On the Road Reviews

Top Critic
Tom Long
Detroit News
March 22, 2013
It's not a wreck of a movie; it's not a sleek race car either. But there's heat to be felt here.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
March 22, 2013
Walter Salles's warm but strangely staid adaptation of a piece of literature that was never meant to be tamed as cinema.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
March 21, 2013
"On the Road" is something of a sprawling mess, but then so is the novel.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
March 21, 2013
It took more than half a century, but Jack Kerouac's autobiographical cult novel of bohemian youth in postwar America has reached the screen in wonderful form.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
March 21, 2013
Against all odds, a surprisingly effective movie.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
March 21, 2013
In Salles, screenwriter Jose Rivera and company's effort to get the details right, they only get so far. And it's not quite far enough.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
March 21, 2013
Director Walter Salles' film is fairly faithful to the source material. It's not going to start a movement, though.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
March 21, 2013
Notwithstanding the characters' spiritual camaraderie, Salles' emphasizes the hard physical labor and loneliness in Sal's story, including the jittery rigors of the writing process.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
March 21, 2013
Although Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" has been praised as a milestone in American literature, this film version brings into question how much of a story it really offers.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
March 21, 2013
While Kerouac's odyssey lacks conventional narrative or novelistic beats (though it comes with plenty of the other kind), the restlessness of the prose has its own cinematic allure.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
January 18, 2013
Sorry, On the Road just doesn't travel well.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
January 17, 2013
The film is a handsomely photographed and competently cast work that does justice to Kerouac's concept of "the purity of the road." Yet there's still something maddeningly lacking about it.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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David Denby
New Yorker
January 14, 2013
A pleasant but undistinguished adaptation of Jack Kerouac's 1957 novel about himself and his Beat friends in the late forties.
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Richard Roeper
Richard Roeper.com
January 4, 2013
Well-intentioned and well-made but self-indulgent exercise tries really hard but falls short.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5
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Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
December 24, 2012
If there were an On the Road museum, this could be the elaborate diorama at its center.
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
December 21, 2012
It's neither the first nor the best road trip that Mr. Salles has brought to the screen.
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
December 21, 2012
It's all rather exhausting, as opposed to exhilarating.
Full Review | Original Score: C
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
December 21, 2012
There's no madness here, no burning, no desperate search for transcendence, no sense of characters on a heroic, continent-crossing quest. Just another sticky, stinky story of boys, being boys. And refusing to become men.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Kyle Smith
New York Post
December 21, 2012
What's best about the film are its quick jumps from one depravity to the next as jazz rambles on the soundtrack: Youth is a candle to be burned at both ends, with (as it was once said about Bob Dylan) a blowtorch in the middle.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Elizabeth Weitzman
New York Daily News
December 20, 2012
Salles has made an admirable effort, which - while no roman candle - can be appreciated for its honest ambitions.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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December 20, 2012
On the Road is not a great movie, but it's a pretty interesting work of literary criticism.
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Alonso Duralde
TheWrap
December 20, 2012
Audiences may find reliving their own travel experiences during On the Road, enjoying the pretty scenery between the occasional nap and restroom break.
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Stephen Holden
New York Times
December 20, 2012
It all seems - dare I say it? - of little consequence.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
December 20, 2012
Salles has lovingly crafted a poetic, sensitive, achingly romantic version of the Kerouac book that captures the evanescence of its characters' existence and the purity of their rebellious hunger for the essence of life.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Noel Murray
AV Club
December 20, 2012
They don't seem like real people savoring their youth, but rather like illustrations in a book about how the Beats behaved.
Full Review | Original Score: C
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Jake Coyle
Associated Press
December 19, 2012
In the end, ''On the Road'' remains paved over.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Glenn Kenny
MSN Movies
December 19, 2012
This, and a certain lack of what one could call narrative thrust, makes 'On the Road' a strange, diffuse experience, offering occasional glimpses of genuine beauty ...
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Keith Uhlich
Time Out
December 18, 2012
Mostly feels like a group of Kerouac devotees performing a lifeless reenactment of prose that was better left on the page.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Nick Pinkerton
Village Voice
December 18, 2012
Another "primitive" postwar antique repurposed for boutique sale.
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
December 18, 2012
A dash of Tarantino might have juiced up Walter Salles' wrongheadedly well-mannered take on Jack Kerouac's 1957 Beat Generation landmark. On the Road feels tight and constricted.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
September 7, 2012
What's ultimately wrong with On The Road is that the film envisions everyone Sal meets as nothing but fodder.
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Jordan Hoffman
Film.com
September 7, 2012
a respectful, tuned-in approach
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Jon Frosch
The Atlantic
May 30, 2012
Salles brings evocative images, fresh faces, and some fine emotional shadings to the famous tale of friendship, love, sex, drugs, jazz, literature, and the American landscape.
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Scott Tobias
AV Club
May 25, 2012
All that's missing is Kerouac's voice -- the reason the book is worth reading.
Full Review | Original Score: C+
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Justin Chang
Variety
May 23, 2012
Despite the high level of craft here, it's an inadequate substitute for the thrilling, sustaining intelligence of Kerouac's voice.
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Manohla Dargis
New York Times
May 23, 2012
Salles, an intelligent director whose films include "The Motorcycle Diaries," doesn't invest "On the Road" with the wildness it needs for its visual style, narrative approach and leads.
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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
May 23, 2012
What he doesn't give us - and what makes the book work - is Kerouac's bedazzled bohemian swoon. Without it, On the Road is a curiously remote experience, all reason and no rhyme.
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Dave Calhoun
Time Out
May 23, 2012
The rebel yell of 'On the Road' now sounds muted and even a little embarrassing.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Todd McCarthy
Hollywood Reporter
May 23, 2012
While the film's dramatic impact is variable, visually and aurally it is a constant pleasure.