Boys on the way to the screen. The players are the same, the dialogue is pretty much identical, but the vibrancy of the play -- its exhilarating immediacy -- has been muted.

December 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
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The film becomes a sermonette on tolerance. But with its one-sidedness, it fails to practice what it preaches.

December 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The History Boys is a movie that asks questions like 'What is education really for anyway?' and asks them in an altogether witty, brainy way. It turns history into what it really is, the story of our lives.

December 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Detroit Free Press
Detroit Free Press
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Full of energy, ideas and fine acting.

December 21, 2006 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic IconTop Critic

...It's a rare pleasure to see a film that assumes literacy on the part of its audience.

December 15, 2006 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
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The play's the thing -- the only thing -- here

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source:

In attempting to absolve the perverse actions of a teacher on the basis of his apparent tutoring skills, Alan Bennett has created a dubious work of fiction that is beyond empathy or humor.

April 15, 2009 Full Review Source:

The History Boys is much less about lighting and composition than it is about Bennett's sharp, insightful script.

November 20, 2008 Full Review Source:

The transfer from stage to film doesn't always go smoothly, as it's hard to shake the film's theater roots.

December 19, 2007 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Movies, unlike plays, tend to be just about a very few things, or they feel rushed and overly sweeping, as this one occasionally did. Plays can linger and chew on their themes and keep the audience engaged much more easily.

September 2, 2007 Full Review Source: Cinerina

With the writing way above board and insights fueling the story forward with heart and bawdy comedy, "The History Boys" is amiably off-center, sure, but it finds its core and leaves its mark.

May 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

A hugely enjoyable outing of subtle humour, witty words and a keen insight into human nature and the art of learning.

April 28, 2007 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

[History Boys] is most potently about the love of teaching, and how the best teachers can help give meaning to existence; and if not meaning in the grand sense, at least an appreciation of what it means to be human.

April 23, 2007 Full Review Source:

What lifts this film above the average is the extremely clever, erudite and witty dialogue.

March 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

.. gentle and sweet, ..all the more charming for its faith in its presumptive audience. It's heartening to come across a popular entertainment ...not pitched at the dull normal demographic.

March 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

refreshing--a film that doesn't insult the audience's intelligence

January 24, 2007 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews

I was sad when school let out. The characters are so rich I wanted to spend more time with them.

January 17, 2007 Full Review Source:

It's too bad that the film loses its way because The History Boys asks some interesting questions about what to learn and how to use it.

January 2, 2007 Full Review Source: Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

In the world of movies, it's a rare treat to find anything as sophisticated and witty as Alan Bennett's screenplay.

December 28, 2006 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

The final delight of The History Boys is realizing that these charming young actors... will now graduate to new things.

December 27, 2006
Salt Lake Tribune

...despite all the earnestness...the characters and their tribulations never engage our sympathy or interest.

December 27, 2006 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

The unique duplication of stage cast to screen cast might be the most exciting thing about this conventional classroom exercise.

December 26, 2006

The dialogue in Bennett's script is more riveting than the situational developments.

December 23, 2006 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Nicholas Hytner (The Madness of King George and The Crucible) adapts Alan Bennett's hit play with the entire stage cast reprising their roles, and leans heavily on Bennett's sharp-witted dialogue and the school performances.

December 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Audience Reviews for The History Boys

Entertaining and humorous yet thought-provoking film with a wonderful cast and a brilliant soundtrack. Probably as far removed from reality as I am from Mars, but I don't mind.
February 14, 2012

Super Reviewer

I liked it better as The Dead Poets Society! This movie feels like an English transformation of The Dead Poets Society but at the end I do not want to stand on my desk a say, "Oh Captain, My Captain". It is not a pain or a bore to watch, but it just did not feel original.
December 18, 2010

Super Reviewer

Though the film lacks a central, driving conflict - a problem that we eagerly wait to be resolved - and its foray into a quickly abandoned sex scandal distracts from the best parts of the film, it is nevertheless an absolute pleasure to watch. The main characters are unflaggingly committed to the pleasures of the intellectual life, and the film replaces devotion of the "saving" teacher with a meditation on the question of intellect's usefulness. Headlined by Richard Griffiths's amazing performance, the cast is quite strong. This is surely a film to "pass on."
August 14, 2010
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Proficient but rather underwhelming adaptation of the stage play which had some implausible plot points and no flare. Well honed script and the context appealed to me though.
December 6, 2009
Gordon A

Super Reviewer

    1. Posner: Nothing saves anyone's life, sir. It just postpones their death.
    – Submitted by Justine Mari M (3 months ago)
    1. Dorothy Lintott: History is a commentary on the various and continuing incapabilities of men. What is history? It's women following behind with a bucket...
    – Submitted by Justine Mari M (3 months ago)
    1. Dakin: All literature is consolation.
    – Submitted by Anna C (8 months ago)
    1. Rudge: It's [history] just one fucking thing after another.
    – Submitted by Susan C (21 months ago)
View all quotes (4)

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