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Misery (1990)



Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 60
Fresh: 53 | Rotten: 7

Elevated by standout performances from James Caan and Kathy Bates, this taut and frightening film is one of the best Stephen King adaptations to date.


Average Rating: 6.7/10
Critic Reviews: 10
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 2

Elevated by standout performances from James Caan and Kathy Bates, this taut and frightening film is one of the best Stephen King adaptations to date.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 174,753

My Rating

Movie Info

Adapted from a Stephen King novel, Rob Reiner's Misery cast James Caan as a writer at a career crossroads. The film opens with Paul Sheldon (Caan) completing work on his latest novel, a break from his popular series of novels featuring the character Misery Chastain. He gets into a severe car accident and is saved by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), a reclusive woman who nurses him back to health. Annie is a huge fan of the Misery novels, and she finishes reading the new one while Paul is


Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense

William Goldman

Dec 22, 1998

Columbia Pictures

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All Critics (60) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (53) | Rotten (7) | DVD (18)

Bates turns Wilkes into the nastiest nurse to reach the screen since Louise Fletcher tormented Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

August 12, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Like any good work of popular culture, Rob Reiner's film of Stephen King's best-selling book Misery functions on more than one level.

August 12, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Popular moviemaking -- elegantly economical, artlessly artful -- doesn't get much better than this.

October 14, 2008 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Bates has a field day with her role, creating a quirky, memorable object of hate.

September 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A skillfully pared-down (if psychologically thin) horror thriller.

September 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Reiner captures just the right level of physical tension, but for the most part wisely emphasises the mental duels. Terrific.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Caan and Bates capture the movie's roguish spirit perfectly.

August 12, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Philadelphia Daily News

This all would have been perfect for a half-hour TV show or one of those horror anthology films. As it is, even the resourceful Reiner and Goldman are hard put to keep things going until the inevitable final clash.

August 12, 2013 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

Misery should be a big hit. It deserves to be.

August 12, 2013 Full Review Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

It's Kathy Bates' Oscar-winning turn as a smiling psychopath that still provides the film's cold, cold heart and makes for one of cinema's greatest, friendliest, monsters.

August 12, 2013 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Unfortunately, what could have been a seamless psychological thriller is interrupted by violence that's as gratuitous as it is sadistic.

August 12, 2013 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor

A quality film of suspense and manipulation.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Like Stand By Me, Misery can't help but broaden the audience for movies based on Stephen King's work.

July 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Georgia Straight

Director Rob Reiner creates an atmosphere of tense horror wrapped around rich dialogue ("Cockadoodie dirty birdie!"), and in the process, he gets sterling performances from Caan and Bates.

September 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Kathy Bates brilliantly portrays Annie as someone with absolutely no sense of her own monstrosity.

September 8, 2009 Full Review Source: Clothes on Film
Clothes on Film

Except for the flat, compromised ending, Reiner's smooth direction and Goldman's nicely structured script make this version of King's novella enjoyable as a horror flick and psychological thriller, not to mention Kathy Bates' superb turn as the wacko fan

October 8, 2007

The dark duet between Paul and the frankly psychopathic Annie is played to tense perfection.

September 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4

From start to harrowing finish, it is blissfully apparent that Rob Reiner can indeed turn his hand to virtually anything.

September 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Director Rob Reiner is clearly more comfortable with the humor and humanity than the gory horror in King's grisly tale.

September 25, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Rob Reiner builds Stephen King's tale with clean, effortless strokes.

June 30, 2007 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Sweat-inducing suspense thriller.

October 5, 2006

Audience Reviews for Misery

September 27, 2013
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

When it comes to adapting a Stephen King horror story, some films tend to miss the mark, and others deliver a tense, terrifying and ultimately bone chilling unforgettable experience. This is the case with the 1990 King adaptation of Misery. The film follows closely the story of the novel, and it's one of those rare screen adaptations that is well adapted from the novel. James Caan is excellent as Paul Sheldon, the imprisoned author held captive by Annie Wilkes played by Kathy Bates. Both are superb in their respective roles, and Kathy Bates is one of the most disturbing and memorable screen villains in horror history, and her performance is one of the standouts of the film. The film is a fine blend of psychological horror and psycho horror. This picture still delivers after all these years and is hard to match in terms of telling a truly chilling story. If you want one of the better Stephen King adaptation's, then give this film a shot. With a great cast, great directing and an engaging plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish, Misery remains of the defining genre films. This film has some truly intense scenes that are not for the faint of heart, and you simply can't turn away from Kathy Bates's performance that earned her a well deserved Oscar win. Like I stated earlier, King adaptations can sometimes be a little sketchy in terms of interesting material and effective plot, but Misery is a strong movie that is a must see for Stephen King fans looking for a well adapted film.
January 16, 2013
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

Wow, didn't know Kathy Bates had been acting this long....this and Dolores Claiborne are the best films I've seen her in...she's spectacular as the villain! James Caan is good also. Very suspenseful and full of thrills as you wonder if the famous author is ever going to escape. I'm a huge fan of Stephen King movies, and this shot to near the top of the my best-of list the first time I saw it!
October 22, 2011

Super Reviewer

Annie Wilkes: Now the time has come. I put two bullets in my gun. One for me, and one for you. Oh darling, it will be so beautiful. 

"Paul Sheldon used to write for a living. Now he's writing to stay alive."

Every time I watch Misery, I like it more and more. There's just so much talent involved here. First off, there's the source material from Stephen King. Misery is one of his finest stories. Then there's screenwriter William Goldman who does a good job of writing the story for the screen. Barry Sonnenfeld as cinematographer and of course Rob Reiner. Reiner knows how to make great adaptions of King's books; Stand By Me and Misery speak for themselves. And you can't forget about two stunning performances given by James Caan and Kathy Bates(who took home an Oscar for her psycho performance). There's just too much greatness for Misery to not be good.

As in many of King's stories, the protagonist is a writer. This time he is actually a successful one to boot. He has a long running franchise of Misery books, and he's just finished his last one. He is deciding to move on from Misery and decides to kill her off. While driving home from his regular writing spot in Colorado; he gets into a blizzard and crashes. "Luckily" for him, a nice woman, who just happens to be his number one fan, pulls him from the wreckage and takes him home. At first she seems like the nicest woman in the world, but she has an angry side and quite a past as well.

The movie works well in many genres. At times it is just a drama, then it's a thriller and it even has moments of pure horror. There are scenes of high tension. My favorite scene is where Annie leaves the house and Paul wheels himself around the house. As he explores, we see Annie getting closer and closer to home. What will happen? Well that is just part of that high tension.

Misery is regarded as one of the best King adaptions ever, and that claim is totally justified. Through the picture perfect pacing and the magnificent performances, we are shown the true brilliance of King's story just about as well as it could have been done. Kathy Bates plays a mood swinging psychopath to perfection. Her fits of rage are simply astounding. Caan does a good job in performance, where for the most part, he is either laying on his back or sitting in a wheel chair at a typewriter. 

While there's other King films I like more, this is still an all-time classic. Rich in character and in plot, it works like magic; putting in the viewer in the same helpless state that Paul is in. Misery is a must see.
October 21, 2011
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

    1. Waitress: Excuse me I didn't mean to interrupt but are you Paul Sheldon?
    2. Paul Sheldon: Yes I am.
    3. Waitress: I just want to let you know, I'm your number one fan.
    4. Paul Sheldon: That's very sweet of you.
    – Submitted by Christopher S (7 months ago)
    1. Annie Wilkes: I thought you were good, Paul. But you're not good. You're just an old dirty birdy.
    – Submitted by Christopher S (7 months ago)
    1. Paul Sheldon: Eat it till ya choke, you sick, twisted fuck!
    – Submitted by Adam O (15 months ago)
    1. Annie Wilkes: He didn't get out of the COCKADOODIE CAR!
    – Submitted by Tracey M (15 months ago)
    1. Annie Wilkes: He didn't get out of the COCKADOODIE CAR!
    – Submitted by Tracey M (15 months ago)
    1. Annie Wilkes: I call it 'operation hobble'.
    – Submitted by Matt S (21 months ago)
View all quotes (18)

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