Smoke Signals - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Smoke Signals Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ January 21, 2014
Sherman Alexie is one of most important Native American fiction writers of the past century, and with this adaptation of his short story we see the real strife of these people, living in reservations. The film follows a young man (Beach) and an old friend (Adams) who take a road trip to put his father to rest. The film deals with prevalent issues in the Native American community including poverty, alcoholism, and racism from a heavily white population. Having Native American protagonists and a heavily NA cast is pretty unheard of in many films, even recently, and seeing this story made is really quite interesting. The story is a little rushed, as the journey takes a short amount of time. Most of what we see is Victor (Beach) trying to understand the legacy that his father has left for him. We see a transformation, but it goes by so fast that it's hard to savor exactly what has occurs before the story inevitably ends. We're also not sure what either Thomas or Victor will ultimately do now that this "adventure" has taken place. It just doesn't have the strength behind it that the original story invokes.
Super Reviewer
January 15, 2009
I recently finished reading Sherman Alexie's "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" and felt compelled to revisit Smoke Signals for about the 8th or 9th time. I love this film a little more every time I view it, which is easy to do considering that the first time I saw it I just wasn't that impressed. I had felt that, in their quest to have the first "All Indian" movie, they had sacrificed a little quality and technical expertise. Maybe I still feel that's true but it's not something I notice much any more. Now I find myself engrossed in the rich characters, especially Arnold (Evan Adams). Arnold is a misfit and yet he might be the most 'indian' character in the entire ensemble. He's bright, he's introspective, and he's terribly, terribly honest. Even when he's embellishing stories he is still exposing truths.

Much like it's screenwriter, Smoke Signals is deceptively deep, intelligent and philosophical even if it's not perfectly crafted. .
Super Reviewer
½ January 23, 2007
All right...objectively, this is just not a very good movie. The two main characters are an unlikable prick and an unlikable nerd, respectively, and the themes are telegraphed and insultingly obvious. But Smoke Signals is important simply because of its lineage - and even though it's not that great, it's a difficult film to dislike. It's very earnest.

I guess if your only exposure to Native Americans in film is, like, Indian in the Cupboard, this movie would be well worth seeing. As a cinematic craft, not so much.
Super Reviewer
½ August 10, 2008
[font=Century Gothic]"Smoke Signals" starts at a celebration on July 4, 1976 on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation where Arnold Joseph(Gary Farmer) made a stuning catch to save the life of infant Thomas, while his parents died in a fiery blaze. Later, Arnold cut his hair short before disappearing from the reservation, leaving behind his wife(Tantoo Cardinal) and young son, Victor. As an adult(Adam Beach), Victor receives word that his father died in Phoenix. But because he is broke, he cannot go there to claim the body and possessions. However, Thomas(Evan Adams) agrees to fund him, as long as he can tag along...[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"Smoke Signals" is a an endearing seriocomic road movie that is more concerned with the destination than with the journey.(I suppose there is some symbolism in the men going from the sight of a fire to Phoenix but maybe I'm just reading too much into it.) The movie is about redemption and forgiveness as Victor tries to reconcile the abusive father he once knew with the memories that other people have of him. That is why, as with any story, it does not really matter if it is exactly true, as long as the essence of it is right.[/font]
Super Reviewer
October 11, 2012
A great addition to the Native film genre. This one was written, directed and acted with members of the community and it is lively and enchanting.
Lord Naseby
Super Reviewer
September 21, 2010
*sigh* this review isn't going to be very long. it's mainly for the people who have seen it. All I can say about this movie is this: "Heeey Victor, I heard you Dad died" Yep that's all I can say. anyone who has seen the movie knows what I'm talking about.

TRIVIA TIME: The first movie to be written, directed, and co-produced by a Native American.
Super Reviewer
September 16, 2008
I actually thought the acting was cheesy with stupid lines. Not all natives talk that way. If only the actors were more realistic the movie would have been better. Sometimes, i think that it's best to speak in their own native tongue and have it in English diaglogue. It would have worked better. It was promising, but i was hugely dissapointed.
Super Reviewer
December 10, 2007
A great film! Hilarious!!
½ May 13, 2014
awesome indie-one of my faves is this first feature written directed produced and starring native americericans
January 15, 2013
There was an honesty to Smoke Signals that didn't seem forced. Saw this in a class and enjoyed it more than I thought that I would. Poignant and moving, Smoke Signals shows a decent story about modern Native Americans. I actually like Sherman Alexie's stories and this feels like reading Reservation Blues
½ November 4, 2012
Smoke Signals (1998)

This independent movie is written by Northwest author, Sherman Alexie; a native American, writing about young native Americans. So, you know that you're going to be seeing something very different, that you don't normally get a chance to see coming from Hollywood.

There's a lot of funny parts, but it's not exactly a comedy, but more a family drama with life on the "Res" thrown in. If you don't like indie movies, you probably won't like this one either, but if you want something a little different, this is a good movie to see.
July 22, 2011
There are no epic battle scenes. No high speed car chases. No real love interests. And I think that's part of its charm. This is one of the few movies that I can watch over and over again.
April 10, 2011
for a rather generic 90s movie, there are some real things to like about it. the storytelling definitely adds to truth of the film--living purely in the concrete world vs. incorporating elements of embellishment, surreality, and pure fiction. the journey of father and son was also quite poignant, even if it wasn't especially original. reasonably entertaining and a great springboard for discussion. I'd say it's on the good side of average.
April 20, 2010
This is a great rental for you and your lady my friends. This story follows a 20-something Native American man whose alcoholic father leaves him at a young age, alone to take care of his mother, and in search of his identity. An emotional adventure combines resentment, guilt, truth, and forgiveness in a partially comedic journey filled with disregard, and purpose. Give this one a shot, as it flies below the radar. In meeting with Director Chris Eyre, his aura exudes visionary, and his cinematic ablities are beautifully showcased in this film.
February 25, 2010
I've long wanted to see this movie and always forgotten it whenever the opportunity has supposed arisen. For a period there when this movie came out when I had to real focus in my life, I studied a lot about Native American cultures. I wanted to see this not only because it was made by American Indians, but because it was a slight comedy, which I felt was rare for modern setting movies. And this one works because it plays it all for realism.

It has good performances and a smartness to keep it all grounded in the personalities and actual world of you, me and the real people these character represent. It?s a good movie that stands some viewing. It is short and sweet and hits the notes it needs.
June 12, 2009
A CHAMPION OF INDIGENOUS MOVIES! A MUST SEE! You will LAUGH, you will CRY, you WILL LOVE THIS MOVIE! If this movie can touch John ThunderBear's heart, you KNOW it will touch yours too!
April 1, 2009
There are definite changes between this and the original source material ("The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven") but it is still a pretty good adaptation, as it keeps the over-all spirit of Alexie's writing.
February 14, 2009
A heartwarming and funny comedy loosely based on the book "Lone Ranger and Tonto's Fistfight in Heaven" by Sherman Alexie.
½ December 22, 2007
Flashes of cinematographic beauty and truthful acting never quite cohere into something greater, and the whole thing feels just short of being good as it succumbs to safe and cliché writing. Evan Adams is a pleasure to watch.
May 30, 2007
I really enjoyed this movie. It really shows life among any race any creed. This story tells the story of young men becoming men.
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