Critic Consensus: A so-so documentary about a fascinating personality, Salinger has moments of insight but is too often bogged down by reenactments and a lack of attention to the man's actual writings.
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Critic Reviews for Salinger
Salinger triumphs, though, as an absorbing portrait of a singular man of mystery.
Too bad that Salinger offers no real insight into the elusive writer and is fueled almost entirely by trivial anecdotes.
The movie has a shallow, paparazzo literalism. It just wants to catch the legendarily reclusive Salinger getting into a Jeep.
Where Salinger succeeds is in the gripping section on World War II, and in the exquisite, often melancholy details in the stories told by the likes of Joyce Maynard.
The treatment of J.D. Salinger's writing in this overwrought documentary is so inflated and pompous it comes as a relief when Judd Apatow shows up to describe The Catcher in the Rye as a funny book filled with great lines.
Audience Reviews for Salinger
It's not often that I see a documentary that isn't very good, but it's unheard of for a documentary to be so completely at odds with the message it tries to impart! A film that in turn idolizes Salinger in an almost creepy fashion and would have him rolling in his grave, "Salinger" is a phony mess, filled with manipulative music and swooping camera angles of what appears to be stock footage. Yet it is thorough in tracing his career, isn't afraid to question the man, and does end up imparting some interesting food for thought. Unfortunately, even if the documentary was not pretentious, and ultimately a commercial for books that Salinger may or may not actually have given permission to publish, it simply isn't well-made. Your average History Channel doc, or in other words, frustratingly disappointing.
2/3 of the documentary on reclusive author J.D. Salinger is engaging and fascinating learning about how J.D. grew to become a writer, join the army and his early failures in love. However, the latter third of the film drifts into tabloidish filmmaking with overdramatic music, silly editing tricks and unnecessary graphics that appear to be something out of TruTV or our modern-day "news" outlets, not an actual documentary.
I kinda have to agree with the critics who criticized it... It could have been better. But I'm still glad it was made.
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