The Singing Detective (2003) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Singing Detective (2003)



Critic Consensus: Delightful performance from Robert Downey Jr. can't save The Singing Detective's transition from TV to the big screen.

Movie Info

Dan Dark gives new meaning to the term "scars of childhood." A hack writer of detective stories, he has suffered from psoriatic arthropathy, a crippling disease of the skin and bones, from the time he was eight-years-old. His latest and worst outbreak has landed him in the hospital where he deliriously tries to figure out who he is and how he got to this terrible place in his life. His fevered mind mingles real people with his fictional characters, and his past with his present. As his condition grows more desperate, he is dispatched to the charge of the eccentric psychiatrist Dr. Gibbons. Initially reluctant to confront his tortured past, Dark is gradually lured out from the "cave in the rocks" under which his spirit has crawled. Dark is visited in the hospital by his ex-wife, whom he fears his sleeping with a character from his past and conspiring to steal the screenplay he wrote years ago of his first novel, The Singing Detective. But nothing is exactly what it appears here. In his hallucinatory state, Dark re-imagines the plot of his novel, casting himself in the starring role of a gumshoe who doubles as a singer in a dance band.more
Rating: R (for strong sexual content, language and some violence)
Genre: Drama, Musical & Performing Arts, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Dennis Potter
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 23, 2004
Box Office: $0.3M
Paramount Pictures - Official Site


Robin Wright
as Nicola/Nina/Blonde
Mel Gibson
as Dr. Gibbon
Jeremy Northam
as Mark Binney
Katie Holmes
as Nurse Mills
Adrien Brody
as First Hood
Jon Polito
as Second Hood
Carla Gugino
as Betty Dark/Hooker
Saul Rubinek
as Skin Specialist
Alfre Woodard
as Chief of Staff
Amy Aquino
as Nurse Nozhki
David Dorfman
as Young Dan Dark
Eddie Jones
as Moonglow Bartender
Lily Knight
as Woman Physiotherapis...
Clyde Kusatsu
as Visiting Japanese Do...
Andy Umberger
as Mr. Dark
David Denman
as Solider with Betty D...
Alec Puro
as Dark's Drummer
Renn Hawkey
as Dark's Bass Player
Bryan Law
as Dark's Guitar Player
Rita Bland
as Dancer
Eva Mikita
as Dancer
Tasha Tae
as Dancer
Dani Wylie
as Dancer
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Singing Detective

Critic Reviews for The Singing Detective

All Critics (115) | Top Critics (31)

The film's colorful song-and-dance set pieces rely on lip-synced '50s songs that are the weakest link in a bumbling but gregarious movie.

Full Review… | May 9, 2009

Inventive mess, filled with pock marks.

Full Review… | December 16, 2004
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The first two thirds are a lot of fun and a showcase for Robert Downey Jr.'s immense talents.

Full Review… | August 22, 2004
Apollo Guide

The concept is clever, but the film's parts don't fit well and the main character is one of the least likable you'll find.

April 9, 2004

The Singing Detective is like a dream that you are still a little confused by when you wake up. It's not for everyone, but it's a fun ride if you dive in face first.

Full Review… | April 7, 2004
IGN Movies

Worth seeing on the basis of its cast alone, although the characters being played are often so impressionistic, even the superstar lineup ends up being a bit distracting.

Full Review… | February 2, 2004
Boston Herald

Audience Reviews for The Singing Detective


A great performance by Robert Downey Jr., an early Katie Holmes role and a small part played by a heavily made-up Mel Gibson do their best, but they don't save this film from its sheer weirdness. Four words: lip-synched ensemble musical numbers.

When it cut to action from the novel our hero (Downey Jr.) has written, I really liked the visual style, and overall, the story told in flashbacks is well-done, near-perfect noir, in fact; when it steps outside the frame, however, and tells the present day story - with the characters from the books interfering in some strange meta-fictional way - it loses its momentum, getting downright hammy in places.

And then, there are the musical numbers...

An ambitious film, but I'm not sure I mean it as a compliment; Joe Baltake probably said it best when he called this one an "interesting failure." Check it out, if for no other reason than this: it's different than most everything else you're watching.

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer


This could have been amazing, but it fell short of an interesting story. The cast was good, but didn't really get to show off their talent due to the script. Mel Gibson's psychotherapist character was by far the best part. If it would've just been an actual noir homage then it would've been great.

Conner Rainwater

Super Reviewer

Complete madness...

Leigh Ryan

Super Reviewer

The Singing Detective Quotes

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