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The People Vs. Larry Flynt (1996)

tomatometer

81

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Critic Reviews: 16
Fresh: 13 | Rotten: 3

No consensus yet.

audience

80

liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 43,394

My Rating

Movie Info

"If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, then it'll protect all of you -- 'cause I'm the worst," declares Hustler Magazine publisher Larry Flynt (as played by Woody Harrelson) in the midst of one of his many court cases. Milos Forman's film follows Flynt from his childhood in Kentucky, where he made extra money for his dirt-poor family by selling the moonshine his father brewed, into adulthood as he manages a strip club in Cincinnati. While the club does middling business, the

R,

Drama, Comedy

Larry Karaszewski, Scott Alexander

Jan 1, 1998

Columbia Pictures

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All Critics (55) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (46) | Rotten (7) | DVD (12)

An exultant comedy of American repression and revolt.

June 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A brave, spectacularly entertaining -- and unexpectedly stirring -- account of Flynt's life that asks us to regard the publisher of Hustler magazine as an invaluable champion of our First Amendment freedoms.

June 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Newsweek
Newsweek
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One of the truly bizarre careers in recent American cultural life provides the source of tart and tasty amusement in The People vs. Larry Flynt.

June 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Woody Harrelson plays Flynt with energy, and Courtney Love does at least as well as his wife.

June 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

We're really celebrating Hollywood's freedom to create biographies of anyone, no matter how high or low on the social ladder, and still come up with the same banal characteristics, messages and conclusions.

June 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The exploitative misogyny of Flynt's output is never examined, the prurient hypocrisy and intolerance of his persecutors seriously overplayed, plus Larry and Althea's odd romance lacks bittersweet conviction.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Long after you've grown tired of his escapades, the scenes in which he and Althea support one another against the slings an arrows of outrageous fortune are touching and, ultimately, genuinely tragic.

June 30, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

The movie is a lot of fun for long stretches.

May 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

I sincerely hope The People Versus Larry Flynt goes all the way and wins the Academy Award.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Funny, fascinating, and maybe just a little unsettling.

September 15, 2005 Full Review Source: TheMovieReport.com
TheMovieReport.com

Great.

July 8, 2005

The screenplay, by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, is rich in detail and dialogue.

April 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

Proof that you can find patriotism in the most unlikely of places.

July 25, 2004 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

The latest movie from the great director Milos Forman is a sensational, irreverent docudrama. And, as they say in the porno trade, it's adult entertainment.

July 1, 2004 Full Review Source: Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

I dug it.

May 30, 2003 Full Review Source: Blunt Review
Blunt Review

Whitewashing the truth is a forgivable sin in the world of biopics, but to demean ideologies by remaining "balanced" is cowardly.

May 16, 2003 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Very entertaining.

May 5, 2003 Full Review
rec.arts.movies.reviews

It is a good film with good performances. The trouble is, it's about Larry Flynt.

March 27, 2003 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Harrelson's finest moment and Love's only moment.

February 8, 2003
Needcoffee.com

Leave it to a European sophisticate to make an inspirational film about America's demon prince of sleaze.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

Audience Reviews for The People Vs. Larry Flynt

Milos Forman's The People Vs. Larry Flynt is a stunning drama about Larry Flynt, and the founding of the now famous porno magazine Hustler. At the heart of its story is not only the rise of Flynt, but also the right to free speech, which makes this a well layered drama that tells a truly engaging story. With great performances by Woody Harrelson in the lead role, Courtney Love and Edward Norton, The People Vs. Larry Flynt is a well crafted movie that Forman manages to keep you engaged due to a well written script that really sucks you into its story. Forman is one of my favorite directors and his dedication to the genre of film has made him one of the finest directors in the medium. The film presents a very interesting topic, one that is scared for everyone that is disgusted at censorship. Even if you don't agree with what Flynt has done in terms of his profession, you can agree that it is up to yourself to decide what is in good taste and what is not. I won't state my personal beliefs on Larry Flynt, but the film here works very well because not only is it an interesting story that is well acted and entertaining from start to finish, but it holds the values of free speech at its core, and that's why it's such a compelling film. I really enjoyed the film, and thought that the performances were top notch, the direction was immaculate and that it was a well made picture that shouldn't be seen as just the rise of a porn entrepreneur, but as a picture display the beauty of free speech and how it comes to protect us due to the fact that we are free to choose certain things for ourselves. Milos Forman has had a great filmography, and this film is yet another strong film to add to it. The People Vs. Larry Flynt is a great drama that definitely shouldn't be missed.
December 20, 2013
TheDudeLebowski65
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

Highly engrossing biopic about the life and career of controversial porn mogul Larry Flynt. Besides the man in focus, it's also a story that depicts the struggle for one of the most fundamental corner stones in any given democracy: the right to free speech and publication. We follow Larry through his successes and failures, and the playboy (or rather to say Hustler) lifestyle that ultimately drives him into some serious conflicts with both his inner circle and official opponents. Superlative performance by Woody Harrelson, who does the title role so well, you'd think he was born for the job. I was also pleasantly surprised by Courtney Love, who is exceptional as his devil-may-care girlfriend. Granted that she pretty much plays herself, what with the drug addictions and all, but she still deserves an eulogy for her impressive acting. There's a lot of sex and nudity in the film, as can be expected, but nothing I'd label as gratuitous or redundant in any way. Rather, it serves a motivated purpose, while simultaneously treating us to some R-rated delights. Be sure to keep your eyes open for a cameo by the real Larry Flynt, who ironically plays a judge who is anything but dispositioned on letting his fictional self off the hook.
November 22, 2011
CloudStrife84
Mike S

Super Reviewer

Quite a powerful film in regards to the First Amendment which gives us the right of free speech and press which is exactly what this film revolves around.
It is the story of Larry Flynt's pornographic films and magazines; most notably Hustler which really made him the entrepreneur he is. Flynt loses the use of his legs due to an assassination attempt confining him to a wheelchair.
Woody Harrelson stars as Larry Flynt and turns in a fine piece of character work. The brilliant Edward Norton portrays his lawyer Alan Isaacman which allows for first rate acting on both counts. And I must mention Courtney Love's brilliant portrayal of Flynt's drug addicted wife Althea.
I think one thing that gives this film it's strength is that it proves the point of the industry that is often frowned upon, but is within the rights of every citizen should they wish to be involved in it.
"If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, it'll protect all of you- 'cause I'm the worst." Larry Flynt
November 12, 2011
yona71

Super Reviewer

Thios is a biopic about the life, career, and mostly, the legal troubles of Hustler Magazine publisher :Larry Flynt. Say what you will about the man's personal life, antics, and the business that he is a part of. You don't have to like the man or what he does (even his attorney admits he doesn't care for pornography), but you cannot deny that he made some important contributions to American spciety by giving people jobs, but more importantly fighting for basic constitutional rights.

Like everything, there is a bias here that favors Flynt, and makes him out to be a rather sympathetic guy. The film also takes liberties as expected, but overall, this is more about ideas, concepts, and principles, than the story of a man who went from being a bootlegger as a kid to one of the biggest proprietors of smut. All of that is in this film of course, but Milos Forman and the writers put more focus on the former than the latter, as I think they should. I am disappointed that they might have been too sympathetic and less acknowledging of Flynt's less savory side, but they don't completely ignore it. Also, even with an R rating, they could have gotten away with showing just a tad more of the risque stuff that made Flynt legendary.

The real Larry Flynt, when asked who he thought should play him responded with Michael Douglas. His wish was not granted, but Woody Harrelson does a pretty good job, even if he's not a complete ringer. He's the focus, but he's backed by a notable cast including his real life brother as Flynt's brother, Courtney Love (who is surprisingly pretty good) as his troubled (4th) wife Althea, whom he realy truly did love, Edward Norton as his attorney Alan Isaacman, as well as bit parts fulfilled by Vincent Schiavelli, Crispin Glover, and James Cromwell.,

As stated, Woody is really good, Love is good, Norton is pretty decent, and the bit players are good, albeit underfocused on. I don't know if all of the trials Larry Flynt went through are featured here, but it covers some major ones, most significantly Hustler Magazine V. Falwell in which televangelist Larry Falwell sued Flynt over an unflattering albeit satirical parody that suggested Falwell lsot his virginity to his mother in an outhouse. Since this is a fairly well known case, I don't think I'm really spoiling it by saying who won considering the verdict is quite a landmark and is more significant than maybe most people realize or are aware of...it was Flynt.

With the content of the film and the ideas that are being defended therein, it really didn't move me. They were preaching to the choir. I agree wit hsome of what Flynt fought for, and I actually do have respect for the man, though he really isn't the savoriest of people. I've seen interviews with the real Larry, and despite what he does, he is a rather classy and smart guy. It doesn't seem that way in the movie (at least hardly ever), but hey, this is entertainment, not a documentary.

You should give this a look. It's got good performances, capable direction, a decent script and is just a joy to watch.
October 25, 2011
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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