Smoke Signals - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Smoke Signals Reviews

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February 20, 2013
Naomi Rich
"It's a good day to be indigenous," a radio announcer on the desolate Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation dryly intones at the beginning of "Smoke Signals," and the remark serves not only as an accurate indication of the quirky, humor to be found throughout the film, but as a sort of prophetic blessing on this first fictional feature written, directed and co-produced by Native Americans. A light, entertaining story with serious themes that speaks with a distinctive Native American voice and instinctively pulls you back from the temptation to be solemn and pretentious and engages humorously.
Lanky, geeky Thomas Builds a Fire(Evan Adams) and athletic Victor Joseph(Adam Beach) live on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation. Thomas's parents died in a house fire when he was a baby; he was saved by Victor's father. After hearing that Victor's fathers has passed away in Phoenix, the two embark on a journey and learn more about this man that played a pivotal part in their lives. At first Victor does not want his nerdy sidekick's company, but Thomas has the money to bankroll the trip. The two grow closer as they learn more about themselves and their lost patriarch
On their way off the reservation, two young Native women driving backward in a "rez" car offer them a ride to the edge of the reservation, the woman asks them if they have their passports, Thomas replies, "Arizona is in America", her response, "Yeah, that's as foreign as you can get." portrays the humor, but also the sovereignty of reservation land.
Victor is clearly annoyed by his sidekick's wacky stories and dorky way of dressing. He urges Thomas to get cooler clothes and affect a tough-guy swagger -- "you gotta look like a warrior," he says. But Thomas is an irrepressible spirit whose talk is more than nattering -- he has an uncanny ability to seize on wisdom at the same time he's going for a humorous side to some otherwise uncomfortable realities of Native American History.
"You know what's more pathetic than watching Indians on televisions?" Thomas asks, "Indians watching Indians on television." His humorous reference to the cowboy and Indian westerns of yesteryear. Along with the "49" song they make up about John Wayne's teeth.
"Smoke Signals", is at heartfelt movie about the meaning of family and connections, but also a road movie adventure with Victor and Thomas at the helm. Taking you on their journey of coming of age and rites of passage. Giving a bird's eye glimpse into contemporary Native American culture with humor as inherent as their past.
Kudos to "Smoke Signals" for opening the door for other Native American artists and their endeavors in cinematography. The movie is definitely a keeper, if not only for it's comic relief and contemporary Native American culture, but also for it's life lessons and thoughts of our own journeys. Two Thumbs up.
August 14, 2012
Brings new meaning to the word "boring"
January 14, 2013
I liked this all Native American production with its quirky sense of humor and warm tale of a relationship between a father and son that only gets straightened out after the father is dead. It is not a unique story, but the cultural point of view is. Good acting by Adam Beach and Evan Adams.
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
December 23, 2012
The performances are so bad it's hard to watch the movie at times, the characters are silly, and the plot is simplistic. Basically, this is just not a good movie.
December 7, 2012
Looks heartfelt and meaningful.
November 27, 2012
It was better than I expected. It was assigned for a class, but now that I've seen it I would have watched it if I stumbled upon it. My family watched it with me and they like it too.
½ November 13, 2012
This is worth seeing. It is a good movie with good enough production values and lovable characters. The only problem is that it's far too serious to be a comedy.
November 10, 2012
love this movie reminds me of yhe rez
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.
October 26, 2012
Beautiful movie, even with some minor...not flaws, exactly, but there were moments.
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.
½ October 2, 2012
I actually never heard of Smoke Signals until a ton of my Native friends told me to see it. With my watch instantly on my Netflix, I decided to search for it, and lone be hold, there it was.

The story is pretty deep and entertaining, but the acting could of been a little better. Well it is an independent film, so actually they did an incredible job. This is one of the better independent films to come out. Even if you guys know nothing about Native Americans, or reservations, or anything like that, you should still see this movie for a good laugh and a good heartfelt story. Or else there will be a fry bread riot for sure.
September 30, 2012
Excellent film funny poignant beautifully filmed well directed. An excellent film worth watching worth owning. Some have criticized the dialogue. It was written by Indians. Some have stated it is not a very good movie. It is an excellent work. Well edited, well directed, well acted. I am not going to go through the list of naysayers. I will just stay they do not understand .
Now lets get down to it. This is an Indy film totally made by Native Americans. That said there are things that will be lost on most of the audience. it is well scripted, well acted, especially the character of Thomas. Evan Adams is truly amazing he actually took and portrayed his character from someone that he knew and made the character believable, Frankly, he should have been given an award. For me he is the true or the epitome of an actor. He brings his character, which could have remained a flat story teller, to life. Excellent job Evan.
For the direction, the characters were believable, the film flowed nicely, with the changes from one time period to present day flawless. Excellent! The actors knew the story and knew their characters and portrayed them well. Again with Evan Adams being excellent.
For those that had low opinions please read the book, then get to know real Indians. You may learn something interesting. For those of you that know me, then you know that I truly believe that this is an excellent film and that I would not steer you wrong. It is a film worth watching. It is a film worth going out and spending 20 bucks for. It is a film that belongs in any collectors library, because it is that epic and that well done.
My reaction to this film, if you haven't figured it out now is in one word, EXCELLENT. It has it's 5 stars and deserves more.
John
½ August 11, 2012
It really touched me in they way it's told. An excellent story and an excellent film.
August 6, 2012
EVAN ADAMS IS TOO CUTE IN THIS MOVIE!
Super Reviewer
February 28, 2007
I loved it. The execution (acting, cinematography, etc.) may not be 5 star, but I loved the message and I ended up liking all the people.
July 1, 2012
HEYYYYY VICTORRRRRRRR
June 8, 2012
A cute little film. Though, having heard about it before, I can say the film didn't quite live up to expectations. I had trouble stomaching the editing. In that regard, it felt like a quickly produced made-for-TV movie. I also had trouble caring about the dorky sidekick. He just annoyed the hell out of me. The Irishesque accent he had made no sense, and he was immediately lost on me. Perhaps the lowest point of the film was how repetitive it was. It kept going back to this traumatic event from the past that was the catalyst of the plot, and it put too much emphasis on that aspect of the story. Honestly, I can't say the story was too enthralling for me. It felt a bit un articulated in places. However, what this lacked in other qualities, it did serve as a captivating insight to a culture that we sometimes tend to marginalize in our imaginations. I don't recall seeing a single eagle feather in the film. (Though I understand feathers are still a major part of the culture.) Nor did any of them ride horses, or wear war paint. The tribes, as the film shows, have changed since the wild west era, just like mainstream society. And the picture the film paints neither seems exaggerated or toned down. Even with the story unfolding, you get an unquestionable sense of realism, and you accept that the mundane atmosphere on the screen is what an Indian reservation must really be like. There is not a single tinge of make believe. Even if the movie wasn't executed as well as it should have been, the film can rightfully boast a strong realism. In this, Director Chris Eyre was masterful.
June 3, 2012
This movie is really good and touching...makes me think about stuffs
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