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Is Anybody There? (2009)

tomatometer

65

Average Rating: 6.2/10
Reviews Counted: 114
Fresh: 74 | Rotten: 40

Though Michael Caine gives an excellent performance, Is Anybody There? features a cliche-filled story that ultimately falters.

55

Average Rating: 6.1/10
Critic Reviews: 31
Fresh: 17 | Rotten: 14

Though Michael Caine gives an excellent performance, Is Anybody There? features a cliche-filled story that ultimately falters.

audience

55

liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 5,749

My Rating

Movie Info

Set in 1980s seaside England, "Is Anybody There?" tells the story of 10-year-old Edward whose parents have turned their house into a retirement home. While his mother struggles to keep the family business afloat and his father copes with the onset of a mid-life crisis, Edward becomes increasingly obsessed with the ghosts and afterlives of the residents when they die. Edward's is a lonely existence until he meets Clarence, the latest arrival at the home, a retired magician and grieving widower

PG-13,

Drama, Comedy

Peter Harness

Nov 17, 2009

$2.0M

Big Beach Films - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (116) | Top Critics (31) | Fresh (74) | Rotten (40) | DVD (3)

Profoundly (and some would say pleasurably) formulaic, the film possesses scant cinematic energy, relying wholly on the familiar transformation of a grumpy old man into an infectiously weepy humanist.

September 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Michael Caine raises this odd-couple comedy to highly agreeable levels.

May 15, 2009
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The bravura acting is unsupported by a script that's content to settle for the dramatic equivalent of English comfort food, with moments of pathos and whimsy doled out like spoonfuls of dough and treacle.

May 15, 2009 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[A] funny and moving drama about the mysteries of the grave.

May 15, 2009 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There's a touch of magic at play here but it is of the understated variety, delivering a finale that is unexpectedly hopeful, moving and emotionally satisfying.

May 15, 2009 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Occasionally wistful, often melancholy but always charming.

May 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Is Anybody There? devolves into a predictable yarn about a boy and a grandfatherly figure - but adding Michael Caine to the mix means it's still worth your while.

November 16, 2009 Full Review Source: What Would Toto Watch?
What Would Toto Watch?

The talent and craftsmanship of "Is Anybody There?" is ample, but it remains uncertain whether there's anybody here still interested in this all-too-familiar story.

August 8, 2009 Full Review Source: indieWIRE
indieWIRE

Warmly lit and beautifully acted, but cynical enough %u2013 and chock-full of enough dark humor %u2013 to avoid what might have been unbearably schmaltzy.

June 15, 2009

Even when dealing with the supernatural, Caine is never less than a realist. Yet you can still see the boy in him. And in Milner, you can certainly see the man Edward will become.

June 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

It's a film that serves as a poignant reminder of how quickly time passes.

June 12, 2009 Full Review Source: The Australian
The Australian

Weighed down by a surrounding air of quirkiness.

June 12, 2009 Full Review Source: The Age (Australia)
The Age (Australia)

Michael Caine is always good company, but he's been saddled with the role of a slightly pitiful man whose life has been wasted... despite generally good performances the narrative arc is pretty obvious from the start.

June 10, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

Like a good number of films, 'Is Anybody There?' is saved from being a routine offering by the presence of Sir Michael Caine.

June 7, 2009 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

Strings together a series of sitcom situations, goes for easy laughs, and wastes some very fine actors as other residents in the home.

June 5, 2009 Full Review Source: MovieTime, ABC Radio National
MovieTime, ABC Radio National

This well crafted film is given resonance and purpose with layers and layers of detail that make the bittersweet climax all the more heartwarming.

June 5, 2009 Full Review Source: FILMINK (Australia)
FILMINK (Australia)

Caine and Milner go together like peas in a pod. Or, better yet, like bangers and mash. They're an odd couple, but they face life as one and it's a rewarding journey.

June 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Courier Mail (Australia)
Courier Mail (Australia)

With two direct and developed lead performances from Michael Caine and young Bill Milner, it seems unfair to watch their efforts wasted on an uneven, unsatisfying picture like the tear-jerker Is Anybody There?

June 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Dark Horizons
Dark Horizons

a quirky, sometimes schmaltzy British dramedy that mixes meaningful ruminations about growing old with broad black comedy

May 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Director John Crowley overestimates the comedic potential of daily life for the elderly and infirmed. Thankfully, the casual, unforced chemistry between Caine and Milner is strong enough to suppress Is Anybody There?'s cornie

May 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Herald Sun (Australia)
Herald Sun (Australia)

It wants so badly to be meaningful, relevant and compassionate, but struggles even to keep our attention, never mind our hearts or minds. Not even Michael Caine's slowly sinking geriatric Clarence or affecting young Bill Milner can elevate the material.

May 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

This is a film that presses many emotional buttons. In many ways it is a really sad film and certainly one that needs a wad of tissues.

May 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

I don't have any significant complaints about the film, but if I didn't see it I don't think I would have missed anything special.

May 21, 2009 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

What we have here is a three-and-a-half-star movie boosted into the realm of four-and-a-half stars on the strength of one person: Michael Caine.

May 20, 2009 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Worth seeing for Caine, who makes acting seem effortless, pleasurable and even noble.

May 19, 2009 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Audience Reviews for Is Anybody There?

I liked the overall idea of Is Anybody There? but I hated the direction. The performances were very good, maybe apart from David Morrissey but then his character is very badly written so I don't entirely blame him. Young Bill Milner is brilliant and really lifts the film, as do the elderly actors who play the residence of the old peoples home but unfortunately their screen time is limited. If you have hired the brilliant Leslie Phillips then why wouldn't you use him? The middle of the film turns into a convoluted farce and takes away any credibility the film might have had, it is purely the relationship between Michael Caine and Bill Milner that keeps the film alive. It is down to their performances rather than the writing though in my opinion. It is the tenderness between the two that really makes it worth seeing.
March 3, 2014
SirPant

Super Reviewer

Clarence: Now for those of you who have never before sat in a seance, there is absolutely nothing to be fearful of. Ghosts... are very friendly sorts.

I'll start by saying I got absolutely no enjoyment from watching Is Anybody There? outside of the central performance from Michael Caine. When Michael Caine can give a performance like this, and still not lift a movie over the hill, that is saying something. Caine is one of my favorite actors of all-time, so I'll watch anything he's ever been in. I mean I watched The fucking Swarm for godsakes. Is Anybody There? never gets anywhere in my opinion. It's predictable and annoying. The little kid in this one rivals any kid in movie history for me on the annoyance level. He's right there with that little fucker from Sleepless in Seattle. And when there's an annoying kid in a film, it just ruins the whole experience for me. He's the type of kid you just want to punch in the face.

Edward is growing up in a nursing home which his parents run. By seeing a lot of death early on in his life, he has grown obsessed with death and the afterlife. He has ghost drawings hanging on his wall, and he spends his time trying to talk to the spirits in his house. Clarence shows up to take a room in the nursing home, and although the two start off on wrong terms, the two quickly become friends. I wasn't really buying the whole friendship in this one. I thought it was poorly developed, and didn't resonate the same power as say the friendship between characters in a movie like Secondhand Lions. Overall, I was fairly unimpressed by everything that was going on in this one. I found very little to take away from it, other than more reassurance that Caine is one of the best actors ever. It's a rather boring, dull, and uneventful film. 
July 10, 2012
blkbomb
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Michael Caine's gift of a performance as a lifelong ladies man finally and miserably alone at the end of the line (and whatever ruminations you yourself might be inclined to ruminate on regarding the subject of waiting to die) is the draw here. There's a secondary plot about a youth's sad and forlorn coming of age in a retirement home, and how these two oddballs come to save each other.
July 8, 2012
ApeneckFletcher

Super Reviewer

A brilliantly profound yet sad film with a great cast. It truly touched me and although the story was fairly predictable it was Caine that made the character. Despite his bad actions you still felt for him as he was genuinely sorry for what he did. The themes they explored were difficult to watch. Incredibly sad and I think I'll only watch it if I feel sad already.
October 22, 2011
StarCrossedVoyager

Super Reviewer

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